Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Quran vs. the Bible: A Comparison of Textual Integrity

We've all seen it, and we've seen it all too often.  The topic of discussion might be Muhammad, Islamic theology, or the Quran.  When evidence that challenges the Muslim position is proffered, a regular response is: "But your Bible is corrupt...".  For examples of Muslims committing the tu quoque fallacy, you can click here, here, here, or here.  (All of these occurred on this blog in the last 10 days).

The Muslims who do this, though logically fallacious, do ultimately have a good point.  The New Testament and the Quran are the holy scriptures of Christianity and Islam, and as such they merit some degree of comparison. This article compares the basics of textual integrity.  I will attempt to be as unbiased in my presentation as possible before concluding.  (+ or - denotes years from either Muhammad's death or Jesus' death).  NOTE: Detailed discussions concerning canonicity and inspiration are out of the scope of this article.

Inception of scripture:
Quran: -23 years (Recorded during Muhammad's life)
NT: +2 years (Creed from 1 Cor 15:3-8)

Number of Divinely Sanctioned Forms:
Quran: 7 ahruf (Sahih Bukhari 3.601)
NT: 1 form

Earliest Records of Corruption:
Quran: +0 (Some verses eaten by a goat; Ibn Majah, Book of Nikah, p.39)
+12 (Umar records the missing verses; Bukhari 8.82.816 & 817) 
NT: Uncertain, but late

State-Controlled Recension (revision) of All Manuscripts:
Quran: +20 (Uthman)
NT: Never

State-Controlled Destruction of All Manuscripts:
Quran: +20 (Uthman)
NT: Never

Importance of Textual Preservation for the Religion's Truth Claims:
Quran: Extreme importance (Muhammad's one sign for his truth)
NT: Peripheral importance (Jesus' main sign was his resurrection)

Discussion:
The New Testament had a period of about 3 centuries when it was not openly proliferating throughout the Roman empire.  This was because of edicts issued by Roman authorities which persecuted Christians and/or called for the destruction of the Bible (e.g. the Diocletian Edict).  During this time, a core of books was well known throughout Christendom while the rest of the books were better known in various regions.  

In addition to this, no one person controlled the manuscripts.  They were in the possession of individuals and churches who revered these scriptures and saw to their safe-keeping.  Later, when Constantine's Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in 313 AD, people began openly assembling to officially discuss and agree upon the finer points of the Christian faith.  Thus the Council of Nicaea in 325, and later the Council of Hippo in 393 (which officially canonized the books of the NT).

Though at first glance this seems to be a mark against New Testament integrity, one thing is certain: there is extremely low possibility for textually undetectable corruption in the New Testament.  Here are the reasons:

  1. If any errors crept into a manuscript being copied in, for example, Asia Minor, a manuscript from Rome would not contain those errors. Comparing the two (along with other manuscripts) would rectify the mistakes.
  2. Since no one person controlled all the manuscripts, it would be impossible to uniformly corrupt all the manuscripts.
  3. Since there was no uniform revision of the all the manuscripts, surviving manuscripts can help us piece together the original text, not a revised version of that text.
  4. There was no universal destruction of all the texts.  Though many attempted this, such as Diocletian, surviving manuscripts and historical accounts are proof that these attempts were unsuccessful.
The Quran, on the other hand, suffers severely on all four above counts:
  1. It was controlled by one person, the khalifa (as evidenced by Uthman's ability to recall all the manuscripts).  
  2. It was uniformly revised by Uthman.  
  3. During this time, if any error crept into the manuscript which would serve as the official text, this error would only be detectable by comparing it to previous manuscripts.  
  4. Unfortunately, all the previous manuscripts were put to the flames.

Thus, we can conclude the following:
  1. It is virtually impossible for the New Testament to have been uniformly corrupted in a textually undetectable manner.
  2. It is extremely easy for the Quran to have been uniformly corrupted in a textually undetectable manner.
Of course, this does not necessitate that the Quran was corrupt, it just means that it was extremely prone to textually undetectable corruption.  

But when historical data indicates missing verses as early as the death of Muhammad and the reign of Umar, the argument that the Quran has been corrupted becomes extremely plausible. 
 
When we add to this that Muhammad's chosen teachers of the Quran disagreed with Uthman's final product, the argument that the Quran has been corrupted becomes extremely likely.  

When topped off by quotations from early Muslims which say that "much of the Quran has been lost", the argument that the Quran has been corrupted becomes incontrovertible.

The coup de grace occurs when we realize that the Quran's textual integrity is central to the truth of Islam.  Muhammad offered the Quran as his most miraculous sign to vindicate his truth.  If the Quran is false about its protection from Allah (15:9), then Islam is false.  This is in contrast to the NT, which does not rely on its textual integrity as a sign for us.

Conclusion:
The history of the New Testament allows its text to be investigated and verified. The Quran cannot allow us to come any closer to the original text than the Uthmanic Revised Standard Version 20 years removed from Muhammad. Any errors which found their way into the URSV would be permanent and uncorrectable. And, unfortunately, historical accounts from early Islam tell us such errors exist.  

When pitting the New Testament against the Quran, at least in terms of textual integrity, there is no possible way to vindicate the Quran.

35 comments:

Matthew said...

Importance of Textual Preservation for the Religion's Truth Claims:
Quran: Extreme importance (Muhammad's one sign for his truth)


We have to keep in mind that this is a crucial point in islamic theology.

Since Uthman revised the Quran, we would expect muslims to do everything in their power to keep the Quran that way.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

It's probably also worth mentioning that first - second century Christianity applied a system of apostolic succession and transmission, which operated individually from different locations. These successors were disciples of the apostles who in term selected their own disciples, to whom they passed on the information, the traditions, the history, etc.

There are also strong indications that these successors not only applied the New Testament text but also memorized it with additional material alongside the text. I have spent more than eight months on this study, it is absolutely mind blowing and fascinating.

What gets to you first when you have done such a vast study and begin to grasp the picture, is how reliable the New Testament account is.

This was the very tool that debunked the effectiveness of the variaty of Gnostic movements and their ideas and variaty texts; the poor guys could not present a chain of succession, and when they attempted that, the names were unheard of.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

It is the very freedom of individual apostolic locations dealing with the same text and the same information and preserving it through 3 centuries, that gives such a striking credibility to the New Testament text.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

Matthew wrote:

Since Uthman revised the Quran, we would expect muslims to do everything in their power to keep the Quran that way.

Elijah writes:

Unfortunately it is the pre-Uthmanic text we have a greater interest in.

If Muslims could present the wholeness of all those texts and we could compare them all alongside the Uthmanic revision I would say that we would be able to conclude whether the Qur'an has been perfectly preserved.

Then of course comes the question of fabrication, in other words the Qur'an and source criticism.

It is funny even though Muslim were able to prove the perfect preservation of their text, which they cannot, because preserved it is not, they still have to deal with the matter of fabrication.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

And of course if the New Testament was fabricated as most atheists claim, it has to have occurred within the first 10 years of Christianity, probably under the supervision of the earliest followers of Jesus Christ, and then Muslim who adhere to the Qur'an have a third problem to deal with; were the apostles not victorious, was the Injeel not valid in Muhammad's life time?

Matthew said...

Unfortunately it is the pre-Uthmanic text we have a greater interest in.

And unfortunately, if there were pre-Uthmanic manuscripts which would have differed from the version Uthman liked best, muslims would have burned it.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

However, there are in existence texts that present the pre-Uthmanic text; but the point is we do not possess the fullness of these text, and there were a number of variant Qur'ans prior to the revised standard version, and the texts we possess do contain variants.

DAN12345 said...

Its like playing chess with a blind man,we are shouting out check mate but the blind man doesnt believe it and cant see it because he is blind,even though we can see the pieces and it is check mate,the muslim will act like a blind man.How can they still deny the corruption of thier book.Uthman revising the whole quran,hadiths saying whole suras have gone,how can they still say with hand on heart that it is unchanged it is unbelievable!

Islam2009 said...

Nabeel..

Why do you protest so vigourouly when i call you dishonest when that is what you so clearly are?

I refute all your nonsense on TWO other threads.... So what do you do??

GO AND START UP A THIRD ONE WITH THE SAME RUBBISH!!

LOL!

Im sorry Nabeel, but how spineless is that?

Aren’t you supposed to be a ‘professor’?

Hers a copy/paste of the bits you cant answer...

ON UTHMANS BURNING:

<< 1) What did Uthman Burn?? READ THAT SAME HADITH. He burned any MSS that was not in the DIALECT of Qurash to united Muslims on ONE DIALECT.

Now are the other non-Qurashi manuscripts (like Ibn Masuuds) more the word of God than the Qurashi version??? No, because the hadith that your buddy Nabeel posted PROVES from the prophet himself that ALL seven dialects are equally from God.

2) Now Do we KNOW what type of variants uthman destroyed??? YES! From palempset manuscripts (also courtesy of your Friend Nabeel! He’s so helpful you know... sometimes i wonder whose side he’s on!), that PROVE there were merely paraphrases of the same verse- just as the hadith said they were!

[ hence the fact that none of you have the guts to translate the Fogg variant, because you KNOW how minor it is ]

3) Did all the other companions agree with uthman on this?? YES!...according to David’s and Nabeels favourte source of Ibn Dawood!

4) As Myself and JeeIJoo point out... You seriously want to believe that an eyewitness disciple of Muhammad stabbed him in the back? Then give me a single reason as to why i should not belive that the gospel authors did the same to Jesus. Dont the gospels themselves say they already did many times before?? >>


ON THE NT:

In theory “scripture cannot be broken” and Jesus’ words “will never pass away”.

In practice, a passage in the NT is the “Word of God” for
centuries.....

But Then....

Someone accidently stumbles over an earlier manuscript that doesn’t contain that passage, and a brand new, shiny, “hot-off –the-press”, 28th Edition of the “Word of God” is published with the previous “Word of God” bit taken out the main text and dumped in a footnote at the bottom of the page.

Then of course Christians start arguing with each other about whether that new, updated “Word Of God” version, or the old “Word of God” version is the actual TRUE “Word of God”, whilst simultaneously trying to lie to all Muslim on the “answering Muslim” blog about how the NT text is so well defined and preserved.

Now since you all have such a “personal relationship” with God and the Holy Spirit “dwells inside you”, could you do me a favour and ask him whether he “breathed” out Mark 16:9-20 on to some author all those years ago?

Now how about some answers this time, rather than running away to start up a FOURTH thread with the same nonsense.


Best Regards.

Moi said...

Islam2009... you can shout all the way to the Moon... but can't you see that ALL your questions don't make sense?

1) one major scientific proof of the authenticity of an historical source is to ask if it embarrasses the main points that it’s proponents want to defend… that’s why we can trust in the NT and not in the Qur’an… that’s why we can trust in those who, continuing to defend their (Jesus/Muhammad) words and deeds, tried to stab Jesus/Muhammad…
2) the “Word of God” for Christians is primarily Jesus, not the Holy Bible;
3) the inerrancy and perpetual non passage of the “word of God” refers to the original texts of the Holy Bible…

Best wishes…

Matthew said...

No, because the hadith that your buddy Nabeel posted PROVES from the prophet himself that ALL seven dialects are equally from God.

Which is almost more laughable than the surah eaten by a goat.

Matthew said...

Now since you all have such a “personal relationship” with God and the Holy Spirit “dwells inside you”, could you do me a favour and ask him whether he “breathed” out Mark 16:9-20 on to some author all those years ago?

