|Feast On The Bread From Heaven; May Ears Be Opened|
[follow-up to "Dying to Share Facts in Scholarship" article]
Orthodox (mainstream) Islam holds to the teaching that Jesus / Yeshua / Isa did not die on a cross, but another person died or was hung on the cross.
This theology loosely says God played a 'bait and switch' before everyone's eyes, and Yeshua was raised to heaven in body and form.
What is interesting is this bait and switch idea has a gnostic source predating Islam by many years.
Some places in the Quran, when speaking of Muhammad, say that Muhammad must die as did the prophets before him.
Another place in the Quran speaks of most prophets suffering an unjust death by their enemies, and all being humans, and as do all humans, realize death.
Yet, when it comes to Yeshua, who is believed in Islamic theology to be a prophet (and much more), somehow the wires have been crossed regarding the idea of Yeshua suffering an unjust death as did many prophets before him.
It is a misinterpretation that has been propagated for centuries, showing evident contradiction and much Muslim apologetics to smooth out the rough 'logical' conclusions.
If one would allow themselves an objective interpretation of the Quranic verses mentioning Yeshua's death, or the belief that Yeshua was killed, one may see the issue was whether or not Yeshua actually died (metaphor) for good, or that it was simply the flesh which was killed.
The Muslims believe He didn't die, or was not killed... and that notion is partly true, since God rose Yeshua up to Himself (as the Quran also states).
The issue with the Quran, and its interpretation, is that it is always viewed in a vacuum and only from a particular perspective, mainly the perspective of people living in the desert of Arabia.
As is typical with loosely associated tribes and bands of people of that time in that region of the world, being mostly illiterate and unschooled, legends and stories abounded.
Having heard various tales and legends about Yeshua outside of the source material (Gospel), and hearing contradictory stories from heretical and autonomous groups of 'Christians' in that region, many were the stories and opinions of what happened to Yeshua prior to being raised into heaven.
The ascension seems to have been a broadly accepted part of the story, but the death part seems to have found contention with the minds and logical cognizance of men, which is of no surprise.
The issue mentioned in a particular Quranic verse is whether or not the Jews killed and triumphed in extinguishing God's Holy Prophet; the Spirit of God / Word of God, which are two terms equated with Yeshua.
Question: can the Word and Spirit of God be killed?
This question is the argument posed by the verse in contention, and what that verse is messaging is: no man or thing is or was capable of killing God's Word and God's Spirit.
So, in essence, if one would read these things in the Quran in the light of what was revealed previously in the Gospel, then it makes sense the manner it is written – that Yeshua was not ultimately killed-off by His enemies, and that God raised Him to life and then up to heaven, which the Quran does confirm.
It is all a matter of interpretation, which some early Muslims did interpret clearly and correctly, but perhaps in doing so the legend of Muhammad could not be promoted as superior to that of Yeshua.
And here we can understand why so much division exists in the Islamic community, since different groups adhere to different interpretations and legends.
The legend of Muhammad is what we see promoted in orthodox Islam, which further calls Muhammad the 'perfect man', although the Quran and Hadith (reported stories of Muhammad) confess that Muhammad killed people and had people killed, amongst other things which are morally and ethically questionable when looking to a 'perfect' role model for mankind.
Over time, some unorthodox Islamic theologies have developed showing Yeshua to have been a holy man, as the prophets before him were, a priest in regards to Yeshua's manners, a rabbi according to Yeshua's understanding, a healer and miracle worker according to testimonial accounts, and having been given the titles Word of God, Spirit of God, Son of God and the Holy One of God.
The obfuscation of what is spoken in the Gospel is evidenced by a motive to promote a 'prophet' from the line of Ishmael, which is another misinterpretation, since Ishmael was never counted with the lineage of Isaac or was considered a coheir of the promises given unto Isaac until Islam rose out of the Arabian desert and desired to legitimize for itself a place at the table among the Arabian Jews and Christians.
How difficult it is to debate such a matter with people who have learned a certain interpretation that highlights their identity, reinforces their ideology and justifies their very way of life.
It is like asking the cat to deny he is a cat... yet this is what Yeshua calls all men to do: "deny yourself and pick up your cross daily and follow Me"...
The person who identifies as a Muslim, and continues to deny what history and previous testimony confesses as truth, may need to deny their pride, their legends and their suspicions, and look to Christ according to the earliest of testimonies, some of which have been misinterpreted from the Quran.