Were they really New Testament “Disciples” of Jesus (p)?

Were they really New Testament “Disciples” of Jesus (p)?

An introductory look into the New Testament “Disciples” for their bizarre relationship with their Master

Question Mark

Introduction

 

 

This is the final installment in our series of responses to Sam Shamoun for his alleged discovery of  “errors” in the Qur’an for it asserting original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “Muslims”!

To make his case, Shamoun quotes many passages from New Testament to portray belief system of the truest and sincerest disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) to argue that such belief system could not have been endorsed by a disciple had he been Muslim! And as such, Shamoun claims, Qur’an is at historical “error” for claiming Jesus’ (peace be upon him) followers to be Muslims.

In the last part we showed that apart from well-known ‘Christian’ disciples, New Testament also contains many other followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) who came very close to the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were Muslims and so the Qur’anic assertion cannot be outright denied even from New Testament’s point of view.

Nevertheless, because Shamoun brought up the issue of “disciples” and argued that the New Testament disciples were the original and truest disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) therefore, in this paper, we are going to take a step further than Shamoun. Shamoun has used certain New Testament passages to portray the famous New Testament disciples of Jesus (peace be upon hm), however, as usual, he has conveniently ignored scores of other passages. We would have a fuller look into the quality of belief and loyalty that the New Testament “disciples” had for their master.  

  

The “Christ”-like Premise

 

 

Think about the traits of sincere and original disciples of any master. They must obey the commandments of their teacher rather than breaching or inventing their own whimsical rules. Nevertheless, if they do so then they cannot possibly be named as “disciples” rather they now behave as rivals!

With that said, let us investigate how sincere and original were the New Testament disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him).

Jesus (peace be upon him) emphatically asserted the following about the laws of the old prophets:

           

Do not think I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with – not until the end of all things. So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of heaven. I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.” (Matthew 5: 17-20) 

 

Note the following very important teachings from the above cited passage:

  • Jesus (peace be upon him) did not come to abrogate the Laws of Moses (peace be upon him) or any other prophet for that reason. So, his appearance had no nullifying effect on previous laws.
  • On the foregoing, he asserted that until the end of the world, not even the smallest detail of the earlier laws could be done away with. This entails with it a proof that the laws were meant to be viable even after the ministry of Jesus (peace be upon him).
  • Consequently, one who disobeys or tries to nullify the viability of earlier prophets would be doomed. And, only those who were loyal to the Old laws would be successful in the hereafter.
  • The Pharisees considered themselves to be the observers of the laws, therefore, Jesus (peace be upon him) exhorted that his followers to be more faithful to the laws than Pharisees themselves. In effect, let alone washing hands off the laws, for Jesus (peace be upon him) his followers had to be more orthodox than the word itself!   

 

Jesus (peace be upon him) reiterated his views about the Laws when he recommended the rich young man. Consider the following conversation between Jesus (peace be upon him) and the man:

 

“As Jesus was starting n his way again, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked him “Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit murder…respect your father and your mother.’” (Mark 10: 17-19)

 

All Jesus (peace be upon him) did was enumerate the Mosaic commandments verbatim – the famous Ten Commandments. (c.f., Exodus 20: 12-16). He does not assert that although Moses (peace be upon him) recommended commandments but my cross would override them all.

Furthermore, Jesus (peace be upon him) made it contingent that his (true) followers would follow his commandments if they really do love him, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15) and obviously his commandment was to observe the Old Testament Laws.

Jesus (peace be upon him) even alluded that his disciples cannot be loyal and at the same time disobey him:

 

“No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24)

 

 

Here comes the “Disciples”

 

 

With that said, let us take the case of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) no.1, self-claimed disciple – “Apostle” Paul!

Here are Paul’s views about the laws – the same laws which Jesus (peace be upon him) just honored:

 

“Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57)

 

If Laws were meant to nourish sins, no wonder, Paul would claim that without Law there would be no sin:

 

“For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” (Rom 4:14-15)

 

In other words Paul held the Laws responsible for all the wrongdoings. In fact, based on his low opinion about the Hebrew Laws, Paul claimed that he was innocent and sinless before the Laws were unleashed:

 

“Shall we say, then, that the Law itself is sinful? Of course not! But it was the Law that made me know what sin is. If the Law had not said, “Do not desire what belongs to someone else,” I would not have known such a desire.” (Romans 7:7)

 

Notice how Paul incriminates God’s holy Laws for engendering sinful desires in him. Paul convicts Laws that his innocent self would have never known the act of coveting had the Laws did not warn him against it!?