No. Can we stay on topic now?

Matthew said...

Let's assume for a second that all those hadiths which speak of lost verses are fabricated.

The muslims who collected them had obviously no idea of that. They would not have collected them in that case.

So then we end up with a group of muslims collecting hadiths in which surahs are eaten by a goat.

Didn't they care?

Matthew said...

By the way, does anyone know how this has developed:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/199901/koran

El-Cid said...

Hogan said: "There are also strong indications that these successors not only applied the New Testament text but also memorized it with additional material alongside the text."

Yep. This is often overlooked. 1st Century culture was an oral-tradition culture. Jews in the 1st century were well known to have vast portions of the Old Testament memorized. This same tradition existed in the Hellenized-Judaic culture with the Septuagint.

El-Cid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
El-Cid said...

Islam2009 said: "I refute all your nonsense on TWO other threads.... So what do you do??

GO AND START UP A THIRD ONE WITH THE SAME RUBBISH!! LOL! Im sorry Nabeel, but how spineless is that? Aren’t you supposed to be a ‘professor’? Hers a copy/past of the bits you cant answer..."

You are doing an extremely effective job of demonstrating your arrogance and rudeness. Nabeel is not at your beck and call, and you are not the ONLY person here. If you want a blog that follows your whims, and takes the direction you choose, start your own.

In the mean time, have enough common sense and manners to realize that everyone else here is not your personal butler at your call to answer EVERY question you pose.

Try to remember your manners and show some courtesy for others please. I know it is hard, but there are other people besides you here. Thank you.

Matthew said...

Let me share with you what I call to be the "apocryphal dilemma".

From Islam2009:
Yet every single “variant” you point to in the Quran regarding different Sura counts comes merely from apocryphal 10th century **REPORTS** that you have failed miserably to historically authenticate.

The dilemma is this:

(1) Apocryphal reports should be rejected in general or accepted in general, doing otherwise would be question-begging.
(2) Apocryphal sources report large variances in the Quran.
(3) The Quran claims to have no large variances.
(4) Therefore, someone can't believe in the Quran if one accepts apocryphal sources without begging the question.
(5) Apocryphal sources report that Jesus spoke in the cradle.
(6) The Quran reports that Jesus spoke in the cradle.
(7) Therefore, someone can't reasonably believe in the Quran if one rejects apocryphal sources without begging the question.
(8) Therefore, one can only believe in the Quran when begging the question.

Islam2009 said...

MOI

<<< 1) one major scientific proof of the authenticity of an historical source is to ask if it embarrasses the main points that it’s proponents want to defend… that’s why we can trust in the NT and not in the Qur’an… that’s why we can trust in those who, continuing to defend their (Jesus/Muhammad) words and deeds, tried to stab Jesus/Muhammad… >>


Oh that’s all it takes is it?!

Well in that case the Quran is authentic because it “embarrasses” Mohammed by criticizing him for frowning at a blind man, and telling him to ask for forgiveness.

Now if Mohammed made up the Quran, then why would he put that in about himself?

I guess the Quran must be true then!

Secondly, out of interest, can you tell me of any “embarrassing” instances about Jesus in the Gospel of John? Im just curious here.


<< 2) the “Word of God” for Christians is primarily Jesus, not the Holy Bible;>>>

LOL! This argument always makes me laugh no matter how many times i here it from Christians.

And how do you know about the life of Jesus???

Is it not from the “word of God”?

So the latter is the very basis of the former, so that doesnt really work does it?

Everything you know about what Jesus said and did comes from manuscripts that are in places so corrupted to the extent that you don’t know for sure exactly what he said and did. Hence the disagreement amongst you that has ALWAYS existed to this very day!


<<<3) the inerrancy and perpetual non passage of the “word of God” refers to the original texts of the Holy Bible… >>

You mean the “original texts” that you don’t have?

Regards

Islam2009 said...

MATTHEW

<<< No, because the hadith that your buddy Nabeel posted PROVES from the prophet himself that ALL seven dialects are equally from God.

Which is almost more laughable than the surah eaten by a goat. >>

So any argument you cant refute is called ‘laughable’?

Now that’s hilarious! LOL!

<< Now since you all have such a “personal relationship” with God and the Holy Spirit “dwells inside you”, could you do me a favour and ask him whether he “breathed” out Mark 16:9-20 on to some author all those years ago?

No. Can we stay on topic now? >>


No? Not a very good missionary then are we? Or maybe you did ask but got no reply?

And that is the very essence of the topic.

<< Let's assume for a second that all those hadiths which speak of lost verses are fabricated.

The Muslims who collected them had obviously no idea of that. They would not have collected them in that case.

So then we end up with a group of Muslims collecting hadiths in which surahs are eaten by a goat.

Didn't they care? >>

1) Just because a hadith is REPORTED doesnt make it true. When a Newspaper REPORTS a statement from someone that doesn’t mean they agree with what that person is saying. They are merely REPORTING it- with the isnad- so you can make up your own mind.

2) Most of the hadith about cancelled verses are in fact true. Read what myself and JeeIjoo said. They are examples of abrogation, and we have no trouble with God cancelling his own words.

<< By the way, does anyone know how this has developed:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/199901/koran >>>

Yes i do. And its really bad news im afraid (for you).

Basiaclly, Mathew, it went nowhere.

Which is why even 10 years later you still haven’t heard what you were so hoping to hear.

The reason? Because something you’ll never hear in your missionary circles is that just a few weeks after that publication, Dr Puin himself wrote a letter to the Yemeni Head of antiquities clarifying his view that the Sana MSS did not contain any corruptions that affect the Quran itself, but only contain variants of differences in spelling, othorgraphy (including new types of), readings (Quriaat/harf) and basic scribal errors.

The Arabic letter was published in the Yemini times, and translated in the journal impact international, and partly also in Azami’s 2003 book on the Quran.

Now Dr Puin certainly does have views on the Quran that are opposed to Islamic teaching, just as Bart Erhman has views of the Bible that are opposed Christian teaching. The differences is that Bart Erhman can support his views directly from the MSS, whilst Puin cannot without depending heavily on his own wild assumptions that are not supported by even many other non-Muslim scholars. Thats why almost none of his ‘shocking’ statements in the Atlantic article are backed up in his academic writings. Because he knows if he said what he said in any journal, he would get laughed at during the peer review.


<< 1) Apocryphal reports should be rejected in general or accepted in general, doing otherwise would be question-begging.
(2) Apocryphal sources report large variances in the Quran.
(3) The Quran claims to have no large variances.
(4) Therefore, someone can't believe in the Quran if one accepts apocryphal sources without begging the question.
(5) Apocryphal sources report that Jesus spoke in the cradle.
(6) The Quran reports that Jesus spoke in the cradle.
(7) Therefore, someone can't reasonably believe in the Quran if one rejects apocryphal sources without begging the question.
(8) Therefore, one can only believe in the Quran when begging the question. >>

You’re way off here.

As stated, the reason we don’t accept SOME of Ibn Dawoods reports in that 1) that are weak in narration, 2) Ibn Dawood HIMSELF sates that all companions agreed with Uthamns burning. 3) The statements contradict the observable evidence.

You really expect people to believe a 10th century REPORT over a 7th century MANUCRIPT?

What kind of retarded historian would ever do that?

If there was a 3rd century REPORT that Mark was originally missing a few chapters, but you had several 1st century MANUSCRIPTS of Mark that all contained it, what would you believe?

Regards

Matthew said...

No? Not a very good missionary then are we? Or maybe you did ask but got no reply?

Maybe you should learn to read.

As stated, the reason we don’t accept SOME of Ibn Dawoods reports in that 1) that are weak in narration, 2) Ibn Dawood HIMSELF sates that all companions agreed with Uthamns burning. 3) The statements contradict the observable evidence.

You might not notice it, but what you are saying only supports my argument against islam.

Matthew said...

Because he knows if he said what he said in any journal, he would get laughed at during the peer review.

It's not really different with Ehrman.

Nazam said...

How is it not really different with Ehrman? Show us how?

Ehrman supports his view from New Testament mauscripts but Puin in his acadamic writtings does not back up his views from Quranic manuscripts.

Moi said...

Islam2009 said: «Well in that case the Quran is authentic because it “embarrasses” Mohammed by criticizing him for frowning at a blind man, and telling him to ask for forgiveness»... That's precisely my case... I thought, really thought (specially being yourself a noble logician…) that my point had been presented in a clear and distinct way, unable to be misunderstood by anyone… but you have proven me wrong… Allow mw, please, to make another effort to reach your powerful intellect…
Let’s start with a simple question: what's embarrassing to muslim standards in saying that Muhammad "frowned at a blind man and ordering him to ask for forgiveness" (by the way… I really thought you would be able to read this text in its context… and then chose, among, the several possible translation of the word you chose to translate by “frowned”, the more correct… but, once again, you have proven me wrong…) when himself ordered the murderer of hundred of people? Had more than 10 wifes (according to Ali Dashti their names were: Khadija; Sawda; Ayesha; Omm Salama; Hafsa; Zainab (of Jahsh); Juwariya; Omm Habiba; Safia; Maymuna; Fatima; Hend; Asma; Zainab; Habla; another Asma; Maria; Rayhana; Omm Sharik; another Maymuna; another Zainab; Khawla; Duba… did I forgot anyone? I swear that if I did, it was unintentionally)…
More: while in the NT the founders of the communities, where the texts were produced, are presented as doing embarrassing things to the cause of Jesus (not their own), in the example you present it’s Muhammad who does so to himself…

Then Islam2009, distorting my statements (I argued that the apostles made embarrassing things to Jesus’ cause…) asked: «can you tell me of any “embarrassing” instances about Jesus in the Gospel of John?»… but let’s try to follow your road: have you read the Gospel according to John in Greek? Did you found anything that the disciples did that was embarrassing to Jesus’ cause in it (that was my argumentation)? Or that Jesus himself did to his cause? I’m just as curious as you are here, and I don’t want that my answer may be an obstacle to your path to show us all your point of view… The most precise parallel that can be made with the disciples regarding Jesus, was what you said, in a previous thread, that you muslims don’t want to believe that, and I’ll be quoting you, an eyewitness disciple of Muhammad stabbed him in the back? in order to prove that one shouldn’t believe in the tradition that says so… As a matter of fact, that’s precisely why we should believe in it…

Then Islam2009 said: «This argument always makes me laugh no matter how many times i here it from Christians»… You may laugh all the time you want… I suppose laughing it’s great to one’s health… But that doesn’t make it false… Does it? I also laugh a lot when I read the Qur’an… for instance when it says:

that Lot is amoung the righteous 29:26-27;
that ants spoke to Salomon (and do not forget that Allah said he didn’t spoke in poetry… surah 36:69);
that wise muslims must believe in what fools believe 2:13;
that Jesus was not crucified (even Shabir Ally disagreed with this statement… but then… you know this very well… );
that the golden calf mooed; 7:148
and so on, and so on…

He also asked: «And how do you know about the life of Jesus???>… By the NT texts and other testimonies that were recorded by early Christians… the fact that early Christian traditions that emerged in Asia portrait Jesus’ life in the same way the NT texts that at the same time were circulating, and being quoted in church father texts, in other coordinates of the roman empire (and not in that one) is one example we can trust each others… that’s the “multiple source” argument… but that I know you want to avoid, since only Muhammad can attest the veracity of his revelation, while in the NT we have perhaps tens of independent sources… Who would be more credible in a court? The case presented by only one witness (Muhammad/Uthman) or the case presented by tens of independent witnesses (NT writers)?

