Corruption in the Bible: The Non Muslim Stance

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"Are Christians Delusional?" Richard Carrier Skepticon 3

Email from a non Muslim:

Many Muslims claim that the Bible has been tampered with and corrupted.

Any event in real life reality with human agents has certain characteristics and conditions attached to it. Any such act is done by one or more particular persons, at one or more specific times, in a certain fashion, in certain places, and for a reason. I hope everybody can agree with that.

So, to make your claim of tampering credible you will have to answer these questions:

When happened this tampering? [Before or after Muhammad]?
Who did the tampering?
Where was it done? [city, country, ...?]
What parts of the text were changed?
How was it done [i.e. without leaving traces of it]?
Why would anybody do this incredibly difficult thing?

No Muslim could ever answer these questions. I wonder why?? Maybe because it is such an incredible feat that would require more than a miracle do get done? Believing in the tampering needs a lot of faith. Blind faith, against the manuscript evidence we have.

Reply from a Muslim:

Thank you for writing.

I do not wish to go into lengthy details regarding the authenticity or otherwise of the Bible, as I do not consider myself qualified to do so. But I, most certainly would like to point out a very simple fact about the Bible that we have at hand. And that too, not because of any particular belief in any particular Book, but because of pure and bare analysis done by a number of Christian and other unbiased, neutral writers, and that is, that most of the books of the Bible as they stand today, cannot be believed to be exactly the same as were revealed to the respective prophets of God. These books have gone through a number of changes and editing, which is openly admitted and declared by the textual scholars of the Bible (their academic and intellectual honesty, without a hint of a doubt, is commendable). And because of this and a number of other reasons, even their ascription to these prophets is quite doubtful.

To be more objective, I would base my reply to your question only on writings of authors who are not Muslims.

But before I go into any detail, I would very briefly like to tell you that if someone gathers up the courage to ask the same questions about the Bible, that the author has asked about the "Muslim claim" of corruption in the text of the Bible, it would be very difficult, if not impossible to get precise answers to these questions. There is a tremendous difference in the scholars of the Bible, regarding who, precisely, were the authors of most of the books and exactly when and where these books were written. This is also the reason why, as the author says, "No Muslim (or the textual scholars of the Bible) could ever answer these questions. I wonder why??".

Thus, believing in the complete Bible, that we have at hand, to be of a Divine origin, needs a lot of faith. Blind faith - for there exists no other ground for believing so.

For example, let us just consider the authorship of some of the most important books of the Christian faith. C. F. Evans writes in "The Cambridge History of the Bible", Vol. I, "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", 1970:

With the exception of the Pauline letters the New Testament writings were relatively slow in appearing and a high proportion of them are anonymous. (p. 233)

He writes further:

... such external evidence on matters of origin, authorship, sources and date as has come down from the second and succeeding centuries is very meager, and, when itself subjected to critical examination, turns out to be of dubious value, if not worthless. (C. F. Evans, The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. I, "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", 1970, p. 235)

About the Pauline letters, the author writes:

Further elucidations of the Pauline letters as documents in the Church is faced by three not unconnected problems, their formation into a corpus, their unity and authenticity, and their chronology; and in each case the data are insufficient for a solution. (C. F. Evans, The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. I, "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", 1970, p. 239)

The Encyclopedia Britannica says about the Gospel of Mark:

Though the author of Mark is probably unknown, authority is traditionally derived from a supposed connection with the Apostle Peter, who had transmitted the traditions before his martyr death under Nero's persecution (c. 64-65). Papias, a 2nd century bishop in Asia Minor, is quoted as saying that Mark had been Peter's amanuensis (secretary) who wrote as he remembered (after Peter's death), though not in the right order... (harmony of the Gospels). (Biblical Literature and Its Critical Interpretation, THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS, The Gospel According to Mark: Background and overview.)

Regarding the Gospel of Matthew, the encyclopedia says:

Although there is a Matthew named among the various lists of Jesus' disciples, more telling is the fact that the name of Levi, the tax collector who in Mark became a follower of Jesus, in Matthew is changed to Matthew. It would appear from this that Matthew was claiming apostolic authority for his Gospel through this device but that the writer of Matthew is probably anonymous. (Biblical Literature and Its Critical Interpretation, The Gospel According to Matthew.)

