Myth #2 - The Qur'an is Allah's Perfect and Complete Word

Myth #2

The Qur'an is Allah's Perfect and Complete Word

“When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre,
He’d ‘eard men sing by land and sea;
An’ what ‘e thought ‘e might require,
‘E went an’ took - the same as me!”
- Rudyard Kipling, Barrack-Room Ballads

As one would expect, Islam teaches that the Qur'an is perfect, the complete revelation of Allah to mankind. The Qur'an is held to be flawless, completely unassailable in what it says, both in fact and doctrine. Because of this perceived completeness and perfection, Islam is viewed to be the ultimate religion, the final religious revelation from Allah to man, superseding all previous belief systems. With the completion of the Qur'an, Muslims believe, the need for revelation ended and Allah's message to man was concluded.

"The guidance he has shown unto mankind is complete and flawless, and is enshrined in the Holy Qur'an...Secondly, God has completed His revealed guidance through Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and Islam is the complete religion for mankind. God has said that, 'Today I have perfected your Faith - religion - for you, and have completed my bounty upon you,' and a thorough study of Islam as a way of life proves the truth of these Quranic words." 1

Concurrently, Muslims believe that the Gospels and the Torah are also revelations to man from Allah, but that these revelations were corrupted, changed by Jews and Christians who tried to hide the original and true meanings of those texts. They believe that the Bible and Torah contain God's Word, but are thoroughly mixed with the words and thoughts of men, and are thus corrupted and superseded by the Qur‘an.

What Does the Qur'an Say About the Bible?

However, Islam has always taken a somewhat double-minded position on the Bible. While teaching that the Bible is flawed, incomplete, and untrustworthy, Islam at the same time teaches that the Bible is to be followed by Muslims as a means of finding the truth. "And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers." (Pickthal translation, Surah 10:94) Thus, we see supposed divine revelation from Allah directing Mohammed and his followers to seek truth as a final authority from the Bible, from Jews and Christians who "read the Scripture before thee," as a means of clearing up misunderstandings and doubts about quranic revelation. It is from this that the strange paradox arises whereby Muslims must teach that the Bible is corrupted by man, yet at the same time accept what it teaches (more or less) as being from God.

Further, a question which then arises is this: If Allah is directing Mohammed (and therefore Muslims in general) to seek guidance from the Bible, then did the early Muslims really consider the Bible to be corrupted in and of itself? As will be seen below, the proof texts from the Qur'an that Muslims use to maintain the teaching of biblical corruption are less decisive on this point than Muslims believe. Further, if they wish to press the issue, then a problem remains for Muslims. When do they suppose the Bible to have been corrupted? Was it BEFORE Allah told Mohammed to seek out guidance from the biblical Scriptures through Christians and Jews, in which case Allah told Mohammed to seek spiritual wisdom from corrupt sources? Or was it AFTER Allah told Mohammed to seek Biblical guidance from earlier peoples of the Book, a fact that is refuted by the evidence from biblical manuscripts in several languages that are dated from both before and after the rise of Islam, that show textual continuity throughout this period (indicating that the text was fundamentally the same throughout)?

The corruption lies not with the Bible, but rather with the Qur'an - the creation of Arabs in need of a religious text to substantiate their developing monotheistic religion. Many storied in the Qur'an were directly (though imperfectly) transferred from the Bible, containing stories about personalities from the Bible, but often the stories are incorrect. The Qur'an states that Haman was a servant of Pharaoh, that Moses was adopted by Pharaoh's wife rather than his daughter, that the great Flood of Noah occurred during the time of Moses, and that Joseph was bought as a slave by an Egyptian named Aziz (instead of Potiphar), to name a few. The evidence seems to point to a rudimentary acquaintance with the biblical Scriptures during the early years of the Arab Empire, with a concomitant misunderstanding of much of what they heard and saw in them. The Arabs merely cobbled together their various impressions of what they had heard from various religious sources, and made them a part of the Qur'an.

Further, it ought to be noted that passages in the Qur'an which Muslims point to as "proof" of the corruption of earlier texts do not necessarily teach the corruption of the texts themselves. Two primary quranic passages used by Muslims to claim Biblical corruption are these:

"And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture. Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: "This is from Allah," to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby." (Surah 2:78-79)

"Can ye (O ye men of Faith) entertain the hope that they will believe in you?- Seeing that a party of them heard the Word of Allah, and perverted it knowingly after they understood it." (Surah 2:75)

Neither of these passages indicate textual corruption. The first passage refers to illiterates (defined by the context as those ignorant of the quranic revelation, which explains how an "illiterate" could write a book) who act upon their own accord to create their own scriptures, and then try to pass them off as sacred writings. This does not refer to the corruption of the words of God, but rather to the production of competitors to the words of God, false teachings and new books. The second passage refers to people who heard preaching, and knowingly perverted what they had heard, teaching that it means something else. As Parrinder has noted, early Muslim claims of corruption (tahrif) generally refer to misinterpreting scripture, and passing off something which is not scripture as if it were so, but say nothing about the text of the previous scriptures being corrupted 2. He further states in reference to Muslim commentary on the Bible,

"Another writer says: 'In the Koran tahrif means either false interpretation of the passage bearing upon Mohammed or non-enforcement of the explicit laws of the Pentateuch. As for the text of the Bible, it had not been altered...No rival text is assumed."3

As we see, traditional Muslim claims about "corruption" in the Bible revolve around suggested false interpretations, not actual alteration of the text itself. More will be said about this subject in Chapter 6, with particular regard to the issue of the charge made by Muslims that Jews and Christians “concealed“ prophetic references to Mohammed appearing in their scriptures.

God's Evident Preservation of the Bible

While the falsity of Muslim claims for the revelation of the Qur'an and its subsequent lack of change have been previously exposed, the Muslim charges concerning the corruption of the Bible ought to be addressed briefly. Islam has yet to produce any textual evidence to demonstrate the corruption of the Biblical texts as a whole. Often, Muslims will try to point to differences in readings between individual manuscripts, and use this to support their assertion. However, the science of textual criticism, as applied to the task of systematically examining the manuscript evidence, provides Christian scholars with the ability to distinguish between true and spurious readings in individual manuscripts. The body of evidence from Greek manuscripts, the manuscripts of other ancient versions (Old Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Latin Vulgate, etc.), and the quotations of early Christian writers allows us to determine the content of the original autographic texts with as yet unassailed certainty. It should be noted (as shown earlier) that Islam cannot truthfully make the same claim, and in fact is unable logistically to even make the attempt because of the artificial standardization of the Arabic quranic text by the early caliphs, and the subsequent destruction of nearly all contrary quranic manuscriptual evidence. Thus, the Muslim assertion rests entirely on blind faith in what amounts to a tradition handed down through Islam for roughly 1300 years. Facts show, however, that the texts used to produce the King James Bible in English, and its analogs in other languages, are the preserved, uncorrupted words of God.

