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Muslims often assert that Christians corrupted The Bible at The Council Of Nicea in 325 AD

Sometimes Muslims assert that, at this Council, Christians were in hopeless confusion about what Gospels should be included in The Bible, there being dozens or hundreds of conflicting Gospels in their possession at that time. In order to select the true Gospels of Jesus, say these opponents of Christianity, the Niceans resorted to throwing the contending Gospels on or under the main table in the debating hall of The Council, then prayed to God that the true Gospels would  overnight miraculously move to the top of this hopelessly confused mess of hopelessly confused books.

The ultimate source of this story, told in several colourful variants,  is a document known as the Synodicon Vetus, an anonymous document written in about 900 AD. The Synodicon Vetus gives a one chapter summary of every major Council and Synod of the Christian Church up until 887 AD.

The Synodicon Vetus says of The Council Of Nicea

The canonical and apocryphal books it distinguished in the following manner: in the house of God the books were placed down by the holy altar; then the council asked the Lord in prayer that the inspired works be found on top and–as in fact happened–the spurious on the bottom. (Synodicon Vetus, 35)

Unfortunately for Muslims, the Synodicon Vetus is an unreliable document and is not considered trustworthy by historians. In addition, Synodicon Vetus also fails the  tests of reliability required by Islamic Sciences.

The flaws of the Synodicon Vetus are many. They are:

  • It is anonymous
  • It is written many centuries after the early Councils
  • It gives a different account of Councils than witness accounts and records written at much earlier times
  • It references Councils that never took place
  • It includes events considered doubtful and even imaginary
  • It uses documents known to be forged and considers them to be factual.

 

While the Synodicon Vetus does contain some information which is verified by earlier historical accounts and its information about the later Councils is often sound, its major drawbacks mean that it cannot be used as an authoritative source. Its recount of the earlier Councils, including the Council of Nicea are very often unreliable. For this reason the Synodicon Vetus is described variously as pseudo-historical, not to be trusted for Councils prior to the 7th Century unless corroborated by better sources, containing information which is doubtful or imaginary, the product of careless research…containing numerous errors and depending in part on forged documents.

The account in the Synodicon Vetus of the four accepted Gospels floating to the top of a huge pile of forgeries in response to prayer is not mentioned in any document prior to the Synodicon Vetus itself. Since the SV was written about 570 years after the Council Of Nicea and the account of the miraculously appearing Gospels is not mentioned by any other source including the several records from very close to the time of Nicea, then this alone is enough to dismiss the SV’s account of Nicea as a fanciful invention and not at all based in fact.

In fact, the proceedings of The Council Of Nicea are well-known and the decisions and the agenda of the Council are common knowledge. Contrary to myths believed by Muslims and other opponents of Christianity, the canon of scripture (i.e. what Books should or should not be in The Bible) was not decided at Nicea, nor was Nicea called for the purpose of discussing the Canon of Scripture. The list of accepted Gospels and Letters in The Bible was exactly the same after Nicea as before Nicea. The church leaders that disagreed with the decisions of Nicea used the same Bible as those that agreed with Nicea.

The reason Nicea was called was to discuss the meaning of Jesus’s title as Son Of God, not to determine the contents of The Bible.

The Unmentioned Miracle

An astonishing miracle such as the True Gospels selecting, discarding, declaring and elevating themselves would surely be recorded as the major event of the Council, but no such miracle or decision is recorded. Again, this alone is proof that the story of miraculously appearing Gospels as stated by the Synodicon Vetus simply never happened.

You can read many accounts of the proceedings of Nicea from the Histories listed on this site (here’s a short summary), the statement of faith produced at Nicea here and a list of the other decisions of Nicea here. There is simply no mention of any discussion about which books should be in The Bible nor is there any decision taken regarding The Bible. This is because the Biblical Canon (what books and letters should be in The Bible) was well-known by both sides well before Nicea. It was simply not in dispute.

Synodicon Vetus Invalid According To Islamic Sciences

The willingness of Muslims to accept a myth based on the Synodicon Vetus is actually opposed to Islamic Sciences of evaluating reliable traditions and history. First, the SV is anonymous. The first principle of authenticity in Islamic Sciences is that the author of the text be fully identified and be known as a trustworthy witness.

The fact that the SV is anonymous disqualifies it immediately from being considered reliable or authentic by Muslims. Muslims are obliged to reject the SV on this basis alone. As Shabbir Ally explains in relation to The Gospel Of Barnabas (which he rejects) a document or tradition which appears suddenly and anonymously centuries after the event it is supposed to describe and which has no chain of narration back to eyewitnesses of the event is simply invalid and must be rejected by Muslims. This is why Shabbir Ally does not consider The Gospel Of Barnabas valid. He would reject the Synodicon Vetus for the same reason.

In passing, other respected Islamic Scholars also reject the Gospel Of Barnabas. For example: Yusuf Estes says simply ‘There was no Gospel Of Barnabas…If you think there was such a Gospel you are deluded…’ Estes goes on to infer that the Gospel Of Barnabas is somehow the product of drunkenness and leaves no doubt that he does not consider the Gospel Of Barnabas of value to either Muslims or Christians.

Use Of Forged Sources

Returning again to the Synodicon Vetus, the document is severely compromised by its use of sources known to be forged. The forgeries in question are known as the Seven Forged Letters of Peter The Fuller. These letters owe their production to a theological debate of the 5th Century. You can read all about it here. Since SV references forged documents as if they are true then there is no way that SV should be considered reliable.

The Qu’ran Was Recited By 114 Heavenly Eagles

Imagine if I told Muslims that the Qu’ran was put into its current form by 114 Heavenly Eagles which appeared to Mohammed on the night before his death and recited each of the 114 true Surahs in turn in order to verify to Mohammed that his own recitation of the Qu’ran was correct. Imagine if I told Muslims that this was necessary because Mohammed had accumulated over 1000 Surahs and had no idea which ones were valid and which ones were forgeries. Imagine if I told my Muslim friends that the Eagles had appeared in response to a desperate prayer from Mohammed to Allah in order to help him determine which Surahs of the Qu’ran were forged and which were real.

My Muslim friends would laugh at this story and demand proof for my assertion.

Imagine if I told them that this proof was contained in a anonymous Hadith contained in a book of Hadith assembled by an anonymous authour who had also assembled Hadith using sources which were known forgeries and that my anonymous source wrote down his Hadith in the year 1420 AD, 570 years after Imam Bukhari had made his Sahih collection of trusted and authenticated Hadith and that my account was not accepted by or known to any other Islamic Scholar.

I then tell my Muslim friends that they should reject the Hadith of Bukhari and accept my anonymous, forged, and obviously fanciful account of the Recitation Of The Heavenly Eagles, written 800 years after the death of Mohammed  even though it is in complete contradiction to reputable Islamic history.

Their response would be: Why should we accept such rubbish ?

And yet some Muslims ask Christians to accept the myths of the Synodicon Vetus.

Irredeemable

The major flaws in the SV render it irredeemable. It cannot be judged to be authoritative for Christians in any way. The story of the floating Gospels which miraculously appear at the top of the pile of competing Gospels is an obvious fabrication and a myth, one which is rejected by reputable scholarship.

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Muslims assert that Christians have deliberately corrupted The Bible, changing the original teaching of Jesus so as to obscure the original Islamic message that He supposedly bought.

In order to prove this allegation, Muslims need to bring the supposed original Islamic Bible, or a copy of it, so that we can compare the supposedly Islamic original Bible with the supposedly corrupted version that exists today.

Unfortunately for Muslims there is no evidence that an original Islamic Bible ever existed. There are approximately 25,000 ancient manuscripts and fragments of The Bible dating back to 125 AD, 500 years before the coming of Islam. All of these ancient manuscripts support the text of the current Bible and not one of them is a copy or fragment of the supposed original Islamic Bible.

Muslims thus have no proof, no evidence at all, that an Islamic Bible ever existed. On the contrary, all proof of the ancient manuscripts, which amounts to more than 2.6 million pages of text, is for the current Bible.

What Was Changed, Exactly ?

But what exactly do Muslim scholars claim was removed from or added to the supposed original Islamic Bible ? The website Islamic Q&A gives a specific answer to this. It says

they erased everything from their Books that foretold the coming of Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and they concealed what knowledge they had of this matter.

IslamQ&A goes on to say:

Al-Baghawi (an Islamic scholar ) said the rabbis of the Jews were afraid of losing their livelihood and position of leadership, when the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) came to Madeenah. So they tried to prevent the Jews from believing in him. They went to his description in the Torah, where he is described as having a handsome face, with handsome hair, kohl-rimmed eyes and being of average height, and they changed it, writing instead: Tall, blue, with straight hair.

When their foolish ones asked them about the description of the Prophet, they read what they had written and said that he was different from this description, so they disbelieved him and rejected him. So Allah said (interpretation of the meaning): “Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands” [al-Baqarah 2:79].

