Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Preservation of the Bible and Qur'an - Debate

Speakers: Abdullah Kunde and Samuel Green 14th December 2012.

Post Debate Comments:

Thanks Abdullah for the debate.

Abdullah asked me to provide one extant Qur'anic manuscript that was different to the Uthman text. The Standford 07 is such a manuscript:

The main significance of the San'a 1 (Standford 07) manuscript is that its lower text does not belong to this Utmanic textual tradition. In this sense, it is “non-Utmanic.” It belongs to some other textual tradition which is designated here as C-1. (Behnam Sadeghi and Uwe Bergmann, "The Codex of a Companion of the Prophet and the Qur?an of the Prophet", Arabica 57, 2010, p. 344)

Abdullah and I disagreed over whether a Qur'an page he showed had been washed and new text written on top or that the text has seeped through from the other side. You can see the page here: but Muslim scholars say that the lower text is visible in the way I described:

A palimpsest is a parchment with at least two layers of text. The older layer is scraped off or washed to make room for the new text, but over time it resurfaces as a shadow, in this case as a pale brown text. (Behnam Sadeghi and Uwe Bergmann, "The Codex of a Companion of the Prophet and the Qur?an of the Prophet", Arabica 57, 2010, p. 348)

Regarding 5:68 Abdullah said this was about "true muslims" but my point was that this verse is saying that the Qur'an confirms the scriptures WITH the Christians and Jews and so is referring to the scriptures they have not lost originals.

I think this is a better quote from Adrian Brockett:

Lists of the differences between the two transmissions are long, ... (however) The simple fact is that none of the differences, whether vocal (vowel and diacritical points) or graphic (basic letter), between the transmission of Hafs and the transmission of Warsh has any great effect on the meaning. Many are differences which do not change the meaning at all, and the rest are differences with an effect on meaning in the immediate context of the text itself, but without any significant wider influence on Muslim thought. One difference (Q. 2/184) has an effect on the meaning that might conceivably be argued to have wider ramifications. (Adrian Brockett, `The Value of the Hafs and Warsh transmissions for the Textual History of the Qur'an', Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Qur'an, ed. Andrew Rippin; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, pp. 34 and 37)

Regarding the Satanic Verses (1:48:47) There is good evidence for it. It is not just in one account:

The Satanic verses incident is narrated in numerous reports (between 18 and 25, depending on how one reckons an independent riwayah) scattered in the sirah nabawiyyah and tafsir literature originating in the first two centuries of Islam. The indications are that the incident formed a fairly standard element in the historical memory of the early Muslim community regarding the life of its founder. (Shahab Ahmed, Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses, p. 70)

I think at (1:13:29) Abdullah was referring to the wrong ibn Kathir. There is an early Ibn Kathir and a later Ibn Kathir.

I lost the use of my computer for much of the debate because Abdullah's computer would not connect to the data projector. This was a real nuisance. I am not blaming Abdullah at all; I organised the debate. It just makes it hard when you cannot consult your references during the debate. I need to plan for this better.

I also found it hard that Abdullah spread his presentation over the presentation section and then the first rebuttal. It meant that when I gave my first rebuttal I did not have his whole presentation is mind. In the future I will discuss this matter with people I debate and come to some agreement before the debate. I think we should limit the presentation to the presentation section.


Sam said...

The more I see Kunde debate the more I see why he doesn't want to debate someone like David. In his first rebuttal, he butchered the Greek of Mark 1:41. He says that there are two variants, one ethrahim and the other ethra'am. I am transliterating as he pronounced it. However, he is mistaken since the variant words happen to be orgistheis (anger) and splanchnistheis (compassion). I don't know where in the world he got his information from.

Holger kleine-prante said...

thanks for posting the video.

i have a question.

at 1:19:24 you speak about mark 16 and john 11.

what is here the point? the possibility of a difference between the luther bible and the original mark and john scrolls?

greetings from the cold and frosty germany


Craig said...

my phone keeps stopping so I was wondering is there anyway to download this presentation and get the material and slide shows from Samuel green

simple_truth said...

Craig said...

