This is truly an incredible story. My favorite part was this;
He devoured works questioning the existence of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Then “I said to myself: You’ve dealt with Christianity and Judaism but what about your own religion? Can you take it for granted that Muhammad existed?” He had no doubts at first, but slowly they emerged.
This reminds me of my own transformation from being an advocate for the historical Jesus to finally questioning the figure of Jesus’ historicity all together. Just as Prof. Kalisch held onto the assumptions of Islamic scholarship on historicity, I had held onto New Testament historical Jesus scholarship and the assumptions made during the middle of the Third Historical Jesus Quest. It was only after long personal deliberation that I was able to break free from these assumptions and questioned everything. What was I taking for granted? How could I verify it using historical methods? Upon examination, a lot of examination, I came to the conclusion that after looking over the evidence, hundreds of little problems emerged from under the rug that just built up into one large case against historicity. I imagine that Prof. Kalisch was going through the same process last year.
It is incredible that where a bias is involved, critical thinking stops. Only in religious scholarship (not the study of Classics, for example) are people ridiculed for doubting the historicity of a Patriarch or an origin tradition. It’s only through blood, sweat and tears by “minimalists” like Thompson, West, Davies, Van Seters, Lemche and others that has led to the abandonment of the Genesis-Judges patriarchs by the majority of scholars in the field; but man they are hard to budge when it comes to Solomon and David onward (so much so that they label revisionists as antiSemites). Historical Jesus scholars are so certain of Jesus’ historical reality that they call anybody who legitimately raises the question of historicity a “pseudoscholar.” It’s sad. It feels like we have reverted back to the Dark Ages, where critical thought was scorned.
There is absolutely no reason why scholars should be stingent in their opinions. We’re supposed to be practicing a science and there is no place for granite minds in science. especially not a field as fluid as the science of history.