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Choose Life That You Might Live

Part 9: The Bible, Then and Now
The New Testament is, by far, the best authenticated ancient document.. in terms of the number of manuscript copies in our possession, the length of time between the original Biblical documents and the earliest copies, the thousands of copies and fragments in various other languages, the copious quotes by early church authors, etc.

Carol Brooks

List of Chapters
For a slightly longer description of each chapter, please go to the Main Index

Part 1: Spiritual not Religious. The question is how do you know that the spiritual path you are on will lead somewhere you want to be? What does it offer you in the long run... beyond this life?
Part 2: Religious Pluralism. It is tragically true that few of those who believe that all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust.
Part 3: Faith and The Bible. Christianity is perhaps the only religion that does not demand 'blind faith' from its followers.
Part 4: God And His Bible. There is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books which usually consist of endless streams of often mind numbing philosophy, with little or no framework or context. The evidence includes the Bible’s humanly impossible authorship, its archaeological and scientific accuracy and  fulfilled prophecy.
Part 5: Alleged Old Testament Discrepancies. The charges are usually careless, overconfident and unsubstantiated.
Part 6: Why Jesus Is Without Equal.  Many so called holy men claim to to be divine or divinely inspired - to have had mystical visions or experiences. So what?
Part 7: The Reliability of The New Testament. If we applied whatever criteria liberal scholars use to dismiss the Gospels, to the evidence for other historical people and events, we would have to dismiss as myth everything we think we think we know about the ancient past.
Part 8: New Testament Differences and Discrepancies  Most alleged 'mistakes' arise from understanding too little about the Bible.
Part 8 b: The Resurrection Accounts  The so-called contradictions are trotted out without a single reference to the possible solutions that can very plausibly and naturally explain them.
YOU ARE HERE 001orange Part 9: The Bible, Then And Now. People commonly reject the Bible because they believe the original text has been changed significantly since it was first written making it a corrupted book. But is there any truth to the charge?
Part 10: Historical Corroboration. Were any of the Gospel accounts substantiated by non-Christian sources?
Part 11: Archaeology and The Bible. Does archaeology confirm, or undermine, the New Testament accounts?
Part 12: Is The Evidence Insufficient or Too Obscure? A far more sensible way to look at it is... the more severe the consequences, the fewer risks we should take.
Part 13: The Message of The Bible. The Heaven Jesus was sent to tell us about is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far more practical than that of our theologians. '
Part 14: The Warning of The Bible. We are all under the death penalty. If dying once sounds terrible to you, how does doing it twice sound? -  which is exactly what the Bible says will happen if...
Part 15: Who Is and Isn't a Christian. Since the word originated with the Bible, only the Bible has the right to define what a "Christian" is.
Part 16: Myths and Misconceptions that stem from knowing too little about Biblical Christianity.



Introduction - Is The Bible We Have Today What Was Originally Written?

The Old Testament
The Masoretic Text, The Dead Sea Scrolls and The Septuagint

The New Testament
Greek Manuscripts, Early Translations, Quotes By Early Ecclesiastical Authors

Other Ancient Writings
Number of Manuscript Copies, Length of Time Between Original and Copy

Variants in the Texts

Manuscript Evidence For The Qur'an and The Muslim Hadith
Uthman's Order To Burn The Other Codices.
Problems With The Muslim Hadith (Traditions)

Introduction - Is The Bible We Have Today What Was Originally Written?
One of the most common myths about the Bible is that thanks to over-zealousness it has been drastically changed over the centuries since it was first written. Because we do not have the original documents we have no way of knowing how much what we have in our hands today differs from what the original authors wrote. Because alterations in the text would severely compromise the truthfulness and credibility of the message it cannot be trusted nor relied on.

As every good detective will tell you a story that changes over time cannot be trusted. However, it is an verifiable fact that 99.5% of the Bible's text has not changed at all. In fact, when it comes to the New Testament there is far more evidence for the reliability of its content than there is for any other writing from the ancient world.