Thus IslamQ&A provides us with a time and place when the Bible was supposedly changed, giving even a general idea of the place where the text was changed (The Torah) and details of exactly what was changed, this being details of the physical description of Mohammed.

Mohammed arrived in Medinah in 622 AD. This means that according to the scholar Al-Baghawi, who is apparently reliable enough to be quoted as an authority by IslamQ&A, that the original supposed Islamic Bible was in existence prior to 622 AD and said that the prophet to come would have a handsome face, with handsome hair, kohl-rimmed eyes and would be of average height and that the current Bible says that the prophet to come would be Tall, blue (presumably blue-eyed) , with straight hair.

Bibles Ancient And Modern

Unfortunately for IslamQ&A and Al-Baghawi we possess virtually complete Bibles from prior to 622 AD and they all support the text of the current Bible. I speak specifically here of Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus written in approximately 330 AD in different parts of the ancient Near East. The small part of the Torah missing from Codex Vaticanus is supplied by numerous other ancient Bible manuscripts and Christian writings of the period. The portions of the Torah missing from Codex Sinaiticus are supplied by Codex Vaticanus.

So the manuscript evidence is contrary to the claim of IslamQ&A and Al-Baghawi that the Bible was changed in 622 AD. Al-Baghawi has quite simply made things up out of his own mind or repeated erroneous teaching that he has received from his own predecessors. IslamQ&A has repeated these errors of Al-Baghawi without bothering to check his scholarship.

Secondly, no manuscript of The Bible either before or after Islam records a prophet to come who has a handsome face, with handsome hair, kohl-rimmed eyes and who would be of average height. So there is no evidence whatsoever for a change in The Bible as decscribed by Al-Baghwai.

Furthermore, no manuscript of The Bible either before or after Islam records a prophet to come who is tall, blue-eyed with fair hair. The current Bible does not say what Al-Baghawi says it does. What is this man talking about ? He is obviously in complete ignorance on his subject. It is amazing that IslamQ&A would choose to relay such arrant nonsense to their readership.

Same Error In Reverse

Even more embarrassing for IslamQ&A is that they then go on to record the opinion of another Islamic scholar, Al-Qurturbi, who says that The Bible was altered in more or less  the exact opposite manner to that described by Al-Baghawi.

Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Ibn Ishaaq and al-Kalbi said: The description of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in their Book said that he was of average height and white, but they changed it to say that he was dark with long, straight hair, and they said to their companions and followers: Look at the description of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) who will be sent at the end of time; he does not resemble this one.

Again, to the detriment of Al-Qurtubi, no manuscript of The Bible either before or after Islam says that the prophet to come would be white and of average height and neither does any manuscript of The Bible either before or after Islam says that the prophet to come will be dark with long, straight hair.

As with Al-Baghawi, the current Bible does not say what Al-Qurturbi says it does. These scholars are simply inventing untrue assertions about supposed changes in The Bible or passing on baseless rumour that they themselves have received from their predecessors.

Thus, these scholars, supposedly among the best of Islamic history, simply have no idea what they are talking about in relation to supposed corruption of The Bible. How can the scholars of Islam state that The Bible has been corrupted when they don’t even know what The Bible says ?

How can the scholars of Islam be believed about ‘what The Bible says’ when the things they say are written in The Bible are simply not there ? Who could believe or trust or follow such blind and ignorant guides ?

It is clear that the scholars of Islam have no certain knowledge of their subject and follow nothing but conjecture. They are in the same hopeless position as that described by their own scripture, that of simply repeating baseless rumour.

And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of ‘Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)] 4:157 Hilal-Khan Translation

This grasping onto rumour, conjecture and invention of falsehood is demonstrated by Islamic scholars not only in relation to supposed corruption of The Bible but also in Islamic accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus which you can read here.

Muslims Have Changed The Qu’ran

It is not sufficient for Muslims to simply state without evidence that Christians have changed The Bible. Anyone can spout baseless accusation like that. What if I told my Muslim friends that the original Qu’ran had been changed to conceal the divinity of Jesus and that the original Qu’ran contained a description of Jesus to the effect that he would be a tall old man with straight white hair and that the current Qu’ran had been changed in the city of Petra in the year 833 AD to say that Jesus would be short with green eyes and curly red hair ?

Muslims would of course laugh at such ludicrous statements and demand that I bring proof. Yet their own scholars are making, and continue to make, equally ridiculous claims in regard to The Bible.

Change Must Be In Accordance With Prediction

Furthermore, for Muslims to prove their allegations of corruption of The Bible they must demonstrate corruptions corresponding to the way they say it has changed. It is not sufficient to demonstrate any supposed change at all and say that therefore the Bible has been changed in order to eliminate Islamic belief.

For example, if Muslims say that there are multiple different versions of The Bible and that therefore The Bible has been corrupted to conceal the coming of Mohammed, they must demonstrate that these supposed different versions show the elimination of  Islamic belief. That requires production of originals which contain the Islamic beliefs so that comparisons can be made with the supposed different versions. Spelling or copyists errors and other trivial manuscript variants are proof of nothing.

That is why the IslamicQ&A article is so instructive. It contains descriptions by Islamic scholars of the supposed changes to The Bible and gives a specific time and place where these changes were supposed to have been made. But as we have seen, the changes described by Islamic scholars do not exist and neither do any copies of the supposed Islamic originals, despite the existence of many thousands of ancient Bible manuscripts from both before and after the time of Islam.

Quite simply, Muslims have no evidence at all to support their oft-repeated assertion that The Bible has been corrupted.

On the contrary, all evidence, of which there is mountainous quantities, is for the current Bible.

Many Muslims state that the true Injeel (Gospel as taught by Jesus) is found in The Gospel of Barnabas which was later excluded from The Bible by Christian leaders who wished to put fake and corrupt teaching into The Bible. You can read a Muslim making that claim here.

The Gospel Of Barnabas is not the true Injeel. Rather, it is an obvious forgery.

In fact, unfortunately for Muslims who insist that the The Gospel Of Barnabas is the true word of God,  The so-called Gospel of Barnabas contradicts Islam and the Qu’ran. It states that Jesus was not the Messiah when the Qu’ran says that Jesus is The Messiah. The Gospel Of Barnabas says that Maryam suffered pain in childbirth whereas the Qu’ran says Maryam did not suffer pain during childbirth. The Gospel Of Baranbas says that men are limited to one wife whereas the Qu’ran permits Muslims to four wives. Finally the Gospel Of Barnabas says there are nine heavens whereas the Qu’ran says there are seven heavens.

Muslim Scholars Reject The Gospel Of Barnabas 

Muslims may be surprised to learn that prominent Islamic scholars have rejected The Gospel Of Barnabas.

Shabir Ally makes the point that The so-called Gospel Of Barnabas carries no internal authentication and thus is not acceptable as a Holy Text as its source cannot be proven according to the Islamic scholarly methods which are used to authenticate Hadith and other religious traditions.

Specifically Shabbir Ally says:

the chain of authorities for The Gospel Of Barnabas is missing…for centuries The Gospel Of Barnabas was not seen anywhere but then suddenly it turned up in The Middle Ages

What Shabbir Ally is saying is that in the same way that a Hadith without a chain of authorities (Isnad) is instantly rejected as unreliable and has no status as a Holy Text so also The Gospel Of Barnabas lacks any chain of authorities and therefore has no status as a Holy Text and must be rejected by Muslims.

The question then arises ‘Which Christian Gospels DO have a reliable chain of authorities which connect them down through the centuries all the way to Jesus Himself ? And the answer to that is that the Gospels of the current Bible, including the writings of Paul have exactly that chain of authority.

The  current Bible has internal authentication which connects it to Jesus, then authentication in the second and third generation of Christian believers and then in all subsequent Church Councils down to the present day.

If Shabbir Ally or any Muslim wishes to know which are The Gospels of Jesus that are connected by an unbroken chain of authority all the way to Jesus, then those Gospels are the Gospels contained in the current Bible. That chain of authority includes Mohammed and The Qu’ran both of whom gave unqualified support and validation to the truth of the Bible. You can find proof of that here.

Another well-known Muslim scholar who rejects the so-called Gospel Of Barnabas is Yusuf Estes. Estes is quoted on the Islamic web-site Islamic Newsroom dismissing The Gospel Of Barnabas as  a sad joke, a trick, and a fake as follows:

[The Gospel Of Barnabas] is a sad joke on many Muslims. Some have been tricked into believing this has something to do with the New Testament and it is more or less the “Lost Gospel” … But that is all  nonsense, because the so-called “Gospel of Barnabas” is “Bogabas” (fake).

Estes then gives a description of the reasons that The Gospel Of Barnabas is a fake, most of which accords exactly with reliable scholarship. Muslims who accept the Gospel Of Barnabas are violating their own scholarly rules. In any case the obvious errors, contradictions and violations of both Islamic and Christian doctrines prove that the so-called Gospel Of Barnabas is an obvious fraud.

