People of Gospel

And He (Allah) will teach him (Jesus) the Book and Wisdom, (and) the Torah and the Injeel (Gospel).(Al-Imran 48)

 

CONTENDING VOICES

Comparative Study of Four Gospels 

Gospels of Jesus are perhaps most read and most debated books in the world today. Gospels represent the ancient literature of different sects. Using literature as medium, different sects purported their ideologies and believes. Four gospels are not one version, but four different versions of events, surrounding historical Jesus. They were written to be read standalone unlike the way people read them today by combing all four together. Early Christians belonged to different sects or brands; all proclaiming the association with the Jesus. The closest to Jesus were his disciples, however none of the present gospels considered authentic by Christians came from Jesus’ immediate disciples. Close study of four gospels reveal that they are not only similar at some places but they also contain contending voices.  The authors of these gospels must respond to their opponents. In three synoptic gospels it is vividly indicated that Peter or Simon’s Church was one of their opponents. It is stated in all four gospels that disciples of Jesus (most noteworthy Peter or Simon) were unintelligent people and were unclear about the  mysterious role of Jesus on earth, even though Jesus tried to explain that to them a number of times. Disciples even rejected that Jesus had resurrected after crucifixion.  In gospel of John, the disciple Thomas is shown in complete disbelief even after talking to risen Christ. Later in New Testament Literature in letters of Paul or Saul it is explained that disciples were observant of Laws of Moses. For Paul the Torah was an annulled Law and its observance after Jesus is futile. He wanted to spread his faith among Gentiles at all cost.  Both Luke and Mark were the followers of Paul and wanted to forward Pauline theories.

In the present work the contending voices of different groups in four gospels are analysed to understand the real purpose of the authors, and to put it simply, what brand of Christianity they were supporting.  In this process the Quranic Perspective is also elaborated. It is hoped that readers find this work interesting and illuminating.

Abu Shahiryar

2013

Part-I: Jesus in New Testament

The claim that the book contains the words of God is indeed an enormous claim. Billions of people could accept it as basis of their faith. They would spend lives in learning, memorizing and preaching theses words.

Jesus, perhaps most widely discussed personality ever since his birth. Jews called him imposter, Muslims called him a Prophet and Christians called him the Son of God.   The early Christians considered Jesus as a Messiah foretold in books of Prophets. He was also considered as a Prophet and some also consider him as king of Jews. After Jesus, different sects appeared who claimed to have knowledge of Jesus. Some claimed that he taught secret doctrines. Some claimed that he said things in parables to explain his teachings. These contending sects wrote the books on teachings of Jesus.  People claimed that they knew the real teachings of Jesus and wrote about his kyregma (preaching).  Some of the  books are extinct now but we know them by names like Gospel of Hebrews. Some are declared apocryphal  Peter, Mary Magdalene,  Thomas  etc and some are declared Canonical like gospel of  Mark, Mathew, Luke John, etc.

 

However all these gospels are different from each other, not only in style and sequence of events but also in their message. The conflicting gospels and there confusions forced Christians into Arian[1], Nestorian[2] and Flioque[3] controversies.  The controversies led Christians to convene councils and develop new doctrinaires like Trinity[4] for example.

 

The depiction of Jesus in these books is very important. Mathew focused on the Jesus role as Davidic Messiah, Mark placed his focus on the infusion of Divine Spirit into Jesus, Luke stressed on his adoptionist theory whereas, John stressed that Jesus was the Divine Word incarnated.

 

Book of Mathew

 

Papias of Hierapolis (c. 125–50 CE)   wrote about Mathew : “Matthew collected the oracles (logia – sayings of or about Jesus) in the Hebrew language and each one interpreted  them as best he could”[5].

Origen said:

“and first was written (the Gospel) according to Mathew, who was once a tax collector and afterwards an apostle of Christ, who published it for those whom Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language”[6]

 

Recently, Michael Goulder proposed his Lectional Hypothesis that Gospel of Mathew was written by author to be recited in 64 short units around the year on every Sunday according to lunar calendar. He showed that times in Gospels starts with Passover and ends on Passover so its an all year activity[7].

Book of Mark

 

Irenaeus informed that Gospel of Mark was the gospel of the people who “separate Jesus from Christ” (Against Heresies 3.11.7).

Book of Luke

Irenaeus wrote in his discussion on four canonical gospels:

... and Luke also who was a follower of Paul put down in a book the gospel that was preached by him (Paul)[8]

Also Irenaeus wrote

Luke is a Syrian of Antioch …. Since there were already other gospels, that according to Mathew written in Judea, that according to Mark (written in) Italy, he was urged by the Holy Spirit to write his whole gospel among those in the regions of Achaea, as he indicates this in the preface that there were already other writings before him…[9]

Book of John

It is not clear when this gospel is written and to which group this gospel is supporting but what is clear is that it is not Pauline in nature, as would be exhibited in this book.

 

People started searching through text of four gospels to understand which one of them is earliest.  Naturally closer the gospel to Jesus’ times is more reliable it would be.  The traditional view among Christians is in favour of Gospel of Mathew as a first Gospel document, followed by Gospel of Mark and then Gospel of Luke.  This view is called Augustinian Hypothesis, as the Church Fathers hinted over this view in their writings. This view was held by most of Christians today.  However, Christians themselves recognized that out of these four gospels, three are quite similar in their content. In 1776, Johann Jakob Griesbach explained this in his work on Synopsis of three gospels. His work has coined the term Synoptic Gospels for the gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke. Griesbach proposed that Mathew is a first synoptic gospel then Luke and then Mark, a hypothesis known as Griesbach Hypothesis.  Some wanted to place the Gospel of Mark as an earliest Gospel, so in 1835, Karl Lachmann argued that Mathew and Luke also contain material not present in Mark, indicating Mark’s independent writing.  In 1838, Christian Hermann Weisse proposed that there must be a document older than these gospels and probably Luke and Mathew copied from that Quelle (German word meaning Source also called Q Gospel) and Gospel of Mark.  In 1920, R. Bultmann and B.H. Streeter published their work on this concept and now it is generally called Two-document Hypothesis. Catholics supported the Augustinian hypothesis and Protestant biblical critics supported the Griesbach hypothesis.  The research is continued on these lines and recently Burton L. Mack has published the Q Gospel based on the content of Synoptic gospels.  Another important view is: if Griesbach Hypothesis is incorrect and Gospel of Mark is copied by Luke then there must be strong similarity between the two gospels. However, there are complete passages omitted by Luke. A question arises why Luke omitted those passages; was it done intentionally or was Luke using some other gospel similar to Mark’s gospel. Comparison between the two gospels indicates that there might be an earlier version of Mark’s gospel now lost. This hypothesis is called Urmarkus Hypothesis.

The quest for real historical Jesus has become a detective’s inquiry. The problem is that one has to search through four Gospels to search for the true Jesus teachings. Catholic Church declared four gospels as genuine and rest were declared apocrypha. The same trend is followed by Eastern Orthodox Church and recently emerged Protestants. The four gospels which they consider as true word of God are according to Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.

One Christian scholar writes:

The four Gospels that eventually made it into the New Testament, for example, are all anonymous, written in third person about Jesus and companions. None of them contains a first-person narrative.. or claims to be written by an eyewitness or companion of eyewitness . Why then do we call them Mathew, Mark, Luke and John? Because sometimes in second century, when proto-orthodox Christians recognized the need for apostolic authorities they attributed these books to apostles (Mathew and John) and close companions of apostles (Mark the secretary of Peter and Luke the travelling companion of Paul)[10]

 

 


[1] Arius was the priest in Alexandria, Egypt, where he taught that Jesus was a lesser entity than God the father. He was declared a heretic and his books were burned on the orders of Constantine.  To resolve the controversies due to Arius, the First Council of Nicaea was convened, which the council of Christian bishops was held in 325 AD at Nicaea, Turkey.

 

[2] Nestorious  believed that human and divine nature of Jesus were different.  Nestorius and his teachings were finally condemned and declared as heretical at the First Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Council of Chalcedon was a church council in 451 AD, at Chalcedon a place in modern day Turkey. The Council of Chalcedon was convened by Emperor Marcian.  The council was convened to address the heretical doctrines Nestorian Churchs are also called the Church of East, it was also one of the thriving Church during lifetime of  Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

 

[3] Filioque is a Latin word which means “and from the Son.” The controversy arises due to nature of Holy Spirit. Is it coming form the God or is it sprouting from son. Eastern Orthodox Church (225–300 million adherents) was a developed after schism in Catholic Church due to Filioque Controversy. Eastern Orthodox Church believed that both the Holy Spirit and the Son have their origin in the Father whereas the Catholics believed the opposite.  Eastern Orthodox Church also believed that Holy Scriptures (as interpreted and defined by church teaching in the first seven ecumenical councils) along with Holy Tradition are of equal value and importance.

 

[4] Trinity is the Christian believe also known as  the Creed of Nicaea that there are three gods, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Gnostic concept of Homoousios was used to declare that Jesus is Father are made from same substance also called consubstantial.  This belief was further reaffirmed at the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD) and the Council of Ephesus (431 AD). The concept of Trinity has become the well established believe before Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

[5] Turner, David L (2008), Matthew

[6] quoted in Eusebius  Hist eccl 6.25.4; LCL

[7] Mathew’s Gospel round the year by Michael D. Goulder, Published in The Gospels according to Michael Goulder,  Edited by Christopher A. Rollston,  Trinity Press International,  2002.

[8] Eusebius Hist. eccl. 5.8.3

[9] Taken from Ancient Christian Gospels by Helmut Koester, originally quoted  in Old Gospels Prologues by Heard. Luke’s gospel  is a  prologue to  the book Acts of Apostles

[10] Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman, Oxford University Press, 2003, pg 235

 

We know that people in times of Jesus were waiting for a Messiah. But what kind of personality they were expecting? There were many Jewish sects in Judea and Samaria.  In biblical literature especially of Prophets, there were predictions that Messiah (Jewish king) from the Davidic line would appear.  Some even consider John the Baptist as expected Messiah (Lk 3:15).  People in times of Jesus hold the view that Jesus is Messiah and Prophet as indicated at number of places in gospels:

 

Messiah Jews in Jerusalem (Jh 7:41), people (Mk 27:29), People in Jerusalem (Jh 7:40). Jesus claimed that he is  Messiah (Jh 4:25-26); Peter called Jesus Messiah (Mk 8:29); Samaritan woman said that Jesus is Messiah known as Christ (Jh 4:25)  
Prophet Jews in Jerusalem (Jh 7:40), (Mth 21:11; 21:46), people  (Mk 27:28), People in Jerusalem (Jh 7:40); Samaritan woman (Jh 4:19); a blind man healed by Jesus (Jh 9: 17) 

 

In gospel of Mark, contrary to others gospels, Jesus instructed his disciples not to reveal his Messiah role to anyone (see Mk 8:30, 9:9, 9:30). Even he instructed people (1:44, 5:43) and demons  (3:12) not to divulge his true identity. Why so secrecy? For Mark, Jesus true identity was a Holy Secret not to be revealed till his resurrection (Mk 9:9).  This against the other synoptic gospels and gospel of John.  In John’s gospel Jesus denied in front of Sanhedrin that he taught anything in secret.

The authors of Gospels called Jesus as Son of God[1] however they created contractions in their own writings:

 

View held by authors of gospels and contradiction

Son of God In Gospel of Mark, a voice from heaven (Mk 1:11, 9:7), demons (Mk 3:11) and a pagan roman centurion  (Mk 15:39) called Jesus with this title, but no disciple claimed that for Jesus. In Gospel of Mathew, heavenly voice said this (Mth 3:17). In Gospel of Luke heavenly voice and author claim this title for Jesus but no one from Jesus era claimed this for him. Also in Gospel of John, author claim this title for Jesus but no one from Jesus era claimed this for him.  Jesus applied the title Sons of God on his followers. Only at the time of his trial at Sanhedrin Jesus said that he is Messiah, Son of God.  