Regarding the Gospel of Luke, it says:

The author has been identified with Luke, "the beloved physician," Paul's companion on his journeys, presumably a Gentile (Col. 4:14 and 11; cf. II Tim. 4:11, Philem. 24). There is no Papias fragment concerning Luke, and only late 2nd century traditions claim (somewhat ambiguously) that Paul was the guarantor of Luke's Gospel traditions. The Muratorian Canon refers to Luke, the physician, Paul's companion; Irenaeus depicts Luke as a follower of Paul's gospel. Eusebius has Luke as an Antiochene physician who was with Paul in order to give the Gospel apostolic authority. References are often made to Luke's medical language, but there is no evidence of such language beyond that to which any educated Greek might have been exposed. Of more import is the fact that in the writings of Luke specifically Pauline ideas are significantly missing; while Paul speaks of the death of Christ, Luke speaks rather of the suffering, and there are other differing and discrepant ideas on Law and eschatology. In short, the author of this gospel remains unknown. (Biblical Literature and Its Critical Interpretation, The Gospel According to Luke.)

Regarding the Gospel of John, it writes:

From internal evidence the Gospel was written by a beloved disciple whose name is unknown. Because both external and internal evidence are doubtful, a working hypothesis is that John and the Johannine letters were written and edited somewhere in the East (perhaps Ephesus) as the product of a "school," or Johannine circle, at the end of the 1st century. (Biblical Literature and Its Critical Interpretation, THE FOURTH GOSPEL: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, Uniqueness of John.)

Likewise, consider the following statement that appears in "The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church", regarding the Gospel of John:

The Apostolic origin of the book, however, is contested by a large body of modern scholars whose position vary from a complete rejection of both its authenticity and its historicity to the admission of Apostolic inspiration and a certain historical value. The unity of the book has been disputed esp. by German scholars, e.g. J. Wellhausen, R. Bultmann. Where its unity is admitted, its attribution to John the Presbyter is favoured. (The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, John The Apostle, 1974, pg. 743)

Again, in "Peakes Commentary on the Bible", the introduction of the Gospel of John starts with the following words:

The origin of this Gospel is veiled in obscurity (Peakes Commentary on the Bible, C. K. Barrett, "John", Nelson 1967)

Knox, (although not ascribing to this view) in his "New Testament Commentary" writes about the authorship of John's Gospel:

The picture which emerges (according to these critics) is that of a profound logical treatise, composed late in the first or more probably early in the second century, by some unknown author who had a thesis to propound, and did so under the (now established) literary form of a "gospel". It was not, evidently, a fisherman from Galilee who had the learning and the culture to leave such a monument behind him. Possibly the author may have been that "John the elder" who is referred to by Papias (Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.4 and 14) as a valuable source of early tradition. (Knox, New Testament Commentary, Introduction, 1955, pg. xiii)

Knox, further states, regarding the Gospel of John:

In 21.24, and possibly in 19.35, another hand, not that of the author has made its contribution (cf. Rom. 16.22). This raises the question whether we ought to think of John as sitting and writing the gospel with his own hand. It is improbable that one who was regarded as "a simple man, without learning" by his own fellow countrymen (Acts 4.13) would have lived to write Greek as idiomatic as that of the Fourth gospel. (Knox, New Testament Commentary, Introduction, 1955, pg. xv).

In a situation like this, anyone who holds these books to be Divine cannot afford to have the strict criteria, as is mentioned by the author of your quoted article. Yes, he has all the right in the world to ask questions as to what exactly are the discrepancies or corruption in the text of the Bible, and why does one believe them to be discrepancies or corruption, but I am afraid that insisting on the answers of the quoted questions and still believing the Bible to be Divine, can only be done if one is prone to believing and rejecting things by applying absolutely different criteria for the two.

Now, let us see what "Corruption in the Bible" really means.

To fully understand what a Muslim means when he says that the Bible is corrupted, we must first understand what, in the mind of a Muslim, is uncorrupted revealed literature. Briefly stated, the Muslims, for this purpose have basically two criteria.

Firstly, the Muslim mind contrary to (a majority of) the early Christians, at least such Christians as played a major role in the canonization1 of the books of the New Testament, does not believe that God's revelation is accessible to all men without distinction2. On the contrary, it believes that God reveals His words to those He selects from amongst men. Such men are of impeccable character and repute. They, bring with them clear evidences of their Divine authority. These men are called Prophets, or Messengers of God, by the Muslims. Whatever they say, and whatever they do with reference to religious beliefs or actions, gets the status of True Religious Teachings. No one other than the prophets or messengers of God holds this position. The Apostles or Messengers of any prophet, are by their very name, subordinate to the prophets (or messengers of God). They are only to deliver the message of the prophet, as the prophet was to deliver the message of God. Thus, God reveals his words to His prophets or messengers only. Whereas, the apostles and messengers of these prophets do not speak or write with Divine inspiration, they are only to deliver the message of the prophet, which in turn, no doubt, was Divinely Inspired. Thus, due to this belief of the Muslims, they believe that the origin of any Divine literature must lie with some Prophet (and thus God)... not with the prophet's Disciples or Apostles.

