When Muslims attack the Bible for having many different versions?

I’ve recently experienced Muslims attacking the Bible because there are many different versions of it. They use this to attack the authenticity of the Bible, as opposed to their Qur’an which they claim has never been altered. This criticism struck me out of the blue and I wasn’t expecting it. Has anybody got a good response to counter this attack?

The claim is true, so it’s pointless to try to “disprove” it. When compiling the Latin Vulgate (the “official” Bible of the Church), St. Jerome complained that he had found as many versions as he had found copies (in other words, the manuscripts were not in complete agreement).

And there’s no point in trying to find some middle ground by saying the discrepancies are “minor.” Heck, not even the four canonical Gospels are in complete agreement about every detail. But there’s no objective criteria to judge a discrepancy as “minor” or “major,” so such a discussion will never be conclusive. And, besides, once you admit the possibility of minor discrepancies, you have no logical basis to exclude the possibility of major ones.

Since we can’t disprove the claim, we have to show why it really doesn’t matter. Here’s where it’s really convenient to be a Catholic, because we can cite the teaching authority of the Magesterium.

If the Catholic Church was based on the Bible alone (as protestants would have it) then the discrepancies in manuscripts might be problematic. But the Church is not based on the Bible. The Church doesn’t even NEED the Bible. The early Church got on quite well for centuries without a Bible (as we know it). If every Bible were destroyed tomorrow, the Church would continue quite fine.

The Bible is really nice to have, but it is not necessary. So it really doesn’t matter if old manuscripts are not identical.

Islam, like protestant faiths, is largely a religion of the book. Like protestants, Muslims have no concept of an ongoing, divinely inspired teaching authority. They have the (admittedly well-preserved) words of their Prophet, with whom divine revelation ended.

And, like the protestant faiths, this has led to a lot of division and disunity within Islam, as some Muslims (such as those ISIS nutjobs) interpret the text very differently than others.

I wouldn’t take to seriously any group that thinks it’s fine for a man to marry a child,
That thinks it’s fine to behead anyone not of their faith but refuses to eat a ham Sandwhich

From what I’ve read, the amount of ancient copies of the Bible has actually worked in favor of determining what the original texts said. They compare each text to the other and when a great number of them agree on how a certain reading went, it’s safe to say that they were correct vs. the ones with variations.

Islam does have the “advantage” of not being as ancient as the Bible so it would make sense that it would have less variants but it does have textual variants.

I think it would be helpful to know exactly what they mean by the term “altered.” Is there a concrete example of a biblical alteration which has proven to be problematic to the practice of Christianity as a whole?

And exactly what is their point concerning authenticity? Are they suggesting that God somehow intervenes (or will intervene) in human affairs to prevent the Quran from being altered and that this is supposed to be a sign of divine assurance of its authenticity? I’m not going to bother doing the research, but I suspect one could find another religion or two, and maybe a number of cults, who could also claim that their sacred texts are free of alteration. If that is, indeed, the case, then that, of course, would raise a big question for the Muslims you’ve been speaking with.

I assume they are not simply talking about the challenges that naturally stem from translating biblical Hebrew and Greek into modern languages. After all, the same thing happens when translating any text, including the Arabic of the Quran (see, for example, Difficulties of Quran Translation and Some Linguistic Difficulties in Translating the Holy Quran from Arabic into English).

As a side note, I just Googled the question, “Has the Quran ever been altered?” It certainly seems that opinion is divided, even among scholars.

Well, Joseph wed Mary, who was thought to be not more than 13. Many, many of our Biblical ancestors did the same.

The Catholic Church has burned people at the stake for not believing as they do.

And our Jewish brothers and sisters do not eat ham sandwiches. It is forbidden in our Bible.

So in all charity, I would be a bit careful of throwing the first stone.

From what I can tell Muslims will attack anything that isn’t Muslim and sometimes even then.

Early age marriage is not disputed, but throwing Joseph and Mary on to the pile is wrong.
catholic.com/tracts/mary-ever-virgin

The Catholic Church has burned people at the stake for not believing as they do.

I’m sure if one looks hard enough you can find crazy Catholics burning people, but finding documents where the Church sanctioned the burning of anyone is much harder…because there aren’t any.

And our Jewish brothers and sisters do not eat ham sandwiches. It is forbidden in our Bible.

You miss the point. Muslims are divided yet don’t understand why we have different versions. Different versions are no threat to unity yet one group of Muslims can behead children according to their interpretation while most of them are appalled.

So in all charity, I would be a bit careful of throwing the first stone.

“The Catholic Church has burned people at the stake for not believing as they do.” is a big stone, and off topic.