This particular Pauline assertion itself begs a lot of question; for how likely is it that without the knowledge of Law against coveting Paul was unaware of desiring someone else’s wife! The feeling of coveting is internal; Law does not necessarily have to arouse people in order to know about it. And, so when Paul tries to claim such an absurd notion, he merely tries to portray himself as if he was super-pious prior to the knowledge of Laws.

Paul re-claimed that without the Laws, Sin is a dead thing:

 

If the Law not said, “Do not desire what belongs to someone else,” I would not have known such a desire. But by means of that commandment sin found its chance to stir up all kinds of selfish desires in me. Apart from law, sin is a dead thing.” (Romans 7:7-8) 

 

It is not hard to read the psychology of “apostle” Paul. He did not for a second thought that it could be his human frailty which pushes him towards coveting; rather, he held God’s holy Law responsible for his degeneration into it even though, in true spirit, God revealed his Laws so that people can keep themselves safe from such temptations.

Furthermore, Paul’s “preaching” were way off – eisegesis – from Jesus’ (peace be upon him). Jesus (peace be upon him) had nothing to claim that sins are nourished by Laws; sin is dead without Law etc. In fact he would continuously exhorting his immediate (Paul never met him) audience to hearken to the Laws. We saw how the rich young man observed all the Laws and yet it never engendered any sinful, covetous desires in him; it was only in the case of Paul that the Laws were having a different effect than desired. In fact as we would soon observe Jesus (peace be upon him) “loved” the rich man for following the Laws! We are afraid if Jesus (peace be upon him) was “loving” a covetous man!?

Furthermore, Paul even claimed that, contrary to the plan of God, sin used God’s holy Laws to deceive him thereby once again shedding extremely negative light on God’s Laws:

 

“Sin found its chance, and by means of the commandment it deceived me and killed me.” (Romans 7:11)

 

Not merely Jesus (peace be upon him) but the above Pauline low opinion about the Laws are also at odds with the high opinion held by Old Testament sages. Consider the Psalmist, for instance:

 

Your teachings are wonderful; I obey them with all my heart. The explanation of your teachings gives light and brings wisdom to the ignorant. In my desire for your commands I pant with open mouth…Save me from those who oppress me, so that I may obey your commands. Bless me with your presence and teach me your laws. My tears pour down like a river, because people do not obey your law.” (Psalms 119:129-136)

 

As expected, parallel to the views of Jesus (peace be upon him) about the Laws, Psalter hated and even cursed those who felt low about the Laws:

 

I hate those who are not completely loyal to you, but I love your law…Go away from me, you sinful people. I will obey the commands of my GodHold me, and I will be safe, and I will always pay attention to your commands. You reject everyone who disobeys your laws; their deceitful schemes are useless. (Psalms 119: 113-118)

 

Wherein Paul’s case Laws were engendering and stirring sins in him, much contrary to this effect, the Psalmist was able to keep himself sin-free because he was observing the Laws:

 

How I love your law! I think about it all day long. Your commandment is with me all the time and makes me wiser than my enemies. I understand more than all my teachers, because I meditate on your instructions. I have greater wisdom than old men, because I obey your commands. I have avoided all evil conduct, because I want to obey your word. I have not neglected your instructions, for you yourself are my teacher. How sweet is the taste of your instructions- sweeter than honey! I gain wisdom from your laws, and so I hate all bad conduct.” (Psalms 119:97-104)

 

On the foregoing, to a non Pauline Christian it gets extremely difficult to assume that Paul was even remotely an original follower of Christ (peace be upon him). Let alone following the commands of Jesus (peace be upon him) to observe Laws, Paul unceremoniously preached that Laws engender sin and generate covetous feelings; and that sin is only viable because of Laws otherwise it is a dead thing.

