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April 8th, 2014

“If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?”

At this link, under the title given above, please learn about the new book: How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee,​ at the website of the US news organization NPR.

4 Responses to ““If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?””

  1. April 9th, 2014 at 5:11 am
    From Rashid Jahangiri:

    Human Nature Made Jesus God.

    When some respected person dies his loved ones raise his status. Some do it out of love some do it for ulterior motive.

    Per Holy Quran after death of Yousaf AS his followers held belief that he was the last messenger.

    After death/ absence of Jesus his followers raised his status to God.

    Sects among Muslims hold belief that Holy Prophet Muhammad SAWS was not a human (bashar). He was made of Noor (light).

    Qadianis (those who hold belief that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was “Musleh Mahud”) raised Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib status to prophethood.


  2. The questions that are raised in the said book and conclusions arrived at by Bart Ehrman tickle the intelligence of the reader. It is one more book that removes the coverings of ignorance. It is a step forward with which the night of dogmas departs and unfolds a bright morning for those asleep in the name of faith. It brings to mind the following verses of Quran:

    81:10-11. and when the books are spread, and when the heaven has its covering removed…

    81: 15-19.  Indeed, I call to witness the stars, running their course, (and) setting, and the night when it departs, and the morning when it brightens, surely it is the word of a bountiful Messenger, [Maulana Muhammad Ali, ed. Zahid Aziz]

    Maulana Muhammad Ali, in his book “Religion of Islam [link]” on its pages 35-36 and in the corresponding footnote #37, outlines the principles to interpret a Divine Book as given in Quran for both Quran and Bible. In the said footnote, he identifies the simple but obvious error of Christians where they interpreted ‘son of God’ in a way that god-ship was attributed to a mortal. The referred pages and footnote are excerpted below with emphasis added in bold font.

    Interestingly, Answering-Islam, a Christian web site tries to rebut Ali [link]. The said website unsuccessfully tries to dump a truck-load of passages from New Testament, but Maulana Muhammad Ali’s plain argument stands firm.

    Interpretation of the Quran: The rule as to the interpretation of the Quran is thus given in the Book itself: "He it is Who has revealed the Book to thee; some of its verses are decisive — they are the basis of the Book — and others are allegorical. Then those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it their own interpretation. And none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those firmly rooted in knowledge. They say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord. And none do mind except men of understanding" (3:6). In the first place, it is stated here that there are two kinds of verses in the Quran, namely, the decisive and the allegorical — the latter being those which are capable of different interpretations. Next we are told that the decisive verses are the basis of the Book, that is, that they contain the fundamental principles of religion. Hence whatever may be the differences of interpretation, the fundamentals of religion are not affected by them, all such differences relating only to secondary matters. The third point is that some people seek to give their own interpretation to allegorical statements and are thus misled. In other words, serious errors arise only when a wrong interpretation is placed on words which are susceptible of two meanings. Lastly, in the concluding words, a clue is given as to the right mode of interpretation in the case of allegorical statements: "It is all from our Lord" — meaning that there is no disagreement between the various portions of the Book. This statement has in fact been made elsewhere also, as already quoted (see 4:82). The important principle to be borne in mind in the interpretation of the Quran, therefore, is that the meaning should be sought from within the Quran, and never should a passage be interpreted in such a manner that it may be at variance with any other passage, but more especially with the basic principles laid down in the decisive verses. This principle, in the revealed words, is followed by "those well-grounded in knowledge."{footnote 37} The following rules may, therefore, be laid down:

    — The principles of Islam are enunciated in decisive words in the Quran; and, therefore, no attempt should be made to establish a principle on the strength of an allegorical passage, or of words susceptible of different meanings.

    — The explanation of the Book should in the first place be sought in the Quran itself; for, whatever it has stated briefly, or merely hinted at, in one place, will be found expanded and fully explained elsewhere in it.

    — It is very important to remember that the Quran contains allegory and metaphor along with what is plain and decisive, and the only safeguard against being misled by what is allegorical or metaphorical is that the interpretation of such passages must be strictly in consonance with what is laid down in clear and decisive words, and not at variance therewith.

    When a law or principle is laid down, any statement carrying a doubtful significance, or a statement apparently opposed to the law so laid down, must be interpreted subject to the principle enunciated. Similarly that which is particular must be read in connection with and subject to more general statements.

