A Short Study of Jesus Christ and the Gospel
By: Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba'i
Even though Jews attach great importance to their national history and recording of events that occur throughout their lives, there is no mention of Jesus Jesus, the conditions of his birth and appearance as a prophet, his lifestyle, and the miracles God manifested through him. As to what caused this chronicle to be hidden from them or what caused them to hide it, is not clear.
Regarding the Jewish people, the Holy Qur’an declares: “And that they uttered against Mary a tremendous calumny and that they said, ‘We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the prophet of Allah’…”1
Was the evidence for this claim a story they cited without support of any historical book—just as other nations have many both true and mythical stories that are not considered creditable without correct and reliable evidence—or had they heard the name of Jesus and his birth and appearance from Christians then slandered Mary and claimed to have killed Jesus?
There is no way to arrive at a clear answer without resorting to the fact that the Noble Qur’an only explicitly attributes the claim of killing the Messiah to them. It also notes that they had doubts and disagreements among themselves in this regard.
On the other hand, what Christians believe about the Messiah, the Gospel, and the good news [bishārat] is based on the New Testament, that is Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Acts of Prophets, and other books such as Paul, Peter, Jacob, and Judas. The authority of all of these is based upon that of the Gospels therefore I will discuss the latter.
Writers of the Four Gospels
The gospel of Matthew is the oldest written; composed in 38 CE according to some. Others, however, maintain that it dates between 50 to 60 CE.2 Even so, it was clearly written after the time of Jesus Jesus (‘a). Researchers hold that it was originally written in Hebrew then translated into Greek and other languages. The original Hebrew text is not available and its translator and the quality of its translation are unknown.3
Mark, the author of another of the Gospels, was a student of Peter. He was not one of the Apostles himself. It is said that he wrote his gospel at the behest of his mentor.
He did not believe in the divinity of the Messiah. That is why some Christians say that he wrote his gospel for nomads and peasants introducing the Messiah as a prophet and conveyor of God’s precepts.4 Regardless, Mark’s gospel was written in 61 CE.
Luke, who wrote yet another of the Gospels, was neither an apostle nor had he met the Messiah. Paul had converted him to Christianity. Paul was a zealous Jew who greatly harassed the followers of Jesus. One day he suddenly claimed to have suffered an epileptic fit wherein he touched Jesus Jesus, who prohibited him against persecuting his followers. He converted to Jesus’ faith and started to proselytize the gospel in the Messiah’s name.
It was Paul that established the prevailing foundations of Christianity and based his teachings on the idea that faith in the Messiah alone without any good deeds is enough for the deliverance of humanity.
He also permitted eating dead meat and the meat of pigs! He also considered circumcision and many other precepts from the Torah to be forbidden. The gospel of Luke was written after the gospel of Mark and the death of Paul and Peter. Some emphasize that this gospel did not come as divine revelation and the words at the beginning of this book indicate this fact.
John, author of the fourth gospel, was according to some accounts the son of a fisherman, one of the twelve Apostles of the Messiah, and greatly loved by him.
It is said that because Sharintus, Ebisun, and their followers believed that Jesus was a creation of God and his existence did not precede that of his mother, the bishops of Asia and others went to John in 96 CE and asked him to write that which others had not written in their gospels. In other words, they asked him to explain the divinity of the Messiah and he could not deny them their request.5
There is disagreement as to the date John’s gospel was written; whether it was in 65, 96, or 98 CE. However, some profess that its author was not even John, the Apostle. Some of these believe it was written by a student of the Alexandrian School.6
Others however, believe that it and the other books of John were written by a Christian in the second century of the Common Era who attributed these books to John, the Apostle, to give them credibility. Still others maintain that the gospel of John originally had twenty chapters and after his death, the Church of Afās added the twenty-first chapter.
These are the conditions of the Four Gospels that go back to seven persons (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, and Judas) and their ultimate credibility is based on the Four Gospels, ending in the gospel of Matthew, the oldest of the Gospels. As we previously mentioned, the original Gospels were originally written in Hebrew and are currently unavailable. It is not clear who translated them or whether the teachings of the original were based on the prophethood of Jesus or his divinity?!
The current bible states that among the Children of Israel a man named Jesus, son of Joseph the carpenter, appeared who invited the people to God. He held that he was the son of God and was created without having a human father and that his father had sent him to be crucified in reciprocation for the sins of the people.
He brought back the dead, cured congenital blindness and leprosy, and healed the mad by exorcizing the evil spirits within them. Jesus had twelve students, one of which was Matthew. He gave them blessings and sent them to invite the people and promote Christianity…
This is a summary of the Christianity that has enveloped the East and West of the world. As you can see, its foundation is an isolated report from someone (refers to the translator of Matthew) who neither his name nor characteristics are known!
This astounding weakness in the origin of the story has caused some European writers to say that the Messiah is basically a mythical character created by religious revolutions in favor of or against the government of the time!
This is confirmed by another myth that is similar to it in every way: that of Krishna. The ancient idolaters of India considered him the son of God who descended from the divine realm to be hanged in this world and in this way sacrifice his life for the people and save them from their sins.
It has also caused another series of critics to believe that there were two people with the name Messiah with more than five centuries between them and that the reputed Christian era conforms to neither. Rather, the first Messiah was born over two hundred years before the starting point of this era, lived around sixty years, and died without being crucified. On the other hand, the second Messiah was born after 290 CE, lived for nearly thirty-three years, and was crucified.
It should be noted that, in short, Christians do not deny that the starting point of the Christian era does not conform to the birth of Christ (refer to “Qāmūs-e Kitāb-e Muqaddas” (Dictionary of the Holy Book)).
In addition to what has been said, there are other dubious issues. For instance, in the first two centuries of the Common Era many gospels were written; reputedly over one hundred. The Four Gospels are among these. Later, the Church banned the other gospels and authorized only these Four Gospels which were in line with its teachings.
One of these abandoned gospels is the Gospel of Barnabas. A suspected copy of it was found several years ago and was translated to Arabic and then Farsi. That which has been written in this account about the story of Jesus (‘a) is congruous with the Noble Qur’an.7
1. Sūrat al-Nisā’ 4:156-157.
2. Refer to “Qāmūs-e Kitāb-e Muqaddas” (Dictionary of the Holy Book).
3. Refer to “Mīzān al-Haqq” (Criterion of Truth). “Qāmūs-e Kitāb-e Muqaddas” (Dictionary of the Holy Book) also hesitantly confesses to this.
4. In “Qāmūs-e Kitāb-e Muqaddas” (Dictionary of the Holy Book), it says (regard carefully): “It has been expressly cited of the ancients that Mark wrote his gospel in Rome and it was published after the death of Peter and Paul. However, this is not very credible because it appears that it was written for tribals and villagers not for city-dwellers especially inhabitants of Rome.”
5. Cited in “Qisas al-Anbīyā’” (Stories of the Prophets) from the book of Gorges Zadīn Futūhī Lubnānī.
6. Cited from “Catholic Herald”; this is also indicated in “Qāmūs-e Kitāb-e Muqaddas” (Dictionary of the Holy Book) under the heading Yūhannā (John).
7. Extracted from the yearbook, “Ma‘ārif-e Ja‘farī”.