Let us briefly trace the history of the preservation of the Scriptures. Beginning with the Old Testament, we see that it was written originally in Hebrew (except for certain portions of Daniel and Ezra, which were in Aramaic). Therefore, we must look at the history of the Hebrew texts when addressing any suggested corruption of these Old Testament scriptures. The Scriptures reiterate to us time and time again the promise that God has made concerning the preservation of His Words. For example,

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalm 12:6-7)4


“The grass withered, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

It is perfectly logical to suggest that God who gave His Words to man would then preserve those Words. Indeed, what logical purpose is there for the inspiration of Scripture, if there is no subsequent preservation? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself demonstrated a complete trust that the Word of God was available in His day, even centuries after the original autographs had been penned and lost. Whether He was quoting scripture to refute Satan’s temptations, or reading from a scroll of Isaiah to announce the first advent of His messianic ministry, Jesus never indicated any belief that the copies of the Word which He read or remembered were anything less than the Words of God - not “reconstructed”, not 95% recovered, but the Words of God preserved in His day. These Words were in the Hebrew, as well, for He used the Hebrew Bible, not the Greek Septuagint translation. In Luke 11:51, Jesus, speaking of the blood of God’s martyrs shed through the entire Old Testament period, said this,

“From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.”

What Jesus did here was to encapsulate the entire history of the persecution of those who trust in the Lord by those who do not - beginning with Abel in Genesis 4:8, and ending with Zechariah in II Chronicles 24:21. This is of interest to our present discussion because this “first and last” refer to passages in the first and last books of the Old Testament - as they appear in the traditional ordering of the Hebrew scriptures among the Jews, an order that differs from the arrangement of the Old Testament books in the Septuagint. Evidently, when Jesus thought about the Old Testament Scriptures, He had the Hebrew, not the Greek Septuagint, in mind5. God promised to preserve His Words for us, and God in human flesh gave every indication of fully trusting in His own promise. So, how does this apply to our present discussion concerning Biblical preservation versus corruption? What evidences, and in what way do we see that the Scriptures were preserved, contra the Muslim allegations?

Romans 3:1-2 tells us, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." This passage clearly illustrates to us that it was the Jews who had been given the responsibility and privilege of passing on and protecting God's Word. This they did, too, through their Masoretic school. From 500-1500 AD, there existed throughout the Jewish Diaspora a school of dedicated copyists known as the Masoretes. The Hebrew Masoretes followed thoroughly prescribed and very rigorous methods for transcribing copies of the Hebrew scriptures 6. Among other things, they had to have an authentic copy of the texts before them when copying. They could not copy anything from memory, but had to have a bona fide copy in front of them, sounding out each word before copying it. The copyist had to have the word on his lips, not just in his mind. Rules governed everything involved with the copying, even the color of the ink used, the number of lines per column of text, the preparation of the parchment skins used, etc. Strict standards were followed that governed the style of letter formation, space between letters, the handling of the pen used to copy. Care was taken not just to transfer words, but to standardize them so rigorously that the copy was as nearly a perfect replica of the original as was humanly possible. The quality of copying from this method would approach that obtained with a modern copying machine. Further, if one mistake was found on a sheet of parchment, the sheet was laid to rest and the work started over. If three mistakes were found on any one page, the entire manuscript was thrown out and copying anew. Thus, if a Masorete who was copying the entire text of the Hebrew Bible started in Genesis and got all the way to the end of II Chronicles and made three mistakes on a page, the entire document was thrown out, along with weeks of work, and started over.

This is well and good for showing that the Hebrew scriptures were preserved as they were transcribed from after 500 AD. But what about before this time? As was alluded earlier, the evidence from Jesus’ use of the Scriptures seems to show that He was using Hebrew texts that were Masoretic in type, at least for the portions of Scripture which He was citing or reading. This contention is well supported by evidences that go back to, and indeed predate, the Lord’s earthly ministry. For many decades, biblical scholars called into question the antiquity and authenticity of the Masoretic Hebrew Bible. As noted above, the Masoretic schools only began to operate in the 6th century AD. But, it was said, there is no evidence for the Masoretic Hebrew from before this time, and because the Septuagint - a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures usually considered to date from around 250 BC - was older, this text-type was considered to be more “authentic” or “closer to the original”. This all changed beginning in 1947 with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in a series of caves near Qumran, near the Dead Sea in Israel.

The Dead Sea Scrolls profoundly changed the way scholars looked at the textual issue. This is because the large majority of the hundreds of Hebrew manuscripts found at Qumran are Masoretic-style texts. Among the biblical manuscripts from Qumran, 60% are Proto-Masoretic texts, 20% Qumran style manuscripts, 10% nonaligned texts, 5% Proto-Samaritan texts, and 5% Septuagintal-type texts. Furthermore, the Qumran-style manuscripts have their basis in the proto-Masoretic texts, as do the proto-Samaritan texts. The Masoretic-type texts were dominant in the time of the Hasmonean period (about 160 BC)7. Hence, around 85% of the biblical texts in Hebrew that were found at Qumran are Masoretic in type (the term “proto-Masoretic” is used by many scholars to denote the fact that these are Masoretic texts that existed long before the Masoretic was “supposed” to have existed). This pushed back the evidence for the Masoretic text to a couple of centuries before Jesus. There was even found at Qumran an exemplary Isaiah scroll of the Masoretic type, dating to 150-100 BC, which compared quite closely to the Masoretic Isaiah underlying that book in our English Bible today. This manuscript proved to be practically identical with the later Masoretic text in more than 95% of its text. The remaining 5%, the variant readings, was made up of obvious scribal slips of the pen and spelling differences that do not affect the teaching contained therein8. Geisler and Nix observe that of the 166 words in the Hebrew of Isaiah 53, only 17 letters in the Dead Sea Scroll Isaiah exemplar 1QIsb differ from the Masoretic text of today - 10 letters constitute spelling variations, 4 letters demonstrated stylistic changes, and 3 letters represented the addition of the word for “light” in verse 119. Among these slight variances, there is no effect on the doctrines contained therein.

Still, as seen above, there were other types of texts as well - a small number of Hebrew texts that agree with the Septuagint, and then a somewhat larger grab-bag of eclectic texts that do not lend themselves to categorization. Cross hypothesized that there were three “families” of texts at Qumran. He suggests a Masoretic family, a “Palestinian” family (which developed into the Samaritan version of the Hebrew scriptures that we saw above had its basis in the proto-Masoretic text-type), and an “Egyptian” family, which became the basis for the Septuagintal type of Hebrew texts, and which was used by the Jews in Alexandria10. The existence of these other text-types has led scholars to believe that the Masoretic was only one type among many of the Hebrew Bible, and that the text of the Bible was hardly settled during the time in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were being compiled and stored away in the caves at Qumran. By noting that the probable origin of the proto-Samaritan and Qumran-style texts was in the proto-Masoretic family, Schiffman largely dispensed with the "three families" theory, though the presence of the other, minority text-types has kept alive the basic thesis of an unsettled text.