    —————

    {footnote 37} The subject of the interpretation of the Quranic verses is very appropriately dealt with in the opening verses of the third chapter which begins with a discussion with the followers of Christianity, for, it must be borne in mind, that it is on a wrong interpretation of certain allegorical statements that the fundamental principles of Christianity are actually based. The basic doctrine of the religion of all the prophets in the Old Testament is the Unity of God, but there are a number of prophecies couched in allegorical language having reference to the advent of Christ. The Christians, instead of interpreting these in accordance with the clear words of the principle of Divine Unity, laid the foundations of Christianity on the metaphorical language of the prophecies, and thus by neglect of the true rule of interpretation were misled to such an extent as to ignore the very essentials of the religion of the prophets. Christ was believed to be god on the strength of metaphorical expressions, and the doctrine of the Trinity thus became the basis of a new religion. The epithet "son of God" was freely used in Israelite literature, and was always taken allegorically. The term occurs as early as Gen. 6:2 where the "sons of God" are spoken of as taking the daughters of men for wives. It occurs again in Job 1:6 and 38:7, and good men are no doubt meant in both places. In Ex. 4:22 and many other places, the Israelites are spoken of as the children of God: "Israel is my son, even my first born." The expression is used in the same metaphorical sense in the Gospels. Even in the fourth Gospel, where the Divinity of Christ is looked upon as finding a bolder expression than in the synoptics, Jesus Christ is reported as saying in answer to those who accused him of blasphemy for speaking of himself as the son of God: "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world. Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" (Jn 10:34-36). It is thus clear that even in the mouth of Jesus the term "son of God" was a metaphorical expression, and by taking it literally the Church has destroyed the very foundation of religion. It is to this fundamental mistake of Christianity that the Quran refers by giving the rule for the interpretation of allegorical verses in a discussion of the Christian religion.


  3. Similar to Maulana Muhammad Ali above, Mirza Masum Beg elucidates the principles for interpretation of allegory in the Scriptures in his book ‘Miracles of Jesus the Christ’ [link], pages 28-31 of which are excerpted below:

    An Important Principle – In every writing or speech, whether it be the word of God or man, there are certain statements which are decisive and absolute and their meanings are secured from change and alterations, whereas there are other allegorical statements which are susceptible to different interpretations. These figures of speech and parables, no doubt, invest and invigorate the word with force and eloquence which creates an effect upon the human soul. But it should be clearly understood that all figurative statements which are susceptible to different meanings, must necessarily be interpreted in the light of decisive ones so that the interpretation must be in consonance with the fundamental principles and the spirit of the word. No article of faith and religious doctrine should be based on statements couched in allegorical words and metaphor; and the man who bases his belief on fables and figures, not only loses himself and goes astray but misleads others also into fatal error and disaster. With regard to such people the Holy Quran has said:

    Allah it is Who has revealed the Book to thee; some of its verses are decisive— they are the basis of the Book— and others are allegorical Then those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it their own interpretation. (3:6).

    Jesus the Christ, we read in Mark (7:8) also uttered, a similar warning to the Jews, saying, Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men.

    Parable, it should be understood, is a similitude, a resemblance taken from natural things to impart to the people the knowledge of things spiritual. In order to give a stronger impression of what they taught, the prophets and other teachers made a free use of this forceful weapon. It catches the ear more easily and penetrates into the human mind.

    It needs no ghost to tell you that the allegorical statement, if interpreted literally, will make senseless and absurd reading. Now turn over Quran and read:

    (i) Those who swear allegiance to thee (the Prophet) do but swear allegiance to Allah The hand of Allah is above their hands (48 :10).

    (ii) So you (the Prophet) slew them not but Allah slew them, and thou smotest not when thou didst smite the enemy, but Allah smote him (in the battle of Badr) (8 : 17)

    (iii) So the heaven and the earth wept not for them (Pharaoh's people) nor were they respited (44 : 29)

    If one should take into his head to think that the Most High God, too, has hands and feet and other parts of the physical body like ourselves, or that the heaven has also eyes which shed tears like human eyes, it will certainly be an absurdity of the highest order. Allah's hand signifies power and triumph. And the weeping for a dead man signifies the remembering of his good qualities or actions which often draw tears from the eyes. The heaven and the earth wept not when Pharaoh's people were seized with Divine chastisement, for they had neither the love of God in their hearts nor had they done anything good for men, that their good qualities should have been remembered either in heaven or the earth.


  4. On Saturday 12th November I was watching the 2016 annual remembrance ceremony on BBC TV (see link), and saw Princess Anne reading out some verses from the Gospel of John, one of which struck me. Jesus said to his disciples:

    “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John, 15:15).

    Two point are notable about this:

    (1) The followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad of his time are also not called his servants but his 'companions' (aṣḥāb).

    (2) The Holy Prophet is instructed in the Quran:

    “O Messenger, deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do not, you have not delivered His message.” (5:67).

    This is similar to the words of Jesus: “all things that I heard from my father”. This statement shows that Jesus is also delivering a message from God.
     
    The same chapter of John (ch.15) opens with the words:

    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

    In these words Jesus distinguishes himself as separate from God.

    In the Gospel of Matthew we read in the New King James translation that Jesus said:

    “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only”. (Matthew, 24:36)

    Although the words “my Father only” imply that the son is also excluded from knowing the day and the hour, many translations specifically contain the words “nor the son” or “not even the son”. For example, the New International Version has it as:

    “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

    The New Century version has:

    “No one knows when that day or time will be, not the angels in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.”

    So clearly, “the Son” is also a part of God's creation, and is not God.


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