No wonder that there had been earliest Christian groups, albeit obviously now repressed to mere parchments of history, who considered “apostle” Paul to be an imposter for his views:

 

“In fact, in Paul’s view, for Gentiles to adopt the ways of Judaism meant to call into question the salvation God had provided by the death of Jesus; it was Jesus alone, not the Jewish Law, that brought a person into a right standing before God (Rom. 3:10, 8:3; Gal. 2:15–16). Looking back on these debates, as recorded even in the pages of the New Testament, we tend to think that the matter was easily, quickly, and effectively resolved. In point of fact, even the New Testament texts that discuss the issue show that it was not such a simple affair and that Paul’s view was not universally accepted or, one might argue, even widely accepted. The account of the conference that met to decide this issue in Jerusalem, part way through Paul’s missionary activities among the Gentiles (Acts 15), indicates that unnamed groups of Christians argued the alternative line, that Gentile converts wanting to become Christians first had to become Jews. Even more striking, Paul’s own letters indicate that there were outspoken, sincere, and active Christian leaders who vehemently disagreed with him on this score and considered Paul’s views to be a corruption of the true message of Christ.” (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.97)

 

 

There are good grounds for those ‘Christian’ groups opposing Paul to consider him a corruptor of “Gospel of Jesus” (peace be upon him) since he never taught that Laws would engender sin; and that sins are dead without Law and thus Laws should be abolished. Even James opposed Paul for his “preaching”.

So much for Paul being the “disciple” of Jesus (peace be upon him). Below we would briefly take into account another famous biblical disciple of Jesus (peace be upon him) – “apostle” Peter:

 

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a YOKE upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (Acts 15: 6-10, King James Version)

 

 

Before we look into Peter’s revolutionary statement at the meeting in Jerusalem, we would like to point out that it is the same “disciple” Peter who deserted his lord, savior and god at the most pitiful junction of his life:

 

And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. (Mark 14: 27-30, King James Version)

 

And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. (Mark 14:67-71, King James Version)

 

Here is the irony for Shamoun, Jesus’ (peace be upon him) most trusted biblical disciple disowns his own “god, lord and savior” when he would have expected them to stand by their side helping him.

[Remember at this point that Jesus (peace be upon him) of Qur’an enquired from his original disciples – Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?” (Qur’an 3:52). Of course Qur’an does not allude that Jesus (peace be upon him) demanded this help when he was about to appear before the Sanhedrin and the two should not be in any case related but the point is clear that Jesus (peace be upon him) must have expected help from his original followers on the face of difficult times.]

Given Peter’s betrayal on the face of Jesus (peace be upon him), it is not too far – fetched to believe that he would dessert Jesus’ (peace be upon him) teachings in his absence.

In the wake of the foregoing, notice that Peter testified in Jerusalem council that (i) the Law of Moses (peace be upon him) is a “yoke”, and a burden and which (ii) neither they (iii) nor their fore – fathers were able to bear.

For Peter to be an original follower demands that his theological views should be compatible with that of his teacher, namely, Jesus (peace be upon him). Contrary to Peter’s views, (i) Jesus (peace be upon him) never once claimed that the Law of Moses is a burden or a punishing “yoke”. On the contrary, he claimed, as cited earlier, that anybody teaching against the observance of Law or disparage it would be doomed:

 

Do not think I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with – not until the end of all things. So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of heaven. I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.” (Matthew 5: 17-20) 

 

“A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?” The man answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” You are right,” Jesus replied; “do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)      

 

(ii) Peter was also contravening contemporary facts by claiming that his peers could never bear the burden of the Laws. Contrary to his views, we had the incident of rich young man who did followed the Laws without ever complaining that it is a “yoke” – very unlike “apostle” Peter:

 

“As Jesus was starting n his way again, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked him “Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit murder…respect your father and your mother.’ “Teacher,” the man said, “ever since I was young, I have obeyed all these commandments.” Jesus looked straight at him with LOVE and said, “You need only one thing. Go sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven;” (Mark 10: 17-21)

 

Note that when the rich young man has informed Jesus (peace be upon him) that he has kept “all the laws, he looked back at him with “love”. Now why would Jesus (peace be upon him) possibly reciprocated with “love”?

The answer is simple. Jesus (peace be upon him) was pleased when he knew that the young man was observing the laws ever since his childhood! Jesus (peace be upon him) was amazed on the fealty which the young man had for the Laws and that is why he saw him with “love”.

Contrast this with “apostle” Peter’s testimony where he abased Laws as mere burdening “Yoke” meant to punish its observers. On the pretext of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) “loving” reaction towards the rich young man, it is not too far-fetched to imagine the reaction that Jesus (peace be upon him) would have given to Peter. It is very highly probable that he would have antagonized Peter for his lowly views of the Old Testament Laws as mere “yoke”!

