Answering Common Muslim Claims: "The Bible Has Been Corrupted"
Often in discussions with my Muslim friends, they will start by telling me that they respect Jesus, and that they even read from the Bible sometimes. Yet they will quickly add that the Bible has been corrupted. I have asked them in the past, and continue to ask: "How can you believe that?"
When my Muslim friends tell me the Bible has been corrupted, there are a few problems they face:
- Despite their claim, they also teach that no man can corrupt the words of Allah.
- They must explain when the Bible was corrupted, who corrupted it, and which passages specifically have been corrupted. They have not been able to do this.
Let us look closely at these problems.
Problem 1: The Quran teaches that men cannot corrupt the words of Allah
The following passages from the Quran teach that men cannot corrupt the words of Allah: 6:115; 18:27; 4:136; 4:163 (references the Psalms); 17:55 (also references the Psalms); 21:105 (quotes Psalm 37:29); 3:3-4; 3:48-50; 5:43-48; 10:94; 21:7; 29:46.
Notice the following examples:
Perfected is the Word of thy Lord in truth and justice. There is naught that can change His words. He is the Hearer, the Knower. (Pickthall)
The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all. (Yusuf Ali)
O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. (Pickthall)
O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Messenger and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray. (Yusuf Ali)
Lo! We inspire thee as We inspired Noah and the prophets after him, as We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as We imparted unto David the Psalms... (Pickthall)
We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. (Yusuf Ali)
And recite that which hath been revealed unto thee of the Scripture of thy Lord. There is none who can change His words, and thou wilt find no refuge beside Him. (Pickthall)
And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him. (Yusuf Ali)
(Cf. 3:3-4; 3:48-50; 5:43-48; 10:94; 21:7; 29:46)
All these passages teach that no man is able to change the words of Allah. Yet, Muslims believe that Allah by inspiration gave the Torah to the Jews, and the Gospel to the Christians.
Therefore, according to Muslims, Allah has given man three different writings: the Law (of Moses), the Gospel and the Quran. If the Quran teaches that men cannot corrupt His words, how can any Muslim claim that His words have been corrupted?
Problem 2: When, Who and Where?
The logical questions to ask when we are told that the Bible is corrupted are: "When was it corrupted?" "Who corrupted it?" and "Where are the corruptions?"
If we answer when it was corrupted, we can do away with many of the “Who?” questions. Muslims must admit that if the Bible was corrupted, it was either corrupted before Mohammad lived and died, or after he died. Yet in the Quran, Muhammad is commanded to tell the Christians who were living during his time period, that they should judge according to the Gospel:
(They are fond of) listening to falsehood, of devouring anything forbidden. If they do come to thee, either judge between them, or decline to interfere. If thou decline, they cannot hurt thee in the least. If thou judge, judge in equity between them. For Allah loveth those who judge in equity.
But why do they come to thee for decision, when they have (their own) law before them?- therein is the (plain) command of Allah; yet even after that, they would turn away. For they are not (really) People of Faith.
It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers.
We ordained therein for them: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal." But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrong-doers.
And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.
Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.
To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute...
Quran 5:42-48 (Yusuf Ali)
Notice a few things.
- Allah asked Muhammad, "Why do the Jews and Christians come to you for guidance, when they have an accurate Book in their own hands?"
- He tells Jews and Christians to judge all things according to their own scriptures (the Torah and Gospel).
- The Quran claims that the Gospel and the Torah are confirmed by Allah to be accurate.
Let us look to the Quran again, this time in 10:94:
And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. (Pickthall)
If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt. (Yusuf Ali)
Allah told Muhammad, that since he was doubtful of his revelations, he should check with the Jewish and Christian sources to see if they were true.
If Allah tells Muhammad that 1) Christians are to judge by the Gospel, and 2) to check the Jewish and Christian sources, then the only conclusion we may draw is that the Books—the Jewish and Christian sources—were reliable, according to Allah (at least during the time Muhammad was living). Otherwise, it would be foolish for him to tell them to refer to corrupted and unreliable books.
- If Muhammad claims that the Bible was not corrupted before he died, then it must have been corrupted sometime after he died.
- Mohammad claims that it was not corrupted before he died. (Quran 5:43-48; 10:94)
- Therefore, it must have been corrupted sometime after he died.
Muhammad died in the year 632 AD, so we know that the Bible was not corrupted before that date. Therefore it must have been corrupted sometime after that date.
Among other passages, Muslims claim that the Bible's teachings about Jesus' death and resurrection are corruptions (see Quran 4:157-158). If the Bible was not corrupted before year 632, then previous to this date, there should be no records of Jesus' followers believing that He died and was raised from the dead.
