The following is a response to some of the claims made by the Learner regarding alleged inconsistencies of the Resurrection accounts.
The reader must note the words: Mark and Matthew might have only mentioned the one who is prominent and who is the one talking while Luke and John make clear there were actually two of them. I have no objection in accepting the explanation given by Mr. Katz, if this explanation is literally accepted by the words of the four Gospels. I would therefore like all my readers to have a look at the related portion of the four Gospels and see if the explanation given by Mr. Katz is acceptable or not. Matthew has narrated the event thus:
After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earth quake; for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. (28: 1 - 4)
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. (16: 1 - 5)
Luke's words are as under:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? (24: 1 - 5)
John's narration follows:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. (20: 1 - 13)
The reader is requested to have a close look at these excerpts from the four Gospels and see for himself if the explanation given by Mr. Katz (Mark and Matthew might have only mentioned the one who is prominent and who is the one talking while Luke and John make clear there were actually two of them) is acceptable or not.
My reservations in accepting the explanation given by Mr. Katz are:
What are the words used by Mark and Matthew that allow this explanation to be acceptable? If Mark and Matthew had really intended to imply the prominent angel then, at least the word "angel" should have been preceded by a definite article rather than the indefinite one. It should then have read: the angel, rather than: an angel. If the readers would notice the words of the Qur'an, they shall see that the Qur'an has clearly distinguished between the plural and the singular entities. It has used angels in one place and "roohana" (our spirit) in the other. Thus, the explanation given by Mr. Katz can be acceptable for the Qur'an but not for the referred part of the Gospels.
Let us see if Mr. Amjad's logic is sound:
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. AN angel of the Lord (angelos Kuriou) appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But THE angel (ho angelos) said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Lets go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." Luke 2:8-15
We clearly see that Luke, when identifying the main angel that addressed the shepherds, both includes and omits the article.
Furthermore, this passage also demonstrates the possibility that even though initially one angel had come down to move the stone in Matthew 28, a second angel later joined him.
"After forty years had passed, an angel (angelos) appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord's voice: I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt. This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, Who made you ruler and judge? He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him (angelou tou ophthentos auto) in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. This is that Moses who told the Israelites, God will send you a prophet like me from your own people. He was in the assembly in the desert, with THE angel (tou angelou) who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us." Acts 7:30-38
This angel that appeared to Moses and to Israel was not alone, since other angels accompanied him as the following passages indicate:
"you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it." Acts 7:53
"What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator." Galatians 3:19
"For if the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" Hebrews 2:2-3
These examples demonstrate that the Learner's claim that a definite article would have preceded the word angel if the writers were highlighting the prominent member of the group is fallacious to say the least.
Let us now turn to Matthew 28:
"There was (egeneto) a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord (angelos gar Kuriou) came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. THE angel (ho angelos) said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: "He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him." Now I have told you." Matthew 28:2-7
The verb egeneto, is an aorist tense and comes from the verb ginomai. It can mean, "it came to pass", "it came to be", or "there had been". This implies that the earthquake, the descent of the angel, and the flight of the guards had already taken place before the women had arrived.
Secondly, the fact that Matthew uses "an angel of the Lord" and "THE angel" interchangeably shows that there is no substance to the Learner's claim. The use of an article doesn't prove or disprove that only one angel was present.
Mr. Katz also says that Mark and Matthew have only mentioned the angel that is talking, while the words in Luke: "but the men said to them..." do not allow us to accept this explanation either.
Let us see if Mr. Amjad's claim stands up to a closer analysis of the context:
"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, SUDDENLY TWO MEN in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again." Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others." Luke 24:1-8
"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, What are you discussing together as you walk along? They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days? What things? he asked. About Jesus of Nazareth, they replied. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen A VISION OF ANGELS, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." Luke 24:13-24
We see that had Mr. Amjad simply continued reading the rest of the chapter, he would have found Luke explicitly identifying the two men as angels.
Secondly, his assertion that Luke's reference that the men spoke somehow contradicts Matthew and Mark's claim that it was the angel that spoke to the women is also fallacious. It should be obvious that both men didn't speak at the same time, simultaneously, but rather one person would have addressed the women on behalf of the group. Instead of singling out the main speaker, Luke has chosen to speak of the group in a collective sense, attributing the speech of the main speaker to the group as a whole. The following example from Luke should clarify this point:
"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, What are you discussing together as you walk along? They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days? What things? he asked. About Jesus of Nazareth, THEY replied. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see. He said to them, How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But THEY urged him strongly, Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over. So he went in to stay with them." Luke 24:13-29
It is obvious from the context that the one who spoke to Jesus was Cleopas. Yet Luke has decided to attribute Cleopas' speech to both since he has chosen to refer to them collectively.
"When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, The gods have come down to us in human form! Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, THEY tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, SHOUTING: Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe." Acts 14:11-20
Again, it would be absurd to think that both Paul and Barnabas shouted out the exact same speech at the same time. Rather, as the context implies, it was Paul who spoke since he was the chief speaker. This also explains why they stoned him and not Barnabas.