But first a Glossary of terms

    Codex (Pl. Codice) A manuscript volume, especially of a classic work or of the Scriptures. As said by the Free Dictionary, "the Christians adopted this parchment manual format for the Scriptures because not only is a codex easier to handle than a scroll, but one can write on both sides of a parchment, but on only one side of a papyrus scroll. By the early second century all Scripture was reproduced in codex form. In traditional Christian iconography, therefore, the Hebrew prophets are represented holding scrolls and the Evangelists holding codices. [01]

    Apocrypha - The "Apocrypha" (hidden) refers to several books written in the inter-testamental period - between approximately 400 B.C. and the time of Christ -most written in Greek rather than Hebrew. Although they may imply or even claim Biblical authority Protestants consider them non-canonical, one of the reasons being that they were never part of the Hebrew Scriptures. They are however included in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles in which they are often referred to as  "deuterocanonical" See The Canon of Scripture and The Apocrypha

    The Septuagint - (sometimes called the Alexandrian version) is often simply referred to using the Roman numerals LXX (70). It is the oldest surviving Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. In fact, as far as we know, it was the first attempt to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into an Indo-European language. See The Septuagint

The Old Testament

Because people did not have the luxury of copying machines, printing presses etc. the job of the scribe in years long gone by was a very important one not taken lightly. Scribes kept business, judicial, and historical records for kings, courts, temples etc., could also have secretarial and administrative duties and were trained to copy documents. The task of copying the Scriptures was only undertaken by devout Jewish scribes who were extremely meticulous because they believed they were copying the very word of God Himself.

The Old Testament that we use today is translated from what is called the Masoretic Text. Sometime in the Middle Ages a group of Jewish scholars called Masoretes became concerned that the correct pronunciation of words might be lost because Hebrew was ceasing to exist as a spoken language. This led them to develop a system for marking the vowels, punctuation, accents etc. As the Encyclopædia Britannica says (Emphasis Added)

    Masoretic text, (from Hebrew masoreth, "tradition"), traditional Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible, meticulously assembled and codified, and supplied with diacritical marks to enable correct pronunciation. This monumental work was begun around the 6th century AD and completed in the 10th by scholars at Talmudic academies in Babylonia and Palestine, in an effort to reproduce, as far as possible, the original text of the Hebrew Old Testament. Their intention was not to interpret the meaning of the Scriptures but to transmit to future generations the authentic Word of God. To this end they gathered manuscripts and whatever oral traditions were available to them.

    The Masoretic text that resulted from their work shows that every word and every letter was checked with care. In Hebrew or Aramaic, they called attention to strange spellings and unusual grammar and noted discrepancies in various texts. Since texts traditionally omitted vowels in writing, the Masoretes introduced vowel signs to guarantee correct pronunciation. Among the various systems of vocalization that were invented, the one fashioned in the city of Tiberias, Galilee, eventually gained ascendancy. In addition, signs for stress and pause were added to the text to facilitate public reading of the Scriptures in the synagogue.

When the final codification of each section was complete, the Masoretes not only counted and noted down the total number of verses, words, and letters in the text but further indicated which verse, which word, and which letter marked the centre of the text. In this way any future emendation could be detected. The rigorous care given the Masoretic text in its preparation is credited for the remarkable consistency found in Old Testament Hebrew texts since that time. The Masoretic work enjoyed an absolute monopoly for 600 years, and experts have been astonished at the fidelity of the earliest printed version (late 15th century) to the earliest surviving codices (late 9th century). The Masoretic text is universally accepted as the authentic Hebrew Bible. [02]

The Masoretic Aleppo Codex and The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Masoretic Aleppo Codex is the oldest nearly complete medieval bound manuscript of the entire Hebrew Bible written in about 930.

