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May-20-2010 17:07printcomments

The Passion of the Baptist, not the Christ?

Belica feels the whole role of the Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) in religious history should be reevaluated.

St. John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist
The Louvre, Paris

(BOSTON) - Recent research embodied in a new book by Agron Belica invites our attention to the predicament of John the Baptist, popularly known for little more than the story of his beheading by order of Herod Antipas at the behest of a seductive dancing girl, the infamous Salome.

His book, The Crucifixion: Mistaken Identity? John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ, arguing from the chronological and historical evidence provided by the ancient Jewish historian Josephus and the New Testament about John, demonstrates that the story of his beheading is almost certainly spurious.
Comparison with the writings of Josephus gives the lie to this scenario for, as the detailed scrutiny and evaluation of Josephus’s text shows, Herod Antipas probably did not order John’s execution until 36 CE, half a dozen years later than most datings of the event of the crucifixion. Belica suggests that it was the ProphetYahya (John the Baptist) who was placed on the cross and survived the ordeal and not Jesus, in a case of mistaken identity.

The book’s editor, Dr. Jay R. Crook, asks: “How would this later date affect our discussion of Belica’s theories, especially his suggestion that John was the principal actor in the crucifixion, not Jesus? Put simply, it would remove it from the realm of chronological impossibility to that of chronological possibility.” It would relegate the colorful John-Salome story (to which Josephus makes no reference) to the category of an urban myth, not history.

Step by step, his book carefully and plausibly resurrects the reputation of the Baptist, not as a minor gospel figure, the forerunner of Christ, but as a major prophet in his own right. In an article published in 2008, The Revival of the Prophet Yahya, he noted that the Quran, while not slighting Jesus, accords Yahya (John the Baptist) such a status, citing key words in the Quranic text such as sayyid (chief), hasur (concealer of secrets), and waliy (protector/guardian). He contended that these words, among others, have been misinterpreted by most translators and commentators of the Quran, the result being that they have failed to confirm his unique status and his role in the messianic story.
Belica further criticizes those traditionalists who, he asserts, have fallen under the spell of the sensational Biblical account of John’s death and have repeated it in their commentaries without questioning its authenticity, even though there is nothing in the Quran to justify such a thing; indeed, Belica believes, the story goes against the entire tenor of the Quranic view of the prophet. He writes: “Countless works have been published pertaining to the false crucifixion of the son of Mary by Muslims, yet the false beheading of the son of Zachariah is largely ignored, why?”
Furthermore, Belica asserts: “The Prophet Yahya could not have been beheaded as has been asserted by many Muslim and Christian scholars. With regard to Jesus, in the Quran, we read: Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day I will be raised up again. (Q. 19:33) The verse states that Jesus was given safety and security in these three situations. But what about the Prophet Yahya? We find the same description for him as we find for Jesus, Peace be upon him the day he is born, the day he dies, and the day he is raised up again. (Q. 19:15) How does the supposed beheading of Yahya fit in the above Quranic verse of one given peace by his Lord? As far as we know, all the prophets mentioned by name in the Quran were delivered from their enemies. Yet, the Prophet Yahya, whose name ironically means He Who Lives, is popularly believed to have been put to death. In my opinion, this would cause an inconsistency in the Quran.” said Belica.
Belica takes on another issue that has exercised Quranic exegetes over the centuries: the meaning and implications of the word shubbiha used in reference to the Crucifixion. The Quran explicitly denies thecrucifixion of Jesus, instead declaring that it only appeared so unto them. Taking the issue forward from that, Belica discusses the relations of Jesus and John and the nature of their missions. Belica shows how the meaning of shubbiha in the Quran could extend to the resemblance of the two prophets John and Jesus and other places as well. “John’s being put on the cross would in no way impugn the peace of God as given to other prophets, such as Abraham who was given the same peace when thrown into the blazing fire, yet rescued by the Almighty.” said Belica.
Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion at the Hartford Seminary, in his comments about Agron Belica’s book, writes: “[It is an engaging analysis of the life and mission of the two kindred religious personages, John the Baptist (Yahya) and Jesus (‘Isa).”
Belica feels the whole role of the Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) in religious history should be reevaluated. He considers him the most neglected of the major prophet s and that it is time to redress this slight.
Book available at, The Harvard Book Store

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Natalie June 23, 2010 11:47 am (Pacific time)

Finally, somebody explained to my female brain why kids after sitting on their behinds for 12 years answer the question "how much is 2+2" with the phrase " aaaah, eeeh, how much d'you exactly need?" Don't they require a signed permission slip in the kindergarten anymore before letting you talk to strangers online?

duane June 23, 2010 5:22 am (Pacific time)

everybody thinks they know whats going on. Did it at all run through your female brain that maybe we areb siitting next to each other in class for instance? Besides, we are only having fun rerading bash mans articles. Hey sound like a badd ass too natalie wanna chat? You seem bored gal. Come and talk to duane and forget all this spiritual stuff.

