down from generation to generation with the greatest care and reverence.
One proof of this is that there is a difference of style in different parts of the Old
Testament, thus showing that it is not the composition of one man, or indeed of one age.
Then, again, there exist apparent though not real contradictions between different
accounts of the same incident and other matters of no real spiritual importance. This
proves that the Jews have made no attempt to change the text in order to get rid of
apparent contradictions. The force of this argument will be understood from an
illustration drawn from the Qur'an. In Surah iii. (Al ‘Imran), ver. 48, we are told that
God said, "O Jesus, verily it is I that cause Thee to die and that take Thee up unto
Myself": and in Surah iv. (An Nisa), ver. 157, speaking of Jesus, we are told:
"And there is none of the People of the Book but shall assuredly believe on Him
before His death." Some doubt whether the latter pronoun refers to Christ, but there
is no doubt as to the mention of His death in Surah xix. (Maryam), ver. 34, where He is
represented as saying: "And peace be upon Me the day I was born and the day I shall
die, and the day I shall be raised alive." Yet in Surah iv, ver. 156, it is denied
that the Jews slew Him: "And they slew Him not, and they crucified Him not." At
first sight the reader would imagine that there was a contradiction here, some places
asserting Christ's death, another denying it. Yet the very fact of this apparent
contradiction being found in the Qur'an is a proof that the Muslims have not corrupted the
text, in spite of the reading
مَوْتِهِمْ ("before their death"), which Baizawi1
مَوْتِهِ ("before His death"). So it is also with apparent
contradictions in the Bible. Their very existence is a strong proof that no attempt to
reconcile them by altering the text has been made.
Certain Muslim writers have drawn up long lists
of passages in which they venture to assert that absolutely vital contradictions are found
in the Old Testament. The contradictions are only apparent, as in the instance we have
quoted from the Qur'an. In many cases the apparently discordant passages can be reconciled
with one another by the careful student. In others the difficulty in doing this manifestly
arises from our not knowing all the circumstances of the case. But the very existence of
such discrepancies and apparent contradictions proves most conclusively that the reverence
the Jews felt for their Sacred Books was such that they made no attempt to alter the text
in order to remove stumbling-blocks out of the way of thoughtless and prejudiced
opponents, who in many cases desire to display their own fancied cleverness, not to find
the Truth of God. It is always possible, even at mid-day, for a man to shut his eyes to
the light which God gives: but he that chooses to walk in darkness cannot fail to go
Let us now very briefly state what proof we have that the Old Testament in the first
place and the New Testament in the second, which are now in circulation, are those which
existed in the hands of the "People of the Book" in Muhammad's time, and to
which the Qur'an bears such clear witness.
We have lists of the Old Testament books which formed the Jewish Canon of Holy
Scripture. These lists are far earlier than Muhammad's time, and they contain all the
books now found in the Hebrew Old Testament.
Josephus,1 the Jewish historian, writing about 90 A.D., says: "Among us
there are not myriads of discrepant and self-contradictory books, but only twenty-two
books, containing the history of all time, and rightly believed Divine. And five
2 of these are those of Moses; and they contain both the laws and the connected
history of the human race until his death. This period falls little short of 3,000 years.