There is absolutely no reason to believe this understanding of the evidences, however. There is no need to believe that the Masoretic was just “one among many” until it was standardized (and presumably “accredited”) by Masoretes starting around 500 AD. The circumstances surrounding the evidences obtained from Qumran need not be interpreted so as to arrive at the particular conclusions that many textual scholars have. One understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls that is finding increasing currency in recent years is the view that at least some of the caves at Qumran were not used to store valuable and treasured texts, but instead were used as a type of genizah. A genizah is a Jewish repository for manuscripts that can no longer be used, or never were used, because they are passul - unfit for ritual use in the synagogue. These types of texts would be set aside as shemos, stored away in some place where they would not be used, but yet would not be destroyed because they contained the name of the Lord on them. With regards to the Septuagintal type manuscripts in particular, we see that the large majority of texts bearing Septuagintal-type readings were stored in one particular cave - Cave 4. Using data from R. Grant Jones11, a compilation of the discovery locations of manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls containing textual variances between the Masoretic and the Septuagintal readings in the Pentateuch shows that 34 out of 45 manuscripts, with 196 out of 221 total variant readings, were found in Cave 4 - accounting for 75.6% of the texts and 88.7% of the variances. The remaining texts were scattered between 6 other caves at the Qumran complex. Jones’ selection of variant readings in the rest of the Hebrew Bible shows that, from the selected texts, 33 out of 42 Septuagintal readings, or 78.6%, were from manuscripts found in Cave 4. Because of the overwhelming selection of Cave 4 for this particular text type, as well as the fact that the manuscripts in Cave 4 were not stored in jars as were the manuscripts in the other caves, Cave 4 has a definite appearance of being a genizah, a place where old, damaged, or textually corrupt manuscripts were laid to rest after being removed from circulation.

Indeed, the entirety of the Qumran cave complex might be a genizah, as was originally postulated by the late E.L. Sukenik. Recent scholarship surrounding the study of the Scrolls has moved increasingly towards the view that the Qumran community was not necessary made up of Essenes, and that the repository of manuscripts may not even be associated directly with the community at Qumran, whoever they were. Golb has theorized that the Qumran caves complex was instead a depository of texts serving as a sort of “safe house” for the personal libraries of Jews who escaped from Jerusalem before the Roman destruction of that city in 70 AD. He points to the fact that the manuscripts contained at Qumran were copied by well over 500 different hands12, far more copyists than would have been needed or used in a small community such as the Essene complex, even over the course of a few centuries13. This multitude of copyists suggests that the manuscripts were simply produced independently of each other by scribes all over Israel, rather than by those of one closed community. This theory has evidence to commend it, but it seems unnecessary to theorize that these scripts were stored by Jews escaping the Romans, since if one is fleeing for one’s life, why take the time to travel to a remote location in the desert to store away portable scrolls when you could simply take them with you while getting out of the country?

Rather, I suggest that the evidences of the plethora of scribes, as well, as the peculiarity of storing these scrolls away in remote caves, suggests that the complex was a genizah. ALL the scrolls there were essentially “throwaways”, even such nearly perfect specimens as the Isaiah exemplar, and were laid to rest respectfully over the decades and centuries. This suggests, then, that far from being a valuable repository of knowledge about the “development of the Hebrew Bible”, the Dead Sea Scrolls show what was NOT used. The preponderance of Masoretic manuscripts demonstrates that the Masoretic was the Hebrew Bible in use during this time period, but the fact that the Masoretic texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls have even minor textual variances with the “established” Masoretic texts could indicate that even at this early date, there was a purposeful selection against these corrupted manuscripts. Perhaps there were “proto-Masoretes” who were copying the Hebrew scriptures, and whose copyist errors would be treated much the same way as those of the later Masoretes were - by trashing the manuscript and starting over. In the very least, we see that there is the definite possibility that non-Masoretic and Masoretic texts with copyist errors were “laid to rest” in the Qumran caves, even if a specifically Masoretic process of copying was not in operation. This then would suggest that the Masoretic text, same as today’s, was the “gold standard” even back in that day, the rule by which all manuscripts were judged.

Efforts at accurate and reliable transmission, perpetuated by the Masoretes, and likely originating long before 500 AD, protected God's Word in Hebrew from any sort of corruption. Islam cannot even begin to make the same sort of claim for the Arabic texts of the Qur'an, which the evidences show had already been corrupted, altered, and then artificially standardized by the early caliphs. The result of the Masoretes' work was what was used to translate the Old Testament in the King James. The King James translators used the Ben Chayyim Masoretic text, produced by Rabbi Abraham ben Chayyim iben Adonijah, and published by Daniel Bomberg in 1524 14. Thus, the King James Old Testament comes from a text that can be considered completely trustworthy and a preserved replica of the originals.

Likewise, the Greek New Testament underlying the King James remained uncorrupted. There are currently in the possession of scholars over 5300 copies, either partial or full, of the Greek New Testament, in various forms such as uncials, lectionaries, papyrus fragments, and cursive texts. Of these, more than 5200 most generally agree with the Traditional Text (also called the “Syrian” or “Byzantine”), the text type underlying the Greek text from which the King James New Testament was translated 15. Hence, more than 98% of all existing Greek New Testament texts are in general agreement with one another and with the Textus Receptus which Beza edited in 1598. What this means is that the vast bulk of Greek manuscripts for the New Testament were transmitted accurately down throughout the entire Church Age, right up to the time when Beza collated his complete Greek text. Further evidence for the accuracy of their transmission is the fact that around 2,630 out of 4,383 (60%) of the New Testament quotations from early church fathers who died before 400 AD were in the form of distinctive Byzantine readings (i.e. the writer chose the Byzantine reading when the Byzantine and Alexandrian texts differed on a verse)16. As Kenyon pointed out in his survey of Miller and Burgon‘s analysis, this preference for the Traditional Text increases to around 64% (151 of 235) if the writers from the first three centuries are considered, and this further rises to 76% (530 of 700) when a list of thirty highly important passages are considered from this group of patristics, chosen for their frequency of quotation and theological importance 17.

The tiny remaining number of Greek texts (less than 2%, or between 50-100 manuscripts, depending on how one classifies individual manuscripts) all bear evidence of having been little used by the churches of God. The two primary manuscripts of this class, Codex Aleph (aka “Sinaiticus”) and Codex B (aka “Vaticanus“), both have earmarks of Gnostic corruption18. Further, not only do they differ from the vast body of manuscript and patristic evidence against them, they also are so eclectic that they contradict each other in reading nearly as much as they agree. Pickering notes,

"The variation between two 'Byzantine' MSS will be found to differ both in number and severity from that between two 'Western' MSS or two 'Alexandrian' MSS -- the number and nature of the disagreements between two 'Byzantine' MSS throughout the Gospels will seem trivial compared to the number (over 3,000) and nature (many serious) of the disagreements between Aleph and B, the chief 'Alexandrian' MSS, in the same space."19