Then Islam2009 continued: «Everything you know about what Jesus said and did comes from manuscripts that are in places so corrupted to the extent that you don’t know for sure exactly what he said and did». Are you sure about that? I know that you know the truth. Your main objective is not to tell the truth, but convince muslims readers that they can be confident in what they’ve been listening all their life… You know better than that… Bu I’ll ignore that fact and I’ll say to you that your words are a complete falsity… The central core of the life, teachings and deeds of Jesus was never, ever, put in question by any of the textual variants we found in the NT manuscripts… More: I bet you that you can’t provide any textual evidence that consubstantiates your position…

Yes, I noticed that you, to provide an escape road to yourself, wrote «in places»… but that’s precisely the point: the biggest textual variation (I wouldn’t call corruption… that would be what Uthman did to the Qur’ans he destroyed…) you can find doesn’t make an itchy in the NT core message… but then, once again, can you give factual evidence of your words? And please, show some intellectual integrity and know-how, and don’t quote Ehrman’s text… he has already been refuted several times to make me want to do it again… show me evidences that the NT central message has been corrupted…

Finally, Islam2009 asked, in reference to my assertion that «the inerrancy and perpetual non passage of the “word of God” refers to the original texts of the Holy Bible»: «You mean the “original texts” that you don’t have?»… Once again this question only works if it’s intended to be a psychological defence mechanism to make other muslims at ease with the falsities that they have been hearing since they are born… But, once again, I’ll answer your question asking to other muslims readers my forgiveness if the truth may hurt your feelings… I love muslims, but, as a consequence of that love, I can’t bare to see you all, my dear brothers (yes, we all have the same father, God(Allah…), being conducted astray by false teachers who, themselves, have been misled by other false teachers (and so on) since the Qur’an was corrupted by Uthman… yes, that’s absolutely true that we don’t have the “original texts”, if by “original texts” you’re referring to the “original material support of that texts”… but if I wanted to say that (and I know very well that you, Islam2009, having been my disciple for so many years… my dear friend… my face became covered in tears when I recognized your typical words and expressions…) I would have said “original manuscripts”…

I didn’t do it (but then… how can you trust you have the original Qur’an since you don’t have its original text/manuscript… You have to put your faith in a person, Uthman, that made an horrendous holocaust to the manuscripts that didn’t defend his points of view… not Muhammad’s or Allah’s point of view… that could have never happen since no one, in Christian history, ever possessed at one time all the NT manuscripts that were available at one time… except the first NT author…)…

Once again: there’s no evidence at all that can make any credible scholar or impartial investigator to doubt (comparing the manuscripts that we have in totally different languages, and from totally different locations, and from total different time… and all these factors mixes together… to whom we must add the extra-canonical testimonies that I made previously reference in the early church documents that made quotes from the early NT texts…) that the texts we have today aren’t, as much as we can say (and we may admit that both of us may have doubts about this statement in reference to the NT – me if it’s true, you if it isn’t true… but could I say such things? – … but we can’t have the same doubts about the Qur’an… it’s your own sources that testify this fact…), similar to the original NT texts… and if, one day, we’ll be able to find the NT texts (if they haven’t been destroyed by some muslim zealot who didn’t want other muslims to find that their prophet was everything except a prophet…) we’ll find precisely this… but if, hypothetically, any NT original text can be proven to be different to our present day Bible, our Christian love with the truth and the Word of God (we don’t hide our ancient manuscripts as happened recently with an ancient Qur’an manuscript that was bought… and then simply disappeared… we cherish them…) would made us rectify our believes… and if it would say (what is a metaphysical impossibility…) that we should believe that Muhammad was a prophet, or that Jesus wasn’t God, or that God isn’t Love, or that we shouldn’t believe call God as Father, we would do so… and I say this because I would liken to believe that, since Allah, according to the Qur’an/Muhammad/Uthman, can abrogate his pseudo-revelation, if one they he’ll tell you muslims that Muhammad never existed (even muslims scholars are in disagree with this…); that God is Trinity; that Jesus his God; that the Qur’an you muslims have today is a forgery, you muslims would start to believe in such things… But then I may be wrong (not that the only and true God can call you muslims to the truth, but that, even so, you would want to see the truth…)

Another day I spoke with Abdul Hadiz and he said that in our days, as never happened before, there’re more and more muslims leaving their faith, and that in some major cities in a well-known muslim country there’re more than 70% of people who don’t believe that the Qur’an is the true word of God… They simply are to afraid to say so publicly and openly but he was certain that that day will soon be a reality… and do you know why? Because more, and more, people are getting education in that country, and that he believed that there’s a proportional correlation with one’s education with the incapacity to believe in what his said in the Qur’na… more: as more people begin to know better about Muhammad’s life it that country (and I suppose this is true as well in others…) more and more are realizing that he can’t be a man from God… Almost everything in his life is in total contrast with what one knows for sure in our conscience to be the most valuable things in the world: respect to others, the love to others (not only those in our wolf’s pack…); the will to know the truth; the will to leave in peace (and not achieving it by the forced conversion of others); and so on, and so on…

I know that you will ignore the most important aspects of this post, and onlie take notice of what you want other muslims to see… I know you very, very well, my friend… (even when someone told me that more than one people write in this blog under our pseudonymous… but that I don’t want to believe… being you the Alfa wolf for so long…)... that’s ok… I forgive you… you don’t do as such only because you want, but because you need to in order to keep your mental attitude towards islam… that feels my heart with sorrow, but is understandable… your actins are upon you…

Regards…

jeeijoe said...

Refutation of Nabeel

I have heard in the past that you used to be a Qadiani/Ahmadi. If so, then your self-description of being an “Ex-Muslim” is erroneous because Qadianis/Ahmadis are not Muslims, just as Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses are not deemed by mainstream Christians as Christians. Both Orthodox Muslims (as well as Shias) regard the Qadianis/Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. But even if you were really an ‘ex-Muslim’, then there is no point emphasising that since being an ‘ex-Muslim’ does not mean that what you now have to say about the Quran is correct. In fact, as I go through your comparison I will attempt to show how uninformed you are on both the Quran and the New Testament.

[I wrote the above before the title of the post was changed]

Now to your claims: “We've all seen it, and we've seen it all too often. The topic of discussion might be Muhammad, Islamic theology, or the Quran. When evidence that challenges the Muslim position is proffered, a regular response is: "But your Bible is corrupt...". For examples of Muslims committing the tu quoque fallacy, you can click here, here, here, or here. (All of these occurred on this blog in the last 10 days).”

In order to expose the alleged Muslim tu quoque fallacy, you have committed some logical blunders of your own. Underlying your comment is the unsubstantiated presumption that you supposedly presented ‘evidence’ in the past which allegedly ‘challenged’ Muslim position. Where is this so-called ‘evidence’? I do, however, recall you and your buddy presenting questionable claims regarding the authenticity of the Quranic text. Islam2009 correctly responded to your exaggerations and disinformation and, thereafter, also brought to light the problems when it comes to the New Testament text. Secondly, the tu quoque fallacy still does not do anything to render false what Muslims, or anyone else, have to say about the Biblical text. Inconsistency still leaves it possible for one of the two statements to be correct.

“The Muslims who do this, though logically fallacious, do ultimately have a good point. The New Testament and the Quran are the holy scriptures of Christianity and Islam, and as such they merit some degree of comparison. This article compares the basics of textual integrity. I will attempt to be as unbiased in my presentation as possible before concluding. (+ or - denotes years from either Muhammad's death or Jesus' death). NOTE: Detailed discussions concerning canonicity and inspiration are out of the scope of this article.”

Let’s not kid ourselves here. You are not writing as an ‘unbiased’ writer, nor am I. You are a polemicist, with an axe to grind, who in this instance desires to ‘show’ that the NT is well preserved whereas the Quran is not. There is no problem if you acknowledge this from the start. But just don’t try to act ‘smart’ by insisting you are attempting to be ‘as unbiased as possible’ in your presentation. You are not.

I will attempt to argue next that your ‘comparison’ is often misleading containing errors of fact as well.

“Inception of scripture:
Quran: -23 years (Recorded during Muhammad's life)
NT: +2 years (Creed from 1 Cor 15:3-8)”


To simply put it as “NT +2 years” is highly misleading. That is because the NT is a collection of 27 books, all composed at different times, with scholars often disagreeing when they were composed. Below I am using the most widely accepted dates (Mark=60-70 AD; Matthew=75-85 AD; Luke=75-85 AD; John=80-95 AD):

A better way of making the comparison would be as follows:

Quran = composed in Muhammed’s life
New Testament =
a) gospels = (composed anywhere from 30-65 years AFTER Jesus);
b) Acts = (anywhere between 75-85 AD, that is some 40-55 years AFTER Jesus and some10-20 years AFTER Paul – widely believed to have died 64 AD);
c) Pauline epistles = i) undoubtedly in Paul’s lifetime = Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philipians, Philemon, 1 Thessalonians; ii) authorship widely disputed = 2 Thessalonians if authentic then in Paul’s lifetime if inauthentic then late first century (10-30 years AFTER Paul); Colossians = in Paul’s lifetime if authentic otherwise 10-20 years AFTER Paul; Ephesians = in Paul’s lifetime if authentic else 15-25 years AFTER Paul; Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus) = in Paul’s lifetime if authentic otherwise 10-45 years AFTER Paul
d) The rest = Hebrews: 65 AD or 85 AD (scholars divided, though most favour somewhere around the late 80’s; 1 Peter: in Peter’s lifetime if authentic otherwise 10-30 years AFTER Peter; 2 Peter: in Peter’s lifetime if authentic otherwise 15-70 years AFTER Peter; James: in James’ lifetime if authentic otherwise 10-40 years AFTER James; Jude: in Jude’s lifetime if authentic otherwise 25-40 years AFTER Jude; Revelation: mostly placed 90’s (no idea who the author ‘John’ was, when he lived and died).

The above quick snapshot gives you an idea how complex the situation is when it comes to the NT documents. You cannot assign them one single date as we are dealing with multiple documents, with the dates often in dispute among scholars.

Therefore, it is just disingenuous to present the “inception of scripture” in the overly simplistic “NT: +2 years (Creed from 1 Cor 15:3-8)” terms.

Right here Nabeel’s disinformation is exposed.

Moving on:

“Number of Divinely Sanctioned Forms:
Quran: 7 ahruf (Sahih Bukhari 3.601)
NT: 1 form”


That is fine. The important question for textual question is not how many forms are divinely sanctions, but the variations which crept in the text at the textual transmission stage.

“Earliest Records of Corruption:
Quran: +0 (Some verses eaten by a goat; Ibn Majah, Book of Nikah, p.39)
+12 (Umar records the missing verses; Bukhari 8.82.816 & 817)
NT: Uncertain, but late”


This is completely false. the goat narration’s authenticity is disputed. But even if it is authentic, it is not an example of ‘textual corruption’ because a goat eating a Quranic manuscript is not proof that it ate the only Quran in existence or ate a portion which was unknown to everyone else at the time (and we actually know the suckling and stoning verses from other narrations!). Secondly, more importantly, the verses of suckling and stoning which the goat is alleged to have ate were the abrogated verses. Because these revelations were abrogated by that time and no longer formed a part of the Quran, it is absolutely not necessary for us to know about them. This abrogation of recital is something that was ordered by Muhammed through God’s command. This is not the same as textual corruption which arises when a text is being copied and recopied by scribes. And please let me know which Bukhari hadith you have in mind since I cannot locate it through your reference system. Name the book, volume and the hadith number.

