Answering Missionaries

June 9, 2006

Part II – detailed response to Steve Hays

Filed under: Anti-Islamic/Muslim Polemics,Dialogue/Debates — answeringmissionaries @ 2:00 am

Steve Hays has come out with another reply to my response to his first reaction.

A lot of my arguments have either been entirely ignored or discussed briefly. Worse, as before, Hays often misreads and constructs a series of straw man arguments. I will provide examples of these as I proceed with my analysis of his comments. Moreover, as before, he maintains his arrogant, condescending and rude tone, something which I will try to avoid as much as possible.

Whatever I say about the Quran is immediately tossed aside with one or two liners. Hays is obviously not interested in an honest discussion where the purpose of the correspondents is to fairly assess the evidence in order to arrive at the truth. As a result, I will subject the Bible to the same treatment just to show how easily it can be “refuted” in a similar manner by someone who has already made up his/her mind.

Hays’ words will be indented and in italics, whereas my initial comments will appear in normal double indented format.

      “Notice that I made a very general statement and was not commenting specifically upon the text of the New Testament writings on this instance.”

    “Notice that, in context, the debate is over the text of the Bible. So what is relevant is the type of textual variants you find in our Bible MSS.”

Actually, the immediate context surrounding that hypothetical document was not so much relating to the text/mss of the Bible. But even if it was, is it not possible to speak about a hypothetical document in this context without neccessarily suggesting anything about the Bible? Why is this impossible?

The sequence of my discussion with Chan that led to his question on this hypothetical document can be easily followed. If one follows the discussion from the start, it can be seen that I had nothing to suggest regarding the pattern of variations in the New Testament mss tradition. On the contrary, I was responding to the question posed by James White, being summarised by Chan, which asked why one should believe the word of a man who came about so many hundreds of years later, who did not have access to the documents in question and who did not speak the languages? Why should his word be trusted and taken seriously? I replied that we need to study a person’s claims to ascertain if they are correct or not. Chan then posed his question on the hypothetical document in response to this answer. He said (italics added):

    “On the surface, this makes sense. After all, what could be easier than judging a statement by whether or not it adheres to common logic and the factual evidence at hand?

    But there’s more than meets the eye in using this seemingly straightforward yardstick here, and not everyone will quite agree upon certain elements. For example, what quantity or quality of “proof” or “evidence” will be sufficient for you? All other things being equal, if we can prove that 50% of an ancient text is historically authentic, will that in turn suffice to prove the reliability of the text to you? What about 75%? 85%? 90%?

    Or, what is admissible as proof or evidence for a text’s historical authenticity? Archaeological discoveries? Accurate times and dates, or economic or other facts and figures? Social and cultural descriptions in line with known practices and customs of the period?”

As we can see, the percentages were supplied by Chan. Briefly, I pointed out that one needs to make a distinction between historical and textual reliability of a document. That textual authenticity does not automatically mean that the document in question is also 100% historically reliable, so that all of its claims can be accepted as such blindly. A textuall authentic document may also contain erroneous information and historically misleading details. By the same token, a textually inauthentic text may well contain historically viable details within it. All of these possibilities exist.

To quote myself with some typo corrections:

    “I think the problem here is that you confuse historical reliability of a document with its textual integrity. A text can be 100% textually authentic, but that does not follow that it is historically reliable in all the statements it has to make. Thus historical reliability and textual reliability are not one and the same. However, I suppose that if a text is known to be textually uncertain, whatever the percentage, then we would naturally have to study all of its statements more carefully in order to ensure as best we can that the text in question is “original” and not the product of adaptation by a later scribe before we decide whether or not the claims are historically plausible.”

Thus, nothing was being said or suggested regarding the range, status or pattern of Biblical mss variants on this instance. Why is Hays unable to accept this?

At most, I then went on to state the fact that textual corruption of the Bible during its transmission is acknowledged by all New Testament scholars; that only the extant of textual corruptions and their significance is in dispute.

Hays insists I said or suggested something about the pattern of variants of the Bible, when, in fact, I did not.

This is how he likes to waste time.

Moving on, Hays also has “problems” with the following statement:

    ***QUOTE***
      “Notice the problematic nature of his statement: Mr. Hays says I quote a “conservative” Muslim scholar on the textual criticism of the Quran. However, I don’t know of any “liberal Muslim” scholars who have said otherwise or something “devastating” regarding the textual integrity of the Quran. Certainly, there are differences of opinion among Muslim scholars over certain points of details, but all of them – and I really do mean ALL – acknowledge the textual integrity of the Quran and state that the Quran goes back to Muhammed (P) in an unbroken chain of transmission.

      Terms and descriptions such as “conservative Muslim” and “liberal Muslim” are not current or widely used in this field of study – Quranic studies. Christian polemicists impose terms current in one particular field of scholarship upon an entirely different field, in which such terms and words are alien, meaningless, and view this different field of study from the prism of what they are normally accustomed to in Biblical studies. Prof. Azami is a mainstream Quranic scholar, one of the leading scholars in Quranic and Hadith studies of our times. Therefore, I did not quote some “fringe” view from Quranic studies. Similarly, when we move on to New Testament studies, I again referred to mainstream scholars of the New Testament and did not rely upon some fringe opinion here and there. All of the scholars that I named are authorities in their field of studies, many are practising Christians themselves, though not inerranists, and so it is not very impressive when some Christians dismiss scholarship with the lame excuse, “oh but they are liberals.”

      Secondly, I mentioned specifically that John Brogan is an evangelical scholar. Perhaps I should also have added Prof. Metzger to the above list bearing in mind the statements in the latest edition of his introduction of the New Testament. E. P Sanders, not a scholar of textual criticism, is a practising Protestant Christian and, similarly, Parker, Koester, Tuckett, and many others whose writings I am still reading (such as Dunn and Stanton for instance) are also practising Christians.”

    ***END-QUOTE***

Hays replies:

    “Several problems with this response:

    1.Even if “liberal” were an outsider’s term, an outsider can sometimes bring an objectivity and critical distance to a topic which an insider may lack.”

Agreed. I was not denying this but only objecting upon the foisting of foreign or outside terms upon a subject, which has its own set of terminology. Also note that for Hays outsiders can only bring an objectivity on Islam and every other issue opposed by Hays whereas only inerranist conservatives are “objective” when it comes to the Bible while the rest “lack” objectivity. This pattern can be clearly observed in Hays’ arguments.

This is completely irrelevant and a straw-man. I did not deny the presence of modernist liberal movements among Muslims. Instead, I had requested Hays to give examples of “liberal Muslims” who had propounded an “alternative” account of the formation of the Quran, according to which the Quran as we have it today is inauthentic. The above has nothing to do with this. These links only make mention of modern liberal movements, such as feminist movements, secular movements etc., the adherents of which, as far as I can tell, do not deny the authenticity of the Quranic text, although they do disagree over the subject of the interpretation of the text, the authenticity of which is not questioned.

Let’s consider his links in detail:

The first link contains links to a variety of “liberal” Muslim writers and scholars. Hays does not bother to state which particular individual therein denies the authenticity of the Quran and I personally have been unsuccessful in detecting such an individual. We find here the names of notables such as Yusuf al-Qaradwi (a leading Islamic scholar), Muhammed Iqbal (scholar philosopher), Shariati, M. Khan, P. Manzoor, and others, who are indeed well respected and either authoritative mainstream Islamic writers or scholars. None of them has denied the authenticity of the Quran.

In this list we also find mention of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, having no qualifications and training in Islamic studies, who was rightfully kicked out of office twice on major corruption charges and whose husband, Mr. Zardari, is popularly known as “Mr. 10%” in Pakistan. Nonetheless, none of them is known to have denied the authenticity of the Quran.

As far as I can tell, ALL the individuals referred to in this list accept the authenticity of the Quranic text and have no “alternative” account to present of its formation. The difference of opinion – and what may make some “liberals” – pertains to matters of exegesis only.