Of course real Muslims have to learn the language the Koran was written in. Which is also the case for Christian scholars.

This objection from Muslims is rooted in their need to reject certain things in the bible that they find offensive.

The root of this problem is the way that the non-Jews were treated in the old testament. We have God calling for the extermination and enslavement of the people in the promised land of the Jews.

Since many modern Muslims in the Middle East trace their ancestors back to these people who were treated so harshly, we can see the cause of their resentment.

Many Muslims simply say that since there is no way that God would call for the wholesale slaughter of people the way that the bible records, then it must be that the bible is corrupted. And since parts are corrupted, perhaps the whole thing is not trustworthy.

But seriously, the whole thing really does come to the barbaric way that their ancestral people were treated that causes them to want to NOT believe that God was actually the author of such things. So if they can throw it out on other grounds (too many different version etc) then so be it.

Pray for them. Muslims are forbiden to translate their Quran to any other language, not even to modren Arabic. They are not even allowed to pray in other languages. That means if a non Arab became Muslim, they’d have to learn Arabic to read the Quran and pray. Of course there are many translation of the Quran in other languages, which faithful Arab Muslims consider as invalid.

They believe the Quran came to Mohamed by an Angel who taught him how to read and write. You can basically say it fell from Heaven. Which is not what happened to the Bible, it was written by men, of course by inspiration from the Holy Spirit which Muslims do not believe in. So the best you can do is pray for them.

Well they don’t know that do they? They don’t believe that God chose only one nation to worship him cuz the rest were unfaithful.

Have you read the Qu’ran?

Indeed it is bad too. Our tribal past is horrific for sure.

Perhaps though one can be sensitive to the fact that the Bible contains brutal killing of innocent people that Muslim’s trace their heritage back to. The book of Numbers and Joshua are particularly brutal.

Just imagine if you were reading a book that described how God commanded people to kill innocent people that you knew were your distant ancestors. Being sensitive to that human feeling is a first step toward peace perhaps.

If you are arguing with a Muslim along these lines you will sooner than later confront this, so it is best to be prepared. Rather than hit them with logic and arguments, your first reaction is important which might be the human feeling of sympathy towards the plight of others. We are all God’ children after all.

However the Bible does not lay down a law that tells Jews (and us Christians as their inheritors of scripture) that we should actually kill unbelievers. The books of the Bible you talk about are historical texts set within a particular time-frame, not eternal truths to be emulated and applied throughout time by those who believe. For Christians (and Jews) yes such books represents our tribal past as you point out, but the Quran is not a book about the past, but a book of eternal rules for the past, present and future. That is a very important difference.

Luther, in Exsurge Domine, was condemned for suggesting that burning heretics was against the will of the Spirit.

That is true. More of our tribal and barbaric past.

In 1995 Pope John Paul II apologized for the Church’s involvement in the burning of heretics after the Protestant reformation.

That’s a great point.

And in addition, we have the New Testament where God himself tells us directly to love our enemies and even shows us that he his willing to die rather than harm them.

The Koran goes the other way. At first it is peaceful, but the second half when they were at war is where all the violence is described in detail. And as you point out, the context ends there. There is no third book that says to love your enemies etc. The war time commands are left as a prescription for all times unfortunately.

Of course most Muslims don’t interpret them that way, just like most folks don’t interpret the old testament versus as instructions for the present either. They simply see them in the context of the war that they were in at the time.

This has probably already been answered, but for the sake of repetition I feel inclined to post.

Suppose the Catholic Church did not fear God, and they collected all the manuscripts by an edict, so that all copies of the OT and NT were rounded up in the 10th century. The monks then decided to write one official copy and then having no fear of God set out to burn and destroy all copies that had minor inscriptions that crept in. Would we then from the 10th century onward to this day say, “Wow the Bible must be true because there is only a single copy”? Well we don’t say that about any other book.

The above fictional story about the Catholic Church is just that fictional, but the same cannot be said about Muslims and the Quran. Caliph Uthman in I think the 7th century or abouts did have all varying manuscripts rounded up. Because there was actually contradictions. It would be similar to adding the Gnostic writings to the cannon of scripture. After Caliph had an “official” copy he, who did not fear God, burned all other copies. It is only out of their ignorance of their own pronounced sacred writings and history they could ever make such a claim.

Be careful when you say the Catholic church as a whole has burned people at the stake the ones who did had probably good intentions but ended up badly by the way Protestants also burned people at the stake for not believing in the same way they do look what the Puritans did to the mentally ill jcalling them witches and also the Church of England burning and killing Catholics AND ON AND ON AND ON . looking at it from both points of viewas here

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