    For more than a thousand years, the manuscript was preserved in its entirety in important Jewish communities in the Near East: Tiberias, Jerusalem, Egypt, and in the city of Aleppo in Syria. However, in 1947, after the United Nations Resolution establishing the State of Israel, it was damaged in riots that broke out in Syria. At first people thought that it had been completely destroyed. Later, however, it turned out that most of the manuscript had been saved and kept in a secret hiding place. In 1958, the Aleppo Codex was smuggled out of Syria to Jerusalem and delivered to the President of the State of Israel, Izhak Ben-Zvi. [03]

The Dead Sea Scrolls: In1947 a young Bedouin shephers stumbled across some clay jars in caves near the valley of the Dead Sea. He was not to know it but the leather scrolls inside the jars was a monumental discovery because until that time the oldest Hebrew text of the Old Testament was the Masoretic Aleppo Codex (above). However, the Dead Sea Scrolls predated the Masoretic Text by about one thousand years. What is truly remarkable is that after years of study it was found that the scrolls were almost identical with the Masoretic text. For example, after examining the Isaiah scrolls found in Cave 1 Gleason Archer (See Credentials) wrote (Emphasis Added)

    Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The five percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. [04]

The fact that the text underwent so little alteration in over ten centuries is a testament to the faithfulness of the scribes and the extremely high regard in which they held the Hebrew Bible.

The Septuagint
The Septuagint or Alexandrian version (often referred to by the Roman numerals LXX) is the oldest surviving Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. It came about in the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 B.C. to 246 B.C. As far as we know, it was the first attempt to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into an Indo-European language.

This Greek version of the Old Testament very clearly shows that the text we have today is extremely well preserved.

Although the Old Testament does not have the wealth of manuscript evidence that the New Testament does, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, and the many times Jesus and most of the New Testament authors quoted the Old Testament assure sus that what we have in our hands today is the same as what was originally written.

See More About
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Septuagint
The Apocrypha

The New Testament
The New Testament is provably the best attested document of the ancient world for a number of reasons. No sooner was each book written than people started making and circulating copies either in Greek or their own language. Numerous independent copies in various languages makes it easy to see if what we now read corresponds with the original. After all what is the probability that they all got it wrong? Another form of record was provided by many early Christian authors who extensively quoted the New Testament in their own writings.

Thus, the three broad categories are...

    1) The Number of Greek Manuscripts in existence

    2) Early translations into other languages

    3) Quotes from the New Testament found in the writings of early Christians.

Greek Manuscripts
There are more than 6,000 Greek manuscripts of all or part of the New Testament. The fragments and the almost complete copies listed below are some of the earliest in our possession.

P64 - The Magdalene Papyrus (Not to be confused with the Magdalen Manuscript) is three small fragments of papyrus from upper Egypt found at Magdalen College, Oxford in 1901. They contained twenty four lines from the gospel of Matthew 26.

    Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede, director of the Institute of Basic Epistemological Research in Paderborn, Germany used physical evidence rather than the conventional method of literary theory or historical suppositions. He examined these fragments using a scanning laser microscope - a technique that can differentiate between a twenty-micrometer (millionth of a meter) layer of papyrus. This allows for the measuring of height and depth of the ink as well as the angle of the stylus used by the scribe.

    Dr. Thiede then compared the fragments with four other known manuscripts: one from the caves of Qumran, dated to 58 A.D.; one from the Herculaneum, dated prior to 79 A.D.; one from Masada, dated between 73-74 A.D.; and one from the Egyptian town of Oxyrynchus, dated 65-66 A.D.

    Based on these comparisons Dr. Thiede concluded that these portions of Matthew's gospel were written about 60 A.D. which means we either have a portion of Matthew's original writing or an immediate copy written during the lifetime of the disciples and other eyewitnesses to the event.

    What is of even more importance is that the Matthew 26 fragment uses nomina sacra (holy names) such as the diminutive “IS” for Jesus and “KE” for Kurie or Lord. This is highly significant because it suggests that the godhead of Jesus was recognized centuries before it was accepted as official church doctrine at the council of Nicea in 325 AD. See Catholicism and The Councils

Fragment 7Q5 is a fragment from the book of Mark found among the Qumran scrolls. New research shows that it was written sometime before 68 AD meaning that it could have been written within 35 years of Jesus' death while eyewitnesses were still alive! See More About these two fragments in The Bible's Manuscript Evidence.

Also See Dating The New Testament and Why Did The Disciples Wait So Long? HERE

Rylands Papyrus (P52)
The Rylands Papyrus  dated to about 120-130 A.D. proved critics wrong when they claimed that the fourth gospel was written in the late second century thus could not have been written by John.

