to understand, for it had been made about the fourth century, from the Septuagint.
When 'Umar conquered Egypt, he found the people mostly Christians. They had
translated the Old Testament from the Septuagint into three at least of the dialects of
their own tongue, the Coptic. These are known as the Buhairic
(بُحَيْرِي), the Sa'idic
and the Bushmuric
(بُشْمُورِي) versions. They were probably made in the third or fourth century,
though some think earlier.
Parts of the Old Testament were translated from Syriac into Armenian about 411 A.D.
Another version made from the Septuagint into Armenian was published in 436 A.D. About a
century later, but still long before the Hijrah, the Georgian version was made from the
If we now turn to Europe, we find that a Gothic bishop named Ulphilas, who died in 381
or 383 A.D., translated the Bible into Gothic for his own people about 360 A.D.
Most of these versions were made by Christians, except of course the Septuagint and
Aquila's version. But the Jews also translated much of the Old Testament from Hebrew into
Aramaic when the majority of them had ceased to speak Hebrew. Onkelos's version of the
Torah was made between 150 and 200 A.D. Jonathan ben 'Uzzi'el translated the books of
the Prophets about 322 A.D. Besides these there is the Jerusalem Targum, also made before
the Hijrah, probably in the sixth century.
It is well known that in early times the Samaritans were great enemies of the Jews. The
Samaritans refused to accept as inspired any part of the Old Testament except the Torah of
Moses. That, however, they did accept and honour. We do not know for certain when they got
a copy of the Hebrew Torah. Some suppose it was about 606 B.C. when the seventy years'
captivity of the Jews began.1 Others think
that it was brought to Samaria by Manasseh, grandson of Eliashib the High Priest. He had
married Sanballat's daughter (Neh. xiii. 28), and, being banished from Jerusalem by
Nehemiah, founded another1 Temple on Mt. Gerizim about 409 B.C. We still
possess copies of the Samaritan Pentateuch, as it is called, written in the original
Hebrew language, but in different letters from those in use among the Jews.
When we examine all these different witnesses, and inquire of them whether the Old
Testament at present in use among both Jews and Christians was in existence among them in
Muhammad's time, they all with one voice answer, "Yes." It is true that
different readings occur, as they do in the Qur'an and in all ancient books. It is also
true, as we have seen, that the Septuagint translators permitted a few books of no
authority to be circulated, in addition to those of the Hebrew Canon. But they did
not reject one single book of that Canon. Taking all the versions of the Old Testament
that we have mentioned together, there is not one doctrine which is in the slightest
degree affected by the trifling variations in readings that exist between them. Hence on
this evidence, were there no other, it is clearly proved that our present Old Testament is
that which existed in Muhammad's time, and to which the Qur'an so repeatedly bears
Turning now to the New Testament, we must inquire whether the volume now current under
that name is the same as that which existed in Muhammad's time. About this among all men
of learning there is absolutely not the slightest doubt.
Recent investigation has proved that even in Christ's lifetime some of His disciples
had written down short notes of His words and works. Many of these may still be recognized
as among the verses which compose St. Mark's Gospel in particular, though these notes are
also in a measure incorporated into the Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Luke. Of