Specifically, I would like to know why one question was closed and another is open.

Can the new testament be a valid historical record on the real life of Jesus?

https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/7949/can-the-quran-be-a-valid-historical-record-on-the-real-life-of-jesus [closed] (I asked this question)

Perhaps the four who closed would like to weigh in. I did not even get any helpful comments.

I intentionally tried to keep the same format as the first question in an effort to gain beneficial answers like the first one did.

This one seems similar and I would think is a better fit on Judaism.SE but apparently was migrated from there (according to comments).

Now the first one is closed. ???? I would really like clarification on why these are being closed.


4 Answers 4


I didn't vote to close it. However, the accepted answer for the Gospels was "no", part of the logic being that they were written a generation or more after the fact. I realize there was some vocal disagreement, but this was the accepted answer.

Given that, the answer to a work written 600 years later, that could have nothing to rely on any closer than those selfsame Gospels, would clearly be "no" as well, would it not? There doesn't seem to be much point in asking.

As you mention, now that you pointed it out, the community apparently decided to go back and close the first one too, for consistency's sake. Happy now? :-)

Any question that asks us to take a critical examination of the religous beliefs of a rather large amount of humanity (including SE participants), is a rhetorical minefield. Answers have to be really really careful, or the entire question will devolve into unhelpful arguing. Sadly, I don't think the original text of my answer was anywhere near up to that standard, so that's precisely what happened. (My bad there. I've since improved it I think, but its probably far too late now).

I'd like to see an answer here from an actual closer, but I think I can make a rough guess that this was about worries of both questions emitting more heat than light.

Ideally we should be able to dispassionately examine questions like this and come up with good answers. However, as long as we have to rely on messy humans to do the job for us, there are going to be problems around emotional topics.

  • But what is an accepted answer worth? Should it not be equally obvious that I would not have accepted that answer considering I made my own answer with the opposite conclusion? Should it even matter? The second question is not a duplicate and I could have very well been someone else asking it and been unaware of the first question. I do see the reasoning but I think it is a poor reason to close and not offer constructive criticism.
    – user1973
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:19
  • Seeing your edit after the rule, I am tending to agree with the community and such questions should be migrated if possible and applicable. Perhaps also questions concerning the real history on certain figures like Jesus and Mohammed should also be migrated. I can speak for C.SE that the mods and high rep guys are very good at handling 'explosive' questions like these.
    – user1973
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 7:30
  • I'm surprised to see the "accepted answer" being used as an argument for the validity of a question. Did you miss the irony of a question about the validity of the NT being asked by a Muslium with a track record of trying to discredit it? How does him accepting an answer in the negative make a good basis to argue anything about the nature of the question?
    – Caleb
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 10:38

I must say that I don't know why one question would be closed over the other one. I think T.E.D. is right that given the length of time between the two time periods that might be a reason for it not being a good source, but I don't think it is really a good reason for closing the question.

  • I agree that might be the logic, and I also agree that it is not a very good reason for closing.
    – user1973
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:21

I'm not really a regular on History.SE, so I can't know why one question might be closed and another left open. However, it seems to me that the historicity of the Qur'an and the New Testament when it pertains to the life of Jesus have opposite problems:

  1. The Qur'an is clearly not a useful source of historical information on Jesus because it's at best third-hand information, written hundreds of years after the events, with clear biases that provides no truly independent information. So the question really can only be answered in the negative. It's not going to be constructive to ask, since any answer will likely be uninteresting to historians or attract controversy.

  2. The New Testament are secondary sources (with respect to Jesus), written within 100 years or so of the events, that provide independent information. However, they have clear biases. Writing a comprehensive answer would require a book (or even several) to pull apart all the issues. On top of that, the specific question was poorly researched and cited one (very biased) website. It just doesn't come across as an honest question. (And if you have followed the OP at all, you have a sense of deja vu on that point.)

So I suspect that the site policy for discussing the historicity of ancient texts can be summed up as: case-by-case.


As one of the users who voted to close your question and didn't do it for the other one, my answer is: I've just paid more attention to your question than to the other one. I see no big difference between them, except for those few centuries between Gospels and Quran.

  • 1
    ok. Do you have any constructive criticism to get the question reopened? Why is it not constructive in your opinion?
    – user1973
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:20
  • Because as the Quran was written centuries after Christ life, to treat is as a valid historical record it would need to provide any valuable source that could be checked. Unfortunately the only source provided in Quran are words of God. And a historian cannot simply ask God for confirmation. On the other hand, somebody will answer that of course if God said that, it has to be true. This way we have religious dilemma here, not historical one. And it could easily result in a debate, while still not providing any valuable answer. Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:28
  • It seems your comment here is a perfectly acceptable answer, which might not be so obvious to someone else. Perhaps these hypothetical answers you are worried about saying "because God ..." should be your target. You are basically saying that you have a problem with the question because someone might answer without historical basis, however, you just proved that someone can answer with historical basis.
    – user1973
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:42
  • I can name at least one user that would give me -1 for such answer. ;) Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:52
  • Well it ain't me. Loosing a little rep for a good answer is worth it to me. It's only -2 per down vote. Not that bad. One up is worth five down!
    – user1973
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:55
  • It's a bit late anyways. I promise to give it a try with the next question. Also remember that I wasn't the only one. I'm just the only one who read your question here and decided to explain my point of view. Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 18:59
  • Thank you for posting I appreciate the response. You could vote to reopen them if you now think they are constructive to the site.
    – user1973
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 23:50
  • But you've got an answer which you say is perfectly acceptable. :) If you rearrange question so we can learn something from the answers, I'll be the first to vote for reopening and give it +1. But now, even if I vote for that, what will it change? Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 15:43
  • I did vote to reopen. But still, think about rearranging it. Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 15:45

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