Early Christian Books on Was it Jesus who was Crucified
Evidence in Early Christianity For the Subsitution Theory
Despite the fact that the Quran doesn’t say that someone else was put on the cross instead of Jesus, there is evidence in Early Christianity (the first 300 years) that Early Christians and Early Christian scriptures believed in the substitution theory. As Bart Ehrman proves in his fantastic book: Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the faiths we never Knew (2003), Early Christianity was very diverse in the first 300 years after the ascension of Jesus. In the first century there were different early Christian
churches, scriptures, books, etc. So there was no "New Testament" we have today--- it took about 327 years to canonize the N.T. Every church had its favored books and there
was no orthodoxy until the 4th century.
Like I’ve already mentioned, Early Christianity was very diverse. In Early Christianity there were many books being accepted as canonical in the early Christian churches. One Early Christian book that agrees with the Quran’s statement that Jesus wasn’t crucified is the Early Christian work called The Apocalypse of Peter (also known as the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter). The Apocalypse of Peter says that a demon was put on the cross instead of Jesus, and that Jesus got away. Literary analysis suggests that those manuscripts suggest the authorship in the third century CE. The book was found in the Nag Hammdi Library in 1945.
"Come therefore, let us go on with the completion of the will of the incorruptible Father. For behold, those who will bring them judgment are coming, and they will be put to shame. But me they cannot touch. And you, O Peter, shall stand in their midst. Do not be afraid because of your cowardice. Their minds shall be closed, for the invisible one has opposed them."When he said those things, I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said "What do I see, O Lord, that it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?"The Savior said to me, "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."But I, when I had looked, said "Lord, no one is looking at you. Let us flee this place." But he said to me, "I have told you, "Leave the blind alone!" And you, see how they do not know what they are saying. For the son of their glory instead of my servant, they have put to shame."And I saw someone about to approach us resembling him, even him who was laughing on the tree. And he was filled with a Holy Spirit, and he is the Savior. And there was a great, ineffable light around them, and the multitude of ineffable and invisible angels blessing them. And when I looked at him, the one who gives praise was revealed. And he said to me, "Be strong, for you are the one to whom these mysteries have been given, to know them through revelation, that he whom they crucified is the first-born, and the home of demons, and the stony vessel, in which they dwell, of Elohim, of the cross, which is under the Law. But he who stands near him is the living Savior, the first in him, whom they seized and released, who stands joyfully looking those who did him violence, while they are divided among themselves. Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind. So then the one susceptible to suffering shall come, since the body is the substitute. (Apocalypse of Peter 81:4-82:33)
The Apocalypse of Peter states that Jesus got away from the crucifixion and that the person whom they crucified is a demon who looked like Jesus. Jesus was laughing when the event of crucifixion took place. So the Apocalypse of Peter agrees with the Quran that Jesus was not crucified instead somebody else was.
These books are included in the Bruce Codex. The books were mentioned in a third century CE Coptic and Gnostic text called the Pistis Sophia.
This is the book of the gnoses of the invisible God, by means of the hidden mysteries which show the way to the chosen race, leading in refreshment to the life of the Father - in the coming of the Savior , of the deliverer of souls who receive themselves the Word of life which is higher than all life - in the knowledge of the living Jesus, who has come forth through the Father from the aeon of light at the completion of the Pleroma - in the teaching, apart from which there is no other, which the living Jesus has taught to his apostles, saying: "This is the teaching in which dwells the whole knowledge." The living Jesus answered and said to his disciples: "Blessed is he who has crucified the world, and who has not the world to crucify him." The apostles answered with one voice, saying: "O Lord, teach us the way to crucify the world, that it may not crucify us, so that we are destroyed and loose our lives" The living Jesus answered: "He who has crucified it is he who has found my word and has fulfilled it according to the will of him who has sent me." (The Books of Jeu 1)
If we are to assume that the "Blessed one" is Jesus then we have a reason to believe that Jesus was not crucified according to the belief of the author.
This book was condemned as heretical in 787 CE. Augustine, who was a bishop from 396 to 430 CE, quoted from that book. Besides, a literary analysis of the book suggests that it was composed in the second half of the second century CE. This Early Christian book supports the Quran’s statement that Jesus wasn’t really crucified—but instead got away.