In another video, Yusuf Estes says simply ‘There was no Gospel Of Barnabas…If you think there was such a Gospel you are deluded…’ Estes goes on to infer that the Gospel Of Barnabas is somehow the product of drunkenness and leaves no doubt that he does not consider the Gospel Of Barnabas of value to either Muslims or Christians

The fact that both Shabbir Ally and Yusuf Estes reject The Gospel Of Barnabas is significant. These two are highly prominent as anti-Christian polemecists this being something of their speciality. Their engagement with Christian Scholars on this issue has exposed them to the fraudulent nature of The Gospel Of Barnabas and enabled them to reject it both as irrelevant to Islamic belief and a forgery of the true teachings of Jesus.

You can learn more about The Gospel Of Barnabas here

Muslims believe that Christians falsified and destroyed the real Bible, often asserting that this occurred at The Council Of Nicea in 325 AD.

Some Muslims believe that the supposed original, real Bible, which supports the teaching of The Qu’ran,  was discovered in the year 2000 in Turkey. The basis for this belief is a story published on Feb. 23 2012  by the National Turkish news service. You can read the report, which describes a 1500-2000 year old Bible seized from smugglers by Turkish police here.

This supposed ‘Bible’ is an obvious fake.

Firstly, the document was not written 1500 years ago. The document itself says it was written in the year 1500 A.D. which would make it about 500 years old, not 1500 years old. We know that the document was written in 1500 AD because it says so on the front cover. The text on the front cover has appeared in many photographs and is easily read in the Modern Assyrian language.

But the fact that the document was written in Modern Assyrian proves that the document is actually less than 200 years old. The language Modern Assyrian, was standardized in the 1840s. The first bible in Modern Assyrian was produced in 1848. If this book were written in 1500 A.D. it would have been written in Classical Assyrian, not Modern Assyrian.

More to the point, a document written in 1840 cannot possibly be said to predict the coming of Mohammed in 610 AD.

From this alone, the language that the document was written in, we therefore know that this document is an obvious fake.

Secondly, this document has been rejected as a fake by Islamic scholars. The Islamic website Islamic NewsRoom describes how the document contradicts The Qu’ran as follows (see http://www.islamnewsroom.com/news-we-need/1800-ancient-bible-proves-muhammad

In late 2012 the Turkish culture and tourism minister Ertugrul Gunay quoted from the book saying that in it,  Jesus says, “How shall the Messsiah be called? Muhammad is his Blessed name”.

 Yet, The Qu’ran says that Messiah is the name of Jesus, NOT the name of Mohammed.

The Islamic article goes on to describe other contradictions between the document and The Qu’ran and then closes with a quote from Yusuf Estes, the well-known Islamic scholar, who rejects the document as follows:

I’m sorry for those who believe this book is the authentic written word of Jesus, peace be upon him. The most I can say about this book other than being an ancient manuscript of somebody’s writing – it should not be seriously considered as anything more than another discovery of ancient rubbish.

http://www.islamnewsroom.com/news-we-need/1800-pope-read-ancient-bible-a-quit-why

No wonder the Turkish Theology professor Omer Faruk Harman told said the Turkish Newspaper Today’s Zaman, “Muslims may be disappointed to see that this copy does not include things they would like to see and it might have no relation with the content of the Gospel of Barnabas“.

Muslims sometimes allege that The Bible became corrupted at the Council Of Nicea in 325 AD. The Council Of Nicea was an important Council of Church leaders held in what is now the Turkish city Iznik. Here is an example of a Muslim who thinks The Bible was corrupted At Nicea.

Sometimes Muslims specify that it was wicked Romans, specifically Emperor Constantine who corrupted The Bible at this Council.

The Bible Was Not Discussed At Nicea

The Council Of Nicea did not corrupt The Bible. In fact, The Canon (i.e. list of accepted books) of The Bible was not even discussed at Nicea. The main purpose of Nicea was to define exactly what is meant by Jesus being called Son Of God.

Since The Canon was not discussed at this Council,  it is impossible that this Council corrupted The Bible. You can find an overview of the proceedings of the Council Of Nicea here. The Canon was not altered by The Council Of Nicea. All Bishops that attended the conference used the same Bible that we have today, whether or not they supported the position that Jesus is God or whether they thought Jesus was not God.

Bibles Before Nicea Same As Those After Nicea

We have about sixty Bible manuscripts which predate The Council Of Nicea. These ancient manuscripts all support the current Bible. We also have accounts of the proceedings of The Council Of Nicea which tells us what was said and done. These proves that The Council Of Nicea did not change The Bible.

Anti-Nicean Bishops Believed Jesus Is The Son Of God

At Nicea there were two groups of Bishops. Both groups believed that Jesus Is The Son Of God. The heretical group, however, believed that The Son was created.

The heretical Christian leader, Arius, was the leader of those who believed that Jesus is a created being. We have letters written by Arius to other church leaders and to the Emperor Constantine. Here is an extract from one of those letters. It clearly states that Arius believed that Jesus is The Son Of God and that Jesus is Divine. Arius wrote to the Emperor Constantine saying this:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, and in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who was begotten from Him before all ages, God the Word, by whom all things were made, whether things in heaven or on earth; He came and took upon Him flesh, suffered and rose again, and ascended into heaven…

Arius plainly states that he believes that Jesus is The Son Of God, Creator and Divine.

This means that all Christians, even those those disagreed with the decisions of Nicea, agreed that Jesus is The Son of God before The Council Of Nicea. This means that Nicea did not create the formulation that Jesus is The Son Of God and that The Bible was not altered at Nicea.

Arius and the heretical Bishops all believed that Jesus is The Son Of God and that Jesus was Divine. They believed this before Nicea. Where Arius and his followers disagreed with Orthodox Christians was that Arius believed that Jesus Himself was created. Arius believed that Jesus was created by The Father as a Divine creation before time began.  Here is a further letter written by Arius to a Church leader named Eusebius. This letter was written in 319 AD, six years before Nicea.

we say and believe …that the Son is not unbegotten; and that He does not derive his subsistence from any matter; but that by His own will and counsel He has subsisted before time, and before ages, as perfect God, only begotten and unchangeable, and that before He was begotten, or created, or purposed, or established, He was not. For He was not unbegotten…

we say that the Son has a beginning, but that God is without beginning…And this we say, because He is neither part of God, nor of any essential being

Anti-Nicene Beliefs Unacceptable To Muslims

So we see that the heretical Bishops, led by Arius, had a strange combination of beliefs. They believed that Jesus is The Son Of God, that Jesus is Divine, that Jesus is the God of all humanity, that Jesus existed before time began and that there is a Trinity of Divine beings, but that nevertheless Jesus is a created being. The Anti-Nicene Bishop Ulfilas expressed his belief that Jesus is a created God like so

I believe in only one God the Father, the unbegotten and invisible, and in his only-begotten son, our Lord/Master and God, the designer and maker of all creation, having none other like him. Therefore, there is one God of all, who is also God of our God;

Arius wrote in his work Thalia

Certainly there is a Trinity .. and they possess glories of different levels

This combination of beliefs is obviously completely unacceptable to Muslims and opposed to the teaching of The Qu’ran. This is unfortunate for Muslims who like to believe that Christianity was identical to Islam until corrupted by Constantine at the Council Of Nicea and who like to see Arius as a kind of Islamic hero of original ‘Islamic’ Christianity.

As can be plainly seen the beliefs of Arius and the Anti-Nicene Bishops are completely non-Islamic.

Anti-Nicene Bishops Used The Same Bible As Everyone Else

The Bishops that opposed the decisions of The Council Of Nicea used the same Bible as everyone else. The Anti-Nicene Bishop Ulfilas quoted from Luke and Acts. Another Arian,  Maximinus quoted from Matthew, Luke and 2 Timothy. By inspection of his letters we can see that Arius quoted Scripture from Psalms, John, Proverbs, 1 Timothy, Romans, Mark, Colossians, Deuteronomy, Phillippians as well as numerous other books in The Bible.

From the writings of the Anti-Nicene leaders we can see that they used the same Bible as everyone else. This is proof that Nicea did not change The Bible to remove or invent scripture to support the teaching that Jesus is equally God with The Father, co-equal and co-eternal.

Son Of God

The fact that The Council Of Nicea was called to discuss what is meant by Jesus being the Son Of God proves that the Bible of pre-Nicea and pre-Islamic times said that Jesus was the Son Of God. Obviously, this means that The Bible contained the assertion that Jesus is The Son Of God prior to Nicea and that the Council Of Nicea did not invent this title for Jesus.

So, the Council Of Nicea was essentially a debate over what was meant by Jesus being called The Son Of God. The heretical Bishop Arius, who believed that Jesus was NOT God, but a unique kind of semi-divine, half-angel / half-God creation, the first thing that God created when he created the universe, used the same gospels and epistles (the ones that are in the Bible now) to argue his case.  The two sides did not disagree on what the scriptural documents stated, nor did they disagree on which documents should be ‘in’ the Bible.  They disagreed, with heated debate, merely on the interpretation of these same scriptures.

