There are hundreds of thousands of variants in biblical manuscripts?
Muslims reject the authority of the Christian Scriptures for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that the Qur’an teaches Jesus was given a book from heaven (Injeel) and He gave that single book to His disciples (Qur’ran 5:46). Christians have four gospels and they differ from what the Qur’an teaches about the Injeel. Many Muslims therefore conclude that the Injeel has been distorted by the four gospels.
One of the Qur’anic teachings about the Injeel is that Muhammad was mentioned in it,
Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel (the Injeel), who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful. (Sahih International)
Muslims assert that Christians and Jews distorted the Scriptures by wiping out descriptions of Muhammad from their Scriptures. Muslims often appeal to textual criticism to try and support the above Qur’anic claim.
There are at least three problems with this. The first is that the Injeel is something different from the Christian Scriptures.
Second, the Injeel does not exist and has never existed. The burden of proof is on Muslims to show otherwise without circular reasoning:
How do we know the Christian gospels are corrupt?
Muslim Answer: The Quran’ic claims about the Injeel.
What is the proof that the Injeel existed?
Muslim Answer: The Qur’an.
The purpose of textual criticism is so we can learn what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John originally wrote. Textual criticism does not exist so that we might know what the Injeel originally said. The Injeel is a fictitious book.
A third problem is that the Qur’an also has a textual tradition. Manuscripts of the Quran contain copyist mistakes1 and there is a textual history for the hadiths.2
Dan Wallace and the Reliability of the Bible
If you are interested in learning more about the textual tradition of the Bible and the Bible’s reliability then here are some helpful videos to watch with Dr. Dan Wallace on the John Ankerberg show:
Are there any passages in the Bible that you sincerely struggle with? If so, share your question below or use the contact page to send me an email.
Bible Difficulties and Contradictions
Does the Bible Contradict Itself?
Contradictions, Corruptions, and Copyists
Discrepancies and Contradictions
An example of Muslim corruption of Scripture: The Gospel of Barnabas
Do Muslims believe the same things Jesus believed?
- Textual criticism of the Quran is a most controversial topic. Many Muslims believe that one of the miracles of the Quran is that the Quran has no textual history (e.g. manuscript variants). Muslims believe this is proof that the Quran is superior to the Christian Scriptures. However, the critical scholarship Muslims sometimes use against the Bible evidences more than one prototype that preceded the codified and canonized version of the Quran today. See for example, Gerd Puin, Querying the Quran
- See for example, Eric F.F. Bishop, “Form-Criticism and the Forty-two Traditions of al-Nawawi,” Muslim World, Vol. 30, No. 3, 1940, pp. 253-61; and “Academic scholarship in the Western tradition” in Wikipedia.
One thought on “The Manuscript Tradition in Christianity and Islam”
Not one ‘injeel’ but Four ‘Anajeel’ I as Urdu speaking person know that injeel means Good news and we have four Gospels yea four biographies and when we say Gospel is preached yea Injeel is preached