Jesus was hungry

Was Jesus really hungry? Was it just a parable? What was it?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

Before we delve into the topic proper we should briefly establish the relevant framework upon which the whole discussion will be built so as to get better clarity. For a long time Biblical scholars have noticed distinct similarities and dissimilarities between the first three Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. This relationship that is shared by all three Gospels gave rise to what is called Synoptic problem. The term “Synoptic” means that the three Gospels are interrelated and can be seen together. [1] Most New Testament scholars today subscribe to the Markan/Marcan priority hypothesis which was first proposed in 1863. What that means is that Mark was the first Gospel to be written which was then followed  by Matthew and Luke. Directly related to the Marcan priority is the idea that both Matthew and Luke employed Mark as a common source for their respective Gospels. The Marcan material present in Matthew and Luke is described as the “Triple Tradition” and in terms of statistics, eighty percent of Mark’s verses are found in Matthew while sixty five percent are found in Luke. [2] This position is called the “Two-Source hypothesis” which is according to Dr. L. Michael White “the most commonly used theory among New Testament scholars…”. [3] Writing about the Two-Source Hypothesis Mark Goodrace says:

“Right down to the present, this has remained the most popular way to solve the SynopticProblem. It has been finely tuned, has been given many variations, and has been challenged from many quarters, but this basic two-pronged hypothesis has remained fairly effectively intact. In Germany it is still very much what one might call ‘critical orthodoxy’. Famously, in the mid 1960s, one biblical critic spoke about abandoning use of the term ‘hypothesis’ to describe it altogether. ‘We can in fact regard it as an assured findings’, he said.” [4]

Thus, Mark was written first then the authors of Matthew and Luke employed the Gospel of Mark as a common source for their own productions. In this article we will analyse one out of many of the examples of how a story that was first produced in Mark is reproduced by the other two Synoptic Gospels with some modifications resulting in certain theological implications. The example that we will focus on in this discussion is the story of Jesus and the fig tree which is found in Mark 11, Matthew 12 and Luke 13 which is reproduced by the author in a rather different form as we shall see.

Did Jesus really die on the cross?

The Apparent Death Hypothesis according to Dr. William Lane Craig

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

This article is a response to a section of a debate that took place on the subject of the resurrection of Jesus between the Islamic scholar Shabir Ally and the Christian scholar Dr. William Lane Craig which can be viewed here. The following is a transcript of the section that this article aims at addressing:

“The first one, the crucifixion is universally agreed upon by all historians and here Shabir says that he doesn’t deny that Jesus was crucified but what he suggests is that he was taken down alive from the cross and God raised him out of the tomb into heaven. This is a fantastic hypothesis and an incredible concession on the part of an Islamic theologian to Christian claims about Jesus. Basically it is an attempt to resurrect the old Apparent Death theory which was popular among German rationalists during the late 17th hundreds and I’ve got to say no historian or New Testament scholar would defend this Apparent Death theory today. It’s sort of the theological equivalent of the flat earth theory. Why is this hypothesis abandoned? Well, one thing is that there is simply no doubt that the crucifixion was fatal. The Romans were professional executioners and they ensured the deaths of their victims by a spear thrust into the heart of the victim so that even if the victim had simply lapsed into a comatose state on the cross he would certainly be killed by the thrust of the spear into his heart and this is exactly what happened in Jesus’ case.”

Hebrews 1:8

Does Hebrews 1:8 prove Jesus is God?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

     In my many discussions with Trinitarian Christians on the divinity of Jesus Christ one favourite passage that is often used as a proof text is Hebrews 1 with specific reference to verse 8 which reads as follows:

“Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.”

One Christian apologist remarked, “Here we have God calling Jesus God which means he is indeed God.” If God calling someone “God” makes that person truly God himself, then I suppose Moses ought to be worshipped by these Christians too as we see him being called God by God:

“I have made you God over pharoah, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” (Exodus 7:1)

What is very apparent is that Moses isn’t just called God in the above verse, but is said to have his own prophet! Does that make him God? Following the Christian logic it apparently does. But I suppose Satan is God too as we read in the following verse:

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

The New Living Translation of the Bible identifies the identity of this god in its translation:

“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

Daniel 7:14 proves Jesus is God?

