Nabeel Qureshi: Jesus in Islam vs. Jesus in Christianity - Apologetics to Islam

August 07, 2019

Jesus did not die on the cross, according to Islam. If he did not die on the cross, he could not have been raised from the dead, so Jesus' resurrection is denied by Islam. And then of course we have chapter five verse 72 of the Quran, where if you believe Jesus is God then you will go to hell. Chapter five verse 116 of the Quran, where Jesus denies ever claiming to be divine. So what do we have?  In the Quran chapter 3, you can believe that Jesus cleansed the lepers, that he healed the blind, he healed the deaf, he raised the dead. He is the virgin-born Messiah, son of Mary. He is the one that's gonna come back at the end of times, you can believe all of. But don't you believe that he died on the cross, or that he rose from the dead, or that he is God. What does Romans chapter 10 verse nine tell us? If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. The exact three things that Islam denies about Jesus, are the exact three things we have to believe in order to be saved. Death, deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's not a coincidence in my book. So the polemic then hinges, the Islamic polemic against Christianity hinges on Christology. Who is Jesus? Did he die on the cross? Did he claim to be God? The issue of the resurrection is usually presented in a secondary fashion, and that makes sense. Secondary to the crucifixion. But did he rise from the dead? That matters, these are important issues. And so what we're going to go through right now is what some of you would term Christian apologetics, but it's intimately related to Islamic apologetics, and we're gonna be looking at this from an Islamic lens, but the same issues you would see elsewhere. The first one we want to talk about is, did Jesus die by crucifixion? Here's the verse in chapter 4 verse 157, And because of their saying we slough them aside, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger. They slew him not, nor crucified him. But it appeared so unto them. And low, those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof, they have no knowledge thereof, save pursuit of a conjecture. They certainly slough him not. I call this the Islamic litmus test. I believe that if you're dealing with a Muslim, who is providing an apologetic against Christianity, you can test whether that Muslim is sincere or not through this issue. And that's why I call it the litmus test. This issue is so starkly in favor of a Christian position, that if a Muslim argues against it after having seen the evidence,  I have to conclude that they're not being genuine. There is nothing you could say to them that could convince them of the strength of the Christian claim. Let's take a look at the reasons why. There's two lines of evidence that I use. The evidence that I'm providing here is basically a recap of a debate I had in 2009 I believe, might have been 2010, with a man named Osama Abdala, on the issue of the resurrection of Jesus. Two lines of evidence historical evidence and supporting evidence that we are going to provide. First, the historical evidence. Did Jesus die by crucifixion? First, it is the unanimous written testimony concerning what happened to Jesus. When we look at Jewish references, we have multiple Jewish references. We've got the Talmud, we've got Mara bar Serapion, who's writing a letter. We've got Josephus the Jewish historian, who's writing for the Romans. All of these Jewish sources say that Jesus died by crucifixion as it were. We have gentile sources, we've got Tacitus and Lucian, both of whom say that Jesus died. Of course you've got first-generation Christians, and by that I mean Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, these folk all say Jesus died on the cross. It is the unanimous testimony of early Christianity, and it is the unanimous testimony of second-generation Christianity. Folks like Papius, Clement, Polly Carp, Ignatius. That this is what people say happened to Jesus, mattered. It does matter. On the flip side the fact that there is no reference to the fact that Jesus may have survived crucifixion, also matters. Nobody even dares to say Jesus survived crucifixion. And the reason why is because people knew what crucifixion was back then. Today when we say perhaps Jesus survived the crucifixion, we are basically showing ignorance of what the crucifixion process was. For those of you who have not, I would highly suggest you get acquainted with Martin Hengel's book Crucifixion. Martin Hengel, a great European scholar. What was really great about him is that he wrote a really tiny book, [audience laughs] and it was called Crucifixion. Easy to read, gives you a whole new perspective on how ghastly the crucifixion was, how difficult the process was. As it turns out, people used to say let no Roman citizen even hear the word crucifixion, it is so horrendous. The word crucifixion is where we get our word excruciating from. Ex crus, off the cross. They had to invent a word to describe how bad the crucifixion is. The process of crucifixion starts with flogging. It is called the pre-death in some works. Because people were flogged not with just a stick, but with a Roman whip, called the cat o' nine tails. This whip often had about six leather cords that came off of it, and at the end of these leather cords were leather balls, which had shards of bone and metal dumbbells attached to them. Well, what was the point of these shards of bone and these metal dumbbells? When striking a victim, the metal dumbbells would cause vasodilation. It would cause pain receptors to become acute. It would cause blood vessels to dilate, thereby weakening people even more when those shards of bone would grab into the skin and pull it off. So the skin was literally pulled off and blood was profuse because of those metal dumbbells. It was very intelligently designed for the purpose of weakening a victim. In the process of flogging, it has been said that intestines were spilt because the abdominal wall was weakened so much, the intestines came out. This happened on a few occasions. People sometimes died during the flogging process. The whole body was flogged, the whole body was flogged. It was horrific to say the least. The point of the flogging was so that people would not be able to kick and fight when they would be nailed to the cross. They would be on the verge of death as it were already. Now what we know about flogging is that Jews were not allowed to flog more than 40 times. According to Old Testament law, you could flog 40 and no more. And what the Jews would do is they would stop at 39, just to make sure that they didn't accidentally miscount on their flogging, they didn't want to break God's law. The Romans, in spite of the Jews, would therefor flog more than 40 times. To show them hey we're not bound by your silly little laws, we're gonna flog as much as we want. And so the flogging was often very protracted. It is at this point that the victim would then be made to sometimes carry the cross beam, to the point of the cross. Not the entire cross just the crossbeam. And they would walk to that place. By the way, they are being flogged while naked and they're being crucified while naked. [mumbles] So all those wonderful paintings we have of Christ with the loincloth on, are lessening the humiliation that our Lord suffered.  