Nothing in the press suggested that Dr. Karen L. King's crazy theories about Jesus should be suppressed or that she was a Catholicophobe. But the press was full of righteous indignation that Mr. Bacile's movie about Muhammad should be suppressed and that he was an Islamophobe. Why should an attack against one religion based upon speculation be good and protected, and the attack against another religion based upon historical reports be bad and squelched? The only seeming way to explain these apparent inconsistencies is that some men and women are moved by the spirit of Christ and others moved by the spirit of the anti-Christ.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The founders of two of the great religions on this earth, Jesus and Muhammad, have recently been in the news as subjects of great controversy.
In mid-September, Christians were treated to the historical and theological hogwash of Professor Karen L. King, who holds herself out as an objective Church historian at Harvard Divinity School.
Dr. King claimed that a small fragment of supposed 4th century papyrus (it has not been dated by carbon dating) approximately one and a half inches by three inches inches--about the size of your typical business card--which includes the words in ancient Sahidic Coptic text, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife . . . .'" is "authentic." She announced that this new find provides a narrative about Jesus that is at odds with the four canonical Gospels, but which has equal validity and right of hearing.
Rather tendentiously, Dr. King has called this gospel-on-a-business-card-sized-papyrus the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife." It seems rather grandiose to promote this business-card sized scrap of papyrus to the dignity of a "gospel." It would be sort of like calling Ogden Nash's poem "Fleas" a novel along the lines of Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Here's the entirety of this so-called "gospel."
not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe]
The disciples said to Jesus,
deny. Mary is worthy of it
Jesus said to them, "My wife
she will be able to be my disciple
Let wicked people swell up
As for me, I dwell with her in order to
The press, always eager for a chance to debunk the Catholic Church, went wild, and publicized the "fact" of Jesus' supposed wife in the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" as if "authentic," and therefore true. So we were treated to such burlesque (and ultimately blasphemous) headlines referring to "Jesus' Wife" or to "Mrs. Jesus." Christians suffered all sorts of speculation by non-Christians on what this would mean for orthodox Christianity, for the Church's teachings on Jesus, on the celibate and all-male priesthood, on marriage. Yada, yada, yada.
Dr. King exuded with undisguised glee the view that this small scrap of questionable text is "part of" the "vociferous debates about sexuality and marriage" in the early Church. This is a debate, clearly, the gnostiphile Professor wants re-opened since it accords with her heterodox beliefs.
Dr. King has, in a word, an agenda against the Catholic Church. She is a Catholicophobe. As Ariel Sabar in an article in the Smithsonian magazine described it, Dr. King's "scholarship has been a kind of sustained critique of what she calls the 'master story' of Christianity," i.e., what Catholics call "the Faith." In short, Dr. King suffers from Catholicophobia.
The bias of Dr. King went largely unmentioned in the press. Unmentioned, for example, was the fact that Doctor King is a member of the Jesus Seminar, a sort of rag-tag group of self-anointed, self-ordained would-be illuminati who vote on what parts of the Gospels are historically true by voting with red, pink, gray, and black beads. I'd be curious to know how many parts of the authentic canonical Gospels the gnostic Gospel loving Dr. King black-balled as historically untrue.
Among other rather questionable beliefs, the Jesus Seminar has taken positions that Jesus was a mere mortal man, was not virginally conceived, had no miracle-working power, his death was not understood to be a substitutionary death for sinners by his disciples (i.e., Jesus was not the redeemer of mankind), and his body did not rise again from the dead.
In short, Dr. King is an enemy of faith in Jesus as the Catholic Church proposes it, and, indeed, as most Christian churches and ecclesial bodies outside the Catholic Church propose it.
Dr. King also displays a marked animus against the Catholic Church's teaching and disciplines regarding the all-male priesthood, celibacy, and marriage. In her efforts to undermine orthodox Christianity and its teachings (such as marriage and the all-male priesthood) and disciplines (such as priestly celibacy), Dr. King has devoted her talents and her life to translating and promoting a number of the heretical Gnostic writings that were for historical and theological reasons rejected by the Church, including the so-called Gospel of Mary Magdala, the so-called Gospel of Judas, and the Secret Revelation of John. She promotes them as alternative and authentic Christianities, refusing to see them as "heretical" or even "gnostic."
Now, in the same month Dr. King was announcing her rather questionable views and the press eagerly promoting them though clearly anti-Catholic, a Coptic Christian with a checkered past, Sam Bacile, gained notoriety for his production of the movie "Innocence of Muslims," a short 14-minute clip of which can be found on YouTube. From most any perspective, substantive or technical or artistic, the movie comes close to buffoonery.
There were all sorts of howls on the part of the press to suppress this amateurish film. It was labeled a clear case of Islamophobia. And the responsibility for the violence, destruction of property, and killings which followed in its wake in the Muslim world were placed at the feet of poor Mr. Bacile, and none at the feet of Muslims. The film was even condemned by numerous leaders of the Muslim world in their various speeches in the United Nations. Our leadership, including our Secretary of State and our President, was apparently even ready to excuse the murder of its ambassador based upon the existence of this fourth-rate film.
