4-2-2 The Quran Scriptures
The Islamic Alternative
There are flat contradictions between the Bible and the Qur'an, especially relating to the records of the crucifixion of Jesus. The Muslim usually assumes that the Qur'an is right and the Bible wrong. To say that the Bible was changed by the Jews hardly seems likely - both Old and New Testaments are full of criticisms of the Jews. The texts of both Testaments have been in the possession of both Jews and Christians, so they would have had to collaborate if the texts were indeed tampered with. For 200 years before Jesus, the Hebrew Old Testament existed in Greek translation as the Septuagint, and this would have had to be changed along with the Hebrew texts, if indeed the Old Testament was changed. Muslims can give no dates, no places, no names, responsible for the changing of the Bible texts which they assume happened. Their presupposition that the Bible must be wrong because it disproves the Qur'an drives them to make assumptions and claims without evidence. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the manuscripts of the Old Testament, dating from the 2nd century BC, reveal how the texts have lost virtually nothing throughout the generations of recopying - their correspondence with later manuscripts is exact! The Codex Alexandrinus contains the entire Septuagint and also New Testament, dating back to at least the 4th century AD; and the Codex Siniaticus contains the New Testament written in at least the 3rd century. The Codex Vaticanus dates from the 4th century. Note this is all before the times of Muhammad. And yet these three different manuscripts are all in agreement! The first two are housed in the British Museum, London; and the third in the Vatican. So it cannot be said that the text of the New Testament has been changed over at least 17 centuries! It is no argument to say that over time, a manuscript must inevitably change. On this basis, we could expect the Qur'an to have changed too. There are at least 24,000 ancient New Testament manuscripts available for analysis - far more than for the Qur'an. The next most well supported book, Homer's Iliad, has only 643 manuscripts. There are original sections of John dating back to 120 AD, and of Matthew to 65 AD. The few variant words do not affect in any way the sense of the text; and none of the variant words contradict anything written elsewhere in the New or Old Testaments. There were many many variant readings in the Qur'an text - for Muhammad was illiterate and what he said was written down by various people - these variants were only ended when Caliph Uthman ordered all other copies of the Qur'an to be destroyed apart from that complied by Zaid-ibn-Thabit (see John Gilchrist, Muhammad And The Religion Of Islam pp. 176-199). If this had been done to the Bible, one would be left wondering whether we have the original text, and whether it hadn't been tampered with. And this question must afflict every intellectually honest Muslim. Where is the evidence that God inspired Caliph Uthman to choose Zaid-ibn-Thabit’s version?
Muhammad was told: " He sent down to you the Scripture [the Qur'an]…and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel" (3.3) And Jesus was " sent the Gospel" (5.46). Islam assumes that the Torah and the Gospel were sent from God, but the Old and New Testaments that we now have are not the same thing. The books which they claim were revealed to Moses [Torah- Tawraat] and Jesus [the Gospel- Injil] just don't exist anywhere, nor is there any evidence for them ever having existed. The Qur'an deepens the difficulty by stating that these books were those in the hands of Jews and Christians at the time of Muhammad (5.44,50). Jews and Christians are told that the Law and Gospel have come to them as revelation from the Lord (5.71). The Qur'an is said to be a confirmation of what was in the Scriptures, which the Jews of Medina were reading at the time of Muhammad (2.91; 10.94). But the books they possessed at this time were the Old and New Testaments as we now know them. There is no evidence that any other books existed! If God, as Muslims claim, preserved the exact text of the Qur'an, why could He not preserve these other books as well? Why does the Qur'an tell Jews and Christians to follow the precepts of their respective Scriptures, speaking of them with great reverence - if they are so utterly corrupted? How can it be that the Qur’an calls down curses on " the people of the book" if they do not obey the Torah and Gospel (5.47)- if these documents are hopelessly corrupted? It is significant that it is later generations of Muslim apologists, not the Qur'an itself, who say that the Jews corrupted the Bible text. The passages in the Qur'an (e.g. 5.14,44) which are quoted by them, speak of the Jews of Medina twisting words and distorting the verbal recitation of the Qur'an - not of scribes corrupting the Hebrew manuscripts.
