They have forsaken the Lord (Part 6) – James’ Reply

Robert: Bringing the heat huh James? 🙂

James: Actually we call it The Sword. 😉

Robert: I take offense to the idea that I am some sort of “Muslim apologist”, I have nothing to apologize for in regards to Islam, as my thoughts and beliefs are what I believe are what Islam teaches.  These are the conclusions I came up with when I began my study almost seven years ago and they are the same conclusions today.

James: An apologist is someone who defends a belief; it is not someone who apologizes.

James: (in a previous reply) It’s funny that you mention this. You do know that the Qu’ran actually puts biblical scripture on the same level with the Qu’ran (see Sura 6:115, Sura 6:34, Sura 10:64, Sura 3:3 and others). If Muslims believe the Qur’an is true in its statement that nobody can change the words of God then errors in the Bible prove that the Qur’an is not from God and / or Muhammad endorsed an erroneous book. Also, everything in the Qu’ran would have to be viewed in light of biblical scripture since obviously the revelation of biblical scripture predates that of the Qu’ran. This is a serious logical problem for Islam and the implications of the above are huge when you consider that the bible and the Qu’ran, substantially, are diametrically opposed to one another.

Robert:  I don’t mean any harm, but I have seen this argument from Christians before.  It never truly makes sense to try and legitimize ones scripture using another, because you almost always come up in error.

James: I am not trying to legitimize the Bible by using the Quran as you suggest. If you refer back to my original statement you will see that I’m actually demonstrating that the Quran is not true using propositional logic.

Consider the following:

Proposition: The Qur’an is true in its statement that nobody can change the words of God and that the Bible (Torah + Injil or gospel) is the word of God

Sura 6:115 The words of thy Lord are perfect in truth and in justice; NONE can change His words: For He is the one who heareth and knoweth all.

Sura 6:34 There is none that can alter the words of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers.

Sura 10:64 There is no changing the words of God; that is the supreme triumph.

Sura 3:3 Qur’an confirms that Torah, Zabur (Psalms) and Injil (gospel) are words of God. “It is He (God) who sent down to thee the Book in truth, attesting to (the truth of) what IS between its (his) hands (the Bible), and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this as a guide to mankind.” Or using Yusuf Ali: It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).

Statement: Islam claims that the Bible has been corrupted.

Conclusion: Since purportedly according to Islam the bible has been corrupted, then the Quran is false in it’s claim that nobody can change the words of God.

Robert: For instance:  6:115 refers to Muhammad (saw), 6:34 legitimizes the Prophet (saw) by reinforcing the point that God has sent messengers to every community and specifically recalling accounts of some earlier Prophets (saw) and alluding to others, 10:64 I don’t see your point in this ayah, 3:3 actually nullifies your point:
3:3 Step by step has He bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, setting forth the truth which confirms whatever there still remains [of earlier revelations]: for it is He who has bestowed from on high the Torah and the Gospel

James: Sura 3:3 does not nullify my point, it strengthens it. Refer to my statement above.

Robert: One of the name of the Quran is the Fuqran which means the Criterion.  It’s a firmly held belief that the Bible as we know it is corrupted and while there is truth in it, there is much falsehood, we believe the Quran is the only perfect revelation and use it as the measure to weed out truth from falsehood.

James: Since you can properly identify a corrupted bible then certainly you must have the original uncorrupted bible, otherwise you should not expect anyone to take your claim seriously. Some more logic for you; adapting the summation from another site, the only possible conclusion from a thorough exegesis of the Qur’an is that “copies of the true Torah and the true gospel were present in Mecca and Medina at the time of Muhammad. Furthermore, since no Muslim has brought forth from one of the great Islamic libraries an ancient manuscript of a different Torah or a different Gospel, and since no archaeological discoveries have shown any carved quotations which differ from the Torah and Gospel present with us now; I am firmly convinced that the books which were available in Mecca during the lifetime of Muhammad were identical to the torah and the gospel which we read today.”

Robert: The reference to the Torah and Injeel (Gospel) only alludes to the fact that there was such a thing revealed, however the Quran often reminds us that there is no such 100% accurate thing in existence today.

James: How does the Quran do this? Even so, this can only strengthen my proposition above regarding the falsehood of Quranic claims.

Robert: Hence the mention of the Quran first being revealed over a period of time (23yrs) that confirms what truth is left in the Bible and also pointing out what isn’t truth in the Bible.

