Another Lesson in Biblical Hyperbole
Muslim apologist Osama Abdallah recently has published a polemic regarding the Messianic Isaiah 53. Osama's main article on this topic has already been addressed here Our comments will be interspersed between his as we proceed.
Jesus was never "disfigured beyond human recognition" in the New Testament as the Old Testament predicted! This article was taken from my main Answering Isaiah 53 article, which is located at: www.answering-christianity.com/isaiah_53.htm.
Let us look at the following Noble Verse from the Noble Quran (The Muslims Holy Scripture): "That they rejected Faith; That they uttered against Mary A grave false charge; That they said (in boast): 'We killed Christ Jesus The son of Mary, The Messenger of Allah.' But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjunction to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up Unto Himself; and Allah Is Exalted in Power, Wise. And there is none of the people of the book (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (Jesus) Before his death; And on the Day of Judgment He (Jesus) will be a witness Against them. (The Noble Quran, 4:156-159)"
Now compare the Noble Verses to Isaiah 52:13 "...he will be raised and lifted up....". Notice that Isaiah 52:13 did not say "....he will be RESURRECTED and lifted up...." Not even once, did the Old Testament predict for the foretold Servant (Jesus) to be raised to GOD Almighty after death. There absolutely no mention of any sort of resurrection in the Bible's Old Testament what so ever.
On the contrary, we have references in Psalm 16:10 and Isaiah 53:8-10 to the Messiah's resurrection. We will refer readers once again to the link given atop this page for more thorough treatments of these passages, particularly the latter. It is therefore not essential whether or not the "…he will be raised and lifted up…." is referring to a resurrection.
Also, "...he will be raised and lifted up...." seems to suggest that Jesus will be picked up right from the cross, or saved right from the cross by Allah Almighty. "raised and lifted" seems to suggest that Jesus will not die, nor get crucified, but rather be raised and lifted by GOD Almighty to Heavens.
It just seems odd to see both words "raised" and "lifted", and not just one of them, in Isaiah 52:13, and yet think that they agree with the fabricated crucifixion story about Jesus in the NT. Why did GOD Almighty choose to say "raised" and "lifted" in Isaiah 52:13?
First of all, Abdallah's claim that the phrase in question "seems to suggest that Jesus will be picked up right from the cross, or saved right from the cross by Allah Almighty" is not justified other than by his preconceived ideas that this passage agrees with the Islamic portrait of Jesus. We could just as easily say that "raised" is referring to Christ's resurrection from the dead and "lifted" in this case to His ascension. It is important to continue reading into the 53rd chapter before any reasonable conclusions can be made. However, in this particular instance, the context indicates that it may refer to something completely different from Abdallah's claim as well as our hypothetical claim:
"See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him-his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand." (Isaiah 52:13-15)
While it is possible, given Isaiah 53, particularly verses 8-10, that the "raised" in this case refers to a resurrection, it seems less exegetically risky for these three verses to be interpreted so that "raised and lifted up and highly exalted" refers to the impact that the sufferer would have on nations and kings (see verse 15). Needless to say, from the time of Christ's earthly ministry, to the apostles' inaugural evangelism at Pentecost, up to today, Jesus Christ has been exalted by countless millions of individuals from hundreds of different nations, including many kings.
The very next verse also refutes the current New Testament: It appears that Isaiah 52:14 "Just as there were many who were appalled at him - his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-" further proves Islam's claims about Jesus peace be upon him never got crucified on the cross, because if Jesus was so badly disfigured beyond any human imagination, then this means his physical appearance (face and body) afterwards might have been very confusing to the people. In other words, people might not be able to recognize him, HENCE, THIS MIGHT CAUSE FOR ANOTHER PERSON TO HAVE BEEN PUT ON THE CROSS INSTEAD OF HIM (JESUS).
First of all, we should note that the conclusion that the disfigurement of the sufferer being literally the most of any man in history may be unwarranted, given the Bible writers' use of hyperbole. Either way, however, Abdallah's conclusions that people would not have recognized Jesus and/or that another person could have been placed on the cross in Christ's stead are fallacious. Much, and probably most, of the disfigurement that Christ would have suffered would have occurred on the cross. Even if His features had been distorted to the point to where He could have no longer been recognized, His executors and the attending audience (many of which were hostile to Jesus) obviously would not have lost track of which cross to which Christ was nailed! It would have been impossible for Jesus to have escaped and a substitute to have taken his place without notice. Plus, even if Jesus could have escaped "mid-crucifixion," He would have still been in severe need of medical attention and could not have convinced His disciples that He had undergone a glorious resurrection. Furthermore, for Jesus to have escaped, appeared to His disciples, and claimed that He was resurrected would make Him a deceiver, an option obviously not open to Muslims like Abdallah.
