Just a quick note about an amazing graphic I stumbled across in Misha’al ibn Abdullah’s book, What Did Jesus Really Say? Here it is:
Let’s look at the claims. First we are told that at the Council of Nicea “The Trinitarians gain the backing of the pagan Romans.” I suppose that is the really accurate way of saying “The vast majority of the 300+ bishops, holding to the deity of Christ, are not opposed, but supported, by Constantine, at least at this point.” Of course, when the Arians gained power in subsequent years, Constantine did not care. As long as he had political peace.
Next we read, “All conanical [sic] Gospels from before this period are destroyed.” Yes, Conan was deeply involved in the canon process! What utter rubbish to claim that “canonical” gospels from prior to Nicea were “destroyed.” This is pure fiction without a scintilla of historical support. All existing historical documentation witnesses against this pure falsehood and fabrication. But who knows, maybe this is where Dan Brown got his claims?
Next, “A new list of acceptable Gospels is drawn up.” Really? By whom, Mr. Abdullah? When? Where? Try proving your point! Unlike Dan Brown, you can’t hide behind the “fiction” label.
Next we have, “The Fourth century also sees the writing of the Codex Sinaiticus. Shortly after this, the Trinitarians finally agree on the final list of ‘Truely inspired’ books of the Bible.”
Yes, a, Aleph, Sinaiticus, was originally copied around the time of Nicea, probably one of the fifty paid for and commissioned by Constantine in light of the Imperial destruction of the Christian Scriptures for decades before that. The summarization of the canon process in these words does not bode well for the depth of understanding of our Muslim apologist friends.
Next we read, “Nine different ‘correctors’ make over 14,800 changes to the Codex Sinaiticus over the next 14-15 centuries.”
As we saw when we examined Saifullah and Azmy’s article on textual transmission, Muslims focus upon such things as the fact that a was in use, consistently, for all those centuries, and hence had numerous owners, some of whom attempted to modify the text to meet the later, more ecclesiastical text (sort of like trying to make the NASB read like the NKJV by marking words out and putting things in the margins) as evidence of error and unreliability. They are able to go after such things because their own text, aside from being transmitted for a considerably shorter period of time until the invention of printing (850 years for the Qur’an vs. 1400 years for the New Testament, and at least 2700 for the oldest portions of the Old Testament), but an “official” text was created early on and enforced by a centralized religious authority. As we pointed out then, this leaves the Muslim with a text he cannot claim goes back to Mohammed, but only to the point of the revision, in this case, Uthman. That point seems to be completely lost on most Islamic apologists, however, given their own presentations.
The graphic continues, “Every other ‘ancient copy’ of the Bible undergoes similar ‘correction.’ THe [sic] extent of these ‘corrections’ varies in direct proportion to their age.”
In reality, there are very few manuscripts who were used for the time a was, and hence, very few with its history or pedigree. Many manuscripts have no second hand correctors at all, hence, the entire assertion is simply gratuitous and false.
Finally, “The ‘ancient manuscripts’ are combined as best as possible by reconciling contradictions, omissions, and additions within the boundaries of established doctrines and beliefs. Our modern Bibles are born.”
What an amazingly inaccurate, biased, bigoted description of textual critical practice, but then again, since trying to engage in textual critical examination of pre-Uthmanian Qur’anic materials could get yourself killed in most Islamic countries today, perhaps we can understand how they could be completely outside the realm of meaningful apologetic argumentation and truth.
But most importantly we need to remember this is the kind of material Muslims are being exposed to. Are you ready to reply to it and use this kind of error as a ground for speaking the truth?