When did the Gospel writers write? Scholars, both biblical and secular, agree that the gospels were written during the first century AD (500+ years before the time of Mohammad).
What did they claim about Jesus? That he was Deity (John 8, etc.), died on a Roman Cross (Matt. 26-28), was buried and raised from the dead (Mt. 26-28) as He had prophesied years earlier (Mk. 9). We could show many other passages in support of this.
External Historical Evidence
Not only do the historical biographies claim that Jesus was Deity, but there are also quotes from non-Christian sources showing what the people believed about Jesus. Notice what Josephus (AD 37-101) had to say:
Ananus brought before the Sanhedrin
a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law, and condemned them to be stoned to death. (Antiquities of the Jews, 20:9:1)
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not cease; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day. (Antiquities of the Jews, 18:3:3)
Josephus, a Jewish historian, claims that both Jews and Gentiles called Jesus "Christ." He was then crucified and believed to have risen again the third day (just as the gospel accounts record).
Tacitus (AD 55-117), a Roman Historian, also had much to say about Christians. Nero wanted to rebuild Rome, and he destroyed most of Rome by fire. The Romans claimed that Christians were “atheists,” since they were against the Roman gods. They accused the Christians of incest, because they married their “brothers and sisters.” They said Christians were cannibals, because on Sundays, they ate Jesus' flesh and drank His blood. So Nero targeted the Christians. Notice what Tacitus wrote:
Nero fabricated scapegoats and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the Governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of of this temporary setback, the deadly superstition had broken out afresh not only in Judaea (where the mischief had already started) but even in Rome. (The Annals of Imperial Rome, 15:44)
Tacitus attests that Christ lived. Tacitus was a hostile witness, in that he did not want people to believe in Christ. However, by his writings, he proves that Jesus lived and was executed.
Lucian (AD 120-180) is another historical witness we can reference:
The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account...
You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. (The Death of Peregrine; Lucian to Cronius, the works of Lucian of Samasata)
Lucian claims that these “Christians” were worshipping a "crucified sage." Although he himself did not believe in Christ, he admitted that Jesus was a historical figure, and acknowledged that Jesus was crucified and people worshipped him.
The fact is: There has never been a more accurate history of any historical figure who ever lived, than that of the man Jesus. It was recorded both by gospel penmen and uninspired historical recorders, that His followers worshipped Him as God, and though He had died, He was raised again.
It is clear that the Gospel (affirmed by Mohammad/Allah to be accurate at least until 632 AD) claimed that Jesus died, was raised from the dead, and is Deity.
It is also clear from non-Christian and secular sources that the early followers of Jesus believed that Jesus died and was raised from the dead.
Therefore, it is clear that before Mohammad ever lived, people believed and followed an uncorrupted Gospel, and those followers believed that Jesus died and was raised again.
We must then ask the next logical question:
If the Bible was corrupted after year 632 (see following syllogism), who was the person who corrupted it? What evidence do you have that a person corrupted it?
- If Mohammad claims that the Bible was not corrupted before he died, then it must have been corrupted sometime after he died.
- Mohammad claims that it was not corrupted before he died. (Quran 5:43-48; 10:94)
- Therefore, it must have been corrupted sometime after he died.
Who was this person who corrupted the Bible? What evidence do you have that a person corrupted it? Once Muslims fail to provide an answer to the previous questions, I will ask them one more thing:
Do we have a completed, accurate gospel account in our possession from the days preceding the death of Mohammad? If not, why do historians claim that we do?
Notice the evidence presented by the manuscripts that we have in our possession today:
- 5,300+ Greek New Testament manuscripts
- 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts
- 15,000 translations in 11 different languages
- 2,000+ lectionaries
In the city of Atticus, there was found a whole New Testament written around the 4th century, long before the life of Mohammad.
Please visit the following website for further information: Apologetics Press: Inspiration of the Bible
Do we have a complete and accurate gospel account in our possession from the days preceding the death of Mohammad? If so, what does the accurate (uncorrupted) gospel say, that the "corrupted" one does not say (and vise-versa)?
If there is something, then why not change all the "corrupted" bibles to match the accurate gospel account that Mohammad referred to (i.e., the scriptures before the 7th century)?
The final question I ask them is: “Which specific passages are corrupted?” and “How do you know?”
The only answer they give is, “If it contradicts the Quran, then it must be corrupted.” However, this is logically flawed. It assumes that which it must prove. Showing that the Quran is the “Word of Allah” does not mean that the Bible is not. If the only answer they give is, “If it contradicts the Quran, then it must be corrupted,” they have failed to see the point again. Allah through Muhammad claimed it was accurate while Muhammad was living. And we have complete Bibles from before the time of Muhammad, which prove that Jesus claimed to be God.