May 20, 2020


Who Was Jesus of Nazareth? (CHILTON WILLIAMSON, JR., 5/20/20, The Crisis)

It is reasonable to think that on so essential a matter as religion human neutrality is a psychological impossibility, as it is equally reasonable believe that no human being is really asexual. In fact, experience and evidence abound to support the conclusion that no writer, no thinker--in fact, no person alive--is wholly free of bias on any subject of importance, or even of no importance at all. Persons in search of the historical Jesus err solely in supposing that only those who believe that He was who He claimed to be and worship Him as such are incapable of intellectual honesty, and that consequently whatever they have said and written for two thousand years about Him is suspect from the outset. Their rule of thumb is that Christians should never be allowed the benefit of the doubt on the matter, in short, that they should be presumed to be liars until they have proven themselves to be otherwise.

Scholars and others laboring in the vineyard of Historical Jesus Studies will be satisfied, one way or another, only when they think they have discovered incontrovertible historical proof that Christ was not who He said He was--that He was not the Divine Son of the Living God. Since they are engaged in the practice of historical research and deduction, they must be assumed to be looking for the kind of evidence that professional historians look to uncover and interpret: spoken and written testimony by eye-witnesses; accounts at secondhand and reliable contemporary hearsay; documents, including official reports, memoranda, and letters; historical accounts by contemporaries; the results of archival research by later historians belonging to subsequent historical periods; artifacts exhumed by archaeological investigations; and so forth.

In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, we begin with four separate accounts written by four men whom we believe to have been His disciples, having accompanied Him for three years and witnessed His arrest, trial, execution, Resurrection from the dead, and ascent into Heaven. These accounts, as I say, are scrupulously detailed though not documented, and they amplify rather than contradict each other. They are obviously the work of literate and highly intelligent men, owing to hitherto undemonstrated native talent or else to divine inspiration. Save for one thing--the supernatural element that is inseparable from the beginning of the story to its finish--the Gospels would have been accepted as histories, good or bad, shortly after they began to circulate among the public. Were the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the Gospels According to Thomas Jefferson, few people over the last two millennia would have tried to discredit them, or had reason to believe.

Materialists, for whom history is a series of natural events unfolding within the world of time and space, naturally resist the intrusion of the supernatural world upon it. Were they open to doing so, they would recognize the impossibility of searching for natural explanations in supernatural events. It is this supernatural breakthrough that chiefly offends the non-Christian mind. Mohammed claimed to be a messenger of God and God's Prophet. He did not, however, claim to be divine himself. Consequently, no search has been made by Kafiri writers for the "historical Mohammed," though no secularist believes that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed in his cave and ordered him, "Recite!" For him, Islam is another elaborate system of superstitious belief cherished by ignorant and gullible people, but it is only that. Only two decades after the attacks of September 2001, he does not view it as a dangerous and threatening religion--unlike Christianity, its sinister rival--and self-righteously rebukes anyone who does.

Actually, the case for the historical Muhammad is pretty weak and much written about. If anything, early Islam appears to have just been a run-of-the-mill Christian heresy.

Posted by at May 20, 2020 12:00 AM