Has the Bible been changed? (answering Islamic criticism)

Although there are many common beliefs in Christianity and Islam, there are also significant differences in the teaching of the Bible and the Quran. The most important of these are that the Bible claims that God became a man in Jesus Christ (Isa Masih) and died upon the cross as a sacrifice to procure forgiveness for the sins of the world so that anyone who puts their life in his hands in simple faith receives forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life whereas the Quran says that Jesus was just a prophet who taught God’s laws and was taken up alive into heaven and that the way to be accepted into eternal life in paradise is through trying to obey God’s laws. Clearly these two views are at variance and cannot both be right.

The Quran however endorses the existence and truth of the previous books of the Tawrat (Law of Moses) and the Injil (Gospel of Jesus) included in the Bible and claims that it confirms what is written in them;

“ He has revealed to you the Book with the truth, confirming the scriptures which preceded it; for He has already revealed the Tawrat and the Injil for the guidance of men, and the distinction between right and wrong.” Quran 3:3-4.

It also advises people who doubt the Quran to consult the previous scriptures;

“ If you doubt what We have revealed to you, ask those that have read the Scriptures before you.” Quran 10:95.

“ After those prophets We sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Tawrat already revealed, and gave him the Injil, in which there is guidance and light, corroborating that which was revealed before it in the Tawrat, a guide and an admonition to the righteous. Therefore let the followers of the Injil judge in accordance with what Allah has revealed therein.” Quran 5:46-47.

This therefore creates the question of how the Bible and Quran can have such different views of Jesus when they are supposed to have been revealed by the same God. Some Muslims have got around this discrepancy by claiming that the Bible has somehow been changed. This theory would seem to question the Quran’s own recommendation for people to consult and judge by the previous Scriptures of the Tawrat and Injil. How could the Quran be pointing folk towards these books if they had been corrupted? It is sometimes argued that the Quran does accuse the Jews (but not the Christians) of misquoting their Scriptures but this does not imply that the texts themselves were corrupted in any way.

There are many ancient manuscripts, written centuries before the Quran, of the Old and New Testaments available to be studied today. They cover all parts of the Bible and confirm the text that we have now. The Dead Sea Scrolls, written before 68AD, contain most of every book of the Old Testament except Esther and there are entire Greek manuscripts of the New Testament dating from as early as 325-350AD, such as the Codex Vaticanus located in the Vatican library and the Codex Sinaiticus in the British Museum. The Chester Beatty Papyri contain major parts of the New Testament and date from around 200AD whilst most of John’s Gospel is found in the Bodmer Papyrus 11 dating from 150-200AD. All these manuscripts show that the text of the Bible at the time of the composition of the Quran would have been the same as we have today.

In fact something that both the Quran and the Bible agree on is that God’s Word cannot be changed;

“ The word of Allah cannot be changed- that is the supreme triumph.” Quran 10:64

“ I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matt.6:18.

“ Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matt.24:35

Comments are closed.