Finally, (iii) we would compare how Peter falsely attributed on his Jewish forefathers that observing Old Testament Laws was an excruciating burden on them which they could never bear. Contrast Psalmist’s feelings for the Laws:

 

Your teachings are wonderful; I obey them with all my heart. The explanation of your teachings gives light and brings wisdom to the ignorant. In my desire for your commands I PANT WITH OPEN MOUTH…Save me from those who oppress me, so that I may obey your commands. Bless me with your presence and teach me your laws. My tears pour down like a river, because people do not obey your law.” (Psalms 119:129-136)

“How can a young man keep his life pure? By obeying your commands. With all my heart I try to serve you; keep me from disobeying your commandments. I keep your law in my heart, so that I will not sin against youI will repeat aloud all the laws you have given. I delight in following your commands more than in having great wealth. I study your instructions; I examine your teachings. I take PLEASURE in your laws; your commands I will not forget.” (Psalms 119:9-16)

 

Notice how the Psalter’s own testimony falsifies Jesus’ (peace be upon him) “disciple”; according to him, he finds “delight” and “pleasure” in observing the Laws. He gave no inkling that the Laws is a “Yoke”! If the Laws were meant to be burdensome “yoke” then why did the Psalter “panted with open mouth” to observe it?

Psalter again repeated his views of the Laws:

 

Be good to me, your servant, so that I may live and obey your teachings. Open my eyes, so that I may see the wonderful truths in your law. I am here on earth for just little while; do not hide your commands from meYou reprimand the proud; cursed are those who disobey your commands. Free me from their insults and scorn, because I have kept your laws. The rulers meet and plot against me, but I will study your teachings. Your instructions give me PLEASURE; they are my advisers.” (Psalms 119:17-24)

 

Unlike Peter for whom Law became burdensome, Psalmist resolved to follow them at all times:

 

Help me understand your Laws, and I will meditate in your wonderful teachingsKeep me from going the wrong way, and in your goodness teach me your lawI will EAGERLY obey your commands, because you will give me more understanding. Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your Laws, and I will obey them at all times. Explain your law to me, and I will obey it; I will keep it with all my heart. Keep me obedient to your commandments, because in them I find HAPPINES. Give me the desire to obey your laws rather than to get rich. Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless; be good to me, as you have promised…how wonderful are your judgments! I want to obey your commands; give me new life, for you are righteous. (Psalms 119:27-40)

 

Finally the Psalmist, in place of “Yoke”, found “perfect freedom” in the Laws and hence he “loved” obeying them:

 

I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will live in perfect freedom, because I try to obey your teachings. I will announce your commands to kings and I will not be ashamed. I find pleasure in obeying your commands, because I LOVE them. I respect and LOVE your commandments; I will meditate on your instructions.” (Psalms119:44-48)

 

How I LOVE YOUR LAW! I think about it all day long. Your commandment is with me all the time and makes me wiser than my enemies. I understand more than all my teachers, because I meditate on your instructions. I have greater wisdom than old men, because I obey your commands. I have avoided all evil conduct, because I want to obey your word. I have not neglected your instructions, for you yourself are my teacher. How sweet is the taste of your instructions- sweeter than honey! I gain wisdom from your laws, and so I hate all bad conduct.” (Psalms 119:97-104)

 

If such was the state of affairs with prophet(s) of Old Testament – who were above in God’s sight than the New Testament mere “disciples” – then it must be enquired as to what made Peter consider Laws as heavy “yoke”. Why the same God’s Laws had such a different effect on the Psalmist and Peter? Why was the same Law a source of “happiness” for the Psalmist so much so that with open mouth he was panting to observe it, yet for Peter it became as heavy as a yoke tied forcibly around his neck? Under what/whose influence Peter had such a bad experience/perception/understanding of God’s Laws? Do not forget that it was because of his Jewish attitude that Peter was publicly humiliated by Paul at Antioch (c.f. Galatians 2: 11-13)! And we already know Paul’s attitude towards the Laws. So it is probable that the heavy Pauline influence crafted Peter’s negative perception of God’s Laws! Or it is also possible that the subject statement was attributed to Peter by the author.

