We resume our rebuttal to Shabirs criticism.
Did Jesus really Say that?
Shabir makes another desperate attempt of denying the death of Christ on the cross, this time by attacking the Lukan pericope of the Last Supper:
Did Jesus Really Say, "Do this in remembrance of me!"?
These words are attributed to Jesus in the Bible in Lukes Gospel 22:19b-20: "Do this in remembrance of me!" In this way, we learn, Jesus instituted the regular observance of the Eucharist, the use of bread to symbolize the eating of Jesus flesh; and wine to symbolize the drinking of his blood. I pointed out in the debate that these words are missing from some very important early manuscripts, and for this reason many scholars deem it a later addition. Hence this cannot be taken as a reliable proof that Jesus said these words.
James seems to have forgotten what the point was. On DL he asserts that I reject these words simply because they disagree with Quranic teaching. He then uses this as a starting point to launch an attack on the prophet Muhammad. But I think it is important that we do not become side-tracked. These problems exist apart from Muhammad and the Quran. If I reject the words on the basis that they disagree with Islam, on what basis do many Christian scholars reject them? And on what basis were they removed from the 1952 edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible? (More Comments on the Dividing Line of Oct. 23, 2007)
Shabir commits several fallacies here, namely, hasty generalization, appealing to authority, non sequitur and red herring, to name just a few.
For instance, it simply does not follow that if the Lukan pericope is a later scribal interpolation that this then somehow refutes the fact that Jesus didnt die as a willing sacrifice:
"And he said, The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he MUST BE KILLED and on the third day be raised to life. Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." Luke 9:22, 44
"It is written: And he was numbered with the transgressors [cf. Isa. 53:12]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." Luke 22:37
Nor would this refute the fact that Luke plainly presents Jesus as dying on the cross and rising from the dead:
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, Surely this was a righteous man. When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Luke 23:46-56
"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." Luke 24:1-8
Furthermore, appealing to certain scholars to support the position that the words "do this in remembrance of me" are not part of the original text doesnt prove much when there are other scholars who believe otherwise. What Shabir must do is supply the relevant textual data or the specific reasons why these scholars he cites happen to be correct and why those that disagree with him are mistaken.
The problem here is that the textual evidence is decisively against Shabir and actually supports the fact that these words were originally part of Lukes Gospel. As the late Bruce M. Metzger, one of the greatest NT textual scholars, wrote in his commentary on the critical edition of the United Bible Society’s Greek New Testament text:
Considerations in favor of the originality of the longer text include the following: (a) The external evidence supporting the shorter reading represents only part of the Western type of text, whereas the other representatives of the Western text join with witnesses belonging to all the other ancient text-types in support of the longer reading. (b) It is easier to suppose that the Bezan editor, puzzled by the sequence of cup-bread-cup, eliminated the second mention of the cup without being concerned about the inverted order of institution thus produced, than that the editor of the longer version, to rectify the inverted order, brought in from Paul the second mention of the cup, while letting the first mention stand. (c) The rise of the shorter version can be accounted for in terms of the theory of disciplina arcana, i.e. in order to protect the Eucharist from profanation, one or more copies of the Gospel according to Luke, prepared for circulation among non-Christian readers, omitted the sacramental formula after the beginning words.
Considerations in favor of the originality of the shorter text include the following: (a) Generally in New Testament textual criticism the shorter reading is to be preferred. (b) Since the words in verses 19b and 20 are suspiciously similar to Pauls words in 1 Cor 11.24b-25, it appears that the latter passage was the source of the interpolation into the longer text. (c) Verses 19b-20 contain several linguistic features that are non-Lukan.
The weight of these considerations was estimated differently by different members of the Committee. A minority preferred the shorter text as a Western non-interpolation (see the Note following 24.53). The MAJORITY, on the other hand, impressed by the OVERWHELMING PREPONDERANCE OF EXTERNAL EVIDENCE supporting the longer form, explained the origin of the shorter form as due to some scribal accident or misunderstanding. The similarity between verses 19b-20 and 1 Cor 11.24b-25 arises from a familiarity of the evangelist with the liturgical practice among Pauline churches, a circumstance that accounts also for the presence of non-Lukan expressions in verses 19b-20. (Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament Fourth Revised Edition, Second Edition, pp. 148, 150; capital and underline emphasis ours)
What makes the statements of Metzger all the more interesting is that he happens to be one of the scholars that Ally quotes ad nauseam ad infinitum; and yet when this same scholar soundly refutes Shabirs assertions or happens to say something that Ally doesnt like Shabir then conveniently ignores or doesnt bother to refer to him at all.