In conclusion: Hays again constructed a strawman and used his energies to engage with it.

The second link also fails to demonstrate Hays’ initial assertion. It gives an introduction to some of the modern fringe liberal movements within Muslims, such as secular movements, feminist movements, gay movements and so on. Of course, none are representatives of mainstream Muslims, but, coming to the main point, none, as far as I can tell, have denied the authenticity of the Quran and given an “alternative” account of its formation – substantially different from Azami’s study.

Unfortunately, we will find Hays, in a later paper (response being prepared), refusing to acknowledge his mistake and act in a deceptive manner to justify his construction of a straw-man.

    “3. Of course, in Muslim countries governed by Sharia, dissent is strictly forbidden. Any outspoken liberal or even moderate will soon find his head in one place, and his body in another.”

This argument does not work because the vast majority of the Muslim world is not governed by the Shariah. There exist plenty of “moderate” and “liberal” individuals and movements within different parts of the Islamic world. Yet none, as far as I can tell (you can correct me if I am wrong by pointing out a movement) denies the authenticty of the Quran. One can be liberal and moderate and accept the Quran’s authenticity. A denial of the Quran’s authenticity is not a “must” or a prerequisute for a Muslim to be a “liberal” or “moderate.” It is primarily ones interpretation of the text – which is deemed authoritative and authentic – and the general view of religion as a whole, its role/place in our social life, which is a matter of concern for “moderate” and “liberal” Muslims. Authenticity is not a notable concern.

Bottom line: Hays did not really know of any “liberal Muslim” individual or movement which denied the authenticity of the Quran and had proposed a contrary account of its formation as opposed to Azami’s account. He conveniently presumed there were such “liberal Muslims” around. Thus he had no choice but to come up with a straw-man. And finally Hays suggested the lack of “dissent” in the Muslim world due to the hold of the Shariah, disregarding the fact that the Shariah is practised in different forms in only a small part of the Muslim world.

Hays writes:

Many problems here:

First, Hays does not explain why a reader should conclude right from the outset that these are balanced papers and that every piece of information therein is, at the very least, substantially accurate? Why should one approach these “resources” with this mindset? I ask this for the following reason: both links lead to well-known polemical Christian writings on the Quran. That is like me passing off “resources” on the Bible authored by known anti-Christian writers.

I ask, is this a fair method to study someone’s scripture? If yes, then should I “study” the Bible by only reading the writings composed by known polemicist?

Second, bearing in mind Hays’ original assertion, he was required to substantiate his claim by naming the so-called “liberal Muslims” who denied the authenticity of the Quran. How are links to polemical Christian “resources” on the Quran relevant here? Yes I know that Christian polemicists have attacked the textual integrity of the Quran. But I had not asked Hays to “prove” this.

Simply put, Hays tries to pull more wool over the eyes of his readers.

Third, substantial responses to these polemics are to be found here:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/

Thus Hays presented nothing new.

He needs to explain why everything in his links should be trusted while everything in the above needs to be suspected?

Hays writes:

    “5.The fact that someone may be a “practicing Christian” doesn’t stop him from being a liberal. John Spong is a “practicing Christian.” Robert Price is a “practicing Christian.” Donald Cupitt is a “practicing Christian.”

    There are a number of mainline denominations in which nominal Christians continue to observe a liturgical tradition even though they reject Bible authority, traditional doctrine, and Christian ethics.

    Sanders is a liberal. Dunn is a liberal. Koester is a liberal. Ehrman is a liberal. Frederiksen is a liberal.

    Vermes was a Jew, not a Christian, whether “practicing” or otherwise.“

Dunn is not a liberal, Stanton is not a liberal, Brogan is not a liberal, and Sanders is rather moderate. Lying in this fashion does not help Hays. And let us not forget the wise words uttered by him not a long time ago (with some modifications):

We may say that liberals can sometimes bring an objectivity and critical distance to a topic which an inerranist may lack.

In Hays’ world, this can only apply to Islam not to the Bible and Christianity. Thus double standards again.

Hays’ patern of argumentation is simple. Dismiss all New Testament scholars as “liberals” if they are not inerranists. The use of the word “liberal” is deemed quite sufficient to dismiss all arguments contrary to the spirit of inerrancy.

For Hays only inerranists are “objective” when it comes to the Bible. But for Islam and the Quran, he will be ready to swallow every concievable negative claim made by polemicists and immediately dismiss whatever a believing Muslim may have to say.

To reiterate my initial point, the scholars whom I named have emerged from within the Christian tradition, they operate within it and have a very high estimation of the Bible. They are mainstream New Testament scholars. It is Hays and the like who stand in the minority.

Finally, I did not say that Vermes was a Christian.

    “No, we don’t dismiss them simply because they’re liberal. My point had reference to Rambo’s double standard.”

But this is precisely what Hays does: dismiss all contrary views because they supposedly belong to the “liberals” camp. And not only has Hays not shown my alleged “doube standard,” he only ended up demonstrating his own double standard yet again.

Hays uses overly conservative sources representing a fringe spectrum of Christians in defense of the Bible and then immediately uses openly hostile and polemical sources, all composed by fellow Christian polemicists, to attack the integrity of the Quran. This is double standard. To deny this is absurd.

In sharp contrast, I make use of mainstream Quranic and Islamic scholarship and, likewise, use mainstream Biblical scholarship.

While Hays appeals to those who are openly hostile to my religion as his primary source, I use mainstream scholarship that operates well within the boundaries of Christianity and, in fact, emerges from within the Christian tradition.

There is indeed a serious problem here: Hays’ blindness to his constant practice of blatant double standards.

Hays should bear in mind what someone not so wise and bright recently repeated numerous times:

“Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.”

Moving on to another problematic assertion. Recall that he previously suggested that Muslims had no evidence in support of their belief that the Quran is the inspired Word of God. He said:

    “It takes a lot more faith for a Muslim the absence of certain lines of evidence available to the Christian with respect to the Bible, viz. archeological confirmation, the argument from prophecy, the argument from miracles.”

My response to this was to the effect that Hays needs a lot, lot, more faith to accept the Bible as inspired in light of the absence of certain lines of evidence available to a Muslim, such as archealogical confirmation, the argument of prophecy, and the argument from miracles etc. Basically, I said that anyone can make such types of proclamations in support of their beliefs and positions. Muslims do have many lines of evidences and arguments in support of their belief and then I proceeded to present a few such examples (evidence of prophecy, literary, historical, miracles etc.).

Hays, as usual, reacts by dismissing them all with one/two liners, which indicates that he is not really interested in considering the issue with an open mind. He has already made up his mind that whatever is said in support of the Quran “must be” false because it has to be false because Hays knows that it is false. With this mindset, he can casually dismiss everything in an off-hand manner, generating all types of “objections.” Hays is quite naive if he believes that this type of an attitude cannot be very easily applied when dealing with the potential evidences and “proofs” for the Bible. The Bible can be “dismissed” in a similar manner with the production of a list of one line “objections” no matter how absurd.

Does Hays want the Bible to be treated in this manner? If not, then why is some courtesy and honesty not extended when dealing with the Quran?

    “Moving along:

    ***QUOTE***

      Here are some links which get into the details:

      Archaeological/historical evidence confirming the statements within the Quran

      Scientific evidence suggesting the Quran is God’s word – a debate between Dr. Zakir Naik and Dr. William Campbell

      Also this.

      Evidence from prophecy.

      Evidence of miracles

      The literary evidence

    ***END-QUOTE***”

Hays replies:

    “The “literary evidence” is purely subjective, and inaccessible to Muslims who don’t know classical literary Arabic.

    By this criterion, Shakespeare was divinely inspired—no, divinely revealed.”