Multiple other Old Testament prophets also held the Laws in high esteem, let alone, debasing them as “Yoke”. According to Old Testament prophet Nehemiah, the Laws and following them was not a “Yoke” but a “way of life”:

 

“But your (God’s) people rebelled and disobeyed you; they turned their backs on your Law…In your great mercy you sent them leaders who rescued them from their foes. When peace returned, they sinned again, and again you let their enemies conquer them. Yet when they repented and asked to save them, in heaven you heard, and time after time you rescued them in your great mercy. You warned them to obey your teachings,  but in PRIDE they rejected your laws, although keeping your Law is the way of life. OBSTINATE AND STUBBORN, they refused to obey.” (Nehemiah 9:26-29)

 

Note how Nehemiah anathematizes those who refuse to follow the Law! What would Nehemiah possibly – a prophet of biblical God – think of Peter had he heard him consider it a “Yoke”!? “Obstinate and stubborn” is certainly highly feasible!

So much for “apostle” Peter being the original follower of Christ (peace be upon him)!

We saw the dedication of disciples Paul and Peter towards their master; the conditions of others were not quite different:

Here is Jesus (peace be upon him), biblically on the last stage of his earthly life – distressful and heavy hearted – counting the last hours of his biblical life while praying to God for help at the famous garden of Gethsemane. Under such a situation the master of the disciples commands the following:

 

“They came to a place of Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.” (Mark 14: 32-34)  

 

Let alone Jesus (peace be upon him) their “lord and savior”, the psychological condition of the mere man would have made it obligatory on his “disciples” that they pay heed to his commands. However, much embarrassingly, the disciples found luxury and comfort of the garden to doze off:

“Then he [Jesus (pbuh)] returned and found the three disciples asleep. “He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Weren’t you able to stay awake even for one hour?” (Mark 14:37)

 

Note the frustration with which Jesus (peace be upon him) enquired or rather reprimanded Peters’ disobedience of the command. However, Jesus (peace be upon him) gave them a chance, neglected their folly and commanded the same again only to be disappointed once again:

 

“And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words. Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him. When he came back the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!” (Mark 14:38-41)

 

Over and over again the so-called disciples of biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) were letting him down. What is more pathetic for Shamoun and the likes is that we cannot even give benefit-of-fatigue to the disciples based on the following points:

 

1)      The context of the conversation: Jesus (peace be upon him) specifically communicated the state of his heart in most poignant terms, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me” Why did he say so? Because the so-called disciples understand the gravity of the situation and the state of affairs inside him.

 

Furthermore, in such an emotional state of heart and mind, Jesus (peace be upon him) commanded them to, “keep watch”. The explicit command from the lips of the master himself should have aroused his biblical disciples!

 

Yet further, it was the last moment of his life; the last time when his disciples could be as freely with their master as they could have been in Galilee or elsewhere.

 

Yet none of the above situation and context prevented the weak flesh of the disciples from taking a power-nap.

 

2)      Actual test: The real test of fealty is not when you are strong and capable to perform but it is then when you are weak. The best disciples could have done to show their unconditional loyalty was to stay awake even though the flesh was weak.

 

3)      Finally, it comes as very intriguing, if not embarrassing, that out of the three earliest and best disciples not one had a stronger flesh!? How possible it is that all of them, at the same point of time, had valid reasons for their slackness/disobedience? Seems like it was a group of best disciples of cheering Shamoun who were just not obedient enough!  

 

 

These were transpiring just before Jesus’ (peace be upon him) arrest and we saw earlier how Peter faired when Jesus (peace be upon him) was presented to the high priest. This was not too far – fetched given Peter’s response at the garden of Gethsemane!

Those were the accounts of the loyal biblical disciples during the life time of Jesus (peace be upon him). They did not faired any better even after Jesus’ (peace be upon him) alleged death and resurrection.

Note that according to the Christianity (which dominated other Christianities), the alleged death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him) was at its core. As such biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) allegedly preached this fundamental-doctrine firsthand to his so-called disciples over and over again:

 

From that time on Jesus began to say plainly to his disciples, “I must go to Jerusalem and suffer much from the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. I will be put to death, but three days later I will be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21)

When the disciples all came together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be handed over to those who will kill him; but three days later he will be raised to life.” The disciples became very sad. (Matthew 17: 22-23)

“Listen,” he told them, “we are going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn him to death and then hand him over to the Gentiles, who will make fun of him, whip him, and crucify him; but three days later he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 20:18-19)

 

 

Jesus (peace be upon him) had allegedly made his resurrection preaching so ubiquitous that even his enemies were full abreast of it and feared its materializing:

 