Secondly, such writings, actions or sayings of the prophet must come down to us in unbroken and absolutely dependable chains of transmission of such tradition. For instance, it should not be so that a compilation of the sayings of a prophet, suddenly is made available to the world, while in the past it is not known to exist. If such be the case, the Muslim mind would not base its religious beliefs3 on such a narrative. This also means that such transmission, is kept clean of any and all kinds of alteration. And is delivered to us, in exactly the same words, as it was, when delivered to the companions of the prophet.

Thus, when a Muslim says that the text of the Bible is corrupted, all that is really implied is

the books that comprise the Bible are not the ones given by the respective prophets to whom they are ascribed,

these books do not meet the criteria of unbroken and dependable chains of transmission, and

a number of intentional and unintentional changes has occurred in the text of these books, which renders them all the more "corrupted", even though the first two criteria were quite adequate, in rejecting these books as "basis" of one's religious beliefs.

For instance, Muslims believe that the Torah (Torat) was revealed to Moses, and the Gospel (Injil) was revealed to Jesus. But, it is pretty obvious from these books, as they appear in the Bible today, that neither of the two books were written by these writers, or even dictated by them. Torah, as well as the Gospels are more of historian's accounts of the lives and teachings of Moses and Jesus respectively, than books revealed to them. Thus, I really don't think that anyone who is aware of the history of the compilation of the Bible really has any problems in accepting the statement of the Muslims that the various books of the Bible, as we have them today are more likely to be a lot different from what was revealed to and then taught by the Prophets to which they are ascribed.

The Bible, that is normally read around the world today, is basically a translation of the (narration of the) original text. The various books that constitute the Bible today were first written in languages other than English or German or Urdu or Arabic. For example, the Genesis is thought to be originally written in Hebrew. So is Exodus and also the other books of the pentateuch.

Let us first consider the Torah (or the Pentateuch). The Torah is believed to be revealed by God to Moses (May Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him). Thus, it is taken to be revealed somewhere around the 13th century BC. But the books that we have with us today, that constitute Torah, do not date as farther back. Furthermore, experts on the text of the Bible also believe that the Torah, as we have it now, was not written or even dictated by Moses (Peace be upon him) himself. Geddes MacGregor, in his book, "The Bible in the Making" writes:

All you have to do to see that the Old Testament as we know it did not come straight from the pen of its several authors, is to look at the first three chapters of Genesis. There you will find two quite distinct accounts of the creation of man. The account in the first chapter is startling different from the account in the second and third....

... There is no doubt that these two stories of the creation of man which have been set down together in the opening chapters of Genesis belong to very different periods. The second is by far the more primitive one, and between the writings of the two narratives about as much time elapsed, as has elapsed between the day of Christopher Columbus and our own. The disparity is obvious from the character of the stories themselves: you can detect it in reading them alongside each other in an English Bible. If you were reading them in Hebrew you would be struck by the fact that throughout the first account, the word used for "God" is from "Elohim", while in the second the name assigned is that of "Yahweh".

The use of the term "Elohim" goes further back, however, than the date of the passages in Genesis in which it is used. A study of various passages in the Hebrew Bible shows that there must have been originally two documents, of which the author of the more primitive one used the name Yahweh in referring to God, while the author of the other used the name Elohim. Scholars call the first document J, from "Jahveh" ("Yahweh"), and the second document E, from "Elohim". (Chapter III, The Writing of the Old Testament, Pg. 23-24, 1961)

The author, has then described briefly how the first six books of the Hebrew Bible have come down to us. A summary of the writer's description follows4:

J was the product of the southern kingdom, while E of the northern kingdom.

Some time after 721 BC, a writer in the southern kingdom put these two documents together with additions of his own. The work of this scholar is called JE by the modern scholars.

In the following century, JE was enlarged by the addition of the discourses of Deuteronomy (these are apparently, addresses delivered by Moses, shortly before his death)5.