This fragment found in Egypt is less than nine cm high. Written in Greek, it is the earliest surviving papyrus fragment of the New Testament in any language. The papyrus is written on both sides which tells us it was part of a codex (a folded and sewn book), not a scroll or single sheet. The front has parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33, and the back has parts of seven lines from verses 37–38.

    "It provides us with invaluable evidence of the spread of Christianity in areas distant from the land of its origin; it is particularly interesting to know that among the books read by the early Christians in Upper Egypt was St. John's Gospel, commonly regarded as one of the latest of the books of the New Testament". Page shows an image of the fragment. [05]

Papyrus 4 is dated to between 175-225 A.D. Currently housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, it is one the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke and contains extensive sections of its first six chapters.

Papyrus 46 is among these oldest surviving New Testament manuscripts in Greek, dated between 175-225 A.D. "The existing leaves contain (in this order) the last eight chapters of Romans; all of Hebrews; virtually all of 1–2 Corinthians; all of Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians; and two chapters of 1 Thessalonians. All of the leaves have lost some lines at the bottom through deterioration.... 30 of the leaves are now at the University of Michigan and 56 are in the Chester Beatty Collection in Dublin, Ireland. [06]

Papyrus 66... a near complete codex (manuscript in book form) of the Gospel of John, and part of the collection known as the Bodmer Papyri, is dated to around 200 A.D., which makes it one of the oldest New Testament manuscripts known to exist - merely one century removed from the original writing.

Papyrus 75 also dates back to about the same time. Stored in the Vatican library, it contains about half the text of Luke and John (Luke 3-18,22-24; John 1-15)

The Chester Beatty papyri "are some of the oldest and most important biblical manuscripts known to exist". Housed at the Chester Beatty Library (CBL) in Dublin, the papyri "include the oldest manuscript of Paul's letters (dated c. AD 200), the oldest manuscript of Mark's Gospel , portions of the other Gospels and Acts (third century), and the oldest manuscript of Revelation (third century). One or two of the Old Testament papyri are as old as the second century AD". [07]

Codex Vaticanus,
is named so because it is the most famous manuscript in the Vatican library stored there since at least the 15th century. Vaticanus is generally believed to be from the fourth century which would make it the oldest nearly complete surviving manuscript of the Greek Bible.

Codex Sinaiticus
was originally discovered in the Greek Orthodox Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai. The manuscript eventually wound up in Saint Petersburg, but was later sold to the British Library where, except for a few missing leaves, it still resides. Like Codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus is believed to be from the fourth century but is usually dated a little later than Vaticanus. However this codex omitted a large number of words because when the scribe looked up to continue copying his eyes fell on the second occurrence of a phrase rather than the first one. Thus he left out all of the words between the two occurrences. See Examples from the original writing.

Early Translations Into Other Languages
The Latin Vulgate is the oldest nearly complete version of the Bible in Latin. It was the work of the scholar Jerome in about 400 A.D. and was partially a translation of the original languages and partially a revision of earlier Latin versions many of which were poorly translated. The word 'Vulgate' comes from the latin versio vulgata - the version commonly used.

There are literally thousands of Latin manuscripts (some say as many as 8,000) of part or all of the New Testament, some of which date back almost to Jerome's original translation.

Additionally, there are apparently, more than 1,000 copies and fragments of the New Testament in various languages of the day... Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Gothic, and Ethiopic," [08] The general consensus is that the New Testament of the Peshitta (the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition), was probably translated from the Greek in the 2nd century AD.

Quotes By Early Ecclesiastical Authors
Christian authors, who lived as early as the first and second centuries, quoted extensively from the Scriptures obviously using texts much older than any in our possession today. The manuscripts we have of their writings contain so many quotes from the Bible that it is said if we were to lose the entire New Testament tomorrow, with the exception of a few verses, it would be possible to reconstruct it in its entirety

Dan Wallace along with J. Ed Komoszewski and M. James Sawyer wrote the book Reinventing Jesus in which he estimates that 43% of NT verses are in manuscripts that date from before 250 AD. [09] For example,

Polycarp a disciple of John and bishop of Smyrna in the first century was martyred at the age of 86. His major writing The Letter to the Philippians was written to refute certain gnostic groups that claimed religious salvation exclusively through their arcane spiritual knowledge. The letter either quotes or alludes to the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, and 1 Peter.

See Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians

Clement of Rome. Clement was bishop of Rome in the late first century AD. The First Letter of Clement is a surviving work said to be penned in 95AD. In it he quotes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, 1 Corinthians, Titus, Hebrews, and 1 Peter. Unfortunately, this epistle has been used to support the Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession ie. the bishops or popes  represent a direct, unbroken line of succession from the Apostles.

Ignatius of Antioch (Bishop of Antioch) was martyred somewhere from 98 to 117 AD. We neither know why he was not executed in his home town but escorted to Rome by a company of Roman soldiers, nor why they took an extremely circuitous route making several lengthy stops along the way. Of his writings, seven epistles are generally considered authentic, In them he quoted "Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, James, and 1 Peter." [10]

Other Ancient Writings
Number of Manuscript Copies
The number of manuscript copies of the New Testament far surpass the number of copies of any other ancient document.

According to scholar F.F. Bruce, we have nine or ten good copies of Caesar's Gallic Wars; thirty five copies of Livy's Roman History; four and a half copies of Tacitus' Histories, ten full and two partial copies of Tacitus' Annals; eight manuscripts of Thucydides' History, and just as few of the History of Herodotus.

    Note: Tacitus unwittingly provided us with some significant corroboration to the Gospels. See Chapter 10 - Historical Corroboration.

The Iliad And The Odyssey: Homer is traditionally held to be the author of the ancient Greek epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. They are generally presumed to have been composed sometime from the eighth century BC or even slightly earlier to the mid-seventh century BC. There are over 1,000 mostly fragmentary manuscripts of these two poems in existence - many more of the Iliad than the Odyssey. However, nothing definite is known of Homer including whether he ever even existed.

Length of Time Between Original and Copy
It stands to reason that the closer a document is to the event it describes, the more credible it is. However, in most cases the manuscripts of secular ancient writings in our possession can be centuries removed from the original writings.

Thucydides, considered one of the greatest of ancient historians, lived in the fifth century BC. Virtually everything we know about long lasting Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta comes from his pen. However, the earliest copy of any manuscripts of his work date to around 900 AD, a full 1,300 years after it was written. Yet, as F.F. Bruce also says (Emphasis Added)

    "...no classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in any doubt because the earliest MSS of their works which are of any use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals." [11]

Caesar's Gallic Wars was composed between 58 and 50 B.C. However, the oldest of the surviving nine or ten good manuscripts is some 900 years after Caesar's day.

Herodotus, a Greek historian lived in the fifth century BC and wrote a long account of the Greco-Persian Wars called The Histories. The earliest copy of this work dates to around 900 A.D.

Tacitus wrote his Histories and his Annals about 100 AD, both of which rely on two manuscripts.. one from the ninth century and the other from the eleventh.

Arrian: Alexander the Great was born 356 BC and died in 323 BC. His victory at the battle of Gaugamela on the Persian plains was a decisive victory that led to the fall of the Persian Empire. Arrian, a Greek historian who wrote an account of the battle approximately 350 years after the event is generally considered the most reliable, because it is believed (although not definitively known) that he based his account on Ptolemy who was a general under Alexander. The original works are all lost.

As said in A Companion to Ancient Macedonia- edited by Joseph Roisman - Professor of Classics at Colby College, and Ian Worthington - Professor of History at the University of Missouri,

    Despite Alexander's spectacular accomplishments, contemporary sources about him exist today only as fragments or minor accomplishments in oratory and we have only a handful of inscriptions. For a narrative of his reign we are dependent on five much later sources. The earliest of these is Diodorus Siculus (first century BC), followed by Quintus Curtius Rufus (mid-to later first century AD), Arrian (first to second century AD), the biographer Plutarch (first to second century AD), and finally, Justin, whose epitome of a first century BC wok by Pompeius Trogus (now lost) could date to as late as the fourth century AD.

As the book goes on to say...