Romans Tortured And Killed The Christians

In fact, many of the Church leaders present at the Council of Nicea had been tortured by The Roman Emperors for their belief that Jesus is God. They attended with eyes gouged out, fingers hacked off, horrific scarring from being whipped to the point of death and with the muscles of their legs cut through so they could not walk properly. Of course, many many other Bishops and leaders had been killed by the Romans for believing and teaching that Jesus is God. They and the early Church had all believed Jesus that Jesus is God well before Nicea.

If Romans corrupted The Bible to say that Jesus is God, as believed by some Muslims, then why would Romans torture and kill church leaders for saying that Jesus is God, in agreement with the false Bible that they supposedly created ? It is completely illogical to things that Romans would torture and kill people for believing in things they the Romans were forcing people to believe. So we see that the Muslim accusations are in ignorance of history and logic.

The subject matter of the Council Of Nicea proves that the early church believed that Jesus is The Son Of God and that The Bible said that Jesus is The Son Of God centuries before Islam and Nicea arrived.

The Council of Nicea did not invent or state anything new about Jesus. It merely affirmed those truths about Jesus already held by Christians since the time of Jesus and his companions. Specifically, Nicea did not discard or select Gospels or in any way modify the Bible, nor did the Council even discuss The Bible.

Constantine Forced His Personal Opinions Into The Bible

Muslims sometimes assert that The Emporer Constantine, who presided at The Council Of Nicea, forced his personal belief that Jesus is God on to the church, and therefore claim that the belief that Jesus is God was created by a corrupt Christian Roman Caliph.

This assertion is untrue.

In fact, Constantine wavered between views and for the most part of his reign after Nicea favoured the view that Jesus was not God. Constantine died in 337 AD and his successor Constantine II was firmly opposed to the idea that Jesus is God. This Emperor was an opponent of the doctrinal decisions of Nicea and persecuted the leading Nicean Bishop, Athanasius, driving him into exile.

The next Emperor after Constantine II, Emperor Valens, was also opposed to the doctrines of Nicea. He also did not believe that Jesus is God.

Therefore the view that Jesus is God has always been believed by God’s people even under hostility, persecution and penalty of death from the most powerful Roman Caliphs for the first 300 years after Jesus and despite rejection or ambivalence of this view from Emperor Constantine and his two next successors for the next fifty years following The Council Of Nicea

You can find some more information about Nicea here.

Some Muslims point out that Christian scholars have recorded 400,000 variations within the ancient manuscripts of The Bible. These Muslims say that this constitutes undeniable proof that The Bible has been corrupted and is completely unusable as a Holy Book. The sheer volume of Manuscript Variations in the ancient texts, these Muslims say, prove the total corruption of the whole text

Some Muslims go on to say that certain famous Bible Scholars have said that the original text of The Bible can no longer be determined since there are so many Manuscript Variants and the original Bible manuscripts have been lost. In this latter claim, that it is impossible to determine what The Bible originally said, certain Muslims quote the Bible Scholar, Bart Ehrman who said:

For practical reasons, New Testament scholars proceed as if we do actually know what [was in The original Bible. My view is]  we can probably get close to what the author wrote. But the dim reality is that we really don’t have any way to know for sure.

Sheer Volume

 Turning first to the claim that 400,000 manuscript variants prove that the text of The Bible has been completely lost, this claim is based on ignorance of what constitutes a Manuscript Variant.

A Manuscript Variant is defined as any variant in the text in any Manuscript such as spelling errors and  duplication of  words by copyists. Almost every single Manuscript Variant in the ancient manuscripts of The Bible fall into this category of trivial difference – differences with absolutely no effect on the meaning of the text. Of those differences which are actually real differences in wording, none of them affect the teaching or message of The Bible in any way.

As often noted, we have almost 25,000 ancient manuscripts of The Bible. If each of these Manuscripts contained 20 spelling errors we would have 500,000 Manuscript Variants, but not one of these would affect the meaning of the text in any way.

For purposes of comparison, since The Qu’ran was not originally written with vowelisation and diacritical marks, but modern editions are, this means that the entire Qu’ran, almost every single letter within it, is subject to Manuscript Variation.

A Difference Between The Topkapi Manuscript And The Current Version Of The Qu’ran

An example of diacritical marks affecting the meaning of The Qu’ran is provided by comparing the ancient Topkapi manuscript of The Qu’ran with the standardised version of  The Qu’ran in general use today.

As the blog Reformed Apologetics Ministries notes,

In the Topkapi manuscript in Koran 14:38 it says “You know what we conceal and what he revealed,” while the modern edition reads, “You know what we conceal and what we reveal” (Keith Small, Textual Criticism and the Qur’an Manuscripts, [Lexington Books, 2012], p. 74).

2270 Manuscript Variants In Topkapi Qu’ran

In fact, the Islamic scholar Dr. Tayyar Atikulac, who was President of the Turkish Directorate Of Religious Affairs between 1978 and 1986, has identified 2270 differences between the Topkapi manuscript of the Qu’ran and the standardised Fahd manuscript in general use in the Islamic world today.

If there are 200 ancient manuscripts of the Qu’ran (and remember, the Bible has about 25000 ancient manuscripts), and each one, like the Topkapi has 2000 manuscript variants compared to the current standardised text, then The Qu’ran also has 400,000 Manuscript variants.

Now, Dr. Atikulac has catalogued the differences between the acient Topkapi Qu’ran and the modern Qu’ran and has found the vast majority of these differences have to do with differences in spelling  i.e. same word now spelt differently in modern Arabic as compared to the ancient Arabic of the Topkapi. 

Thus, while there may be 2270 differences, lets say 2000 of them are completely harmless changes in spelling. They do not change the meaning of the Qu’ran in any way and definitely do not prove or insinuate falsification, change, loss or forgery in the Qu’ranic text.

So it is with manuscript variations in The Bible. The vast majority are spelling errors and suchlike, none of which change the meaning of The Bible in any way and definitely do not prove or insinuate falsification, change, loss or forgery in the Biblical text.

Diacritical Variations

As noted above, since The Qu’ran was not originally written with vowelisation and diacritical marks, but modern editions are, this means that the entire Qu’ran, almost every single letter within it, is subject to Manuscript Variation.

Since the entire text of The Qu’ran is subject to Manuscript Variation does this prove that the Qu’ran has been tampered with and falsified in order to conceal the truth about the Deity Of Jesus or that the meaning of The Qu’ran has been completely lost without any hope of recovery ? Of course not. Why then do Muslims insist that Manuscript Variations in The Bible prove that The Bible has been corrupted and its meaning lost forever ?

Bart Ehrman

Turning now to Bart Ehrman’s statement, Muslims will be disappointed to learn that even though Bart Ehrman believes that the exact original wording of The Bible cannot now be determined, he also believes that the teaching of The Bible has never changed.

Ehrman, like the vast majority of Bible scholars, believes that no essential teaching of the Christian faith is compromised by Manuscript Variation i.e. Ehrman believes that John and Paul have always taught that Jesus is God, that the Bible has always taught that Jesus died on the cross, that Jesus is the final prophet and that The Bible has never said that a prophet named Mohammed would come after Jesus.

Ehrman does not believe that The Bible was originally Islamic or that it has been changed in order to falsify and conceal Islamic teachings or to present a false picture about Jesus or that any teaching contained in the The Bible text has been compromised, invented, concealed or fabricated.

In short, Ehrman believes in what is known technically as The Orthodoxy Of The Variants  that no Manuscript Variant changes the message or teaching of The Bible.

Says Daniel Wallace, a Bible scholar who has debated Ehrman several times:

For more than two centuries, most biblical scholars have declared that no essential affirmation has been affected by the variants. Even Ehrman has conceded this point in the three debates I have had with him. (For those interested, they can order the DVD of our second debate, held at the campus of Southern Methodist University. It’s available here.

Islamic Hadith Variants

Finally, Muslims concede that there is variation in wording of Hadith, but state, sensibly, that this variation in wording of Hadith has no affect on meaning and has no effect on the revelatory status of those Hadith with variant narrations. All Sahih Hadith are considered Wahy (direct revelation from God) even if there are minor errors in the narration of The Hadith.

From the Islamic website Islam Question and Answer:

The existence of different versions does not represent a fault in the hadeeth if the meaning is the same

The most important thing, says IslamQ&A, is meaning, not wording. Multiple narrations of the same Hadith are unimportant even if there are differences of wording between them. These Hadith are still regarded as Wahy, direct revelation from Allah

What matters in transmission of a hadeeth is that the meaning be conveyed. As for the wording, it is not the matter of worship as is the case with the Qur’aan.
For example, the hadeeth “Actions are but by intentions” is also narrated as “Action is by intention” and “Actions are but by intention” and “actions are by intention.” The reason for these multiple versions is that the meaning was narrated. The source of the hadeeth is one, namely Yahya ibn Sa’eed from Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem from ‘Alqamah from ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him). It may be noted that the meaning that is understood from these sentences is the same, so what does it matter if there are multiple reports? 