There are a number of Muslim writers from the 9th and 10 th centuries who insist that the commonly accepted Old and New Testaments were in fact what was in the hands of " the people of the book" (as the Qur'an calls Jews and Gentiles) at that time. Al-Ghazzali, one of the greatest Muslim theologians ever, lived in the 10th century and quoted the Bible without ever doubting the trustworthiness of the text. " Al-Ghazali did not accuse the Christians of altering the texts, but rather of misinterpreting them" (Wismer, The Islamic Jesus p. 165). Fakhruddin Razi, who died in 1209 " …confirming categorically that the Biblical text has not been changed…" (Ananikian, The Alteration of The Bible According To the Moslems, The Muslim World, Vol. 14 p. 77).
Muslim critics claim that because Matthew writes in the 3rd person, his Gospel couldn't have been written by him. But Allah, whom Muslims say wrote the Qur'an, writes in the same 3rd person: " He is Allah, there is no god except Him" (59.22)- and they don't similarly think that this disproves that Allah is the author. Likewise, Muslim claims about the Bible's errancy are so wildly exaggerated. Ahmed Deedat in Is The Bible God's Word? claims there are 50,000 errors in it- 40 / page! No published book would have 40 errors / page. Why such gross exaggeration? Has he ever actually listed them all…?
The Qur'an says that the Old and New Testaments were given to men as inspired by God
The texts we now use clearly contradict the Qur'an
Muslims therefore say that the texts were corrupted.
Seeing the texts for the Old and New Testaments go back well before the birth of Islam, it follows that this would have to have happened before the 1st century AD
Islam claims the original Old and New Testament Scriptures were lost long ago.
And yet the Qur'an says that they were in existence in the 1st century and at the time of Muhammad.
How can this be, if they were lost or corrupted? Where are the original, inspired texts?
If the true, inspired Old and New Testaments existed at the time of Muhammad and were read by " the people of the book" [i.e. Jews and Christians]…then this would mean that from the 1st up to at least the 7th centuries there were both false and true Old and New Testaments circulating. But there is no evidence of this. And yet there is evidence e.g. the Dead Sea Scrolls, that the early manuscripts were faithfully transcribed over the ages.
Islam considers Jesus to be a great prophet, but says he didn't die or rise from the dead. This raises at least two fundamental questions:
· Jesus’ teachings were based around the Old Testament’s predictions of His forthcoming death and resurrection. If these didn't happen, then how can He be a " great prophet" ? The whole of His message was falsified if He neither died nor resurrected. He promised life to His followers conditional upon His own resurrection. " Because I live, ye shall live also" (Jn. 14:19).
· If we are to accept Jesus as a prophet, surely His words must be written down somewhere for this claim to be true? If the New Testament is so hopelessly corrupt, as Islam claims, then where is the true record of His words?
If Muslims accept that the words of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament are true, then they really have to accept the rest of the Testament. It would be very difficult to prove that the four Gospels are inspired but the rest of the New Testament isn't. The words of Jesus state in crystal clarity what happened: " I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; I have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev. 1:18). These words teach that His resurrection is the basis of the Hope He offers to mankind. And Paul was inspired to write in perfect harmony with this: " Now is Christ risen from the dead…For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
And perhaps most piercingly, Paul’s inspired words: " If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins….if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (1 Cor. 15:17-19). These words are so relevant to Islam. If Jesus Christ is merely a prophet whose words are helpful just for " this life" , then " we are of all men most miserable" . But the example of the disciples and early Christians shows that they were not in this state at all. They were willing to suffer the loss of all things because they felt impelled by the resurrection’s reality to preach this, with no prospect of personal gain but only loss. They rejoiced at their sufferings (Acts 4:18-20; 5:41), and turned the world upside down by their witness (Acts 17:6). Extra-Biblical history confirms that the Roman world was indeed overrun by the Christian preaching of the resurrected Jesus. Why did they do this? Theories of stolen bodies and swooning would not have motivated hundreds of men like Paul to make the dramatic changes they did, or to motivate the world-changing evangelism which the resurrection of Jesus inspired. The Bible must be the unaltered word of God for these things to all be true.