Nor was Metzger the only textual critic who viewed these verses as being a genuine part of what Luke originally wrote:
49 tc Some important Western mss (D it) lack the words from this point to the end of v. 20. However, the authenticity of these verses is very likely. The inclusion of the second cup is the harder reading, since it differs from Matt 26:26-29 and Mark 14:22-25, and it has much better ms support. It is thus easier to explain the shorter reading as a scribal accident or misunderstanding. Further discussion of this complicated problem (the most difficult in Luke) can be found in TCGNT 148-50. (Source; underline emphasis ours)
Dr. White has also written an excellent response to Shabirs obfuscation and distortion of the textual issues surrounding Luke 22:19-20, which can be found here.
In his rebuttal Dr. White mentions the manuscript evidence which supports that these words are a part of Lukes pericope:
So we move from the highly speculative to the fact that there is, indeed, a textual issue to be addressed regarding Luke 22:19-20. And on the simple textual critical level, Shabir Ally is correct: there are scholars who would question the originality of the text due to "parallel corruption," i.e., the influence of 1 Corinthians 11:24-25. However, it should be immediately pointed out that the form of the text found in, say, the NA27 and in almost all English translations is that which is found in all Greek manuscripts (except D) and most of the ancient versions. In almost all instances this overwhelming manuscript concensus would be sufficient to conclude the issue. 19b-20 is missing primarily in Latin (i.e., Western) versions, and D is notorious as a Greek/Latin manuscript for having, to put it mildly, odd readings (its exemplars were obviously not exactly mainstream, and just how much one language influenced the other is obviously difficult to determine). But since Luke stands alone in providing the words "do this in remembrance of Me" in the Synoptics, focus has been put upon this text (Do This in Remembrance of Me: Luke 22:19)
The reference to 1 Corinthians 11 by both Metzger and White leads us to our next point. The words of institution are found in Pauls letter to the Corinthians, an epistle which even Shabir agrees predates the composition of Lukes Gospel:
"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
There are several vitally important points concerning this text. First, there is no textual dispute concerning the authenticity of this passage, so Shabir cannot call it into question. Second, Paul is claiming to be passing on a tradition that he received from the Lord, which either means that he received it from Christ directly and verified it with the Apostles (cf. Gal. 1:11-24) or that this is a tradition which the Apostles passed on from the Lord to the community of believers including Paul. Third, the fact that this epistle predates Lukes Gospel and that it is based on a very early tradition establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that this is a genuine saying of the Lord. At the very least it shows that this is a saying which the very earliest Christian witnesses believed was instituted by the Lord himself.
In light of all of these considerations on what grounds then does a variant reading in Luke 22:19 call into question the historicity of the words "do this in remembrance of me" when there is a tradition that goes back long before Lukes Gospel was ever composed which establishes that they were part of the very instructions which the Apostles passed on by the authority of the Lord himself?
Wheres the Beef?
In his hate to attack the reliability of the earliest evidence for the crucifixion and death of Jesus Shabir overlooked one important fact. If Jesus didnt die on the cross, but simply swooned as Shabir erroneously contends, wouldnt we at least expect that Christ would have somehow communicated this point to his followers? Wouldnt it behoove Jesus to tell his disciples that God allowed him to pass out on the cross and then revived him instead of allowing them to believe that he did actually die and rise from the dead? Case in point:
"While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, Peace be with you. They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, Do you have anything here to eat? They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and RISE FROM THE DEAD on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:36-47
And if Jesus did tell them that he swooned wouldnt we expect to find some first century reference somewhere, or even among the second century writings, which stated that this is precisely what his followers were told and subsequently taught? Why dont we find this view in any of the extant writings of the first two centuries when we have Gnostic forgeries of the second century onwards promoting an alternate position from that of the orthodox camp, e.g. it appeared as if Jesus was crucified when in reality he wasnt since he didnt have an actual physical body? Surely we would expect some NT writer or second century father addressing the apparent-death or swoon theory if such a view did exist among some group claiming ascendancy to the apostles. Why, then, do we not find this theory being touted among the early Christians or those groups competing with them for the claim of orthodoxy? Why no rebuttal from the orthodox if such a position did exist at that time?
The answer is rather obvious such a theory didnt even occur in the minds of the early witnesses or the subsequent generations of orthodox and heterodox writers. This is simply a novel view which only recently came into fashion, one which serves as an expedient explanation for Shabir as he attempts to salvage the gross error of the Quran in its denial of the historicity of Jesus death by crucifixion. This is much like his novel interpretation of Q. 4:157(1), one which even he is forced to admit finds no support among the earliest, classical Islamic writings:
James made a passing reference to the view of the Ahmadiyyah with regards to the crucifixion. I should clarify here the differences between the classical Islamic view, a Sunnite view that is becoming increasingly popular, and the Ahmadiyyah view.
The view found in ALL the classical commentaries I have checked is that someone else was made to look like Jesus and that this someone else was put on the cross whereas Jesus was taken up to heaven.
