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Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Testament Corrupted?

It has been claimed by many people that the New Testament has been corrupted. The opponents of the authenticity and reliability of the New Testament as it currently stands cite that the many translations and versions as the grounds for the belief of the corruption of the New Testament. These same people also charge that the original New Testament is lost. Therefore, the modern translations of the New Testament can not be exact copies of the original New Testament, since the original in their minds do not exist. So these people believe that the modern New Testament versions and translations are nothing more than further corruptions of a fraudulent text.
As proof of such corruption, one of the many examples they present is the fact that some modern English translations and versions have removed the word “begotten” from John 3:16. Opponents of the New Testament point to this removal as proof that the word “begotten” was previously added and was now correctly removed. This “proof” is an mistaken understanding of the intent of the translators of the New Testament and why they deemed it necessary to remove the word “begotten” from John 3:16. The reason why some modern translators removed the word “begotten” from John 3:16 was not because it did not previously exist and was added, it was removed because the translators assumed that the reader of the scripture would assume that if God had a son, he would have to be of natural birth in order for him to exist in the natural world, which what the word “begotten” means. So this removal did not change the concept of God having a Son, naturally born, as many of the opponents of the New Testament would have people to believe.

It is true that the original New Testament texts were lost to decay, but what many opponents of the New Testament fail to recognize that many copies of the original New Testament were made before the originals were lost, about 24 thousand copies or more to be exact and more are being found every few years. No other religious or classical writings even come close to the number of copies made of its texts in comparison to the number of copies made of original New Testament texts. Secondly, the process by which the copies were made: If an error was found during the copying process, the proposed copy was destroyed. Another copy was made to replace the copy that was destroyed. This process was preserving the continuity and consistency of the original New Testament documents over time. This process was adopted from the Jewish community, remember the first Christians were originally Jews, so it not surprising that Jewish Christians kept the document preservation traditions of their Jewish only neighbors when making copies of their documents.  Thirdly, many of the written works of the 2nd century church fathers were also preserved in very much the same manner. From these church fathers are about 800 or more direct quotes from the original Apostles of Jesus, the Christ. Through these quotes alone can the New Testament be completely reassembled, and that without the use of the 24 thousand plus copies of the New Testament. A theologian named, Sir David Dalrymple some time ago took up the challenge of the reassembly of the New Testament and successfully did exactly that. He reassembled the New Testament as we have it today without deviations or alteration. He proved the charge of corruption of the New Testament false. He also proved that the New Testament remained consistently unchanged, even after the original New Testament was lost to decay.

Here are some statements by other theologians about the corruption of the New Testament:
From Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (Mohammed’s cousin and one of his companions) ... Islam's premiere commentator:
(a) “They corrupt the word” means “they alter or change its meaning”,yet no one is able to change even a single word from any Book of God. The meaning is that they interpret the word wrongly.”From: Kitaab (the book of) Al-Tawheed, Baab (chapter) Qawlu AllahTa'ala, Bal Huwa Qur'aanun Majeed, fi lawhin Mahfooth
(b) “The word “Tahrif” [corruption] signifies to change a thing from its original nature; and there is no man who could corrupt a single word of what proceeds from God, so that the Jews and Christians could corrupt only by misrepresenting the meanings of the word of God.'' From: Imam Muhammad Isma'il al-Bukhari in Dictionary of Islam, T.P.Hughes, Kazi Publications, Inc, 3023-27 West BelmontAvenue, Chicago Il. 60618, 1994, p.62Al-Razi (Egyptian, 7thc.)

One of the most famous Muslim scholars, called "the Eman of Muslim Emams"”How could there be any alteration in the Book whose words' sharpness has reached a great level of circulation in the East and in the West? ... For no change can occur in a book that is well circulated among men. Every wise man can see that the alteration of the Bible was impossible for it was well circulated among men of different faith and backgrounds."From: p.327 of his Third Volume Ali Tabari (Arabian, 7thc.)

Tabari wrote a semi-official defence of Islam against the Jews and Christians while he was at Baghdad during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Mutawakkil (AD 847-861). At no time did he charge them with corrupting their Scriptures. Instead he says concerning the first religious book in history: ”... the first one which came into existence, is the Torah, which is in the hands of the People of the Book.” He goes on to say, “As to the Gospel which is in the hands of the Christians, the greater part of it is the history of the Christ, His birth and His life.” From: Tabari, The Book of Religion and Empire, p.51He thus openly acknowledged that the authentic Torah and Gospel remained in the hands of the Jews and the Christians, and when speaking of them, he outlined the contents of the Old and New Testaments. His only charge against the Jews and Christians was that they did not always understand or accept the true meaning of their teachings, and he often quoted the Old and New Testaments to make his point.
Fakhruddin Razi (Persian, 1149-1209) -- Sunni theologian Razi ... on the authority of Ibn Abbas, a nephew of Muhammed:"The Jews and early Christians were suspected of altering the text of the Taurat and Injil; but in the opinion of eminent doctors and theologians it was not practicable thus to corrupt the text, because those Scriptures were generally known and widely circulated, having been handed down from generation to generation."