Now, I said that the film from most any perspective, substantive or technical or artistic, is close to buffoonery. But this is not necessarily true from the perspective of history, at least not if we rely on Muslim sources about Muhammad.
In the short trailer of Bacile's film, Muhammad is portrayed as an illegitimate child, a plausible conclusion to explain the historical inconsistencies about the differences in ages between Muhammad and his paternal uncle and foster-brother, Hamza ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib. There is historical evidence that Hamza was four years older than Muhammad, which is impossible if Muhammad was fathered by his father Abdullah who died a few months after his marriage to Muhammad's mother Amina. (In an effort to address this problem, some Muslim scholars have implausibly suggested that Muhammad's gestational period was the unlikely long period of four years. Another possibility, more in line with the ordinary, is that Amina was impregnated by someone other than her husband Abdullah some years after his death.)
Bacile's movie discloses the strange method used by Muhammad and his first wife Khadijah to test the authenticity of Muhammad's first supposed revelations, namely by having Muhammad sit on her thighs and exposing her private parts, apparently to scare off evil spirits.
The movie also shows Muhammad's the conversation with the donkey Ya'fur, perhaps the least trustworthy historically of the movie's claims, but which is based in any event upon a pious Islamic legend.
It describes Muhammad's suicidal thoughts and doubts about his own prophethood that followed upon his most early revelations.
The movie is frank about Muhammad's sex life. It covers, for example, Muhammad's desire for his adopted son Zaid's wife Zaina and the convenient Qur'anic revelations (Al-Azhab; 33:4-5, 37, 50) that cancelled the legality of adoption so that any incestuous implications would be nullified and which allowed him to marry her after Zaid divorced her. It addresses those parts of the Qur'an (Al-Ahzab, 33:50) which gave Muhammad the special privilege of almost untrammeled access to numerous categories of women, including his legal wives, those who presented themselves to him, and those whom his right hand possessed (i.e., women slaves obtained by war). It also depicts Muhammad getting caught by one of his wives, Hafsa, while having sex with one of her slaves, Mariya the Copt. The movie also addresses the controversial marriage of the fifty-something Muhammad to A'isha, the six-year-old daughter of his close companion and eventual successor and first caliph, Abu Bakr.
Perhaps stretching things a bit, the movie suggests that Muhammad was homosexual, a claim tenuously based upon some historical reports (ahadith) of some strange behavior by Muhammad that may be otherwise difficult to explain, including giving men offensive hugs, kissing men's naked torsos, and sucking young boys' tongues.
Finally, the movie addresses Muhammad's involvement with violence. It addresses Muhammad's role in the murder of the old poetess 'Asma bint Marwan, who was quartered--that is, split into four parts--by having her four limbs tied to four camels. It also shows Muhammad's involvement in the torture and murder of Kinana, the leader of the Jewish town Khaibar, and Muhammad's subsequent marriage to Kinana's wife Safiya.
Though not particularly flattering to Muhammad, the depiction of Muhammad in Bacile's movie is reasonably supported by the Qur'an, those reports about Muhammad's life (ahadith) considered authentic by Muslims such as Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari, and some of the earliest Muslim histories of Muhammad such as those authored by Ibn Isham and at-Tabari.
To sum it all up, Christian tradition says that Jesus never had a wife, and there is no historical evidence that he did. There was no "Mrs. Jesus." But Muslim tradition says that Muhammad had multiple wives and some slaves with whom he had sex. There were many "Mesdames Muhammad," along with women whom his right hand possessed.
Here's the rub. Dr. King's theory which clearly is calculated to attack Catholic Christianity is based not on any history, but on speculation. Yet the press promotes her, hales her, and heaps encomia upon her. She is treated as enlightened.
Mr. Bacile's position, whose poorly produced film on Muhammad is also calculated to attack Islam, is based upon Muslim tradition and history, and not speculation. Yet the same press condemns him, seeks to squelch him, and heaps curses upon him. He is treated like a pariah.
Nothing in the press suggested that Dr. King's crazy theories should be suppressed or that she was a Catholicophobe. But the press was full of righteous indignation in supporting the view that Mr. Bacile's movie should be suppressed and that he was an Islamophobe.
Why should an attack against one religion based upon speculation be good and protected, and the attack against another religion based upon that religion's own historical reports be bad and squelched?
Why then should a money bounty be placed on the head of Mr. Bacile, and a wreath of scholarship on Dr. King?
Why should an unsupported attack on the Christ of Catholicism based upon questionable bases result in no killing, no property damage, and reasoned discussion, yet an attack on the Muhammad of Islam based upon Islam's own sources result in the killing of innocents, the destruction of property, and irrational violence?
In my mind, the only way to explain these apparent inconsistencies is that some are moved by the spirit of Christ and others moved by the spirit of the anti-Christ.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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