Earlier in his article, Mr. Amjad himself indicated:
Let us now consider the referred verses in the light of the same literary principle. The event referred to in these verses happens thus: God sends a group of His angels, headed by the arch-angel Gabriel to Mary. Now, suppose while reporting this incident, we say: "The angels said to Mary...", at another time, we say: "Gabriel said to Mary..." and at yet another time we say: "God said to Mary...". Any one who has no objection to the American/Russian example above, should not have any objection here. If some one believes that the American/Russian example is not fully compatible with the problem under consideration, I shall be most obliged if I am informed of the reasons for its incompatibility. But if there is no objection on the compatibility of the example with the problem in question then the explanation given above has to be accepted.
Although I do not think that this question has anything to do with the real problem under consideration, but still, just to answer the question, I think the question raised by Mr. Katz himself, i.e. "Were the others not like men and threatening to her?" itself is a plausible explanation to the above question. As I see it, a group of angels, headed by the arch-angel Gabriel came to Mary. From among these angels, Gabriel appeared as a man. It was only Gabriel that spoke to Mary. In Aal Imraan, according to the general principle common in about all languages (as explained in the American/Russian example above), THE SPEECH OF THEIR LEADER IS ATTRIBUTED TO ALL THE ANGELS, while in Maryam, the speech is attributed ONLY TO THE SPEAKER AMONG THEM.
If Mr. Amjad has no problem reconciling the above examples then he should have no problem reconciling Luke's account with that of Matthew and Mark. That is, unless, of course, he has a strong bias against the New Testament due to his Islamic presuppositions which will not allow him to harmonize the Resurrection accounts.
Mr. Amjad continues:
Mr. Katz has also given an example to clarify his point of view. He writes:
After meeting the President and [the] Vice-President on the street somewhere, I might come home and only say, I saw the President today. Nothing in such a statement precludes that I also met the second in command and maybe more people too.
I fully agree with this example. But unfortunately, this example can be given as an explanation for the words of the Qur'an but not for those of the Gospels. When someone says: "I saw the President today", this sentence, as Mr. Katz has rightly stated, does not negate that the person giving such statement had seen the Vice President and a crowd of other officials. I would further add that if the statement given was: "I saw a number of high officials today", even then it would not negate that the person had seen the President. But, on the other hand, if some one says: "I saw an officer of the state today", and later on says: "I saw two/three/four officers of the state today" now, at least to me, these statements seem to be contradictory.
This is the fallacy of false analogy. We are not dealing with one man's testimony, but four different individual's testimonies of the same event, and therefore would expect that the writers would not record the same event exactly in the same way. A better example would be the following:
Joe: I saw the President on television today condemning the terrorist attacks on America.
Sam: The other day I saw the President and the Vice President on television where they addressed the issue of terrorism.
Tony: There was a live broadcast at the White House, where a group of government officials spoke against the cowardly acts of the terrorists. The officials encouraged the nation during a very emotional time.
Bruce: The Vice President briefly addressed the nation several days ago regarding America's war on terrorism. He said something that really moved my heart. I could sense the anger and the sadness in his tone.
As one can see, these different reports are not contradictory but rather complementary. This is the case with the Resurrection accounts.
If you look at the words of the Qur'an, they are of the same nature as: "I saw the President today", which according to Mr. Katz does not preclude that the person might have seen a number of other officials too. The Qur'an at one instance says: "We sent our spirit (the President), and at another instance, it says: "We sent our angels (a number of other officials). Are the two statements cotradictory?
On the other hand, the four statements of the Gospels are of the same nature as: "I saw an officer of the state today". According to Matthew: "an angel of the Lord descending from heaven..." (an officer); according to Mark: "As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man..." (a gentleman, maybe accepted as "an officer"); according to Luke: "suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them" (two gentlemen, may be accepted as "two officers"); according to John: "and saw two angels in white... " (two officers). Are these statements not contradictory?
As we have already shown no real contradictions exist, except those superimposed upon the text by the Learner's shallow reading of the Gospels.
Mr. Amjad concludes:
I request Mr. Katz and all my other readers to have a look at these statements of the Qur'an and those of the Gospels and give a just judgment on them. I remind all my friends and brethren that the important thing is not to prove what we want to believe, but to search for and submit to the truth even if it is against our personal likings.
Sadly, the Learner hasn't applied the same method of just judgment to the Gospels, as he suggests we should do with the Quran.
He has tried to impose contradictions upon the Gospels by adopting a conflict approach. His use of a false analogy further demonstrates his unwillingness to harmonize the Resurrection accounts.
For a harmony of the Resurrection accounts we recommend the following articles: , , , , .
In the near future, we will be responding to more of Mr. Amjad's claims as well as responding to his attempted rebuttals to some of our articles, by the grace of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
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