The title son of God or sons of God is used in gospels for people other than Jesus as well.

Mathew wrote:

 That you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven (Mth 5:45)

Also

That you therefore perfect, even like your Father which is in Heaven (Mth  5:48)

 John wrote:

Jesus said to them If God were your Father, you would love me for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me. (Jh 8.42)

Jesus exhibited his humanness by praying to God (Mth 14:32, 26:39;  Lk 3:21, Lk 6.12,  Lk 22:44). Jesus said to Mary Magdalene that I am going back to my father and your father, my God and your God (Jh 20:17). Does it mean that Mary Magdalene was daughter of God?

Jesus was not all knowing God (Second of Trinity). He said:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mth 24:36)

So how could he be a God?

The strongest evidence which emerged from this is that in times of Jesus, his disciples called him Messiah and people in general called him prophet. Jesus himself called others sons of Father i.e. God which is an epithet for righteousness.

Gospel of Mathew

Author of Gospel of Mathew has followed the Messiah tradition. According to him Jesus was of Davidic descant. He was from the lineage of Zerrubabel  son of Shealtiel  son of Jeconiah (Mth 1:12).  It is interesting to note that biblical Prophet Jeremiah has informed that God had cursed Jeconiah and there would no king from his lineage (Jeremiah 22: 24; 36:30). Prophet Zechariah had also predicted the Davidic Messiah. Zechariah son of Berakiah son Iddo was the prophet in early SecondTemple period. Mathew has quoted  verse from book of Zechariah (Zech 9:9) in chapter 21 of his gospel. Mathew also reported that Jesus reprimanded the Jews on killing of prophets and informed that Prophet Zechariah   was brutally murdered in Temple of Solomon (Mth 23:35).  Mathew thus was a stern believer that the perdition of Davidic Messiah is still not fulfilled.

Gospel of Mark

At the time of Baptism, Holy Spirit descended into Jesus (Mk. 1:10) It is said:

 καὶ  εὐθὺς  ἀναβαίνων  ἐκ  τοῦ  ὕδατος  εἶδεν  σχιζομένους  τοὺς  οὐρανοὺς  καὶ  τὸ  πνεῦμα  ὡς  περιστερὰν  καταβαῖνον  εἰς  αὐτόν·

And straightway coming out of the water he saw the heavens tear (apart and) the Spirit, like a dove, descending into Him

 The words καταβαῖνον  εἰς  αὐτόν means descended into him.  This Spirit remained into Jesus until at cross it came out (Mk 15:34):

καὶ τῇ ὥρᾳ τῇ ἐνάτῃ ἐβόησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς φωνῇ μεγάλῃ λέγων· Ἐλωῒ Ἐλωῒ, λιμᾶ σαβαχθανί; ὅ ἐστι μεθερμηνευόμενον, ὁ Θεός μου ὁ Θεός μου, εἰς τί με ἐγκατέλιπες;

Jesus uttered in Aramaic: Eloi Eloi lima sabachthani ? My God, My God, Why you have left me ?

Gnostics claimed using this verse that Jesus at this moment came back into his human form[2].

Finally in Mk. 15:37 it is said that  Jesus let the Spirit to leave. Mark claimed that Jesus was teaching his disciples in secrecy (Mk 4:34)

Gospel of Luke

Luke definitely believed in adoption theory. According to him Holy Spirit has guided many people before like Simon of Jerusalem (Lk 2:26).  In ancient version of Luke’s gospel, at time of Baptism, voice uttered the verse of Psalm 2:7: “you are my son, today I have begotten you”[3]. However in the latest version this verse is changed into “you are my son, in whom I am well pleased”. In Luke’s another book, Acts, same theory is placed that God adopted Jesus (Acts 13:33)[4].

As it is written in the second Psalm:

“‘You are my son; today I have become your father”

 Thus Luke quoted out of context verses to prove the divinity of Jesus.  In Luke’s version of baptism, Holy Spirit comes in physical form of dove (Lk 3:22).

Luke also claimed that Adam was Son of God (Lk 3:28).  Jesus’ wisdom increased in Luke’s gospel (2:52) because according to Luke, Jesus was not divine from very beginning but due to his righteousness God selected him as His special son. According to Luke, Adam was also son of God. Thus one has transgressed and ate from forbidden tree and other one (Jesus) attained holiness through wisdom. This is exactly what Paul was preaching[5].

Contrary to Mark’s gospel where Holy Spirit remained in Jesus body from Baptism till death on Cross, in Luke’s gospel it comes time to time on Jesus. Luke wrote (10:21)

 On that same occasion Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit

 How could Jesus rejoice in Spirit now, had it filled him at the time of Baptism?

In Transfiguration story Luke wrote 9.35

 Then a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One[6]. Listen to him!”

Not only that Luke quoted out of context verses of Psalm that Jesus said:

I handover my spirit into your hands[7] (Psalm 31:5)

O Father:  I handover my spirit into your hands (Luke 23: 46)

 If Jesus was God then why he had handover his spirit to Father. Are Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit not equal in power according to concept of trinity?

Gospel of John

The author of Gospel of John  (Yuhanna) claimed that Jesus had not become adopted son due to Baptism or descending of Holy Spirit (Hulul), but was god from the very beginning. John distorted the meaning of Kalimah or Word (or in Greek Logos). John started his gospel with verses(1:1-4):

 In the beginning was the Word[8], and the Word was near[9] God, and the Word was Divine[10]. This one was in the beginning with God; All things were made through him and without him was not anything created. That was created in him was life[11] and that life was the light for humankind[12].

It is said in Gospel of John that all things were made through Word[13]. After comparing several translations and Greek grammar one Christian scholar explain the verses as :

God speaks word that make things come into existence. So Word is God’s creative Power and  plan and activity[14].

In verse 1:14 John said:

And the Word became flesh, and moved his tent in among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of an only begotten from a Father, full of grace and truth

Thus Jesus was Word or Logos incarnated. In this way John gave Jesus an exalted place and invented the mystery, that Kalimah or Word descended in physical form. So now John added another mystery in the nature of Jesus.

These differences in the nature of Jesus Christ were the major reason of Arian Heresy[15] which eventually led Christians towards Nicene Creed, in which using the Gnostic concept of Homoousios finally Triune God is made i.e. Theory of Three gods, Father, Son and Holy Spirit called Trinity[16].

Paul Letters

Paul changed his stance from letter to letter. He issues his political or diplomatic statements like for gentiles he wrote:

Jesus was a spirit in human form (Letter to Philippians 2:7)

For Hebrews he wrote about Jesus and compared him to Melchizedek (a contemporary of Abraham, who is even holier than Jesus). Paul wrote (Hebrews 5: 7-10):

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Paul wrote to Romans (8:26-31)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will. And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

He even called all followers the brothers and sisters of Jesus, with Jesus being first-born. So in a way Jesus attained holiness and his followers can also attain that state.

 

[1] Numer 23:19

[2] Gospel of Philip (v.68)

[3] Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman, OxfordUniversity Press, 2003

[5] Letter to Hebrews 5:7-10

[6] A footnote is added in NET Bible: Most mss, especially the later ones, have ἀγαπητός (agaphto”, “the one I love”; A C* W Ë13 33 Ï it), or ἀγαπητὸς ἐν ᾧ (ἠ)υδόκησα (agaphto” en |w (h)udokhsa, “the one I love, in whom I am well pleased”; C3 D Ψ pc) here, instead of ἐκλελεγμένος (eklelegmeno”, “the Chosen One”), but these variants are probably assimilations to Matt 17:5 and Mark 9:7. The text behind the translation also enjoys excellent support from Ì45,75 א B L Ξ (579) 892 1241 pc co. (see https://bible.org/netbible/)

[7] Actually said for King or Prophet David peace be upon him

[8] The word λόγος (Logos) in John: 1- 4, is translated as Word or Kalimah. Also means cause, reason or speech.

[9] Truth in translation, Accuracy and Bias in English translations of the New Testament by Jason David BeDuhn,  pg 129

[10] Truth in translation, Accuracy and Bias in English translations of the New Testament by Jason David BeDuhn, University Press of America, Inc., 2003; BeDuhn has showed that the correct translation is Word was Divine not the Word was God.  In almost all translation in English for this verse it is said that the Word was God. Christians rendered the meaning to imply the divinity of Jesus and translated it wrongly.  Allah said Jesus is Kalima-tullah i.e. Word of Allah. In Islam that Word means the command of Allah, which indicates His Absolute Power that He created Jesus out of nothing in the womb of Virgin Mary peace be upon her. Allah had created earlier Adam peace be upon him with command as well.

[11] Early Manuscripts and Modern Translation of New Testament by Philip Wesley Comfort, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1990

[12] http://bibletranslation.ws/trans/johnwgrk.pdf

[13] Allah informed us about His Kalimah in Quran it is “Kun” i.e. To Be.

وَإِذَا قَضَى أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

When He decrees a matter, He only says to it : “Be!” – and it is.

[14] Truth in translation, Accuracy and Bias in English translations of the New Testament by Jason David BeDuhn, pg 129

[15] Arianism is the teaching attributed to Arius (ca. AD 250–336). According to Arius Jesus was created and not present from the very beginning. He was concerned about the relationship of God to the Jesus of Nazareth. Arius asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father.  Arius was deemed as a heretic by the Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea of 325.

[16] Belief of the Trinity or Tathleth

 

It is informed in all four Gospels that Jesus lived in first Christian Century and in those days important administrative regions where Jesus moved were Judea, Galilee, Samaria and Decapolis. Pilate was ruling over Judea and can only he can order the death and Crucifixion of rebels. TemplePriesthood cannot itself crucify the rebels. But may identify the miscreants in society and handover them to Roman administration.

map-1

The itinerary Jesus followed during his preaching is an important aspect of analysis. If Synoptic gospels are similar in content then important is what the differences are. What the author wanted to communicate and one thing they have all not agreed on is itinerary of Jesus.

Gospel of Mathew

Gospel of Mathew informs that Jesus ministry started at the moment of Baptism at river Jordan (Mth 3:13) where John used to baptize his followers. John is depicted as an anchorite in desert who used to consume the things available in wilderness (Mth 3:4).  After the Baptism, Jesus, under the influence of Spirit, went to wilderness as well and then to Jerusalem for trial. Afterwards, Jesus went to Galilee (Mth 4: 12) and moved from the town of Nazareth to Capernaum. There he met  Simon also known as Peter and his brother Andreas at the Sea of Galilee. Jesus continued his preaching in Galilee for some time (Mth 4:23).  Many people followed him from Judea, Decapolis, Galilee and Jerusalem (Mth 4:25). Mathew is anti-Samaritan author so no one from Samaria followed him.

mathew

Jesus delivered a long Sermon on the mountain in Galilee.  After that he came back to Capernaum (Mth 8:5). From there he crossed the lake and went to Gergesa (Mth 8:28). There he did exorcism. Then he took the ship  to go back to his city (Nazareth) (Mth 9:1) . There he met Mathew, the tax collector. He performed several miracles there and selected twelve disciples for teaching (Mth 10:1).  One day he went to shores of Sea of Galilee (Mth 13:1) there he talked in parables, then came back to Nazareth (Mth 13:54). Again he went to Sea of Galilee and walked on water (Mth 14) crossed over and went to region of  Gennesaret  (Mth 14:34). From there he went to Tyre and Sidon (Mth 15:21) then came back to Sea of Galilee (Mth 15:29) and performed miracles there. From there he went to Caesarea Philipi  (Mth 16:13) then went to Capernaum (Mth 17:24).  From Galilee he went to borders of Judea (Mth 19) and gone to Jerusalem via Jericho (Mth 20:29). In Jerusalem he had bitter conversations with Jewish Rabbis in Temple.  Then while he was in Bethany (Mth 26:6) a woman came with perfume and pour it over Jesus. Judas meanwhile informed the Priesthood of temple who arrested him (Mth 26:47) and presented him to Caifa, The Head Priest (Mth 26:57). They handed over him to ruler Pilate (Mth 27:1) who interrogated him  (Mth 27:11). On Passover eve, Pilates asked the mob of Jews to release Jesus or Jesus Bar Abba (Mth 27:15). Jews unanimously said: Crucify Jesus, the Messiah (Mth 27:23). Finally Pilates was forced to order the crucifixion.