Around 500 BC, a school of priests undertook further editorial revision. Finally, in the fifth century BC, this codification was incorporated with JE as revised and expanded by the Deuteronomy editor.


In other words, J and E are the two most primitive narrations of the life and teachings of Moses (though not written or dictated by him), both these narratives are not similar, and differ with each other in many respects. J (written somewhere around 850 BC)6 and E (around 750 BC) were combined and added upon in (around) 650 BC and the resultant document was called JE. In (around) 550 BC, further additions were made from a document called D (dated around 621 BC) and thus, the document now became JED. In (around) 400 BC, priestly ritual laws, (written around 500 - 450 BC) were added to JED - now growing to JEDP. JEDP, as it became in 400 BC, is the Pentateuch (The Torah) as we now know it. Thus, a book considered and believed to be written by and revealed to Moses (around the 13th century) is actually written in the fourth or the fifth century7.

This, then is the reality about the Torah. There is no doubt, at least in my mind after reading the text of these books that they do contain parts of revelations to Moses. But, the situation, as it actually stands does not allow me to stand certain that all the material contained therein is revelation - all revelation. Thus, Geddes MacGregor writes:

There are, indeed, probably echoes in the Old Testament itself of dissatisfaction with the revisions. Jeremiah, for instance, having questioned whether his compatriots are justified in their confidence in possessing the Law of God revealed to Moses, warns them: "Behold, the false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely (Jeremiah viii. 8)".

The position of most of the other books of the Old Testament is not very different.


Now, let us turn towards the New Testament.

The New Testament does not consist of any book that even claims to be written or dictated or even proposed to be written by Jesus (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) - the prophet of God (as Muslims believe him to be), to whom, as the Muslims believe, the real Injil was revealed. All the New Testament consists of, besides the book called "Revelation", are four biographies of Jesus (may peace be upon him) claimed to be written by his disciples, and some letters (claimed to be) of his disciples. The case of "Revelation" is just a little bit different, as it is presented completely as a narrative of a dialogue of Jesus with one of his disciples. Recognizing this fact, C. F. Evans writes:

The only New Testament book, which appears to have been written self-consciously as if for canonical status (but only until the imminent end) is Revelation, with its solemn blessing on those who read and hear it and its threat of damnation on anyone who adds to or subtracts from it, but this is because writing had become a solemn and mysterious act in the apocalyptic tradition, and it is significant that Revelation, though a mosaic of Old Testament phrases and allusions, nowhere makes any explicit citation from it. (C. F. Evans, The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. I, "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", 1970, p. 234)

In the beginning, it seems, all the writings now included in the New Testament, with many others that were in circulation among Christians, were written only to preserve the life and teachings of Jesus, as was understood or interpreted by their respective writers. Most of these writings, it seems were never meant, initially, to become the basis or canons of a new religion. So, whoever had anything related to the life and teachings of Jesus, which he thought to be important, was written down, so that no part of it was lost in oblivion. This, is quite understandable. Disciples of all great people tend to do so. And no doubt, such writings are of great importance for a student of history. But, placing them at the exalted status of canons or basis of a new religious belief, does not seem to be quite justified. Thus, it seems that initially, no one even thought about collecting and publishing all the writings that were in circulation8and at that time they were, probably, not even as much revered as they later became. C. F. Evans writes:

So long as Christianity stood close to Judaism, or was predominantly Jewish, scripture remained the Old Testament, and this situation can be seen persisting in such a document as I Clement, with its frequent and almost exclusive appeal to the Old Testament text. The elevation of Christian writings to the position of a new canon, like those writings themselves, was primarily the work of Gentile Christianity, whose literature also betrays a feeling that the very existence of the Old Testament was now a problem to be solved and that there was need of some new and specifically Christian authority. ... what eventually took place was precisely what in the earliest days of the Church could hardly have been conceived, namely, the creation of a further Bible along with that already in existence, which was to turn it into the first of two, and in the end to relegate it to the position of 'old' in a Bible now made up of two testaments. The history of the development of the New Testament Canon is the history of the process by which books written for the most part for other purposes and from other motives came to be given this unique status; and the study of the New Testament is in part an investigation of why there were any such writings to canonize, and of how, and in what circumstances, they came to possess such qualities as fitted them for their new role, and made it impossible for them to continue simply as an expansion of, or supplement to, something else. (C. F. Evans, The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. I, "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", 1970, p. 234 - 235)

He further writes:

During the apostolic age the Christian Bible consisted of the Old Testament alone. (C. F. Evans, The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. I, "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", 1970, p. 286)