He was naked on the cross. When being placed on the cross, nails were driven through the arms not the hands, as is often depicted in medieval statements. The reason why is back in those days when someone said hand they pictured this whole area, not just this area. So it was okay to say hands and still mean here. But this is the only place that the weight of a person could be supported, here between the radius and the ulna. And guess what runs right through there? The medial nerve, alright. So if you've ever hit your elbow on your funny bone, imagine piercing it with a nail. It destroys your hands. The medial nerve is the main sensory motor nerve of the hand. And it destroys your hands. As you're nailed there, your knees are bent slightly, and one ankle is placed over the other, and a 9 inch nail is driven through your feet. This is for more than just torture though. This is to give yourself a means to push yourself off of the nail. When you are hanging in this position, if you hang, if you're just hanging, you will not be able to breathe out. You will breathe in, and to breathe out you have to have some room. You have to have some positive pressure develop, your rib cage needs to collapse. In order to do that you have to push out. That is what the nail in your feet was for. So you push up to be able to breathe out, otherwise the victim would die very quickly. And so that nail was actually an additional torture device to make sure that your death was protracted, it was long. And by the way, every time that you're pushing up to breathe out, you are scraping a back that has no skin against splintered wood. This is not a fun process. And when you are at the point of death, all the Roman soldiers have to do is see that you're not moving anymore. If you're not moving, you're not breathing, you're dead. But they didn't stop there, because if they weren't sure that you were dead, the Roman soldier could lose their job, be killed, if they weren't sure you were dead. So what they'd often do is they'd administer death blows. This is why the knees of the robbers alongside Jesus were broken. By breaking their knees, they were not able to push up. They would stop breathing, they would die. Jesus had already given up his spirit, and so they pierced his heart with a spear. Other forms of death blows included crushing the skull with a sledgehammer. It included lighting people on fire. All kinds of horrific ways to crucify people. Anyone who knows the process, knows that you will die by crucifixion. There is no account of anybody in history surviving a full Roman crucifixion. There is an account of Josephus seeing three friends being crucified. They weren't done being crucified, they were on the cross but they weren't given a death blow or anything of that sort. Their knees had been broken. And he asked for them to be taken down immediately. They were taken down, two of the three of them died anyway, even though they were given the best Roman medical treatment. One of them survived, but guess what, he didn't have a full crucifixion. He didn't have a deathblow. There is no account of anyone surviving a full Roman crucifixion. So to argue that Jesus survived the cross, that he did not die on the cross, is to argue against the facts, strongly against the facts. And this is why no one says that Jesus survived the crucifixion, it's unthinkable. It's unthinkable that someone would survive crucifixion. That's the historical evidence that we have, but there's also supporting evidence. Scholarship has repeatedly affirmed today, that Jesus' death on the cross is the one thing that we can be most certain about, concerning his life. Paula Fredrickson has said that, Bart Urman has said that, Gert Luda Mott has said that. So many people have said that, it's silly to even think that scholarship might think otherwise. It's the unanimous testimony of scholarship. If we can know anything about Jesus' life, it's that he died on the cross. That's what they'll say. So the scholarly consensus is quite strong. In addition the centrality of Jesus' death on the cross to the Christian message, kind of mandates for Jesus to of died on the cross, in order for Christianity to have spread the way it did. That he died on the cross and rose, is central to the Christian propagation of the message. Had he not died on the cross, then it wouldn't have been possible for Christianity to spread the way it did.  Again, this is supporting evidence, it's not as strong as the historical evidence was. We also have the issue of prophecies in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament it seems that the righteous one would be crushed for the sins of many. In Isaiah 53, you have an image in Psalm 22 where Jesus himself quotes on the cross. He says "My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?" He's quoting Psalm 22. The righteous servant that is suffering that is pierced. You have prophecies in the Old Testament that support this as well. Again, supporting evidence. The primary evidence is the historical evidence. Historically speaking there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus survived crucifixion, not one. When people began to propose that theory, it was lovingly titled by Josh McDowell, the Swoon Theory. When people began proposing the Swoon Theory back in the 18th century, an atheist by the name of David Strauss, wrote a critique. It's called the Strauss Critique. And he said that the Swoon Theory, he didn't call it the swoon theory, but the idea that Jesus did not die on the cross is untenable. Because not only would Jesus then have had to break out of the tomb with broken hands and feet, and go through and fight these guards and move out of there. That's virtually impossible for a man who just survived crucifixion. But he would also have to convince the disciples, that he was the risen Lord. Well, if you've got a man who barely survived crucifixion, he doesn't look like the risen Lord. The disciples might say we gotta get you to the hospital, or whatever they had. We gotta get you to medical care, that's how they would respond if Jesus had just survived crucifixion. The fact that he was considered the risen Lord, precludes the option that he had just survived crucifixion. That's called the Strauss Critique, and in Western scholarship that ended the Swoon Theory. And David Strauss was not a Christian. He wrote one of the most inflammatory works against Christianity for the time. But the Strauss Critique remains one of the strongest critiques of the Swoon theory, or the Apparent Death Theory as it's often called. So the Islamic explanations for 4-157, how do they respond to all of this? What is their case? The primary one that's used, and the one that was used initially by Muslim scholars, is the substitution theory. It says that Jesus was not killed nor was he crucified. So Muslims will often say Jesus was never even put on the cross. And the next part of the verse says, but so it was made to appear to them. They say Allah made it look like Jesus was put on the cross. Well, how did he do that? The earliest Muslim explanations for this is that Allah put Jesus' face on somebody else, and somebody else was crucified in his place. Whom, you might ask? >> Student: Judas? Judas is one example that Muslims use in a case of cosmic justice. Judas was put on the crossing in the place of Jesus. Another, is Simon of Cyrene. Some apologetically minded folk will say, ah look, Simon of Cyrene had to carry Jesus' cross. At that time they confused Simon with Jesus, nevermind the bloodied mess that Jesus was, they confused Simon of Cyrene with Jesus and he was placed on the cross instead. These are the substitution arguments that are used. And Muslims by the way, have the advantage over atheists and agnostics to say that God made it look like that. And certainly God has a potential to do that. The next most common theory, and I see this being espoused more and more by Muslim apologists, is the Theistic Swoon Theory.  