Secondly, you have to be exceptionally ignorant concerning NT textual criticism to say “NT: Uncertain, but late.” NT textual critics widely agree that it was in the EARLIEST period of textual transmission in which the VAST MAJORITY of textual variations came into being. It is precisely the EARLIEST period of transmission which is considered to be the most fluid and problematic. Let me cite a few textual critics:

Alexander Souter wrote:

“Indeed, the Gospel text was subjected to such free handling in the earliest period that it would not be at all amiss to argue that the extra material found in such early writers as Justin and Clement of Alexandria was all to be found in some copy or other of the fourfold Gospel.”


[Alexander Souter, The Text And Canon Of The New Testament (Studies in Theology), 1954, 2nd Revised Edition, C. S. C. Williams (Rev.), Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., p. 154]


Souter also mentions the "much evangelical material in the works of Justin, which finds no place in our Gospels . . . " (ibid).


Modern scholars agree that the texts of the gospels were not rigidly fixed in the earliest period and they were changed and altered. The eminent British textual critic, D. C. Parker, writes:

“. . . there is no doubt that just as the traditions reached a higher degree of variation in the first generation, so the written tradition was at its most fluid in the first century of its existence. “

[D. C. Parker, The living text of the Gospels, 1997, Cambridge University Press, p. 200]

Parker also states:

“Although the texts of the Gospels continued to develop, it seems that the most dramatic change took place in the first 150 years of their transmission. . . . The consequence is that many of the variants which occur in quite late manuscripts had their origins at an early date”.

[ibid, p. 70]

James R. Royse quotes Colwell as saying:

The story of the manuscript tradition of the New Testament is the story of progression from a relatively uncontrolled tradition to a rigorously controlled tradition. . . . The general nature of the text in the earliest period (to A. D. 300) has long been recognized as "wild," "uncontrolled," "unedited."59”

[James R. Royse, "Scribal Tendencies In The Transmission Of The Text Of The New Testament" in, Bart D. Ehrman & Michael W. Holmes (Editors), The Text of the New Testament In Contemporary Research: Essays On The Status Quaestionis, 1995, William B. Eedermans Publishing Company, p. 248 (Bold emphasis added and italics Colwell's emphasis)]

Kim Haines-Eitzen writes:

“… more relevant, perhaps, is the fact that some fifty-two extant manuscripts that can be dated to the period from the second century to the fourth exhibit more differences and variations than the thousands of later manuscripts . . . textual critics, who have long noted that the "majority of textual variants that are preserved in the surviving documents, even the documents produced in a later age, originated during the first three Christian centuries."6 Indeed, the second- and third-century text of the New Testament has been defined variously as "uncontrolled," "unstable," "wild," "free" - adjectives which suggest unlimited flexibility, fluidity, and even randomness of the Christian texts preserved by scribes during the earliest period of text transmission.”

[Kim Haines-Eitzen, Guardians of Letters: Literacy, Power, and the Transmitters of Early Christian Literature, 2000, Oxford University Press, p. 106]

Bruce Metzger and Ehrman write:

“We have good evidence to indicate that in the early decades of transmission numerous changes were made to the texts in circulation: as words or entire lines came to be left out inadvertently or inadvertently copied twice, stylistic changes were made, words were substituted for one another, evident infelicities or outright mistakes were corrected, and so on . . . It is a striking feature of our textual record that the earliest copies we have of the various books that became the New Testament vary from one another far more widely than do the later copies, which were made under more controlled circumstances in the Middle Ages. Moreover, the quotations of the New Testament by early church fathers evidence a wide array of textual variation dating from these earliest stages in the history of transmission.”

[Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text Of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 2005, Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press, pp. 275-276]

The further back in time we go the more variations we encounter in the New Testament manuscripts. Gabel, Wheeler and York add:

“ . . . for instead of aiding in the search for authenticity, they [the pre-4th century witnesses] make it even more difficult. One would suppose that the farther back in time one went toward the original manuscripts, the autographa, the more agreement one would find among copies of the "same" text. But this is not the case at all. The metaphor of a stream emerging from a single source and then being diverted into many channels as it proceeds, becoming more complex along the way, is exactly wrong in this case, for it is in the oldest manuscript witnesses to the New Testament text that we find the most muddle and variation.”

[John B. Gabel, Charles B. Wheeler, ANew Testamenthony D. York, The Bible As Literature: An Introduction, 2000, 4th Edition, Oxford University Press, p. 262]


From this period survives no NT ms. Therefore, we cannot know precisely how many changes were made to the text in this period and became its permanent part. We can only say that this occurred, but cannot be sure of its extent.



“State-Controlled Recension (revision) of All Manuscripts:
Quran: +24 (Uthman)
NT: Never”


And this is supposed to be a ‘positive’ point for the NT?! Why is “state-controlled recension” supposed to be somehow ‘wrong’ when the one in charge of the state happens to be a close and intimate disciple of the conveyer of Scripture and the ones who work closely with this disciple also happen to be other close disciples of the Scripture conveyer? Let’s consider this scenario: the disciples of Jesus somehow managed to form a “government” in some area. They then, led by Peter the disciple and head of state, decided to go through all the existing material to compose a volume containing all of Jesus’ authentic words, deeds and teachings. Peter the disciple of Jesus and the head of state is working with other disciples such as James, Matthew, John, and others, who have spent time with Jesus and knew him very well. Would you now reject the work of these disciples because what they did was accomplished via their control over the state? NO!

Why is it not possible for a “state-controlled recension” to have produced reliable and authentic material?

Secondly, it is not claimed that the Quranic copies were compiled through a ‘revision’ of any existing text. Nothing was ‘revised’; by ‘Uthmanic recension’ we mean: the process of examining all the primary evidence for the Quranic text – both written and oral – and then extracting from it all the readings except for the abrogated ones and arranging the surahs in the proper order. None of the text was ‘reworked’, ‘changed’ or ‘altered’. This is a strictly copying process.



“State-Controlled Destruction of All Manuscripts:
Quran: +24 (Uthman)
NT: Never


And why is this supposed to be a ‘negative’ point? The unstated and unsubstantiated assumption here is again the absurd conspiracy hypothesis according to which Uthman foisted upon the people something which was ‘new’ and radically/substantially different from what was present in the burnt material. Now since the head of state is a close disciple of Muhammed, and since the committee which he has appointed also consists of Muhammed’s close disciples – people who had spent years under Muhammed and were familiar with the Quran already – why oh why is it ‘wrong’ if such a group reproduces the Quran in multiple copies and then burns the other material for reasons already explained before?

If Jesus’ close and intimate disciples, such as James, Matthew, John and others, under the leadership of the apostle Peter – all men familiar with Jesus’ teachings having spent time under him – decided to go through all the extant material and copied from it all of Jesus’ undoubtedly authentic words, deeds and teachings in a separate volume, would your natural reaction be one of scepticism or one of joy? And if these same disciples, pleased with the authenticity/reliability of the contents of the new volume, decided to then do away with the previous fragments and writings – which, btw, they had already carefully consulted – would you accept their decision by virtue of their closeness to Jesus or out of nowhere begin entertaining the hypothesis that they all conspired to change Jesus’ teachings radically?

Try to be a bit reasonable here. You would undoubtedly be absolutely happy if the disciples of Jesus had, in a team effort, done what Muhammed’s disciples did with regard to the Quran. Nothing would have made you happier, because, at the end of the day, you would have the ones closest to Jesus, ones familiar with his words and teachings, and people known widely for their honesty and good character, publically carrying out this task, enjoying widespread approval from the Christian masses all along the way.



“Importance of Textual Preservation for the Religion's Truth Claims:
Quran: Extreme importance (Muhammad's one sign for his truth)
NT: Peripheral importance (Jesus' main sign was his resurrection)”


If the NT text is not preserved, then we cannot ascertain what Jesus said, taught and did. We cannot be certain about his main ‘sign’. If we wish to know about the words, teachings and deeds of Jesus, then textual preservation IS important and not merely ‘peripheral’. But more importantly, when we study the NT at another level, conducting a historical critical analysis of its content as historical Jesus scholars do, then a strong argument can be made that it is highly unlikely that the historical Jesus preached that he would die and come back to life after three days and three nights.

”Discussion:
The New Testament had a period of about 3 centuries when it was not openly proliferating throughout the Roman empire. This was because of edicts issued by Roman authorities which persecuted Christians and/or called for the destruction of the Bible (e.g. the Diocletian Edict). During this time, a core of books was well known throughout Christendom while the rest of the books were better known in various regions.”


For now I will ignore the issue of canon and how widely were the various writings accepted throughout Christiandom in the above periods. I will only comment that the further back in time we go the more uncertain things become. For instance, consider the apostolic fathers and you will see how murky the situation has become. It is often difficult to ascertain which NT books they used. But let's focus for now only on the textual subject.

”In addition to this, no one person controlled the manuscripts. They were in the possession of individuals and churches who revered these scriptures and saw to their safe-keeping. Later, when Constantine's Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in 313 AD, people began openly assembling to officially discuss and agree upon the finer points of the Christian faith. Thus the Council of Nicaea in 325, and later the Council of Hippo in 393 (which officially canonized the books of the NT).

Though at first glance this seems to be a mark against New Testament integrity, one thing is certain: there is extremely low possibility for textually undetectable corruption in the New Testament.”


As I explained above through the citations of a number of NT textual critics and scholars, the above is completely false. The NT text was most susceptible to textual corruption in the earliest period of its transmission because it was haphazardly circulating among Christians, with Christians having little or no control to maintain the accurate transmission of the various books which later came to be included in the canon. Since we have absolutely no manuscripts from the most crucial period in the transmission history of the NT text, the possibility is high that there are undetectable corruptions therein. How many? We cannot say, however. These may only come to light as more earlier mss are discovered.

”Here are the reasons:

1. If any errors crept into a manuscript being copied in, for example, Asia Minor, a manuscript from Rome would not contain those errors. Comparing the two (along with other manuscripts) would rectify the mistakes.”