Natalie June 22, 2010 8:11 pm (Pacific time)

Hahahahaha, duane and Freddy C., unless you have supernatural abilities to read each other's thoughts, darling, drop talking to yourself. Sorry, don't know which one of you to address, well whoever holds the legal name, please next time wait at least couple hours before responding to your own comment. The 2-nd post was written before the 1-st one was even approved. Thanks for the laugh. In case you don't know: it takes some time for the post to show up.

duane June 22, 2010 4:21 pm (Pacific time)

no doubt freddy. check this tradition of the so called iranian imam mahdi- Tradition 23 Through successive chain of authorities, the Noble Shaikh Abul Qasim Ja'far bin Sa'eed (Muhaqqiq Hilli) relates from the Noble Sayyed Mohammad bin Abdullah bin Ali bin Zuhra Husainee Halabi (May his grave be scented), from the Master Traditionist, the Rightly Guide of the Nation and Religion, Mohammad bin Ali bin Shahr Ashob Sarawi, who quotes from the Honourable Shaikh Ahmed bin Abu Talib Tabarsi's book Ehtijaj under a lengthy tradition dealing with Sa'ad bin Abdullah Ash'ari's meeting with Imam al Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), in which Sa'ad asked Imam al Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) the interpreta tion regarding the words: Kaf, Ha, Ya, Ain, Swad in Surah al Maryam. Imam replied, "These words are from the concealed codes regarding which Allah informed His Servant the Prophet Zakariyah (a.s) and regarding which it was revealed to the Holy Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.s). The incident is as itself to the Lord, is called Nafsul Mutma'innah (the tranquilled soul) the satisfied one, i.e. at rest in peace and perfect harmony with the Divine Will, triumphed over every kind of passion, desire, sorrow, pain, disappointment, for the sake of any enjoy ment of this life, getting totally mindful of pleasing the Lord and none else. This is the highest stage of the spiritual progress the human soul in this world achieves, must strive for." [1] Surah at Toor: 21. 56 follows: Prophet Zakariyah (a.s) asked his Lord to teach him the names of the Five Pure Ones, to which Jibra'eel descended and taught him the five names. Whenever Prophet Zakariyah (a.s) recited the four names, Mohammad (s.a.w.s), Ali (a.s), Fatemah (a.s) and Hasan (a.s), his heart would be enlightened and his sorrow would part away, but when he took the name of Husain (a.s) he would become sorrowful and turn restless. One day he asked Allah Almighty, "My Lord! When I utter the names of these four Pure Per sonalities, my sorrow parts away, but when I take the name of Husain, I turn sorrowful and weep and wail." Then Allah, the Mighty the Sublime re vealed to him regarding Kaf, Ha, Ya, Ain, Swad. Kaf stands for Karbala, and Ha for Halakah (perdition) of the Prophet's Household, Ya for Yazeed, the oppresser and murderer of Husain (a.s), Ain for Atash (thirst), and Swad for (Sabr) Patience and forbearance of Husain. When Prophet Zakariyah heard this he was so much grieved that for three consecutive days he refused to come out of his place of worship and did not permit people to meet him, and remained grief-stricken and wept profusely. And he recited the following elegy: O Lord! Will you let the best of Creatures see the plight of his son? O Lord! Will you allow this disaster to fall upon his House-hold? O Lord! Will you let Ali and Fatemah wear the dress of grief and will they witness this calamity"? He (Prophet Zakariyah) would always say, "O Lord! Bestow upon me with a son who would be the light of my eyes in my old-age, and when you present me with a son make my love intense for him and then let me taste the grief of his loss as Your Friend Mohammad (s.a.w.s) who will mourn the death of his son. Thus Allah blessed Prophet Zakariyah (a.s) with a son Prophet Yahya (a.s) whose death was mourned by Prophet Zakariyah. Prophet Yahya (a.s)'s period of (his mother's) pregnan cy was six months similar to that of Imam Husain (a.s)." Is mahmod ahmedinajad waiting for this imam to come. It seems as if the mahdi doesn't no his religion either. These people are jokes man. I hope this guy keeps his foot right on their knecks. Bravo!

Freddy C. June 22, 2010 4:10 pm (Pacific time)

O my God! This guy is all over this newsite. Okay, Moslems and christians should throw in the towel. This guy is bad-ass.

Sigismond June 3, 2010 12:16 pm (Pacific time)

John the Baptist is all the more important that, through baptism by water, he advocated against baptism by blood: circumcision.