Nevertheless, they are touted by most textual critics as being the most trustworthy manuscripts. This is because of their greater age. Both date from the middle to latter part of the 4th century, exceeding the age of the oldest extant Traditional manuscript by at least three centuries. However, one fact that needs to kept in mind is this: When a text written on vellum is used constantly, it wears out and needs to be recopied. Conversely, when a text is never used, it remains in a much better condition. Further, there is much evidence to suggest that when the worn out vellum manuscripts reached the point where they could not be used, they were “put to rest” through honorable destruction. This general point was first suggested over a century ago by Burgon, but was independently articulated by Lake, et al. nearly 50 years later20. These two points combined would explain the lack of very ancient Byzantine manuscripts, and concurrently provide a reasonable explanation for the continued existence of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Given that the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus texts are the oldest, the obvious point is then that they were never used, and thus never had to be recopied. This doubly supports the notion that the Traditional texts have been preserved uncorrupted in that it tells us the early churches and men of God through the ages recognized them, and not the small minority of corrupted texts, as being the authentic readings (in other words, an incipient form of textual criticism appears to have been at work). It also tells us that few significant mistakes were made throughout the course of transcribing and re-transcribing the Traditional texts over the centuries, for them to all agree as substantially with each other as they do, across the thousands of manuscripts spread across the old Roman world and Medieval Europe. Even "indefensible" readings in the Traditional text-based Textus Receptus need not be considered "inauthentic," such as the Johannine Comma in I John 5:7-8, which survived the attempt by ancient Arian heretics to purge it from the Scriptures21. A point that must be made is that the small number of corrupted texts are those from which the 'modern' versions of the Bible like the NIV, NASB, RV, Berkeley, ESV, etc. are translated. The textual support for these modern versions is very small, and certainly does not outweigh the vast textual support which the King James enjoys. These modern versions carry through many of the “theological difficulties” that their parent manuscripts contained, such as removing or downplaying important doctrines like the efficacy of Christ's blood, His virgin birth, His resurrection, etc. Christians interested in having and studying the true Word of God would do well stay away from the “modern” versions and stick with the King James Version.

God has again preserved His Word, by retaining for us a text in Greek, the Traditional text which eventually culminated in the collation of the Textus Receptus, which has been copied and carried through for centuries without error. Combined with the protection He afforded to the Hebrew Masoretic texts, we see that God has preserved and protected His Word through the ages. This is not surprising though, as God has promised to us to preserve His Word. "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever." (Isaiah 40:8). Truly He has done this with His Word, the Bible, and truly the same cannot be said for the Qur'an!

Various Types of Pre-Islamic Source Materials Used in the Qur'an

Now let us turn to an examination of the "perfect and heavenly" Qur'an. Islam's claim that the revelation of the Qur'an was handed down from Allah to Mohammed in complete and final form does not seem to be possible, given the large amount of "borrowing" which is evident in the Qur'an. Many of the stories and teachings of the Qur'an originally were taught in a variety of pre-Islamic writings and among various pre-Islamic groups. To begin, there seems to have been a large amount of pre-Islamic Arabian mythology and legend that found its way into the Qur'an. This is not surprising as the Qur'an was, of course, developed by Arabs who lived in an evolving pre-Islamic Arabian society. This understanding has been sustained by many scholars who have studied Islam, and much of what was included in the Qur'an came from apocryphal or/and fanciful sources:

- The story of the she-camel which leapt out of a rock and became a prophet was known in Arabia long before Muhammad (Suwar 7:73-77; 54:27-29; 91:13-14).

- The story of an entire village of people who were turned into apes because they broke the sabbath by fishing was a popular legend in Muhammad's day (Suwar 2:65; 7:163-166).

- The story of Moses and the gushing twelve springs is found in Surah 2:60ff and comes from pre-Islamic Arabian legends.

- In what is called the "Rip Van Winkle" story, seven men and their animals slept in a cave for 309 years and then woke up perfectly fine (Surah 18:9-26)! This was also a popular story in Arabia at and before Mohammed's time. This legend was also found in Greek and Christian folks fables from that time and before.

- The fable of the pieces of four dead, cut-up birds getting up and flying was well known in Muhammad's time (Surah 2:260).

- The story about the birth of Mary in Surah 3:35-37 appears to be loosely based off of an apocryphal 2nd century work, The Protevangelion of James the Lesser.

Additionally, there appear to be several Jewish sources that were used when developing the quranic revelation22:

- The Second Targum of the Book of Esther supplied the non-biblical details of the Queen of Sheba's visit to King Solomon (Surah 27:17-44).

- The Testament of Abraham provided the teachings of the Qur'an found in Surah 42:17 and Surah 101:6-9, which relate that on the judgment day, a scale of balance will be used to weigh good and bad deeds, and to make the determination of whether people will be sent to heaven or hell. This Jewish work is also apparently quoted in Surah 87:19.

- The story of murderous Cain and the raven (Surah 5:30-31) is found in several Jewish writings, such as the Pirqe of Rabbi Eleazer and the Targum of Jerusalem, both of which pre-date the Qur'an.

- The tale of Abraham being delivered from Nimrod's fire (Suwar 21:51-71; 37:97-98) originated in the Midrash Rabbah on Genesis.

- The Talmud provided the Qur'an with the story of Moses' resurrection (Surah 2:55-57)

- The story of the golden calf which was made by Israel in the wilderness, in which the image actually leaps out of the fire and moos (Surah 20:80-98), comes from the Pirqe of Rabbi Eleazer.

- Lastly, the seven heavens and hells described at various points in the Qur'an can also be found in the Zohar and the Hagigah, and the hells are further described in the Midrash on the Psalms.

Heretical Christian sources also provided a source of inspiration to Mohammed. The fingerprints of Gnostic and heretical sects can be seen at several points in the teachings of Mohammed. For example, the quranic definition of the Trinity, consisting of God, Jesus, and Mary (Surah 5:116), was a doctrine held by a small Arabian pseudo-Christian group known as the Collyridians, with whom the early Muslims apparently had some contact. That heretical Christian groups exerted a strong influence on the developing Arab theology and beliefs has been demonstrated repeatedly by scholars of Islam 23. Two examples of fanciful stories that were taught by heretical groups and that found their way into the Qur'an are the story of Jesus' speaking from the cradle as an infant (Surah 19:29-30) and the story of Jesus molding a bird from clay and then breathing life into it (Suwar 3:49, 5:110). These were stories passed down from various Gnostic sources.

Related to what was said above, we must also note that many pagan rituals and activities were introduced into the developing Arab religion, the large share of these having their roots in the pagan pre-Islamic days of ancient Arabia. This included such well-known Muslim worship activities as worshipping at sacred stones (the Ka'bah, for Islam), praying five times a day towards a sacred geographical location (Mecca, for Islam), and fasting for part of a day for an entire month (Ramadan, for Islam). As an example of this, Wensick observes that the Ka'bah is not unique to Mecca, but instead, there is evidence for various holy precincts - Ka'bahs - some of which housed sacred stones, prior to the rise of Islam24, just as the Ka'bah in Mecca houses the sacred meteorite venerated by Muslims.