The above is correct. The above undoubtedly did occur. But other scenarios must also have occurred: what if a ms being copied in Asia Minor was based on a copy composed in Rome containing various scribal errors? Afterall, once a specific NT writing was composed, it just didn't suddenly materialise in all the locations where Christians existed. What if a ms was first copied in Asia Minor by a scribe who made changes to it, with the ms subsequently making its way down to Rome where another scribe copied it together with its corruptions? Or how about a ms copied in Rome, making its way to Asia minor, where a scribe introduced new changes to it with the Rome copy getting lost over time so now we cannot compare the two and locate the scribal change? How about an author composing an NT writing has a scribe copy it who makes changes and then this changed copy acts as an archetype for all the existing mss? Many complicated scenarios can be considered, which would make locating an error very difficult, if not impossible. In the NT for example, there are cases where we cannot decide what the author ‘originally’ wrote. Consider this very well-known difficult example where we cannot make out an 'original text':

E. J. Epp writes (I have borrowed the following citation from a website as I do not yet have access to this volume):

"[Another] more poignant example in its relevance to anguishing life situations concerns the twenty-some variants in the four passages on divorce/remarriage in the Synoptic Gospels. Parker's analysis of this complex array shows that some variants concern Jewish, others Roman provisions for divorce; some condemn divorce but not remarriage, while others prohibit remarriage but not divorce; some variants describe adultery as remarriage, others as divorce and remarriage, and others as marrying a divorced man; and some variants portray Jesus as pointing to the cruelty of divorcing one's wife--thereby treating her as if she were an adulteress, though she was not--perhaps with the outcome of establishing her right to remain single, yet without affirming that the divorcing man commits adultery. Some variants, therefore, are concerned with the man, others with the woman, and still others with both. Sometimes the divorcing man commits adultery, sometimes not; sometimes the divorced or divorcing woman commits adultery, sometimes she is made an adulteress, sometimes she commits adultery if she remarries, and finally, sometimes a man marrying a divorced woman commits adultery"

("The Oxyrhynchus New Testament Papyri: 'Not without honor except in their hometown'?" JBL 123 (2004) pp. 7-8 [cf. rpt in Perspectives on New Testament Textual Criticism: Collected Essays, 1962-2004, pp. 745-746]).

How do you incorporate the above type of a complex situation in your stated scenario? I am not saying that your scenario did not occur; it did. But that is not all what occurred and undoubtedly did come about in circumstances where locating the ‘original’ is no longer possible.

2. Since no one person controlled all the manuscripts, it would be impossible to uniformly corrupt all the manuscripts.

That is correct. The mss were not corrupted in a grand conspiracy in a uniform manner.

“3. Since there was no uniform revision of the all the manuscripts, surviving manuscripts can help us piece together the original text, not a revised version of that text.”

Not always. If the mss were being altered actively in the earliest period of transmission, albeit in a haphazard manner, to such an extent that most existing variations came about in the earliest period of transmission, then it would be exceedingly difficult to reconstruct the ‘original’ text. Suffice it to say that textual critics do not generally claim to be restoring the ‘original’ text of the NT. Then it is also possible that an error lies so far back in time that all mss contain it. For example, if an amanuensis of Paul made an error which transcribing a letter for Paul, then the scribal error lies in the very first edition from which all mss eventually emerge. So too in the case of the gospels; an error or a deliberate change could have been made in the period from which no mss evidence survives. We know that the gospels were particularly susceptible to textual alterations (consider Marcion’s alteration of the gospel of Luke and the Pauline epistles, Tatian’s textual alteration of the gospels to compose his Diatesseron, the early accusations among Christians towards various sects of altering the gospel texts, Matthew and Luke’s alteration of Mark).

4. There was no universal destruction of all the texts. Though many attempted this, such as Diocletian, surviving manuscripts and historical accounts are proof that these attempts were unsuccessful.”

This does not mean that we have the original text.

”The Quran, on the other hand, suffers severely on all four above counts:

It does not; it is far superior than the NT in every respect when it comes to textual authenticity and transmission.
“1. It was controlled by one person, the khalifa (as evidenced by Uthman's ability to recall all the manuscripts).”

False. Uthman is simply the head of state, who forms a committee consisting of other disciples of Muhammed. Who is Uthman? One of Muhammed’s closest and most trusted disciple and himself a complete memoriser of the Quran. He appoints a team of Muhammed’s other very close disciples to get hold of all the existing fragments, copies, together with the corresponding evidence of two witnesses for every verse, to recopy the Quranic text in multiple copies, leaving out on the abrogated verses.

Thus, the ‘control’ is being exerted by Muhammed’s very close disciples, those who knew him well and were familiar with his Quranic recitation having spent years under his supervision. Why is this supposed to be a ‘negative’ point?

Now consider this: Peter the apostle of Jesus issues an order to recall all fragments and copies of documents containing Jesus’ words, deeds and teachings. He then appoints a committee consisting of Jesus’ disciples James, John, Matthew, and others, requesting them to go through all the material and copy Jesus’ words, teachings and deeds accurately in a separate volume.

Would this controlling power of the ‘khalifa’ Peter the disciple of Jesus, the one overseeing the committee consisting of Jesus’ very close disciples, be ‘negative’ or positive?!

”2. It was uniformly revised by Uthman.”

False. Uthman did not “uniformly revise” the text. None of the existing text was adapted or altered, nor was Uthman – one of Muhammed’s closest disciple – working in isolation. Simply, the abrogated material was left aside as it no longer constituted the Quran and the surahs were arranged in the proper order. And Ubay, Zaid and many of Muhammed’s closest disciples are working on this project.

“3. During this time, if any error crept into the manuscript which would serve as the official text, this error would only be detectable by comparing it to previous manuscripts.”

Had you bothered to read the historical sources attentively, you would have known that once the copies had been prepared, they were COMPARED with all the existing material and READ OUT ALOUD publically. Therefore, if any error would have been made during this copying process, it could only have been a very minute and innocent copying error, having no theological or doctrinal significance and not changing the meaning of the text. Scribal errors would have every chance of getting detected also because at the time, as now, there was also a parallel oral transmission of the text taking place. Therefore, you have the oral transmission keeping a check on the written transmission and the written transmission keeping a check on the oral transmission. More than that, it becomes impossible for a scribe to make deliberate changes to the text, say for theological reasons, which then enters the transmission process. It is because of this parallel oral and written transmission that scribal errors, if they occur, are easily detected, having no chance of getting carried forward in the next manuscript.

This system of parallel transmission never existed in the case of the NT and, therefore, it was most easily susceptible to corruptions. That is why scribes could also alter it for theological reasons and for other deliberate reasons.

“4. Unfortunately, all the previous manuscripts were put to the flames.”

The burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate that what was burnt was radically or substantially different from the Uthmanic copies. There are valid reasons for burning the fragments and notebooks. To reiterate the main point: all along Muhammed’s closest disciples are involved in the process. They copy the Quran in multiple copies and no one doubts their authenticity. On the contrary, Uthman enjoys widespread approval in this period. Next, all of these disciples (with one exception) decide to burn the fragments and the notebooks since they are pleased with the copies they have compiled.

Now replace ‘Muhammed’ with ‘Jesus’ and Muhammed’s disciples with Jesus’ disciples. Would you as a Christian have been sceptical towards the work of the disciples or endorsed it with open arms, since precisely these disciples were the most closest to Jesus and familiar with his teachings?

”Thus, we can conclude the following:
1. It is virtually impossible for the New Testament to have been uniformly corrupted in a textually undetectable manner.
2. It is extremely easy for the Quran to have been uniformly corrupted in a textually undetectable manner.”


We can only conclude with the above if we put our brains aside and chose not to think critically. In response, more viable conclusions are:
1. The NT text from the earliest times was most easily susceptible to textual corruptions.
2. The NT text was not corrupted uniformly, but in a haphazard fashion, and with no control over its transmission process, it was quite possible for textual corruptions to become a permanent part of the text, particularly when all mss evidence is lacking from the most crucial earliest period of transmission.
3. The Quran was compiled/reproduced in multiple copies by a group of Muhammed’s most trusted and close disciples, who also happened to be complete memorisers of the Quran. From the start their aim was to accurately reproduce the Quran rather than to engage in ‘corruption’. To achieve this task they painstakingly went through all the documents, demanding two corresponding witnesses for all passages as well. These copies were then compared with the existing documents and against the existing oral recitation of the Quran and only then distributed to the masses.

”Of course, this does not necessitate that the Quran was corrupt, it just means that it was extremely prone to textually undetectable corruption.”

How? You have just made an assertion without bothering to offer any reasoning behind it. Just asserting that a particular text was ‘extremely prone to textually undetectable corruption’ does not mean that it was indeed ‘extremely prone to textually undetected corruption’.

Since the ones compiling the Quran in multiple copies are Muhammed’s closest disciples, people such as Zaid who was a complete memoriser of the Quran and one of Muhammed’s scribe, people like Ubay and Uthman, who are then consulting all the written material and demanding two witnesses for each and every verse, how does it then follow that the Quran was supposedly ‘extremely prone to textually undetectable corruption’?

If Jesus’ closest disciples (Peter, James, John, Matthew etc), who were well familiar with Jesus’ words and teachings, went through all the written material existing at the time and put in a separate volume all of Jesus’ authentic teachings, words and deeds, with none of the disciples doubting the authenticity of this material, would you conclude that such a volume was ‘extremely prone to textually undetectable corruption’?

Please explain how this magic ‘logic’ works? Enlighten us with its underlying mysterious reasoning.


”But when historical data indicates missing verses as early as the death of Muhammad and the reign of Umar, the argument that the Quran has been corrupted becomes extremely plausible.”

Due to your remarkably shallow knowledge of the subject, you are unable to distinguish between a divinely sanctioned abrogation and textual corruption committed by a scribe in the textual transmission stage of a document. The above are examples of abrogation, where a particular revelations’ recitation has been abrogated on the order of God, so that it no longer constitutes a part of the Quran. None of Muhammed’s companions lamented the ‘loss’ of the abrogated passages or regarded them to be a continued part of the Quran or demanded they aught to have been contained within the Quranic copies. A number of reports mention the miraculous ‘forgetting’ of some of the abrogated passages by the community within a day’s time. This is NOT the same as corruption, either addition or deletion of words/passages, committed by scribes when they are copying and recopying a text, either inadvertently or deliberately.

”When we add to this that Muhammad's chosen teachers of the Quran disagreed with Uthman's final product, the argument that the Quran has been corrupted becomes extremely likely.”

The above is either an outright lie on your part or another example of outright ignorance of the subject since we know of not a single ‘teacher of the Quran’ chosen by Muhammed – INCLUDING IBN MASUD – who allegedly ‘disagreed’ with ‘Uthman’s final product’. This is precisely the amazing part: none of Muhammed’s disciples that we know of ‘disagreed’ with the contents within the Uthmanic Quranic copies or raised any type of a doubt over their textual integrity. Despite Ibn Masud being upset for not being included in the committee and for being asked to hand over his notebook, at no time did he dispute the authenticity of the Uthmanic copies.

And let me reiterate the basic point: Uthman is himself one of Muhammed’s closest disciples, the one belonging to Muhammed’s inner circle. On top of that, he is not operating in isolation. He has appointed a group of other very close disciples of Muhammed to work on the project to compile multiple Quranic copies.

”When topped off by quotations from early Muslims which say that "much of the Quran has been lost", the argument that the Quran has been corrupted becomes incontrovertible.”

Nonsense, because all of the ‘missing’ narrations you utilise (btw, not all are authentic) are concerning divinely sanctioned abrogation of verses and not ‘corruption’. Likewise, the statement of Ibn Umar ‘much of the Quran has been lost’ refers to the abrogated material and not the loss which comes about due to scribal activity, either deliberate or inadvertent.

We do not have ‘all’ of the Quranic revelations as not all the revelations became a permanent part of the Quran because God abrogated the recitation of certain revelations. We only have the totality of that which God wanted to remain a permanent part of the Quran.

Therefore, you have presented no ‘incontrovertible’ evidence thus far. Your entire polemic is based on 1. grand Uthman conspiracy hypothesis; 2. misuse of sources; 3. confusion of ‘abrogation’ with ‘textual corruption’; 4. uncritical use of reports, thereby treating all inauthentic reports as authentic just because they apparently agree with your presuppositions; 5. genuine ignorance and lack of knowledge of the subject.