According to what we have in the New Testament, Jesus was never "disfigured.....beyond human likeness"! Jesus in the New Testament of today was NEVER DISFIGURED! And certainly, the crucifixion does not cause for the person, NOR DID IT CAUSE FOR JESUS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, to be disfigured beyond any human recognition!
One can only wonder where Abdallah came to his conclusions regarding the crucifixion. Crucifixion is perhaps the most brutal execution ever implemented. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was plaited with a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29), was struck on the head by mockers with a staff (verse 30), and was pierced in the side with a centurion's spear(John 19:34).
Medical doctor Alexander Metherell details a medical perspective on the information regarding Christ's crucifixion. According to Metherell, Jesus was suffering from a condition known as hematidrosis (associated with severe psychological distress, resulting in blood-tinged sweat-see Luke 22:44). This would have caused Christ's skin to be very fragile for the flogging that was to come. Metherell, regarding the flogging that took place prior to crucifixions, comments: "Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. They usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows. The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was jut terrible." This probably resulted in hypovolemic shock (or low blood-volume) which is supported by the fact that Jesus required the help of the Roman soldier Simon the Cyrene to carry His cross (Matthew 27:32). Plus, this condition makes one dehydrated, prompting Jesus to say, "I am thirsty," (John 19:28) which resulted in a sip of vinegar being offered to Him (John 19:29).
When Jesus was placed on the cross, spikes of lengths between five and seven inches would be driven through the wrists which would have impinged on a major nerve (median nerve) which would have been extremely painful. According to Metherell, the word "excruciating" is derived from this crucifixion experience! A similar pain would have been experienced from the impingement of a nerve caused by a spike being driven through the feet. The arms would have been stretched several inches as a result of this execution which would have resulted in the shoulders becoming dislocated.
When the Roman soldier pierced Jesus in the side, blood and water flowed from it (John 19:34). This confirms that Jesus died by cardiac arrest. The spear apparently pierced the pericardial and pleural sacs (watery sacs surrounding the heart, and lung, respectively). It was the accumulated fluid in these areas that was the water that flowed from the side of Jesus when He was pierced. This fluid-accumulation would have been the result of the hypovolemic shock coming from the flogging leading to a sustained, rapid heart rate contributing to heart failure.[Strobel, Lee. "The Case for Christ." Pp. 194-199]
Needless to say, given the data on crucifixion, it is more than obvious that Jesus would have suffered a great deal of disfigurement, both externally and internally. It might be added that the crown of thorns and the striking by the staff that Jesus suffered from His mockers would have probably resulted in a very bloody face, but facial distortion beyond recognition, as Abdallah originally suggested, probably would not have occurred.
According to Islam, Jesus peace be upon him might have been put on the cross and might have got "pierced", but he never died. According to Islam, he was raised to Allah Almighty and saved from death. We Muslims believe that Prophet Jesus peace be upon him will come back again to earth and fight the army of Satan and defeat it, and then the Judgment Day will come. According to Islam, every person (including Jesus) must taste death (The Noble Quran, 44:56).
Which ever possibility is correct, whether it was another person got crucified, or Jesus himself was put on the cross and never got crucified, the claim of Islam is still supported by the Bible in either case as we clearly saw above in both Isaiah 52:13 and 52:14.
Please visit the article Did Jesus get crucified according to Islam? The point is that Chapter Isaiah 53 agrees a lot more with Islam's claims than with the current Christianity's claims, and it is confirmed in Isaiah 52:13.
There are several other Noble Verses in the Noble Quran that talk about Jesus such as the following: "So peace is upon me [Jesus] the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life. (The Noble Quran, 19:33)" To see detailed explanation of this Noble Verse and about Jesus peace be upon him in Islam, please visit the following links: Does the Noble Quran in Verse 19:33 confirm Jesus' crucifixion? Ask me any question section. See responses to many questions about Jesus in Islam.
Conclusion: As has been demonstrated in this response as well as the one linked to at the top of the page, Abdallah's assertions regarding Isaiah 53 and the disfigurement accompanying crucifixion are clearly incorrect.