A Fictitious-Jesus Salawat

Yiacatechutli (Aztec god)

When a Muslim uses the name of Muhammad, they tag on the expression Alayhis salaam (“peace be upon him”).  In written English, “Peace be upon him” is abbreviated  “PBUH”.  “PBUH” is thus a mandatory tagged-on honorific salutation called a “salwat“.  PBUH is also used for the other great prophets recognized by Islam (Jesus, Moses, Jacob, Noah, Adam, Solomon, David, Jonah, etc…).

There has been lots of recent blogging discussions about whether Jesus was real or a myth.  Atheists are divided on this issue.  But even the non-mythicist atheists are tip-toeing when they speak of Jesus in order to let their fellow mythicists Atheists know that they realize that Jesus may have been totally or even largely a fictitious invention.  But such caveats are often verbose and break the flow of the posts.

So to make it easy for atheists to acknowledge possible validity of mythicist’s arguments while keeping their writing fluid, I suggest we create a salawat to acknowledge that Jesus was possibly not real.

Please give us suggestions for a salawat in the comments.  For example, let me start with one:

  • Jesus (ihweritfp) = “if he was ever real in the first place”.  Nah, you see, that is too long.

I will add your good suggestions to this list.  Thanks.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

22 responses to “A Fictitious-Jesus Salawat

  1. Ian

    AGPH – As the gospels portray him (my fave) with variations Jesus AMkPH, AMtPH, ALPH, AJPH, APPH (Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, Paul), and ACPH (church).

    APIG – As portrayed in the gospels (not so good if the aim is not to insult).

    MOE – Mythical or embelished (vocalises nicely “Jesus-Moe did this, Jesus-Moe did that).

    ROF – Real or fictitious (problem is that’s a false dichotomy).

  2. APIG could become APIB As portrayed in the Bible or APINT As portrayed in the New Testament, the latter having the bonus of being a beer reference. 😉

  3. Ian

    Yes, I do like that formulation where you can vary *where* the Jesus you’re talking about comes from. I find myself writing things like “Matthew’s Jesus did such and such”. It would be neat to say “Jesus APIMt”.

    APINT is great! And the ‘APIG’, of course you can replace with ‘APIB’, as you say, which solves the gratuitous offense problem.

    Does that cover your requirement though, Sabio?

  4. @ Ian & Mike: Those are fantastic. Do you know anyone using stuff like this? Have I started a new thing, or, as is usually the case, I am decades or centuries late?

    BTW, over at Luke’s site Hermes added these to my comment (instead of coming here):

    Storybook Jesus (SBJ)?

    Ambiguous Bible Christ (ABC)?

    Super Wrath/Love Jesus (SWLJ)/(WLJ)?

    Portrayed Christ (PC)? / As Portrayed (AP)?

    Christ Revealed as a Profitable Prophet (CRAAPP)?

    Kung-foo gripless Christ (KFC)?

    Is the last one too soon? Maybe next millennium? 🙂

  5. Ed

    IEHE … “if ever he existed”

    KIABS … “knowing it’s all BS”

    NMHM … “never met him myself”

    IHMD … “I have my doubts”

    INKM … “I never knew the man” This is my favorite because Peter, the apostle, used it first when he denied knowing Jesus after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemanie. Thus this salawat has biblical clout and authenticity. Further it has a good sound and ring to it… say it out loud “INKM”… like ink-him or ink-mmmm. :-} this was fun. Thanks for the exercise.

  6. Hermes

    A phonetic pun based on Ed’s first one;

    IEHE ==> IFFY


    JAB = Jesus, As Bastardized (Note: Bastard Christ?)

  7. I’ve never used the abbreviations, but I’ve said things similar to “Jesus as portrayed in the Bible.”

  8. CRL

    IHEE-if he ever existed
    ATL-according to legend
    ACB-as Christians believe
    APBC- as portrayed by the church (not to be confused with AP calculus and physics courses by the same abbreviation)
    IYBI-if you believe it

  9. Marcus Borg would be helpful here. he distinguishes between “Jesus” the peasant revolutionary subversive sage and “Christ” which is the manufactured result of what the Church has made Jesus into.

    Borg gets really tricky and does what most atheist, i believe, would find abhorrent; namely that both should be honored and studied. it doesn’t matter if Christ was ever real or not, the belief is real for the adherents of that brand of theology.

  10. @ CRL, Mike, Ed and Ian:
    Great suggestions. In my next post I will organize these into categories, and offer polls for people to vote on their favorite Salawat.

    @ Ghost:
    I don’t think atheist would “abhor” study (maybe the “honor” part) — atheist have studied mythologized religious figure for centuries. And they have looked from both perspectives. Curious why you chose “abhor”. And btw, do you have any suggestions for the list? You could generate a few that are a little less pejorative than some of those above.