Natalie May 30, 2010 8:46 pm (Pacific time)

I'm sorry to hear that my "alike" wouldn't have a "backbone".

musi May 30, 2010 7:05 am (Pacific time)

ja the truth its comin out slowly and the light of islam

AGRON BELICA May 30, 2010 7:19 am (Pacific time)


muci May 30, 2010 7:07 am (Pacific time)

ja the truth comin out slowly, natalie if i was like u, i wouldn bother to argue, i would jst accept islam

AGRON BELICA May 25, 2010 10:39 am (Pacific time)

@JOE Well said, Joe

joe May 25, 2010 7:55 am (Pacific time)

This concept of Jesus not being on the cross is a islamic concept.It comes straight from the Qur'an it self.So in turn this is a muslim belief.What this book does however is clearify the meaning of many verses in the Qur'an.I believe this book is geared for open minded people.People who are open to new ideas and not held down by traditions.Truth has no side as well as facts. So if someone propose a truth or a fact it is up to those who reject it to bring their facts to reject it. I have not seen anyone bring any type of evidence rejecting this book.Yes, it is just a theroy but aren't all the material on this issue. I ask read it with an open mind then make your judgement.

AGRON BELICA May 22, 2010 12:57 pm (Pacific time)

@NATALIE: Again, thanks for the comments! I do not see how this is counter arguing what I have presented, but you are entitled to believe in what you want. God bless!

Natalie May 22, 2010 8:58 pm (Pacific time)

Kurani Kerim: Please re-read my post. It says 'Some think...and..some are sure". That obviously doesn't include me. BTW, your posting style has changed. I like it better now. Thanks.

Kurani Kerim May 22, 2010 7:47 pm (Pacific time)

You are thinking wrong Natalie. Jesus or Isa a.s was bachelor and not gay. he was the prophet of God. May ALLAH bless her.

Natalie May 22, 2010 12:28 pm (Pacific time)

A.B.: Christianity is based on Jesus' Birth, Death and Resurrection. If there were no Death and Resurrection, the existance of Christianity makes no sense. So, either it's just a play for you, and you really have no idea what this 'discovery' means for Christians, which leave you, shall we say, clueless, or you're targetting the foundation of another religion intentionally. In that case, say so, and don't whine about some stupid cartoons picking up on YOUR religion. Are you also suggesting that all your Muslim scholars are dumber than you and speak nonsense? I doubt that. In any case, I agree with Georgia- good luck with the movie. Hollywood is always looking for "fresh" ideas.

AGRON BELICA May 22, 2010 6:53 am (Pacific time)

@ NATALIE, thank you for your comments, but it is only nonsense when you can counter argue what I have presented. See, The Revival of the Prophet Yahya a the website listed below the article. Good Luck!

AGRON BELICA May 22, 2010 6:38 am (Pacific time)

@ Arberia, many thanks!

AGRON BELICA May 22, 2010 6:37 am (Pacific time)

@ Georgia, many thanks!

Natalie May 21, 2010 6:13 pm (Pacific time)

I'm just amused by all this stuff. 1-st: if you can read in English, you definitely can put together a comment in English (broken-who cares?) Not doing so is simply disrespectful. I would like to know what was so funny about this article. No offence, Tim King, you did your best. 2-nd: "false crucifixion of the son of Mary by Muslims"-this part is just funny, OK? So, now Muslims compete with Jews about who crucified Jesus? Good Lord.. Never mind that it's not worth the Nobel prize. We're still ahead of you. 3-d: "Step by step, his book carefully and plausibly resurrects the reputation of the Baptist,.."-nonsense. What he's really saying is "Christianity is based on illusion and has no real foundation". 4-th: I didn't realize that to be "an open-minded Christian" means to let everybody spit all over your face and say "so good it's raining today. We need more" 5-th I'd rather chat with DJ about Christianity than with this "self educated" scholar. At least DJ doesn't whine about being disrespected when he acts the same.

Georgia May 21, 2010 5:49 pm (Pacific time)

What an interesting read,can't wait to buy the book. Good luck Mr.Belica, I hope this will turn into a movie one day. Georgia

Ayanna May 21, 2010 3:56 pm (Pacific time)

Very interesting! this guy knows his stuff, huh? Why do Muslims believe he was beheaded then? I don't get it. I would like to see someone say something about this stuff. Thanks sexy!

AGRON BELICA May 21, 2010 10:29 am (Pacific time)


arberia May 21, 2010 9:55 am (Pacific time)

Elhamdulilah.Agron belica,te shkruash eshte pasion i brendshem,ndersa te japesh dituri per te tjeret,kjo eshte me shume se pristigj,kenaqesi dhe shperblim.Allahu u bekofte ju dhe gjithe muslimanet inshallah.

(English translation: Elhamdulilah.Agron Belica, passionate writing is internal, while providing knowledge for others, it is more than pristigj, shperblim. Allahu was fun and bless you and all Muslims inshallah.)

Kurani Kerim May 21, 2010 6:49 am (Pacific time)

It`s amazing! Jazakallah kharyan author Agron Ballica. May ALLAH bless, protect and help you, your family and all muslims that work in ALLAH`s path and right path!

Natalie May 20, 2010 7:28 pm (Pacific time)

Hmm... some think that Jesus was polygamous, some are sure that He was gay. So, why would I be even surprised to see this article here? Could you add a yawning smiley with rolling eyes to the menu? P.S. I noticed the title. Clever. Thanks for caring.

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