From Rob Adams <rjadams@VT.EDU>
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Subject: Re: My Questions to Muslims [11]
Date: Thu Jun 12 20:28:17 EDT 1997
Message-Id: <5nq471$r9h$;
Organization: vt

AbdulraHman Lomax wrote:

> I must point out that we have very little solid information about what
> the disciples saw. I am increasingly finding evidence that they, or at
> least some of them, were not deceived by appearances.

Then why do virtually all scholars agree that Jesus died on
the cross?  Many of these scholars have no desire to prop up
orthodox Christianity (e.g., Jesus Seminar members) yet they
agree that the evidence for this point is overwhelming.
In fact, one of the main goals of any historian's reconstruction
of Jesus is to explain the resurrection stories and their huge

In spite of this, hardly anyone, even those who insist that miracles
don't happen, recourses to the idea that Jesus didn't actually die
on the cross, that he revived in the tomb, that he then talked to
his disciples before he *really* died, and, finally, that others
misunderstood/distorted what these witnesses said of their
experiences and decided to apply the Jewishly loaded term
"resurrection" to their misunderstanding (Schonfield and D.H.
Lawrence are the closest examples I am aware of; even Schonfield,
however, claims that the ordeal of scourging and crucifixion were
too much for him and that Jesus died before he could be revived
in the tomb).

> This is mere assumption on Jochen's part: essentially, he assumes that
> the "true followers" believed the same that he believes. He merely
> asserts that the "true followers" were misinformed; he presents no
> direct evidence that they were, in fact, misinformed. If Jesus
> survived the crucifixion, and if the accounts we have of Jesus
> meetings his disciples after the crucifixion are accurate, he did
> survive, what is the "misinformation?"
> *He survived.*

But if you don't ignore the fact that *he died* first (and you
present no direct evidence that he didn't), then you have to
use the term "survived" in an awkward fashion.  Resurrection
would probably be a better term.

> Is there some place where an eyewitness testifies on knowledge that
> Jesus "died" on the cross. Yes, there is testimony that it appeared
> so, and perhaps the Gospel of John is eyewitness testimony (though
> that is very controversial), but we already know that a person may
> appear dead and not actually be dead. I was discussing this with my
> wife and she mentioned that her mother, visiting China, had some kind
> of cardiac condition and was actually diagnosed as being dead. Then
> she revived.

Was she lying in a tomb with open wounds and no modern medical
care/knowledge just after having been scourged by Roman soldiers,
nailed to a cross for several hours, and pierced with a spear (again
by a Roman soldier), before she revived?


1) My car is having problems and every once in a while it appears
to by "dying".  So much so that, by some standards, it might even
be said to have stopped running for small spans of time.  But if
I step on the gas ever so carefully it revives and continues to
run normally.  This is not a miracle.

2) On the other hand, if I were driving down a highway and
hit a truck head on it would indeed be a miracle if the owner
of a local junkyard called me while I was in the hospital and
told me that my car suddenly started running normally a day or
two after my accident.

All the historical evidence puts the death of Jesus in category
(2), not (1) (as do virtually all critical analyses of the data
which I am aware of).

> A person suffering the kinds of injuries that Jesus suffered might
> well go into a coma and remain motionless and unresponsive for quite
> some time; the only test of Jesus' condition reported in the Gospels
> is the spear wound in the side. That it bled could actually be an
> indication (but not a proof, because of his presumed position) that he
> was alive. (One of the assertions made about this mention in the
> Gospel is that it was a message to the initiated that Jesus had not
> been killed.)

Wow.  You must have pulled that assertion from Schonfield, right?
I haven't seen it anywhere else yet.  What is the evidence
which allows you to read that into the text?

If you maintain that Jesus went into a coma and remained
motionless, this would presumably be because of the shock due to
the suffering he endured.  Do you believe that one revived
from such a fate would inspire his followers to conclude that he
had risen from the dead?

Don't forget that resurrection had very specific meanings
for the Jews of that day, and one of them was *not* that someone
survived death by the skin of their teeth and then stumbled
around for a little while.

> >Less friendly, Allah deceives the believers and sends them on their
> >way deceiving others [remember the command to evangelise with this
> >very "misunderstanding" as the heart of the Gospel].
> I need to ask Jochen how he knows exactly what the disciples believed.
> We have the record of the victors in a struggle in the early church
> between factions which believed quite different things about the
> message of Jesus and his nature.

Do we have records of *any* disciples that believed that Jesus didn't
die on the cross?  Or that didn't believe that he rose from the
*dead*?  Again recall that resurrection had a very specific meaning
for the Jews of that day.  It is not a term that was tossed around

If one wants to say that all such evidence has been lost to
history but it is true nonetheless, then we are back to mere
assertion and anything goes.

> I've mentioned, to Jochen's dismay,
> that I have been reading Schonfield. And then The Jesus Conspiracy
> (about the Shroud of Turin). And I am not convinced that Jochen will
> be pleased to know that I just picked up a used copy of Eisenman's
> "James, the Brother of Jesus," which is pretty good since it was
> published this year.

I tried to respond to an earlier post on SRI citing Eisenman's
work.  It was rejected, but a revised version is available at  (and here)

If nothing else, at least read what other experts are saying
about his work (all the quotes are indented).

BTW, why is Eisenman's book "pretty good since it was
published this year" (actually, I think the copy I have access
to gives a publication date of 1996, not 1997)?  I am willing to
bet that many of the books published 10, 20 and 30 years ago will
still be cited long after Eisenman's book is forgotten.

> As one of my friends said, the whole fabric of traditional
> Christianity is coming unravelled. Those who believe in God and who
> follow Jesus will not be concerned about this, but those who believe
> in myths, who are attached to fantastic theologies bound in and
> dependent upon particular historical events, are likely to find things
> pretty unsettling unless they retreat further into a shell of dogma
> and blind belief.

A "shell of dogma and blind belief" is an interesting choice of
words for someone that wants to deny the strong historical
evidence we have for the death of Jesus on the cross on one hand,
while simultaneously maintaining the historicity of the virgin
birth and the clay-to-birds stories which the Quran requires
on the other (at least a fundamentalist interpretation of the
Quran, which is by far the majority opinion on this newsgroup).
The evidence for the resurrection itself far outstrips the
evidence we have for both of these miracles (and by resurrection
I mean coming back to life after a real death).  In fact,
scholars like Schonfield and Eisenman maintain that it was
the resurrection accounts themselves which eventually gave
rise to these types of miracle stories in the early Church.

In any event, there are plenty of critical NT scholars that
believe in the resurrection, incarnation, trinity, etc.  It
is true that some of the popularized ways of thinking about
certain aspects of Christianity have had to be rethought upon
critical examination, but this is a far cry from the whole
fabric unravelling.  IMO, it is more like pruning a tree to
keep it healthy.

This is an interesting aspect of Muslim reading of NT
scholarship.  Muslims seem to read any criticism of
Chritianity as a vindication of Islam when in fact these
same critics would also say, using exactly the same methods,
that traditional Islam is seriously undermined by the same
type of scholarship.  This is especially true of the types
of scholars that I see Muslims citing on this newsgroup
(e.g., Schonfield and Eisenman).

For example, Stephen C. Neill, co-author with N.T. Wright
of "The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1986,"
Oxford University Press, 1986, has written:

	But far more difficult is it for the Muslim even to
	think of applying criticism to the Quran.  For him this
	is the very word of God, eternal and uncreated; how then
	subject it to the probe and scalpel of the surgeon? ...
	But the Muslim scholar may rest assured that sooner or
	later he will be driven, by the same irresistible
	impulse as the Christians, to look on the Quran with
	the same critical eyes as have been trained in other
	fields.  What the consequences for his faith may be it
	is not for a Christian even to imagine.

> I never expected to say this, but it does appear increasingly likely
> -- and quite possibly provable -- that Jesus *did* survive the
> crucifixion. Which is a powerful sign that Allah has power over all
> things, which is a miracle in itself, which in no way lessens his
> fulfilment of the prophecies regarding the Messiah, but which puts a
> huge hole in the complex theology developed centuries afterwards and
> which became Christian dogma.

Please share the evidence which makes it appear increasingly likely
and/or provable (!) that Jesus survived the crucifixion (and don't
forget the Quranic admonishment, appearances can be deceiving :).
I have read a lot in this area and would like to find out what
I've missed that is so significant as to overturn the overwhelming
evidence to the contrary in such a manner as to say that one has
proven the opposite (or even come close) in an historical sense.

Kind regards,

-Rob Adams.

Literature and critique
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