Muhammad Abduh Sayyid Ahmad Khan (Indian, 1817-1898) Prominent Muslim modernist whose influence on Islamic thought and policy shaped/defined Muslim responses to modernism in the latter half of the 19thc ”As far as the text of the Bible is concerned, it has not been altered. No attempt was made to present a diverging text as the authentic one.”From: M.H.Ananikian, “The Reforms and Religious Ideas of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan”, The Moslem World 14 (1934) p.61

Muhammad â€کAbduh (Egyptian, 1849-1905) Reformer and pioneer of Islamic modernism and nationalism”... the charge of corruption of the Biblical texts makes no sense at all. It would not have been possible for Jews and Christians every where to agree on changing the text. Even if those in Arabia had done it, the difference between their book and those of their brothers, let us say in Syria and Europe, would have been obvious.”From: Jacques Jomier, “Jesus, The Life of the Messiah”, C.L.S., Madras, 1974, p.216

Ibn Muniyah”Ibn Mazar and Ibn Hatim state, in the commentary known as the Tafsir Durr-I-Mansur, that they have it on the authority of Ibn Muniyah, that the Taurat (i.e. the books of Moses), and the Injil (i.e. the Gospels), are in the same state of purity in which they were sent down from heaven, and that no alterations had been made in them, but that the Jews were wont to deceive the people by unsound arguments, and by wresting the sense of Scripture ... Shah Waliyu ‘Illah (in his commentary, the Fauzul â€کl-Kabir), and also Ibn ‘Abbas, support the same view.” From: T.P.Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, Kazi Publications, Inc, 3023-27 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago Il. 60618, 1994, p.62

Dr. Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub (Lebanese, 1938-present) Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion at Temple Univ. (USA)(a) “Contrary to the general Islamic view, the Qur'an does not accuse Jews and Christians of altering the text of their scriptures, but rather of altering the truth which those scriptures contain. The people do this by concealing some of the sacred texts, by misapplying their precepts, or by altering words from their right position.”From: “Uzayr in the Qur'an and Muslim Tradition” in “Studies in Islamic and Judaic Traditions”,ed.

W.M.Brenner and S.D.Ricks, The University of Denver, 1986, p.5 (b) “... both the Hebrew Bible and the N.T. took their final form long before the rise of Islam. The Qur'an speaks of both the Torah and the Gospel as in them is guidance and light. It calls on the two faith-communities to judge by what God had revealed in their Scriptures. It also speaks that both Jews and Christians altered words from their right places and had forgotten some of what God had revealed for them. This does not mean distorting, adding, and deleting of the Scriptures. Therefore, Qur'anic references to tahrif, or alteration, are more to interpretation rather than changing the texts.”

From: May 15, 2008 e-mail to author. The Egyptian scholar, Muhammad 'Abduh, acknowledges that the charge of corruption of the Biblical texts makes no sense at all. “It would not have been possible for Jews and Christians everywhere to agree on changing the text. Even if those in Arabia had done it, the difference between their book and those of their brothers, let us say in Syria and Europe, would have been obvious.”In regard to the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament, he adds:"We believe that these Gospel accounts are the true Gospel."

Mawlawi Muhammad Sa'id, a former inspector of schools in Punjab, writes: ”... as God says in the beginning of the Qur'an: “And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful.” (2:4, 5) ”Some Muslims imagine that the Injil is corrupted. But as far as corruption is concerned, not even one among all the verses of the Qur'an mentions that the Injil or the Tawrat is corrupted. In the concerned passages it is written that the Jews - yes the Jews, not the Christians - alter the meaning of the passages from the Tawrat while they are explaining them. At least the Christians are completely exonerated from this charge. Hence the Injil is not corrupted and the Tawrat is not corrupted. For it does not necessarily follow that these Scriptures are corrupt because of the wrong opinion of some uninformed persons.”