    "The greatest challenge in any study of Alexander is the nature of the source material about him, for all too often we are presented with a legendary Alexander as opposed to a historical one. Getting to the real Alexander is next to impossible".   [12]

Livy's Roman History, written between 59 B.C. and 17 A.D., come from some twenty manuscripts, only one of which is as old as the fourth century. This one contains only fragments of books 3-6.

Flavius Josephus (c. AD 37 – c. 100) was a Roman Jewish historian. In about A.D. 94 He wrote The Antiquities of the Jews  that related the history of the Jews from creation to the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 CE. The Jewish War recounts the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation. "The oldest manuscripts of the works of Josephus in their original language of Greek date to the tenth and eleventh centuries. Portions of the works are also quoted in earlier manuscripts by other authors, particularly Eusebius (fourth century)"  A Latin translation was made about the fifth century. [13]

Pliny's Letters were written about 110-112 A.D. The earliest copy in our possession dates to about 850 A.D.... a full seven centuries later.

Suetonius, a Roman historian, lived between 70 AD and 140 AD. His book The Twelve Caesars is considered a very significant source of Roman history. Yet the earliest copy of Twelve Caesars is dated around AD 950, a full 800 years later.

See Chart comparing the date ancient documents were written, the earliest copies in out possession,
the approximate time span between original & copy, the number and accuracy of copies.

The New Testament, with its thousands of Greek manuscripts, is the most well documented book from the ancient world. The total tally of some 6,000 full or partial Greek manuscripts, the 8,000 or so Latin translations, the copies and fragments of the New Testament in various other languages, and the copious quotes by early church writers make the New Testament the best authenticated ancient document... miles ahead of any of the others.

This does not in any way mean that there are absolutely no differences between the texts.

Variants in the Texts
Neil R. Lightfoot (1929-2012) was a professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He taught upper level textual classes that specialized in the gospels and was the author of several books one of which was entitled How We Got the Bible. In it he wrote,

    From one point of view it may be said that there are 200,000 scribal errors in the manuscripts.... but it is wholly misleading and untrue to say that there are 200,000 errors in the text of the New Testament. This large number is gained by counting all the variations in all of the manuscripts (about 4,500). This means that if, for example, one word is misspelled in 4,000 different manuscripts, it amounts to 4,000 "errors."Actually in a case of this kind only one slight error has been made and it has been copied 4,000 times. But this is the procedure which is followed in arriving at the large number of 200,000 "errors." [14]

Note: the estimates today are closer to 400,000.

A "variant" is not an error. It is simply a different reading from the standard text. In any case only a small fraction of the variants bear on the meaning of the text (the vast majority are grammatical) and none affect any major doctrine of the Christian Faith. Even Bible critic Bart Ehrman admits that

    "It would be a mistake, however, to assume that the only changes being made were by copyist with a personal stake in the wording of the text. In fact, most of the changes found in our early Christian manuscripts have nothing to do with theology or ideology. Far and away the most changes are results of mistakes, pure and simple - slips of the pen, accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another" (Misquoting Jesus, 55, emphasis added).

Manuscript Evidence For The Qur'an and The Muslim Hadith
Uthman's Order To Burn The Other Codices
In The Uthmanic Recension Of The Qur'an, John Gilchrist, author of Facing the Muslim Challenge: A Handbook of Christian - Muslim Apologetics writes...

    (Note: A 'recension' is a critical revision of a text incorporating the most plausible elements found in varying sources).

About nineteen years after the death of Muhammad, when Uthman had succeeded Abu Bakr and Umar as the third Caliph of Islam, a major new development took place in the standardising of the Qur'an text. The Muslim general Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman led an expedition into northern Syria, drawing his troops partly from Syria and partly from Iraq. It was not long before disputes arose between them as to the correct reading of the Qur'an. They had come from Damascus and Hems, from Kufa and Basra, and in each centre the local Muslims had their own codex of the Qur'an. The codex of Abdullah ibn Mas'ud became the standard text for the Muslims at Kufa in Iraq, while the codex of Ubayy ibn Ka'b became revered in Syria. Hudhayfah was disturbed at this and, after consulting Salid ibn al-As, he reported the matter to Uthman. What followed is described in the following hadith:

    Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sha'm and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to Uthman, 'O Chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur'an) as Jews and the Christians did before'. So Uthman sent a message to Hafsa, saying, 'Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you'. Hafsa sent It to Uthman. Uthman then ordered Zaid ibn Thabit, Abdullah bin az-Zubair, Sa'id bin al-As, and Abdur-Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, 'In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of the Quraish as the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue'. They did so, and when they had written many copies, Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p.479).

