Monday, May 09, 2005

what happened to Jesus

It wasn't until I'd been looking into Islam for quite a few months that I discovered that the Koran has a different spin on what happened to Jesus in the end. There, it is asserted that Jesus did not die on the cross after all. Someone else took His place, thereby fooling the Roman executioners. Ha! a likely story! Here is the pertinent passage:
Qur'an 4:157 (Yusuf Ali)
That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-

I've just finished reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and he tells a different story to that of the canonical gospels. Yes, Jesus did die on the cross but by then he had married Mary Magdalene and made her pregnant with his royal seed. So His royal bloodline had survived.

Yet another version that I found quite plausible is by Koenraad Elst in his Psychology of Prophetism. He reasons that Jesus survived the crucifixion and escaped into Arab lands, there to write the fiery and resentfull book of the Apocalypse. If this story is indeed true then an oral tradition might have been established among the Arabs to the effect of His survival and this tradition might then have found its way into the Koran. A little confused in that Mo denies that Jesus was crucified at all, but in line with Elst's thesis in that He didn't die on the cross.

Of course, there are many other versions of what happened and especially other stories about the resurrection. Chief among these and popular with modern or liberal Christians is the idea that the resurrection should not be taken literally but rather as an allegory for the potent renewal of faith in Jesus' message among his disciples, despite grave initial doubts following His humiliating death.

Here then is a list of these better known possibilities:

  • Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead on the third day (New Testament Bible)
  • Jesus did not die on the cross at all, this being an unfitting end for an important messenger of Allah (Koran)
  • Jesus did die on the cross but his bloodline was carried on through his wife Mary Magdalene (The Da Vinci Code)
  • Jesus survived crucifixion and escaped to Arab lands (Psychology of Prophetism)
  • Jesus died on the cross and stayed dead but his disciples saw visions of Him that renewed their faith in His teachings (modern liberal Christianity)

There is no conclusive proof for any one of these stories. I prefer a blend as follows:

  • Jesus was tortured but not crucified. Someone took his place for that. He did escape with Mary Magdalene, saw the error of his ways, and settled down to marriage and fatherhood. Despite this abandonment of His disciples, they made the best of a bad thing by extracting what seemed most valuable from Jesus' teachings, taking heart, and continuing to create a new community of belief. Since Jesus had to stay in hiding, it fell to Paul to get the new church properly under way. Meanwhile the Arabs were laughing at the na├»ve belief in Jesus' resurrection and all the soft ideas about loving your enemy and turning the other cheek. They were also jealous of the Jews and Christians for having rich (albeit fanciful) sacred texts, so they decided to do one better. A particularly loony Arab called Mo took on the job and created the Koran as a potent mixture of religious allegory and war cry (like a very long Maori haka) that launched Islam onto the unsuspecting world. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Lord of the Wastelands and Allah by name,
Lord of the Nothingness, Lord of the Lame,
Can't walk, can't see, can't hear, can't do a thing,
Excess of pride is all that you can bring.

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