He is partially correct; it is somewhat subjective (what is “beautiful” and “eloquent” speech?)?The evidence of the Quranic language could only be observed by Arab speakers. But the evidence of the literary quality of the Arabic of the Quran was aimed precisely towards the ones who spoke Arabic and claimed to have a mastery over the language in the first place. As history testifies, these people were unable to produce anything like the Quran and Arabs in general were immensely affected and attracted towards the Quran due to its Arabic alone. Such is the power and attraction of its language. Moreover, those who do not know Arabic can at least appreciate this feature of the Quran from the testimony of the ones who know the language. It should also be noted that non-Arabs can learn the Arabic language to verify for themselves this particular aspect of the Quran.

That the Quran is par excellence and without rival in its use of the Arabic language is not just a mere opinion, it is a strong scholarly concensus of Arabic grammarians. Thus, we know about the miraculous nature of the Quran from the ones who are experts in the Arabic language. It would be quite rash, to say the least, to dismiss the verdict of the experts in this regard.

Moreover, according to Muslims, eloquence alone is not the only proof of the divine origination of the Quran. It is simply one of the divine feature and indication towards it among many other signs.

As for the example of William Shakespeare, then Shakespeare did not claim to have produced something which was so eloquent that no one on earth could equal or surpass it. He did not claim divine origin for his writings. So why should we? In contrast, the author of the Quran, who claims to be none other than God, challenges people to produce something better, or even equal, and the Arabs of the time recognized the divine nature of its language. While other writings in the English language may be argued to be equals or, on occasion, even better than Shakespeare, the Quran remains in a class of its own with no equals. Thus the two are quite different.

To know in detail about the nature of the Quranic language and the challenge of the Quran, I would again suggest the reading of the material to be found here which, I am sure, was barely given a look and consideration by Hays:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Miracle/

http://www.islam4all.com/chapter15.htm

http://www.islam4all.com/first_objection.htm

Hays has this to say about the archeological/historical evidence:

    “Regarding the archeological/historical evidence, if we go to that link it tries to resolve a contradiction between Esther and the Koran by denying the historicity and canonicity of Esther.

    i) Even if that were a valid move, it affords no archeological confirmation of the Koran.”

It does not try to “resolve” or harmonise Esther and the Quran, but argues, with archeological evidence, that the Quran is correct in its statement whereas Esther is suspect historically. This IS archeological confirmation.

This is the link Hays is referring to:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Contrad/External/

Hays probably did not even bother to scroll down to see the information within the page. The link leads to a number of different papers which discuss a variety of statements within the Quran and the Bible pertaining to a number of issues, such as relating to Egyptology, with only one paper therein devoted to the issue of the historicity of Esther.

Coming specifically to the example brought up by Hays, we learn that the information within the Quran turns out to be correct whereas the historicity of the book of Esther turns out to be quite shaky to say the least. Now, is this absolute and conclusive proof that the Quran is the Word of God? I think not, and I never claimed this. Of course, we note many, many other statements made within the Quran which relate to the subject of Egyptology which turn out to be correct. Is that conclusive evidence that the Quran is the Word of God? While such Quranic accuracies increase my confidence in the Quran and strengthen my belief, I do not think that this is conclusive evidence that the Quran is God’s Word. Similarly, say a statement within the Bible pertaining to something from the ancient times turns out to be correct, does that constitute conclusive proof that the Bible is the Word of God? This takes us back to my original statement, namely, that we believe that our respective books are from God based ultimately on our faith. Archeological evidence, scientific evidence, etc., are secondary; they serve to increase our confidence but cannot be regarded as conclusive pieces of evidences.

Notice again the now all too familiar and predictable reaction blotted out by Hays:

    “ii) It quotes liberal commentators who deny the historicity of Esther. This is simply a one-sided presentation that ignores conservative scholarship in defense of Esther (e.g. Archer, Baldwin, Harrison, Yamauchi).”

He appears to seriously believe that by angrily screaming “liberals!” the problems we find within the Bible will just vanish away into thin air. His argument appears to be that conservatives are objective and always right whereas liberals are non-objective and always wrong. His allegation of the paper being “one-sided” is false. If we look at the paper, however, we learn that mainstream Christian and Jewish scholarship is utilised therein in the discussion pertaining to the historicity of Esther. What is more, the paper does refer to conservative and apologetic Christian sources. For example, if you check the references, they range from Jews to Christians, which includes even the Catholics. If you see ref. 36 it says:

“A survey of the four most popular encyclopedias of Bible “difficulties” reveal no trace of a discussion on the historicity or the canonicity of Esther. See N. L. Geisler & R. M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask, 2001, Baker Books: Grand Rapids (MI); N. L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 2002, Baker Books: Grand Rapids (MI); N. Geisler & T. Howe, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook On Bible Difficulties, 2004 (7th Printing), Baker Books: Grand Rapids (MI); G. L. Archer Jr., New International Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties, 1982, Zondervan: Grand Rapids (MI).”

Thus, it is not that the authors have “ignored” apologetic sources; it is just that there is no mention of the many problems associated with the book of Esther in these evangelical sources.

In short, mainstream sources have been used to make a strong case against the book of Esther. Instead of convincing Muslims, it would be more appropriate if Hays would make attempts to convince his own fellow Christians and Jews regarding the alleged historical reliability of Esther since they are the ones who generally deny it!

Even if we make this questionable adjustment, the historical problems with Esther are so massive as to persuade anyone who is not already obligated by religious dogma to believe in the historicity of the biblical narrative to doubt the veracity of the narrative.

[J. D. Levenson, Esther: A Commentary, 1997, SCM Press Limited, p. 23]

Hays writes:

    “Regarding its canonicity, Muhammad was a 7C figure, while, as one scholar notes:

    ***QUOTE***

    It is incredible that Esther was still outside the canon at the end of the 3C, well after its canonicity had been attested by Josephus, by Aquila, by the baraita on the order of the Prophets and Hagiographa, by the inclusion in the Mishna of a tractate on the obligation to read the book (the tractate (Megillah), and b y the citation of the book as authoritative Scripture in the other Tannaitic literature.

    R. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Eerdmans 1986), 290.

    ***END-QUOTE***”

For arguments sake, even if we accept the above, the simple fact remains that the canonical status of Esther remained fluid for centuries to come. Moreover, just because Esther was deemed canonical by some at an early period does not follow that it is historically reliable in its entirety. I have no desire to start a huge discussion on the canonicity of Esther, but I only wish to point out that Josephus refers to a three-part canon of the Bible consisting of twenty two books; he no where specifies which books he has in mind. While we may assume some of the books, it is simply far-fetched to suppose that it included the precise and exact books of the Jewish/Protestant Bible. Thus, we do not know if Josephus accepted or rejected Esther. Moreover, Josephus’ division of the twenty two books differs from the later three-fold division, in particular with regard to the contents of the Hagiographa in B. Bat 14b-15a. A detailed response to a variety of arguments put forth by Beckwith are to be found in:

Lee. M. McDonald, The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Revised and Expanded Edition, 1995, Hendrickson Publishers.

Moving on to the evidence of miracles, Hays writes:

    “Regarding the evidence of miracles, when we go to this link, only three or four miracles are even cited from the Koran in connection with Muhammad: the splitting of the moon, his night journey, and his “ascension.”

    This skimpy material is padded with extensive quotes from the Hadith.

    i) The wording of all three “miracles” is very vague, which is why it has to be glossed by the Hadith.

    But why should we rely on the Hadith to fill in the gaps?”

