The Question Nobody is Asking
Vol: 24 Issue: 29 Tuesday, May 29, 2018
The Bible has, over the past two thousand years, been subjected to every form of criticism; textual criticism, archeological or historical criticism, criticism of its form, authorship, and content, but has survived every effort to find even a single, documentable, provable mistake in its pages.
The Bible is the #1 best-seller in history. It has been translated into 2,123 languages and dialects. Nine out of every ten Americans own a Bible.
There are plenty of folks who claim they’ve found mistakes in the Bible, but the simple fact is this. If somebody actually found a verifiable, provable error contained in Scripture, they have yet to demonstrate it.
While there are clever and articulate Bible-haters who have dedicated their entire lives to disputing Scripture, not one of them has made it into the history books as the one who disproved the foundational text of Judeo-Christianity.
Instead, they generally find themselves on the list of folks who take the more difficult parts of Scripture that they don’t understand and call them ‘errors’.
And despite the Bible’s record for being 100% accurate in every area in which its accuracy can be measured, there is no shortage of folks willing to step up to the plate, put their reputations on the line, and announce that they, of all the skeptics that have lived in the past two thousand years, have discovered ‘evidence’ the Bible contains mistakes.
Entire organizations and groups have been created for the express purpose of disproving the accuracy of Scripture, from avowed atheists to ‘professing Christians’ like the self-appointed members of the ‘Jesus Seminar’ who vote on which quotes attributed to Jesus were actually spoken by Him.
As an example, the Jesus Seminar’s theologians once considered Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer and concluded that the only words of that prayer actually spoken by Jesus were ‘Our Father’. (They say the rest was added later.)
Christians are used to seeing the world twist and pervert the Bible, deny its Authorship, question its teachings and condemn it as ‘hate literature.’ There are entire collegiate-level curriculums exclusively devoted to Biblical criticism.
Even the phrase, ‘Biblical criticism’ refers to anyone who takes a position, pro or con, on the accuracy of Scripture. Although almost 90% of Americans identify themselves as ‘Christian,’ Bible critics are among America’s most respected thinkers.
Critics of the Koran are among America’s loneliest.
Ever notice that other religious books, like the Hindu Upanishads, the writings of Buddha or Zoroaster, and, most particularly, the Koran, are never subjected to a scholarly analysis of their historical or textual accuracy?
Well, maybe ‘never’ is a strong word, but I can’t think of any famous Koran critics.
The Angel Gabriel is said to have told Mohammed: “This book is not to be questioned.” That is an article of faith among Muslims — subjecting the Koran to the same kind of textual criticism given the Bible would be suicide for a Muslim.
Questioning the Koran isn’t a popular enterprise among non-Muslims, either. It’s a great way to wake up one morning to discover you are dead.
The Arab scholar, Suliman Bashear, argued that Islam developed over time as a religion rather than emerging suddenly. His students in the University of Nablus threw him out the window as a result.
Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” resulted in a fatwa because it was thought to mock Mohammed. Islamic scholar Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed because his works were said to be ‘irreligious.’
One scholar of Semitic languages, writing under the pseudo-name Christopher Luxenberg, published a criticism of the Koran in which he claims the text is both mistranslated and misread.
His work involving the analysis of the earliest copies of the Koran led him to the conclusion that parts of the Koran came from preexisting Aramaic texts. These, he says, were misinterpreted by later Islamic scholars who composed the Koran as it is circulated today.
The classic example of this relates to the virgins supposedly awaiting loyal Muslim martyrs. Rather than ‘virgins,’ Luxenberg observes that in the original text, the Koran actually promises “white raisins” of crystal clarity.
This, one would think, would be a verse carefully scrutinized by Islamists. Especially those Islamofascists planning to blow themselves up. Who would want to commit suicide in exchange for a box of transparent raisins?
Those Semitic scholars who dare to voice an opinion are unanimous in their contention that there is no historical evidence of the existence of the Koran prior to 691 AD, about sixty years after Mohammed’s death. Much of what is known of Mohammed is based on texts that were written 300 years after his death.
John Wansbrough of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London says the text of the Koran now used appears to have been a composite of different texts complied over perhaps hundreds of years. It appears to academicians to have continued to evolve until the end of the seventh century.
There are three schools of thought about who actually wrote the Koran and how it was assembled. The first school of thought maintains Mohammed wrote the Koran. The second says the Koran was simply assembled from notes left behind after the prophet’s death.
(It is a matter of accepted historical fact that Mohammed was illiterate. Illiterate men don’t leave behind notes so copious that, assembled together, they could form a six hundred page book.)
The third school of thought maintains that Mohammed dictated the Koran to a trusted [unknown] aide who faithfully transcribed the words of the prophet.
The Koran itself is more accurately an Arab commentary on the Bible, of which the Koran claims to be the final testament.
However, the Koran contradicts both the Old and New Testaments in both spirit and substance. So Islam claims that the original Bible was changed by the Jews.
A complete copy of the Book of Isaiah was unearthed in 1948 at Qumran as part of the larger collection known as the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’. Although the exact age of the document is unknown, what is unquestionable is the fact it lay hidden (and untampered with) since at least AD 70 — five hundred years before Mohammed.
The Isaiah Scroll is now on display at the ‘Dome of the Tablets’ in Israel. I have seen it with my own eyes. Scholars universally agree that the 2000 year old scroll is identical to the Book of Isaiah in a modern Bible.
Christianity welcomes, even invites textual criticism of the Scriptures. Each effort merely serves to confirm the Bible’s Divine Authorship. And, logically speaking, who would want to trust their eternity to a God Who might not be real? (If the Bible wasn’t true, I know that I’d want to know about it).
But examining the Koran for accuracy and textual consistency is not just unpopular, it is dangerous to the point of being deadly.
If it is true, then what is there to fear?
Featured Commentary: Some Not-So-Subtle Sermon Suggestions ~Steve Schmutzer