Sayyid Ahmad Husayn Shawkat Mirthi has written: ”The ordinary Muslim people acknowledge that the Injil is the Word of God. Yet they also believe through hearsay (taqlidi 'aqida) that the Injil is corrupted, even though they cannot indicate what passage was corrupted, when it was corrupted, and who corrupted it. Is there any religious community in this world whose lot is so miserable that they would shred their heavenly Book with their own hands, and then, after restlessly patching it with sackcloth, they must throw dust in the eyes of the people? True, some religious communities change the meaning (tahrif-i ma'nawi) of their Scriptures. To say that God has taken the Injil and the Tawrat into heaven and has abrogated them is to defame and slander God. It is to pour ridicule not only upon the Qur'an but upon all the Books. Abrogation always arises because of error. Laws of earthly kingdoms are abrogated because experience has proved that they are harmful. But God makes no mistake, nor does He lack experience.”

Writes Mawlawi Chirag ud-Din: "The Qur'an commands us to believe and to honour the previous Scriptures and Apostles. According to Surah (Nisa): “O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime.” (4:136) ”When, therefore, it is commanded to believe in these Holy Scriptures, why consider the study of these Scriptures reprehensible? For when the order to believe the Qur'an and the Holy Scriptures is one and the same, how can one conclude that reading the Qur'an is a meritorious act, but that reading the Holy Scriptures is a punishable offence? ”

More recently, the Muslim scholar Mahmoud Ayoub, while discussing various Muslim commentaries on the Quranic claim that Jews call Ezra "the son of God", of tahrif which concurs with the opinion of Abduh and others noted above: ”Contrary to the general Islamic view, the Qur'an does not accuse Jews and Christians of altering the text of their scriptures, but rather of altering the truth which those scriptures contain. The people do this by concealing some of the sacred texts, by misapplying their precepts, or by "altering words from their right position" (4:26; 5:13, 41; see also 2:75). However, this refers more to interpretation than to actual addition or deletion of words from the sacred books.”

Fr. Jacques Jomier graphically portrays the issue which provoked the thoughts of Mahmoud Ayoub and Adil Ozdemir: ”The problem of the authenticity of our scriptures is a difficult one, but it is one of the most important points on which light needs to be shed. No serious discussion with Muslims is possible as long as we do not agree on the authenticity of the text of the Bible and the Gospels.
At a meeting between Muslims and Christians in Tripoli, Libya, in 1976, Fr. Landry of the White Fathers solemnly made two requests in the course of a masterly conference. First of all, in the name of Christians, he asked forgiveness for all our unjust treatment of Muslims in the past; he then asked firmly for Muslims to take the text of our scriptures seriously. The first request prompted indescribable emotion and much embracing; the second met with total indifference and fell on deaf ears”

Prof. Abdullah Saeed, PhDA significant point of tension between today’s Muslims and the ‘People of the Book’ (Jews and Christians) is the common Muslim belief that the Jewish and Christian scriptures that exist today are corrupted and cannot be relied upon in any matters of faith, religion or law. Although this is a popular view, most classical scholars of the Qur’an were far more cautious in their understanding of Qur’anic texts on this issue. This article explores the Qur’an’s references to distortion of scriptural meaning and text, and the views of scholars, particularly Tabari, Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Taymiyya and Qutb. Qur’anic words such as tahrif are popularly accepted today as referring to deliberate distortion of scripture; however, classical scholars have interpreted the Qur’an’s references in a number of different ways. Almost all suggested that distortion occurred mainly through interpretation and not in the text itself. Although the Qur’an refers to tahrif (distortion), it also exhibits the utmost respect for previous scriptures. Early Muslims adopted a narrow view of scripture, partly because of the nature of the Qur’an, and also in response to the more established religions of Judaism and Christianity, to assert the ‘purity’ of the Qur’an and Islam. Saeed notes that the Jewish and Christian scriptures that exist today are, according to most scholars, largely unchanged since the time of Muhammad and should be respected now as they were then. From: his article "The Charge of Distortion of Jewish and Christian Scriptures", in the 2002 Publication: The Muslim World. Vol. 92http://www.abdullahsaeed.org/article/charge-distortion-jewish-and-christian-scriptures

Source for all quotes: www.netmuslims.com, posted by the Asif on the thread titled Muslim scholars say "no tanrif" of the Bible.

Now many of these quotes are from Muslim scholars who do not agree with the popular idea that Christians and Jews altered the Law and the Gospel. But what was revealed here today is such corruption of the New Testament did not exist in the early church. From which all modern translations that are worth their salt is taken from. In fact some of these notable Muslim scholars state that it was impossible to do because if some did attempt to change the Gospel the error would have been discovered and corrections would have been made. Why? Because of the widespread use and copying of the original New Testament corruption of the New Testament was impossible.

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