Here is the link in question: http://www.geocities.com/noorullahwebsite/miracles.html

The Quran is not a book “about” Muhammed (P) as the gospels are books about Jesus (P). The purpose of the Quran is not to produce a detailed listing of miracles performed by Prophet Muhammed (P), to produce a list of his statements, or to narrate his life, since it is not a biography type of book devoted to the life of Muhammed (P). It is a message and a call from God to humanity to accept One God and worship Him alone. In order to convey this message, the Quran reminds the readers about incidents of the past and extracts from them certain moral lessons which we should apply in our daily lives. Nonetheless, the fact that Muhammed (P) did do miracles is clearly acknowledged within the Quran and the reactions of the pagan witnesses are likewise presented – their false accusations of sorcery and magic for instance – although the details of the miracles are not discussed since that is not the purpose of the Quran. In order to find the details, we have at our disposal many authentic reports which go back to the eyewitnesses in an uninterrupted chain of transmission. Many of these authentic reports are presented in the above referred paper. Why does Hays want us to reject the testimony of authentic reports? The Quran is just one source of Islam, another source are the hadith. We are not restricted to one source.

In the case of the Bible, we have no testimony from eyewitnesses. Take Jesus (P) for instance, although as a Muslim I believe that Jesus (P) did perform miracles, we have no testimony at our disposal from any of the eyewitnesses. In the case of Muhammed (P), at the very least we have a number of authentic reports together with the detailed information about the actual transmitters from every stage of transmission. In short, so many people from different localities and in large numbers are reporting the individual reports of the different miracles performed by Muhammed (P) in all the stages of transmission that it becomes rather far-fetched to suppose that all of these people gathered together secretly in order to agree upon a lie. We have no such type of evidence in support of any miracles conducted by Jesus (P). Having said this, even though we have much better evidence in support of miracles performed by Muhammed (P), we cannot, however, conclusively prove without a shadow of a doubt that Muhammed (P) did perform those miracles since there is no way to “prove” the occurrence of alleged miracles that are said to have taken place thousands of years ago.

Hays writes:

    “If Rambo is going to reject the Bible unless it is directly revealed from start to finish, how can he lean on the Hadith, which is uninspired, much less divinely revealed?

    It is self-defeating to oppose his “revealed” Koran to the Bible when the Hadith has to supplement the Koran.

    If Rambo can’t get everything he needs straight from the Koran itself, then his appeal to the revealed word of Allah, as over against the Bible, is futile.”

Whether the hadith are inspired or not is entirely irrelevant to the discussion. I am using the authentic ahadith purely as historical reports which originated from eyewitnesses. That is to say, people witnessed an event, then they reported it to others, and the chain goes on until it reaches us. We can critically scrutinize the chains (isnad) and perform what is known as an “isnad-matn analysis” to determine the authenticity of these reports. Thus, their value and importance as historical sources does not diminish even if we may not regard them to be “inspired.”

Second, Muslims do generally accept the authentic ahadith to be inspired, although not in the same manner as the Quran. What are known as hadith Qudsia are certainly believed to be inspired, but again not exactly in the same way as the Quran is deemed to be inspired. But, as explained above, the issue of hadith inspiration is utterly irrelevant. Hays needs to explain why we should consider the testimony of eyewitnesses as worthless?

As for my rejection of the Bible, then I would advise Hays to stop distorting my position. I do not reject the Bible merely due to the fact that it is not directly revealed from start to finish, but because I see problems within it which makes it very unlikely for me to believe that it is “inspired,” at least fully or in an inerrant sense.

Hays then asks a series of questions:

    “ii) Assuming that these were miracles, where in the text does it say that Muhammad performed them?”

I am not sure what texts he is referring to, whether that of the Quran or the authentic ahadith presented in the paper. I am assuming the former. If so, then the acknowledgement of miracles by Muhammed (P) are to be found in passages presented here even though the details of miracles are found in a variety of authentic ahadith.

The passages refer to the opponents of Muhammed (P) who claimed he (P) was performing “sorcery” and “magic” and refers to the signs, or miracles, which were demonstrated in their presence which they dismissed with mockery. Compare this with the allegations of magic and sorcery being levelled towards Jesus (P) in the gospels.

    “iii) And where does it say that these were given to attest his prophetic claims?”

I don’t quite understand what he means by this. Logically, the purpose of miracles is to demonstrate to the people at large that the individual in question is being guided by God, thus, for to the attestation of his prophetic claims. To quote one verse:

“How shall God guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Messenger was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them?” (3:86)

Thus, clear signs, or miracles, from the Messenger (P) were shown to the people so that they would accept the faith, or as an attestation of the prophetic claims.

    “iv) Regarding the night journey, it is unclear from the Koranic text if this is an actual case of teleportation, or a vision.”

While there are some differences of opinion among scholars over this matter, the majority view is that it was an actual event where Muhammed (P) was miraculously taken to Jerusalem in one night. Nonetheless, for arguments sake, even if we dismiss this report, it still remains that there are many other authentic reports which narrate other miracles performed by Muhammed (P).

    “v) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that it’s the former, since the temple in Jerusalem no longer existed in the 7C, I agree with Rambo that it would indeed be a miracle for Muhammad to visit a nonexistent temple.

    So how, exactly, did this work? Did Allah miraculously restore the Temple for one night, then miraculously destroy it again after Muhammad had seen it?

    If this passage is to be taken literally, then it’s clearly an historical anachronism.”

These “objections” expose Hays’ sever ignorance since the Quran mentions “masjid”, not a “temple.” A Masjid is a place of prostration, prayers, and worship whether a building exists or not. The area in question is regarded as a “masjid,” a place that is holy.

It is clear that Hays has no intention of having a discussion with an open mind.

See:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Contrad/External/aqsa.html

    “vi) Likewise, was the alleged ascension a real event, or a vision? The Koranic text doesn’t say.”

According to the majority of scholars and commentators, this was a real event and not just a vision. Nonetheless, even if we regard it to be a vision, it remains that there are many other examples of miracles performed by Muhammed (P), which are listed in the above link.

    “vii) There’s an even emptier statement in surah 3:86, devoid of any specifics.”

There is nothing “empty” here. The passage makes mention of signs/miracles in general without specifying them. Thus, we have a clear acknowledgement of the occurrence of miracles and how the pagans denied them. The details of a variety of miracles are noted in the historical reports of the eyewitnesses and not within the Quran since, as I explained above, the Quran is not a book about Muhammed (P).

Now we move on to the evidence of prophecy.

    “Regarding the evidence of prophecies, when we go to this link, all we’re treated to are a few hortatory predictions in which Muhammad says he will defeat his enemies.

    Of course, the winners always predict victory, and being the winners, what they say is true. That’s true of Muhammad. It’s equally true of Churchill, FDR, and Urban II, to name a few.

    Pres. Bush predicted the defeat of the Taliban, followed by the defeat of Saddam Hussein. He was right. Is he a prophet?”

Here is the link which Hays does not wish you to see:

http://www.geocities.com/noorullahwebsite/shamoun-false.html

It is simply false to say that this page contains a “few hortatory” predictions about the defeat of enemies. Yes, there are correct predictions about the defeat of enemies, but many other predictions are also presented, such as for instance, the conquest of Constantinople, Syria and other regions, which occurred long after the death of Muhammed (P), accurate predictions about the different hardships faced by Muslims soon after the passing away of Muhammed (P), accurate predictions of the manner of death of individuals such as Fatima (R), Uthman (R), Umar (R), Ali (R), and others. Moreover, even the predictions of victories in battles, which occurred in the lifetime of Muhammed (P), were made at a time when hardly anyone seriously believed that Muslims would win due to the huge odds against them. This is very different from the “prediction” of victory by the head of a superpower (Bush) against his vastly inferior (numerically, quality wise, training, fire power etc) opponents (Taliban and Saddam).

Many more accurate prophecies are to be found here:

http://www.iqra.net/Hadith/Prophecies.htm

http://www.islam4all.com/chapter15.htm

Hays says:

    “This is scarcely comparable to Biblical prophecy, where highly unlikely outcomes are forecast hundreds of years in advance of the fact.”

It is very easy to make such mighty proclamations in support of ones own scripture. Notice the unwillingness on Hays’ part to demonstrate this exagerrated assertion by way of proof and evidence. He just wants us to take his word for it. Anyone can make such vague and general claims in support of their scripture.