”The coup de grace occurs when we realize that the Quran's textual integrity is central to the truth of Islam. Muhammad offered the Quran as his most miraculous sign to vindicate his truth. If the Quran is false about its protection from Allah (15:9), then Islam is false. This is in contrast to the NT, which does not rely on its textual integrity as a sign for us.”

You have miserably failed to show that the Quran is not preserved and that Uthman, somehow managed to pull off an incredible feat by out of the blue foisting upon the community – spread over a wide geographical area by this time – something radically and substantially different from the Quran left by Muhammed without attracting any notable opposition worth the name towards him.

Secondly, you have failed to demonstrate that there is a ‘low possibility’ of textually undetectable corruptions being present in the NT text. As the text was most susceptible to corruption in the earliest period of its transmission – from which no mss evidence survives, and since we know that the vast majority of corruptions occurred in this period, this makes it very possible for the presence of undetectable textual corruptions in the NT text. This is particularly the case when there was a total lack of control over the transmission of the texts.

Finally, the text of the NT does matter because you learn about Jesus’ purported words and teachings from the NT. Your comment that the NT ‘does not rely on its textual integrity as a sign for us’ is a convenient theological belief, lacking all textual support. How do you ‘really know’ that this is the case? What do you think the author of, say, Luke, thought about the wording of his document? Is he likely to have taken it so lightly?

But more importantly than textual criticism, it is a critical historical investigation of the NT which severely undermines the veracity of your particular belief in Jesus.

”Conclusion:
The history of the New Testament allows its text to be investigated and verified.”


A glance at the earliest period of NT transmission and its earliest mss reveals the very complex and messy nature of the earliest transmission of the NT text. This has led some textual critics to altogether abandon all hopes of recovering the ‘original text’ (D. C. Parker, William Petersen) and others to conclude that we cannot always uncover the ‘original’ and that there are a number of variants which are theologically significant.

”The Quran cannot allow us to come any closer to the original text than the Uthmanic Revised Standard Version 24 years removed from Muhammad. Any errors which found their way into the URSV would be permanent and uncorrectable. And, unfortunately, historical accounts from early Islam tell us such errors exist.”

For arguments sake, even if we accept the above, the Quran’s textual standing is still MUCH BETTER than that of the NT. The Quran can reliably be traced back to Uthman, therefore, to a period of around 24 years after the death of Muhammed. Countless disciples of Muhammed were alive in this period, Uthman being one of them. So our book can be demonstrated to have been accurately transmitted and to have been in the same form to Uthman’s time, one of Muhammed’s closest disciples – removed from Muhammed himself by a mere 24 years.

The burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate that something immensely drastic occurred during Uthman’s time, so that the content of the Uthmani copies became radically or substantially different from what Muhammed had actually left. You need to work on proving this massive conspiracy theory.

I have already commented upon the weakness of the hypothesis of errors within the Uthmanic copies above, so no need to repeat myself here.

The gospels, in sharp contrast, appear at the scene some 30-65 years after Jesus, authored by UNKNOWN individuals, and with mss evidence lacking completely from the first 100-150 years of their transmission, a period that was most fluid! Worse, when we compare the gospels, we learn that the stories within them were being changed and adapted in various ways. Therefore, between the time of Jesus and the appearances of the gospels, we know with reasonable certainty that the stories about Jesus and his words were changed in a variety of ways.

And to correct you again, Uthman did not order a ‘revision’ of any existing text.

”When pitting the New Testament against the Quran, at least in terms of textual integrity, there is no possible way to vindicate the Quran.”

When pitting the NT against the Quran in terms of textual integrity, the NT fails the test miserably. The NT fails when it comes to all the major factors: 1. uniformity/quality of mss; 2. geographical distribution of mss; 3. quantity of mss; 4. quantity of the contents of the earliest witnesses; 5. closeness to the founder of the community.

Conclusion:
Quran = reliably goes back to the very close disciples of the founder of the community;
NT = goes back to mostly anonymous people and those who did not know Jesus (Paul), with uncertainty about how much the text was altered in the earliest period of transmission and how much the stories and words of Jesus were altered prior to that.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

My problem with Jeejoe's reply here, that he simply quotes scholars; that seems to be all we get from Muslims.

As if a quotation from book makes the least difference.

Have you studied Justin Martyr carefully, including Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria (believe me that would take some time, but it is absolutely necessary if you are gona argue these matters).

The funny thing is, if you have read these ancient writings, suddenly modern quotations do retain their often presumed impact. The reason why you find quotations so insightful (I guess) is you have not carefully investigated these matters yourself.

Furthermore, the authors you are quoting, have you actually read these books? I find these sort of quotations in a number of islamic websites, and as a student of history and theology I am amazed how these sources are used or misused.

Because, believe it or not, I personally have no problem with some of these quotations as they are merely part of larger picture, which if included (which would demand a lot of reading from your side) would support your proposition and even would question your agenda.

For example the phrase synoptic problem. Do we have a problem, yeah, but define problem, we don't have a problem problem, but a problem in attaching every detail which is still being investigated, for example did Luke use Matthew and Mark or did Matthew and Luke use Mark and Q. Is that a problem yes (yes for those who love to speculate), but not a problem that harms the reliability of the Gospels.

Or we have the phrase contradiction, do we have contradiction in the Gospels? Yes, but define contradiction, contradiction are not necessarily complete different conclusions, but are equally the results of one author omitting a matter that the other includes. In that case every biography includes contradictions, but are they necessarily errors? not really!

Oh yeah and then the whole thing about the gospel being a bit to flowing and free. Yeah of course, but the Gospels are not verbatim revelations, they are the eyewitness account of those who knew Jesus. That these individuals use a fixed form of chreiai that includes narrative and sayings is also a fact, but it also remains a fact that the authors are eyewitnesses or disciples of eyewitnesses who based upon the authority they have possess of which their predecessor possess they have the freedom to arrange the account in an chronological form that fits them and their reader. So this flowing nature of the gospels, how do we sort that out? Well obviously we compare them. I would be slightly worried if we only possessed one gospel, what criteria could I base upon? Simply the assumption that it must be the Word of God and must therefore be preserved, that does not work in historical investigation.

The reasons why we Christian are on about the pre-Uthmanic Qur'ans is, we lack this very criteria of historicty to consider, when we intend to compare this revised standard version of Uthman to the Qur'ans that flourished prior to it and were extensively fluid in form and use.

Fortuntely for us Christians the early Christians did not burn Matthew, Mark Luke or John and retain one of them. That is simply not the case with Islam. You burned Qur'an, early Muslims burned the Word of God, even though God had made every effort to reveal it in seven forms. I say it again if you can burn the word of God you can also corrupt it.

Period, if your Islamic leaders burn the word of Allah even the Qur'an they actually used after the revised it, it begs the suspiciion of corruption.

If I am wrong then by all means bring me those pre-Qur'anic Qur'ans and prove ones and for all that the errors are only of dialectal nature.

In fact that palimset introduced earlier on this blog that revealed variants against the Uthmanic revised Qur'an and which Ibn stated originated from these seven forms, does this palimset reveal dialectical variants or simply different words. If these are not variants by different Arabic dialects we have a Qur'an with different wording and in that case there is evidence that the Qur'an of Uthman diverted from the earlier Qur'ans not in dialect form but in wording of the same dialect. Perhaps this could be an issue we could take up, between those who are more aquainted with the Arabic and the dialects.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

Jeejo wrote:

Quran = reliably goes back to the very close disciples of the founder of the community;
NT = goes back to mostly anonymous people and those who did not know Jesus (Paul), with uncertainty about how much the text was altered in the earliest period of transmission and how much the stories and words of Jesus were altered prior to that.

Elijah replies:

Now how do we know that the information we have about the Qur'an goes back to the earliest companions or based on your criteria, that the Qur'an was even handled accurately by those individuals who had the authority or ability to do so?

Aha from Sahih Bukhari and others.

But When was Sahih Bukhari written, in the first or second century of Islam? or even later?

Do we even have any historical sources from the first century of Islam in written form that contains this information at all?

If not the information on which you base your presumption origanated hundreds of years after Islam, and according to you standard cannot be reliable.

Remember by your critieria we cannot trust transmission, tradition and certainly nothing that was recorded later than the event. This already excludes the entire Hadith material and commentators, despite the idea of isnad which was not applied in the early era of Islam anyway.

And who is the author of the Qur'an? Does your earliest Qur'an even include the name Zaid or Uthman as the compilers or revisors of these Qur'ans. If not how would I or anyone know that the Qur'an was revised or handled by those who were deemed worthy to handle it?

See based on your critieria, you have no testimony that the Qur'an was even handled by reliable companions, it may as well have been the product of the community in a later era.

I mean if I am totally wrong, bring me the written manuscripts from the first century of Islam that verifies all this these presumptions, and bring me a first century Qur'an with the name Uthman or Zaid written inside it. At least then I will know that the Qur'an was handled by those who were worthy of handling it, not just some anonymous person.

If you say that the Qur'an was considered to highly to include the name of compilers then you just made my point, anonymity is not necessarily a evidence of discrepancy, is it? Or what? Are you saying because the Qur'an has no written author that it is untrustworthy?

Otherwise your analogy here with the New Testament, which plain silly anyway, fails utterly.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

What I read here, from these Muslims is a complete double standard!

jeeijoe said...

Hogan:

"My problem with Jeejoe's reply here, that he simply quotes scholars; that seems to be all we get from Muslims.

As if a quotation from book makes the least difference."


And my problem with your reply is that I didn't simply quote scholars all over the place. I quoted scholars on just one particular issue to make a point: that there is widespread agreement among textual critics that most wide ranging corruptions were made to the NT text in the earliest period of its transmission. This was to counter directly Nabeel's misleading comment that textual corruptions first entered the NT text 'late'.

So, yes, citing the relevant experts in the field does make a difference.

"Have you studied Justin Martyr carefully, including Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria (believe me that would take some time, but it is absolutely necessary if you are gona argue these matters)."

Me not having read Justin Martyr carefully does not negate my point that the NT text underwent most corruptions in the earliest period of its transmission and that it is false to assert that textual corruptions came about ‘late’. Moreover, as was mentioned, we can see that the earliest period in NT transmission was most fluid by just considering the earliest papyri.

"Furthermore, the authors you are quoting, have you actually read these books? I find these sort of quotations in a number of islamic websites, and as a student of history and theology I am amazed how these sources are used or misused."

Suppose, for arguments sake, that I had not read these books and these citations were lifted from Islamic websites. It still remains that Nabeel was wrong and I am right. But yes I HAVE either read these books fully or read them substantially. I have them all. I have a small but decent 'library' in my home consisting of books on the NT text, canon, historical Jesus, Islamic/Quranic studies etc. and have also recently started doing a course on Christian theology. So I am in the process of reading up on these subjects as much as I can and I often extract interesting citations from these books.

So now tell me where these quotes are available on Islamic websites and how I allegedly ‘misused’ them. I look forward to your reply.

Where I do not have access to a source, I make that clear, as in the case of Epp's quote. I could have, in that instance, simply cited D. C. Parker's discussion (in his Living Text of the Gospels) on the textual problems with the sayings on divorce and remarriage, but did not as I could not be bothered to type.

"Because, believe it or not, I personally have no problem with some of these quotations as they are merely part of larger picture, which if included (which would demand a lot of reading from your side) would support your proposition and even would question your agenda."

Umm...ok.