  11. “abhor” was mainly meant for the honor part, and yes, it was a generalization.

    i have no suggestions for the list because the (WARNING WARNING! another generalization here!) most believers would have no idea which category they are using, just as they largely have no idea what incarnational model or what atonement model they have.. let alone the name of their theology and how it differs from denomination to denomination. Borg states that Jesus, the historical figure, is now enmeshed with Christ the myth and never the twain shall part. and largely, i agree with it.

    also, as a Christian, i think these questions are interesting, but largely unnecessary. i don’t feel the historical model offers too much to my faith. it helps hone and re-frame somethings, but there is a play between Jesus, my particular tradition, and my particular confused theology that is on-going and largely inseparable. on my best days i can tell you which multiple-self is at the wheel, but not often. and with my multiple-self, i have the added problem of the multiple-theologies that come along with my multiple-selves.

  12. Ian

    Marcus Borg would be helpful here. he distinguishes between “Jesus” the peasant revolutionary subversive sage and “Christ” which is the manufactured result of what the Church has made Jesus into.

    That’s a pretty common distinction. Of course defining Jesus as a revolutionary subversive sage kind of assumes one conclusion on the historical Jesus, a conclusion that is very weak.

    But the idea is right – there is a big difference between the mythical figure of “Christ” in early (and later Christianity) and the human being “Jesus”, whoever he was.

    Using these names in this way (which, incidentally isn’t a particularly good idea – nowhere in the NT is there such an easy distinction) has recently seen its zenith in Pullman’s new polemic novel “The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ”. Which is well worth a read, I think, even if you are a Christian.

  13. How about;

    Historical [sic] Jesus

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  14. I’ve never used the abbreviations, but I’ve said things similar to “Jesus as portrayed in the Bible.”

    I used that one a lot, too. I don’t have any brilliant ideas to offer for a sala….what?

    Never heard of that word before. Every time I start think that “I know” English, someone proves me wrong again.

  15. Ian

    @Lorena, you’re safe on that one. Salawat is an arabic syllabic abbreviation.

  16. Hermes

    Boz, his criticism is on Robert M. Price’s work, not mythicism as a whole. Regardless of the speaker, there are some substantial problems that give creedence to the idea that the NT was not literal when it talks about the events that are attributed to Jesus the Christ;

    * The gap in time between the events and the record of the events.

    * No 3rd party eye witnesses recorded events that were monumental.

    * No 1st hand records of the events, monumental or not.

    * The fantastic situations described.

    This is even before the tendency of writers to mimic previous stories is accounted for (both in general and specifically in the region and in Jewish and Roman traditions), or the discrepancies between different accounts.

    With that in mind, and keeping with Sabio’s theme, I offer this acronym;

    MGM = Mythical God Man

  17. Pseudonym

    Hermes, “mythicism” as McGrath is using the term is the thesis that there was no historical figure on whom the stories of Jesus are based. It does NOT refer to the thesis that while Jesus was a real person, the stories about him were highly embellished in the retelling and that other likely non-authentic stories crept into the narratives.

    The kind of mythicism that McGrath is referring to does not need a Salawat, because it’s not worth our serious attention.

  18. Until I started blogging on Christianity, I did not realize half of the controversies on Jesus’ story. As Pseudonym, Boz and Ian point out, there are varying degrees to possible the possible mythicizing:
    Price et. al. go all the way,it seems. Some acknowledge a skeleton of real existence of a man but not a cult figure. Some acknowledge a cult figure. And so on. Then as Ian says, we have Jesus as portrayed by (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John [and Paul]). And even those have been edited, redacted etc… Heck, we even have the extra-biblical versions that are captured in hymns and holiday stories and images. Ian rightly points this out in his first comment saying Real or Fictitious is a false dichotomy.

    So I guess a Salawat would depend on your perspective. In light of that, a Salawats that is open to all these variants may be:
    MGM (Mythical God-Man) –> Hermes
    MOE (mythical or embellished) –> Ian
    AC (albeit construed)–> Sabio

    Any more that captures all the above?

  19. Andrew

    [Happy Canada Day!]

    Most of my salawats seemed to suffer from the ‘perspective’ issue:

    Jesus ROM can be taken as:
    – real or myth,
    – read: only myth (maybe ROMy?)
    – read: our messiah (maybe ROMe?)
    – revolutionary, oratorical man
    – really obscure message

    or Jesus BFF (maybe the kids will use this one…):
    – Bible Follower Friendly
    – [within] Bible’s Fictitious Frame (wBFF maybe?)

    So instead I found myself slipping into degenerate cheap shots (I don’t think I should spell these out…):

    Salvation Hero In Theory
    Protagonist In Salvation Story

    and because I only want to tease at being truly vulgar…

    Fantastic character under [k]onsideration

  20. Ed

    All of these salawats are great. I think I am going to have to vote for Andrew’s … any of his. But maybe the last two: Protagonist In Salvation Story and Fantastic Character Under Konsideration… Thanks Andrew…. :-}

  21. i kinda like MGM and MOE. i just finished up John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany and found this quote that made me think of what i was trying to say in my last comment:

    “Watch out for people who call themselves religious; make sure you know what they mean-make sure they know what they mean!” (p. 572)

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