Review of The Apotheosis of Jesus of Nazareth written by Paul Williams

    Ehteshaam Gulam

My new friend and a fellow Convert to Islam, Paul Williams has asked me to review his essay, The Apotheosis of Jesus of Nazareth. Before I begin I would like to comment about converts from Christianity to Islam. Converting from Any religion to Islam is a long and usually emotional process. I was born and raised a Muslim. I had the luxury of being born to devoted Muslim parents and into a Muslim household. It took me many years to realize that Islam is the truth and always was. But that’s a different story. Getting back to Converts, like I said it’s a long and emotional journey. It’s commonly said that Islam is not just a religion it is a life style. I agree—in order to be the best Muslim, you must live the Islamic lifestyle, no smoking, no drinking, men and women must be separate,  pray five times a day, fast during the Ramadan, etc. It’s not easy for a Ex Christian to start doing these things it usually takes time. Not to mention leaving the faith of your parents for the sake of Islam—which mirrors Prophets Abraham and Muhammad’s (peace be upon them) struggle in their early Prophetic careers. It of course is no easy task. I can’t imagine what Paul had to go through, what he had to give up when he converted to Islam. So Paul, we welcome back to Islam, as the saying goes, everyone is born a Muslim, its their parents who make them Christian, Jew, Atheist, etc. So welcome back, Mr. Williams.

After reading his paper, all I have to say is that Paul is very well informed about Christology and the Origins of the New Testament. He says “It is clear that there has been a development in the way Jesus is presented in the pages of the New Testament.” This is true, and this is something scholars agree on. In The Gospel of Mark Jesus is seen as a man, a human but when we get to the Gospel of John we see him as a God-like figure. Indeed I have learned a thing or two about Wisdom literature and its connection to the Christology of Jesus.

Mr. Williams uses James Dunn, a scholar in his analysis of wisdom literature and its evolutionary processes of the Christology of Christ. As a liberal, Dunn does not assume that the Bible is inerrant; for each issue he raises, he proceeds to examine the evidence in detail. But despite his liberal presuppositions, he always employs careful exegesis. He does not make unwarranted leaps from the biblical text to supposed extra-biblical parallels, but closely examines the biblical text in its own light before extending his inquiry cautiously outwards.

It is widely recognized that there is a large conceptual leap between Jesus (as presented in the Gospels) and Paul. Jesus lived as a Jew, in obedience to the Law of Moses, and he restricted his mission to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. 15:24). Paul devoted himself primarily to the conversion of Gentiles. He held that Gentiles could be saved apart from circumcision and other works of the Law, asserting that Christ was "the end of the Law" (Romans 10:3). Paul Williams is great. I look forward to more interactions with him in the future. He knows his Christology, he is scholarly and I look forward to his next debate. Welcome Back to Islam, Paul. Keep fighting the good fight.

Further Reading

If you would like to read more about  Apotheosis of Jesus (how he went from human to divine) I suggest:

Danielou J, Marrou H: The Christian Centuries: Volume 1. The First Six Hundred Years. New York, McGraw Hills, 1964.

Ludemann, Gerd: Jesus After 2000 Years, Prometheus Book, NY  (2001)

Ehrman, Bart: The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, USA, 1996

Armstrong, Karen  : A History of God: The 4,000 year quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ballantine Books, New York, 1993

Sanders E.P.: Jesus and Judaism, London, 1989

Hick, John: The Myth of God Incarnate, London, 1977.

J. Louis Martyn. History and Theology in the fourth Gospel (New York; Harper & Row, 1968)

Richard Rubenstein: When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ's Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York, Harcourt, 1999).