Bart Ehrman and the Quran
Here is a clip of Bart Ehrman a famous – infamous depending on your point of view – critic of the Bible as to why he would not attempt to apply his scholarship toward the Quran:
Does the Quran Have a Textual History?
The Muslim attitude toward a textual tradition of the Quran highlights an important difference between Christianity and Islam. Christianity is rooted in history and it’s beliefs and Scriptures are therefore subject to historical methods of investigation. The Quran, according to Muslim doctrine, is an eternal book; therefore, Muslims do not typically look favorably on the idea that the text had a history and manuscript tradition.
Does the Quran (mushaf) have a history? Yes. Dr. Stefan Wild has said, “there were certainly more than one embryonic preliminary stage and prototype that preceded the codified and canonized version [of the Quran] which we know.”
Is there a manuscript tradition of the Quran (mushaf) with variant readings? Yes. How much can we say about them? Very little because the Quran has gone through textual purgings, “while it may be true that no other work has remained for twelve centuries with so pure a text, it is probably equally true that no other has suffered so drastic a purging” (L Bevan Jones, The People of the Mosque, p.62).
Back in the 1970s some 1,500 fragments of the Quran belonging to no less than 950 copies of the Quran were identified in Great Mosque in the Yemeni capital Sana’a. A few of these Quranic fragments were apparently written as early as toward the end of the first century hijra (7th century, approximately, common era). Unfortunately, only very few of these fragments have been published so far and put at the disposal of the scientific community. It is unclear whether they will be published at all in the foreseeable future. Some of the reasons for this seem to be:
- The idea of textual variants in the Quran is too sensitive a topic in the Muslim world (see Stefan Wild, “The History of the Quran“).
- Today’s Quranic text is much more standardized in meaning than what is found in the Sana’a fragments. The Sana’a manuscripts and their lack of vowel markings means individual Arabic words can have up to thirty different meanings.