Islam Question and Answer tells us that mistakes in narration do not invalidate a Hadith since it is possible to identify the mistake by comparing one narration with another. This is exactly what Bible scholars do when comparing ancient manuscripts of The Bible. Why should a copyist error invalidate a verse in a Bible manuscript if a narration error does not invalidate a Hadith ?

One of the narrators may have made a mistake, so he narrated the hadeeth in a way that it was not narrated by others. It is possible to spot the mistake by comparing the reports with one another. This is what was done by the scholars in the books of Sunnah… Allaah guaranteed that there would always be in this ummah those who would explain it and highlight evidence against the errors of those who err and the lies of those who lie. This ummah will not agree on misguidance

So, Muslim scholars and Christian scholars agree. Mistakes in narration that do not affect the meaning of the text do not invalidate the revelation of The Holy Book.

Muslims note that The Bible used by Catholic Christians has extra books than the one used by Protestant Christians. They then claim that the inclusion of these extra books by Catholics constitute proof that the message The Bible has been corrupted. Specifically Muslims state that Christians have deliberately altered The Bible in order to conceal the truth about the supreme prophethood of Mohammed and to fabricate claims about The Deity of Jesus.

We will discuss the extra books added by The Catholics below. But, first,  Muslims have their own issues with extra and different books being accepted by the different major branches of their faith. This problem lies with the different books of Hadith Collections that are accepted by the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam.

Does the existence of different and extra books among the two major branches of Islam constitute proof that Islamic scholars have tampered with the religion of Islam in order to conceal the truth about the Deity of Jesus ? Of course not. Then why should the acceptance of extra books by The Catholics constitute proof that The Bible has been tampered with in order to conceal the truth about the prophethood of Islam ?

What Are The Hadith ?

The Hadith are collections of narrations about what Mohammed said and did and provide essential context to understanding and application of The Qu’ran. Indeed, it is impossible to practice Islam without The Hadith since it is The Hadith which describe exactly how and when to perform Salat (Ritual Prayer: five times a day for Sunni and three times a day for Shia) and all the specific instructions on how to carry out the other Pillars of Islamic faith and life.

Salat Prayer is the core of Islamic religious practice. You cannot perform Salat correctly without The Hadith. Which means that you cannot be a true Muslim without The Hadith. Yet the Shia Hadith describe the performance of Salat in a different manner to the Sunni as well as condensing the times of prayer to three instead of five. Which is correct ? Who are the real Muslims ?

Without religious knowledge derived from The Hadith it would be impossible for Muslims to accrue the necessary religious merit required to enter Paradise, since merit is only awarded by Allah for religious actions performed in exact accordance with Allah’s instructions. These instructions are found in The Hadith.

The Hadith can be summarized as What Mohammed did whereas The Qu’ran can be summarized as What Mohammed said

The Hadith Collections have the status of Holy Books in Islam. Like The Qu’ran, The Hadith are thought to originate with Allah. Both The Qu’ran and The Hadith are regarded as revelation of a kind called Wahy or direct revelation of Allah. There is no higher form of revelation in Islam. The Qu’ran is only regarded as superior by virtue of being a verbatim word-for-word revelation of Allah’s speech.

Thus, the extra and different collections of Hadith constitute extra and different sets of Holy Books used in different branches of Islam. Does this mean that Islam has been tampered with in order to conceal the truth from humanity and falsify the position of Mohammed ? If not, why should Muslims consider the extra Holy Books accepted by Catholics as proof that Christians have falsified The Bible in order to falsify the position of Jesus ?

Extra Books

While it is true that Catholics added extra books to The Bible in the year 1546 at The Roman Catholic Council Of Trent, this is not proof that the message of The Bible has been corrupted.

First, the books added by Catholics are extra books. They did not change or remove any existing books. This means the message of the existing books was never changed. All these books testify that Jesus is God and that His teaching the final revelation to humanity. None of them give any status to Mohammed whatsoever.

Specifically, there is no attempt by Catholics to conceal or remove Islamic content from the Bible. They did not remove any prophecy of Mohammed or any regulations pertaining to Salat or Hajj or Fasting; they did not invent or fabricate any teaching that Jesus is God or invent or fabricate any teaching about Jesus’ death on the cross or about receiving forgiveness by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, or invent or fabricate any teaching about His resurrection, teaching or His ascension to heaven. In other words, the specific Christian doctrines which Muslims object to in the Injeel are not affected in any way by the inclusion or exclusion by the books added to The Bible by Catholics in 1546. Nor were any Islamic doctrines excluded or concealed by Catholics when adding these books.

Catholics believed that Jesus is The Son Of God both before and after the extra books were added in 1546.

Catholics believed that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of humanity both before and after the extra books were added in 1546.

Catholics rejected Mohammed as a prophet both before and after the extra books were added in 1546

In short the extra books of The Catholics offer no support to the Muslim claim that The Bible has been altered in order to conceal Islamic beliefs or falsify or invent Christian beliefs.

Secondly, the extra books of the Catholics were added in 1546, 1500 years after Jesus finished teaching. This makes it obvious that the extra books are not authentic teachings of Jesus.

Extra Books, Extra Hadith

For purposes of comparison, let’s consider the Hadith of Bukhari first published by him in 850 AD. At that time Bukhari rejected a huge number of Hadith as forged or unreliable, that number being either 297,00 or 597,000 depending on which tradition you accept. This means at least 98% of Hadith were considered by Bukhari to be forged or unreliable.

Now imagine if this year, which is more than 1150 years after Bukhari, I bought to Muslims a set of Hadith rejected by him more than 1000 years ago. I then say that Muslims should accept these forged or inauthentic traditions. Would they do so ? Of course not. They are obviously not valid traditions, even if they were accepted by some Muslims in previous times. Furthermore, does the existence of forged or inauthentic traditions call the validity or reliability of the authentic traditions into question ? Of course not.

Again furthermore, what if some Islamic group wished to accept the forged or inauthentic teachings ? Can we then say that all the Hadith have been corrupted and should be rejected based on the ignorance or poor decisions of the group that accepts forgeries ? Of course not.

For this same reason the extra books added by Catholics do not invalidate The Bible even if Catholics choose to accept the extra books.

Thirdly, the extra books pertain to The Old Testament only. The specific doctrines about Jesus rejected by Muslims are New Testament doctrines located in The Injeel. They are not described in these extra books added by Catholics.

Fourthly, these extra books were never referenced by Jesus or the ancient Jewish prophets or scholars. Some also contain obvious errors, such as a command to use magic. There is simply no reason to accept the extra books added by the Catholics.

Extra Books In Islam 

Returning to the comparison with Islamic Hadith we note that Sunni, Shia and Ibadi Muslims keep entirely different sets of Hadith collections. Another certain sect of  Muslims do not accept any Hadith whatsoever. Do Muslims acknowledge therefore, that the different Holy Books accepted by various Islamic groups prove that Islamic belief has been corrupted in order to conceal the fact that Jesus is God and to invent a spurious claim that Mohammed is the final prophet of Allah ? Of course not. Why then should Muslims require Christians to accept that Christian belief has been falsified based on the acceptance of extra Old Testament books by Catholics ?

Sunni Hadith

Sunni Muslims highly respect six Hadith collections and accord special status to two of them (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim). This certification process was completed in the 11th Century by Ibn Al-Qiasarani. Yet a further seventh collection is accepted by a certain school of reputable Islamic scholars as superior in status to the sixth (I speak here of the Hadith Collections of Ibn Majah and Muwatta Malik). In addition to these seven, there are an additional sixteen other Hadith collections respected by Sunnis. Thirteen of which were completed prior to 1500 AD.

Hadith are essential for the practice of Islam, describing exactly how to carry out the Five Pillars of Faith and so obtain entry to Paradise. What is the non-Islamic world to make of sixteen competing collections of Traditions, each of which is apparently guided by Allah ? What are we to make of a system of Major, Minor and Tertiary Holy Books existing alongside The Qu’ran, without which the Qu’ran cannot be implementedor understood and each of which has disputed status and competing usage ? There are even statements supposedly by Allah which are not in the Qu’ran but which appear in the Hadith collections and which are given an additional prestige above other Hadith.These are the so-called Qudsi or Royal Hadith).

Why aren’t all the sayings of Allah in The Qu’ran ? Why do Muslims need additional Holy Books beyond the Qu’ran at all ? Isn’t Allah capable of describing religious practice in The Qu’ran ? If religious practice is of supreme importance then why isn’t it described in The Qu’ran ? Isn’t this multiplication of traditions proof that Muslism have been tampering with their religion for centuries, especially since even the greatest Hadith scholar, Imam Bukhari admits to discovering hundreds of thousands of forged and inauthentic traditions ?