It's a swoon theory with a theistic bend on it, that allowed for Jesus' survival on the cross. If Allah can raise him from the dead, as you Christians say he can, why could he not save him from dying in the first place? A legitimate argument. But it yields a dilemma, and the dilemma is, and I think it's a dilemma for both of these positions, it stems from chapter 3 verse 55 of the Quran. Chapter 3 verse 55 of the Quran says that Jesus' disciples would be uppermost until the day of resurrection. Jesus' disciples would be uppermost until the day of resurrection. In other words, Christians, especially those who immediately came from him, would be on top. They would be superior in whatever way. To say that Jesus did not die on the cross, but it looked like he died on the cross, would explain why the disciples then went  and started preaching the risen Jesus. They thought he died and then they saw him alive, now they're preaching the risen Jesus. That makes sense, that fits. But they're doing that because Allah tricked them. You have a deceptive God at this point. In other words, the Christian faith was started because Allah deceived the disciples. If Allah put somebody else's face on Jesus, or if Allah miraculously kept Jesus alive, the disciples who then went out and preached the risen Jesus, they were tricked by Allah, they were deceived. Are they to be blamed, is it their fault? Maybe the blame should be on them and not on Allah? No, the Quran says 3-55 that they were uppermost. The disciples weren't bad, they were good guys according to 3-55. So deception has to be on Allah in this case. Or perhaps, perhaps Allah left that up to Jesus. Jesus explained to them that you didn't die on the cross. And Jesus didn't do it. Then we're left with an incompetent Messiah. Then we're left with an incompetent Messiah, would Jesus really have done that? In fact, we're left with an incompetent Messiah anyway, as Jesus wasn't able to adequately explain to his disciples, no, I'm not God. No, I didn't die on the cross for your sins. He wasn't adequately able to explain? So the dilemma we're left with here, by the Islamic position, is we're either given a deceptive God, or in an incompetent Messiah. Regardless in either case, Allah is responsible for Christianity. And if Christianity is shirk, is the unforgivable sin, then Allah is responsible for creating the religion that led the most people to hell in all of history. Call this the Islamic dilemma. Yes sir? >> Student: How would they respond if you actually brought it up to them? >> Poorly. [audience laughing] You can watch it in debates. Whenever we've debated the issue of Jesus' death on the cross or his resurrection, this issue comes up. And a common Muslim tactic, and this is why there's so much respect for Busama Suwadi, he didn't do this. A common Muslim tactic in debates is to simply ignore what you said. Just ignore it, pretend it wasn't said. And Islamic rhetoric is so good because you have, Muslims are still a lot of them, are coming from oral societies. Not necessarily that they don't know how to read, that's not what I'm saying, but oral prowess is highly revered. And so they have good rhetorical skill. You're in the middle of this debate and they just won't respond, and they'll dazzle you with smoking mirrors over here, and a lot of people won't notice the lack of response. But if you watch the debates you'll see that they have not been able to respond to this well. >> Student: I heard that one of the 99 names of Allah is Deceiver, is that true? And if so, how do Muslims respond to that? >> That's a great question. It is one of the 99 names. The question was that isn't one of the 99 names of Allah is that he is a deceiver? In the Quran there is a verse, I forget where, which says that they planned to deceive you, talking about the enemies of Muhammad. And then it says but Allah planned to deceive them, and Allah is the best of deceivers. So from that you get the name for Allah. The idea is, I think from that kind of social context, the idea is look, they're trying to be resourceful in this way against you, and Allah is more resourceful against them. But it's still deceptive. But deception wasn't as negative back then as it is to us now. So now what Muslims are often doing, is they're changing that word from deceiver to schemer. Schemer's not quite as bad as deceiver. [audience laughing] And then people are going a step further, and they're going from schemer to planner. And they planned against you and Allah planned against them, and Allah is the best of planners. So that's kind of how they're taking it. And they'll try to defend that translation. So that's how they respond to that. Any other questions here? Extremely important to be well versed with this. The reason I bring this up and spend so much time on it, is if you read for example The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, that Michael Licona and Gary Habermas book, they don't spend as much time  on the death of Jesus on the cross. Most Christian apologetic works just simply don't because they assume you already believe it. Everyone already believes Jesus died on the cross right? So here you go, let's move on. Let's talk about the fact that he rose. Even in the four-point response that Mike gives, Fact number two, facts number one? No, it's facts number one, Jesus died on the cross. He just gives it as a fact. Here's the basis that we're starting with. This is a fact that everyone agrees with, let's move on. It's like he doesn't spend too much time on it, and he really ought not to it's so obvious. But when you're debating Muslims or when you're dialoguing with Muslims, this is an important point bring up. >> Student: Can their concept of divine determination justify the accepted God theory? Because through divine determination, Christians were gonna go to hell anyway? So this is just his way of beating them to hell? >> That's a great question. So the question was their view of God's divine determination affect whether or not Allah was a planner, or schemer or deceiver. And I would say indirectly yes. They never feel like they have to defend God's character, because God can be whoever he wants to be. There's a lot more of a arbitrary nature to Allah in Islam than there is an Christianity. Some Islamic philosophy has dealt with that. But a lot of the beautiful Islamic philosophy was undertaken by the Muslims called Muʿtazila. The Muʿtazila were around early in Islamic history and they imported a lot of great philosophy, Aristotle especially. And they were putting together some coherent thoughts, they were introducing reason into the faith. And the Ushari's who fought against them said, you're doing this all wrong, you're bringing in foreign thought and that's not what Islam is about. There was a big battle between the Ushari's and the Muʿtazila's, and the Ushari's won. So some of the really good philosophy that tried to reconcile the stuff was early on and nobody pays any attention to it. Yes, sir? >> Student: I've heard that Muslims do believe in the resurrection of Jesus or a rapture, or something like that. And they also believe in his virgin birth. Can you address those too? >> Yeah, the virgin birth, definitely. The question was do Muslims believe in the virgin birth and in some kind of ascension of Jesus. And the answer is yes. The Quran says Jesus was virgin born. Clear as day, he was born of a virgin. >> Student: Any purpose to that? I mean, why would he be born of a virgin and no one else? >> No purpose it given. >> Oh. >> It was just God demonstrating his power. He could have Jesus born without a father if he wanted to. So no necessary purpose for that. No, I'm not gonna get into that. >> Student: The resurrection and rapture. >> Yeah, and it also says in the Quran, [speaking in foreign language] and we lifted him up to ourselves. And Muslims believe that that means that Jesus ascended into Heaven. And that is why he will return at the end of times. Again from that tower in Damascus, to start the latter days. So Muslims believe Jesus is going to start the latter days, initiated by his return. So Muslims and Christians are waiting for the return of Jesus. It's in the Quran, that we lifted him up to ourselves. Now some Muslims argue that that means in status. We raised Jesus up to ourselves, they'll say that means in status. 