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Muslims, Christians, Bible, and the Qur’an
There are several reasons Muslims do not believe the Bible is the Word of God. Some reasons include:
- God does not contradict Himself, and Muslims allege that there are contradictions in the Bible.
- Muslims allege that the Gospels were written many years after Jesus.
- Muslims believe scribes tampered with the text of the Bible.
- Muslims define “Word of God” narrowly believing the “words of God” must come directly from God.
As to the matter of discrepancies, Muslims believe the Quran is superior because it contains no discrepancies. The Quran says,
YUSUF ALI: Do they not consider the Qur’an (with care)? Had it been from other Than Allah, they would surely have found therein Much discrepancy.
PICKTHAL: Will they not then ponder on the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much incongruity.
SHAKIR: Do they not then meditate on the Quran? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy.
Muslim belief about the Miraculous Qur’an
Muslims believe that the Quran is the direct word of God. Muslims believe one of the great miracles of the Quran and proofs of its divine origin is that there are no manuscript variants. Muslims believe that the copies of the Qur’an they possess today precisely corresponds to what Muhammad originally spoke some 1,400 years ago.
Not everybody agrees that there are no Quranic manuscript variants, but let us assume there are none. What would this prove? Would it prove that the Quran was therefore from heaven? The answer is, “No.”
“Even if the present Qur’an were a perfect word-for-word copy of the original as given by Muhammad, it would not prove the original was inspired of God. All it would demonstrate is that today’s Qur’an is a carbon copy of whatever Muhammad said; it would say or prove nothing about the truth of what he said. The Muslim claim that they have the true religion, because they have the only perfectly copied Holy Book, is as logically fallacious as someone claiming it is better to have a perfect printing of a counterfeit thousand dollar bill than a slightly imperfect printing of a genuine one! The crucial question, which Muslim apologists beg by this argument, is whether the original is God’s Word, not whether they possess a perfect copy of it” (Norman Geisler, Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross [2nd ed.], 199).
Christians and Copyist Errors in Bible Manuscripts
Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God, and they also understand that there are copyist errors in the manuscripts we possess.1
However, this does not undermine their reliability or authority. To help explain this I will ask, “Is it better to have a slightly imperfect printing of a 1000 rupee banknote than a perfect printing that is counterfeit?”
My point is that a slightly imperfect copy of a banknote is not proof that the banknote is counterfeit. Slightly imperfect banknotes, that are not counterfeit, can still be used as legal tender.2 Variances between biblical manuscripts is not proof that the Bible is counterfeit and can therefore be dismissed.
Another important fact is that Jesus perfectly lived by the Scriptures and because of this He rose again from the dead. Jesus has ascended into heaven; and He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Psalm 2:6-9; Matthew 28:18-20). This is a powerful reason to believe that the Bible has been preserved and is true and trustworthy.
Are there any alleged contradictions in the Quran? How do Muslims explain them and what resources do you recommend for those who say there are?
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
Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, said, “When a person has a stable clear belief supported by proof and evidence, he shall be self assured with a confident heart and a clear path ahead of him.” Are you confident to read my dialogue with Muslims and interact with my arguments about the Quran?
- Many of these copyist errors are found in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Here is an example of an alleged contradiction Muslims sometimes point out,
How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
-Forty thousand (1 Kings Chapter 4 Verse 26) [Some English translations, like the NIV, try smoothing the problem out in their translations and make a marginal note of the textual difficulty]
-Four thousand (2 Chronicles Chapter 9 Verse 25)
As I have pointed out in previous posts, I’m not sure how serious Muslims are about these questions and whether or not they have sincerely studied the issue for themselves. Nevertheless, answers can be found in Christian commentaries and books devoted to answering Bible difficulties.
PROBLEM: In recording the prosperity of Solomon, this passage states that he had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots. However, 1 Chronicles 9:25 affirms that Solomon had only 4,000 stalls for horses. Which one is right?
SOLUTION: This is undoubtedly a copyist error. The ratio of 4,000 horses to 1,400 chariots, as found in the 2 Chronicles passage, is much more reasonable than a ratio of 40,000 to 1,400 found in the 1 Kings text. In the Hebrew language, the visual difference between the two numbers is very slight. The consonants for the number 40 are rbym while the consonants for the number 4 are rbh (the vowels were not written in the text). The manuscripts from which the scribe worked may have been smudged or damaged and have given the appearance of being forty thousand rather than four thousand.
Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. There are also helpful answers on the Internet. See for example:
- A few years ago the United States mint made a mistake and printed $1 coins without “In God We Trust.” These are called by some “godless dollars“ [↩]