James: What? How does the mention of the Quran first being revealed over a period of 23 years confirm what truth is or is not in the Bible?

Robert: The last part bear witness to the fact that the same Originator Originated the message.  The preservation of the earlier was left to man and they failed, the latter God said He would protect Himself, also in the Quran.

James: How did they fail? Which verse(s) got corrupted? What were they originally?

Robert: So in light of Islamic theology, I don’t understand your point.  We just bear witness that there were Prophets before and was revelation before, but it’s oft repeated in the Quran that much of that message and history has been distorted.

James: If you are conceding the Quran contradicts itself then we are in agreement, otherwise you must explain why the Quran gives the bible credence and then takes this credence away in a book that is non-chronological.

Robert: It would be foolish for one who is truly Muslim to accept the Bible whatever version you pick, and say it is all true, when the Quran specifically says it was tampered with.  Using that reasoning, I might as well have pork chops for dinner tonight!

James: It would be foolish for one who is truly Muslim to not accept the Bible as true especially because the Quran say that the words of God cannot be tampered with. Besides, the Quranic verses you refer to never imply that the bible was ever changed, altered or corrupted. But even if this were not the case, it only underscores what many of scholars have concluded, namely, that the Quran is riddled with unmistakable contradictions.

Robert:  Modern context, is my allusion to the constant chain of revisions.

If it was correct the first time, there would be no reason for new versions.  Overly simplified is an allusion to pre-set doctrines and dogmas by denominations that pick and choose the scriptures from the church members and tell them how to read the Bible versus actually learning Greek, Latin, Hebrew, etc. and seeking out the original texts and formulating an individual position.  What I meant by “western concept” was the allusion to the myriad of differences in Christianity some very stark in contrast to Eastern Churches and philosophies at times.

James: A couple of things, first, I’m afraid that you are using the words allude and allusion incorrectly. An allusion is a literary device; when you allude or make an allusion, you reference something indirectly. For instance, if I say Robert don’t tell anyone that Islam is full of contradictions and you replied “mum’s the word” you would be alluding to a play of Shakespeare called 2 Henry VI. What you are doing above is really called “referring.”

Secondly, your statements above regarding “constant chain[s] of revisions” betray a severe lack of knowledge in regards to the history of the bible. There have been several editions but no revisions. You are confusing changes based on the printing conditions of 1611 and the maturation of the print press for actual changes in the meaning of words or their substance. The bible has never changed and we have the manuscripts to prove it. If you would still like to claim that the bible has been revised please provide one example. You should really consider dropping this particular line of argument from your arsenal. It does more to hurt your cause than help it.

Finally, the strength of Christianity does not lie in dogmas or denominations; it lies in the word of God which is defensible using manuscript evidence, archaeological evidence, predictive prophecy, and the statistical improbability of fraudulent authorship. The Quran, unfortunately, falls short in every one of these areas.

Robert:  Highly controversial to whom?  A:  The Hadith by all Islamic Fiqh’s are man-made recollections and are not considered holy in any regard.  The only true source of Al-Islam is the Quran.  No scholar disputes that, so we can play the Hadith game all day, Fiqh normally determines which are acceptable and which are not anyway.  Show me in the Quran where preservation is refuted and then we would have a debate.  Most scholars only use Hadith to clarify points, there are some collections that are considered “authentic” but what you will find from Muslim to Muslim is that reliance on Hadith is varied.

James: No one is putting the Hadiths on the same level as the Quran, but I see that you are still trying to marginalize their importance. If the Hadiths are truly worthless why even acknowledge them?

Robert: When I say the Bible has been “whitewashed” or revised, I meant exactly that.  We can talk Early Christianity and NT all day, but the mere facts and history bear witness to the truth that there was no such thing as Bible in either Jesus (saw) or the disciples time. The first book(s) of the NT didn’t even appear in some of their lifetimes.  No one knows the authors minus Paul of course and then you have some books thrown in or out depending on the authority of the various Churches of the time until the matter was “settled” of course.  There are many Christian scholars like Paula Fredrikson and Bart Ehrman who have wrote extensively on the subject and are considered giants in this field.  I’m just a student, however based on research and study, it becomes quite obvious that after about a century of manuscripts being edited, revised, retranslated, thrown in, thrown out, that the only thing that one has left to believe that the original message and history survived is faith.  The oldest book Mark wasn’t even written until 80-100 CE and some suggest that it’s actually a part of a book called “Q”.  The other synoptic Gospels are based off of the Markan narrative, with the author of Luke actually admitting in the first chapter that he is recounting events as they were told to him (i.e. not witnessed himself) for emperor Theophilis, if of course I remember correctly….I could have my Christianity Professor contact you for more info if you want, and btw, she’s a Christian in case you think I have something up my sleeve….

