The birth, ministry, death, resuscitation, ascension, and second coming of Jesus are all shrouded in a mystery that has extended over a period of close upon two thousand years.
The Jews of his time, with a few exceptions, questioned the legitimacy of his birth and rejected him as an imposter. They believed that they had compassed his death upon the cross and that this made him accursed and set a seal on his falsehood. In consequence, they are still awaiting the advent of the Messiah.
The position of the orthodox church, developed over a period, came to be that Jesus was not only the son of God, in the sense of that Biblical idiom, but was God, the Son, that is to say, the second person of the trinity, and that he suffered death upon the cross to atone for the sins of mankind and thus became the only true source of human salvation. They believe that he rose up from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion and went about in his physical body and met some of his disciples and then ascended to heaven in the same physical body. They further believe that he sits on the right hand of God and will descend to earth in the latter days and judge mankind.
The Muslims believe, in accordance with the Holy Quran, that Jesus was born without a father and was a prophet in Israel. He was put upon the cross but was taken down before life became extinct and was ministered unto and resuscitated and met his disciples and thereafter departed from Judaea to carry his message to the lost tribes of Israel and eventually died at a good old age on a pleasant plateau with springs of running water (23:51). They believe in his second advent in the latter days, as prophecied by the Holy Prophet, when his function would be to wipe out evil, to restore virtue, to revive Islam and refute the fiction of the death of Jesus upon cross.
Beginning with the last decade of the nineteenth century of the Christian era, evidence has become progressively available which throws light upon several aspects of the mystery of Jesus, on the basis of which we can proceed with a certain degree of assurance to put these aspects in proper perspective. This book is the result of such an effort. We venture the hope that it might simulate the thinking of some of those seekers after truth who attach value to eternal verities and might prove helpful to them in their search.
All references, unless otherwise specified, are to the Holy Quran.
London, March 1978