The next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive he said, ‘I will be raised to life three days later.‘ (Matthew 27:62-63)

 

In the wake of the above we expect that the so-called disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) to easily accept and assimilate the oft repeated and doctrinally important teaching of resurrection readily. Yet much to the frustration of Jesus (peace be upon him), Shamoun’s advocated biblical “disciples” disbelieved and rejected the resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him) within hours of his alleged and long awaited crucifixion (!):

 

He is not here; he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.’ “Then the women remembered his words, returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; they and the other women with them told these things to the apostles. But the apostles thought that what the women said was NONSENSE, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; he bent down and saw the grave cloths but nothing else. Then he went back home amazed at what had happened. (Luke 24:6-12)

 

They returned and told the others, but these would not believe it. (Luke 16:13)

 

This act of disbelief so enraged Jesus (peace be upon him) that he had to chide his “original” disciples:

 

Last of all, Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating. He scolded them, because they did NOT have faith and because they were too stubborn to believe those who had seen him alive. He said to them, “Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all people.  (Mark 16: 14-15)

 

And,

 

And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.” Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets. (Luke 24:21-27)

 

Thomas – the “My-Lord-My-God” disciple was even more stern in his disbelief than all of the rest for extremely eccentrically, if not pathetically, he wanted to put his fingers through Jesus’ (peace be upon him) wounds in order to believe in his resurrection!?

 

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (John 20: 24-25)

 

On the foregoing, New Testament scholar D.C. Parker asserts that Shamoun’s so assumed disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) needed tangible proofs to believe. Certainly the authoritative words of Jesus (peace be upon him) were not enough to penetrate their hearts:

 

“…that the disciples did not believe (neither source has such a reference), and that when Jesus does appear, he rebukes ‘their unbelief and hardness of heart’. It is only when they see and speak with Jesus that they believe [his resurrection]. (D.C.Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels (1997),p.140)

 

The Pharisees became “evil and adulterous generation” (c.f. Matthew 12:39) for their want of proofs; yet Thomas is a “disciple” – rather a sincere and original “disciple” for his want of putting finger in the wounds of his “Lord and God” as proof satisfying his whims! The Pharisees were cynical so their want of proof may make some sense but Thomas claimed his belief in Jesus (peace be upon him); roamed around with him during his ministry; was benefitted by his miracles and blessings; and at multiple occasions heard it from the lips of his “Lord and God” that he would resurrect again after three days, yet he wanted to put his fingers in the wounds of his “God” to believe in his resurrection! Was Thomas was more bent in his want of proof than the “evil and adulterous” Pharisees?

Furthermore this “stubborn” attitude of Thomas – Jesus’ (peace be upon him) so-called twin “brother” – must be juxtaposed with the fact that even the hateful Jewish religious authorities “remembered” the resurrection after three days; they feared its materialization and so took all steps to thwart it (c.f. Matthew 27:62-63). Nevertheless, much to the sadness of Jesus (peace be upon him), Thomas – his “disciple” – seems to hardly remember anything about this resurrection!

In fact the disciples had particular hard time believing the so-called “resurrection” of Jesus (peace be upon him):

           

“The eleven disciples went to the hill in the Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, even though some of them DOUBTED” (Matthew 28: 16-17)

 

As expected this bizarre reaction of the disciples is tried to be “reconciled” by Christian commentators. Consider Albert Barnes, for example:

 

They worshipped him – Paid him honour as the Messiah.

But some doubted – As, for example, Thomas, Joh_20:25. The disciples had not expected his resurrection; they were therefore slow to believe. The mention of their doubting shows that they were honest men that they were not easily imposed on that they had not previously agreed to affirm that he had risen – that they were convinced only by the strength of the evidence. Their caution in examining the evidence; their slowness to believe; their firm conviction after all their doubts; and their willingness to show their conviction even by their “death,” is most conclusive proof that they were “not” deceived in regard to the fact of his resurrection. (Matthew 28: 17, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 

As Paul preached that the death and resurrection was the-central theme of Christianity then why “the disciples had not expected Jesus’ (p) resurrection”? Similarly, why the so-called “disciples” needed the “strength of the evidence” to believe in Jesus’ (peace be upon him) resurrection? Did not Jesus’ (peace be upon him) words had enough “strength of the evidence” in it for these “honest men”? And therefore rather than portraying the disciples as “honest men”, the incident delineates them as an adamant group of men not given to believe in the resurrection in their first gut experience and knowledge!

It is highly probable that because of such rebellious attitude towards the alleged resurrection, the “disciples” awfully misunderstood Jesus (peace be upon him) when he spoke to them in the post-resurrection period. Consider the following incident:

 

“Peter turned round and saw behind him that other disciple, whom Jesus loved – the one who had leaned close to Jesus at the meal and had asked, “Lord, who is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus answered him, “If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So a report spread among the followers of Jesus that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he said, “If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you?”” (John 21: 20-23)

 

It is not hard to notice in the first place that the author(s) of gospel of John is doing damage-control on Peter’s behalf! Author(s) is disabusing that Jesus (peace be upon him) never meant that the mysterious and anonymous “beloved-disciple” would live until his second coming. However, this was exactly that Peter understood! In fact the same was even spread amongst multiple other apostles of Jesus (peace be upon him)! And all of them readily accepted that the “beloved-disciple” was to live until Jesus (peace be upon him) returns!

There are more issues with the clean-up that the Author(s) wrote. Note that gospel of John was written very late in the first century. We can safely approximate it to be written around 90-95 C.E if not more. Thus, for a staggering period of ninety odd years the best and the earliest Christians believed in the wrong notion about the life of “beloved-disciple”! Appreciate the issue that the author(s) of John is not claiming for “apostles” that they rectified their views rather he is clarifying for his readers – his community – the correct import of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) statement. Thus, the apostles who accepted Peter’s confused rumor all died with the same mistaken notion!

The important issue is that if “apostles” are not willing to accept resurrection even though it was trumpeted beforehand; if Peter is so easily given to misinterpretation of as simple statements as we just saw above in the Johannine passage; if numerous other “apostles” are so readily given to accepting mere rumors, then it is extremely difficult to believe when these “disciples” report anything about Jesus (peace be upon him). If the life of the “beloved-disciple” can be misconstrued here then there is probability that other things reported in Bible were also a by-product of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) misunderstood statements!

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

There is still a lot that has to be said about the New Testament “disciples” of Jesus (peace be upon him) but remember that this paper was a part of response to Sam Shamoun for his claim that Qur’an is in historical error for claiming Jesus’ (peace be upon him) followers to be “Muslims”. He argues Jesus’ (peace be upon him) disciples were Christians who believed in Jesus (peace be upon him) to be divine son of God, the second god in the Trinitarian godhead, whose alleged death and resurrection brought salvation etc.

Nevertheless, while claiming all of the above, Shamoun conveniently ignored several New Testament passages about the “disciples” who breached the rules and regulations set forth by Jesus (peace be upon him) over and over again. Paul had no qualms in muting the viability of Old Testament Laws and rules even though Jesus (peace be upon him) exhorted his disciples to observe the Old Testament Laws better than Pharisees and Scribes and until the end of the world!  

Even though resurrection was predicted plainly by Jesus (peace be upon him) well beforehand still, ironically, all the disciples had worst time accepting it when it biblically materialized. The first reaction was that the resurrection was a farce and “nonsense”; they needed to personally experience it by dining with the resurrected Jesus (peace be upon him). In fact one particular “apostle” – Thomas – went way far off to make the nasty demand of putting his fingers through the crucifixion wounds of resurrected Jesus (peace be upon him) to believe in it!

When these other aspects of the New Testament ‘Christian’ disciples are taken into account then non-Christians are made to think if the term disciples/followers could be easily applied upon them!? At the same time all of these New Testament incidents keep the doors for the Qur’anic assertion – the original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims – wide open. And so by questioning the Qur’anic assertion about the original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims, Shamoun has only exposed the quality of disciples Jesus (peace be upon him) had in the New Testament.

 

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from the Good News Edition.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.  
  • Unlike Sam Shamoun and his cohorts, it was not our intention to hurt any sincere, everyday Christian sentiment. We honor the choice of a Christian if s/he chooses to revere New Testament figures. However, this paper was a response to Shamoun for his vicious attacks on Islam and thus, we had to expose a few issues.

