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The History of the Bible and the Quran-Part 1

Questioner

Lady D

Reply Date

Jan 28, 2017

Question

Salam. I have a sincere Christian friend. He has asked me about the history of translating the sacred scripture. I need to clarify for him when exactly the Bible was translated into Arabic. Also, when was it translated from its original language and what was its original language? Also, when were the Qur'an and Torah translated into other languages and what were their original languages? Please give me a clear, chronological answer documenting how and when the three scriptures were collected and written down in books. I need you to give me historical facts without offending my friend, for sometimes Muslims use an aggressive, sarcastic tone when comparing how the Bible was compiled to how the Qur'an was kept and honored. Of course, our Islam respects others and should never be insulting. Thank you for your tolerance of my words.

Consultant

Answer


Salam, 

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question. 

Please find part one of the answer to your question below. Find the second and final part at the link here.

First, I will briefly answer some of the specific questions you have asked. 

1. The first Arabic translation of the Bible: The Christian Web site: The Interactive Bible states, “The first Arabic translation of the Bible came into existence about the 9th century.” 

Prophet Muhammad died in the first half of the seventh century, to be specific, in the year 632 CE. 

2. The original language of the Old Testament was ancient Hebrew. Jesus was a Jew, one of the Children of Israel, and he spoke Aramaic, which was a dialect of Hebrew, an Eastern Semitic language.

But the books of the New Testament, including the Gospels, were written in Greek – a Western language – some time after Jesus Christ. 

3. The language of Muhammad was Arabic and the Quran was revealed to him in Arabic. It is the original Arabic Quran that is always called THE Quran, not any translation. 

The History of the Bible

The Bible is a collection of writings penned at different periods of history and by different writers. The many denominations of Christianity are not in agreement on the canon (a list of books accepted by the Church as authoritative or divinely inspired) of the Christian Bible.

Some of these books are not universally accepted. The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say on the topic:

The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council.

There is a lot of confusion about the earliest existing texts of the Bible.

The oldest extant manuscript of the Bible is believed to be the Codex Vaticanus, (preserved in the Vatican Library) and which is slightly older than the Codex Sinaiticus (preserved in the British Library), both of which were transcribed in the 4th century. 

As for the story of Jesus, there were at least some fifty gospels written in the first and second century CE. Four of them (Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John) were included in the official canon during the 4th century CE and are found today in every Bible.

All of the original copies of the gospels were lost. What we have now are handwritten copies, which are an unknown number of replications removed from the originals. 

Rudolf Bultmann, a prominent Twentieth Century professor of New Testament studies writes:

[…] we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary; and other sources about Jesus do not exist. (Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word, p. 8) 

The earliest of the four gospels is Mark’s, and this was written sometime from 57 to 75 CE, according to scholars.

The other gospels were composed much later than this and the last of the four Gospels (John’s) was probably written between 85 and 100 CE. All these gospels were originally in Greek and the authorship of these gospels is a subject of dispute. 

The Bible does not contain self-reference; that is, the word “bible” is not in the Bible. In fact, only certain Christian groups believe that the Bible—in its entirety—is the revealed word of God.

The presence of so many contradictions and patently questionable ideas makes this claim untenable. 

Please continue reading part two here

Salam

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Was the Qur’an Written During The Prophet’s Lifetime?

Did Prophet Muhammad Copy the Bible?

Could the Qur’an Be a Copy of the Bible?!

Is the Bible the Word of God?

Scriptures of People of the Book 




About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.


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