 

Gospel of Mark

Gospel of Mark contains one of the most complex itineraries of JesusMinistry. To explain this it is not possible to include all of it in on single map. Therefore the itinerary is divided into three maps.

 

Gospel of Mark contains not that much material as covered in other gospels even then it depicted Jesus as a fast traveller. Mark started his Gospel with the event of Baptism at river Jordan. It must be close to Jerusalem as John used to do it at river Jordan and people of Jerusalem gather there (Mk 1:4). Jesus specially came from Galilee to receive the Baptism from John (Mk 1:9).  After Baptism Jesus went to Sea of Galilee and in the course he met Peter and Andreas (Mk 1: 16).

mark-I

Jesus, Peter and Andreas went to Capernaum (Mk 1: 21).  He went into suburbs of Capernaum then went back to city (Mk 2:1) and performed miracles. Then went to lake (Mk 2: 13) and great number of people from Jerusalem, Judea,  Idumea,  Tyre. Sidon and people across river Jordan gathered around him (Mk 3:7). Jesus preached at mountain near Sea of Galilee, in plains and at shores of it. He performed miracles and exorcisms and talked in parables.  He went across the lake into the region of  Gergesa (Mk. 5:1), performed miracles and then crossed over the lake (Mk 5:21).  Then Jesus went back to his city (Nazareth) (Mk 6:1).

mark-II

From Nazareth again he went to lake, instructed his disciples to go to Bethsaida before him (Mk 6:45), but he walked over the lake and caught them in the lake and went to Gerasenes region (6:53). Jesus had bitter conversation there with Pharisees and sages of Jerusalem.

mark-III

Then he went to Bethsaida (Mk. 8:22) then he went to Caesarea Philipi (8:27). He took off from there passed through Galilee(Mk 9:30) and arrived at Capernaum (Mk. 9:33).   From there he reached the borders of Judea across river Jordan (Mk 10) and entered Jericho (Mk 10:46). From there he went to Jerusalem.

Gospel of Luke

Luke

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Lk 2:8-11) and raised in Nazareth in Galilee (Lk 2:29). Parents of Jesus used to visit Jerusalem on Passover eves along with Jesus (Lk 2:41) and return to Galilee (Lk 2: 51).  John started the Baptism at river Jordan and Jesus was also there to receive Baptism (Lk 3:21). From there Jesus started his own preaching and went back to Nazareth (Lk 4:16).  Jesus went to Capernaum (Lk 4:21) and preached in many synagogues of Galilee (Lk 4:44).  Jesus preached at Lake of Gennesaret  and preached in ship of Peter (Lk 5:1).  Then he went to one city (not named) (Lk 5:12), he performed miracles.  He went to Capernaum (Lk 7:1)  and then to Nain (Lk 7:11). From there he went across the Sea of Galilee to Gergesa (8:22) and went to Bethsaida (Lk 9:11).  He gave his disciples power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases (Lk 9).   From there he set off for Jerusalem (Lk 9:51). Jesus arrived at Jerusalem via Jericho.  Jesus had never been to Caesarea Philipi, Tyre and Sidon.

 

Gospel of John

John

Gospel of John informs that John the Baptist started baptizing people at river Jordan. He saw Jesus and proclaimed that Jesus is the Lamb and Son of God and also saw Holy Spirit descending on Jesus (Jh Ch 1).  Jesus went to Galilee and selected Andreas, Philip and Peter as his disciples (Jh 1:43).  Jesus was son of Joseph from Nazareth (Jh 1:46).  Then Jesus was in Cana  (Jh 2:1).  Jesus along with his brother and mother went to Capernaum and stayed there for some time (Jh 2:12). From Capernaum or Cana, Jesus went to Jerusalem (Jh. 2:13).  He went to Jerusalem (Jh 4:46)  via Samaria.  He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar (Jh 4:5). From there Jesus went to Galilee (Jh 4:43) and arrived at Cana (4:46).  From there Jesus went to Jerusalem (Jh 5:1).  There he had a bitter conversation with Jews. Afterwards he went to Tiberias in Galilee (Jh 6:1). There he cross over the Sea of Galilee and entered Capernaum (6:17).  There he preached the doctrine of eating his body and blood.  He preached in Galilee and then went to Jerusalem (Jh 7:14). Jesus crossed over the river Jordan to the place of John (Jh 10:40)[1].  From there, Jesus went to Bethany (Jh 11) to resurrect Lazarus. Jesus went to Ephraim from Bethany (Jh 11:54) and came back (Jh 12:1).  From Bethany, Jesus went to Jerusalem (Jh. 12:12).

 

 

Table: Important Cities mentioned in Gospels

City Visit & Details
Nazareth It was city of Jesus where he lived (Mth 2:23)
Bethsaida In gospels of Mark and Luke, Jesus went there. In Mathew and John, Jesus never went there. It was city of Peter, Philip and Andreas (Jh. 1.43),  (Jh. 12:21). Jesus uttered a rant against this city (Mth 11:21).
Capernaum In all four gospels, Jesus went there. Jesus uttered rant against this city (Mth 11:23).
Cana Only mentioned in Gospel of John. Nathanael was from this city
Tyre or Sidon Jesus went there in gospel of Mathew & Mark. In Mathew Jesus praised the inhabitants of city (Mth 11:21). There Jesus met a Canaanite woman (gentile) and asked for exorcism (Mth. 15:21)
Samaria Region Jesus instructed his disciples not to go to any of the city in Samaria (Mathew 10:6) Jesus stayed for two days in Samarian cities along with his disciples (John 4:27). Also John the Baptist used to baptize near Salim (city in Samaria) (Jh 3:23). Ephraim where Jesus went in the end of book of John must be a city in Samaria. According to Luke, Samaritans  accepted the Jesus message after his crucifixion and Peter and John went there to visit them (Acts 8:14) but in Jesus lifetime they not even allowed him to enter their cities (Luke 9:51-52) but Jesus healed them once (Lk 17:11-16) and persuaded others to help them (Lk 10:33). Jews called Jesus a Samaritan i.e. one with heretic faith  (Jh 8:48) 
Caesarea Philipi In gospels of Mathew and Mark, Jesus went there.  In this city people claimed that Jesus is John the Baptist, Elijah and a Prophet (Mk. 8:28)  and Jeremiah (Mathew 16:15) 
Korazin Chorazin or Korazin  was a village in northern Galilee, two and a half miles from Capernaum on a hill above the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee[1]. According to gospel of Mathew, Jesus uttered rant against this city (Mth. 11:21)
Bethany Jesus went there (John 11:54, 12:12).
Emmaus Emmaus is city seven miles from Jerusalem, People who were going to Emmaus, saw resurrected Jesus, one of them was Cleopas (Lk 24:17). Only mentioned in Gospel of Luke.

[1] It is strange that John the Baptist is now placed across the river Jordan, previously it was mentioned that John used to baptize at Salim. Compare John 3:23 with John 10:40.

 

 

 

In gospels it is informed that Jesus had twelve disciples. In gospels of Mark, Mathew and Luke the list of these twelve disciples is given. However in Gospel of John, all the names of disciples are not given. Instead there is an unknown admirer of Jesus who is introduced as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Author of Gospel of John has not uttered his name at all. In the end of his gospel, he further stated that whatever is said in this gospel is witnessed by this disciple.

 

List of Twelve Disciples

Mathew (10:2) Mark (3:16) Luke (6:12-14) John
Simon or Peter Simon or Peter  Simon or Peter Simon or Peter (Jh 1:44) 
Andreas brother of Peter Andrew Andreas Andreas (Jh 1:43) 
Jacob son of Zebedee   Jacob Son  of Zebedee  
John son of Zebedee John son of Zebedee, Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder  John Son of Zebedee  
Bartholomew Bartholomew Bartholomew 
Matthew Matthew Matthew 
Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas or Didymus (Jh 11:16)
 James son of Alphaeus James son of Alphaeus, James son of Alphaeus  
 Simon the Zealot Simon the Zealot Simon the Zealot
    Judas son of James, Nathanael 
Philip Philip Philip (Jh 1:44)
   James son of Zebedee     
Thaddaeus Thaddaeus Thaddeus (Jh 14:22)
       
Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot Judas Iscariot

                                                                                                                                                            

 

In gospel of John, James is not mentioned in twelve.  Peter was brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew. Nathanael, Samaritan Women at well, Man born blind, Mary Magdalene, Martha and Lazarus played important roles then disciples.  Then there are Nickodemus, Man healed at Bethesda.

 

Among the twelve disciples, Peter is depicted as most confused and unintelligent disciple of Jesus. In all four gospels it is informed that Jesus said to him that Jesus foretold Peter that at most critical moment of his mission, Peter would deny Jesus and at that moment a rooster will crow ( Mathew 26:25, Mark 14:30, Luke 22:34, John 18:27)

 

Jesus saw Peter catching fish. Peter become the disciple of Jesus and Jesus said sarcastically to Peter (Lk 5:10-11)

 

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.

 

 

 

 

Table: Important Personalities

 

Person Description
Peter  Real name: Simon bar Jonah (Jh 1:42); Peter real name was Simon bar Jonah (Mth 16:17); Jesus gave him title:  Cephas (in John 1:42); he was follower of John the Baptist before Jesus (Jh 1:35). Peter saw Jesus three times after resurrection (Jh 21:14). Jesus inquired Peter do you really love me (Jh 21:15). Mark removed the verses of Mathew that Church of Jesus would be established on Peter.
Andreas Was real brother of Peter (Jh 1:41)
Philip Philip was from Bethsaida (Jh. 12:21) was unaware of Jesus role (Jh. 14: 8-10)
Thomas Thomas was unaware of Jesus reality (Jh 14: 5). Thomas missed the vision of resurrected Jesus (Jh. 20: 25). Eight days after resurrection, Jesus appeared again but Thomas was still sceptic (Jh. 20: 26-29)
Nathanael He was a follower of Jesus  from Cana and saw resurrected Jesus at lake  (Jh 20: 21)
Mathew He was Disciple of Jesus originally a tax collector (Mth 9:9). Mark changed him to Levi son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). Luke changed the name to Levi (Lk 5:27) 
Simon Iscariot He was a disciple but deceiver (Jh 6:71), (Mth 26: 14 & 47)
Mary Magdalene She was From Bethany (Jh. 11:1); It was famous that Jesus exorcised  seven demons from her (Lk 8:2; Mk 16:10). She was the first one who arrived at the grave of Jesus (Mth 28:1), (Mk 16:1),(Jh. 20:1). She claimed she had seen an angel (Mth 28:2-7).   Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome saw angel after resurrection and they informed no one about this due to horror(Mk. 16:1) the Mary saw him (Mk 16:9)[1] Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James were women from Galilee (Lk 23:55) were the first who arrived at grave  and saw angel (Lk 24). They informed about the missing body to others including Peter (Lk 24: 11-12) She claimed that she saw resurrected Jesus and he talked to her (Jh. 20:18).
Martha Sister of Mary Magdalene from Bethany (Jh 11:1)
Brothers of Jesus Jacob, Joseph (Mth) or Joses (Mk), Simon and Judah (Mth 13:55) (Mark 6:3) were brothers; Brothers were not believers (Jh 7:1-6); According to Jerome they were the cousin’s of Jesus[2]
Unnamed disciple Author of gospel of John has created this character in his gospel. He never told his name. But mentioned him a number of times (Jh. 13: 23). Jesus said to his mother Marry that your son is this disciple (Jh 19:26). Mary Magdalene informed this disciple first about the missing body of Jesus (Jh. 20:2) and he arrived at grave site before Peter (Jh. 20:4). He claimed that he saw Jesus at lake in Tiberias after Jesus’ resurrection (Jh. 21: 7). Jesus preferred him over Peter (Jh 21:21).  Author of gospel of John informed that this is the disciple who testifies to these things (stated in John’s gospel) and who wrote them down. (Jh.21:  24-25). 