"For example the phrase synoptic problem. Do we have a problem, yeah, but define problem, we don't have a problem problem, but a problem in attaching every detail which is still being investigated, for example did Luke use Matthew and Mark or did Matthew and Luke use Mark and Q. Is that a problem yes (yes for those who love to speculate), but not a problem that harms the reliability of the Gospels."

I am not interested in your convoluted semantics. When I mention the 'synoptic problem', I am only making use of a widely applied term used in most discussions in NT studies to deal with the question of the interrelationship between the synoptic gospels. The ‘problem’ is ascertaining the precise relationships between these documents. That’s all. Now, believe it or not, but I am aware of the issues being discussed among modern scholars under the heading of 'synoptic problem' (such as the existence of Q, which is very controversial [see E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies' "Studying the Synoptic Gospels," and Sanders' more recent monograph, “Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition”] on the subject, or the writings of M. Goodacre). And I am aware of the issues you raise above. But, I am not concerned with these points of details at the moment as it has absolutely no bearing upon any segment of my response to Nabeel’s disinformation. I am trying to keep it as simple as possible: Matthew and Luke used Mark. For arguments sake, granting this is right, the question then is does this 'harm' the reliability of the gospels? By itself it does not. I do not believe in a wholesale dismissal of the gospels as 'unreliable'. Nor do I believe that just because Mark was used by Matthew and Luke, that it follows the gospels are unreliable in their entirety. This isn’t my position. I believe they contain many historically reliable details. But they aren't inerrant and do contain a variety of discrepancies as almost all NT scholars agree.

"Or we have the phrase contradiction, do we have contradiction in the Gospels? Yes, but define contradiction, contradiction are not necessarily complete different conclusions, but are equally the results of one author omitting a matter that the other includes. In that case every biography includes contradictions, but are they necessarily errors? not really!"

Totally irrelevant to my response to Nabeel. I am not interested currently in having a discussion on irrelevant topics. I prefer to deal with one issue at a time. Even though there is a lot I can say in response to your questionable assertions about the gospels being "eyewitness" accounts and their supposed used of "fixed form of chreiai" (and yes, I am familiar with Gerhardsson, and also Craig Bloomberg), I will be ignoring your irrelevant comments and deal only with the relevant ones.

"The reasons why we Christian are on about the pre-Uthmanic Qur'ans is, we lack this very criteria of historicty to consider, when we intend to compare this revised standard version of Uthman to the Qur'ans that flourished prior to it and were extensively fluid in form and use."

I feel like hitting my head against a brick wall...I mean aghaghagha!! I just went through ALL OF THIS in so much detail above, arguing how Uthman had not 'revised' the text, that we have Muhammed's closest intimate disciples -- who had known him for years and were familiar with the Quran -- working openly on a joint project with all agreeing upon the outcome, that it is ridiculous to think that within a mere 24 year period the closest followers of Muhammed somehow managed to change substantially/radically the Quran and enforced it upon a wide geographical area with no notable opposition, that it is highly unlikely and very improbable (AS A NUMBER OF NON MUSLIMS AGREE AS WELL) that the earlier documents contained something 'radically' or 'substantially' different etc etc. I also mentioned that when we consider all the variants in various reports and the ones we can see in the palimpsests, they do not reveal a radical or substantial departure or a different text form. And here you are again with your grand Uthmanian conspiracy theory and the 'revised standard version' nonsense as if I had discussed none of this above!! In your next para you go on and on about the burning of the Quranic fragments and notebooks when I already went through all of that in so much detail above!

Christians here seem to have a remarkable ability to totally ignore what is being said and just repeat repeat and repeat the answered items over and over again! Don’t you know that repeating a lie/disinformation many times does not transform it into the truth?

This conveys to me, a non-Christian, an exceptionally poor view of Christians such as yourself because I get the impression of a people who are overly daft, shallow, and in absolute denial, preferring to talk like a parrot than to engage with a discussion.

Please do not bother to reply to my comments the next time if all you wish to do is merely REPEAT like an idiot topics which have been discussed in detail. 'Reply' only when you finally decide to ENGAGE with the arguments directly and offer counter arguments.

jeeijoe said...

Hogan:

"Jeejo wrote:"

Quran = reliably goes back to the very close disciples of the founder of the community;
NT = goes back to mostly anonymous people and those who did not know Jesus (Paul), with uncertainty about how much the text was altered in the earliest period of transmission and how much the stories and words of Jesus were altered prior to that.


What will follow from this point onwards will be Hogan’s outright distortion of my words and lie about my stance:

"Elijah replies:

Now how do we know that the information we have about the Qur'an goes back to the earliest companions or based on your criteria, that the Qur'an was even handled accurately by those individuals who had the authority or ability to do so?"


1. What ‘criteria’ of mine are you referring to? Explain that to us.

2. And why would one suppose that those individuals who have the authority and the ability to handle a text accurately would not handle it accurately? If I know that you have the ability to and the authority to handle a text accurately and if I know that you are working in a team with other people who have the ability and the authority to handle this text accurately and if you all are pleased with your efforts and agree among yourselves that you indeed handled this text with accuracy, then what would be the reason for one to entertain doubts and suppose that you and your team did not handle the text with accuracy even though you had the ability and the authority to do so and even though you all believe you did a good job?

This example should make my point clear: suppose the disciple Peter, who had the ability and the authority to have handled Jesus’ words, deeds and teachings accurately, was joined with the disciples Matthew, John, James and others – who all had the ability and the authority to have handled the words, teachings, and deeds of Jesus with accuracy. Now all of these authoritative and close disciples of Jesus and men of ability and authority worked jointly in a team going through all the existing evidence and compiled in a separate volume all of Jesus’ words, teachings and deeds and all agreed upon its absolute authenticity and accuracy. Would you, a Christian, turn around and say to yourself, “ oh jee, how can I know that the teachings, words and deeds of Jesus were handled carefully by a group of his close disciples who had the authority and the ability to have done so? Ai yai yai! Me so confused! I cannot trust them!” You do not come across as a particularly bright individual for thinking in this twisted manner.

This is not how one goes about making an argument and this isn’t critical thinking. The fact that you would even dare raise such sheer baseless speculative doubts in this fashion from the outset shows that you are not a sincere investigator and are behaving in an utterly unreasonable non-scholarly manner.

3. And if this is how unreasonably sceptical you are towards the abilities of Muhammed’s closest group of disciples, who had spent years under his supervision and who were memorisers of the Quran themselves, then the fact that you regard strongly the various pieces of so-called ‘evidences’ for Christianity – which absolutely pales in comparison for the level of evidence and witness of disciples for Quran’s compilation – just means you are mentality unstable. For me as a non-Christian, if the evidence of the involvement of Muhammed’s closest disciples throughout the stages of the compilation of the Quran is to be dismissed so casually on the bases of unsubstantiated sheer speculation, then no amount of ‘evidence’ could ever convince anyone (at least me) regarding the alleged historicity or authenticity of the NT writings. None of it could logically be acceptable or even worth a consideration since it is much lower in status than the evidence of a group of disciples themselves!

This means that you disagree with Nabeel, who does not doubt the accurate transmission of the Quran from Uthman to the present time. He has said that we can only go as far back as Uthman and no further. I presumed that other Christians agreed with Nabeel. In anycase, if we can go back to the time of Uthman as Nabeel and I agree, then that logically meant that the Quran has as we have it today was transmitted from the time of Muhammed's disciples because 24 years after Muhammed's death his disciples did not all of a sudden translate into heaven.

4. How do we know that the ‘information we have about the Qur'an goes back to the earliest companions’? There are a number of reasons for this, but first note, even Nabeel does not deny this.

A) Mss evidence and inscriptions. There is a lot of first century mss evidence for the Quran, both in mss form and even in inscriptions, the latter being even earlier. The earliest mss evidence is just a few decades removed from Uthman. In any normal historical investigation, no historian or textual critic would doubt that such a text goes back earlier in time to the period of Uthman (and, therefore, to the time of the earliest disciples of Muhammed). Let me also state here that even most non-Muslim scholars do not doubt the accurate transmission of the Quranic text from the time of Uthman onwards and its existence in Uthman’s time – the time when numerous disciples of Muhammed are still alive. To reiterate, we have a wealth of mss evidence for the Quran just some decades after Muhammed and Uthman. Islam2009 has already commented upon this in another thread. Are we to believe that all of these early mss just popped up one night a few decades after Uthman and Muhammed's other disciples, having no continuity with the past? Did they just emerge from thin air?

But let me now show you how you have managed to dig an astonishingly deep grave for yourself with the above jem because if we are to take seriously your criterion, THEN THE NT NEEDS TO BE IMMEDIATELY DISMISSED. We have absolutely no mss evidence for any part of the NT from the first Christian century and from the major part of the second century. Using your own criterion of hyper scepticism, how do we know that the gospel contents go back to the disciples of Jesus? Just think logically here: if the hard mss evidence for the Quran, which goes back to well within the first Islamic century, is unacceptable to you, if numerous inscriptions from the first century are unacceptable to you, then you can absolutely never ever be sure with any amount of certainty that the gospels’ contents go back to Jesus’ disciples, let alone that the gospels in their finished form go back to a time close to the disciples! That is because the documentary evidence for the gospels is way weaker than what we have for the Quran in the form of mss evidence and inscriptions.

B) We can also be reasonably sure that the information we have about the Quran goes back to the disciples of Muhammed because there are multiple reports on the subject of Quranic compilation in a number of sources and we can critically study them, comparing their isnad bundles, and tracking them down to the first century. This has been done by Harald Motzki and his methodology of critical hadith analysis is generally accepted. Through his critical analysis of both the text and the isnads of the reports, he traces their circulation to well within the first Islamic century to people who were in a position to acquire the details. Motzki concluded that the hadiths which mention the compilation of the Quran under both Abu Bakr and Uthman were in circulation safely within the first Islamic century and, therefore, are very early reports. It is not necessary to have an actual manuscript because earlier documents can be reconstructed on the basis of later documents which used the former as their base.

"Aha from Sahih Bukhari and others.

But When was Sahih Bukhari written, in the first or second century of Islam? or even later?

Do we even have any historical sources from the first century of Islam in written form that contains this information at all?

If not the information on which you base your presumption origanated hundreds of years after Islam, and according to you standard cannot be reliable."


You are seriously out of touch with modern scholarly developments and the advances which have been made, both in methodology and discovery of new sources.

Before I refute the above one by one, let me again point out the astonishingly deep grave you have successfully dug for the NT:

A) There is absolutely no mss evidence from the first 100 years of transmission for the NT documents
B) We have absolutely not a single historical source, manuscript or a tiniest of the tiny fragment and no inscriptions of any kind whatsoever for any part of the NT or any other Christian writing from the first century of Christianity;
C) We have not a single first and second century written document for the writings of fathers such as the apostolic fathers
D) We have none of the writings of Tatian, Justin Martyr, Marcion, Origen etc. All of these possible comments and contents are reconstructed with reasonable certainty on the bases of later sources.

From the first Christian century we have = zilch, nada, zippo, zero.
From the major part of the second century = zilch, nada, zippo, zero.

And yet you, a Christian, has the gall to demand Muslims for ‘written’ evidence from our first century and unless and until we submit that, you wouldn’t believe a thing and remain dismissive towards the authenticity of our sources?!

It takes an exceptionally sick mind with a remarkably low IQ to go about making self-destructive ‘arguments’ in this blatantly hypocritical manner.