"my phone keeps stopping so I was wondering is there anyway to download this presentation and get the material and slide shows from Samuel green"

There are several programs for downloading videos from youtube and other related sites. Do a web search for them.

AKunde said...


You are indeed correct! I made an error here (however, I would have expected a Syriac-speaker, such as yourself, to have more of a clue as to the error I made, but appreciate my pronounciation would be likely a barrier to this).

I had the transliterated Greek (which I can barely read)and Arimaic(picking up faster than Greek) of this passage from the Peshitta and a 'proposed' Aramaic on my computer, which I didn't open during the debate. I went from memory and made an error, using the Aramaic words, which have little bearing on my point and are only valuable for the discussion of the variant itself.

Thanks for pointing this out! Much appreciated.

Sam said...

AKunde, appealing to the Aramaic is inexcusable since the Peshitta is a translation FROM THE GREEK. The variant in Mark 1:41 is nothing new, but taken directly from Bart Ehrman.

Now notice what you just claimed here: "I had the transliterated Greek (which I can barely read)and Arimaic(picking up faster than Greek) of this passage from the Peshitta and a 'proposed' Aramaic on my computer, which I didn't open during the debate."

Transliterated Greek? So you mean you have a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic? In other words, you have a Greek transliteration (mind you, not a translation) of an Aramaic translation of Mark which was originally written in Greek? So instead of going to the Greek text of Mark, you want to a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic translation of Mark's Greek Gospel! Really? And you are trying to convince us that this is a reflection of top notch scholarship?

Moreover, could you please be so kind as to post the manuscript evidence of the Peshitta, along with their dates, which shows that the Peshitta manuscripts (MSS) contain a variant reading in Mark 1:41, where some MSS read compassion and others read anger.

Once you do I can then proceed with my follow up response.

AKunde said...


With all due respect, there is no need for a follow up response. I won't be engaging with you further on this topic (my free time is far better spent with my son or blogging on a topic I have interest in).

I was directed to your initial question by a friend and was happy to answer it and believe I have done so. However, to make it clearer (perhaps I was ambiguous in my first reply):

I am not saying there are variants in the Peshitta. A scholarly suggestion for the origin of the variants in Mark 1:41 is that the Aramaic words for anger and pity are similar. You can read the second of these two in the Peshitta []
. The other, I said, is a 'proposed' Aramaic (i.e. it is proposed that ethrahim could be easily mis-heard or mis-read ethra'am).

I had these, along with the transliterated Greek of orgistheis and splanchnistheis in some notes on my computer I had read earlier on the week. I went from memory and made a mistake and should have instead relied on others like Romans 5:1 or 1 Corinthians 12:13 that are single letter with different meaning variants.

The suggestion is basically that Jesus spoke Aramaic, Mark was possibly first recorded in Aramaic (or relied on an Aramaic source), and this *could* be why there are variants in the Greek. I am not defending the theory, nor rejecting it. My intended motivation behind discussing it was to illustrate the degree of speculation that must ultimately be employed to rely on one variant or another.

However, I misused this discussion. I'm happy to admit I mad a mistake and hence me coming here to do so. But I won't be discussing the debate or any other issues here, but do appreciate the warm welcome.


AKunde said...

By the way, I hope the readers and yourself will pardon any spelling or grammar errors.

I'm typically a little sleep deprived these days, which is a trade I'm happy to make to have a newborn in the house. I've just realised I spelt 'Aramaic' as 'Arimaic' in my initial reply - *sigh*.

Samuel Green said...

Holger kleine-prante

The point I was making with Mark 16 and John 11 was that these are the only two of this size and that textual scholars of the NT have ample material to identify and correct for these transmission errors.


If you want the notes send me an email.

Craig said...

@ samuel green

Here is my email im not exactly sure how to get ahold of your email sorry.

Craig said...

Mr.Kunde said that " they dont hide the other manuscripts ". I like how he took some truth a in a way twisted it, because he's right by saying they dont hide them because you can get them online but when samuel says hide I think he means you dont tell the open public about them and thats why no misjid has them and every western muslim says theres only 1 qur'an and wheni show them these other ones they have no clue about them.