James: To my recollection, no ever stated that there was a ‘bible’ during Jesus time. Robert, what you are doing here is called building a straw man. Straw man is a ‘red herring’ type of logical fallacy. As the “straw man” metaphor suggests, the counterfeit position (in this case, the argument that there was a bible in Jesus day) attacked in a Straw Man argument is typically weaker than the opponent’s actual position (actual examples of the “white washing” phenomenon you refer to), just as a straw man is easier to defeat than a flesh-and-blood one. Of course, this is no accident, but is part of what makes the fallacy tempting to commit, especially to a desperate debater who is losing an argument. If you would like to shine the light on Christianity, I’m happy to oblige just as long as you admit that you have made concessions in regard to my initial assertions. J Everything else you’ve said above amounts to confused ramblings without making an effort to substantiate anything. The only other thing I will say is that the bible has never changed and we have the manuscripts to prove it. The onus is on you to prove the bible has changed.

Robert: My point is my sources are completely Christian when it comes to the history of the Bible, surely you can’t in your study say that the version of the Bible you use is exactly the same as a Christian of another denomination?  Last I checked the Catholics (correct me if I’m wrong) have more books than included in say the KJV or NIV.  I don’t know what version you use, so my statement is broad obviously.

James: Before I answer you question, you must answer my prerequisites. Do you know the difference between the Alexandrian line of codecs and the Antioch line? If even the most loosely “interpreted” bible condemns you as a sinner without the blood of Jesus Christ as your covering what is the significance of more conservative “interpretations” in existence? I get a funny feeling that you may even be confusing interpretations of the bible with revisions of the bible; I can’t put this blunder past you based on your previous conjecture. Keep in mind that there is nothing barring me from coming out with my own interpretation of the Quran tomorrow and if I decided to do so, certainly this would not be considered a revision of the Quran. Robert, you need to be more careful with the logic of your assertions.

James: (in a previous reply)Your assertion is loaded so my response will be loaded. There are over 5000 extant manuscript artifacts (also called codecs) of the bible; on the other hand, we don’t know how many total manuscripts of the Koran exist or whether they differ from the Qu’ran we have today because any manuscript evidence is hidden for unknown reasons; I mean, what’s to hide? If the Qur’an truly is uncorrupted, why does the Muslim world not publish the oldest Qur’an manuscripts? Why not start with the Topkapi and the Taschkent manuscripts? Incidentally, you could destroy every bible on earth and because of the redundancy of manuscripts available, we would still be able to arrive at the bible we have today with little effort so I’m not sure what you mean when you say that the “contextual arguments would be the same.” Nothing has changed in the Bible. When I want to understand a verse in the Old Testament or Tenakh, I simply refer to my Hebrew Lexicon since I have the original Hebrew per the manuscripts. Similarly, when I want to exegete any passage in the New Testament, I simply refer to my Greek lexicon.

Robert:  I like loaded. 🙂  There are over 5000 manuscripts I agree, which are which?  Are they all repetitions of the KJV?  Do they include books like the Gospel of Thomas, Philip, etc.?  If not why?  Better yet, why aren’t those in the modern Bible?

James: For the same reason why my 9th grade essay on bumble bees is not included in the modern bible, namely, because it is not considered inspired. BTW, You have asked another loaded question. Perhaps, I should extend you an invitation to our Wednesday couples bible study; there you can learn all the answers to your questions regarding the composition of our manuscript evidence.

Robert: As far as the Quran your right we don’t know who many Qurans exist, but we know where the oldest reside….In Turkey.  And all Quran’s from the oldest in Turkey to a copy I recently bought a year ago are in the same exact language as has always been: Arabic.  There is no difference in any Quran on the globe!

James: That there is no difference in any Quran on the globe is false. See Textual Variants of the Qur’an for more details.