Just imagine the one line arrogant, rude, and sarcastic comment Hays would have blurted out had I made this proclamation about the Quran.

I do, however, agree with Hays that the examples of prophecy in the Quran are scarcely comparable to the ones we find in the Bible, but for a very different reason. In contrast to the Quran, what we find in the Bible are mostly “prophecies” after the event and a few hortatory “predictions” comparable to Bush’s “prediction” of the defeat of the Taliban and Saddam (was Bush “inspired” like the Biblical writers?). Unlike Hays, I will not bore you quoting claims along such lines lifted from polemical online anti-Christian writings. I will quote a foremost authority on the Bible. Consider the following quotes (bold mine):

Though the prophets did speak in advance of certain future events, many of their forecasts were vague rather than precise, many were conditional rather than deterministic, and it was by no means agreed that the ability to predict the future was an infallible sign of a true prophet.

(p. 104)

…it was understood that the prophets could and did speak in advance of events of the future, but such statements were usually in reference to a future not very distant and they were commonly conditional rather than absolute.

(p. 107)

It is not the case that prediction is possible only with supernatural aid or guidance. Prediction is not a wonder or a miracle. People do it all the time. A number of the predictions which Old Testament prophets make could have been made by a capable newspaper columnist of the period.

(p. 102)

… even where prophets have made future-related statements, these statements, as we have amply shown above, are conditional and liable to modification

(p. 103)

Where specific and detailed statements about the future are made, within the prophetic books these are in vast majority fairly short-term: the death of a king which would follow shortly … the expected capture of Tyre by Nabuchadnezzar … the punishment that will fall upon a city for its attrocities in war … the capture of Jerusalem by Nabuchadnezzar, expected by Jeremiah and actually following within a few years, or even the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, expected to follow at the end of seventy years – this figure doubtless because it would mean the passing of the entire generation of exiles. Few or no such passages imply the expectation of remote future events, hundreds of years later in a cultural situation like that of the Greco-Roman world, of which persons like Jeremiah had not the slightest inkling. Only in unusual and isolated cases, if at all, did the major prophets leave evidence of predictions about particular events or persons that would come to pass hundreds of years later.

(p. 101)

Here then we see how a passage that was not at all a prediction, and could not be taken as one if it was read in context, was nevertheless used by a New Testament writer as if it was a prediction.

(p. 99)

… in some cases the existence of an Old Testament passage may be a factor in generating a New Testament story or in guiding and directing the way in which it is expressed.

(p. 100)

Of course, the winners always predict victory, and being the winners, what they say is true. That’s true of some Biblical writers. It’s equally true of Churchill, FDR, and Urban II, to name a few.

After going through the above citations, it sure seems that Hays has confused the Bible with the Quran, or that looming in his subconcious mind are the many problems associated with Bible “prophecies”, causing him to project its problems upon the Quran.

These citations have been extracted from: James Barr, Escaping from Fundamentalism, 1984, SCM Press Ltd.: London.

Prof. Barr, who passed away only recently, was a recognized authority on the Bible and one of the most influential scholars in the field. This was no mere polemicist, or someone who can be casually ignored and dismissed. However, and my prediction will be likely correct, Hays will dismiss Barr with his usual ranting of “liberal! liberal! evil! evil!” and will quote fellow inerranists who, like him, will proclaim that the Bible contains amazing mind-boggling predictions, expecting us to endorse these claims immediately.

On the issue of “prophecy” within the Bible and particularly the use of the Old Testament by the authors of the New, there are many serious problems and questions one has to face up to. This is a highly controversial subject, with scholars, with the exception of inerranist and some conservatives of course, recognising the difficult problems.

What should be noted here is Hays’ utter unwillingness to discuss seriously, honestly and with an open mind, the subjects under considerations. He is arguing with deep-seated presuppositions, and the unwillingness to grant the possibility that he might be wrong. Throughout we will find him dismissing what I bring up by distorting the data or in a casual off-hand manner. This treatment can be very easily extended onto the Bible. I am sure Christians would not appreciate the Bible being “discussed” and “refuted” in such a style.

If Hays gets the courage to bring forth a few examples of supposed “accurate prophecies” from the Bible, then I can assure you that I would easily “deal” with them in exactly the same manner and, in fact, even more vigorously with the aid of scholarly sources.

Finally, here is another piece of evidence used by Muslims to support the inspiration of the Quran:

http://www.examinethetruth.com/Debate_Video.htm

This is a debate between a leading Muslim and Christian scholar who debate the evidence in the open. Why not listen to it and judge for yourself?

See also the presentation and discussion of more evidences here.

I will now move on to another issue. Hays writes:

    “Moving along:
      “According to Hays, my statement is ‘muddle’, but according to his Evangelical and conservative friend, Mr. Chris…”

    This is a diversionary tactic. My debate is not with Chris, but with Rambo.”

This is not a “diversion tactic” because I am rightfully pointing out serious differences of opinion among conservative Christian apologists themselves on a crucial matter. According to one conservative Christian, I summed up the Christian understanding of the New Testament “pretty well, maybe even better than many Christians would do it” whereas according to another, I presented nothing more than a “muddle.” Who is right?

Hays writes:

    “If you want a representative spokesman for the conservative Evangelical position, start with Warfield, Works, vol. I. Or read Carl Henry’s six-volume magnum opus: God, Revelation, & Authority. Or read the various installments issued by the International Council for Biblical Inerrancy, or “Inerrancy,” edited by Norman Geisler, or “God’s Inerrant Word,” edited by J. W. Montgomery.”

These are not the only “representatives” of conservative Evangelical position and, certainly not, the representatives of the position adopted by mainstream Christians, which is non-inerranist. Within conservatives themselves we come across plenty of calls for a non-inerranist view of Scripture. For example, consider Craig A. Evans recent book, “Fabricating Jesus,” which speaks against inerrancy, or the view propounded in “Inspiration and Incarnation” by the Evangelical conservative Prof. Peter Enns.

The likes of Warfield and Geisler are really not representatives of a notable segment of Christians, but representatives of a very outdated view endorsed by a small proportion of Christians today.

      “Mr. Hays says that all of scripture (=the Bible, although we are not told which particular collection of books) is inspired.”

    “Answer: the Protestant canon of Scripture.”

I can picture in mind many scholars laughing at this silly comment. A canon alien to the Christian communities of the first centuries of Christianity!

      “Fine, but what reason is there to suppose that the New Testament writings are inspired, especially in light of the fact that the earliest Christians did not generally view the New Testament writings – whatever writings they were aware of – as ‘Scripture’?”

    “Actually, they did view the NT writings as Scripture. That’s why the NT scriptures were copied and collated, why they were woven into the liturgy and lectionary, why they were cited as prooftexts, and so on.”

Copying a text does not follow that the copier necessarily considers it to be “inspired Scripture” and quoting its contents as “proof-texts” also does not follow that the text is deemed inviolable and “holy.” Texts which are treated as no more than historical records can be cited as proof-texts and copied. Did the early Christians deem every writing they copied and cited, including writings of Josephus, as “inspired Scripture”? I doubt that. Moreover, appeal to the lectionary/liturgical system does not work since the date of the introduction of the lectionary system is itself problematic – perhaps the late second century or, more probably some time later than the fourth century. According to the Alands:

It is very difficult to imagine a lectionary system based on a full New Testament canon “in the late second century” (even without Revelation, of course, and a few other minor exceptions). Even in the fourth century it would still be problematic. Only then did most of the Catholic letters become commonly accepted in the Church (with more or less hesitation), 38 and it must have taken several more generations before they could be integrated in a system of liturgical pericopes, accepted on a par with the traditional Scriptures of the Church. This suggests that even a fourth-century date for the origin of a lectionary system is doubtful.

