“The crucifixion of Jesus was a historical fact that was not challenged in the first century.”
Muslims do not deny that Jesus appeared to have been crucified. 4:157 of the Quran confirms that such an impression was made; and this is reflected in several first century texts.
But the crucifixion story, as recorded in the Bible, is full of contradictions and inconsistencies — so much so, that the entire event must be called into question. This article will highlight several ambiguities, including:
(1) Contradictions on who carried the cross (Mark 15:21, Matthew 27:32, Luke 23:26, and John).
(2) Contradictions on what was written on the cross. (Mark 15:26, Matthew 27:37, Luke 23:38, John 19:19)
(3) The lack of a clear resurrection story in the earliest manuscripts of Mark, which was probably the earliest Gospel.
(4) The witnesses of the crucifixion depend on the Gospel: some women from afar, or Mary and an apostle up close. (Mark 15:40-41, Matthew 27:55-56, John 19:25)
(5) Contradictions on what hour Jesus was crucified (Mark 15:25, John 19:14-15)
(6) Contradictions on what Jesus’ last words were. (Mark 15:34-37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30)
(7) Contradictions on the number of angels or witnesses at the grave of Jesus.
(8) Questions on the original sin: its place in Judaism, why God would need blood to forgive, how a sacrifice can account for future sins, why God would need to wait thousands of years before sending Jesus to alleviate the original sin.
(9) John the Evangelist was seemingly quelling doubts about crucifixion by including a spear thrust into the side of Jesus, to make sure he was dead, which was not mentioned in the three earlier Gospels. (John 19:34)
(10) The Sanhedrin trial of Jesus has no record besides the Gospels, and the trial breaks tens of rules and procedures that are typical of a Sanhedrin trial.
(11) Pilate offered to free one of two men: Jesus, or a rebel by the name of “Barabbas” – in earlier manuscripts, his name was “Jesus Barabbas”, meaning, “Jesus the son of the Father”, it would seem possible that the wrong “Jesus” was crucified.
(12) Belief in the crucifixion would basically negate his prophethood in Judaism, according to Deuteronomy 21:22-23, and this was probably by the Jews wanted Jesus crucified rather than simply assassinated.
(13) Jesus’ descent into Hell would negate his Godhood; and is probably taken from Greek hero myth.
(14) A mass resurrection of saints in Matthew 27:51-53 is mentioned in 3 verses, but the account does not appear anywhere else, neither in the other Gospels nor in other texts, even though such a thing would’ve been notable enough to record; at least more notable than Jesus (as) riding a donkey into Jerusalem — which is mentioned in all four gospels.
(15) According to the Synoptic Gospels, all of Jesus’ apostles and family members forsook Jesus and never attended the crucifixion.
(16) In Mark 16, on the Sunday, the women went to anoint Jesus’ buried corpse with spices – this was not a practice, as in Judaism a tomb is not re-opened after it is closed unless there is reason to believe that the person in it is still alive – so there is a subtle implication that these women believed that the one in the tomb was still alive, and needed to be sought for treatment.
(17) Jesus supposedly prophesied that he would be buried for 3 days and 3 nights, but he was only in the tomb for 1 day and 2 nights.
(18) In Matthew 12:40, Jesus compared his three day burial to Jonah’s three days in the whale; but Jonah was alive in the belly of the whale and not dead.
(19) In Luke 4:10-12, Jesus quotes Psalm 91, which if you read in full, suggests that the Messiah will be saved by God and lifted up.
(20) Sacrifices were never crucified.
Many early important Christian texts also either ignore the crucifixion or give a different view of it. The first century Didache mentions no cross, the second century Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter mentions a substitutionary event (like some hadiths), James’ and Jude’s epistles (these were relatives and apostles of Jesus) mention no cross, the second century Gospel of Thomas mentions no crucifixion, and the Ebionites and Jamesian sects seemed to have no position on the crucifixion.
And Allah knows best.