 

 

 

In gospel of Mark, Jesus said to Peter (8:33):

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

 

In Gospel of Mathew it is informed that:

 

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Math 28:17)

 

Thus in gospels it was taught that disciples were not the true believers in the divinity of Jesus; they were attached to Jesus for some unknown reason.

 

Both Luke and Mark, being followers of Paul removed the Jesus’ prediction that the Church of Jesus would be established on Peter.

 

Another important character among disciple of Jesus was called Thomas in all four gospels. It can be speculated that both Thomas and Didymos are nicknames, as they both means twin in Aramaic and Greek respectively. In Gospel of Thomas, the full name is pronounced as  Didymos Judas Thomas. So Thomas real name was Judas.  It means there were two Judas in Gospel of John, one who betrays (Judas Iscariot) and Judas, who denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Both of them are remembered as one in Twelve in gospel of John[3].  The Church followed by author of Gospel of Thomas also claimed that Thomas is Jesus’ twin brother[4].

 

Mother of Jesus in Gospels

Mark told that family of Jesus considered him mad. He wrote (Mk 3:21)

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him (to seize him), for they said, He is out of his mind.

So Mark depicted Jesus’ mother in a negative light. What motivated Mark to concoct such verses. Mark belonged to Pauline Church and its opponent was Jerusalem Church infected with Jewish Law, so   it has become necessary for Pauline church adherent to undermine Mother of Jesus.

Luke informed that Jesus birth was announced to Mary (Lk 1: 26-38):

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!”  But she was greatly troubled94 by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting.  So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,  Mary, for you have found favour  with God!  Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father DavidHe will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end[5].”  Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with111 a man?”  The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child  to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.   “And look, your relative  Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month!  For nothing will be impossible with God.”  So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant  of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Both Mark and Luke undermined the mother of Jesus. They wrote (Lk 8: 19-21; Mk 3:31-35):

Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”   He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Also he wrote (Lk 11:27-28):

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”  He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

John wrote about a marriage in Cana, Galilee (Jh 2:1-11) where he used harsh language for his mother.

 


[1] According to Bart D. Ehrman, the most ancient manuscript of Mark indicates that it ends on 16:8. So whatever said after that is an addition (see Lost Christianities, Oxford University Press, 2003,  pg 220)

[2] Lost Christianities by Bart D. Ehrman, Oxford University Press, 2003, pg 210

[3] Resurrection Reconsidered by Gregory Riley, Fortress Press, 1995, pg 110

[4] Stated in Book of Thomas, from Resurrection Reconsidered by Gregory Riley, Fortress Press, 1995, pg 111-112

[5] Luke gave no explanation for the abrupt death of Jesus before the fulfilment of these prophecies. Jesus never got the throne of David and had not reigned over Jews till eternity. He was never been a King. Perhaps Luke wanted to show that God had tricked Mary as in later Gospel of Luke, she is undermined and Jesus refused to accept her as his mother.

 

Power discharges

 

Paul gave title to Jesus when he wrote to Corinthians. He said  (1 Corinthians 1:24)

 

Χριστὸν θεοῦ δύναμιν καὶ θεοῦ  Christ the power of God

 

So Jesus was the Power of God.  The authors of gospels of Mark and Luke who were close followers of Paul, explained this power in strange way. It is informed in gospel of Mark that people were healed by touch of Jesus even though he was unaware of it. It is stated (Mk 5:25-34) :

 

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.   At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him[1]. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

 

 

Also in Luke it is said (Lk 6:19):

 

and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

 

A question could be asked that how come Jesus the supposed son of God did not know that he is about to discharge his power. He realized that once the power has gone out.

 

 

In gospels of  Mathew and John such discharges of Energy were not mentioned.

 

 

 

Healing in Mark

 

 

Mark has mentioned in his gospel a procedure of healing done by Jesus, which is not mentioned by the other three gospels. These passages are thus unique to Gospel of Marks. Mark wrote (Mk 7:31-35):

 

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis  There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

 

Also he mentioned another story (Mk 8.22-26):

 

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into[a] the village.”

 

 

This story tells the reader that Jesus healings were flawed. He needs to work twice to adjust the eyesight. People who have the bad eye-sight might compare it to their visit of eye doctor, who put different lens into spectacles before finalizing the lenses. Does God perform such way? Does He Almighty not perform things perfectly in a single go.

 

 

In Gospel of John, author explained on one of the statements of Jesus that

 

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 

Thus the disciples were still without Holy Spirit and were unable to perform miracles. The glorification of Jesus is related to his passion and death in all gospels. Gospel of John thus differed here with Synoptic gospels where power of healing and exorcism is awarded by Jesus to his follower.

 

 

 

 


[1] In Greek Mark 5:30 the verse is:  καὶ εὐθὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐπιγνοὺς ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὴν ἐξ αὐτοῦ δύναμιν ἐξελθοῦσαν ἐπιστραφεὶς ἐν τῷ ὄχλω ἔλεγεν· τίς μου ἥψατο τῶν ἱματίων;  the word δύναμιν (dynamin) is translated as Power by translators.

 

 

Jews in times of Jesus were performing exorcism. Josephus claimed that Solomon knows about the exorcisms and he also witnessed certain Eleazar who used to perform that in his times.  Josephus wrote about Solomon in Antiquities of Jews[1]

 

God also enabled him to learn that skill which expels demons,  which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man;

and when this was done, the skill and wisdom of Solomon was shown very manifestly: for which reason it is, that all men may know the vastness of Solomon’s abilities, and how he was beloved of God, and that the extraordinary virtues of every kind with which this king was endowed may not be unknown to any people under the sun for this reason, I say, it is that we have proceeded to speak so largely of these matters.

 

 

Jews claimed that Jesus is possessed by demon (John 10:19)

 

The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

 

No where in Gospel of John, Jesus performed exorcism. However in Synoptic Gospels he did that a number of times.

 

Luke wrote in Acts of Apostles (19: 13-17)

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour.

 

Thus the authors of Synoptic Gospels were in competition with Jews of their times in performing of exorcisms. Luke wrote (Luke 11:24-26)

 

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

eorcism

The map above indicates the places in green where Jesus performed exorcism in Synoptic Gospels. Most of these places are surrounding Sea of Galilee. Only in Luke, in way to Jerusalem, at some places Jesus performed the exorcism. This shows that it was mainly the Galilean tradition that Jesus had performed exorcism. According to Mathew Jesus did exorcism at Nazareth, Gennesaret, Gergesa and at borders of Tyre. In Mark he did that at Gergesa, Capernaum, Caesarea Philipi. According to Luke he did that at Gennesaret, Capernaum,  Bethsaida  and in way to Jerusalem.

 

In Synoptic Gospels, Jesus also gave power to his disciples to remove the spirits and even permitted non-followers to do it (Mk 9:38-41)

 

 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,  for whoever is not against us is for us.  Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

 

Mark described that why Jesus performed such exorcism (Mk 3:23-27)

 

So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.  In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.

 

So Mark showed that Jesus was not Satan personified. However Luke said that it is not so special Jews were also doing exorcisms. Further, Mark wanted to put his view here that sublime bodies may descend into human bodies.  He held the belief that Holy Spirit has descended into Jesus so for him the demonic possession is a proof that Holy Spirit had descended into Jesus. Luke take it differently; for him first, it is not so special, exorcism is done by Jews as well and Holy Spirit has filled other people so for him Jesus was more a righteous adopted son of God. The expression filled with Holy Spirit occurs fourteen times in New Testament and all these are written by Luke[2].

 

Other Spirits are:

 

  • Spirit of Truth only in Gospel of John (see Jh 14:17, 15:26, 16:13)

 

  • Spirit of Life or Life giving Spirit  only in Paul writings  and book of revelations (1 Corinthians 15:45; Romans 8:2; revelations 11:11)

 

  • Spirit of Grace  in Paul writings (Hebrews 10.29)

 

  • Spirit of Glory in Paul writings ( 1 Peter 4:14)

 

So along with Holy Spirit and Demon Spirits there were these above Spirits also present in times when this literature was written.

 

Luke is the most disturbed author in all four Gospels on the satanic influence in this World. He wrote (Lk 4: 5-8):

 

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

 

In other Synoptic gospels and Gospel of John this far-fetched influence of Satan is not that strong.

 

Luke informed that Jesus gave power to 72 people (in Mark only 12 disciples Mk 6:7) to perform miracles. Luke wrote ( Lk 10:17-20):

 

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

 

The demon possessing the bodies in Jesus times seems an abnormal phenomenon when one read all four Gospels. The absence of exorcism stories in gospel of John indicate that his Church was not affected by such activities.   However it was more like a speciality at Churches influenced with Pauline doctrines.


[1] in discussion on Concerning The Wife Of Solomon; Concerning His Wisdom And Riches; And Concerning What He Obtained Of Hiram For The Building Of The Temple

 

[2] Luke 1:15, 1:35, 1:41, 1:67, 4:1;  Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31, 6:5, 7:55, 9:17, 11:24, 13:9, 13:52

 

There were different saviour expectations circulating among Jews due to their prophetic literature like Davidic messiah, Priestly Messiah, Elijah, Son of Man etc.  About 850 years before Jesus, according to book of II Kings, chapter 2, Elijah the Prophet had ascended “into heaven” in a “chariot of fire.”  Later, in about 450 BC, Prophet Malachi received revelations that:

 

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD”  (Malachi 4:1-5)

 

Synoptic gospel author have made it clear that Elijah had returned in form of John the Baptist (Luke 1:17).

 

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him (Zechariah ), standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.  He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

 

On the contrary the author of Gospel of John informed that John the Baptist denied that he is Elijah (John 1:21) :

 

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

 

He said, “I am not.”

 

Jews said to him then why you are baptizing people if you are not Elijah? On that John the Baptist said that he is preparing the way for Messiah.  People of John also said that John has showed no miracle (Jh 10:41)

 

There was also long before Jesus, a Jewish prophet in Babylon called Daniel who wrote about his revelations (Daniel 7:13-14):

 

As I looked on, in the night vision, one like a Son of Man was coming with the clouds of heaven; he reached the Everlasting One and was presented to him. Dominion, glory, and kingship were given to him. All peoples and nations of every language must serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed.”

 

The Aramaic phrase Bar (‘ě)nosh “son of man”  (translated in Hebrews as ben Adam) referred to a mysterious figure riding on the clouds in the sky. Such a figure is also mentioned in vision of another Babylonian Prophet, Ezekiel. On the bank of the Chebar River, in Tel Abib in Babylon Ezekiel saw a great vision. In the vision he saw a great chariot called Merkabah (chariot) with lights, fire and flashes. The angelic beings were surrounding the chariot (see Ezekiel 1-28).

