What did Jesus really say?

by Misha'al Abdullah Al-Kadhi

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Chapter 1: Christian-Muslim Dialogue

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD" Isaiah 1:18

Christians believe that Jesus (pbuh) came to teach all of mankind the religion of God and to show them the path to salvation. All mankind is therefore required to follow his message and only those who believe in the crucifixion and the redemption will be saved. They believe that the Jews are also required to convert to Christianity since Jesus was sent to them, therefore, they are the most qualified people to recognize the word of God and the signs of Jesus (pbuh) to be found in their own book. Most Jews, on the other hand, tell us that Jesus (pbuh) was not a messenger of God, but rather a false prophet, a sorcerer, an offspring of adulterers, and many other allegations. They claim that there are no prophesies of Jesus (pbuh) in their book and that he was not the promised Messiah/Christ (anointed one). Their Messiah is yet to come. For this reason, they claim that they are not required by God to follow Jesus (pbuh) and were justified in killing him.

Muslims believe in both Moses and Jesus (pbut) as true prophets of God. We believe that both Moses and Jesus as well as Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and all the rest of the prophets of God were all truthful messengers as well as faithful and faultless servants of Allah Almighty. We also believe in the miracles of Jesus (pbuh), including his miraculous birth. Muslims believe that each time a messenger of God would pass away, mankind would begin to slowly fall back upon their evil deeds until they had managed to corrupt His original message. When this would happen, God Almighty would send a new prophet to renew His original message to these people and return them to the straight path. In this manner, the true message of Allah would always be available to all those who searched for it until the day of judgment. This can be seen in the Bible in such verses as Matthew 5:17-18 we read:

"Think not that I (Jesus) am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled, Fulfillment of Law of Moses."

The Jews know God as "Elohiym" or "Yahweh." The Christians know Him as "God," or "Father," or "Jehovah," etc.. Muslims know him as "Allah" (and more than 99 other venerable names). Muslims believe that Allah Almighty did not send down many messages to mankind but only one: The religion of submission to His will, the uniqueness of Himself, and the knowledge that He is the only one worthy of worship. The details of the religion were molded to suite each individual people, but the message was one message: "Allah is One. Worship Him alone!" This is made apparent in the verse of Aal-Umran(3):84 which states that which means:

"Say (O Muhammad): We believe in Allah, and that which is sent down unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the sons of Jacob, and that which was vouchsafed unto Moses and Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered."

Also, in Al-Nisaa(5):138 we read that which means

"O you who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger, and the Scripture (Qur'an) which he has revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whosoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers and the last day, he verily has wandered far astray."

Muslims are told in the Qur'an that the unscrupulous few had managed to pervert the words of God Almighty sent down to Jesus (pbuh) and the previous prophets after the passing of their prophets. The well meaning masses were then misled by what was claimed to be 100% the "inspiration" of God. The changes made by these people have resulted in countless contradictions between the verses. As we shall soon see, these contradictions and changes have been well recognized and documented in the West for centuries now. However, their actions have been excused because they are assumed to have been well meaning and were only trying to clarify that which was obscure and so forth when they changed the word of God (See chapter 2). Whatever their motives, these apologists forget the command of Deuteronomy 4:2

"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God."

The liberties mankind has taken with God's previous scriptures is one of the reasons why God sent down the Qur'an as His last message to mankind and took it upon Himself this time to personally preserve it for all time from corruption or modification

Professor Arthur J. Arberry writes:

"Apart from certain orthographical modifications of the originally somewhat primitive method of writing, intended to render unambiguous and easy the task of reading the recitation, the Koran (Qur'an) as printed in the twentieth century is identical with the Koran as authorized by Uthman more than 1300 years ago."

On the other hand, Mr. C.G. Tucker says:

"...Thus Gospels were produced which clearly reflected the conception of the practical needs of the community for which they were written. In them the traditional material was used, but there was no hesitation in altering it or making additions to it, or in leaving out what did not serve the writer's purpose."

"The history of the Christians in the light of modern knowledge," C. G. Tucker, p. 320

Mr. C.J. Cadoux has the following to say in his book "The life of Jesus" :

"In the four Gospels, therefore, the main documents to which we must go if we are to fill-out at all that bare sketch which we can put together from other sources, we find material of widely differing quality as regards credibility. So far-reaching is the element of uncertainty that it is tempting to 'down tools' at once, and to declare the task hopeless. The historical inconsistencies and improbabilities in parts of the Gospels form some of the arguments advanced in favor of the Christ-myth theory. These are, however, entirely outweighed- as we have shown- by other considerations. Still the discrepancies and uncertainties that remain are serious- and consequently many moderns who have no doubt whatever of Jesus' real existence, regard as hopeless any attempt to dissolve out of the historically-true from the legendary or mythical matter which the Gospels contain, and to reconstruct the story of Jesus' mission out of the more historical residue."