'Cause there's another verse which kind of implies that Jesus didn't die here on this Earth, that he wasn't raised. So some Muslims will say that meant God lifted him up and status. Other Muslims will say the verse that says Jesus died, that's talking about in the future. Jesus is gonna come back and then he'll die. We have some disagreement there. Again, I'm not big on Islamic eschatology. If you want to look into this a bit more, read the work of David Cook, out of Rice University. I focus more on historical aspects. >> Student: Anti-Christ belongs to the Messiah? Sorry for interrupting you. >> Is that Joel Richardson, I think? >> Student: Yeah, yeah. >> I haven't read it. >> Student: It's fascinating. >> Okay. >> Student: It's 22 parallels between [mumbles] eschatology and Islamic eschatology. And they're just the flip side of the coin, it's amazing.  >> Yeah, there's a lot of parallels in eschatology.  There's a lot of disparity, not much unity in Islamic eschatology. I asked my friend, the same friend who said he could be my friend anymore,  I asked him what he thought about of the afterlife. He sent me a 33 CD lecture series, [audience laughing] on Allah Ada. Tried to listen to them, I just I couldn't bear it after a while. I don't know much about Islamic eschatology, so I apologize. I know what I was taught. Which is not too indicative of what everyone else was taught, because our sect of Islam believes different things about eschatology than others did. Our sect was pacifist and so we didn't have an image of Jesus coming and killing all kinds of people, and fighting. That wasn't what ours was taught, but ours was idiosyncratic. >> Student: [mumbles] at this point and time in this book, is that Islam is made of two people. >> The [mumbles] and Messiah. >> Student: That's fascinating because if you know revelations well, Satan brings two people under the sea. Anyway, I won't spoil it. [audience laughing] >> Thanks, appreciate the consideration. I saw another question a moment ago. So we have covered the issue of Jesus' crucifixion. Extremely important, don't overlook it when dealing with Islamic apologetics. But even more important than that in Muslims eyes, is the claim to the Jesus deity. I would say the case for Jesus deity is very strong. Very strong. I would say the case for Jesus' death on the cross is airtight. You see the difference there? There's no room to say Jesus did not die on the cross, when coming from a historical perspective. So that's why I call the issue of Jesus' crucifixion the litmus test, the Islamic litmus test. If you have a friend who's arguing various issues with you, Islamic issues with you, and he is willing to say that Jesus did not die on the cross. You present all the evidence to him. When he comes back and he says, I don't think Jesus died on the cross. You ask him why, and if he says, well the evidence is just not strong enough. Like I said before, you cannot show him anything from that point forward. There is nothing he will agree with if he didn't agree with that. But if he comes back and he says, I don't agree that he died on the cross, and you say why, he says I admit the historical evidence is in your favor, but it just doesn't fit my image of Jesus. I would have to be convinced of a lot more in order to think that he died on the cross. So I'll concede that the evidence is in your favor. If he says that then you've got someone you can start reasoning with. A question is often asked of me when I share the gospel with Muslims. It's so difficult I don't get any headway. Should I be talking about these things, should I be discussing these things? I never, by the way, suggest stop being friends with that person, stop witnessing, I say stop discussing these issues with them if they're not showing a willingness to hear you out. Still share the love of Christ with them, still walk with them, still be friends with them. But the issue of discussion might need to come to a close, at least for a while, until they can be a little bit more intellectually honest. Does that make sense? >> Group: Yeah. >> That's because it's airtight, there's no two ways about it. History is absolutely clear about Jesus' death on the cross.  If a Muslim wants to believe that he did not die he has to concede that it's a theological presupposition, not a conclusion of the evidence. The argument for Jesus deity though it's still very strong, though not airtight it's still very strong. Chapter 5 verse 72 of the Quran we talked about it earlier, this is where you find out if you believe Jesus is God you will go to hell. They surely disbelieve who say, lo Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah himself said, "Oh, children of Israel," "Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." "Lo, who so ascribes partners unto Allah," "For him has Allah forbidden paradise." "His abode is a fire," "For evildoers there will be no helpers." What is this saying? They are the disbelievers who say Jesus is God. For them is hell, paradise has been forbidden. So shirk here, those who disbelieve, the word there is mushrik, those who commit shirk. Shirk the unforgivable sin is here defined as believing Jesus is God. Chapter 5 verse 116 I mentioned earlier, And when Allah says, oh Jesus, son of Mary, did you say unto mankind take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? He said, be glorified, it was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I use to say it, then you would have known it. You know what was in my mind, and what is not in my mind. So Jesus essentially is asked, are you saying, did you say, to worship you and your mother Mary alongside me? So the image of Trinity here is one where it's father, mother and son. Very interesting. That's what the Quran says. That's what the Quran depicts as the deity of Jesus Christ. That he denied it, and that he would never have said it, and this was something that they said after him. Now I don't use this approach when I argue the deity of Christ with non-Muslims. I use a different approach. But talking about the deity of Christ with Muslims, I focus on a holistic gospel message. I think the case for the deity of Christ is made far stronger when we involve Paul. I think it approaches airtight when we involve Paul. When we're just looking at the gospels, I'd say it's very strong. But Muslims will often want to go to the gospels, but they distrust Paul. They think Paul hijacked the religion. They're gonna pin the blame on someone right? They can't pin it on the disciples  because we saw chapter 3 verse 55, the disciples are uppermost. So they can't pin the blame on the disciples. The can't pin the blame on Jesus. Someone corrupted Christianity and corrupted it early on. Who could it be? Oh, here's a man who is persecuting Christians, he never saw Jesus. All of a sudden he accepts Christ, and he's preaching his gospel? And other people are preaching gospels against him? This man must've hijacked Christianity, he's untrustworthy, Paul. So Muslims especially Muslim polemicists, hate Paul. And to try to quote the first Corinthian or Philippians 2, or anything like that to show the deity of Christ, would be moot with them. On the flip side, they're generally okay with the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You