The Academic Redrawing of Jesus and Mohammad

I only have sections of the entire article, but what I have is from Stand Firm.

The Academic Redrawing of Jesus and Mohammad

by Raymond Ibrahim

Few things are more demonstrative of the sad state of affairs of modern academia than the increasingly fictionalized portrayals of the founders of the two largest religions in the world: Jesus and Mohammad. Though the same dubious methods are used for both — ignore the most historically valid texts and documents, build ponderous theories atop evidence of the most tenuous kind — the goals are markedly different. In academia today, we find Jesus, far from the Son of God, portrayed at once as a wandering “magician” and a hippie-like philanderer inclined to homosexuality. Mohammad, whom the most authentic Muslim sources portray as, among other things, a warlord who had entire tribes executed and plundered, their women herded into harems, their children sold into slavery, appears as a peaceful and altruistic ruler whose governance ushered in, among other improvements, a sort of seventh-century “feminism.”

Considering that the early writers who composed the original texts and scriptures of Christianity and Islam were separated by only a few generations from the historic Jesus and Mohammad, as opposed to modern academics who are separated by 20 and 14 centuries, respectively, one would think that the former group would have been in a better position of authority to tell the narrative of Jesus and Mohammad. Yet nowhere is the arrogance of modernity better manifested than in the universities, where the straightforward words of history’s primary sources are increasingly brushed aside. The implicit understanding is that the writers of the New Testament and Islam’s vast compendium of scriptures were na├»ve and superstitious simpletons who — unlike their more “objective” modern day counterparts — simply could not critically engage their subjects.

Whenever the primary sources make mention of anything that might annoy or offend modern sensibilities — from Jesus’ celibacy to Mohammad’s militant jihads — “progressive” academics tend to simply dismiss it out of hand, preferring to rely on their own thoughts on the matter.

When it comes to “reconstructing” Jesus, academics invariably make two assumptions: The Gospels are not inspired, and the historical events recorded therein are also untrustworthy. In other words, not only do they reject the miraculous, they suspect the entire narrative, which has long been the primary source for understanding the nature of Jesus, even in a secular sense. Irrespective of what Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John record Jesus saying or doing; irrespective of the antiquity and authority of the Gospels, written just decades after the events they describe; irrespective of the fact that much of the historical events described in the Gospels accord with first-century Roman history; irrespective of all this, several Jesus “reconstructionalists” have decided that the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament simply will not do for historical accuracy.

Instead, they rely on two dubious authorities: any scraps of other religious writings and their own conjectures. Obscure Gnostic documents, which were refuted, discredited, and abandoned nearly 2000 years ago, or were of such little importance that the early church was not even aware of their existence, become foundational. Through these fragmented parchments, academics can read into Jesus whatever they desire.


Brad Hart said…
Excellent article. I have always been fascinated by the "evolution" both Jesus and Muhammad seem to endure since their tenure on the earth. By the way, love the blog.
Abu Daoud said…
We have a fair number of readers but not a lot of commenters, alas. Thanks for the encouragement Brad.

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