The Muslim mind is simply confused by the fact that if the books that now constitute the New Testament were truly believed to be of Divine origin at the time of their writing, then how can such careless attitude towards such books be seen at that time. It seems quite obvious that this status was given to these books only at a later stage. Initially, they were neither considered as Divine, nor as canons of a new religion, but simply narrations of the teachings of a prophet by such people who were his companions or by those who had been companions of his companions. Nothing more than that. Later on, when it was felt that these narrations were all that existed about this prophet, and if such careless attitude continued towards these narrations, then, in due course of time, nothing would remain existent about the teachings of this prophet. Thus, for this purpose, these writings had to be canonized and made the basis of a new religion, as nothing else existed. Furthermore, to better the attitude towards them, it was claimed that they were Divinely Inspired and not just writings like any other of their age. Geddes MacGregor writes:

Prominent in the measures taken to safeguard the Church against the dangers that beset it was the attempt to provide a body of Scripture that could be set side by side with the Old Testament and have, for Christians, a comparable status. But this movement to limit the Christians Scriptures to a fixed number of books was much stronger among some Christian communities than among others. (Geddes MacGregor, The Bible in the Making, Chapter IV, How The New Testament Took Shape, 1961, p 39 - 40)

This process of selecting some of the books that were in circulation at that time as more authoritative and making a New Testament on their basis, initiated in the second century. By the end of the second century Churches in the West, especially Rome, accepted some books to be more authoritative and started calling them the New Testament. In this categorization of the books in circulation, Revelation, the Epistle to the Hebrews, II Peter, II and III John, and Jude were considered to be less authoritative.9While among the Eastern or Greek Fathers, there was considerable disagreement even in the fourth century10.

Now, let us come to the 'corruption' part of the issue.

A few methods have been devised by textual scholars of the Bible to infer which of the text given in the old manuscripts is most likely that of the originally written document. A number of books have been written on the explanation of these methods. One such book is Bruce M. Metzger's "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration". The author, in the preface of the book has briefly mentioned why it is important to apply textual criticism on the Bible. He states:

The necessity of applying textual criticism to the books of the New Testament arises from two circumstances: (a) none of the original documents is extant, and (b) the existing copies differ from one another. The textual critic seeks to ascertain from the divergent copies which form of the text should be regarded as most nearly conforming to the original. (Bruce M. Metzger's "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration", 1964)

This statement, in other words simply means that the oldest of the manuscripts of the New Testament that we have, do not comply with each other. In such a state, a simple mind, is obviously prone to believing that the text of the New Testament, from its oldest of days was not safe from corruption.

C. F. Evans after a detailed analysis of the various reasons that can be ascribed to the variant readings of the New Testament presents his conclusion in the following words:

Thus a study of the history of the text of the New Testament in the earliest and formative period shows a number of different factors at work. In the first place, the New Testament documents have been open to the normal hazards of manuscript transmission. This is evident in some lines of descent.... It is still a matter of debate whether any places have been so affected in all lines of transmission: a plausible case for corruption might be made in John 3: 25, I Cor. 6: 5, Col. 2: 18, and Jas. 1: 17, to mention only some striking instances... Another debated factor is the influence of doctrine upon the text. It is understandable that many scholars, conscious of the sensibilities of fellow-churchmen, and often sharing those sensibilities themselves (whether from a consciously conservative standpoint or not), should have denied that any variant had arisen from alteration in the interest of some doctrinal issue. However, we have seen that there are instances where we run in the face of the evidence if we deny the presence of this factor in the development of the text. Many variants which can be traced to the second century bear the mark of the development of doctrine... Many variants of a different kind have sprung from the closely related factor of interpretation... Lastly, we perceive that change has come about as a result of the history of the Greek language, both conscious changes from locutions deemed barbaric to others considered cultured, and unconscious changes such as arose through the disappearance of the dative case or the attenuation of the perfect. (C. F. Evans, The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. I, "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", 1970, p. 375 - 376)

Bruce M. Metzger has outlined the causes of error in the transmission of the text of the New Testament, in a separate chapter of his book, "The Text of The New Testament". He has broadly divided such errors into two categories11: (a) Unintentional Changes, and (b) Intentional Changes. In unintentional changes, he mentions the following:

Errors Arising from Faulty Eyesight : This maybe of any one of different natures. For example, a scribe with such a problem, found it difficult to distinguish between Greek letters that resemble one another, this was especially the case where the previous copyist had not written with care. Then, there can be a problem of jumping from one line to other and thereby omitting a line or a few lines, if both the lines ended or began with similar words.

