death up to the reign of Artaxerxes, King of the Persians after Xerxes, the Prophets
after Moses wrote in thirteen1 books the things which occurred in their
own times. The four 2 remaining books comprise hymns to God and
directions for men's conduct." The Council of Jamnia, (90 A.D., gives the same Canon.
Somewhat later the Council of Laodicea in 363 A.D. mentions the same number of books,
twenty-two, as constituting the Old Testament. For convenience sake in more recent times
some of these books have been subdivided, but in most cases we can tell exactly when this
was done. For instance, in the St. Petersburg Codex, written in 916 A.D., in Hebrew, all
the twelve Minor3 Prophets are still included in one book, the separate
Prophets forming as it were chapters in the volume. The total number of verses in all the
twelve is reckoned up, and given in one sum. The division of "Samuel" into two
books, "Kings" into two books, "Chronicles" into two books, Ezra and
Nehemiah into separate books, was first made in the edition of the Hebrew Old Testament
printed at Venice in 1516 and 1517 A.D.
Josephus informs4 us that other books, besides the twenty-two (books
"which have not been accounted equally worthy of credit"), had been translated
into Greek. So it is that, besides those which the Jews regarded as canonical, and which
they still preserve in Hebrew, the Septuagint Greek Version contains others which, though
written considerably before Christ's birth, have never been received into the Jewish
Canon. These, therefore, cannot be considered part of the Old Testament. As far as can be
ascertained, the Torah was translated from Hebrew into Greek in
Egypt between 285 and 247 B.C., at the desire of the king, Ptolemy II, surnamed
Philadelphus. Some deem a later date (250-200 B.C.) more probable: but that is a matter of
little importance. The rest of the Old Testament books were translated later, but all long
before Christ's time. This Septuagint Version ("Version of the Seventy", so
called from the traditional number of the translators employed in making it) is the
earliest translation of the Old Testament known to us.
We proceed to mention other versions of the Old Testament, in order to show how certain
we are that the Old Testament we now have is the same that existed in Muhammad's time and
long before. If it had not existed, even the most ignorant of men will readily understand
that it could not have been translated.
A Greek version by Aquila was made in 130 A.D. Another by a Samaritan called Symmachus
was finished about 218 A.D. The Itala or Old Latin Version belongs to the second
century of the Christian era. It was made from the Septuagint. Jerome's translation of the
Old Testament, styled the Vulgate, was finished in 405 A.D., and was directly from the
Translations into Syriac began very early. Jacob of Edessa says that one was made about
Christ's time for Abgar, King of Edessa. The Peshitta
(بشِطّا) Syriac version of the Old
Testament is first referred to, it is thought, by Melito of Sardis in the second century.
Others ascribe it to the third century. The Philoxenian Syriac Version was made by a
translator named Polycarp about 508 A.D. It was revised by Thomas of Heraclea
(حرقل) in 616
A.D. All the other Syriac versions were therefore made before Muhammad's time, but this
one during his lifetime.
When the disciples of Muhammad fled from Mecca before the Hijrah, and took refuge in
Abyssinia, they found the Christians there reading the Æthiopic Old Testament as well as
the New. This version was then so old as to be difficult for the Abyssinians themselves