I came across this excellent charge from New Testament scholar N.T. Wright and loved the way he said it. I disagree with a good bit of Wright’s theology, but this is gold!
Let’s be dead-serious on “The Bible, prayer, and loving people”!
Here’s something I’ve heard frequently from Muslims I’ve conversed with, and again last night at a session of the Muslim Student Association at SDSU:”There are so many different versions of Bibles: Revised Standard Version, King James, etc., etc. but there is only one Qur’an.”
He was arguing that the Bible is confusing, corrupted, or somehow unreliable because there are so many “different Bibles” but the Qur’an is reliable because of its unity, singularity and clarity.
But this is full of logical fallacies. He was comparing the many English translations of the Bible with the one Qur’an, written in the original Arabic, but he failed to mention that there are many English translations of the Qur’an! (translations of Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s, Yahiya Emerick, M.A.S. Abdeel Haleem, etc.). Why? The fact that there are many translations of the Quran doesn’t prove anything against the Qur’an. It is indeed helpful to have access to several translations accomplished by various scholars from the original language from which it was written. This is true of the Qur’an and the Bible.
The valid comparison would be the Greek and Hebrew Manuscripts of the Bible with the Arabic manuscripts of the Qur’an. But that does not help the Muslim argument as well, because both the Bible and the Quran are very well preserved, and both still have textual variants that our scholars figure out through the art and science of textual criticism to determine the original meaning.
My point in this little rant is this: let’s not anyone get away with arguments like that. Know the definitions of words in question: translation, manuscript, copy, original, etc. They are frequently misused to make falicious arguments about the Bible… and the Qur’an for that matter.