[Kurt Aland, Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 1989, Second Edition, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 167]

When I mention the earliest Christians, I am referring to the Christians up to around the mid-second century. They did not generally view the New Testament writings known to them as “scripture.” I do, however, believe that by the late second century, the New Testament writings began increasingly to be viewed as “Scripture.” But this was not generally the case before this period (Polycarp, probably, being an exception).

Hays is not aware of the fact that many Evangelical and conservative scholars would not agree with his claim either. Let me quote one of the leading modern Evangelical apologist, Craig Blomberg, who has this to say about the apostolic fathers:

The apostolic fathers all quote the Old Testament as authoritative Scripture, often in great detail. They also include frequent references to the teachings of the New Testament, though only rarely with a specific introduction labelling them as Scripture . . . Although the written documents of the New Testament quickly began to assume an authoritative position in the early church, even in the first half of the second century, Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis, could claim that he trusted the oral tradition delivered to him by the successors of Christ’s apostles more than any written texts . . .

[Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, 1987, Inter-Varsity Press, p. 203]

Notice that when Blomberg says that the New Testament documents “quickly began” to assume an authoritative position, that logically suggests that these documents did not initially start off with this authoritative position. Some time elapsed before they were looked upon as “Scripture” and elevated to a higher level. In other words, only gradually did the status of the New Testament writings elevate to the level of “Scripture.”

Perhaps Hays will now argue that Blomberg is a heretic? How about Metzger? Metzger puts it even more strongly that the earliest Christians did not view the New Testament writings as “Scripture.”

Moving on:

      “As Shabir Ally rightly corrected James White in the debate, 2 Tim 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:19-21 only refer to the inspiration of the Jewish Bible – the scope of which we don’t know.”

    “i) We do know the scope of the Jewish canon. Read Beckwith.”

Which exact canon and which exact number of books did the authors of 2 Timothy and 2 Peter have in mind? What was their scope of the “Bible?”

We don’t, in fact, know the scope and exact contents of the canon of the New Testament writers, read Lee Martin McDonald (reference given above) for details.

Certainly, Beckwith makes a detailed argument in support of the closure of the Jewish canon, but his views have come under a lot of criticism in the past and there is much difference of opinion among scholars regarding this matter. However, Christian and Jewish scholars generally agree that the precise scope of the Jewish Bible in the first century, at least among the Christians for sure, was unclear and unsettled. To quote the late conservative Protestant scholar J. N. D. Kelly:

In the first two centuries at any rate the Church seems to have accepted all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture. Quotations from Wisdom, for example, occur in 1 Clement 1 and Barnabas 2, and from 2 (4) Esdras and Ecclesiasticus in the latter. 3 Polycarp 4 cites Tobit, and the Didache 5 Ecclesiasticus. Irenaeus refers to 6 Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon and Baruch. The use made of the Apocrypha by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria is too frequent for detailed references to be necessary.

[J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 1978, Revised Edition, Harper & Row Publishers, p. 54]

    “ii) What we have in 2 Tim 3:16 and 2 Pet 1:19-21 are categorical statements, of which the NT would be a special case. They lay down the criteria. Inspiration is the criterion of Scripture.”

Both these passages refer only to the status of the Jewish writings – even though we do not know precisely which and how many writings these authors had in mind. These passages have absolutely nothing to say about the status of any New Testament document.

      “As for John 14, I don’t see where the author claims to be writing under “inspiration.” Perhaps Mr. Hays can offer the precise passage so we may attempt to study it.”

    “Jn 14 & 16 promise the coming of the Holy Spirit to inspire the Apostles after Jesus returns to heaven.”

So, as I correctly noted before, the author of John does not claim to be writing an “inspired” and “inerrant” “Scriptural” document. Moreover, what does it mean when you say “to inspire the Apostles?” Does that mean to inspire them to literally write something?

      “And what so-called ‘authoritarian’ claims of Paul suggest that he believed he was writing ‘Scripture’ or an ‘inerrant inspired’ letter?”

    “Read Warfield.”

This is a very unreasonable “response.” Hays wants me to scavenge through Warfield’s numerous writings to locate the references which supposedly demonstrate his assertion. But he cannot, for some odd reason, just present the presence evidence to us.

In the same vein, I will ask him to read Metzger (conservative), Lee Martin McDonald, Barton, Koester, John Drane (conservative) and Fredrick Kenyon. I have other names in mind as well, but these will suffice for now.

      “More importantly, just because a New Testament writer claims to be inspired, it does not follow that he is really inspired.”

    “i) Likewise, just because Muhammad claims to be a prophet, it does not follow that he really is a prophet.”

I AGREE!!

I never claimed o argued that Muhammed (P) was a prophet because he claimed to be a prophet. For some reason Hays has convinced himself that this is my position even though I have not presented this argument. Or perhaps Hays simply desires this to be my view so he can then invest his energies to “refute” it?

Such a lame circular argument, that the New Testament is inspired because some of its writers allegedly claim inspiration, has been used by none other than James White (in his debate with Shabir Ally, where he referred to 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:19-20).

Hays continues:

    “ii) In dialoguing with a Muslim, a Christian is under no burden to prove the inspiration of the Bible. For Muhammad himself bore witness to the revelatory character of the Old and New Testament scriptures.”

The problem with this “argument” is that Hays misrepresents the position adopted by the Quran and Islamic sources. Furthermore, he also contradicts himself because earlier he acknowledged that the corruption of the Jewish scripture was mentioned within the Quran. Hays wrote (bold mine):

    “i) To my knowledge, Muhammad, in the Koran, never accuses the Christians of corrupting the text of the NT. At most, he accuses the (or some) Medinan Jews of corrupting the text of the OT.

I will get to the New Testament in a while, but do note the, albeit hesitant, acknowledgement above according to which the Jews were at least accused by the Quran of corrupting the text of the Old Testament.

But now all of a sudden wuff…Hays takes a U-turn. Why?

Hays believes that the Quran endorses the New Testament writings (and now the Old as well) not because he has seriously researched the issue, but simply because he came across polemical Christian writings online making such arguments. For Hays every claim and argument such sources present must be correct.

Note also that my question has gone by unanswered: why should we presume that the New Testament is “inspired” given the fact that it does not appear to be “special” on a prima fascia level, containing grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and a variety of linguistic confusions and awkwarnesses? Why should we presume that writers who make such mistakes could not make any other conceivable error imaginable and that they were “inerrant?”

Hays cannot reply to this question without dragging in the Quran.

Hays writes:

      “Mr Hays does not explain where the New Testament allegedly takes the Jewish Bible as “its model of inspiration and revelation.” He is merely assuming what he needs to demonstrate.”

To the above, which was in response to an assertion made by Hays himself, he replies:

    “i) Once again, when in dialogue with a Muslim, the onus is not on the Christian to prove the NT, but on the Muslim to disprove the Bible without disproving Muhammad at the very same time.”

Perhaps in goofy land that is the case, but not in the real world. In the real world, the onus is on the one making the assertion/claim. Hays’ distortion and misrepresentation of the Muslim position does not change this reality.

Disproving the Bible does not disprove Muhammed (P) since Muhammed (P) did not state that any particular book within the Bible or any writing in the hands of the Jews and Christians is “inerrant.”

    “ii) Rambo also needs to understand how the apostolate and its deputies function in analogy to the OT prophets.

    One starting-point would be R. Laird Harris, Inspiration& Canonicity (A Press 1995).”

In such a discussion you are required to make at least some attempts to bring forth your argument and evidence so that we may see how you arrived at some of your conclusions.

      “Moreover, did Matthew and Luke really deem Mark as inspired sacred and inerrant “Scripture” bearing in mind the way they used Mark during the composition of their own gospels?”

    “Their use of Mark is analogous to the Chronicler’s use of Samuel-Kings. What’s the problem?”

Here is the problem:

. . . neither evangelist liked Marks’s redundancies , awkward Greek expressions, uncomplimentary presentation of the disciples and Mary, and embarrassing statements about Jesus. When using Mark, both expanded the Marcan accounts in the light of postresurrectional faith.

[Raymond E. Brown, S.S, An Introduction To The New Testament, 1997, The Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, p. 115]

R. M. Grant, states:

It is obvious that neither Matthew nor Luke regarded the gospel as fully satisfactory, for while they incorporated most of it in their own writings they did not hesitate to improve its style, its arrangement and its theological ideas. Clement of Alexandria himself quoted from Mark in his lost, early Hypotyposes and in his sermon on wealth (of uncertain date), but he made no use of it in his major writings.

[Robert M. Grant, A Historical Introduction to the New Testament]

As Bruce Metzger also acknowledges, both Matthew and Luke alter Mark in a variety of ways and change its presentation and image of Jesus (P).

Besides this, as we read above, it is almost universally acknowledged that Matthew and Luke improved Mark’s Greek; his awkward sentences; rearranged the order of events within Mark; expanded Marcan accounts at times; worked upon its theological ideas etc. In light of such changes, it is quite clear that Matthew and Luke did not regard Mark to be “sacred inerrant inviolable Scripture”; thus their ease at altering its accounts.

In case Hays decides to cry again the “liberals! liberals!” mantra, the above is almost fully acknowledged by conservative scholars as well – that Matthew and Luke altered Marcan accounts in a variety of ways is not a “controversial” or a particularly disputed issue.

      “Why should we begin with the presupposition that such authors were ‘inspired’ and could make no errors whatsoever besides only the linguistic and grammatical ones? Surely, there is nothing to suppose that the authors of these writings were in anyway ‘special’ or ‘extraordinary.’ Thus, it is wrong to begin with the presupposition that these are “inspired” writings.”

Hays will never respond to this simple question. He has no choice but to again misrepresent the Muslim view:

    “i) One reason is that Muhammad himself made this a presupposition for Muslims.”

Muhammed (P) did not make this a presupposition for Muslims. So down goes this assertion.

    “ii) This is also moving into the general case for the inspiration of Scripture, which is a large topic with a large body of apologetic literature.”

In other words, he is saying that he cannot answer my simple question despite access to a “large body of apologetic literature.” Hays is not able to explain why we should begin with the presupposition that the New Testament writings are “inspired” given the fact that there is nothing “special” about them on a prima fascia level, that they appear very ordinary writings which, like most writings, contain grammatical mistakes, spelling mistakes, awkward sentences and so on.

Hays will again make an attempt to distort my position.

      “My argument is as follows: the types of grammatical errors and confusions I alluded to above do exist within these texts – whether they are the result of later scribes, the original authors, or both, it remains that they do exist within the texts. Thus, why should we suppose that such texts are “inspired” given their very ordinary nature?”

To the above he replies:

    “Rambo is still attempting to play both sides of the fence. He needs to argue for the radical corruption of the NT text in order to harmonize the Bible with the Koran—especially given the favorable statements made by Muhammad early in his career.”

First, I do not believe that Muhammad (P) made “favourable” statements about something known as the “New Testament” in any part of his career. Hence there is no reason for me to do any “harmonising” of the Quran and the Bible.

Second, I have not argued for the “radical” corruption of the New Testament text. Hays is distorting my position and constructing a strawman yet again. Here is my statement in full which Hays deceptively left out (bold added, with some grammatical refinement):

“I do not believe that the extant New Testament manuscripts give us access to the text of the long lost autographs. The critical editions of the New Testament are merely working texts; they are not to be viewed as the “originals.” Nonetheless, at the same time, I also do not believe that the “original text” of the New Testament writings was radically different from the present restored versions. I believe that in the latest critical editions we have access to a form of the text which goes back to the mid-late second century and that this text is a close approximate to the “original.”

I have never argued for “radical” corruption.

Hays says:

    “But if he’s going to make that move, then he cannot impute error to the autographa, for if our copies are as corrupt as he needs to them to be to salvage Muhammad’s claim, then that face-saving expedient will, at the very same time, prevent him from imputing error to the autographa.”

All of these arguments are based on 1. a misrepresentation of the Muslim view of the earlier writings; 2. a deliberate distortion of my own view regarding the text of the New Testament.

If Hays had these points right, he would have been in no position to make these arguments.

Secondly, Hays’ argument is still illogical despite his distortion of my view. Even if I did state that the Bible is “radically” corrupted, to the extent that the “original text” and the form of the text found within the critical editions are radically different, what reason is there to still start off with the presupposition that the autographs “must have been” inerrant and “inspired”?

Hays’ argument appears to be that if we do not know what the “original text” looked like, or what the autographs looked like, then we cannot impute any errors to them and should, presumably, view them as inerrant!

Moving on…

      “Nothing here [surah 5:45-46] says that the writings in the hands of the Jews and Christians are 100% accurate, inspired or textually authentic. The passages are referring to the original revelations only. Yes, we do indeed believe that what was revealed upon Jesus (P) and Moses (P) was the truth.”

    “The problem with this evasive maneuver is that it cuts Muhammad off at the knees. For unless the original revelation was extant at the time he spoke, there’s no evidence that Muhammad’s message is a confirmation of what went before. Yet that’s an essential feature of his claim. How does a Muslim disprove the claims of Scripture without disproving the claims of Muhammad? That’s the dilemma.”

The evasive maneuver is only on Hays’ part. God is speaking in retrospect and explaining some of what was revealed in the Torah and declaring that the Gospel was a confirmation of it. This does not entail and neccessitate the “original revelation” being “extant” in Muhammad’s (P) time. In this instance, nothing is being said regarding any particular book in the hands of the Jews and the Christians in Muhammad’s (P) time – whether it be their authenticity or corruption.

The complete passage:

5:45-46

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.

Notice that the verses, in the past tense, specifically talks about the confirmation of “the Law”. The Quran gives an example of a part of “the Law” in the beginning of verse 45.

The “Gospel”, on the other hand, is described as something that was “revealed” to Jesus (P). It is not the New Testament, which was composed by different authors after Jesus (P) and consists of letters, an ancient history book, and apocalypse, and four ancient types of biographies of Jesus (P). There is no mention of these as “revelation” within the Quran.

In short, the verses have nothing to state with regards to the state of preservation, the corruption, and the alleged reliability of the writings in the possession of the Jews and the Christians.

Furthermore, no interpreters in the past, as far as I know, used these passages to conclude that the writings in the hands of the Jews and the Christians are entirely accurate and reliable. That is because the verses in question do not say this. Hays needs to explain to his readers why everyone should dismiss the natural interpretation of the passages and, instead, adopt an interpretation unique to him, which defies the natural and commonsensical meaning?

Moreover, it should be added that as for the Jewish and Christian writings, Muslims believe that they contain both truth and falsehood; a combination of both. This would also hold true for a variety of non-canonical writings and even oral traditions. We do not dismiss the possibility of their being truth within all of them, but none is accepted fully and neither does the Quran fully affirm any particular book in the hands of the Jewish and Christian communities – be it canonical or non-canonical.

To another verse misused by Hays:

      “Nothing here [5:65-66] says that what is in the hands of the Jews and Christians is 100% accurate, inspired or textually authentic. It is only said that the Jews and Christians did not abide by the revelations which were given to them, not that those revelations remained entirely intact. Moreover, despite the corruption, the Jewish and Christian writings still contain elements of truth within them as well.”

    “i) A nonsensical interpretation, for if the OT and NT were inaccurate, uninspired, or irremediably corrupt by that time, there would be nothing for the Jews and Christians to abide by.”

On the contrary, as before, Hays is the one articulating nonsense.

5:65-66

If only the People of the Book had believed and been righteous, We should indeed have blotted out their iniquities and admitted them to gardens of bliss.

If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil.