got some Muslim scholars who are beginning to move away from that. Shabeer Ali for example has espoused Bart Urman's approach. Bart Urman argues that the Gospels have an evolution of Christology. Mark being the lowest in Christology, John being the highest in Christology. That they were evolving. Shabeer Ali has kind of embrace that approach, and so he won't take all the Gospels. He won't take John when discussing the deity of Christ. Generally speaking though Muslims will take all four, I'll address that in a moment, Shabeer Ali's approach. So when I discuss with Muslims I will say, when you're talking about the Gospels, it's easy to see that Jesus claims to be God from four different angles. So we take a four pronged approach here. What Jesus said and what Jesus did, what others said about Jesus, and what others did about Jesus, these things only makes sense if Jesus is claiming to be God. What are we talking about? Well first and foremost, what matters most to Muslims is what Jesus said. They want to hear Jesus say I am God. And you will hear that objection a lot. Where does Jesus say I am God, worship me? As a Muslim when I was looking into these issues, the thing that convinced me was Mark chapter 14 verse 62. I wanted to see in the earliest of the Gospels, And here is Mark, showing Jesus being interrogated by the high priest. The high priest says are you the Christ, son of the blessed one? And Jesus responses and says, "I am." "And you will see the Son of Man "Sitting at the right hand of the power," "And coming with the clouds of Heaven." Here you have at least two, if not three, divine references all at once. The question we'll want is the I am response. Here in Mark it's questionable, but we've seen Jesus say "I am" in John especially, where it's not questionable at all. Jesus' response in John chapter 8, to the Jews, the Jews are saying to him, you are not yet even 50 years old, yet you claim to have seen Abraham. Jesus' response is not, hey I'm just talking figuratively, that's not his response. It's not no, no, no, you didn't catch me right. He says, I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was born, I am. There is no way to interpret that verse apart from a divine I am statement. What are these divine I am statements? They're found in Exodus chapter 3 verse 14. To begin with Moses is talking to God in the burning bush, and he doesn't want to call God bush. [audience laughing] So he says to him, who shall I say has sent me? What's your name? And understand in those days especially, preliterate dynamics, you gotta keep these in mind. In those days, names really mattered. There was power in the name. You would pray in a name, you would do rituals in a name, your deities power was often shown through a name. So he wanted to know God's name. He said who shall I say has sent me when I go talk to the Hebrews. And God responds, "I am that I am." Or I am who I am. "Tell them I am has sent you." Gods like, my name doesn't matter. What matters is that I am God, I am eternal. I am self subsisting, I am that I am. And from that point forward in the Old Testament God uses the I am to propound his sovereignty multiple times. Especially in Isaiah 40 through 55, God says over and over again, I am, I am. That's how he propounds his sovereignty. Moses asks God who are you and he responds with I am. Here in Mark, the high priest asks Jesus who are you, and Jesus responds with the I am. I wouldn't think that that was an I am statement, by the way, because the question was are you the Christ, and Jesus responds, "I am." But I hesitate because Mark chapter 6 verse 50 has another I am statement. Here Jesus is walking on the water, something that the only Old Testament says only Yahweh can do. Job chapter 9. And the disciples are afraid and Jesus comes up to the disciples, and he says take courage, [speaking foreign language] take courage, I am. So here's Jesus doing something that only God can do, and he's giving courage to the disciples by saying the words I am. A very divine context and very divine statement. By the way, we have a similar statement in Psalms I believe, where God is Yahweh, passes over the water and gives courage to Israel, by saying I am. Strong parallel. Or at least a parallel, we wanna be careful in our scholarship here, it's at least a parallel. And so the I am statement in Mark 14:62, if it stood alone I would say probably not an I am statement, he's just responding to the question. But you've got Mark 6:50 here, plus a scholar by the name of Raymond Brown. In his Death of the Messiah, volume two or one, I don't remember which volume it was, it was Death of the Messiah. He says that John, in using the I am statements, probably has a historical basis, because Mark has something reminiscent of that. So even some scholars are saying there's something here, there's something here. And we would hesitate to say it's a legit I am statement, but there is something there. Let's say it's not an I am statement. What's the rest of the verse say? Jesus says, "You'll see the Son of Man sitting "At the right hand of the power," "And coming with the clouds of Heaven." Now we have definitely two references to the Old Testament. There is no question that these are references. One's almost a quotation, the Son of Man coming with the clouds of Heaven. What's the reference here? Daniel chapter 7 verses 13 and 14, here in Daniel, Daniel is looking in the sky, and he has just seen a vision of the Ancient of Days. There is the Ancient of Days sitting on the throne being worship by angels. The Ancient of Days, the God, the Father, he's sitting there on the throne being worshiped. And then Daniel says, "And I looked in my night visions, "And behold, one like a Son of Man approached" "The Ancient of Days." So it's one who looks like the Son of Man approaching the Father, and to him not the Father, and to the Son of Man, the one who looked like the Son of Man, was given glory, power, and a kingdom. People of every nation and language will serve him. His kingdom is one that will not pass away and be destroyed. Wait a minute, so there's a Father sitting on the throne, you've got someone who looks like a human. That's what it means, the one who looks like the Son of Man, was given glory and the kingdom of Heaven for all eternity? And in that kingdom people of every nation and language are going to serve him? What kind of service is this? Look at the word service in Hebrew, it's pay-lah, I guess it would be in the Aramaic. And in the Greek, the Septuagint, the word is la-tru-o. Every single time the word la-tru-o is used in the Septuagint and the New Testament, it's used of a service due only to God. This service is due only to God.  Same with the word pay-lah, it's due only to God. There's one instance in the book of Romans where it was given to someone other than God, and God became furious because it was due to him. But here we have that service being given to one who looks like a Son of Man.  He's going to be worshiped, served as it were, by all people of all nations, in his own kingdom for all eternity. By the way, he's coming on the clouds, the Son of Man. And only God is introduced in the Old Testament as coming on the clouds. So that entrance is a divine entrance.  