For the first time in the official works of the Hadith literature we read of other codices that were being compiled, in addition to the one done by Zaid for Abu Bakr, and that these were widely accepted and well-known, certainly far more so than the codex of Zaid which by this time was in the private possession of Hafsah. While some of those texts consisted only of a selection of portions, it is clearly stated that others were complete codices of the whole Qur'an.....

Uthman's action was drastic, to say the least. Not one of the other codices was exempted from the order that they be destroyed. It can only be assumed that the differences in reading between the various texts was so vast that the Caliph saw no alternative to an order for the standardising of one of the texts and the annihilation of the rest. The fact that none of the other texts was spared shows that none of the codices, Zaid's included, agreed with any of the others in its entirety. There must have been serious textual variants between the texts to warrant such action.....

These were hand-written codices carefully copied out, some as complete records of the whole Qur'an text, by the most prominent of Muhammad's companions who were regarded as authorities on the text. It was these codices that Uthman eliminated. Uthman burnt and destroyed complete manuscripts of the whole Qur'an copied out by Muhammad's immediate companions. [15]

Jay Smith (see next section) adds

    We have absolutely no evidence for the original Qur’anic text. Nor do we have any of the alleged four copies which were made of this recension and sent to Mecca, Medina, Basra and Damascus... Even "Hafsah's copy," from which the final recension was taken, was burned. See Jay Smith. Is The Qu’ran The Word of God?  

Problems With The Muslim Hadith (Traditions)
According to theopedia.com, Jay Smith, who has a Masters degree in Islamic studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on a Ph.D at London School of Theology, has worked with Muslims for over 23 years. "He is famous for his unique evangelistic ministry. Every weekend he leads dozens of Christians to the Speakers Corner in Hyde Park in London, where they meet with hundreds of Muslims face to face, to make friends, answer tough questions, debate the latest research and ideas, and share their faith." [16]

The following quotes are from Jay Smith's article Is The Qur’an the Word of God?, in which he tells us about the Hadith or traditions in Islam written 150-300 years after the fact.

    Note: The Hadith are thousands of short reports or narratives (akhbar) on the sayings and deeds of the prophet which were collected by Muslims in the ninth and tenth centuries. Of the six most famous collections of Hadith, those of al-Bukhari (died 870 A.D.) are considered by many Muslims as the most authoritative.

Contradictory Accounts: Smith goes on to say

    "Another difficulty are the seeming contradictory accounts given by different compilers (Rippin 1990:10-11). Many are variations on a common theme. Take for example the 15 different accounts of Muhammad's encounter with a representative of a non-Islamic religion who recognizes him as a future prophet (Crone 1987:219-220).

    Some traditions place this encounter during his infancy (Ibn Hisham ed.1860:107), others when he was nine or twelve years old (Ibn Sa'd 1960:120), while others say he was twenty-five at the time (Ibn Hisham ed.1860:119). Some traditions maintain that he was seen by Ethiopian Christians (Ibn Hisham ed.1860:107), or by Jews ( Abd al-Razzaq 1972: 318), while others maintain it was a seer or a Kahin at either Mecca, or Ukaz or Dhu'l-Majaz (Ibn Sa'd 1960:166; Abd al-Razzaq 1972:317; Abu Nu'aym 1950:95, 116f)....

    Consequently it is difficult to ascertain which reports are authentic and which are to be discarded. This is a problem which confounds Muslims and orientalists even today.... "


    "A further problem with these traditions is that of proliferation. As we have mentioned, these works begin to appear not earlier than the eighth century (200-300 years after the event to which they refer). Then suddenly they proliferate by the hundreds of thousands. Why? How can we explain this proliferation?