On what basis can a person like Imam Bukhari, who is not a prophet, become authoritative in deciding which practices are authentically Islamic and which are not ? Surely that authority properly belongs with prophet. How can a person who is not a prophet become authoritative for determining what is Islamic practice and belief and what is not ?

Shia Hadith

When we come to Shia Hadith we find that the Shi’a maintain an entirely different set of Hadith to the Sunni. Though Shia do accept some of Bukhari’s work they reject the majority of it and explicitly state that Bukhari’s acceptance of unreliable narrators has corrupted Islam. Here is an example of a Bukhari Hadith rejected by Shi’a. Both Sunni and Shia regard each other’s Hadiths (extra Holy Books) as morally unacceptable, full of false doctrine and perversions of the true nature of Islam.

The most highly regarded Shi’a Hadith comprise four Collections (Al-Kafi, Man La Yahduruhu Al-Faqi, Tahdhib Al-Ahkam and Al-Istibsar). There are twelve additional Shia collections having a secondary status, six of them completed before 1500 AD.

The Ibadis have a further two Hadith collections. These are entirely distinct from the collections of the Shi’a and Sunni.

Between these three branches of Islam we note a total of thirty books of Hadith, none of which are entirely acceptable to the other branches and most of which are regarded as mutually and totally unacceptable and false.

No Muslim would agree that Islam has become corrupted on the basis of competing Hadith Collections, even though these differing Hadith lead to distinctly different expressions of Islam. In particular, no Muslim would agree that Muslims have tampered with their collections in order to conceal the fact that Jesus is God or to fabricate the position of Mohammed within Islam.

Why then do Muslims insist that the extra books accepted by Catholics prove falsification and concealment of the persons and teaching of Jesus and Mohammed when it comes to the teaching of Christianity ?

Extra Biographies

But the problem of competing Islamic Holy Books does not end with the Hadith. Muslims also use Biographies (Seerah) of Mohammed in order to understand and apply the Qu’ran. An important third-generation Muslim, Ali bin Hussain, the grandson of Imam Ali who was the fourth Sunni caliph) would say

We were taught the Seerah of Rasool Allah like we were taught Qur-aan.

That is how important Seerah is for Muslims. They would study it like they studied Qu’ran. But there is more than one ancient Biography which is authentic for Sunni Muslims and their details do not always agree. In fact, it is freely admitted by Muslims that material of doubtful authenticity is included the ancient biographies of Mohammed as often there are no conclusive accounts of events in ancient Islamic times.

Says Abu Aamar Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated scholar,

the narrations used [in the Seerah] include all the authentic and acceptable ones, along with ones with weaknesses. The reason for including these weaker narrations is in order to fill in gapes or holes in the story.

But Shi’a maintain different Seerah of Mohammed than do Sunnis and also accept additional Seerah to the Sunni, these being the Seerah of the Twelve Imams directly descended from Mohammed, beginning with Imam Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed plus Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed. These thirteen persons (plus Mohammed) are considered by Shi’a to be infallible.

As the Shi’a website Al-Islam.org puts it in relation to differences between Sunni and Shia:

The Shi’a bind themselves to refer to Ahlul-Bayt [i.e. the household of Mohammed] for deriving the Sunnah of Prophet (S) [whereas Sunni Muslims do not].

Islamic biographies of Mohammed are used by Muslims to understand and apply the Qu’ran. Sunni and Shia use differing biographies while the Shia additionally use biographies of The Twelve Imams and Fatima. These are rejected by Sunnis and constitute a further set of differering Holy Books between the two major branches of Islam.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Shunni and Shia maintain different books of Hadith and Seerah while rejecting the Collections of the other. Yet no Muslim would agree that Islam has become corrupted on the basis of competing Holy Books and Biographies even though these differing Holy Books lead to distinctly different expressions of Islam. In particular, no Muslim would agree that Muslims have tampered with their collections in order to conceal the fact that Jesus Is God or to fabricate the position of Mohammed within Islam.

Why then do Muslims insist that the extra books accepted by Catholics prove falsification and concealment of the persons and teaching of Jesus in Mohammed when it comes to the teaching of Christianity ?

Many Muslims state that the true Injeel (Gospel as taught by Jesus) is found in The Gospel of Barnabas which was later excluded from The Bible by Christian leaders who wished to put fake and corrupt teaching into The Bible. You can read a Muslim making that claim here.

The Gospel Of Barnabas is not the true Injeel. Rather, it is an obvious forgery.

In fact, unfortunately for Muslims who insist that the The Gospel Of Barnabas is the true word of God,  The Gospel was Barnabas contradicts Islam and the Qu’ran. It states that Jesus was not the Messiah when the Qu’ran says that Jesus is The Messiah. The Gospel Of Barnabas says that Maryam suffered pain in childbirth whereas the Qu’ran says Maryam did not suffer pain during childbirth. The Gospel Of Baranbas says that men are limited to one wife whereas the Qu’ran permits Muslims to four wives. Finally the Gospel Of Barnabas says there are nine heavens whereas the Qu’ran says there are seven heavens.

These contradictions alone are enough to prove that The Gospel Of Barnabas is not acceptable to Muslims or Islamic and that it should be rejected by Muslims, but that is only the beginning of its many problems.
Internal evidence from The Gospel Of Barnabas shows that it was written no earlier than the 14th Century. Additionally, it is written in Spanish. For Barnabas to be an authentic document from the time of Jesus it would need to be written in the 1st Century and in a contemporary language of that time and place such as Hebrew or Koine Greek. Barnabas is written 1300 years too late to be associated with Jesus and in a language, Spanish, in which neither Jesus nor his companions could write and, indeed, did not even exist at the time of Jesus.

The Authentic Qu’ran Is Written In Chinese

Imagine if I told Muslims that I had just found the authentic Qu’ran and that the current Qu’ran that they are reading is completely incorrect. I then tell them that my new Qu’ran is written in Chinese and was written in the year 2000 (1300 years after Mohammed) and that it says that Mohammed is not the final prophet of Allah and that it contradicts all the other ancient manuscripts of The Qu’ran going back to near the time of Mohammed. Finally I inform my Muslim friends that my Chinese Qu’ran was composed on an iPad owned by the companions of Mohammed.

Muslims would immediately say that this Qu’ran that I have found is an obvious forgery and probably that I should seek psychiatric help And they would be correct. And yet Muslims will insist that The Gospel Of Barnabas, itself an obvious forgery, written in a language which did not exist at the time of Jesus, must be accept by Christians as the only true and authentic gospel.
Yet the problems of The Gospel Of Barnabas are more even than this. It contains errors of geography, locating towns in the wrong places and makes historical errors about the names of the Roman leaders at the time of Jesus.

What if my Chinese Qu’ran I discovered said that Mecca is located in Egypt instead of Arabia and that Mohammad’s tribe name was Banu Qurayza (a Jewish tribe) instead of Banu Quraysh (his real tribe) ? Muslims would immediately recognise the obvious errors and reject my Chinese Qu’ran as a forgery. And yet Muslims insist that Christians accept errors of similar magnitude from The Gospel Of Barnabas.

The Gospel According To Islam

It is apparent that the Gospel Of Barnabas is a forgery of the True Bible made by a zealous Muslim in about 1400 AD. Interestingly another Muslim, Ahmad Shafaat, created a forged Injil in 1979, calling it The Gospel According To Islam. Shafaat simply rewrote THe Bible with Islamic content, even dividing up his forged Islamic gospel with Chapter divisions to make it appear like a real Bible. This shows that Muslims are willing to make forgeries of The Bible with their own hands and then pass them off as authentic. This is exactly what the author of The Gospel Of Barnabas did.

Would Muslims accept a Qu’ran created by Christian scholars which had been re-written to remove Mohammed and say that Jesus is Allah ? Of course not. Any Christian who did so, who created a fraudlent Qu’ran, would find himself in immediate danger of his life from outraged Muslims. And yet Muslim scholars feel at liberty to re-write The Bible with their own hands and claim it to be the authentic message of Jesus.
May God forgive them for tampering with God’s Holy Books and lead them to repentance.

So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah ,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.

(Qu’ran Surah Al-Baqarah 2:79)

Commentary

Muslim Scholars Reject Gospel Of Barnabas 

The prominent Islamic scholar Shabir Ally makes the point that The so-called Gospel Of Barnabas carries no internal authentication and thus is not acceptable as a Holy Text as its source cannot be proven according to the Islamic scholarly methods which are used to authenticate Hadith and other religious traditions.

Another well-known Muslim scholar who rejects the so-called Gospel Of Barnabas is Yusuf Estes. Estes is quoted on the Islamic web-site Islamic Newsroom dismissing The Gospel Of Barnabas as  a sad joke, a trick, and a fake as follows:

[The Gospel Of Barnabas] is a sad joke on many Muslims. Some have been tricked into believing this has something to do with the New Testament and it is more or less the “Lost Gospel” … But that is all  nonsense, because the so-called “Gospel of Barnabas” is “Bogabas” (fake).

