Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 8

Did Paul invent Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Fatoohi looks at Pauline Christianity with the idea that Paul made the Christianity that we all know today. Of course, some people did used to say Paul invented Christianity, but that idea has really dropped out of sight for some time. E.P. Sanders with his work on Paul and Palestinian Judaism was integral in this.

Fatoohi also uses a lot of tropes that fundamentalist atheists use. He says Paul shows no interest in the life of Jesus aside from events like the crucifixion and the Last Supper. Completely ignored is that Paul is not writing a biography of Jesus. He is dealing with circumstantial issues that were not covered in the ministry of Jesus. (Believe it or not, there weren’t big debates in Israel on what to do about meat offered to idols)

He also says that Paul says he got his information about Jesus from revelation referencing Galatians 1. Fatoohi makes no mention first off that Paul says in that same letter he checked with the apostles in Jerusalem to make sure he had it right and he was not running the race in vain. Also, Paul is not talking about the facts of the historical Jesus, but about coming to see the reality of who Jesus is. He is actually comparing himself to Jeremiah with similar language throughout.

Paul was open about the fact that he had no contact whatsoever with the historical Jesus, claiming that his contact with the divine/spiritual Jesus told him all he needed to know about the truth of Jesus. He clearly believed that he knew Jesus more than anybody else. Paul’s letters show him as an absolutely determined, single-minded person, so it is highly unlikely that he was not influenced by others in his decision to deify Jesus. Jesus’ Jewish followers in Palestine could not have started the move to deify him and his mother. Judaism is a strictly monotheistic religion, so even if someone wanted to promote Jesus’ divinity, he would have met very little acceptance and strong opposition.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I’m really not sure how Mary got into this. I don’t support all the accolades that my Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ put on Mary, but I am sure they would be aghast at the idea of deifying her. Also, Paul himself was a Jew. Why are we to believe he would go against his strict monotheism? There is not a shade of otherwise in his letters. If we look especially at passages like 1 Cor. 8:6, Paul held to monotheism, but at the same time included Jesus in the divine identity. Fatoohi makes the same assumption others make in that saying that God is one means that God is one in person. Monotheism does not necessitate unipersonalism.

He says presenting Jesus as divine would look logical and natural for pagan converts. Seriously? Pagan converts would easily understand the idea of a man who is deity dying on a cross?

He says Gentile converts accepted Jesus’s deity easily and could have even needed that to believe in him. They accepted it so easily that Paul was imprisoned many times. It was such a non-issue to them that Paul was executed in Rome. If Paul’s life is easy acceptance, one wonders what hard rejection would look like.

I find it amusing how Fatoohi cites Robert Miller in this and then says:

Miller also believes that the story of Mary’s virginal conception of Jesus was made up because it was required by the title “son of God.” This suggestion also ignores completely the Jewish influence on the authors of Matthew and Luke, in which this story appears.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So when pagan copycat claims are made about what Fatoohi disbelieves in, that’s okay. When they are made about what he believes in, he suddenly cares about what the Jews really thought. Jews wouldn’t have been open to a virgin birth, which I do affirm, any more than pagans would, perhaps even less so. That would implicate YHWH. If anything, I think they would have an easier time with a multiplicity of persons in the Godhead, something that was already being seen as an option, than they would the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

We know, for instance, that Paul did not hesitate in dropping circumcision as a requirement from Gentile converts to the religion he was preaching (e.g. Rom. 2:25-29, 3:29-30; 1 Cor. 7:18-19). The Book of Acts and Paul’s letters recount sharp disputes that Paul had with prominent Jerusalemite Christians because of his abolishment of certain legal requirements, which he clearly did to convert as many Gentiles as possible.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

But if you’re going to accept Acts, you also need to accept that in Acts 10, uncircumcised Gentiles received the Holy Spirit long before Paul began His ministry. In Acts 11, it is acknowledged that God had granted Gentiles repentance unto faith. In Acts 15, a council is held where it is agreed Gentiles do not need to be circumcised.

Fatoohi uses Acts when he wants to, but ignores it when he doesn’t.

Next we get to the atonement:

Amazingly, despite its fundamental position in Christian theology, the doctrine of the Atonement is not found in any of the Gospels which are presented as collections of Jesus’ sayings and works. There is not even a passing mention by Jesus to this supposedly most fundamental doctrine that represents his whole mission in life, death, and resurrection. Even when Jesus tells his disciples about the suffering he was expecting, the Gospel writers do not attribute to him a single word indicating that this suffering has a vicarious function (Mark 8:31, 9:12; Matt. 16:21, 17:12; Luke 9:22, 17:25, 22:15, 24:26, 24:46)!

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Never mind also that when Jesus dies, He dies at the time of Passover. What was the point of Passover? It was a lamb being sacrificed for the sins of those in the household so the angel of death would pass over them. Surely that has nothing to do with the atonement. Right? Those interested in more on this are invited to read N.T. Wright’s The Day The Revolution Began.

As an aside, in comparing Christianity and Islam, Fatoohi says:

The credibility of the Islamic faith rests solely on the credibility of the Qur’an and the prophethood of Muhammad. Muhammad claimed to have received the Qur’an from God and that neither he nor anyone else contributed to it. The Qur’an is the only divine text in Islam. No spiritual experience of any other Muslim figure, ancient or modern, constitutes part of the faith, and no other writings have a claim to inerrability. This applies even to the words attributed to Muhammad, known as aḥādīth, or the special group of sayings known as aḥādīth qudsiyyahor “divine sayings” that are believed to represent divine revelation expressed in Muhammad’s words. These were reported down the centuries by numerous people. The fact that Muhammad’s prophethood is the only foundation of Islam is manifested in the fact that the following two verses form the declaration of faith in Islam: “There is no god save Allah” (37.35, 47.19) and “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” (48.29).

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Here’s the problem for Fatoohi. We agree with that. We agree Islam rests entirely on Muhammad and the Qur’an. That is exactly why we reject it. Jesus is a far better figure in every way and the New Testament is far more reliable. In the next paragraph, Fatoohi says:

Western scholars have questioned whether the Qur’an we have today is the same Qur’an that Muhammad taught and they have suggested that the process of compiling it was far from perfect. But even this extreme claim, which is challenged by many, is completely different from the criticism above of the New Testament and the Old Testament.

Fatoohi, Louay. Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ . Luna Plena Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This extreme claim….


Think about that.

If you dare suggest that the Qur’an was not compiled properly, then your claim is extreme. Fatoohi makes numerous claims about Paul and Jesus throughout this book and those are not extreme. Those interested in textual criticism with regard to the Qur’an are invited to see this work.

And if Fatoohi or anyone else who is a Muslim saw this and says “I bet you don’t want Christians reading Bart Ehrman!” you will be disappointed. I have no problem with them doing that. I read Ehrman myself and respond to him. If they care about truth, they will look to see what is said about his claims.

Next time, we see what happens when we start looking at the Trinity directly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)



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