Thus, my beloved, having danced with us the Lord went forth. And we as men gone astray or dazed with sleep fled this way and that. I, then, when I saw him suffer, did not even abide by his suffering, but fled unto the Mount of Olives, weeping at that which had befallen. And when he was crucified on the Friday, at the sixth hour of the day, darkness came upon all the earth. And my Lord standing in the midst of the cave and enlightening it, said: John, unto the multitude below in Jerusalem I am being crucified and pierced with lances and reeds, and gall and vinegar is given me to drink. But unto thee I speak and what I speak hear thou. I put it into thy mind to come up into this mountain, that thou mightest hear those things which it behoveth a disciple to learn from his teacher and a man from his God… (Jesus Continues): But this is not the cross of wood which thou wilt see when thou goest down hence: neither am I he that is on the cross, whom now thou seest not, but only hearest his (or a) voice. I was reckoned to be that which I am not, not being what I was unto many others: but they will call me (say of me) something else which is vile and not worthy of me. As, then, the place of rest is neither seen nor spoken of, much more shall I, the Lord thereof, be neither seen… (Jesus Continues): 101 Nothing, therefore, of the things which they will say of me have I suffered: nay, that suffering also which I showed unto thee and the rest in the dance, I will that it be called a mystery. For what thou art, thou seest, for I showed it thee; but what I am I alone know, and no man else. Suffer me then to keep that which is mine, and that which is thine behold thou through me, and behold me in truth, that I am, not what I said, but what thou art able to know, because thou art akin thereto. Thou hearest that I suffered, yet did I not suffer; that I suffered not, yet did I suffer; that I was pierced, yet I was not smitten; hanged, and I was not hanged; that blood flowed from me, and it flowed not; and, in a word, what they say of me, that befell me not, but what they say not, that did I suffer. Now what those things are I signify unto thee, for I know that thou wilt understand. Perceive thou therefore in me the praising (al. slaying al. rest) of the (or a) Word (Logos), the piercing of the Word, the blood of the Word, the wound of the Word, the hanging up of the Word, the suffering of the Word, the nailing (fixing) of the Word, the death of the Word. And so speak I, separating off the manhood. Perceive thou therefore in the first place of the Word; then shalt thou perceive the Lord, and in the third place the man, and what he hath suffered. (Acts of John 97-101)
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
The above suggests the illusionary crucifixion of Jesus. That he was on the cross but actually he wasn’t and that he was not suffering. His suffering was in what would be said about him after this event.
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth:
The last book that agrees with the Quran that Jesus wasn’t crucified is The Second Treatise of the Great Seth. This Early Christian work states that instead of Jesus, Simon of Cyene (who carried the cross for Jesus, see Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26) was crucified instead of Jesus. The manuscripts traces back to the second and fourth century CE. It was found in the Nag Hammdi Library.
The Text says:
And the plan which they advised about me to release their error and their senselessness- I did not succumb to them as they had planned. But I was not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished me. And I did not die in reality but in appearance, lest I be put to shame by them because these are my kinsfolk… For my death which they think happened, (happened) to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death… for they were deaf and blind… Yes, they saw me, they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall of the vinegar, it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns… And I was laughing at their ignorance… For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form… And therefore, when I was at their gates, I assumed their likeness. For I passed them by quietly…. (The Second Treatise of the Great Seth 55:10-56:25)
The message is clear, it was not Jesus rather it was Simon the Cyrene (Who bore the cross in the Gospel of Mark and Luke who was crucified. Instead Jesus was altering his shapes and changing forms. He then assumed the Romans likeness and got away quietly. Once again an early Christian text rejects the orthodox doctrine that Jesus was crucified. As a matter of fact, the early Christian group, the Basilideans used to believe that Simon of Cyrene was crucified. So even a group within early Christianity agrees with the Quran!
We can see that in Early Christianity there was disagreements as to who was crucified, etc. Some early Christian works say that someone else was crucified instead
of Jesus--- which supports the traditional Islamic view. And Allah knows best.
Dirks, Jerald The Cross and the Crescent Amana Publications, USA 2001
Ehrman, Bart . Lost Christianities: Battle for the Scripture we never knew New York City, Oxford Press, 2003
Ehrman Bart . Lost Scriptures: Books that never made it into the New Testament, New York City, Oxford Press, 2003