Less certain, but also suspected, is that the Muslim cult practice of throwing stones at Satan finds its origins in a pre-Islamic pagan ritual in which stones were thrown to symbolically drive away jinn and other evil spirits. Muslim tradition itself indicates to us that Mohammed could communicate with spirits and jinn, on one occasion it is recorded that a tree spoke to Mohammed and informed him about the activities of a group of jinn, suggesting a shamanistic ability to communicate with the spirits that are often believed by primitive peoples to reside in trees, rivers, and other natural features 25. Mohammed himself was even said to have been at various times bewitched by magic spells26. Even the traditional account of the beginning of Mohammed's reception of the quranic revelations seems to betray a demonic origin, as he is said to have been "pressed" by the angel that came to him to the point where he could barely stand it27. This description is very similar to that reported by many people who claim to be the targets of paranormal activity or alien abductions, and who will often say that they were physically "pressed" while lying in bed, or otherwise rendered unable to move28. These evidences provide additional support to the contention that much of Islam is repackaged pre-Islamic Arabian paganism.

The Qur'an is in Pure Arabic?

Any book making the claim to be God's Word ought therefore to be free from demonstrable error. The Bible has withstood every test of literary, logical, historical, archaeological, and scientific truth and accuracy brought against it by skeptics and unbelievers. Can the same be said for the Qur'an?

The answer as can be shown is no. Muslims claim that the Qur'an is preserved and inspired, and point to Surah 85:21-22 as proof, "Nay, this is a Glorious Qurán, (Inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved!" It is claimed for the Qur'an as an impregnable dogma that it is written in perfect Arabic, said to be "Allah's language," providing a basis for its absence of error. This claim is made in Surah 13:37,

"Thus have We revealed it to be a judgment of authority in Arabic. Wert thou to follow their (vain) desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither protector nor defender against Allah."

This claim is further refined,

"We know indeed that they say, "It is a man that teaches him." The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear." (Surah 16:103)

Surah 12:2 and Surah 41:41,44 are also often used to support this dogma, with the logic being that if Allah does something, it must be perfect, so his revelation of the Qur'an in Arabic means that the text in Arabic must be perfect. Traditional Muslim scholarship has since affirmed this dogma. One such example, drawn from the writings of the classical Islamic scholar as-Suyuti, is cited by Burton,

"The Companions, the very models of correct Arabic usage, would not have made errors in ordinary speech, let alone in the recitation of the Holy Qur'an which they had received orally from the very lips of the Prophet as it was revealed and which they promptly, accurately, and expertly committed to memory. Can one suppose them to have collectively committed errors, not merely in reciting, but also in writing the texts? And to have failed to draw people's attention to such errors and order the immediate abandonment of whatever was incorrect? Can one imagine 'Uthman's actually forbidding that the errors be put right? Can one conceive that the nation-wide (tawatur) transmission of the texts would not only fail to expose but would even perpetuate errors, generation after generation? Reason, religion, and normal human behavior combine to militate against such reports. The first impulse is to reject them as unsound. Had there been anything in the reports, the Companions would have corrected the texts without further ado. They would not have delegated the correction of errors to folk whose Arabic could not match their own. In any case, 'Uthman had ordered not one, but several copies. It is highly improbable that all the copies would be afflicted with precisely the same errors, yet no-one has ever reported that only some of the copies were seen to be faulty. Apart from the minutiae of consonant- or vowel-resolution (which has nothing to do with errors in language), all the copies were identical."29

However, analysis of the quranic Arabic and associated evidences shows this not to be true. Burton points out30 that the traditions themselves reported linguistic problems with the Arabic in the Qur'an. These were recognized by many of the commentators and were dealt with by subjecting the passages in question to ta'wil, reinterpretation. Burton then proceeds in his article to demonstrate in grinding detail quite a number of instances where the quranic Arabic is incorrect according to widely known rules of Arabic grammar. Likewise, the critical (and most would say apostate) Iranian scholar Ali Dashti made this comment concerning the quranic text,

"The Qor'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of number and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects 31...To sum up, more than one hundred Qor'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted 32."

The Qur'an has many grammatical errors in the Arabic, a partial listing being errors in Suwar 2:177, 3:59, 4:162, 5:69, 7:160, and 63:10. An exposition of some of the errors in the Arabic has been provided by Dr. Anis Shorrosh, a Palestinian Christian and native Arabic speaker 33. These errors demonstrate the fallibility of the Arabic text of the Qur'an. In a further exposition on the subject, Rafiqul-Haqq and Newton have provided detailed demonstrations of how the Qur'an uses grammatically unsound Arabic on many occasions (Suwar 2:177, 3:59, 4:162, 5:69, 7:56, 7:160, 21:3, 22:19, 41:11, 49:9, 63:10, and 91:5) and provide the correct readings according to standard rules of classical Arabic grammar34. Bellamy notes twelve instances in the Qur'an where the language of the text appears to be incorrect, where words make no sense in the context in which they appear. If these words are emended as Bellamy suggests, they make sense. He also demonstrates scientifically why his emendations make sense per grammatical and textual-critical reasonings35.

A couple of examples from Bellamy’s suggestions will suffice. In 21:98, an ayah about false teachers and their idols being *fuel* for the fires of hell, the text uses the word has.ab, a word that literally means "pebbles," and which Islamic commentators have usually explained away by expanding the meaning of the word to include the false teachers as "pebbles of fuel" for the fires of Jahannum. Bellamy proposes to emend has.ab with hat.ab, a word in Arabic that commonly means "firewood," and that makes perfect sense in the passage. In 11:8 and 12:45, the Qur'an uses ummah, and the word is said to mean "time, a while," though this is not the usual meaning of that word. Bellamy proposes to emend this to amad (replacing the h with a d), a word which means "time, a period of time" and which, again, makes perfect sense in context. Bellamy later proposed a further set of nine emendations to copyist errors in the quranic text36. For example, in 11:111, the Qur'an says wa-inna kullan lamma." The lamma is "meaningless" and is likely an error due to copyist insertion. The passage makes better sense if it is removed entirely. Then, it becomes "good grammatical Arabic." Likewise, in 26:177-189, the Qur'an talks about the prophet Shu'ayb. This name has no sound etymology in Arabic - it appears to be meaningless, lexicologically. It is a corruption in the text, and if the name is replaced by Sha'ya (Arabic form of Isaiah), the passage both makes sense AND has a sound Arabic foundation. Also, in various places, the Qur'an mentions the Sabians (al-sabi'una) - a group of people whom both Western scholars and Islamic commentators are at pains to identify conclusively, even to this day. Bellamy proposes that the term originated as a corruption, and was propagated throughout the other places it appears in the text. He proposes to emend s.bwn/s.byn to mnwn/mnyn, a term referring to the Manichaeans. This would resolve the apparent problem with identification, and cause the passage to refer to a definite, historical group of people. These "Sabians" (really Manichaeans or similar Gnostic groups) were accepted by the early Muslims as a "people of the book" because they did indeed have their own religious books, mostly authored by Mani, their founder. Also worthy of noting is that several of Bellamy’s examples show the influence of Judaic and Christian thought on the text.

