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history

holy books have a

historytextual histories of the new testament & the quran

holy books have a

k e i t h e. s m a l l

holy Books have a history: New testament and Quran ManuscriptsCopyright Keith E. Small All rights reserved ISBN 978-1-4507-3994-8 Printed in USA Design by Thinkpen Design, Inc., www.thinkpendesign.com Copy Editor, V. Kathleen Draper Printed by Snowfall Press, Monument, Colorado No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from Keith E. Small. Permission to reproduce the photographs contained in this book were obtained from the following: Bibliothque nationale de France for pictures of text from manuscripts BNF Arabe 326a, 328a, 331, 333c, 334c, 340c and 370a. These are found on pages 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37; Fondazione Ferne Noseda for pictures of IST TIEM SE 54 and the portion of a Quran palimpsest on pages 28 and 47; A private collector GRP for pictures of the Sanaa manuscripts 01-29.1 and 01-20.x on pages 27, 32, and 34; The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland for the image of Codex Leicestrensis. The picture from Codex Sinaiticus was obtained from the Codex Sinaiticus website and is used according to its provision of permission for the reproduction of its images for educational and non-profit use.

ContentsAcknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii Chapter 1: holy Books have a history . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Chapter 2: textual Criticism on the Bible and the Quran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 TheBackgroundofBiblicalTextualCriticismandQuranic TextualCriticism EarliestIdentifiableTextoftheQuran? Anearly,strongstandardizationoftheQurantext? preciseversiongoingbacktoMuhammad? Astrongparalleloraltradition? OrthographicVariants ProperNames VariableSpelling ZonesofVariableSpelling GrammaticalVariants ChangesofPerson ChangesofNumber Substitutionofconjunctions DiacriticalMarksVariants CopyistMistakes DifferentWords Corrections EarliestIdentifiableTextoftheNTandQuran? Anearly,strongstandardisationoftheNTandQurantext? OnepreciseversiongoingbacktoJesusorMuhammad? Astrongparalleloraltradition?

Chapter 3: Kinds of Variants in Nt and Quran Manuscripts . . . . . . . . . . . .31

Chapter 4: Comparisons and Conclusions from textual Criticism . . . . . . 53

Chapter 5: Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Appendix one: textual Criticism and the inspiration of scripture . . . . . . 83 Appendix two: Common Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the many ministry colleagues through Also, Id like to thank the many Muslims who shared their

the years who have helped me develop the ideas in this book. convictions with me, most as thoughtful statements from the heart, but even when they came as challenges and provoking statements. I have appreciated their conviction that truth should be proclaimed and debated in the public arena.

granted permission for the use of material that originally

Special thanks are due to the publisher Hans Schiler, who

appeared in the book Schlaglichter: Die beiden ersten islamischen Jahrhunderte, 2008, edited by Karl Heinz Ohlig and Markus Gro. Material from the chapter, Textual Variants in the New appears in chapters three and four of this book. The pictures

Testament and Quranic Manuscript Traditions (pp. 572-593),

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used in that article and in this book are very partial processed pictures of the full pictures found in the authors PhD thesis, scripts, and in the forthcoming book, Textual Criticism and Mapping a New Country: Textual Criticism and Quran ManuQuran Manuscripts (Lexington Books, Lanham, Maryland, ison of textual variants in the New Testament and Quran

USA, late 2010). The thesis contains a more extensive comparmanuscript traditions. The academic book, Textual Criticism and Quran Manuscripts, is a more developed study of the textual variants in just the Quran manuscript tradition, and of the Quran and the recovery of its original text. :

how the variants illumine issues regarding the textual history

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introduction

One might well ask, why study ancient manuscripts of other

peoples Scripture? Why meddle with someone elses religious is wrong? Doesnt such study only lead to unedifying argu-

heritage? Why must you ask questions of who is right and who ments? These questions express a tension anyone involved in mission must deal with on a very personal level. The answer to all of these questions is that in the end, critical study of

sacred texts is an exercise in simple intellectual honesty. It is

an expression of loving my neighbour as myself by seeking to of someone elses beliefs without asking these kinds of ques-

understand his beliefs. How can one gain a true understanding tions? Perhaps the better question is, since such studies in the

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end are necessary, what attitudes are the most helpful to use in pursuing them? Many people of all faiths and no faith have come to realize

that religious tradition cannot be followed blindly. If a religion is to commend itself in this age, it must be open to the hardest and best questions put to it. We no longer live in a world the criticism and scrutiny of others who dont share their where religious communities can keep themselves aloof from beliefs and values. Christians of all denominations have had to face this because of challenges from Secularism and scrutiny from people of other faiths around the world. Muslims, in particular, have taken for themselves a role as commentators and critics of Christianity and the Bible. For them too, the One scholar has written: 1 challenge is there of being on the receiving end of criticism.

Islam and the Quran do not belong any longer exclusively to Muslims, but they belong to mankind, and mankind will henceforth demand the right to interfere in the interpretation of the Islamic heritage as will be the case with regard to the religious history of all religions of the world.

One Muslim has wisely written: 2

1 Gnter Lling, A Challenge to Islam for Reformation. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2003, 514-515. 2 David Marshall, God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers. Richmond: Curzon, 1999, 5-6.

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Sooner or later Islam must, like its monotheistic rivals, face the tribunal of secular reason and patiently endure trial by modernity, and asks: Are Islam and its scripturecapable of patiently tolerating disciplined investigation?Later he argues that Any constructive engagement between Islam and modernity must involve the rejecter [i.e. the non-Muslim]: the rejecter must reserve the right to examine critically the contents of the Koran

even for the outright rejecter, it is a basic exercise of intellec-

For the believer in Islam, for the intellectually curious, and

tual honesty to thoroughly investigate the history of the text of the Quran using the best available tools of historical research. groups was held at the British Library in London where Recently, an exhibition sponsored by diverse religious

ancient manuscripts of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures were displayed together, visually illustrating the histories of the transmission of these texts. In the exhibition the exhibition: 3

catalog, the following statement was given as the purpose of

The main questions this exhibition asks of all of us are: what do these three faiths have in common, and how have they in their very separate and diverse histories created or received their holy texts? How and where have they become standardized, and what do they signify for us of whatever faith or none in the twentyfirst century?

3 John Reeve, Sacred. London: British Library, 2007, 12.

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by everyone. Stuart, as a devout Christian, also comments they might cause:4

These are excellent, honest questions that need to be faced

about the necessity of these kinds of studies, and some fears

Some people may feel that textual criticism will expose weaknesses in the ancient versions of the Bible or the translations made from them. This is not really the case. What textual criticism shows is that no single version can claim to be perfect, since there are evident differences in the ancient copies. In this sense, strength comes with diversity. Since we have available to us a great variety of ancient texts, we must whenever possible place them before us and analyze them. The results will give us a far greater security as to what the original may have been than the credulous certification of any one text could ever do. We are therefore obliged not to reject whatever complicates the picture, but to enter into a careful and responsible analysis of the texts we have in an attempt to decide what was most likely the original wording actually inspired by the Holy Spirit.

as to construct critical Greek New Testaments and critical

Textual criticism and the study of anc

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