Jesus, when he calls himself the Son of Man throughout the Gospels, he calls himself the Son of Man over 80 times if you count all four Gospels. Nobody else ever calls Jesus the Son of Man, not once. There is one occasion in the book of John where people say, who is the Son of Man? That's it, that's as close as they get to calling him the Son of Man. So the term Son of Man here is used explicitly by Jesus. It doesn't exist before, let me put it this way, they weren't expecting the Messiah to call himself the Son of Man. No one was expecting the Messiah to call himself the Son of Man. And after Jesus, no one refers to him as the Son of Man afterwords. They're not going around calling him the Son of Man, they're calling him the Christ. Why does that matter? That Jesus called himself the Son of Man passes the criterion of double dissimilarity. Or the criterion of dissimilarity as it were. This criterion is the most stringent criterion used by historians to determine whether Jesus actually said something. The most stringent one there is.  There's nothing more stringent than that. So that Jesus called himself the Son of Man is virtually certain. Bart Urman disagrees with it, but he's Bart. And then we got the statement that you're sitting at the right hand of God. What does that mean? Well, this is a reference to Psalm 110 verse one. Psalm 110 verse one, David's writing the Psalm, it says the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand and I shall make your enemies a footstool for your feet. What's the big deal here? No one in the second Temple period was ever portrayed as sitting at the right hand of God, no one. The reason why is to say that you're sitting at the right hand of God, essentially means you're sitting on his throne alongside him. Which means you're co-sovereign, you're co-heir. You are in charge with God if you're sitting on his right hand. That means you are entitled to the same things God is entitled to. You might not have the same office, he's first, you're second, but his substance is shared with you, you are co-heir. And people recognize that at that time. That's why they never depicted anyone sitting with God. Now, they had people standing, some people had Moses standing at the right hand of God, some people had Ezra standing at the right hand of God. But no one ever put anyone sitting at the right hand of God in the second Temple period. This is probably the most convincing of the three statements here, to show exactly what Jesus was saying. At first I found the Son of Man stuff more convincing, but the more I look into this, the more I realize that sitting at the right hand of power is even stronger. Which is why, by the way, Christians quoted this verse of the Old Testament, Psalm 110 verse one. They quoted this more than anything else in the New Testament. 24 times this verse is quoted in the New Testament. It meant a lot to them at a very early phase in Christian history. We see it in Matthew as well, when Jesus is asking the people, who do you think is superior David or the Messiah? And then he quotes this. So we find it throughout the Gospels. So right here, by the way, when Jesus says he can sit at the right hand of God, you understand the image that's being drawn here? You've got the Holy of Holies, which is kind of the inner sanctum. It's a reflection of God in Heaven, correct? You guys, you with me?  Am I losing you, we need to take lunch? So you've got the Holy of Holies, this is kind of a reflection of God's place in Heaven. What is the throne? What is the reflection of the throne in the Holy of Holies? >> Student: The mercy seat?  >> The mercy seat. The ark of the covenant. Jesus is saying that he can go into the Holy of Holies and sit on the ark of the covenant. Yeah, that's where Hebrews gets a lot of its Christology from. Hebrews does quote someone 10 verse one. Now let's stop and think about this for a second. He's talking to the high priest, who's the high priest? This is the guy that can only go into the Holy of Holies once a year, on the day of atonement. And when he does that, he wraps a rope around his leg in case he accidentally does something blasphemous, and they have to drag his dead body out. That is the guy he's talking to. He says I can march in there right now and sit down right on that throne. [student mumbles questioningly] >> He's not saying anything light here, he is going all out. So in Jesus' words then Mark 14:62, He claims to be the I am, if you think that's strong enough. Definitely claims to be the son of man, coming on the clouds. And definitely claims to be sitting  at the right hand of power. Potentially a threefold claim to deity, I am the God of Moses, I am the God of Daniel, and I am the God of David. Which is why they rip open their robes and say what more reason is there to question this man? He's committed blasphemy before all of you, let's crucify him. Abundantly clear that Jesus here claims to be divine. People who argue with that, for example Bart Urman, I keep bringing up Urman, not because he's my punching bag, but because he was my professor at UNC, so I got to interact with him a lot. I asked him, I said what do you think of Mark 14:62? He says it doesn't make sense. I said what do you mean it doesn't make sense? He said, "In order for this verse to make sense, "Mark would have to think Jesus claimed to be God." [audience laughing] Yes, yes! He says it doesn't make sense, Mark doesn't know what he's talking about, is what Urman says. In order to get around that, Urman says that Mark had an improper view of blasphemy. He says Mark had an improper view of blasphemy, this wasn't actually blasphemous. Mark was actually thinking that claiming to be the Messiah was blasphemous, and therefor he was crucified for blasphemy. Whereas claiming to be the Messiah was not blasphemous in that time, we know that. There were all kinds of people who claim to be the Messiah, and they were beaten often, they were considered stupid, and they were let go. But they weren't crucified for blasphemy. You're only crucified for blasphemy for either uttering the divine name, or according to Philo, for according divine prerogatives for yourself. Urman says, he thought that a claim to be the Messiah was blasphemy, no. No, Mark knew that claiming divine prerogatives for yourself is blasphemy, and that's what he's showing Jesus doing. Anyhow, so that's what Jesus said, and there's a lot more that we can put in there but I focus on Mark 14:62. What did Jesus do to this end? Well, according to the Gospels, he forgave sins. Mark chapter 2, so that you may know the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins, he said it's a paralytic, I say to you arise. Chapter 2 verse 10 of Mark. He heals a paralytic, forgiving him his sins. What did everyone will respond at that time? What did the scribes and Pharisees in that event, what do they respond by saying? "This man blasphemes." "This man blasphemes." Why are they saying that? Because Jesus is according a divine prerogative for himself, the forgiveness of sins. In addition Jesus does miracles in his own name. Lepers will come to him and they will say, can you cleanse us? Two lepers come to him in Matthew, I think it's chapter 8. They said can you cleanse us? He says do you believe that I can do this? And they say yes. And he says, by your faith it shall be done. Faith in whom? In him, he said you believe I can do this? He's doing this miracle in his own name. And that's extremely important. You don't see anyone doing that in the Old Testament. You don't see Elijah doing a miracle in his own name. You don't see Elijah doing a miracle in his own name, they're doing it in Yahweh's name. Jesus does it in his own name. What do others say about Jesus? Would you have John saying about Jesus? You have John saying that Jesus is the word of God, and that he is God, John chapter one. And that nothing came into being except through him. Bless you. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He makes it abundantly clear that he's talking about Jesus. And then in verse 18, he says that Jesus is the only begotten God, John 1:18. John makes it very clear that Jesus is God. And so does Thomas. At the end of John's Gospel, Thomas bows down, I believe it's 20:28, he bows down and says to Jesus, "my Lord and my God." [speaking in foreign language] The same construction is used in Psalms, it's inverted, but it's referring to Yahweh, my Lord and my God, or my God and my Lord in Psalms. Here it's made really clear. In fact, some people believe that this is the climax of John's Gospel, the proclamation from Thomas that Jesus is God. And what is it others did about Jesus? Well, this only makes sense if Jesus claimed to be God. You of some people who worshiped him. We see the disciples worshiping him in the boat, prosceneto. Well, there are plenty who bow down to Jesus, and the word prosceneto can be translated to worship. Muslims will often respond to that, by the way, they'll say, look in the Old Testament, people were bowing down before others. Prosceneto means just bow down, they didn't actually worship him, just bowed down. Not necessarily, because what does Matthew and Luke say? They say, you must worship the Lord your God and serve him only, I believe that's 4:10. Jesus says you must worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Well, the word worship there, you must worship your God only, that's prosceneto. Jesus says don't bow down to anyone, which is exactly why in Acts, you see when people start bowing down to Paul and Barnabas, that they rip their clothes and say we are not gods, don't do that. When Cornelius bows down before Peter, he says, don't do that, I am just like you. And John, in the book of Revelations, when he bows down to the angel, the angel says no, no, no, I'm just a servant, don't bow down to me, don't prosceneto. Because Jesus said you must prosceneto to God alone. And yet people bow down to Jesus in the Gospels and he was fine with that. In fact, in 20:28 in John when Thomas does that, he says it's about time. [audience laughing] On the other hand those who are against Jesus, what do they do? They crucified him for blasphemy. What was blasphemy at the time? You can read Darrell Bock's work on blasphemy, it's probably the most comprehensive. I think it's called Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism, I think that's the name of his book. A shorter work is by Adela Yarbro Collins, called The Blasphemy in Mark 14:62. Both are very good works. What was blasphemy at the time? It was either uttering the divine name, Yahweh, that would be blasphemy at that time. Or it was according divine prerogatives to yourself. And we get that through Philo. In Philo's writings he indicated that simply saying that you have things that belong only to God, is considered blasphemy. >> Student: How do you spell Philo? >> P-h-i-l-o. One of my favorite scholars on this issue is Richard Bauckham. And if you can, he has a small book called God Crucified. Small book, quick to read. What he points out is that Jesus is claiming for himself, and the early Christians claimed for Jesus, those attributes, specifically those attributes, which distinguish Yahweh from everything else. So he says there are two things which distinguish Yahweh from everything else. Creator and sovereign. Creator and sovereign. And he said in early Christianity, both titles were described to Jesus, creator and sovereign. And his work, I think, is pretty convincing. He has a parallel slightly different, but Larry Hurtado. So Richard Bauckham is the first guy. >> Student: Can you spell that? >> B-a-u-c-k-h-a-m. Richard Bauckham just retired out of Edinburgh. >> Student: What's the name of his book? >> God Crucified. [student mumbles] >> Actually it was Larry Hurtado, just retired out of there. And Larry Hurtado, read Larry Hurtado as well. The one I would read probably the shortest and most concise is How On Earth Did Jesus Become God. It's a tongue-in-cheek title. Larry Hurtado, Hurtado is H-u-r-t-a-d-o. Larry Hurtado argues that the titles accorded to Jesus, wait, I'm sorry that was Bauckham. Larry Hurtado argues that the rituals performed in Jesus' name, the actions that were performed, those are some things that were only for God. So for example baptism, communion, these were actions that were done for God alone. And the fact that we see them in First Corinthians 11, and we see it in pre-New Testament writings, I'll explain that in a moment,  shows that they did it extremely early on. Hurtado and Bauckham, two extremely well respected scholars. Hurtado and Bauckham both, very well respected, argued early deity of Jesus Christ, early high Christology. And they do so very convincingly. Both just retired though, it's kind of sad. Any questions on that? I saw some hands and some confusion. General aura of confusion emanating. One last thing I want to look at though is the early history of the New Testament. Why did I put this here? I shouldn't have put this here, oh well, I'll do it anyway. Let's take a look and stop for a second at some of the earliest stuff. So what I just gave you was an argument from the Gospels for Muslims. We think about it for a second, Muslims are okay with the Gospels, generally speaking. Some of them are not okay with John, like Shabeer Ali, but they're okay with the Gospels in general. That's why I gave you that case. Let's stop and let's take a look at the case holistically, not just from a Muslim perspective, let's look at the case of deity for Jesus Christ. We have in our possession, and this is extremely critical for you to know if you are interested in New Testament studies and apologetics in the least, you need to know this. In the New Testament there are references to hymns and creeds that were written before the New Testament was written. What do I mean by that? Certain things are found in the New Testament that are quotes that had been composed earlier. One of the most famous of those is First Corinthians 15 verses three to eight, where Paul says, for what I received I delivered to you as a first importance.  That Jesus died on the cross for our sins according to the scriptures, et cetera. And he says that he was raised and he appeared to Peter and to the disciples, and then to the 500, and then last of all to me, as one untimely born. What is Paul doing? Well, according to the Jesus seminar, so these aren't folks who are evangelicals to say the least. According to the Jesus seminar, what Paul is doing is quoting something that he received from the disciples early on. So early in fact, that it probably comes from the first 10 years of Christian history. And that's a very conservative statement. James D.G. Dunn, in his book Jesus Remembered, says that this section of the New Testament, so this creed from First Corinthians three through eight, is no later than a few months after Jesus' crucifixion. And James DG Dunn is no one to mess with either. A very highly respected New Testament scholar. Months after the crucifixion, how many months? One year, 18 months? I don't think he would've said the word months, if he meant more than two years. I asked Mike O'Connell what he thought and he thinks that it couldn't be any later than 18 months. Then again we could just email Dr. Dunn and see what he says. So we have this creed which mentions the death of Jesus on the cross, and his resurrection within 18 months of Jesus' death, according to Dunn. And no one says any later than 40 A.D. No one I've read, and O'Connell also says he doesn't know, and he's a scholar. He doesn't know anyone who puts it later than 40 A.D. And you can get a lot of this from Habermas's book in the back. We also have a creed in Philippians 2 verses six through 11. Here, Paul is quoting a hymn. If you read Philippians carefully, Paul's going through and he's saying be humble, stop trying to put yourself above one another, start serving each other. And then he says, your attitude should