Additionally, the quranic Arabic cannot be considered "pure" because of the inclusion of many foreign words into the text. These words include "Pharaoh" (Egyptian, repeated 84 times), "Haroot, Maroot, sirat, hoor, tilmeeth, jinn, and firdaus" (Farsi words), "heber, sakinah, maoon, turat, and jehannim" (Hebrew words), "taboot, taghouth, zakat, and malakout" (Syriac words), and "injil" (Arabization of eua[n]ggelion, Greek word for “good news“, referring to the Gospels) 37. In his foundational study of Syriac influences on the Qur’an, Mingana noted several points where the Qur’an had either directly borrowed words from Syriac (a Christian liturgical tongue used throughout Syria, Mesopotamia, and Northern Arabia at the time), or else adopted foreign meanings for native words which were derived from their cognate usage in Syriac38. Many of these words that entered into the Qur’an were drawn directly from Christian usage, including terms such as “resurrection” and “Messiah”. Despite the age of Dr. Mingana’s research, it still remains foundational to understanding this point, as his evidences and conclusions have been little assailed by the intervening decades of quranic research.

Further investigations have revealed more evidence of reliance upon Syriac for many terms in the Qur’an, especially terms associated with cult and theology. Watt discusses the use of the word rijz, denoting God’s wrath and anger in the Qur‘an, and demonstrates it to be the likely carryover of a Syriac term into the Qur’an. Indeed, Watt suggests that the linguistic tradition of Christian Arabs “influenced the language of the Qur’an in certain points,"39

“The conclusion now seems unavoidable that, always leaving out of account 8.11, rijz no less than rujz represents the Syriac rugza. It has suffered slight transformation of meaning - if indeed it is a transformation - by coming to denote the outward expression of anger rather than the feeling itself, and by being used on occasion indefinitely; this is only a very slight change.40

An interesting and similar case is that of the term hanif, used in the Qur’an to denote one who was a monotheist, one who was turned “the right way”. Bashear notes that this term also originated from Christian Syriac use, informing us that the term hanif and the Syriac term hanpé appear to have a close affinity. The latter term was used in the Jahilliya period to denote those who deviated from Christianity, and had the meaning of “heathen”, even having been applied to those who venerated the Ka’bah, prayed toward it, and performed the hajj. This was an use for the term which appeared in Christian writings even after the rise of Islam, such as John of Damascus’ polemic against the “Ishmaelite” religion, and Ghevond’s record of the letters between Umar II and Leo III. It also seems to have initially had this sense in Arabic as well. However, as the pilgrimage to Mecca and other beliefs and practices of the Jahilliya hanifiyya were adopted into Islam, this meaning gave way to a much more positive meaning of “turning towards” and “one who is upright”41.

The Syriac origin of hanifiyya was showed by the Arab historian al-Mascudi (d. 345/956) who pointed it out in his al-Tanbih wa-l-ishraf. The occurrence of hanpe in a Syriac text by Daniel, Bishop of Edessa (665-684 AD) as someone who “does not believe the Messiah to be God” and its use by the Jacobite Athanasius of Balad (684 AD), in the same sense, were noted by Crone and Cook 42. Thus, the term originally seems to have meant a person who had rejected Christianity, especially one who remained involved in pagan worship. The term, as we saw, was even applied to those who engaged in the pre-Islamic worship at the Ka’bah. As such worship became incorporated into the evolving and expanding Islamic religion, the term was carried over, retaining perhaps some of its original force (with respect to venerating the Ka'bah), but was relieved of its negative overtones, eventually developing the positive connotations of monotheism and “right religion”, as found in Islam. Hence, when Muslims would refer to Abraham as a hanif, the term was meant to be complimentary, since he was a monotheist who rejected idols and worshipped Allah only.

Perhaps most troublesome for the traditional Muslim position of perfect quranic Arabic is the possibility that the Qur’an (or at least the earlier parts of it) was not even originally in Arabic. While the evidence above, beginning with Mingana and continuing to the present, would logically seem to suggest that the Syriac language played a large role in influencing the early writing of the Arab texts that became the Qur’an, current scholarly work suggests that Syriac may well have been the original language of the quranic recitations. A recent work by the pseudonymous Christoph Luxenberg, Die Syro-Aramaische Lesart des Koran43, probes this question. Luxenberg’s reanalysis of many quranic passages that have historically mystified even Arab Muslim commentators suggests that these passages are more coherent and better understood if they are approached from the vantage point of having originally been written in Syriac and then translated into Arabic, with the corresponding problems of misunderstanding that can arise from such translation. One such possible alternative meaning has to do with the well-known quranic promise of virgins for those who give their lives for the propagation of Islam. Luxenberg’s work casts doubt on this promise of “perpetual young dark-eyed virgins”, suggesting instead that the original Qur'an documents may have been promising "raisins" of "crystal clarity"44. This claim is made because the word in the Qur’an which is translated as “dark-eyed virgins” is huri, which is cognate with the word hur in Syriac, a feminine plural adjective which literally means “white”, and is implicitly understood to be referring to young or new raisins in Syriac texts. The reading of “raisins” also, actually, makes much more contextual sense in those quranic passages where this word appears, since they deal with the pleasures of food and drink in Paradise. It is perhaps fortunate that the “pearl-like young boys” also promised to faithful Muslim warriors in Paradise (as we will see later) may also be based upon a mistranslation, as the Arabic word could come from a Syriac term which refers to “chilled drinks” (also in line with the “food and drink” context of these verses)45. These and other contextually relevant re-appraisals of quranic passages strengthen the thesis that the Qur‘an was originally written in Syriac.

In light of the claims made by Muslims versus the evidence seen above, questions remain. If the Arabic of the Qur'an is perfect, why is there so much evidence for grammatical errors and scribal corruptions? If Arabic is the language of Allah, and therefore perfect, than why the need for the inclusion of words from other languages, when there are perfectly viable Arabic alternatives for each word listed above that could have been used? Further, how do we even know that the Qur‘an originally was in Arabic?

Mistakes, Inconsistencies, and Imperfections in the Qur'an

Beyond the problems of language, the Qur’an also contains many problems of fact. The Qur'an includes several outright scientific errors:

While not appearing in the Qur'an itself, traditional Islamic teaching from the ahadith and respected commentary provides a few other examples of "weird science" appearing in the traditional Islamic worldview.