Reverend Dr. Davies says:

"But to come to realities, no serious modern scholar believes that the speeches appearing in the New Testament are verbatim records of what the speaker said. Even as conservative a scholar as Headlam has to admit that the speeches are 'in a sense' - he does not say what sense - the author's 'own composition.' ... Schmidel, in his article on Acts in the Encyclopedia Biblica, says unreservedly that 'it is without doubt that the author constructed [the speeches] in each case according to his own conception of the situation.' Schweitzer thinks the speeches in Acts may be 'based upon traditions of speeches ... actually delivered, but in the form in which we have them they doubtless belong to the author of Acts and are adapted to his representation of the facts," Rev. Davies goes on to quote Thucydides who admits that "..[assigning fictitious speeches to Biblical characters] was the universal ancient custom."

"The First Christian," Reverend Dr. Davies, pp. 23-24

Prof. J.R. Drummelow says:

"A copyist would sometimes put in not what was in the text, but what he thought ought to be in it. He would trust a fickle memory, or he would make the text accord with the views of the school to which he belonged. In addition to the versions and quotations from the Christian Fathers, nearly four thousand Greek MSS of the Testament, were known to exist. As a result , the variety of reading is considerable."

"Commentary on the Holy Bible," page 16

Not long after my arrival in the United States, I had the pleasure of meeting a Christian gentleman who shall henceforth be referred to only as Mr. J. Unlike this lowly author, Mr. J. is a "professional" Christian. He also has a history of strong evangelical activity, at least with the Muslim students of our university. Mr. J made himself known to us through written letters to us, calls to our Muslim chaplain, and his appearance before us on other occasions wherein he called upon us to believe in Jesus (pbuh) and to accept his sacrifice. Mr. J. had sent our Muslim chaplain and myself books with many allegations against the Qur'an and a general condemnation of it. A series of friendly discussions ensued between us and we have since come to know each other quite well and have managed to remain friendly and outgoing towards one another even with our differing beliefs. However, the fact that this author is not a professional religious person or a professional preacher, but rather a simple science student, has made it necessary to schedule these matters around other more immediate scholarly concerns. It was first and foremost the will of Allah, then the continuous efforts of Mr. J., his claims regarding Islam, and his sincere efforts to convert me and grant me salvation which compelled me to step up my research of the Bible and the Qur'an and ultimately, publish this book. I therefore thank Allah Almighty that he sent Mr. J. to me as a blessing from Himself for me, and hopefully for many others.

Before this book was written, I had published a series of articles in a local publication which had been progressing slowly from exhibiting some of the more minor examples of human modification to the Bible, such as the fact that the authors of the Bible are not who they claim to be, and had been working up to more fundamental issues. Mr. J asked us to publish his counter viewpoint in our publication and we accepted.

Mr. J believed that the examples of contradictory statements in the Bible which we had been jointly discussing did not in any way affect the founding beliefs of Christianity (see examples in chapter two). He provided me with literature by men such as Mr. F.F. Bruce stating such things as

"...Does it matter whether the New Testament documents are reliable or not? Is it so very important that we should be able to accept them as truly historical records?"

and also"...the story of Jesus as it has come down to us may be myth or legend, but the teaching ascribed to him- whether he was actually responsible for it or not - has a value all it's own," and so forth.

Muslims know for a fact that Jesus (pbuh) was neither a myth nor a legend but a true prophet of God, but we do feel that an inspired book of God should contain no contradictions, historical or otherwise. For this reason we do not believe that his book has reached us as it was originally submitted by him.

Mr. J believes that such matters as knowing the true authors of the books of the Bible are not crucial to a Christian's faith and challenged us to prove that a Christian's basic faith is at all in error and not the same message preached by Jesus 2000 years ago. In compliance with his request, he was sent four very brief questions concerning the founding beliefs of Christianity. He was then asked to provide carefully researched and weighed answers to these questions. These four questions are presented below. They have been slightly modified in this book in order to ensure that they are as clear as possible. The basic questions, however, remain the same:

  1. IS THERE A TRINITY? If so then please present us with as many Biblical references as you possibly can and briefly explain it's fundamental concept. What I mean by this question is: Is God one, period? Or is God three, period? Or is He some combination of one and three? Please write down a brief but clear description of the nature of the Trinity and the exact relationship of each of it's three members to one-another. Please do not move on until you have done so since your definition shall have to stand up to the test of the Bible and be endorsed rather than refuted by the Biblical verses we shall be studying throughout this book.
  2. Is the great and faithful messenger of Allah, Jesus the son of Mary (peace be upon them both), the PHYSICAL SON OF ALLAH OR NOT? If he is, then give us as many biblical references as you possibly can. If not then why does the majority of Christendom believe that he is the physical/begotten/sired son of Allah?
  3. Did Jesus (pbuh) HIMSELF ever say in the Bible "I am a god!," or "Worship me!"? If so then give us as many Biblical references as possible. If not, then why does the majority of Christendom believe that he is a god (not a mortal), and the son of? Jesus (pbuh) is invoked daily as God to forgive sins, cast out devils, and generally sought after in prayer. UPON WHO'S AUTHORITY do Christians believe that Jesus (pbuh) is God? Jesus (pbuh) himself or others? Give as many references as possible.
  4. If it can be proven, through the Bible, that Jesus (pbuh) is not God, nor the physical/begotten/sired son of God, neither is there any Trinity, then will this prove that the unscrupulous few have corrupted the word of God or not?

"Faith" is without a doubt one of the most basic and fundamental ingredients in the doctrine of any religious belief. However, when you wish someone to believe in a given fundamental doctrine which you propose, it is first necessary to prove the validity of your assertion before you can ask that person to "have faith." In other words, faith is indeed important, however, it can not precede the proof. Once the proof has been established, only then can faith come into play. This is indeed what prophet Jesus (pbuh) taught his followers during his lifetime. Jesus (pbuh) did not simply show up before the Jews one day and demand that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and everyone else accept him without proof. Rather, he performed many miracles for them and at the same time reasoned with them and used logic to convince them. The Bible is full of examples of how Jesus (pbuh) would go out of his way to explain things to his followers, reason with them and prove his case to them.

Obviously, when we ask for proof that a given person taught a given doctrine, the very first place to look for proof of this claim is the words of that person himself. If I believe that Jesus (pbuh) taught a given fundamental doctrine such as the Trinity, the "Son of God," the "original sin," or the "atonement," then not only would I be justified in expecting him to have mentioned it at least once throughout his whole ministry, but I would expect him to have spoken of practically nothing else. For this reason, the above four questions have been proposed in order to arrive at the command of Jesus (pbuh). If Jesus did indeed ever command that I should worship a Trinity or that I should believe that he is God, then I would expect him to say so clearly at least once in his whole life. If he says it at least once then others shall be justified in repeating it a thousand times. However, I want to first know ...

What did Jesus really say?

The Bible says:

"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

John 14:23

Jesus (peace be upon him) clearly outlines here that it is his words that we must keep and that shall lead to the love of God. Naturally, I wish to know what Jesus said so that I might follow his command, and his alone. Every one else's words without exception shall then be either accepted or rejected based upon their conformance to the words of the great and pious messenger of Allah, Jesus the son of Mary. Does this sound fair?

The Christian world has performed a very admirable job in providing us with Bibles in practically every size, language, shape and color. Among these Bibles are the series of Bibles titled the "Red letter editions." These Bibles are set apart from more conventional Bibles in that the words of Jesus are distinguished from the rest of the text by writing them in red ink. This makes the process of locating the words of Jesus and differentiating them from those of everyone else much simpler for the reader. Our goal in this book is to find evidence in the RED ink of where Jesus (pbuh) himself ever taught mankind any of the fundamental concepts of the religion which has been attributed to him and which is named "Christianity". We shall see in what follows that whenever someone tries to validate such doctrines they always attempt to do so with the words in the BLACK ink and never the ones in RED ink.

Muslims are told in the Qur'an that Jesus (pbuh) was one of the most pious and elect messengers of God Almighty for all time. However, we are also told that he was not himself a god, nor the physical son of God. We read in the Qur'an:

"And when Allah said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?* he said: Be You glorified. It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then You knew it. You know what is in my [innermost] self but I know not what is in Yours. Truly! You, only You are the Knower of things hidden. I spoke unto them only that which You commanded me, (saying): Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord, and I was a witness over them while I dwelt among them, and when You took me You were the Watcher over them, and You are Witness over all things."

The noble Qur'an, Al-Maidah(5):116-118

Obviously, both claims can not be true. Either Jesus (pbuh) did indeed command mankind to worship him or he did not. Since my level of knowledge of the words of the Bible obviously can not compare with that of Mr. J., therefore, I was hoping that he could demonstrate to me where Jesus actually said any of these things. Since the issues of the Trinity, the Son of God, the original sin, and the atonement comprise the most fundamental differences in belief between the Islamic and Christian faith, therefore, I had hoped that in answering these four very brief questions it might be possible to once and for all arrive at the true command of Jesus. Mr. J's response follows:

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