Estes then gives a description of the reasons that The Gospel Of Barnabas is a fake, most of which accords exactly with reliable scholarship. Muslims who accept the Gospel Of Barnabas are violating their own scholarly rules. In any case the obvious errors, contradictions and violations of both Islamic and Christian doctrines prove that the so-called Gospel Of Barnabas is an obvious fraud.

I obtained a lot of the information for this article  from Samuel Green’s excellent article on The Gospel Of Barnabas here.

Muslims sometimes say that Christians themselves admit that the Bible has been corrupted. They point to the the Preface (i.e. the scholars’ introduction) of the Revised Standard Version of The Bible produced in 1971 as proof of this. In the Preface are these words:

The King James Version has grave defects…these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision.

Muslims find these statements by Christian scholars to be self-incriminating. For Christian scholars to say that the King James Version of the Bible has grave defects which require revision is taken as a self-evident admission that either the Revised Standard Version (RSV) or the King James Version (KJV) of The Bible or both have been intentionally distorted with the intention of fabricating false teaching.

But Muslim scholars include identical statements about grave errors in their translations of The Qu’ran. Does this mean that The Qu’ran has been corrupted and distorted to conceal the truth about Jesus ? Of course not. We will examine a Muslim scholars’ Preface to the Saheeh Translation of The Qu’ran (1997) below, but first a short note about the RSV.

Scholars’ Introduction To Revised Standard Version

The RSV is a revised translation of the King James Version of 1611. Both are English language translations. As we have seen, the scholars’ introduction to the RSV says:

The King James Version has grave defects…these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision

A Muslim writer quotes the RSV preface here and uses it to attempt to demonstrate that the Bible has been corrupted and that its original Islamic message has been lost.

The most important defects corrected in the RSV and other modern translations are the removal of the three major Manuscript Variants 1 John 5:7; Mark 16:8-20 and John 7:53-8:11. The Manuscript Variants removed from the KJV do not change what the Bible teaches. There is nothing in any variant which is not amply proved by hundreds of other verses in The Bible. Specifically, there is no indication that Islamic teaching has been removed or concealed or that any teaching of Jesus has been fabricated.

As the RSV preface say, the corrections made in the RSV were made because of the use of additional ancient manuscripts than were used by the scholars of 1611. See here.

Muslim writers usually omit the full statements of the RSV scholars in order create a false impression that The Bible has been corrupted. The complete quote of the RSV scholars is this:

Yet the King James Version has grave defects. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of Biblical studies and the discovery of many manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the King James Version was based, made it manifest that these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision of the English translation.

Specifically, Muslim writers often omit to mention that the reason for the defects of the KJV which is that the KJV scholars did not have access to the earliest ancient manuscripts. In short, new translations of The Bible are provided by scholars to provide more clarity in regard to the teaching of Jesus, not less. To this end, the most ancient sources are honoured more than relatively later ones.

What is proved by the corrections made in the RSV is that Christians are scrupulously open and honest in their handling of the ancient texts of The Bible, not that they are dishonest or deceptive.

It is important to understand that the KJV is not an original text of the Bible. It is merely an English translation.  Muslim writers often fail to note that the KJV is a translation in order to give the impression that Christian scholars are tampering with original texts.

The Qu’ran, like the Bible, exhibits thousands of Manuscript Variants in its ancient manuscripts and exists in multiple versions as well as an extensive number of translations. Neither the existence of manuscript variants or of translations indicates corruption or concealment of the text of either book.

Scholars’ Introduction To The Saheeh International Translation Of The Qu’ran

As we noted above, Muslims sometimes assert that Christians have admitted corrupting The Bible by reference to the Preface of the Revised Standard Version, an English translation of The Bible produced in 1971.

Muslim writers selectively quote from the RSV Preface as follows:

The King James Version has grave defects…these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision.

Yet essentially identical notes by Islamic scholars appear in the Prefaces of Qu’ranic translations. Here are a few lines from the Preface of The Saheeh International Translation Of The Qu’ran of 1997, a highly respected Qu’ranic translation.

In recent years there have appeared a number of English translations of The Holy Qu’ran…The stated purpose behind these works has been the correction of certain errors found in previous editions…in view of the amendments made by al-Hilali and Khan in their Noble Qu’ran, there remain certain drawbacks. They concentrated their attention on corrections pertaining to aqeedah (i.e. doctrine)…It is further complicated by the inclusion of explanatory additions within the lines of the English text to the extent that a reader…often has difficulty in distinguishing one from the other.

Pages of similar “incriminating” remarks follow.

So, from the Preface to the Saheeh Translation of the Qu’ran we can find it “admitted” that Muslim scholars have made numerous errors and amendments concentrating on faulty aqeedah (i.e. doctrine), that the Qu’ran has been amended and furthermore that Muslim scholars have included additional materials not found in the original Qu’ran and so confused the meaning that it is difficult to know where the translator’s explanation ends and the meaning of The Qu’ran begins.

Surely here we have proof from Islamic scholars that there has been a succession of attempts by Muslims to conceal, corrupt and distort the meaning of The Qu’ran, only now rescued by the translators of Saheeh International in 1997 ?

Of course not. The Saheeh scholars are merely saying that their own translation is an improvement on previous English translations of The Qu’ran…which is exactly what the RSV scholars were saying in their English translation of The Bible.

My Muslim friends and acquaintances frequently tell me that The Bible is not a reliable document because the Family Names of the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are unknown. Because we don’t know their last names, their argument runs, it is impossible to know who these people were, hence their credibility is not established, hence their testimony to the life and teachings of Jesus is unreliable.

A Muslim teacher, Khalid Yasin, is shown making this argument here, along with a large number of very serious and obvious errors which I will detail at a later time.

My Muslim friends also say that it can be shown by internal evidence in The Bible that that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John were eyewitnesses to the life and teaching of Jesus, hence their testimony, and therefore The New Testament, is unreliable.

This post will demonstrate that the Gospels were written by  companions of Jesus who are eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus and compiled from eyewitness testimony, that the identity of the Gospel writers is known  and that their testimony is reliable.

Jews Did Not Use Family Names In First Century Israel

First, though, the simple reason that the Gospel writers did not use family names is that  Jewish societies of that time did not use Family Names at all. Jews typically identified by Patronymic or Matronymic names (Son Of or Daughter Of).

Jews only began to use Family Names when forced to by Gentile authorities in the nations to which they were dispersed after being evicted from Israel by invading armies. The use of surnames amongst Jews only began to appear in the 10th Century.

Consequently the assertion of Muslims that the identity of the Gospel writers is unknowable since they did not state their family name is based on ignorance of Jewish naming conventions

If Muslims wish to state that the lack of a Family Name makes a person’s testimony unreliable, they will have to take this argument to God who chose to deliver the Tawrat, Zaboor, Injeel (i.e.Torah, Psalms and New Testament) and all books of the Jewish prophets to people who did not have Family Names and yet wrote Holy Scripture.

While Jews were often named by Patronymics, they could be named in a variety of ways as this article describes. Jews could be named by Tribe, Occupation, Place Of Birth, Place Of Residence, by Reputation, by Title (e.g. Jesus Christ) or by a descriptive honorific. An example of the last is the Gospel writer John who with his brother James were called Boanerges (Sons Of Thunder) in description of their personality  or Richard, King of England named Richard Lionheart in honour of his courage.

Sometimes a new name, different to one’s birth name, could be bestowed on a person by a teacher or by their community, or taken upon oneself to indicate a change of destiny, circumstances or attitude. Furthermore a Jew in First-Century Israel might be known by two names, a Hebrew name given to them at birth and also a Greek name which was adopted by them to function more easily in the Roman-dominated society of that time and place.

These sorts of naming conventions were used all over the Ancient Middle East and in many places in ancient times. There was simply no need for Family Names in many societies and even where Family Names were used these many other ways of identifying a particular person could be used and functioned as unique identifiers i.e. names.

So the names of the Gospel writers are:

Matthew; Levi Son Of Alphaeus Mark 2:14 (New name adopted or bestowed)

Mark; John Mark Acts 15:37 (Jewish/Greek names combined), cousin of the Apostle Barnabas Colossians 4:10 who was the Companion of Paul The Apostle Acts 14:14 (further identification by reliable companions)

Luke The Beloved Doctor Colossians 4:14 (Named by profession)

John Son Of Zebedee Matthew 4:21-22 (Patronymic)

But even these names are not required to identify the Gospel writers as they are known by the greatest honour of all, that of being the writers of the Gospel accounts and Companions of Jesus, or trusted servants and students of the Companions Of Jesus.

So it is when someone mentions, for example, Matthew in the context of The Bible, all people know that the reference is to the Matthew who was a Companion Of Jesus. This is how Matthew was identified amongst the earliest followers of Jesus from the very start. Matthew The Disciple and Companion Of Jesus is, fundamentally, the name of the Gospel writer, which identifies him uniquely amongst all other Matthews.