In modern times several writers have adopted the view that the Quran is not denying that Jesus was put on the cross, but is only denying that he died on the cross. The details of this position have yet to be fully articulated with all its nuances and support from classical Islamic sources. Tarif Khalidi made a brief remark showing that he has this view in his introduction to The Muslim Jesus. Ruqayyah Waris Maqsood gave this a more detailed treatment in The Mysteries of Jesus. It is this view with which I align myself. (Comments on the Dividing Line, Part 1; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)
The term crucifixion and its related forms have been used in a variety of contexts with varied meanings that need to be defined before we proceed. For our purposes here, crucifixion has two meanings: (1) merely hanging a person on a cross; and (2) killing a person by hanging him on a cross I have maintained that the classical interpreters of the Quran took the Quranic statement, they did not crucify him in the first sense, whereas we should really take it in the second sense [sic]. Hence, they thought that the verse means, they did not even hang him on a cross; but we should really take the verse to mean they did not kill him by hanging him on a cross. (A Rejoinder to James (Part 1); 1, 2; bold emphasis ours)
My exposition, according to James, is a minimalist view, an attempt to make the verse say as little as possible. According to him my view has the advantage of being "far easier to defend" than "the view dogmatically expounded in much of Islam today." But to him my view became necessary because the verse is "not clear, but confusing, muddled, and without context." In response, I have shown that the confusion is not due to the text, but to the expositions of it which failed to consider the meaning of the verb salaba as it occurs in the Quran. Once the meaning of the verb as it occurs everywhere else in the Quran is applied also in 4:157, the said verse becomes clear. It also seems that a part of the confusion James is experiencing is due to that fact that the exposition I have advanced is true to the Quran and yet it does not deny anything that is reasonably established in any historical reminiscence regarding Jesus. Against the classical Muslim view James has a ready defense; against mine he has no reasonable defense[sic]. (Rejoinder to White (Part 2A); source; bold and italic emphasis ours)
As Dr. White stated in his first debate with Shabir, "Inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument." Shabirs gross inconsistencies and novel interpretations are clear indications of his failure as an apologist. They also provide persuasive evidence that he is not an honest seeker of Gods truth.
A Summation of the Biblical Teaching Concerning the Death of Christ
We will conclude our rebuttal by summarizing some of the different aspects of Christs death, highlighting the various ways the NT describes the Lord Jesus sacrifice. Some of these aspects were already touched upon or alluded to in our previous discussion.
(1) Penal Substitution
Christ died in our place in order to bear the punishment or penalty ("penal") we deserved.
As we saw in the above sections, the punishment of sin is death. Christ, therefore, sacrificed his life (died) in our place so as to bear the penalty for our sins.
Our sins separated us from our God, severing any intimate fellowship with our Creator. By dying in our place Christ reconciled us to God, making peace between God and man:
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:5-6
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." Romans 5:1, 10-11
"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" Colossians 1:19-22
This leads us to our next point.
Christ completely removed Gods wrath from us due to our sins. Christs vicarious death fully appeased Gods righteous anger and justice thereby making him propitious (favorable) toward us (which, as we documented earlier in our rebuttal, is precisely what the words which are used below, i.e. hilasterion and hilasmos, mean).
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" Romans 5:8-9
"For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might turn aside God's wrath (hilaskesthai), taking away the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defenseJesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the one who turns aside God's wrath (hilasmos), taking away our sins, and not only ours but also the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as the one who would turn aside his wrath (hilasmon), taking away our sins." 1 John 4:10
The Bible says that sinners are enslaved to sin and Satan:
"Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever." John 8:34-35
"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to dothis I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" Romans 7:14-24
"and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:26
Jesus death provided the payment, or ransom, to set us free from our bondage to the power of sin and the Devil:
"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." Mark 10:45
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Romans 7:25-8:4
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all menthe testimony given in its proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of deaththat is, the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." 1 Peter 1:18-19
"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought thembringing swift destruction on themselves." 2 Peter 2:1
(1) Shabir claims that the word salaba is used in the Quran in reference to death by crucifixion:
All the Quranic uses of the verb salaba (to crucify) is in the second meaning identified above: to kill by means of impaling. In one instance (Quran 5:33), the verb salaba (to crucify) is juxtaposed with the verb qatala (to kill). The choice there is between killing a person and crucifying him. In that verse it is clear that whereas qatala (to kill) means to kill by some unspecified means other than crucifixion, salaba (to crucify) means to kill by the specific means of crucifixion. The juxtaposition of the two verbs in Quran 5:33 is similar to their juxtaposition in Quran 4:157. Hence a reasonable manner of translating the relevant portion of 4:157 is: "They neither killed him in general, nor did they kill him by the specific means of impalement on a cross." (A Rejoinder to James (Part 1); bold emphasis ours)
This is not the case at all since in one place it is used in connection with the baker in Josephs story who was beheaded and impaled on a stake:
Fellow-prisoners, as for one of you, he shall pour wine for his lord; as for the other, he shall be crucified, and birds will eat of his head. The matter is decided whereon you enquire.' S. 12:41
The Quran is parroting the earlier biblical account which says:
"When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head. And Joseph answered and said, This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your headfrom you!and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you. On the third day, which was Pharaohs birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaohs hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them." Genesis 40:16-22
Sine the chief baker was beheaded and then hung the author of the Quran could not be using the verb to mean death by crucifixion, that is unless Shabir wants to admit that the Quran is in error by contradicting the earlier account and recorded history (1, 2).