 

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above

 

This figure becomes the hub of mystical speculations in the SecondTemple period. The Babylonian Jewry were expecting an angel like saviour (fly in skies like angel but looks like a man) who would come with might and glory and free them from the serfdom. The son of man term later becomes an important element of the eschatological-apocalyptic decorum among Jews of Jesus’ era.  The recently discovered dead sea scrolls also reveal that the Jews living in Qumran were expecting two Messiahs, a kingly Messiah and a priestly Messiah[1].

 

The authors of Synoptic gospels find it necessary to some how fuse this personality with Jesus.  So they fused both of these Messiah into a single figure of Jesus. Jesus is depicted not only as Messiah from Davidic lineage (as in book of Zechariah and Jeremiah) but also he is shown to have angelic appearance like in his transfiguration story (Mth 17:1-8, Mk 9:1-8, Lk 9:28-36) and thus resembles the expectation of Jews who follow the tradition of book of  Daniel and Ezekiel.

One scholar explains the Vision of Daniel as:

In the apocalyptic vision of Daniel the Macedonian kingdom is “the fourth beast ” and the “he-goat” that sprouts “horns equals to successor kings” culminating in a rampaging ruler who desecrates the Temple in Jerusalem (7:7-8,19-27; 8:15-12.20-25). Although unnamed, Alexander and Antiochus Epiphanes IV are clearly the first and the last of the series of Hellenistic rulers. That the author of Daniel was fairly well-informed about the break-up of Alexander’s kingdom and the successive rule of Ptolemies and Seleucids over Palestine is evident in a coded visionary review of the struggle between unnamed “kings of the south” and “kings of north”, once again culminating in the desecrating savagery of a northern king (11:2-39) while the historical details in the visionary account are allusive  they are coherent in recounting waves of destructive warfare between the Ptolemies and Seleucid  extending over a century in time. The “vision” further attests to the severe impact of this warfare on Judah, situated geopolitically between the warring parties, with Juda’s leaders drawn into the conflicts of aligning themselves with combatant or the other. All the allusions to Hellenistic rulers in these visions and abruptly in the hiatus between the desecration of Jerusalem Temple in 167 BCE and its restoration in 164 BCE (The Politics of Ancient Israel by Norman K. Gottwald, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001, pg 107). 

Gospel authors were not that well aware about the prophecies of book of Daniel and these connected the events of the past with Jesus mission and told that the prophecies of book of Prophets are not actually fulfilled.

Mathew describe the coming of bar enosh from clouds as (Mth 24)

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. …………At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect……… For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. …… “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Luke and Mark described the Bar enosh as (Lk 17, Mk 13):

Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation……………..“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.

The gospel of John did not intertwine the Daniel and Ezekiel predictions on Bar enosh in his gospel.

Bar enosh or ben Adam was the focus of mystical vision in Merkabah mysticism. The Jews were themselves unsure about the exact nature of this being so the vision of Ezekiel was forbidden to be interpreted and even if attempted then it must be done after permission and in secrecy.

Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee, neither search the things that are above thy strength. But what is commanded thee, think thereupon with reverence; for it is not needful for thee to see with thine eyes the things that are in secret[2].

 

It is estimated that Merkabah mysticism tradition started as early as from c.100 BCE to 1000 CE. Thus according to gospels, the mysticism based on bar enosh had started from 100 years before Jesus. What is left for reader imagination by gospel authors is the bar enosh ending has not occurred. Jesus rose from dead appeared to his disciples and followers in secrecy and left the world. There were no upheavals, destructions and coming of  Bar enosh from clouds in midst of flash and lightning.

 

According to Synoptic Gospels Jesus also mixed the bar enosh theme in answering to High priest during his trial, which is discussed in following chapter.

 

If we analyse the Paul words quoted by Luke in Acts of Apostle then we find close resemblance between the Paul vision and Jesus bar enosh predictions. Paul said (Acts 22)

 

About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.  I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.  ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

 

Paul’s vision of Jesus with bright light from heaven has close resemblance with bar ensoh description of Synoptic gospels.  It can be inferred that Pauline church was indulged in bar enosh mystical speculations more than the Church followed by the author of gospel of John.

 


[1] The Messiah before Jesus by Isreal Knohl, University of California Press, 2000

[2] Book of the All-Virtuous Wisdom of Joshua ben Sira

 

It is told in gospel of Mathew that when Jesus story was proceeding towards climax that Jesus asked his disciples (Mth 16: 15-23):

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood  did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.  From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him “God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”

So it is showed that disciple Peter was so insolent that he even rebuked Jesus, the true Messiah.  So first disciples agreed that Jesus is Messiah and then they rebuked him on saying that he would die on cross. What a tide of acceptance and rejection!  Then Jesus also reprimanded Peter and took his words back. Jesus first called Peter, a rock on which church would be established then in next reply he called Peter, Satan and a stumbling block, because Peter mind is focused on Mundane not on the sublime realities.

This indicates that  the disciples were against the belief of death of Messiah on cross. But gospels’ authors inserted that into there books and showed that disciples were unintelligent people and even insolent individuals.

In Jesus times, the epithet Father is used for God. Jesus said to Jews:

And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (Mth 23:8)

Jews said to Jesus (Jh 8:41)

The only Father we have is God himself.

 God is addressed as the father because as father takes an active interest in affairs of his children, so do God, who takes active interest in human affairs.

Paul quoted Hosea (Letter to Romans 9: 26):

“I will call those who were not my people, ‘My people,’ and I will call her who was unloved, ‘My beloved.’” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’  there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

It is informed in gospels that at the time of inquiry in Sanhedrin, High Priest asked:

 

Mathew 26:63 The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Luke 22:67-70 If you are the Messiah, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,  and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God,  then?” He answered them, “You say that I am.”
Mark 14:61-62 Again the high priest questioned him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”  “I am,” said Jesus, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
John 18:19- 21 The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching.  Jesus replied,  “I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together.  have said nothing in secret.  Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said. They know what I said.”

 

For Jews, Messiah, Son of God is the title bearing political significance. It is more political then theological questioning. An expected Messiah means King of Jews and revolt against the Romans. Pilate being governor of Judea asked Jesus about his Messiah title? So according to Synoptic Gospels Roman put a plate on the Cross in which was written: King of Jews (Mth 27:37, Lk 23:38, Mk 15:26).

 

The authors of Synoptic gospels intertwined the verses of Psalm in Jesus’ reply. Psalm 110 starts with verses:

 

Here is the Lord’s (i.e. God’s) proclamation to my lord: “Sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool!” (Psalm 110:1)

 

If we assume that Synoptic gospels are correct in reporting the words of Jesus then Jesus has not expressed something blasphemous. Jews might have immediately recognized the vocabulary of Jesus borrowed from Psalms.  So, if Jesus would come with sitting on right hand of God what would be his next move?  From the context of Psalm it is clear that he would crush his enemies. It is therefore a subtle way of harassment and challenge for his opponents. Jews knew that if Jesus is left free to preach in public it could bring disastrous consequences. High Priest knew that so he changed the political questioning into theological issue. He tore his robe and twisted the reply of Jesus and cried: He uttered the blasphemy!

 

Later Jews handed over Jesus to Roman authorities and changed the theological issue back to political issue.   Pilate asked Jesus about his claim of Messiah or king of Jews. Pilate was himself not sure of Jesus crime due to confusion among Jews. So he gave an option to Jews.  It is informed in gospel of Mathew that Pilate asked the Jews: Which one shall be freed? Jesus the Messiah or  Jesus Bar-abbas (Mth 27:16-22)

 

At that time they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Jesus Barabbas[1].

 

The Jews cried that free the Barabbas and crucify Jesus (Jh 18:40)[2].

 

In Aramaic Jesus Barabbas is Jesus son of Father.  It could be speculated that the person crucified was Jesus son of Father instead of Jesus son of Mary. The news spread in masses that Jesus died and according to tradition in those days the epithet of Father was taken as  God. So news spread that Jesus son of God was crucified.

 

At what time Jesus died?  Ehrman discussed the findings of German scholar, Hermann Reimarus (1694-1767):

There are differences in Gospel accounts that cannot be reconciled. Some of these differences are minor discrepancies in details: Did Jesus die the afternoon before the Passover meal was eaten, as in John (see 9:14), or the morning afterwards, as in Mark (see 14:12,22; 15:25)? Did Joseph and ‘Mary flee to Egypt after Jesus’ birth as in Mathew (2:13-23), or did they return to Nazareth as in Luke (2:39)? Was Jarius’s daughter sick and died when he came to ask Jesus for help as in Mark (6:23,35), or had she already died, as in Mathew (9:18)? After Jesus, resurrection, did the disciples stay in Jerusalem until he had ascended into Heaven, as in Luke (24:1-52), or did they straightaway go to Galilee, as in Mathew (28:1-20)? Discrepancies like these (many of which seem minor, but which often end up being significant when examined closely) permeate the Gospel tradition[3].

 

It is informed in gospels that Jesus immediate disciples had problems in believing in his resurrection especially Peter (in gospel of Luke) and Thomas (John 20:24). Only women saw the empty tomb and then an angelic being informed that Jesus will appear in Galilee.  Among these women was Mary Magdalene. For Mary Magdalene it was informed that  She was From Bethany (Jh. 11:1); She was the first one who arrived at the grave of Jesus (Mth 28:1), (Mk 16:1),(Jh. 20:1). She claimed she had seen an angel (Mth 28:2-7).  According to Mark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome saw angel after resurrection and they informed no one about this due to horror (Mk. 16:1) later Mary saw him (Mk 16:9)[4]. According to Luke,  Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James were women from Galilee (Lk 23:55) were the first who arrived at grave  and saw angel (Lk 24). They informed about the missing body to others including Peter (Lk 24: 11-12).  She claimed that she saw resurrected Jesus and he talked to her (Jh. 20:18).

 

Thus she was one of the claimants who have seen the risen Christ, first.  Luke like Paul is against women so he showed Jesus first to two men in way to Emmaus  (Lk 24:13-35) Then Jesus appeared to disciples but they were so unsure about him (Mth 28:17)  that Jesus ate with them and showed  to them his wounds (Luke 24:43, John chapter 20 & 21)[5]

 

Paul wrote in letter to Corinthians and also Luke recorded his words in Acts

 

Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) Acts (13:31 )
15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.7 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 15:8 Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. and for many days he (Jesus) appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are now his witnesses to the people.

 

So both Paul and Luke claimed that Peter saw Jesus. In gospel of Luke it is informed that Peter saw the cloth and he was surprised that Jesus’ body is missing (Luke 24:12). Later Jesus appeared to two persons in the way to Emmaus. Meanwhile the disciples in Jerusalem were saying that Peter saw Jesus (Lk 24:34).  When and where Jesus appeared to Peter is missing in gospel of Luke. It is left on the reader’s imagination to interpret the missing link.  In book of Acts Luke said (Lk 13:31)

 

and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

In gospel of Mathew it was claimed that Jesus appeared in Galilee (Mth 28:7). Mark ended abruptly his gospel at 16:8, where he informed that only women saw Jesus and even they kept it secret. Angel instructed that Jesus would appear in Galilee (Mk 16:7).

In gospel of John it is informed that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and then later in evening appeared to twelve disciples (in Jerusalem) (Jh 20:18-19).

Paul letters are older than gospel, but strangely the gospel authors’ intentionally changed the sequence of Jesus vision. According to Paul, Jesus first appeared to Peter, then twelve disciples, then 500 people, then James, then to other apostles. In gospels Jesus appeared to gathering of disciples (Jh 20:19; Lk 24:33-35; Mth 28:16)

Jesus had no issues with teleportation, however how much time Peter and disciples took to travel to Galilee is missing. Naturally there are days involved between missing body event  and vision in Galilee. Did he appeared to disciples in Jerusalem  or in Galilee (as in Mathew and Mark)?

