Book Review

BOOK REVIEW (Naeem Osman Memon) THE CRUCIFIXION BY AN EYEWITNESS INDO AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY, CHICAGO REPRODUCED BY: SAYED ABDUL HAYEE, LAHORE, PAKISTAN PRINTED BY: NAFEES PRINTERS 37 The Crucifiixion by an Eyewitness, an eyewitness’s account of the ·crucifixion. of Jesus Christ is claimed to have been based upon an ancient document discovered by a member of an Abyssinian Mercantile Company at Alexandria in Egypt. The original publishers of this book claim that the document, written by a personal friend of Jesus Christ some seven years after his crucifixion, was found hidden in a library of an ancient house formerly occupied by Grecian friars. Originally written in Latin, the letter begins with the details of Jesus’s birth in Nazareth; his flight to Egypt with his parents, assisted and protected secretly by members of the Essene Order; his initiation to the Essene Order at a monastry at Jutha and his return to the land of his domicile. It then gives a lengthy story of Jesus’s visit to Jerusalem where as a child he engaged in a dialogue with the learned men of Jerusalem; his sudden disappearence from the holy city and eventual reunion with his mother at Sopherim on the fourth day. The author of this ancient letter claimed to have been found at Alexandria then proceeds to give a detailed story of how Christ was subjected to the cross; how fate saved him from death; how Joseph and Nicodemus managed to revive him from the swoon. which had been mistaken for death and how the Essene brotherhood assisted him to escape from Jerusalem. And finally, how, after six months of his deliverance from the cross, Jesus died as a result of the injuries suffered during his ordeal on the cross and was buried at a secret place along the shores of the Dead Sea. While a casual reader of this account might think that this particular version of Jesus’s life follows the accounts of the four Gospels quite closely, a close scrutiny of the document may yet prove 38 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS that the en tire purpose of the whole exercise is to modify the synoptic version of Christ’s life in relation to such events or incidents as are either found suspicious or unintelligible. In this version of events for instance, the writer is at pains to stress that Christ did not die on the cross since the prospects of his return from death is a myth which an intelligent mind refuses to accept. He also attempts to give a rational explanation to the mythical story of the opening of the graves and such other supernatural events alleged to have heen experienced on the death of Christ. A reasonable attempt has also been made to explain as to how the story of Christ’s ascension to heaven came to be believed. One does not deny that such a version of Jesus’s life, ministry and death may well suit the purposes of those organizations which claim that Christ neither died on the cross nor ascended to heaven in his physical body. Yet, in all fairness, it would be naive to accept the evidence of this alleged ‘eye witness’ as genuine since this allegedly ‘ancient document’ is replete with fraudulent evidences which one cannot easily ignore. For instance, this letter is claimed to have been written some seven years after the crucifiixion of Christ and if this claim were true, then one would be at a loss to understand as to how the author of this letter happened to have any knowledge of the existance of the four Gospels since modern research has proved that neither of these appeared before, at the least, 66 AD while the letter-is pretended to have been written in around 40 AD. One also needs to consider as to why the letter was originally written in Latin and not in either Aramaic or Hebrew or even Greek. Latin .. one must stress; did not replace Greek as a language of the Roman bishopric until around the later part of the second century. These evidences however are not the full extent of the suspicious nature of this letter. Not only is there a large variety of other suspicious evidence available in the main body of the alleged letter, one finds that the Gctman translator’s closing remarks on this letter give one enough rea’son to reject the authenticity of this entire publication.

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