Robert: Takes alot to say that, but find a Muslim that would say otherwise.  That is why it is so easy for little old me to refute say someone in Saudi Arabia , because we have the same scripture letter for letter.  Our only difference is of course translation.  Arabic doesn’t translate into English well, so English translations vary from author to author, but all have the original Arabic on the right or left side of the page and footnotes to explain why they translated the way they did vice another author, however, If I were to learn Arabic completely then there would be no problems from Quran to Quran.  Arabic is still a spoken language and the tradition of Hafiz is still alive and well.  Now before you go there…certainly there is faith involved, Muslims can only physically prove that what we have as Quran today is the same as the time of Uthman and earliest copies exist from as early as the 640’s to 800’s, but none deny that every Quran in existence today is an exact copy of those.  So that gives skeptics roughly about a period of 50 years (and that’s being very generous) to suggest that somehow in the recording process something went wrong.  It’s interesting to note that all those present in the recording process was actual companions of Muhammad (saw) who were hafiz, i.e. memorized the entire Quran.  Furthermore, historians bear witness that the ability to memorize texts was a reliable source of communicating information that Arabs had mastered during that time and many Muslims master even today.  Most Mosques won’t even hire an Imam unless he is a Hafiz or a least has half the Quran committed to memory and can recite it verbatim.

James: Unfortunately, your claims above are without substance. See the same link I showed you earlier.

Robert: Now, can any of the same be said of the Bible?  Is there such a thing as those that have the Original Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc. memorized?  If so, what texts?  From what time(s)?  Were any of the compilers of the NT companions of Jesus (saw)?  Were any even eyewitnesses?  My point is this, the margin of skepticism of the Quran spans at tops 50 yrs, the margin of skepticism for the Bible at minimum, is several centuries.  Add to the facts the lack of known authors, no eyewitnesses, no definitive text to compare to, etc….well you get the point…  Even if we were to say that the oldest Quran is dated around 1000 CE (and it’s not btw) I could still take my 114 Surahs in Arabic and match them against those from 1007 years ago and get a complete match.  If you took all the books included in the KJV for example and compared them to ??? 1007 years ago what would you get?  Was there even a definitive cannon then?  Is there even one now that all Christians around the world accept?

As you can see, I take great “issue” with your “nothing has changed” comment, history bears witness that a great, great, great, deal has changed, while the Quran love it or hate it has not.  That is why for the most part when Muslims debate one another we have to interpret and contextualize based of examples of previous Muslim societies including the Prophet (saw) and rely on history to discern between us, because we are reading the exact same scripture.

James: I fear that your musings regarding biblical history juxtaposed with Quranic history are truly absurd. It is a historical fact that an exponentially larger amount of scholarship has been exhausted on the bible while no serious scholarship effort has been directed toward the Quran for obvious reasons. Now I know that this doesn’t necessarily prove anything about the bible but it does demonstrate that the bible is the most scrutinized book in history, and it has stood up to the test time and time again. I know that we should stay away from religion name calling but your claims concerning Christianity are so trite and outdated they can only be meet with laughter.

Robert: So almost every division in Islam has nothing to do with composition of the Quran, but merely politics and interpretation.  That is why Sunni, Shia, and others still pray in mixed congregations because while our views may differ our text is the same.  When was the last time a congregation of Baptists attended Mass on the regular?

James: You are just full of logical fallacies tonight aren’t you? 😉 This informal logical fallacy is called a Faulty Analogy. Look it up playa!

Robert:  I would argue that is purely an opinion.  You are missing the point.  The rules of scholarship/readership is different because we are talking about two different animals.  There is no deflection, the truth of the matter is, our religion cannot be discerned properly without looking at the Quran and Sunnah.  All scholars of Islam have to rely on the original Arabic and contextualize it based on Islamic history, because that is the nature of the revelation.  Some verses are allegorical, theological verses, some reference previous revelation and figures, some verses reference present history at the time, and some refer to future events.  So in order to decipher the Quran you have to have knowledge of the previous revelation ( i.e. Bible), you have to have knowledge of Islamic history at the time of Muhammad (saw), and the rest is faith i.e. belief in the day of judgment and ideology like God is One, etc. etc.  The problem is you keep comparing apples and oranges and calling them the same.  Yes, the are both fruit, but apples have their own specific make-up and so do oranges and that’s what makes them different.  Would you give a chimpanzee an autopsy to learn more about human composition just because they share a great deal of DNA that is similar?  Even Christians that rely on the Jewish texts fall into debate with Jews who say the Christians don’t understand their text.  Go to www.jewsforjudaism.com to see my point in action.

James: Yeah, dude you lost me on that one, but then again that’s been par for the course. I’ll have to answer the rest of your dialog on Monday. I assume we will chat this weekend.

It has been interesting.

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