Moreover, Sunni scholar and writer Dr. Gibril Foaud Haddad provides several examples where the verb does not mean to die by crucifixion:
A fourth proof is that in Arabic usage salb or crucifixion does not denote death on a cross -- contrary to what is being claimed above -- but only hoisting or being hoisted up on a cross or plank or pole for the purpose of defamation and humiliation.
Abu Nu`aym in Hilya al-Awliya' (1985 ed. 10:154=1997 ed. 10:161) narrates with his chain that when al-Daylami -- one of the early Sufis -- was captured by the Byzantines "he was crucified" (fa salabuh), and "when the Muslims saw him crucified (fa lamma ra'ahu al-Muslimuna masluban) they freed him after a raid and brought him down alive. He came down and asked for water, etc."
Al-Tabari in his history Tarikh al-Muluk wa al-Umam (1987 ed. 5:414) in the chapter of the year 252 describes the events of `Abdan ibn al-Muwaffaq's demise: "He was crucified alive (fa suliba hayyan)... and was left crucified (turika masluban) until the midafternoon prayer. Then he was thrown into jail and remained there for two days. He died on the third. It was ordered that he be crucified again..."
There are also examples using the term salaba or crucify for defamation-displays taking place _after_ the death of the crucified, as alluded to in the Qur'anic sequence: "They never killed him, and they never crucified him."
When Caesar's governor over Amman at the time of the Prophet Farwa ibn `Amr al-Judhami declared his Islam, he was imprisoned until he died. After his death, he was crucified. Narrated by Ibn Sa`d, Tabaqat (7:435) May Allah be well-pleased with him, he believed in the Prophet in the Prophet's time, yet never met him, like Uways al-Qarani.
In the hadith of Salman al-Farisi about the corrupt episcopus of the Syrian church who died, then it was discovered that he had amassed a treasure out of the people's alms, Salman narrates: "They said we shall never bury him. Then they crucified him on a plank and stoned him." Narrated by Ibn Sa`d, Tabaqat (4:77), al-Khatib in Tarikh Baghdad (1:167) and Ibn Kathir in al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya (2:311).
In 231 Imam Ahmad ibn Nasr al-Khuza`i -- may Allah be well-pleased with him -- was decapitated in Samarra. "When his head was brought to the authorities [in Baghdad], they [literally] crucified it (salabuh)." Al-Khatib, Tarikh Baghdad (5:179). It is evident that the meaning here is "They displayed it on top of a pole."
In 317 the caliph al-Muqtadir's chamberlain, Nazuk, was killed then crucified as stated by Ibn Kathir in al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya (11:159 Dar al-Ma`arif ed.): "They went to Nazuk and killed him while he was enebriated, then they crucified him" (thumma salabuh).
So the focus in crucifixion is not on execution but on advertising defamation. In the above examples the maslub or crucified may or may not be dead but in the event he is dead, his death is immaterial to the definition or connotations of crucifixion. (Haddad, If Jesus wasn't crucified, what really did happen?; 1, 2; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Haddad also makes some other interesting comments which directly address Shabirs spins and assertions:
It would follow that the Qur'an is repeating itself: "and they did not kill him, nor did they kill him on the cross."
This would violate the Qur'anic principle of mughayara or semantic differentiation. If the Qur'an states "A and B" then A is necessarily different from B according to mughayara. It is a good idea to approach Qur'anic interpretation through the sciences and rules that were developed to help us achieve it.
A second proof against the above misinterpretation is that the whole point of the denial is that Allah did not let his Prophet be subjected to infamy. The latter does not reside in being killed -- as other Prophets were killed -- but in the modality of being displayed on a pole like a criminal. Lapidation (stoning) is ruled out for the same reason.
A third proof is that, to my knowledge, the imams of commentary have not mentioned the hypothesis that `Isa himself was placed on the cross as a possibility, although they left no stone unturned in collecting narrations and going over the various scenarios. So the statement that "Some seem to think that he was not even placed on the cross" is disinformation posing as a statistical remark. The real statement would be that some seem to think that he was actually placed on the cross. (Bold and underline emphasis ours)
It seems that this Shaykh had Shabir in mind when he wrote this response.
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