However, these and other errors have not stopped Muslim apologists from trying to “prove” miraculously prognostic scientific knowledge in the Qur’an. Nearly all of these claims are so tendentious and strained in their exegesis that the average reader could easily see through the arguments. Some of the more modern claims, in fact, rely on blatant misunderstanding of science, or misinterpretation of science to make it appear to correlate with the Qur’an. A couple of these are presented for the reader’s examination below:

The Qur'an holds within its pages a few historical inaccuracies, as well:

At several points, the Qur'an also makes mistakes regarding the beliefs of non-Muslims groups with whom the early Arab Muslims had contact. One example which was mentioned above (and will be examined in much greater detail in Chapter 4) is the erroneous quranic teaching on the Trinity, or more properly, what Christian beliefs about the Trinity supposedly are. The Qur'an says that Christians join two gods with Allah, and that the Trinity is composed of God, Jesus, and Mary. This composition is not the historic Trinity which was accepted by the vast bulk of Christendom for centuries before Islam appeared. Instead, this "Trinity" which the Qur’an rails against was a heretical construction of the Collyridians, who were steeped in Mariolatry. The historical trinitarian understanding of the Trinity (as was later defined in the Athanasian Creed) was quite broadly established throughout Christendom for several centuries before Mohammed, and evidence for the trinitarian belief exists from the very start of the churches. However, Allah somehow missed the teaching of the vast bulk of the early churches, which was that the Trinity is God being one in essence while three in persons, and instead revealed to Mohammed that Christians believed the Trinity to be God, Jesus, and Mary. In other words, Allah apparently made a mistake, and did not understand what was the true teaching of Christianity, and what was the false teaching of heretics.

Further, we note that in Surah 9:30, the Qur'an attributes to the Jews the belief that Ezra (Uzair) was the son of God. This is not a belief which has been expounded by Jewish theologians and teachers, however, and is thus another error which Allah purportedly made concerning the beliefs of a non-Muslim group.

Also, we must note the quranic fascination with referring to Jesus as "Isa." Muslims maintain, based upon the authority of the Qur'an, that Isa is the true name for Jesus in the Arabic language. However, this is not the case. Instead, Yasu is the Arabic form of Jesus, (the name "Jesus" itself being a Hellenization of the Hebrew Yeshua). The Arabic form of Jesus is clearly shown to us to have been Yasu among Arabians who lived even before Mohammed's time:

"Mr. G. Lankaster Harding, Chief Curator of Antiquities Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan, kindly sent me copies of a little more than five hundred Thamudic inscriptions...It is the inscription [Harding No. 476] that interests us here. Below the circle there are four letters: a y, a sh, a c, and again a y. These letters are so placed that they can be read from right to left or from left to right y-sh-c, probably pronounced Yashûc, and this name is the same as Yêshûac, the Hebrew form of the name of Christ. It is known that Yêshûac, is the later pronunciation of Yêhôshûac or Joshua; it was used after the Exile in order to avoid the immediate sequence of two dark vowels (o and u). Of course, it is well known that the Christians whose language is Arabic commonly use the form Yasûc..." 62

Further on in this article, Littman says that the form "Yasuc" represents "the ancient Arabic name of Jesus," and "Inscription Harding No. 476 is the oldest native document of Christianity of Northern Arabia known so far." 63

What this means to us is that this form, "Yasuc"64, is the name by which Jesus was known in the most ancient inscriptions in an Arabic language, of which Thamudic is an archaic example. This construction appears amazingly similar to the Hebrew "Yeshua" or "Yehoshua," and the Aramaic "Yeshua" (seen in Ezra 5:1, a passage written in Aramaic, which appears in the English Bible as Jeshua, and is the same name with the same meaning, "Jehovah saves"). Hence, the Arabs initially appear to have referred to Jesus with the name Yasu, not Isa as Muslims and the Qur'an claim.

Where did the name "Isa" come from then? Isa is the Arabic form of the name "Esau." That this is true is even admitted by Muslim apologists:

"The Holy Quran refers to Jesus as "Eesa," and this name is used more times than any other title, because this was his "Christian" name. Actually, his proper name was "Eesa" (Arabic), or "Esau." (Hebrew); classical "Yeheshua," which the Christian nations of the West Latinized as Jesus. Neither the "J" nor the second "s" in the name Jesus is to be found in the original tongue - they are not found in the Semitic language.

"The word is very simply - "E S A U" - a very common Jewish name, used more than sixty times in the very first booklet alone of the Bible, in the part called "Genesis." There was at least one "Jesus" sitting on the "bench" at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. Josephus the Jewish historian mentions some twenty five Jesus' in his "Book of Antiquities." The New Testament speaks of "Bar-Jesus"- a magician and a sorcerer, a false prophet (Act 13:6); and also "Jesus-Justus" - a Christian missionary, a contemporary of Paul (Colossians 4:11). These are distinct from Jesus the son of Mary. Transforming "Esau" to (J)esu(s) - Jesus - makes it unique. This unique (?) name has gone out of currency among the Jews and the Christians from the 2nd century after Christ. Among the Jews, because it came to be the proper name of their God(?) - their God incarnate. The Muslim will not hesitate to name his son - "Eesa" - because it is an honored name, the name of a righteous servant of the Lord." 65

While Deedat makes some mistakes in his analysis above, such as claiming that Esau is a "common Jewish name" (the sixty times that the name is used in the Old Testament all refer to one individual, the brother of Jacob), the essential point of his writing is evident -- Isa is the name for Esau. The rest of his analysis is inaccurate, as he is trying to show that the name "Esau" was the name which Jesus came from in the New Testament. Both the Greek "Jesus" and the Hebrew/Aramaic "Yeshua" mean "Jehovah saves," while Esau means "hairy." However, his admission to the truth of Isa equaling Esau speaks volumes.

What was the source of Isa being applied to Jesus in the Qur'an? Nobody knows for sure, though the most plausible explanation to date is that certain Jews with whom the Arabs had contact, in an effort to insult the Lord Jesus, told them that the Son of God worshipped by Christians was "Isa," thereby applying the name of Jacob's hated brother Esau to the hated Christian Savior. This claim, however, rests on much hearsay, and thus should be taken with a grain of salt. Perhaps the Arabs at the time of the infiltrations into Syria-Palestine simply misunderstood the hearing or reading of the name, and began to refer to Jesus as "Isa" out of simple mistaken understanding. What should be clear to us, though, is that the quranic use of "Isa" rests upon a name for Christ which was NOT His name, even in the Arabic. Is it really likely that an omnipotent, omniscient deity such as Allah is claimed to be would make such a simple error as to misname one of his prophets?

The Qur'an also contains several internal self-contradictions and logically problematic statements, a few of which are listed below:

In addition to this short list, there are dozens of other contradictions that point to the Qur'an as being a flawed book. See a more complete discussion of quranic contradictions at Answering Islam's treatment of the subject66.

In conclusion, we see that the Qur'an cannot legitimately claim divine inspiration and/or preservation. It has many errors, inconsistencies, and a history of corruptions. The Qur'an is an imperfect book, and cannot be claimed as the work of a perfect and complete God. The same charges cannot be made against the Bible, however, which has withstood every attack upon it made by unbelievers.