When someone mentions Matthew or Mark in the context of the Gospels. There is only one Matthew or Mark they can possibly mean: Matthew, Companion Of Jesus or Mark Companion of Peter, Companion of Jesus.

One name is sufficient because the context is so obvious.

This fact is proven by an unbroken chain of reliable testimony from the time of Jesus as we will see below in the section entitled The Identity Of The Gospel Writers Is Validated By Reliable Testimony.

In the Qu’ran, Mohammed is regularly mentioned without his family name. Would Muslims seriously say ‘Which Mohammed do you mean ?’

The Qu’ran Teaches That The Bible Is Reliable

Muslims are, in fact, faith-bound to accept that the New Testament is reliable because no less authority than the Qu’ran asserts that The New Testament (or Injeel as it is known to Muslims) is reliable.

Surah Yunus 10:94 instruct Muslims to verify the truth of the Qu’ran by checking it against the Injeel (i.e. New Testament) and the Tawrat (i.e. Torah or Holy Books given to Moses). Obviously if the Injeel were unreliable it would be impossible to verify the Qu’ran against the Injeel, yet this is what Muslims are told to do. Hence the Qu’ran teaches that the New Testament is reliable. Surah Yunus 10:94 says:

But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers.

Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:47 instructs Christians to live according to the New Testament. Of course this would not be possible if  the New Testament were unreliable. Yet this is what the Qu’ran commands Christians to do.  Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:47 says

Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are evil-livers.

A large number of further Ayahs (i.e. verses) from the Qu’ran could be adduced to this list to further show that the Qu’ran absolutely testifies to the reliability of Gospel writers and The Bible as a whole.

The Identity Of The Gospel Writers Is Validated By Reliable Testimony

This section relies heavily on the article Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments for Traditional Authorship by Keith Thompson.

The identity of the Gospel writers is given in The Bible and is validated by the testimony of early Christians of Jesus who knew Jesus and the twelve companions of Jesus (i.e. twelve disciples or twelve Apostles)  who were directly taught by Jesus.

This means that the authorship of the Gospel writers is attested by reliable testimony back to the original source in exactly the same way that Muslims state the the Hadith (i.e. Islamic Traditions) are attested. 

The identity of Matthew is given in the following Bible verses: Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27-29, Matthew 9:9 and 10:3. This authorship is attested by early followers such as Papias of Heirapolis, who said of Matthew

Matthew compiled the sayings [logia of Christ] in the Hebrew language

Papias of Heirapolis, who lived from approximately 70 AD to 163 AD goes on to say that he obtained his information by those who directly knew the Twelve Companions of Jesus

If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders — what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say.

For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.

In short, Papias says that the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew, one of the Twelve Companions of Jesus, and that he got this information from people that directly knew Matthew and the Companions of Jesus, such persons including Aristion and John The Presbyter.

If the preceding two quotations from Papias were an Islamic Hadith it would read like this:

Papias said that Ariston said that Matthew was taught directly by Jesus. Papias also said that Ariston said that Matthew wrote down the teachings of Jesus in the Hebrew language.

I will leave it to the reader to consult the Thompson article to perform the same proof of validation of the authorship of the Gospel Of John who was the other gospel writer who was one of The Twelve Companions of Jesus, an eyewitness of his life, death and resurrection and directly taught by Jesus.

In short, the authorship of the Gospel writers is validated by an unbroken chain of reliable witnesses going back to the original source. Since this is the way that Muslims validate their own traditions, they must accept the same validation for Christian traditions.

And as we have shown above, the argument given by some Muslims that the Gospel writers are unreliable witnesses because they didn’t give their Family Names is based on ignorance since traditional Jewish society didn’t utilize Family Names, instead typically using Patronymics.

In any case The Qu’ran itself testifies to the reliability of the Injeel (New Testament) which makes acceptance of the reliability of The Bible mandatory for Muslims.

Mark and Luke Not Companions

Muslims are correct to state that the Gospels of Luke and Mark were not written by Companions Of Jesus. Nevertheless these Gospels have the same authority as the other Gospels as they were written under the supervision of Companions to Jesus who lived with Him and bring us the teaching of The Holy Injeel Of Jesus.

In addition, though Mark was not a Companion of Jesus, it is probable that Mark was a disciple of Jesus in his outer circle, lived in Jerusalem and was a eyewitness of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. I detail this below.

The Gospel Of Mark was written by Mark under the teaching of Peter, who was one of the Twelve Companions of Jesus. Peter lived with Jesus and was taught directly by Jesus. Mark became an assistant to Peter and lived with Peter while Peter taught the message of The Injeel. John The Presbyter, who knew the Twelve Companions Of Jesus, told Papias that Mark had accurately written down the teaching of Peter, who himself had received them from Jesus

This also the presbyter said:Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ

If this were an Islamic Hadith it would say

Papias said that John The Presbyter said that many of the Twelve Companions said that Mark accurately wrote down the teachings of Peter who received them from Jesus.

So, the Gospel of Mark has reliable attestation to Jesus through Papias. Muslims are therefore obliged to accept the reliability of  The Gospel Of Mark because it is reliably attested to the original source in the same way that Islamic Hadith are attested.

Mark: Disciple and Eyewitness

As a further note, while Mark himself was not a Companion Of Jesus, it is probable that he was an eyewitness to certain important facts in the life of Jesus including his arrest, trial and crucifixion.  I make this claim based on the identification of Mark as the disciple who was seized by guards at Jesus’ arrest but who escaped and ran away.

Based on this identification, Mark lived in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ life and Jesus’ visits to Jerusalem and was able to personally  witness the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus as well, it is logical to presume, many other things that Jesus did.

As a resident of Jerusalem, Mark was also therefore personally knowledgeable about many things about the History of Jesus such as how the general public responded to Jesus teaching and claims and events in the city.

The Authority And Reliability Of The Gospel Of Luke

The authority and reliability of The Gospel Of Luke comes about because Luke was a student of Paul who was directly taught by Jesus.

Muslims assert that Paul  cannot be considered reliable because he didn’t know Jesus. In this they contradict God’s Holy Books.

The Injeel (New Testament) says that Paul did know Jesus and was directly taught by Jesus after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven.

Jesus did this by directly and personally appearing to Paul, teaching Paul by direct revelation. Paul later submitted his teaching to The Twelve Companions Of Jesus who verified that Paul’s teaching was correct, that  Jesus gave Paul his teaching by direct instruction and that Paul should be regarded as a Companion (i.e. Apostle) of equal standing with them, qualified to teach the inspired and Holy Injeel. These events are recorded in The Bible in Galatians 1:13-2:9, Acts 9, 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Peter 3:14-16.

Since The Twelve Companions Of Jesus accepted Paul as an Apostle as the same status as themselves and affirmed his teaching as being the teaching of The Holy Injeel to all God’s people, we therefore accept Paul’s teaching as reliable.

These statements expressed as an Islamic Hadith would be

Peter The Companions of Jesus, John The Companion Of Jesus and James The Companion Of Jesus said that Paul teaches the true and Holy Injeel of Jesus with the same authority as they themselves do.

The Bible teaches in many places that Luke was a student of Paul. Again I refer the reader to the Thompson article for confirmation.

As for the other Gospels, the Gospel Of Luke is attested by reliable testimony back to original sources. Iranaeus, for example, affirms the Gospel of Luke saying

Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.

Iranaeus was a student of Polycarp who himself was a student of John The Companion Of Jesus. Hence the previous quotation if put into the style of an Islamic Hadith would read

Iranaeus said that Polycarp said that John The Companion Of Jesus said that Luke the companion of Paul, who was the Companion Of Jesus, recorded the teachings of Jesus in a book.

Once again we see that the attestation of the Gospel of Luke is provided by reliable testimony back to the original sources by an unbroken chain of transmission. Since this is how Muslims authenticate and accept Hadith then Muslims must accept the same attestation when it applies to The Bible.

Summary

Muslims say that the Gospel writers are unreliable witnesses since they did not include their Family Names in their writings. This means, they go on to say, that their identity cannot be verified and hence they must be regarded as unreliable.

This argument, made by Muslims, is invalid and based on ignorance. In fact, Jews of the First Century did not use Family Names. They instead typically used Patronymics. If Muslims wish to state that the lack of a Family Name makes a person’s testimony unreliable, they will have to take this argument to God who chose to deliver the Tawrat, Zaboor, Injeel (i.e. Torah, Psalms and New Testament) and all books of the Jewish prophets to people who did not use Family Names and yet wrote Holy Scripture.

Muslims further state that the Gospel writers cannot be regarded as reliable as they were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and teaching. In fact two of the Gospels were indeed written by eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and the other two were written by students of those who were eyewitnesses, directly taught by Jesus and were His Companions.

The reliability of the Gospels is authenticated by an unbroken chain of testimony of reliable witnesses going back to the original sources. Since this is how Muslims authenticate and accept Islamic Hadith then Muslims must accept the same attestation and proof when it applies to The Bible.