words, "We have received from our fathers that those books must be read in the
Besides these catalogues drawn up by Councils, we find in the works of certain eminent
Christian writers of early times lists of the books which their own study and
investigation led them to accept as undoubtedly written by the Apostles and other early
disciples of Christ. For instance, Origen, who died in 253 A.D., mentions all our New
Testament books. Athanasius, who died in 315 A.D., does the same. Eusebius, writing about
the same date, also mentions them all, though he tells us that some people still doubted
whether the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, the Second Epistle of Peter, the Second
and Third Epistles of John, and the Revelation of John were genuine. More careful inquiry,
however, as we have seen, led to the conviction on the part of the Church in general that
these books too should be considered part of the New Testament Canon.
Thus during the first four centuries we have testimony from Palestine, Syria, Cyprus,
Asia Minor, Alexandria, North Africa, and Italy to the existence and genuineness of every
book in the New Testament.
It is therefore clear from this point of view that our New Testament, as at present
circulated among Christians, was in existence in Muhammad's time among the Christians
who then lived in Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Abyssinia and other lands with whose peoples he
was brought into contact.
So far we have proved that the Old Testament and the New existed in Muhammad's time.
But we have not yet shown how it is that we know that the Old and New Testament books that
then bore the names of those in our present Bibles actually were the same. May it
not be that those which then were called by these names have perished, and that others
have been forged in their stead, the names only remaining the same? If any Muslim will for
a moment imagine the question put to him with regard
to the Surahs of the Qur'an, "How do you know that the Surah Al Baqarah, for example,
that is printed in your present copies of the Qur'an, is the same Surah as the one that
bore that name in ‘Umar's time?" he will perceive the absurdity of putting a
similar question to us Christians regarding our Sacred Books. Yet, in order to remove all
possible excuse for doubt and uncertainty, we shall reply to it.
One proof of the identity of our present books of the Bible with those which existed in
Muhammad's day is: that we actually possess a number of Manuscripts of the Old and New
Testaments, which Manuscripts themselves were then extant. This is true with respect to
the New Testament in the original Greek, and to the Old Testament in the Greek
translation, as we shall soon point out.
As to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the most ancient MS. we have of any part of
it is a small Hebrew papyrus discovered in Egypt only four or five years ago. It contains
the Ten Commandments and the Hebrew Creed, &c. (Exod. xx. 2-17 and Deut. vi. 4-9). It
was written between 220 and 250 A.D. That was a long time before the Hijrah.
The most ancient MS. of any large size, however, that we now possess is that called
"Oriental No. 4445". It is preserved in the British Museum, and was written
probably between 820 and 850 A.D. The next oldest is the "St. Petersburg Codex",
which bears on it the date 916 A.D. It is carefully preserved in St. Petersburg. But these
are copied from far older MSS., to whose existence they bear testimony, mentioning two
(among others) called the "Sepher Hilleli" and the "Sepher Mugah".
(زَكّوت), a Jewish chronicler who wrote about 1500 A.D., tells us that the "Sepher
Hilleli" was written about 597 A.D., and that he himself saw two parts of it,
containing the books of the Former and those of the Latter Prophets (i.e. Joshua,
Judges, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea,
Joel, Amos, Obadiah,