End Notes

(1) - S.A.A. Maudadi, Toward Understanding Islam, pp. 81-82
(2) - E.G. Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, p. 147
(3) - Ibid., citing M.H. Ananikian, The Reforms and Religious Ideals of Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan, p.78, appearing in The Moslem World, Vol. 14 (1924), pp. 61ff
(4) - See T.M. Strouse, "The Permanent Preservation of God‘s Words: Psalm 12:6,7," in Thou Shalt Keep Them: A Biblical Theology of the Perfect Preservation of Scripture, Ed. K. Brandenburg, pp. 29-33, where Strouse ably demonstrates through a careful exegesis of the Hebrew passage that the “them“ in v. 7 refers back to “the words of the LORD“ as their antecedent, not to “the needy“ in v. 5, as is often contended by those seeking to deny the clear promise of scriptural preservation in this passage.
(5) - We should also note that, whatever else may be said about the proposed uses of the Septuagint in New Testament quotations of the Old Testament, when the Lord dealt with the actual written text of the Old Testament, either in referring to its order as He did here, or when He was reading from it, as is the case in Luke 4:18-19, He provided distinctive Masoretic readings over and against the LXX.
(6) - D.A. Waite, Defending the King James Bible, pp. 24-25
(7) - L.H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, pp. 171-172
(8) - G. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 25
(9) - N. Geisler and W. Nix, General Introduction to the Bible, p. 382
(10) - See G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective, p. 206; F.M. Cross, The Ancient Library at Qumran, pp. 121-142
(11) - See, this data was generated using the footnotes in M.G. Abegg, P. Flint, and E. Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible
(12) - N. Golb, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search for the Secret of Qumran, p. 332
(13) - See ibid., pp. 97-98, for his discussion of evidences from a similar cache of ancient manuscripts from Elephantine, in Egypt. This community is estimated to have been fifty times more populous than the one at Qumran, yet the texts show far fewer scribes in use, estimated at 4-5 per generation. In contrast, Cave 1 alone contained texts prepared by more than fifty different scribes.
(14) - Waite, op. cit., p. 27
(15) - Ibid., p. 56
(16) - J.W. Burgon, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels Vindicated and Established, pp. ix-x
(17) - F.G. Kenyon, Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, pp. 321-322; Kenyon then attempts to argue against these evidences, but relies upon the same outdated arguments drawn from the traditional Hortian methodological apparatus that Pickering has more recently refuted.
(18) - See T. Holland, Crowned with Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version, pp. 21-28, for an introductory discussion of the question of Gnostic corruptions of the critical or Alexandrian texts. See also
(19) - W.N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text, p. 54
(20) - K. Lake, R.P. Blake, and S. New, "The Caesarian Text of the Gospel of Mark," Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 21 (1928), p. 348-349
(21) - E.g., see
(22) - See e.g. C. Glassé, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 264; J. Jomier, The Bible and the Quran, pp. 49-52; E. Sell, Studies in Islam, pp. 210-216; A. Guillaume, Islam, p. 13; for much more in-depth discussions of this, see A. Geiger, Judaism and Islam and A.I. Katsh, Judaism in Islam: Biblical and Talmudic Backgrounds of the Koran and its Commentaries, two classic works on the subject.
(23) - E.g., R. Bell, The Origin of Islam in Its Christian Environment, p. 110; Sell, op. cit., pp. 216-221
(24) - A.J. Wensinck, Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. H.A.R. Gibb and J.A. Kramers, p. 197; Wensinck notes the report of Epiphanius (ca. 310-403) that Dhu 'l-shara (Dushara) was worshipped through a caabou (kaabou) located in Petra, "in which word Ka'ba is also probably concealed," and that it is unclear whether the term refers to the temple itself, or to the black stone contained therein. He also notes that certain pre-Islamic Arabian tribes worshipped at a sacred precinct in Sindad called Dhat al-Ka'abat
(25) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Bk. 58, No. 199; see also Vol. 1, Bk. 12, No. 740, where Mohammed is enabled to perceive and understand the conversation which some devils have with each other.
(26) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 53, No. 400 and Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 490
(27) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Bk. 1, No. 3
(28) - See for a detailed investigation of the similarities between Mohammed's experiences and those of shamans in many pagan cultures.
(29) - J. Burton, "Linguistic Errors in the Qur'an," Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. 33 (1988), Autumn, p. 182, citing Jalal al-Din as-Suyuti, al-Itqan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, 2 pts in 1 (Cairo, 1354), Vol. I, pp. 183-184
(30) - Ibid.
(31) - A. Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammed, p. 48
(32) - Ibid., p. 50
(33) - A.A. Shorrosh, Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab's View of Islam, pp. 199-200
(34) - M. Rafiqul-Haqq and P. Newton, "The Qur’an: Grammatical Errors", currently found at Answering Islam
(35) - See J.A. Bellamy, "Some Proposed Emendations to the Text of the Koran," Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 113 (1993), No. 4, pp. 562-573
(36) - J.A. Bellamy, "More Proposed Emendations to the Text of the Koran," Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 116 (1996), No. 2, pp. 196-204
(37) - Shorrosh, op. cit., p. 199, citing Pfander, Mizan-ul-Haqq: The Balance of Truth, trans. W.S. Tisdall, p. 263
(38) - See A. Mingana, "Syriac Influence on the Style of the Koran," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Vol. 11 (1927), pp. 77-98 - A detailing of these can be found in my essay specifically addressing this issue at
(39) - W.M. Watt, “Two Interesting Christian-Arabic Usages”, Early Islam: Collected Articles, p. 74
(40) - Ibid., p. 73
(41) - S. Bashear, “Hanifiyya and Hajj”, Studies in Early Islamic Tradition, Ch. 14, pp. 19-20
(42) - P. Crone and M. Cook, Hagarism, p. 164, n.35 and pp.162-163, n.14
(43) - This was recently translated into English as The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran
(44) - See C. Luxenberg, The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran, pp. 253-283, esp. pp. 262-264
(45) - Ibid, pp. 284-291
(46) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 430
(47) - For a more in-depth look at the quranic errors in embyrology, see and on the Answering Islam website.
(48) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 55, No. 546
(49) - Al-Tabari, Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk: The History of al-Tabari, trans. F. Rosenthal, Vol. 1, p. 234
(50) - Ibid., pp. 237-238
(51) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 421
(52) - Al-Tabari, op. cit., p. 220
(53) - Ibid., pp. 233-234
(54) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 482
(55) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 484
(56) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 7, Bk. 71, No. 608
(57) - Al-Tabari, op. cit., p. 278
(58) - R. Bauval, "Investigation on the Origins of the Benben Stone: Was It An Iron Meteorite?," Discussions in Egyptology, Vol. 14 (1989), pp. 5-16
(59) - See G.A. Wainwright, "Iron in Egypt," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 18 (1932), p. 11
(60) - G.J.H. McCall, Meteorites and Their Origins, p. 17
(61) - A. Lucas and J. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, p. 50
(62) - E. Littman, "Jesus in a Pre-Islamic Arabic Inscription," The Muslim World, Vol. 40 (1950), p. 16.
(63) - Ibid., p. 18.
(64) - The c used above is a graphical representation of the “ayin“, a voiced pharyngeal fricative found in most Semitic languages, but which is very difficult for Westerners to imitate as there is no real analogue in most European languages. It can be approximated by elongating an “ahh“ sound in the back of the throat.
(65) - A. Deedat, Christ in Islam, Ch. 2, found online at
(66) -

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Go Back to Myth #1 - The Qur'an is Preserved and Unchanged Revelation from Allah -- Continue to Myth #3 - Allah is the Same as the God of the Bible