Archive for July 24th, 2012


Among the proof text Muslims use to claim that the Quran teaches that the Bible has been textually corrupted, Surah 2:79 seems to be their strongest case.  Yet this is not without problem.  Below are three English translations of this passage, though afterwards all citation of the Quran will be from Yusuf Ali’s translation:

Sahih International

So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah ,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.

Yusuf Ali

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:”This is from Allah,” to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.


Woe, then, to those who write the book with their hands and then say: This is from Allah, so that they may take for it a small price; therefore woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.

(Accessed: http://quran.com/2/73-85)

Note what one Muslim apologist extrapolate from the text,

So basically this means they made copies and added their own ideas and desires and said this is from God, and when you do this over a long period of time the original book gets lost and is gone and that is what happened. So they wrote books with their own hands and claimed it is from God i.e. the Torah.

But does this verse really teaches that the Jewish Scripture has been lost due to textual corruption?  Let’s take a closer look.

Establishing the Context:  Surah 2 is titled “The Cow.”  It is the longest chapter in the Quran, coming in at 286 verses, and addresses a variety of issues.  Some have seen this Surah as the summary of the Quran.  Verse 79 is situated in the section beginning in verse 40 through 86 that focuses on the Children of Israel.  Thus, verse 79 is specifically referring to the Jewish Scripture (the Old Testament).


(1) One things to keep in mind for the rest of the observation that follows is that while this verse states that they “write the Book with their own hand,” it does not state that the “Book,” that is the Scriptures, have been “lost and is gone” as our Muslim apologists claim the verse teaches.  Such verbs are not present in the text and readers should be cautious with going too far beyond what Surah 2:79 actually states.

(2) There are further complications to the view that this verse teaches the original Jewish Scripture has been “lost and is gone,” when one realizes that Surah 2:79 is not referring to all the Jews in their treatment of Scripture, but only some particular subset of the Jews.  This point is important because if some of the Jews were wicked to tamper and attempted to corrupt the text of Scriptures, there are the other subset of Jews that were not doing so.  Thus, there cannot be a global textual corruption of the Bible where the original would be thoroughly “lost and gone.”  Verse 78 establishes whom “those who write the ‘scripture’ with their own hands” in verse 79 were.  Note that verse 78 refers to the antecedent subjects as a subgroup of the Jews rather than all the Jews when it stated, “there are among them illiterates” rather than “all among them illiterates.”  In light of the fact that they were called illiterates makes this very likely to be a minority group since Jews are historically typically literate.  Again, this verse is only discussing about some among the Jews which makes it improbable that there would be a global textual corruption of the Scriptures to the extent that the original has been forever lost and forgotten.

(3) Further support that verse 79 refers to only a subset of the Jews can be found in the beginning of verse 80 which states, “And they say, “Never will the Fire touch us, except for a few days.”  These subset of Jews don’t believe in the eternal torment of the wicked, and given that the Hebrew manuscripts we possess today does not deny eternal punishment (but rather affirm it), it seems that whatever minority of Jews that wrote down “Scripture” contrary to it has not been able to manage to corrupt the Bible lost and forgotten forever.

(4) The context of the rest of Surah 2 does not support the view that the Quran teaches the Bible’s corruption.  For instance, Surah 2:62 affirm that the content of the Bible is still God’s salvific Word: “Those who believe (in the Qur’an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.“  Rather than affirm the Bible’s corruption, the rest of the context of Surah 2 affirms the contrary, that the Bible is still God’s Word.


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