 

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Comments

  • mansubzero  On March 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    “Your teachings are wonderful; I obey them with all my heart. The explanation of your teachings gives light and brings wisdom to the ignorant. In my desire for your commands I pant with open mouth…Save me from those who oppress me,so that I may obey your commands. Bless me with your presence and teach me your laws. My tears pour down like a river, because people do not obey your law.” (Psalms 119:129-136) 

    Ask a jew and he/she will tell you that the complete reading of psalms from cover to cover reveals that ALL LAWS I.e punishment laws, dietry laws and moral laws are ALL supported. No psalmist was thinking about christian gods MURERED And useless flesh/blood when he was Announcing is SUPPORT 4 THE LAWS. THE LAWS beat jesus , his blood and flesh.there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in jesus “sacrifice” which could “fullfill” the laws, the laws r not fullfilled, but obeyed or broken, the psalmist does not wan t to break them. EveN 4 ARGUMENT SAKE WE RESTRICT THE WORD LAW TO MORAL LAWS NOTE THAT THEY, THE LAWS STILL BEAT jesus PHONY “sacrifice”

  • mansubzero  On March 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    The death blow to shamoun may come from the ending of mark.WOAH TO U WHO R AFRAID 4 UR LACK OF FAITH LOL
    “It is rather because Mark’s story is all about the failure of everyone around Jesus to understand his mission, to follow his instructions, and to do his will.Kelber explains:The disciples’ disobedience, as well as that of the women, does not damage Jesus’ credibility for the readers [contra Petersen]. Quite the opposite: the readers are to follow, where the disciples have failed. (p. 220)And make no mistake; we’re talking total, colossal, abject failure here — with chapter 16 dealing the final blow.Overcome by trembling, astonishment, and fear, [the women] flee. . . . As a result, the disciples, who had been absent at the crucifixion and have remained ignorant of the resurrection, never learn that the signal has been given for the reunion with the resurrected one. They are thereby effectively eliminated as apostolic representatives of the risen Lord. (p. 129)”mark wrote his gospel not for the readers to follow the deciples WHO FAILED jesus, but to do the OPPOSITE of what the deciples did.more herehttp://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/mcgraths-missing-ending-what-was-marks-story-part-2/MARK 16:8 is the ending the writer of mark ended @.

    • qmarkmark  On March 28, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Salam.

      Exactly. Nevertheless, it creates a very doubtful picture of the first disciples.

      • mansubzero  On March 28, 2013 at 7:18 pm

        ‘he replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

        now PLUG jesus’ REPLY TO his “faithfull” deciples in MARK 16:8

        THEY SAID NOTHING TO ANYONE FOR THEY WERE AFRAID…….

        LOL LOL

      • mansubzero  On March 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm

        “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

        so lets add DOUBT TO THE MIX lol

      • mansubzero  On March 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm

        “The word translated fled in Mark 16:8 was phleugo, which meant “to seek safety in flight.

        “Mark 13:14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

        Mark 14:45 And as soon as he [Judas] was come, he goeth straightway to him [Jesus], and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. 46 And they laid their hands on him, and took him. 47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. 50 And they all forsook him, and fled.

        So this word denoted flight that was taken in fear, and Mark’s original ending said that the women took flight in terror and then told no one what they had seen, for they were afraid.”

        very gutsy, fearless anD FAITHFUL women these were LOL

      • mansubzero  On April 2, 2013 at 1:27 am

        Salaam bro
        Bro, what is your opinion on irameyahs words when he says that god DID NOT COMMAND the jews OR SPEAK TO THEM ABOUT BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICE
        http://www.theskepticalreview.com/JFTBobbyPreterism4.html

        Read this article bro, it seems as if the prophet irameyah knew that there was no majic in dead flesh and burnt offering. The article kills christianity in a deadly way.

      • mansubzero  On April 2, 2013 at 2:06 am

        it doesnt make sense bro. yhwh said i did not command/speak to you about sacrifices and burnt offerings and thenext verse says that they Didnt obey yhwh. how can this same god ask murderors, thieves, fornicators,catholic idolatorers to depend o n part time flesh he had “sacrificed” to himself? itmjust doesnt make anysense. there is no magic in flesh and blood.

  • mansubzero  On March 27, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    “I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will live in perfect freedom, because I try to obey your teachings. I will announce your commands to kings and I will not be ashamed. I find pleasure in obeying your commands, because I LOVE them. I respect and LOVE your commandments; I will meditate on your instructions.”
    Was this writer thinking that god would take on flesh and then get it murdered through psgan hands to appease himself so then he can switch off the laws and take it easy on pork eating europeans?

  • mansubzero  On April 1, 2013 at 8:08 pm

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