To the Editor:
Andleeb Ahmed wrote a thoughtful letter recently (April 12) on several topics relating to Muslims and Christians. Jesus is not only important to Christians, but also to Islam, as he is the next most important prophet after Muhammad.
Thoughts, comments and beliefs of Muslims about Jesus are quite appropriate. Ahmed wrote that Jesus “… was saved from the cross and continued on his journey and fulfilled his mission given to him by God.” Ahmed went on to state a personal belief that, after surviving the cross, Jesus fled Jerusalem and ended up in Kashmir, where he is buried.
That’s pretty shocking stuff to any Christian who believes that Jesus died on the cross and then was raised on the third day. Is there any historical evidence – either way – outside of the four Biblical Gospels?
The Apostle Paul, a converted persecutor of Christians, writes of Jesus’ death on the cross in 1 Corinthians 15. This letter was transcribed about 20 years after the crucifixion (about 53 A.D.) and is one of the earliest writings in the New Testament. In the early ’90s, the Jewish historian Josephus mentioned the death of Jesus in Book XVIII of his 20-volume work, “Jewish Antiquities.” In 115, the Roman historian Tacitus also mentioned the death of Jesus in his work, Annals (15: 44). Tacitus wrote, “The founder of the sect, one Christus by name, had been executed by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; ….”
Three independent sources. One uncontested conclusion: Jesus was crucified.