Is Daniel 7:14 evidence of Jesus’ divinity?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

The verse reads as follows :

“He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

The Christian Jesus-worshiper will claim that the above verse shows Jesus as deity because it says that everyone will worship him. First of all, notice that the verse says that “all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him”. Does it say that they will worship him? No, it does not. It says that they DID worship him. So it’s not actually talking about everyone from time immemorial to the end of days. The Christian will claim that the verse says that all authority, glory and sovereign power is given to him so that makes him God. Notice that the verse says that authority was given to him. When was Jesus given authority? Authority was given to Jesus approximately 1920 something years ago as Matthew 28:18 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” When we take Matthew 28:18 into consideration and compare it to Daniel 7:14 we can safely confirm that the latter isn’t referring to the former. The person in Daniel 7:14 was given authority in Daniel’s time or before it, but Jesus was only given authority in his time centuries after Daniel. However, coming back to the first point, does Jesus being worshiped makes him God? First of all, the verse does not have to be translated as worshiped. The New Living Translation translates it as follows:

Is Jesus God because he was “worshipped”?

To worship or not to worship?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

    In my numerous exchanges with Trinitarian Christians in discussing Jesus’ alleged divinity one thing that undoubtedly will not be missed is the notion that Jesus is given worship, hence making him God. At a glance the issue seems quite simple, at least to the uninitiated. God is the one who deserves worship and if Jesus is indeed given worship he must be that God. In reality, the issue is not as simple as that. In this article we will explore and dissect the main arguments that are usually propelled by Trinitarians in this regard to promote Jesus’ alleged deity. The following are some of the verses(from the KJV) that are often cited to prove that Jesus deserves our worship and as such is God:

Matthew 11:11

Rivalry between the early followers of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

    According to several reputed scholars  there was rivalry between the early followers of John the Baptist and Jesus. Matthew 11:11 is one passage that contains a clue to the tension that existed between the followers of Jesus and John. The verse reads as follows:

“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

After citing the above verse Clarik Williamson states, “We know that the Jesus movement was involved in a strong rivalry with John’s community until late in the first century.” [1] Though the literary evidence isn’t explicit, a close and critical analysis of the relevant texts such as Matthew 11:11 do reveal a tension between John’s community and Jesus’ as Cynthia Bourgeault states, “You have to read beneath the surface to see this of course — but just barely beneath the surface. The gospels all reveal a growing rivalry between the John and Jesus camps…”. [2] Also citing the verse in question is James L. Weaver who mentions the possibility of rivalry between the followers of the two personalities saying, “In the Gospels, we have echoes of possible rivalry between the disciples of John and Jesus(see Matthew 9:14 and 11:11).”[3] According to critical scholars the first part of the verse was probably uttered by Jesus and circulated popularly among both John’s followers and Jesus’. It is the second part of the verse which circumvents the first part which is most probably not from Jesus and is in fact an addition that was inserted later by those who did not like the idea of John being in anyway superior to Jesus. How does the verse put John on a greater pedestal than Jesus? Well, the first part has Jesus saying that “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist”. Jesus must necessarily be included since he too was born of a woman(Mary). That would mean that John in actual fact is greater than Jesus. This bit of information was obviously not palatable to those who saw Jesus as the epitome of perfection and the only sinless man to have ever walked the earth. But what were  they able to do since the saying was already in popular circulation? The clever plan was to add an extra bit to be attached to the existing saying that would usurp the superior position designated to John. Thus we have the part which can be traced back to Jesus, that is, “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” and the section that was added later, that is, “yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Benedict T. Viviano in the New Jerusalem Biblical Commentary states that, “Verse 11b may be an early Christian gloss”[4] However, thinking that they would resolve the issue they actually introduced further problems to it.

To avoid hell avoid women

An examination of Revelation 14:4

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

The first Muslim apologist to mention this verse as an argument against Christianity was Shabir Ally in a debate that he had with Sam Shamoun. In the debate the former cited the eminent theologian Prof. William Barclay after Sam Shamoun charged him with misrepresenting the text. Sam Shamoun came back and dismissed William Barclay’s interpretation as erroneous and offered his own instead. Shabir Ally rebutted saying that Sam Shamoun hadn’t read William Barclay and how then could he simply dismiss Barclay’s interpretation as erroneous. Some weeks ago I posed the verse to a Christian who goes by the nick name ‘madmanna’ on Paul William’s blog which prompted a rather interesting discussion between the two of us that later unfortunately turned somewhat stale.

In this article I wish to shed some light on the verse further and show that alternative views abound despite conservative ones that are taken for granted by those like madmanna. The verse in question reads, “It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb,”. Echoing conservative interpretation of the text madmanna simply says that the verse is symbolic and metaphorical and should not be taken literally to mean that virgins without any experience in sexual intercourse in or out of wedlock are being spoken of here, but rather those who keep themselves spiritually clean from moral impurity and idolatry. Commentaries that can be cited to support madmanna’s position include Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, Liberty Bible Commentary and others. Is there a consensus view among Christian scholars that the verse ought to be taken metaphorically or symbolically rather than literally? The answer is of course no. I have mentioned earlier that Shabir Ally cited William Barclay who propounds an interpretation that does not agree with madmanna’s or Shamoun’s stance. Barclay says: