Search This Blog

The Koran claims that Christians changed the Bible. Is this true?

The truth, says the Koran, can only be found in Allah’s Guidance and those that follow Muhammad. The Koran claims that the Christians changed the Bible.

From those, too, who call themselves Christians, We did take a covenant, but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent them: so we estranged them, with enmity and hatred between the one and the other, to the day of judgment. And soon will Allah show them what it is they have done. O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book, - Surah 5:14-15

What exactly did the Christians forget?
  • Allah is one?
  • Good works save us?
  • Jesus did not claim to be the son of God?
How could Christians forget such important spiritual truths? What would profit conspirators by changing the Bible?

Every conspiracy profits the one who is leading the conspiracy. All of the apostles were killed because of what they preached. Who would die for a lie that profits them nothing?

Some people say the Bible may have been true and accurate when first written, but has been altered over the years and the version we have today is not trustworthy. This is one of the most serious attacks on the credibility of the Bible. So, has the Bible been copied accurately or has it been corrupted? Can we trust the Bible we have today?

The following is from Ron Rhodes and explains clearly why the Bible was not changed.

Where is the evidence of corruption?
A favorite tactic of critics is to throw out baseless accusations and demand that a Christian offer a defense. If someone claims the Bible has been corrupted over the years, it is reasonable to ask what evidence exists to support that allegation. It requires no proof to criticize, but on what basis? Other ancient books are accepted as authentic unless proven otherwise. Why is the Bible treated differently? Some assert that Emperor Constantine (lived in the early 4th century) was involved in corrupting the original message of Christianity. Again, where is the evidence? Someone can claim Lyndon Johnson was involved in Kennedy’s assassination, but what are the facts to support that? Nonetheless, for those who honestly want to know whether the Bible can be trusted, some solid evidence is presented here.

When could the Bible have been corrupted?
If there was corruption of the original documents, when would that have occurred? The New Testament documents were written and circulated among the early churches scattered throughout Asia Minor, Northern Africa, and Southern Europe from approximately 40 to 100 A.D. None of the original Biblical documents still exist; however, no original documents of any kind exist from that time period. The key question is the reliability of the copies and those made chronologically closer to the originals leave less time for possible corruption. Manuscripts of Biblical passages have been dated from as early as 200 A.D., such as the Chester Beatty papyrus (P46), which contains ten of Paul’s letters and the book of Hebrews. The Bodmer papyrus (P66) also dates to about 200 A.D. and contains the Gospel of John. The Sinaiticus uncial manuscript dates to the fourth century and contains the entire New Testament.

Earliest manuscripts
The earliest original portion of the New Testament found to date is the John Rylands fragment, dated to around A.D. 130, which contains portions of John 18, verses 31-33 and 37-38. The Greek text matches that of later manuscripts, even further diminishing the possibility of corruption. Additionally, because the fragment was found in Egypt and the traditional place of composition is Asia Minor, some time would have been required for John’s gospel to travel that distance. (The early second century was not exactly the internet age and information traveled much slower.) Textual corruption of the Bible is one of the most common criticisms of Christianity from some in the Islamic community. However, the Qur’an, which dates from the seventh century, commended the Bible for containing “the Truth”: “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” (Sura 10:94). By the time of Muhammad, thousands of complete or partial manuscripts of the Bible were in circulation on several continents and in several languages (Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Gothic, Georgian, Ethiopic, and Nubian). To remove the Bible from circulation and replace it with a corrupted version would have been an impossible task. These manuscripts can be compared today (and have been) with the Bibles we have now. So, there was no time for corruption or alteration of the Biblical texts.

Quotations of the New Testament
Early church fathers writing from early in the second century onward quoted the Bible extensively. In fact, if we had no manuscripts of the New Testament, all but 11 verses could be reconstructed by referencing the writings of early church fathers made within the first couple of centuries after the time of Christ. There are about 86,000 quotations of the New Testament in these writings as well as lectionaries (church service books) in the early centuries. For example, Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, writing around A.D. 150, quoted sections of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, writing around 180 AD, made 1,819 N.T. quotations from 23 of the 27 New Testament books, omitting only Philemon, James, 2 Peter, and 3 John.1 Justin Martyr (c. 100-164) quoted 330 verses of the N.T. Other examples include Origen (185-254), who quoted 17,992 verses and Tertullian (160-220), who made 7,258 quotations.2 Clement of Rome (A.D. 95) quoted from the books of: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Hebrews and Titus. Ignatius (A.D. 70-110) knew the apostles and wrote seven letters containing quotations from: Matthew, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Galatians, Colossians, James, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and 1 Peter.3

It is true that not all quotations by early church fathers were word for word exact replicas of the words found in the Bible. However, given the vast number of references, and by comparing the numerous exact quotations with various paraphrases, the accurate transmission of the Bible is overwhelmingly confirmed.

What about the Old Testament?
The same criticism of the New Testament has been made by some of the Old Testament: Since the original books were written hundreds of years before the oldest extant copies, how can we be sure they were copied accurately? If it was necessary for scribes to copy the scrolls periodically as older ones deteriorated, there may be significant differences between the originals and the copies. Prior to 1947, the oldest manuscripts of the O.T. available dated to about A.D. 980. Since the last books of the O.T. were written around 400 B.C., there is a time gap of about 1,400 years. However, in 1947, the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, which contain manuscripts dating to 150 B.C. So, upon comparison, did the later copies contain major discrepancies from the earlier copies? No, in comparing the manuscripts, it is clear the scriptures were copied with remarkable accuracy (realizing this process was done by hand with ink on papyrus). To illustrate, Dr. Gleason Archer, who personally examined both the A.D. 980 and the 150 B.C. copies of the book of Isaiah, wrote: Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1, near the Dead Sea, were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.

There is no evidence that the Bible has been corrupted over time. In fact, the evidence shows that both the New and Old Testaments have been very carefully preserved throughout the years. We can trust that the Bible we have today accurately represents the Bible as originally written.For additional in depth study, see The Canon of Scripture by F. F. Bruce and The Canon of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger.

(Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.)

Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2002), pp. 210-211.
Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), p. 357.
Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernadino, CA: Here’s Life Publishing, 1972), p. 51.
Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1964), p. 19, quoted in Ron Rhodes, pp. 208-20.9