Some time ago you claimed that – as a Baha’i – you: ‘Believe all of the Qur'an and each of the Gospels.’ I stated that this is impossible. You disagreed.
I asked you three questions.
First: Was Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) crucified or not?
Having had a pre-senior moment while composing your original reply, you then wrote:
‘Baha'is are clear. We believe Jesus was crucified as recorded in the gospels.’
When asked to justify – with supporting evidence from the text itself – your claim that the Qur’an’s account of the crucifixion is ‘metaphorical’ you replied that the text: ‘Simply needs an adequate translation.’
You then reference the following verses:
‘And so for breaking their pledge, for rejecting God’s revelations, for unjustly killing their prophets, for saying: “Our minds are closed” - No! God has sealed them in their disbelief, so they believe only a little - and because they disbelieved and uttered a terrible slander against Mary, and said: “We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God.” They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them; those that disagreed about him are full of doubt, with no knowledge to follow, only supposition: nay (‘bal’) they certainly did not kill him - God raised him up to Himself. God is almighty and wise.’ (Al-Nisa: 155-158).
This translation is by Professor M.A.S. Abdul Haleem. I trust it is adequate enough for you?
You write: ‘I can see how you would interpret this literally to mean He was not crucified, but can you see how I could interpret figuratively to mean it was His spirit and Cause they did not kill?
No. Not at all!
How difficult would it have been for Allāh (subḥānahu ūta'āla) to reveal that while Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) was indeed crucified, it was only
his body that perished; not his ‘spirit’ and not his ‘cause’?
Your interpretation of Al-Nisa 157 is a classic example of eisegesis; reading into the text your own presuppositions and biases, based on a conviction that the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion are historically reliable.
I much prefer exegesis – the process of extracting the meaning of a text in accordance with context and what is actually said: ‘They did not
crucify him’…..they ‘did not
kill him.’ No room for blarney here.
Second: Did Yeshua arise from the tomb or not?
When asked to justify – with supporting evidence from the text itself – your claim that the Gospel account is ‘allegorical’ you first mention Paul. However, since Paul did not write the Gospels, lets see what you have to say about them:
‘As for the gospel account themselves, the nature of reality of Christ changes. His intimate companions or disciples have trouble initially recognising Him and He seems to take on a spirit like quality as he moves through walls.’
In Luke 24 we read:
‘They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you!" ln a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, "Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumfounded; so he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.’ (Verses 36-43).
Please note: Yeshua said, ‘Touch me…’; from the Greek ‘psilaphao’
, which means to touch, to squeeze,
or to feel
. He is giving the disciples permission to examine his resurrected body; to see for themselves that it is a real body and not a spirit.
The disciple Thomas was not present at this first meeting. When told of Yeshua’s visit he scoffed: ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ (John 20: 25).
Thomas (like you, it seems) did not believe that actual bodily resurrection is possible.
Eight days later came another visit. This time, Thomas is present. Yeshua speaks to him: ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe." Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God !" Jesus said to him: "You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe." (Verses 26-29).
Yeshua makes yet another appearance, this time at the Sea of Tiberias. The day ends with a communal meal of fish, with Yeshua tucking-in with all the rest.
Getting back to Paul. He writes:
‘Well then, in the first place, I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too; it was as though I was born when no one expected it.’ (1st Corinthians: 3-8).
The author of ‘Acts’ writes:
‘He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised.’ (Acts 1:3-4).
How can one read these verses and then claim that the resurrection accounts are ‘allegorical’. No, the authors of these verses intended them to be taken literally. And this
the Church has done, and continues to do.
Third: Which account of his birth is correct: the Gospel account or the Qur'anic account?
You write: ‘What contradictions do you see between the nativity accounts in the Gospels and the Quran? Please outline any and I will happily resolve them.’
Are you being serious?
Mark makes no mention of the nativity.
Matthew writes that Yeshua was born at Bethlehem in Judaea; that certain ‘wise men’ came calling – after meeting with King Herod in Jerusalem; that Herod commands them to go find the child, and to report back to him; that these ‘wise men’ then follow a star, until it ‘halts over the place where the child was’ They enter and see Yeshua with his mother. They fall to their knees; pay; homage; offer gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh; and return home – having been ‘warned in a dream not to go back to Herod.’
Luke writes of a worldwide census during the governorship of Quirinius; of a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem; of a babe ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger because there was no room at the inn’; of shepherds taking it in turn to watch their flocks in the fields during the night*; of an ‘angel of the Lord’ who – having ‘terrified’ the shepherds by his appearance – speaks words of comfort: ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’; of a ‘great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favour’; of the shepherds hurrying off, and finding ‘Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.’
* I’m reminded of a ditty we used to sing at Christmas, when I was a kid (and when there were no adults around):
‘While shepherds washed their socks at night, while seated on the grass; and angel of the Lord came down, and kicked them up the ……!’ Well…we were
Baptists, after all.
John doesn’t mention the nativity.
This is what the Qur’an has to say:
‘And so it was ordained: she conceived him. She withdrew to a distant place and, when the pains of childbirth drove her to (cling to) the trunk of a palm tree, she exclaimed, ‘I wish I had been dead and forgotten long before all this!’ but a voice cried to her from below, ‘Do not worry: your Lord has provided a stream at your feet and, if you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you, so eat, drink, be glad, and say to anyone you may see: “I have vowed to the Lord of Mercy to abstain from conversation, and I will not talk to anyone today.” She went back to her people carrying the child……’ (Maryam: 22-27).
Which nativity account is correct: Matthews; Luke’s; or Allāh (subḥānahu ūta'āla)’s?
Have a great weekend, and very best regards.