 

Series of Events Mathew Mark Luke John 
Visit of grave site  Women Women Women Women
First appearance Women saw angel not Jesus but suddenly Jesus appeared to them (Mth 28:9)  Mary & two other women saw angel not Jesus but in later scribal addition  (in Mk 16:9) Mary saw Jesus  Two disciples in way to Emmaus Mary saw first two angels and then Jesus  (Jh 20:11-18)
Second appearance Disciples  at mountain in Galilee (disciples were confused) Appeared to eleven in Jerusalem (addition by scribes) (Jesus reprimanded the doubters) Disciples in Jerusalem (Lk 24:33)(disciples confused)  Appeared to ten disciples in Jerusalem (reprimanded the doubters) 
Third appearance Appeared to Thomas 
Fourth appearance Disciples at Sea of Galilee

Gregory J. Riley discussed the differences in Corinthians and Gospels accounts and said:

A simple comparison of the gospels and 1 Corinthians 15 shows that two traditions cannot be reconciled[6].

C.F. Evans said:

It is not simply difficulty to harmonize these traditions, but quite impossible[7]

It can easily be inferred from gospels that author of these gospels tried to answer there opponents which claimed that:

  • Jesus was not resurrected (Jh 20:25-27)
  • Had he been risen then where he is and his body is?  (Mth 28:6,  Jh 20:1)
  • And the body must have wounds (Jh 20)
  • No one saw him after alleged crucifixion (Mth 28:9,  Mark 16:14, Jh 21)
  • Anyone saw Jesus now, must have seen a (demonic) spirit  (Lk 24:40-43)
  • Where is his body (Mth 28:6, Lk 24:12)

So it has become necessary to refute these arguments and gospels were written by the opponents of disciples.

There was a belief in circulation that Jesus has not died on the Cross. Gnostics were supporting this belief. Irenaeus has mentioned about it in his work Against Heresies i-xxiv.

In words of one Christian Scholar:

 These Gospels were each written more than a full generation after the events they describe, when most, if not all, of the actors involved were dead. With due consideration given to sources and tradition inherited by the writers, the choice of what was to be included was consciously made, and reflects the events of the life of Jesus through the prism of authors’ present community concerns. The apostolic figures chosen represent focal points for their respective communities, centres of inspiration for later generations around which the spiritual ideals of each group coalesced[8].

 


[1] In New English Translation a footnote is added: Although the external evidence for the inclusion of “Jesus” before “Barabbas” (in vv. 16 and 17) is rather sparse, being restricted virtually to the Caesarean text (Θ Ë1 700* pc sys), the omission of the Lord’s name in apposition to “Barabbas” is such a strongly motivated reading that it can hardly be original. There is no good explanation for a scribe unintentionally adding ᾿Ιησοῦν (Ihsoun) before Βαραββᾶν (Barabban), especially since Barabbas is mentioned first in each verse (thus dittography is ruled out). Further, the addition of τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν (ton legomenon Criston, “who is called Christ”) to ᾿Ιησοῦν in v. 17 makes better sense if Barabbas is also called “Jesus” (otherwise, a mere “Jesus” would have been a sufficient appellation to distinguish the two). (https://bible.org/netbible/)

[2] In New English Translation a footnote is added:  The name Barabbas in Aramaic means “son of abba,” that is, “son of the father,” and presumably the man in question had another name (it may also have been Jesus, according to the textual variant in Matt 27:16, although this is uncertain). For the author this name held ironic significance: The crowd was asking for the release of a man called Barabbas, “son of the father,” while Jesus, who was truly the Son of the Father, was condemned to die instead.

[3] Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman, OxfordUniversity Press, 2003

[4] According to Bart D. Ehrman, the most ancient manuscript of Mark indicates that it ends on 16:8. So whatever said after that is an addition (see Lost Christianities, Oxford University Press, 2003,  pg 220)

[5] Helmut Koester added a foot note in his book: John 21 is a later addition, made into fourth gospel some times after its composition at a date that can no longer be determined with any certainty ( see Ancient Christian Gospels, their History and Development by Helmut Koester  pg220)

[6] Resurrection Reconsidered by Gregory J. Riley Fortress Press, 1995 , pg 89

[7] Resurrection and New Testament by C. F. Evans, SCM Press, 1970, pg 128

[8] Resurrection Reconsidered Thomas and John in Controversy by Gregory J. Riley, Fortress Press, 1995, Pg73-74

 

Pre-Paul Milieu and Philo’s Philosophy

 

Philo, an Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, who lived before Jesus wrote about the Mamre vision of Abraham described in Genesis 18. In this vision Abrahm saw three men. Philo explained this vision as[1]:

 

XXIV. (121) Since this is not the actual truth, but in order that one may when speaking keep as close to the truth as possible, the one in the middle is the Father of the universe, who in the sacred scriptures is called by his proper name, I am that I am; and the beings on each side are those most ancient powers which are always close to the living God, one of which is called his creative power, and the other his royal power. And the creative power is God, for it is by this that he made and arranged the universe; and the royal power is the Lord, for it is fitting that the Creator should lord it over and govern the creature.  (122) Therefore, the middle person of the three, being attended by each of his powers as by body-guards, presents to the mind, which is endowed with the faculty of sight, a vision at one time of one being, and at another time of three; of one when the soul being completely purified, and having surmounted not only the multitudes of numbers, but also the number two, which is the neighbour of the unit, hastens onward to that idea which is devoid of all mixture, free from all combination, and by itself in need of nothing else whatever; and of three, when, not being as yet made perfect as to the important virtues, it is still seeking for initiation in those of less consequence, and is not able to attain to a comprehension of the living God by its own unassisted faculties without the aid of something else, but can only do so by judging of his deeds, whether as creator or as governor.  (On Abraham)

 

 

Philo also wrote about the cherubim over the Ark as:

 

XX. (97) But the ark is the depository of the laws, for in that are placed the holy oracles of God, which were given to Moses; and the covering of the ark, which is called the mercy-seat, is a foundation for two winged creatures to rest upon, which are called, in the native language of the Hebrews, cherubim, but as the Greeks would translate the word, vast knowledge and science. (98) Now some persons say, that these cherubim are the symbols of the two hemispheres, placed opposite to and fronting one another, the one beneath the earth and the other above the earth, for the whole heaven is endowed with wings. (99) But I myself should say, that what is here represented under a figure are the two most ancient and supreme powers of the divine God, namely, his creative and his kingly power; and his creative power is called God; according to which he arranged, and created, and adorned this universe, and his kingly power is called Lord, by which he rules over the beings whom he has created, and governs them with justice and firmness; (100) for he, being the only true living God, is also really the Creator of the world; since he brought things which had no existence into being; and he is also a king by nature, because no one can rule over beings that have been created more justly than he who created them. (On Life of Moses II)

 

From the Philo’s description it is clear that he has made the angels into the power of God and thus created three gods:

 

Creative Power (Creator of Universe)- Father (I am what I am) – Royal Power (Lord or Ruler)

Polytheist tendencies were brewing in Jews. Paul (Saul) was Jew himself and must knew about all these utterances of Jewish philosophers and mystics. He there consider the Jesus as a mystery of God  and preached the dualistic mystery that there are two powers in Heavens, One God and one Power of God in form of Jesus. Paul was the self-proclaimed apostle of Jesus.  Paul wrote several letters for non-Jewish people[2]. According to him, Jesus become son of God due to his righteousness and because he is the only human resurrected back to Life, unlike to normal humans who become dust. So death is an ultimate end for a human which only Jesus has escaped.  Based on this theology of his own, Paul preached the good news that if someone believes in Jesus resurrection then that person would be raised back to life and would never die.

 

Paul described Jesus as power in his letters:

who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power[3] according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 4)

 

 

Paul’s Vision of Christ

There are a lot of discrepancies in Paul’s Letters and Luke’s Description of Paul’s vision.

 

Paul said in Galatians (1:18) that he went to Jerusalem after three years of his Jesus vision:

 

But when the one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased  to reveal his Son in me so that I could preach him among the Gentiles, I did not go to ask advice from any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, but right away I departed to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and get information from him, and I stayed with him fifteen days.  But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

 

 

So Paul had never met twelve except James. But he met Cephas!

 

In Acts (chapter 9), Luke changed that and claimed that Paul preached at synagogues in Damascus and then went to Jerusalem and met disciples:

 

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias,” and he replied, “Here I am, Lord.”  Then the Lord told him, “Get up and go to the street called ‘Straight,’ and at Judas’ house look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. For he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he may see again.”  But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem,  and here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call on your name!” But the Lord said to him, “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, his strength returned. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus,  and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “This man is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and were saying, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem was ravaging those who call on this name, and who had come here to bring them as prisoners to the chief priests?”  But Saul became more and more capable, and was causing consternation among the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. Now after some days had passed, the Jews plotted together to kill him,  but Saul learned of their plot against him. They were also watching the city gates day and night so that they could kill him.  But his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall by lowering him in a basket. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took Saul, brought him to the apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.

 

 

Alan Segal writes about the Luke’s writings on Paul vision[4]:

 

The resulting Lukan portrait of Paul lacks the fire and controversy of Paul letters. Many New Testament scholars suspect that Luke entirely abandons historical accuracy

 

Alan Segal also said that (pg 7):

 

The similarity of three visions in Acts end at this point. In the first account Paul’s companions hear the voice but see nothing. In the second, they see the light but hear nothing. In the first two, Paul falls to the ground while his companions stand. In the third account they all fall to the ground. In the first two accounts Jesus tells Paul to go to Damascus to await for further orders. But in this account Paul receives directly from the revelation his commission of apostleship to gentiles: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from people and from the gentiles- to whom I send you to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from power of Satan to  God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Acts 26:15-18)”

 

Luke wanted to separate Paul from rest of disciples and used the term apostle for him. Paul on the other hand did not want to lose the elevated status  and claim that he too has seen the risen Christ and thus he is equally important. Luke’s resurrected Christ is more physical and mundane. In Luke’s version Jesus is shown to be walking, talking and he appeared in full flesh and bones (Lk 24:39). Paul vision of Christ is more spiritual in midst of lightening and flashes and heavenly voice. It is a different vision but more in accordance with biblical Ezekiel’s vision.

 

Clement has written Homilies in which he informed that Peter was very sarcastic on Paul’s alleged vision. Clement describes[5]:

 

And if our Jesus appeared to you also and become known in a vision and met you as angry with an enemy [recall Paul had vision while still persecuting the Christians; Acts 9], yet he has spoken only through vision and dreams or through external revelations. But can anyone be made competent to teach through a vision? And if your opinion is that is possible, why then did our teacher spend a whole year with us who were awake? How can we believe you even if he has appeared to you?… But if you were visited by him for the space of an hour and were instructed by him and thereby have become an apostle, then proclaim his words, expound what he has taught, be a friend to his apostles and do not contend with me, who am his confidant; for you have in hostility withstood me, who am  a firm rock, the formation stone of Church (Homilies 17.19)

 

 

Cephas and Paul’s Confusion?

According to Paul, Cephas[6] is not among the twelve.  He mentioned Cephas separate from twelve. Paul said in 1 Corinthians (15:5) that risen Christ appeared first to:

 

And that he (Jesus) appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

 

Paul considered Cephas separate from twelve. Luke knew about the confusion of Paul and that is why he wrote the biography of Paul with title of Acts of Apostles and tried to diffuse this confusion.