be like that of Christ, who although he existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. And so he emptied himself. And so you have this picture of the kinosis, the divine emptying of God, to the point of becoming a human and dying on the cross. And then because of this God raises him up, exalts him, and at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in Heaven and Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. What's going on here? Paul's writing to the Philippians, and in the middle of writing to them he quotes a hymn. How can he quote it unless he knows that they already know it? Which means he's either said it to them before, or he told it to them when he established the church. Well, if he said it to them when he established the church, that means it was composed even before that. This hymn in Philippians 2, six through 11, is extremely early. How early? Some people have argued that you can retro-vert this hymn into Aramaic. If you put it in Aramaic, it forms a hymn of five stanzas, three lines each, with a meter. There's one intrusion in there. Even death on the cross doesn't fit the scheme, but other than that, the rest of it fits perfectly, according to some scholars. If that is the case, if this hymn was actually composed in Aramaic, we probably have the earliest teaching of the Christian church. Jesus was in very nature God. And he lowered himself to the point of a man, died on the cross, and then was raised. He was exalted, is what it says. And at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in Heaven and Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess. That's a quotation from Isaiah, which describes Yahweh. In Isaiah it says every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to Yahweh. Here, it's saying it will happen to Jesus, in a creed which may have come from an Aramaic speaking church. As early as it gets, it doesn't get any earlier. There are also arguments that Mark's passion narrative is extremely early. I had planned on covering this later but I'll cover it now. In Mark's passion narrative, you can get this from Gerd Theissen, G-e-r-d Theissen, T-h-e-i-s-s-e-n. Gerd Theissen, he's a German scholar. Gerd Theissen argues that in Mark's passion narrative you have names that are conspicuously missing.  For example, in the Garden of Gethsemane, somebody strikes the ear of the high priest. I'm sorry, the ear of a servant of the high priest. Who is it? That's kind of important, it'd be good to know. We find out in one of the later Gospels that it's Peter. Why isn't it said in Mark's time? Why don't we get the name of the servant, in Mark's gospel, in Mark's passion narrative. And who is this boy who runs away naked? What's that about? Who is this guy, why don't we get his name? You really want to know his name, you want to know who he is. [audience laughing] So why don't we know who it is, why is the name not given? Gerd Theissen argues that Mark didn't provide these names for protective and anonymity. If he were to say Peter was the person who struck the ear, guess what, they would go get Peter. Because they were still looking for him, they still wanted to know who did it. If they say this was the boy who evaded police arrest, they would go get him because he was still wanted. If they said Malcus was the name of the servant, they would go ask him, who cut off your ear? And he would be able to point them to the right person. So according to Gerd Theissen, the reason why the names are not mentioned is because this is so early, that it could be not mentioned for reasons of protective anonymity. Richard Bauckham takes the argument further, and I think convincingly so. In his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. He says you have names that are present that are rather stark. We take a look at, for example, Bartimaeus. Why in the world is blind Bartimaeus's name mentioned? There's a ton of blind people who are healed, why is Bartimaeus's name mentioned? You also have in the passion narrative, you've got Simon of Cyrene mentioned and he's mentioned in the other Gospels too. But here it says, whose sons are Rufus and Alexander, in Mark 15. Why mention Rufus and Alexander? The other Gospels didn't mention them, Matthew, Luke, they don't mention Rufus and Alexander. Why does Mark mention Rufus and Alexander? Any ideas? >> Student: Go talk to them and ask them? >> Go talk to them! MarK is saying, hey, you guys know Rufus and Alexander? Their dad was Simon of Cyrene, go ask him about this. That's what Richard Bauckham is saying, if Alexander's sons are still around to verify the claim that's being made, Bartimaeus is still around to verify that he was healed, therefor their names are mentioned. That's what Richard Bauckham argues. Richard Bauckham is very interested in Onomastics, the study of names. You can read his work on that, it's in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Very interesting, so what are we saying here? We're saying the passion narrative is so early that some people are still wanted, and some people who were there are still around. There are other reasons to think Mark's passion narrative is extremely early. Many of the elements of Mark's passion narrative are found in Paul's works. For example, First Corinthians 11 talks about The Last Supper, which is in Mark 14. You have on the night he was handed over in First Corinthians. That kind of assumes that the people Paul's talking to have already heard this story of a night that Jesus was handed over. He says on the night he was handed over to the Corinthians, he thinks that they already know what he is talking about.  And that's what Mark talks about, there was a night in which Jesus was betrayed. Jesus suffering in Paul. Paul makes it very clear that Jesus suffered. Mark talks a lot about Jesus suffering. So you've got a lot of parallels between Paul's writing and Mark's passion narrative, which makes you think that Mark's passion narrative was extremely early. For all these reasons, Mark's passion narrative can be dated potentially, not with a lot of confidence, but with some confidence, to an early, early date, perhaps even in the 40s or 50s, maybe even in the 30s. There was one argument that it was in the 30s, I don't know about this, but the argument is who mentions Caiaphas's name? Matthew, who doesn't mention it, Mark. When Mark says the high priest, why doesn't he say the high priest Caiaphas? The argument goes 'cause Caiaphas was still the high priest. So all he had to say was the high priest, and they knew who he was talking about. Caiaphas stopped being the high priest in 37 A.D. So if that argument is sound, then Mark's passion narrative is before 37 A.D. How early, who knows. But it's really early according to these arguments. And definitely predates the actual writing of Mark. So what do we have? We have the earliest layer of Christian history in the New Testament. And what do those layers proclaim? First Corinthians 15 three through eight, proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus. Philippians 2, 6 through 11 claims the death, deity and resurrection of Jesus. And Mark, death, deity and resurrection of Jesus. The earliest layer of Christian history in the New Testament claims exactly those things we ought to believe in order to be saved, according to Romans 10:9. Coincidence, I don't think so. This is good to know for your own personal edification, this is also good to know for Islamic apologetics. If you're going to converse with Muslims, it's good to be able to say with confidence the earliest level of Christian history is that which claims the deity of Christ, his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave.

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