Errors Arising from Faulty Hearing: Such problem can especially arise when the scribe is making a copy from dictation. A scribe is more prone to this problem in the case of two or more words with the same pronunciation.

Errors of the Mind: This category of errors seem to have arisen during the particular instance when the copyist was holding a sentence or a phrase in his mind, whether after looking at the previous copy, if the copy was made by looking at a previous copy, or after hearing the sentence, if the copy was made from dictation. This error can result in a number of variations in the text. For example, the copyist may unintentionally substitute a word with a synonymous word. The sequence of words may be unintentionally altered. The letters of a word may be so transported that causes a different word to be written in the copy being so made. The passage being so written may be replaced in the mind of the scribe with a similar passage that is better known to the scribe.

Errors of Judgement: Such errors may arise when a scribe mistakes some words written on the margin of a previously written manuscript to be part of the text being written.

While in intentional changes, the following are mentioned:

Changes Involving Spelling and Grammar: The scribe may, with a motive of correction, change or alter the spelling of a word or the sequence of words in a sentence.

Harmonistic Corruptions: Since the monks normally knew portions of the Scriptures by heart, they tended to make changes in the text to harmonize discordant parallels or quotations.

Addition of Natural Complements and Similar Adjuncts: Where the scribe thought a phrase to be missing a few words that, in his opinion, should have been there, he added such words as he thought were obviously missing and were meant to be there.

Clearing up Historical and Geographical Difficulties: The scribes who were aware of a particular historical or geographical reference being made in the text and found that reference to be incorrect in some way, tended to correct such reference.

Conflation of Readings: When the same passage was given differently in different manuscripts most scribes incorporated both readings in the new copy which they were writing.

Alterations made because of Doctrinal Considerations: When the words of the manuscript which was used as a source differed from or negated the doctrine to which the scribe ascribed himself, he was tempted to alter the words in a way that prevented the particular doctrine from losing its ground.

Addition of Miscellaneous Details: Some scribes had the tendency of adding details to some event that was referred to in the text.

The author has given a number of examples under each sub-category of these changes.

This, then, is what confuses the Muslim mind to the extent that is quite well known. The Muslims do not believe that the books that now constitute the New Testament were written by Jesus (peace be upon him), whereas, the basis of Christianity is ascribed to him. Even if these books were ascribed to Jesus (peace be upon him), the Muslims have never been provided with unbroken and dependable chains of transmission of these books from one generation to the next, till it reaches Jesus (peace be upon him). Lastly, even experts on the text of the Bible believe that it has not remained safe from intentional and/or unintentional changes in the text....

I am afraid, in the situation as it stands, the Muslims have no option but to believe that the books of the Bible as we have them today do not truly reflect the true teachings of the prophets to whom they are ascribed.

Do keep in touch.


1- Canonization, very simply stated, means the acceptance of some of the writings that were in circulation, in the early period of Christianity, as authoritative, while not giving this position to other such writings

2- As has been stated by C. F. Evans in his article "The New Testament: The New Testament in the Making", The Cambridge History of the Bible, Cambridge, 1970, p. 286

3- Note that such narratives would not become the "basis" of religious doctrine for the Muslims. This does not imply that such narratives would be out rightly rejected.

4- See Geddes MacGregor's "The Bible in the Making", Chapter III, 1961.

5- The author writes: ... indeed they were no doubt based on an oral tradition of a farewell address given by that great leader of the early Hebrews. The writer of Deuteronomy incorporated older materials in his work such as the "Blessing" (Deuteronomy xxxiii); but the ideals and sentiments he expressed are those of his own age, not that of Moses.

6- It must be remembered that the time of Moses is around the 13th century, and the most ancient narrative, and that too only a part of the Torah is not earlier than c. 850 BC.

7- See table in Geddes MacGregor's "The Bible in the Making", Chapter III, 1961, p 26

8- Also see Geddes MacGregor's "The Bible in the Making" 1961, Chapter IV, How the New Testament took shape, p. 35

9- see Geddes MacGregor, The Bible in the Making, Chapter IV, How The New Testament Took Shape, 1961, p 40.

10- see Geddes MacGregor, The Bible in the Making, Chapter IV, How The New Testament Took Shape, 1961, p 41.

11- (Bruce M. Metzger's "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration", 1964. p 186 - 206)