So let us be clear, when it comes to first century actual written writings, we are in a much better and stronger position than you.

Now let me respond to your disinformation:

1. ‘But When was Sahih Bukhari written, in the first or second century of Islam? or even later?’ = It does not matter if Bukhari was written later because it is simply a collection of hadiths which ALREADY existed. Bukhari merely COLLECTED ALREADY EXISTING hadiths rather than invent them out of the blue. So just because the Bukhari compilation came about after the first Islamic century, that by itself DOES NOT FOLLOW that its contents could not be from the first Islamic century.

The Sahifa of Hamam Ibn Munabbeh is generally accepted by scholars as an authentic example of a first century hadith collection. Ibn Munabbeh was a student of the disciple of Muhammed, Abu Hurairah. Around 90 hadiths in this first century hadith collection are to be found in the later collection of Bukhari. When we compare them, we find no significant differences, which demonstrates the accurate transmission of the hadith contents of the Bukhari collection.

Because a written source does not exist from the first century, it does not follow it never existed to begin with. It could have been lost, destroyed or, very commonly, incorporated into later sources. Thus, later sources could be critically analysed to reconstruct a first century document with reasonable certainty.

Thus, in Bukhari we have hadiths on the compilation of the Quran and these are authentic first century reports, as has been demonstrated by Harald Motzki, demonstrates their circulation in the first century.

2. ’Do we even have any historical sources from the first century of Islam in written form that contains this information at all?’ = The hadiths in Bukhari on Quranic compilation ARE from the first century even though we do not have an actual written document from the first century containing them. But, more importantly than this, we have actual written Quranic mss from the 1st century.

But if you insist for an actually written document containing the specific Quran compilation reports in a 1st century document, then, besides demonstrating your double standard, you again successfully dig your own grave for the above stated reasons. Let me present one example. The letter 1 Clement, the earliest non-canonical Christian document, is widely dated 96 A.D. NT scholars regard this letter to be genuine letter even though its earliest copy is to be found in the fifth century manuscript, Codex Alexandrinus, which lacks sections 57.7-63.4. The only manuscript to contain the complete text of 1 Clement is Codex Hierosolymitanus (A.D. 1056).

Given your criterion above (the demand for an actual written document and nothing short of that), we should dismiss 1 Clement as a much later forgery. Worse, applying your criterion again, we need to dismiss the NT documents since we have not a single written document from the first century, not even a tiny little fragment!

So by all means feel free to dismiss Islamic sources using unusual and unreasonable criterion; but try to be consistent and apply them with the same force on the NT.

3. “If not the information on which you base your presumption origanated hundreds of years after Islam, and according to you standard cannot be reliable.” = Let me expose your lie right here: you are NOT applying any of my ‘standard’ here. So don’t make stuff up. I have never expressed such a ‘standard’.

Now you need to apply YOUR standard and toss in the bin the NT, 1 Clement and all Christian documents because for none of them can you produce first century written documents for us to see.

"Remember by your critieria we cannot trust transmission, tradition and certainly nothing that was recorded later than the event. This already excludes the entire Hadith material and commentators, despite the idea of isnad which was not applied in the early era of Islam anyway."

The problem with the above is that it is a gross and shameless lie. I never presented a criterion or a standard according to which "we cannot trust transmission, tradition and certainly nothing that was recorded later than the event." You literally made this up. Anyone who attributes this view upon me is telling an outright lie or is amazingly daft to read carefully what I said.

You likewise indulge in telling lies about the place of isnad in early Islam. Perhaps it is your typical strategy to drag in another subject so that we stop discussing the original topic which, understandably, is giving Christians a difficult time.

"And who is the author of the Qur'an?”

The Author of the Quran according to the Quran itself is God. Do a search online and find the passages yourself.

Now tell us who the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Pastoral Epistles, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude etc are…we can have a field day going through Biblical scholarly discussions here.

”Does your earliest Qur'an even include the name Zaid or Uthman as the compilers or revisors of these Qur'ans.”

And no the earliest Quranic copies, including all the later ones, do not contain the names of Zaid and Uthman precisely because they are Quranic copies, that is, meant to only include Quranic material. That these individuals are not mentioned as compilers in strictly Quranic copies does not mean they were not the compilers because we have authentic first century reports, many multiple reports, which are reliable. And nor are Uthman and Zaid ANYWHERE mentioned as ‘revisers’ of the Quran because it has NEVER been asserted that they acted as ‘revisers’ of the text.

Now following YOUR standard and criterion, we need to dismiss all NT writings which fail to comply: Do your earliest gospels even include the name within the body of the text of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as authors of the gospels which are now attributed to them? And if they do, how do we know they were not lying? And where do the gospels mention these alleged authors acquiring their information from eyewitnesses?

You see Hogan/Elijah the mess you create for yourself when you behave completely irrationally towards the Quran and make impossible demands?

“If not how would I or anyone know that the Qur'an was revised or handled by those who were deemed worthy to handle it?"

As Harald Motzki has shown, all of these reports can be easily traced to well within the first Islamic century, to people who were close to the events and who had acquired their information from the main parties. You need to be hyper sceptical to dismiss all of this. And if you do, then you are guilty of double standard since in the case of Christianity the evidence is not even remotely as close and early as that for these reports and the transmission of the Quran from Uthman onwards.

Let me now apply YOUR standard and criterion upon the NT: I ask the same question, if not, then how would I or anyone know that the NT was authored by those who were deemed worthy to handle it? How would I or anyone know how the contents of the NT, such as those of the gospels, were passed on and handled by those who were deemed worthy to handle it?

And where is the 1st century written evidence for any of your claims?

Not only that, this written evidence must contain all that I demand: the statement that, for example, Mark the follower of Peter wrote all this and got his information from Peter. And you know what Hogan/Elijah, even then we can think of ways to dismiss such a written first century testimony and raise the evidence bar even higher.

Just remember that all these types of unreasonable and silly demands you are making on Muslims, which are just a degree away from video taped evidence, can be even more easily and more vigorously applied upon ALL of your documents with MUCH GREATER force.

Therefore, if you want me to dismiss Islamic sources on account of YOUR above stated criteria and standards, then the very same standards and criteria would make me instantly dismiss and reject each and every one of your documents instantly.

"See based on your critieria, you have no testimony that the Qur'an was even handled by reliable companions, it may as well have been the product of the community in a later era.

Let me correct your lie again: you have not said anything based on any criterion I had offered. You lied, totally misunderstood the discussion, and concocted ‘criteria’ for me.

And to your second lie, we DO have testimony in numerous multiple authentic reports that the compilation of the Quran was done by reliable disciples of Muhammed. The burden of proof is upon you to show they were not reliable. This needs to be done by presenting a reasoned argument of the historical sources rather than merely asserting “they were not reliable!”

It gets worse for you since you have ABSOLUTELY NO RELIABLE testimony whatsoever that the NT documents were composed by reliable people or people who knew Jesus and had the authority to reliably handle the material. Many NT writings may well have been the product of the community in a later era.

So you see, YOUR standards and criteria can be far more forcefully applied upon your own writings.

If you want me to seriously consider YOUR criteria and standards, then the result would be me FIRST DISMISSING the NT out of hand and only later pondering over the fate of the Islamic sources since the NT miserably fails to meet YOUR criteria and standards.

"If you say that the Qur'an was considered to highly to include the name of compilers then you just made my point, anonymity is not necessarily a evidence of discrepancy, is it? Or what? Are you saying because the Qur'an has no written author that it is untrustworthy?"

The problem with the above is that I DID NOT SAY that anonymity = evidence of discrepancy! You are either a terrible reader or just have a habit of distorting an opponent’s position – constructing straw man arguments.

It has NEVER been my argument/position that anonymity by itself = evidence of discrepancy. You just made this up! Shame on you, how pathetic.

If you are such a poor reader, then do not bother ‘responding’ the next time as you only embarrass yourself.

"Otherwise your analogy here with the New Testament, which plain silly anyway, fails utterly. "

This is certainly plain and silly because I have never presented any such 'analogy'!

The actual analogy, or comparison, which I did present, of Jesus’ disciples working in a group on a joint project etc has been completely ignored by all Christians. The reason for that is not difficult to ascertain. Such an analogy effectively exposes the exceptionally shoddy nature of your polemics towards the Quran.

caleb said...

where in the world is there an utmanic quran dating to 700 ad the earliest quran available dates tob 800 ads

Nabeel Qureshi said...

Wow, I didn't realize Jeeijoe had posted such long responses to this article.

I hope he will find today's debate between me and Bassam Zawadi to be enlightening. I hope the Christians will pray for me (the debate is in 9 hours) and, most of all, I pray that the Truth of God will be made abundantly clear! Praise be to Him, the Creator and Sustainer of us all.

Mohammed said...

I feel so sorry for the people who created this website to ... uh, "answer" Islam. I Lol'd so hard enough.

You wanna oppose Islam? Go learn Arabic and read the Qu'ran. That's the best possible way to understand it. And it was never revised but gathered by the many Muslims after the death of Prophet Muhammad and organized.

Learn Arabic. Read the Quran. All your answers are there.

David said...

See:
http://www.QuranCompared.com/

A look at the Quran compared to the Earlier Scripture of the Injeel.

Amalric Richardson said...

The main article is nearly complete nonsense and is unbalanced. It is unfair to compare the Quran with a faith based assessment of the Bible. Only a liberal approach to both is fair.

Inception of Scripture

Early followers of both remembered what Jesus and Mohammad said. The “creed” in 1 Cor 15:3-8 is believed by some liberal scholars not to have even been written by Paul and there is no consensus that it goes back to 2 years after the death of Jesus. It is generally recognised that the letters of Paul are the earliest written Christian document written about 25 years after the death of Jesus. It is generally recognised that the earliest gospel we still have was written about 35 years after the death of Jesus.

There are no divinely sanctioned forms of the text of either. There have been many versions of the Quran and there are two main versions. However I am not sure you could say there are any main versions of the Bible. It could be said there are 7 old versions of the Old Testament (Masoretic and Septuagint being the most famous). All of the New Testament versions are grouped into three main text types.

The level of corruption is high for the Old and New Testaments. The longer ending of Mark is an example that springs to mind but there are lots of them in the New Testament and some scholars would say these additions are very early. It could be said that each gospel is a corruption because the teachings of Jesus have been modified by the early church. It is therefore possible that the early Islamic society did the same to Mohammad’s message.

There is lots of doubt that Uthman did in fact create a single version. However it is very clear that the Emperor Constantine did try to create one single version of the Bible and this was a state controlled effort. As you state the Council of Nicaeca.

You are correct there is no uniform corruption of the New Testament text because it has been corrupted in lots of small ways and this is why there are so many notes about what it is Bible translations depending on the most recent textual criticism scholarship. I remember it was believed that eagles gathered but in my most recent translation they are vultures and this is the result of textual research not translation. I am not so convinced as the author that the church didn’t destroy texts of what it disagreed with. It certainly destroyed texts it believe with heretical.

While most Muslims may believe there was only one version of the Quran this is not true and many different versions have been found and at least two versions are used today. Therefore not all previous manuscripts were burnt.

The conclusion therefore should be that it is easier to discover textual issues with the Bible that with the Quran and it is clear that the Bible has undergone a development process that has resulted in many different versions of the text. With the Quran it is harder to discover this process but it none the less still there. Hopefully as the different versions of the Quran are studied this process can be more widely recognised.