Divinity of Jesus (Peace be upon him)

Was Jesus divine?

Let us look first at who was Jesus (peace be upon him) from the source in which we have no doubt about its authenticity. We find in the Qur’an God saying,

 “And [remember] when Jesus (peace be upon him), son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel, I am the messenger of Allah sent to you, confirming the Torah [which came] before me and bringing good news of the messenger who will come after me whose name is the praise one (Ahmed).” [1]

Jesus (peace be upon him) throughout the Qur'an is identified as the messenger of God. And we find in the verses a denial of Jesus (peace be upon him) divinity wherein the God says:

"They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, "Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?" And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent." [2]

This is the letter of the Qur'an wherein we are required to believe in the messengership of Jesus (peace be upon him). We find at the same time within Bible evidence, which also support this.

In John, Jesus (peace be upon him) says,

"Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." [3]

In John,

 "Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." [4]

And there are no end of verses in the Qur'an as well as verses in the Greek Catholic which confirm the messengership of Jesus (peace be upon him) that he was a prophet of God. We find Jesus (peace be upon him) saying in Mark,

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." [5]

Jesus (peace be upon him) confirms that he has no knowledge of the final hour. This is also in the Qur'an in reference to Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) as well as all of the Prophets of all times, the knowledge of final hour is only known to God. So the Islamic view is that Jesus (peace be upon him) was the Prophet of God. He was given miracles. Some of which are mentioned in the Bible- the New Testament and some of them are mentioned in the Qur'an. We find for example, where the Qur'an identifies the fact that Jesus (peace be upon him) was a messenger of God from his birth. After Mary have born him and people went to her questioning her as to how could have she committed such a major sin- the sin of fornication. She had vowed not to speak and instead pointed to this child who was in his cradle. And the people said as mentioned in the Qur'an that how can we talk to the one who is a new born-a young boy? And Jesus (peace be upon him) spoke saying,

"Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakaah (alms giving) as long as I remain alive.” [6]

This is Jesus (peace be upon him) speaking in the cradle- a miracle which is not mentioned in the Bible. But which we Muslims are obliged to believe in. Among the miracles- bringing the death back to life, healing the one suffering from leprosy, making the blind see. Another miracle mentioned in the Qur'an but not in Bible is that Jesus (peace be upon him) fashioned birds out of clay, blew on them and they flew away- giving birth. But the point which is emphasized throughout the Qur'an is that whenever Jesus (peace be upon him) did that he'd say 'By Allah's plea'. It was clear to those around him that he was not doing it by himself as the miracles of the earlier Prophets were clear to those around them. However in time, the reality of Jesus (peace be upon him) was distorted when stories about him spread from Palestine to Greece and on to Rome where there was a tradition of God being men, or the like of men or in the form of men, having sons like human beings etc., and this is well known in the mythology of both Rome and Greece.

So this is the picture painted in the Qur'an as for the arguments made in the Bible, we find for example in Revelation in which Jesus (peace be upon him) said,

'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.' [7]

This verse is commonly held up as evidence of Jesus' (peace be upon him) divinity. However that was according to King James Version. In the New American Bible which is used by Catholics, the translation of that verse is amended which is the Lord/God says that

"I'm Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

Another verse used to support the divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) is,

 "Very truly I tell you," Jesus (peace be upon him) answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"  [8]

However, the concept of the pre-existence of the Prophets of the men in general exist in the Old testament as well as the Qur'an. We find with regards to Jeremiah 1, in Old Testament:

'The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." [9]

And following Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), we find in Proverb,

  "The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth,  before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world." [10]

Men existed in spiritual form before the creation of the physical world. This is all that was confirmed in the statement of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) which is in agreement of what is in the Qur'an as well as the description given by other Prophets.

One of the evidences used for the 'divinity' also is the term 'Son of god'. However, we find in many places in the Old Testament where God says for example:

'Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'' [11]

We find elsewhere where Jesus (peace be upon him) says after being asked forth the father,

'Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.' [12]

This phrase is commonly used to support Jesus (peace be upon him) divinity also.

We find in John 14,

"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." [13]

So if Jesus' (peace be upon him) statement that I’m in father and the father is in me means that he is in fact god then what is the cycle?

We find with regards to the idea of friends of God in Job,

"One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them." [14]

We also find in the New Testament in John,

"Jesus (peace be upon him) said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." [15]

So these represent part of the evidence which may be used to point Jesus (peace be upon him)' divinity but which in fact does not build up when we put it up in a proper context and when we compare it to the other verses in the Bible. In fact there are many modern scholars in Christianity who wrote that Jesus (peace be upon him) in fact is NOT god. There is a book written in England, edited by John Hick called 'The Myth of God Incarnate' in which several scholars have in detail brought evidence from the earlier manuscripts etc., to show beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus (peace be upon him) was NOT god and that he did not play divinity but this was something attributed to him after he left this world.

Most famous among the Church of England bishops, who doubt Jesus’ divinity, is the outspoken Reverend Professor David Jenkins, the Bishop of Durham in England, who openly states that Jesus was not god. [16] The church and many of his followers don’t like what he’s saying, but they can’t do anything about it because in England they are free to do and say as they please. They cannot be removed.

References:

[1] [Qur’an 61:6]

[2] [Qur’an 5:7]

[3] [John 5:24]

[4] [John 14:24]

[5] [Mark 31 & 32]

[6] [Qur’an 19:30-31]

[7] [Revelation 22:13]

[8] [John 8:58]

[9]  [Jeremiah 1, 4-5]

[10] [Proverb 8:22-26]

[11] [Exodus 4:22:23]

[12] [John 14:10]

[13] [John 14:20]

[14] [Job 1:6]

[15] [John 20:17]

[16] [The Economist, April 1, 1989, vol. 311, no. 7596, p.19]

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