 

 

Paul’ Association with Jewish Priesthood

 

It is stated in Talmud:

 

“His disciples fled and scattered themselves in the kingdom; three of them [went] to Mount Ararat, three of them to Armenia, three to Rome, the others to other places, and misled the people, but wherever they took refuge, God sent his judgment upon them, and they were slain. But many among the apostates of our people went astray after him; there was strife between them and Israelites…confusion of prayers and much loss of money [for Israel]. Everywhere where the apostates caught sight of the Israelites they said to the Israelites: Ye have slain God’s anointed [messiah]! But the Israelites answered them: Ye are children of death, because ye have believed on a false prophet! Nevertheless they went not forth from the community of Israel, and there was strife and contention among them, so that Israel had no peace. When the wise men of Israel saw this they said: [it is now] thirty years since that rouge (Jesus) was put to death, [and] till now we have no peace with these misguided ones, and this hath befallen us because of the number of our sins, for it is written: They have moved Me to wrath with their not- God [They have moved Me to jealously with that which is not God]; They have provoked Me to anger with their vanities, etc.; – that is the Christians, who are not [?naught]; with a base people will I provoke them;- that is, the Ishmaelites. The wise said: How long shall the apostates profane Sabbath…and feasts, and slay one another? Let us rather seek for a wise man who may take these erring once out of the community of Israel. It is now thirty years that we have admonished them, but they have not returned to God, because they have taken it into their heads that Yeschu [Jesus] is the Messiah, and so may they go to destruction and peace be with us.   The wise men agreed on a man whose name was Elijahu, and he was very learned in the scripture, and they said to him: …We have agreed, that we will pray for thee, that thou shalt be counted as a good Israelite in the other World. Go, and do good for Israel, and remove the apostates from us, that they may go to destruction!

Elijahu went to Sanhedrin at Tiberias, to Antioch, and made proclamation through out the whole land of Israel: Whoso believeth on Yeschu let him join himself to me! Then said he to them: I am the messenger [apostle] of Yeschu, who sent me to you, and I will show you a marvel, as Yeschu did. They brought unto him a leper, and he laid his hand upon him, so that he was healed. They brought unto him a lame man, he uttered the Shem, laid his hand on him, and he was healed and stood upon his feet. Forthwith they fell down before him and said: Truly thou art the messenger of Yeschu for thou hast shown us marvels as he did. Elijahu said to them: Yeschu sendeth you his greeting and saith: I am with my Father in heaven at His right hand, until He shall take vengeance on the Jews, as David said: Sit thou on my right hand, etc. At the same hour they all lamented and added foolishness to their foolishness. Elijahu said to them: Yeschu saith to you: Whosoever will be with me in the other world, let him remove himself from the community of Israel and join himself not to them; for my Father in heaven hath already rejected them and from henceforth requireth not their service, for so said He through Isaiah: Your new moons and feast my soul hateth, etc. But Yeschu saith to you: Whosoever follow me let him profane the Sabbath, for God hateth it, but instead of it He keepeth the Sunday, for on to it God gave light to His world. And for Passover which the Israelites solemnize, keep yet it on the Feast of Resurrection, for he is risen from his grave; for the Feast of weeks, Ascension, for on to it he is ascended to heaven; for New Year, finding of the Cross; for the Great fast day [Day of atonement], the Feast of the Circumcision; for Chanuka [Feast of lights], Calendae [New year]. The foreskin is naught, circumcision is naught; whosoever will circumcise himself let him be circumcised; whosoever will not circumcise himself let him be not circumcised. Moreover, whatsoever God created in the world, from the smallest gnat to mightiest elephant, pour forth its blood upon the ground and eat it for so it is written: As the green grass have I given you all. If one of them compel you to go a mile, go with him twain; If a Jew smite you on the left side turn to him the right also; if a Jew revile you, endure it and return it not again, as Yeschu endured it; in meekness he showed himself therewith he showed also meekness as he practiced it, that ye might endure all that any should do to you. At the last judgment Yeschu will punish them, but do ye have hope according to your meekness, for so it is written: Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, etc. Until he separated them from Israel. But Elijahu who gave them these laws, the not –good ones did it for the welfare of Israel and Christian call him Paul. After he had introduced these laws and commandments the erring ones separated themselves from Israel and strife ceased (Did Jesus Live 100 B.C; G. R. S. Mead; pp273-276)”.

Validity of Torah or Laws of Moses

Paul preached that Laws of Moses are annulled and now there are no need to follow the dietary laws.

Mark wrote that Jesus used to eat with sinners (meant gentiles or non-Jews) (Mk 2:15-17):

And it came to pass, that he was sitting at meat in his house, and many publicans and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and publicans, said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? And when Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

 

What defiles a person is not what he is eating. Mark wrote 7: 17-23

Don’t you know that nothing from the outside that enters a person has the power to contaminate?  That’s because it doesn’t enter into the heart but into the stomach, and it goes out into the sewer.” By saying this, Jesus declared that no food could contaminate a person in God’s sight.  “It’s what comes out of a person that contaminates someone in God’s sight,” he said.  “It’s from the inside, from the human heart, that evil thoughts come: sexual sins, thefts, murders,   adultery, greed, evil actions, deceit, unrestrained immorality, envy, insults, arrogance, and foolishness.   All these evil things come from the inside and contaminate a person in God’s sight.”

Luke has also attributed a statement to Jesus that  (Lk 16:16)

Until John, there was only the Law and the Prophets. Since then, the good news of God’s kingdom is preached, and everyone is urged to enter it.

Mathew wrote exact opposite of what is stated above. Mathew quoted the words of Jesus that

(Mth 5:17-20)

Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them. I say to you very seriously that as long as heaven and earth exist, neither the smallest letter nor even the smallest stroke of a pen will be erased from the Law until everything there becomes a reality.  Therefore, whoever ignores one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called the lowest in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps these commands and teaches people to keep them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Paul wanted to make his message acceptable to the Graeco-Roman World. The influence of Greek mythology on his addressee was very strong. The hybrid person created from God Zeus and human women is well known and these personalities were called Heroes.

In Paul’s letters,  Jesus was  depicted as a Holy person who died for the Sins of whole Humanity, but strangely in his theology only the people who believe in risen Christ would get salvation.

 


[2] Earliest copies of Paul letters date from around 200 AD.

 

[3] A footnote is added in NET Bible: sn Appointed the Son-of-God-in-power. Most translations render the Greek participle ὁρισθέντος (Jorisqentos, from ὁρίζω, Jorizw) “declared” or “designated” in order to avoid the possible interpretation that Jesus was appointed the Son of God by the resurrection. However, the Greek term ὁρίζω is used eight times in the NT, and it always has the meaning “to determine, appoint.” Paul is not saying that Jesus was appointed the “Son of God by the resurrection” but “Son-of-God-in-power by the resurrection,” as indicated by the hyphenation. He was born in weakness in human flesh (with respect to the flesh, v. 3) and he was raised with power. This is similar to Matt 28:18 where Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

[4] Paul the Convert by Alan Segal, Yale University Press, 1990

[5] Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman, Oxford University Press, 2003, pg 184

[6] Cephas in Aramaic means Rock, Cephas is translated into Greek Πετρος (Petros). So Peter or Cephas was title

Part II: Jesus in Quran

 

Vow by Mother of Marry for coming child

Allah informed us in surah Imran (father of Marry) 35-37:

(Remember) when the wife of ‘Imran[1] said: “O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services, so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing.”  Then when she delivered her [child Maryam (Mary)], she said: “O my Lord! I have delivered a female child,” – and Allah knew better what she delivered, – “And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (Mary), and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast.” So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance.

 

Zechariah become the mentor of Marry

 

Allah informed us that priests disputed each other to become the mentor Marry to help her in fulfilment of her  mother vows and even cast lots[2] to become the  mentor of Marry (Al-Imran 44)

This is a part of the news of the unseen (i.e. which Prophet has no knowledge) which We inspire you with (O Muhammad ). You were not with them, when they cast lots with their pens as to which of them should be charged with the care of Maryam (Mary); nor were you with them when they disputed.

 

Allah informed us that in surah Imran (father of Marry) 37:

He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zechariah. Every time he entered Al-Mihrab to (visit) her , he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Maryam (Mary)! From where have you got this?” She said, “This is from Allah.” Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.

Birth Announcement for John the Baptist

Allah informed us in surah Al-Imran 38-41 that Zechariah was standing in Mihrab[3]

At that time Zechariah invoked his Lord, saying: “O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation.”  Then the angels called him, while he was standing in prayer in Al-Mihrab , (saying): “Allah gives you glad tidings of Yahya (Johnanna), confirming (believing in) the Word from Allah, noble, keeping away from (illicit) sexual relations with women, a Prophet, from among the righteous.” He said: “O my Lord! How can I have a son when I am very old, and my wife is barren?” Allah said: “Thus Allah does what He wills.”  He said: “O my Lord! Make a sign for me.” Allah said: “Your sign is that you shall not speak to mankind for three days except with signals. And remember your Lord much (by praising Him again and again), and glorify (Him) in the afternoon and in the morning.”

Allah said in surah Mariam (Marry)  1-15

 Kaf- Ha-Ya-‘Ain-Sad.  A mention of the mercy of your Lord to His slave Zechariah  When he called out his Lord a call in secret,   Saying: “My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and grey hair has spread on my head, And I have never been unblest in my invocation to You, O my Lord!  “And Verily! I fear my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So give me from Yourself an heir,  “Who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Ya’qub (Jacob). And make him, my Lord, one with whom You are Well-pleased!”.  (Allah said) “O Zechariah! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son, His name will be Yahya (Yohanna). We have given that name to none before (him).”  He said: “My Lord! How can I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I have reached the extreme old age.”  He said: “So (it will be). Your Lord says; It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing!”   said: “My Lord! Appoint for me a sign.” He said: “Your sign is that you shall not speak unto mankind for three nights, though having no bodily defect.”  Then he came out to his people from Al-Mihrab, he told them by signs to glorify Allah’s Praises in the morning and in the afternoon.  (It was said to his son): “O Yahya (Johnanna)! Hold fast the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah)].” And We gave him wisdom while yet a child.  And (made him) sympathetic to men as a mercy (or a grant) from Us, and pure from sins and he was righteous,  And dutiful towards his parents, and he was neither an arrogant nor disobedient (to Allah or to his parents). And peace be on him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life (again)!

Birth Announcement of Jesus and his birth

Also in surah Al-Imran Allah informed us that 42-49

And (remember) when the angels said: “O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you and chosen you above the women of the Worlds.  O Mary! “Submit yourself with obedience to your Lord and prostrate yourself, and bow down along with those who bow down (to God).”… (Remember) when the angels said: “O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word [“Be!” – and he was! i.e. ‘Iesa (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary)] from Him, his name will be the Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah.”  “He will speak to the people in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous.”. She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me.” He said: “So (it will be) for Allah creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: “Be!” and it is.  And He (Allah) will teach him [‘Iesa (Jesus)] the Book and Wisdom, (and) the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).  And will make him [‘Iesa (Jesus)] a Messenger to the Children of Israel.

 

Allah said in surah Mariam (Marry)  16-26

And mention in the Book Maryam (Mary), when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east.   She placed a screen (like curtain to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh [ Holy Spirit i.e. angel Gabriel], and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.  She said: “Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear.”  (The angel) said: “I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.”  She said: “How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?”  He said: “So (it will be), your Lord said: ‘That is easy for Me (Allah): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allah).’ ”  So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place.  And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!”  Then [a voice] cried unto her from below her, saying: “Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream under you; “And shake the trunk of date-palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe-dates upon you.”  “So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.'”

Marry reprimanded by people for being unchaste

Allah said in surah Mariam (Marry)  27-34

Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said: “O Mary! Indeed you have brought an unheard mighty thing.  “O sister of Aaron[4]! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor your mother was an unchaste woman.” Then she pointed to him. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”  “He [Jesus] said: Verily! I am a slave of Allah, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet;” “And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Salat (prayer), and alms, as long as I live.”  “And dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest.  “And Salam (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!”  Such is ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). (it is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute).