    Take the instance of the death of ‘Abdallah, the father of Muhammad. The compilers of the mid to late eighth century (Ibn Ishaq and Ma’mar) were agreed that Abdallah had died early enough to leave Muhammad an orphan; but as to the specific details of his death, God knew best"

    Further on into the ninth century more seems to be known. Waqidi, who wrote fifty years later tells us not only when Abdallah died, but how he died, where he died, what his age was, and the exact place of his burial. According to Michael Cook, "this evolution in the course of half a century from uncertainty to a profusion of precise detail suggests that a fair amount of what Waqidi knew was not knowledge."

Weeding Out The Hadith
As Jay Smith goes on to say (underlining added)

    "Furthermore, the sheer number of Hadiths which suddenly appear in the ninth century creates a good deal of scepticism. It has been claimed that by the mid-ninth century there were over 600,000 hadith, or early stories about the prophet. In fact, tradition has it that they were so numerous that the ruling Caliph asked Al Bukhari, the well-known scholar, to collect the true sayings of the prophet out of the 600,000. Obviously, even then there was doubt concerning the veracity for many of these Hadith.

    Bukhari never spelled out the criteria which guided his choice, except for vague pronouncements of "unreliability" or "unsuitability". In the end, he retained only 7,397 of the hadith, or roughly a mere 1.2%! However, allowing for repetition, the net total was 2,762, gathered, it is said, from the 600,000. What this means is that of the 600,000 hadith 592,603 of them were false, and had to be scrapped. Thus nearly 99% of these hadith were considered spurious. This beggars belief!

    Ironically it is just this sort of scenario which creates doubt about the authenticity of any of the hadith. Where did these 600,000 sayings come from in the first place if so many were considered to be spurious? Were any of them written down? Do we have any evidence of their existence before this time? None at all!" See Jay Smith. Is The Qu’ran The Word of God?  

Endnotes (Chapter 9)
[01] https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Codex

[02] Masoretic text. Written by The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Last Updated 9-20-2013.

[03] The Aleppo Codex. Center for Online Judaic Studies. https://cojs.org/aleppo_codex-_c-_930/

[04] Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL.: Moody Press, 1985), Pg 25

[05] Papyrus 52. Bible Research. Contents copyright © 2001-2012 by Michael D. Marlowe. 

[06] Papyrus 46. Bible Research. Contents copyright © 2001-2012 by Michael D. Marlowe. http://www.bible-researcher.com/papy46.html. The page shows an image of the 2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9 leaf.

[07] Daniel B. Wallace Chester Beatty Papyri At CSNTM. http://danielbwallace.com/2013/09/17/chester-beatty-papyri-at-csntm/

[08] Jimmy Williams. Are The Biblical Documents Reliable? https://bible.org/seriespage/2-defense-faith-are-biblical-documents-reliable

[09] Daniel B Wallace, Reinventing Jesus, Kregel, 2006, Chap. 6, n. 14)

[10] Early Canonical book lists & quotations. https://1c15.co.uk/early-canonical-lists-quotations/

[11] F.F. Bruce The New Testament Documents, Are They Reliable? Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (April 2, 2003). Pg. 11

[12] A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. Alexander the Great. Macedonia and Asia. (Dawn L Gilley and Ian Worthington.) edited by Joseph Roisman, Ian Worthington. Page 186-187. Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (December 6, 2010)

[13] Gary Goldberg. Josephus Mail and Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.josephus.org/FlJosephus2/MailAndFAQ.htm#manuscripts

[14] Neil R. Lightfoot . How We Got the Bible Pgs. Baker Books; 3rd Edition, Revised and Expanded (June 1, 2010) 95-96

[15] John Gilchrist. Jam' Al-Qur'an: The Codification Of The Qur'an Text. Chapter 2... The Uthmanic Recension Of The Qur'an. http://answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/Jam/chap2.html

[16] http://www.theopedia.com/Jay_Smith


Continue To Part 10: Historical Corroboration.
The Gospel Accounts Were Substantiated By Non-Christian Sources. Although it is true that none prove Jesus is the Son of God, they certainly lend credibility to the accounts. HERE


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