Jesus taught the true monotheism

Allah informed in surah al-Imran 49-53:

 

 (Jesus said): “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s Leave; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by Allah’s Leave. And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you, if you believe.. And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Taurat (Torah), and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me.  Truly! Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him (Alone). This is the Straight Path. . Then when ‘Iesa (Jesus) came to know of their disbelief, he said: “Who will be my helpers in Allah’s Cause?” A the disciples said: “We are the helpers of Allah; we believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. we submit to Allah).”  Our Lord! We believe in what You have sent down, and we follow the Messenger [‘Iesa (Jesus)]; so write us down among those who bear witness.  

 

Jesus showed Signs

Allah informed in surah Al-Maidah  110

When Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection). “O Jesus, son of Maryam (Mary)! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I supported you with Holy Spirit [Jibrael (Gabriel)] so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you writing,  Wisdom, the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel); and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission, and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My Permission, and when you brought forth the dead by My Permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from you (when they resolved to kill you) since you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic.’ “

Disciples requested for Supper as a Sign

 Allah informed in surah Al-Maidah 111-115

 

And when I (Allah) put in the hearts of the disciples [of ‘Iesa (Jesus)] to believe in Me and My Messenger, they said: “We believe. And bear witness that we are Muslims.”. (Remember) when (the disciples) said: “O ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Can your Lord send down to us a table spread (with food) from heaven?” ‘Iesa (Jesus) said: “Fear Allah, if you are indeed believers.”  They said: “We wish to eat thereof and to be stronger in Faith, and to know that you have indeed told us the truth and that we ourselves be its witnesses.”  ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), said: “O Allah, our Lord! Send us from heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us – for the first and the last of us – a festival and a sign from You; and provide us sustenance, for You are the Best of sustainers.” Allah said: “I am going to send it down unto you, but if any of you after that disbelieves, then I will punish him with a torment such as I have not inflicted on anyone among (all) the Worlds “.

 Jews plotted to kill Jesus

 Allah informed in surah Imran 54-56

And they (disbelievers) plotted [to kill ‘Iesa (Jesus)], and Allah planned too. And Allah is the Best of the planners.  And (remember) when Allah said: “O ‘Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve  till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.” “As to those who disbelieve, I will punish them with a severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.”

Jesus was not crucified and killed but saved

Allah said in surah Al-Nisa  155-159:

 

Because of their breaking the covenant, and of their rejecting the  evidences of Allah, and of their killing the Prophets unjustly, and of their saying: “Our hearts are wrapped (with coverings, i.e. we do not understand what the Messengers say)” – nay, Allah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief, so they believe not but a little. . And because of their (Jews) disbelief and uttering against Maryam (Mary) a grave false charge;  And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not.  But Allah raised him [‘Iesa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise. And there is none of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), but must believe in him  before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection, he [‘Iesa (Jesus)] will be a witness against them.

God will ask Jesus: Did you teach them the false doctrines?

Allah informed in surah Al-Maidah  116- 120

 

 And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?’ ” He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.  “Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.  “If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise .”  Allah will say: “This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success (Paradise).. To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and He is Able to do all things.

 

 

Allah ask Christians: Why you have not believed in Muhammad?

Allah said in Quran surah al-Imran 70-71

O people of the Scripture! (Jews and Christians): “Why do you disbelieve in the Ayat of Allah, [the Verses about Prophet Muhammad  present in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] while you (yourselves) bear witness (to their truth).”  O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): “Why do you mix truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while you know?

 


[1] Aamram in Hebrew or Aramaic

[2] Mishnah informs that priests of the temple cast lots for the performance of duties. “The officials of Temple said to them, Come and cast lots to decide who among them would kill the sacrifice, who would sprinkle the blood and who would clear the altar of ashes, who would light the menorah ” (Mishnah Tamid 3.1). The room Gazith (Lots casting room) was in form of large Hall. The casting took place from the east side of it. With an elder sitting on the west. The priest stood about in a circle  and official grabbed the hat off this or that person, and by this they understood where the lot was to begin (Yoma 25a).  (from  Jesus Christ in Talmud by J. Lightfoot  published in 1658)

[3]Al-Mihrab was the place where priest was staying in Temple. Marry was staying in one of the chambers and it was not walled surrounding her, instead to separate herself a curtain or screen was place between her and  rest.  According to Mishna there were several Chambers in Temple which were used by priests.

 

[4] Sister of Aaron means that she is from the family of Aaron, it means that her father, Imran (Aamram) , was from family of Aaron. In gospel of Luke it is informed that Marry was relative of Elisabeth who was the wife of Zechariah (1:36), who was a kohen in Temple and thus must be a Levite and from family of Aaron.

Gospel had Guidance and Light

And in their footsteps, We sent ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) , confirming the Taurat (Torah) that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Taurat (Torah) that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for God-fearing ( Quran, Al-Maidah 46)

 

Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (Jh 8:12)

Parable of Sown Seed

Allah said in surah Al-Fatah 29:

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer), seeking Bounty from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. The mark of them is on their faces (foreheads) from the traces of (their) prostration (during prayers). This is their description in the Taurat (Torah). But their description in the Injeel (Gospel) is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, it then becomes thick, and it stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers that He may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allah has promised those among them who believe (i.e. all those who follow Islamic Monotheism, the religion of Prophet Muhammad till the Day of Resurrection) and do righteous good deeds, forgiveness and a mighty reward (i.e. Paradise).

Jesus said to them, “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work.  Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then it’s time for harvest’? Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest.  Those who harvest are receiving their pay and gathering fruit for eternal life so that those who sow and those who harvest can celebrate together.  This is a true saying, that one sows and another harvests.  I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for; others worked hard, and you will share in their hard work.” (Jh 4: 34-38)

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.  If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples. (Jh 15)

 

Jesus foretold the coming of Prophet Muhammad

 Allah informed in surah Al-Saff -6:

And (remember) when ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), said: “O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you confirming the Taurat [(Torah) which came] before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed . But when he (Ahmed i.e. Muhammad ) came to them with clear proofs, they said: “This is plain magic.”

 

Allah said in surah Al-Araf 157:

Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e.Muhammad) whom they find written with them in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)- he commands them for Good things; and forbids them from Bad things; he allows them as lawful  clean things and prohibits them as unlawful unclean things, he releases them from their heavy burdens, and from the fetters (bindings) that were upon them. So those who believe in him (Muhammad ), honour him, help him, and follow the light (the Qur’an) which has been sent down with him, it is they who will be successful .

 

I have spoken these things to you while I am with you.  The Companion (Advocate)[1], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. (Jh 14:25-26)

 

In Codex Syriacus the verses are without the word Holy. So παράκλητος Paraclete is  only the Spirit there, which God would send.  According to John 1:4-3, a Spirit is an epithet for a Prophet.

 

  • “When the Companion (Advocate) comes, whom I will send from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. (Jh 15:26)

 

  • I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now.  However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come.  He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you.  (Jh 16: 12-14)

In these verses it is  explained that the Holy Spirit referred in John 14:26 is actually a human also called Spirit of Truth.

Also Jesus informed that the Spirit of Truth would come after his ascension:

I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion (advocate) won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (Jh 16:7)

 Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him  has advocated Jesus and exonerated him from the Jews propaganda that he taught false doctrines.  

Bukhari reported that narrated ‘Ubada:
The Prophet said, “If anyone testifies that None has the right to be worshiped but Allah Alone Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His Slave and His Apostle, and that Jesus is Allah’s Slave and His Apostle and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few.”

Jesus showed his aloofness from the disbelievers

Allah informed in surah Al-Maidah  116- 120

 

 And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?’ ” He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.  “Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.  “If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise .”  Allah will say: “This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success (Paradise).. To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and He is Able to do all things.

 

 

I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one.  When I was with them, I watched over them in your name, the name you gave to me, and I kept them safe. None of them were lost, except the one who was destined for destruction, so that scripture would be fulfilled.  Now I’m coming to you and I say these things while I’m in the world so that they can share completely in my joy.  I gave your word to them and the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. (Jh 17:11-14)

Ascension of Jesus

Allah informed in surah Imran 54-56

And they (disbelievers) plotted [to kill ‘Iesa (Jesus)], and Allah planned too. And Allah is the Best of the planners.  And (remember) when Allah said: “O ‘Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve  till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.” “As to those who disbelieve, I will punish them with a severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.”

Therefore, Jesus said, “I’m still with you for a little while before I go to the one who sent me. (Jh 7:33)

Jesus continued, “I’m going away. You will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I’m going, you can’t come.” (Jh 8:21)

 


[1] It is translated as Encourager in The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Tyndale Publishers, 1990. Also a footnote is added in NET bible (https://bible.org/netbible/):  Or “Helper” or “Counselor”; Grk “Paraclete,” from the Greek word παράκλητος (paraklhto”). See the note on the word “Advocate” in v. 16 for a discussion of how this word is translated. Then the footnote on word Advocate in v. 16 says: Or “Helper” or “Counselor”; Grk “Paraclete,” from the Greek word παράκλητος (paraklhto”). Finding an appropriate English translation for παράκλητος is a very difficult task. No single English word has exactly the same range of meaning as the Greek word. “Comforter,” used by some of the older English versions, appears to be as old as Wycliffe. But today it suggests a quilt or a sympathetic mourner at a funeral. “Counselor” is adequate, but too broad, in contexts like “marriage counselor” or “camp counselor.” “Helper” or “Assistant” could also be used, but could suggest a subordinate rank. “Advocate,” the word chosen for this translation, has more forensic overtones than the Greek word does, although in John 16:5-11 a forensic context is certainly present. Because an “advocate” is someone who “advocates” or supports a position or viewpoint and since this is what the Paraclete will do for the preaching of the disciples, it was selected in spite of the drawbacks.

Say (O Muhammad ): “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah. Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Al-Imran 64)

It is explained that Jesus was actually a righteous person. He was considered Prophet and Messiah by the people of his age. His closest disciples find it hard to believe that he would die on cross and resurrect. Later  after his ascension, groups appeared who claimed that they have seen the ghost of Jesus and that ghost has appointed them as his apostles.   The authenticity of resurrection story is questioned through out the New Testament by disciples of Jesus.

It is therefore can be easily extracted from the four gospels that the true faith of Jesus was well preserved by the disciples.  However the  growing number of churches of Jesus by anti-disciple forces  had out-numbered them and slowly their teachings were vanished.

Later literature like  Letters of Paul and the stories of Acts written by Luke are merely an attempt to create an endorsing literature. Mark and Luke are Pauline in style but have differences on nature of Jesus.

Author of gospel of Mathew is non-Pauline but believe in resurrection of Jesus and validity of  laws of Moses. He  probably belonged to church of Mary Magdalene, as he was the first author who had put her in positive light compared to Luke and Mark, who considered her to be possessed by seven demons.

Author of gospel of John belonged to anti-Thomas Church.  He belonged to a church which was based on the teachings of a self-proclaimed  disciple, who might had not met Jesus in his lifetime, and that is why the ineffable name of this disciple has never been uttered in John’s gospel. Author of gospel of John probably had the copy of the gospel which contains the original  saying of Jesus (closest to Quranic description). However the interpretation inserted by author of gospel of John has put the Christians in further confusion on the nature of Jesus.

 

….and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: “We are Christians.” That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud. . And when they (who call themselves Christians) listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger (Muhammad), you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say: “Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.  “And why should we not believe in Allah and in that which has come to us of the truth And we wish that our Lord will admit us  along with the righteous people” So because of what they said, Allah rewarded them Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), they will abide therein forever. Such is the reward of good-doers.                       -(Quran, Al-Maidah 82-85)

 

 

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