First, the verse is not talking about the state of preservation of the books in the possession of the Jews and Christians in Hijaz or any other location during the time of Muhammad (P). The revelations as originally revealed are mentioned, together with the fact that their teachings/commands were not obeyed. And IF the people had adhered to their instructions, then they would have been granted paradise. This is referring to the people much before the time of Muhammed (P). The Quran is speaking in the past tense and looking at the situation in retrospect.

Consider a similar example, in 6:84-88 God mentions a long list of prophets then says: { But if they had joined in worship others with Allah, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them }

The above verse stresses the fact that if they had been guilty of joining others in worship with God, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them. We come across the same meaning when we read: { If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side } …

Second, we do believe that the writings now in the hands of the Jews and the Christians are not entirely unreliable or false, but that they also contain remnants of the original revelations therein and truth. The truth is mixed with falsehood/non-revealed elements. This is the Muslim view.

Moreover, “the Gospel” is not the “New Testament” – which is a collection of individual letters, biographical type of books on Jesus (P), an apocalypse and a history book (Acts). The Quran refers to “the Gospel”, or, the “Injil”, as a Scripture that was revealed to Jesus (P) himself. Likewise, “the Law” cannot be used to refer to the “Old Testament”, which, again, consists of a very diverse collection of writings. I believe that part of the Law is preserved in the Jewish Bible and that parts of it may also be found scattered in non-canonical Jewish writings and traditions.

Hays writes:

    “ii) Also, Rambo offers no evidence of such widespread textual corruption.”

I did not argue for “radical” corruption so there is no need for me to offer “evidence” for it. My position is that textual corruption in the transmission of the New Testament has indeed taken place; no one can deny this. But that the present restored form of the text is likely to be a close approximate of the “original,” though not identicle to it in every respect.

As for the “evidence,” then its best to cite Metzger and Ehrman:

While no one would claim that theological controversies caused the majority of our hundreds of thousands of textual variants, they clearly engendered several hundred. Nor are these variant readings, taken as a whole, of little consequence. On the contrary, many prove to be critical for questions relating to the New Testament exegesis and theology.52

[Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text Of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 2005, Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press, p. 284]

So while the current restored form of the text would likely be a close approximate to the original, it also contains variations which are of exegetical significance. It is not correct to say that all of the textual variations are “inconsequential” or “unimportant.”

Moving on to the next Quranic verse misused by Hays:

      “We don’t read above [10:94] that the scriptures in the hands of the Jews and Christians are fully accurate or authentic.”

    “This is special pleading. Among his audience are those who doubted Muhammad’s prophetic claims. He then invites them to consult the Jews and the Christians.

    But if their copies of the Bible were inaccurate or inauthentic, then he’d hardly recommend the Jews and Christians to vouch for his message.”

He ignores my response and repeats his answered misinterpretation. Hays needs to engage with my responses instead of repeating himself like a parrot.

10:94 was quoted out of context. This is the only way Hays can make “arguments” – by ripping passages out of their contexts and giving them new meanings (perhaps taking his inspiration from Matthew’s use of the Old Testament?) Hays conveniently ignored the verses coming before and after. Here is the full context:

We settled the Children of Israel in an honourable dwelling place and provided for them sustenance of the best: It was after knowledge had been granted to them, that they fell into schisms. Verily Allah will judged between them as to the schisms amongst them, on the day of judgement.

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 HAD INDEED COME TO THEE FROM THY LORD: SO BE IN NO WISE OF THOSE IN DOUBT.

NOR BE OF THOSE WHO REJECT THE SIGNS OF ALLAH, OT THOU SHALT BE OF THOSE WHO PERISHED.

Notice that it has absolutely nothing to say regarding the status of the writings in the hands of the Jews and Christians of the time. Instead, if we start reading from verses 70 and onwards, we note that the Quran refers to two specific issues:

    1. the fate of the people who denied and disobeyed Moses (P);

    2. the fate of the people who denied and disobeyed the prophet Noah (P).

In this context, the Quran refers to the rescue of the Children of Israel from Egypt through God’s help and relates what happened to the Egyptians who tried to stop them. Similarly, about Noah, we are informed how the people who accepted his message were saved by God.

After relating these two specific incidents, the Quran then directs a rhetorical or hypothetical statement, or a challenge, towards the ones who may doubt these specific events:

ask the Jews and the Christians about these incidents if anyone doubts since even they would not be able to deny them. That is to say that what has just been related about these aforementioned prophets and their people is so well known that even the Jews and the Christians would affirm what the Quran just related.

Immediately thereafter, the Quran informs the doubters authoritatively not to be in doubt since the truth has indeed come from God.

I ask, where do we find here any reference to the textual status of the Jewish and Christian writings? NO WHERE. Let Hays respond to this instead of wasting his and my time repeating his answered distortion.

Moreover, even though we do not accept entirely the claims made within the different books of the Bible, including the non-canonical writings, that does not mean that everything within them is false. For instance, the books of the Bible, which relate the stories of Moses (P) and Noah (P), do indeed inform us about how the followers of Moses (P) were miraculously taken out of Egypt, how the followers of Noah (P) were miraculously saved on the Ark, and how the opponents of these prophets were defeated by God.

Now to the last and final passage misused by Hays:

    “Rambo then tries to paraphrase surah 29:46 as follows:

      “Yes, we do believe in the revelation that came down to the Jews and Christians through Moses (P) and Jesus (P), but we do not believe that the writings in the hands of the Jews and Christians are entirely intact, inspired and authentic.”

    He must resort to a paraphrase since the actual wording of 29:46 doesn’t draw the distinctions he’s interposing into the text.”

This is another example of Hays’ deception since I cited the passage in full and only then commented upon it. I did not merely present a “paraphrase.”

Here is what I said in full:

The final passage:

29:46

    And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, “We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam).

Yes, we do believe in the revelation that came down to the Jews and Christians through Moses (P) and Jesus (P), but we do not believe that the writings in the hands of the Jews and Christians are entirely intact, inspired and authentic.”

Let’s look at Hays’ weird “interpretation”:

    “This is the text, in the translation, as Rambo quotes it:

      “And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, ‘We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam).’”

    Notice, once again, how this makes nonsense of Rambo’s paraphrase.

    For if the text of the Bible in Muhammad’s time was, indeed, uninspired or inauthentic or so corrupt that you couldn’t tell which from which, then obviously a Muslim would have good reason to dispute with the Jews and Christians.

    In fact, that’s exactly what Rambo is doing right now. He is disregarding the express command of 29:46. He is disputing with us!

    And that’s because his own presupposition is the polar opposite of 29:46.”

These comments only show that Hays is the one full of nonsense.

1. Nothing is being said about the text of the “Bible” possessed by the Jews and the Christians during Muhammad’s (P) time. Nothing is being said about their state of preservation or lack thereof. It is only said that we (Muslims) believe in the revelation that came down before. This is no secret. We do believe what was revealed prior to the Quran. This is a statement of faith.

2. Hays articulates nonsense when he says, “…that’s exactly what Rambo is doing right now. He is disregarding the express command of 29:46. He is disputing with us!” Hays lacks the ability to understand the following:

    “And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, EXCEPT WITH MEANS BETTER . . . “

Disputation IS PERMITTED if done in a sober/polite/considerate manner. Disputation is not forbidden in toto. How on earth did Hays manage to misread so simply sentences in such a drastic manner?

Far from allegedly commanding the Muslims not to ever dispute or have dialogues with the Christians, the passage only says to have discussions in a good and courteous manner! Notice it says “And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, EXCEPT with means better…” which means in a polite and good manner. As far as I know, this is how all commentators of the Quran understood the passage. Consider another translation of the same passage:

Do not argue with the People of the Book EXCEPT WITH COURTESY . . .

[Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali, A Thematic Commentary On The Qur’an, 2000, International Institute Of Islamic Thought, p. 429]

Let me quote one giant in Quranic commentary, Ibn Kathir:

What is meant here is that anyone who wants to find out about religion from them should ARGUE with them IN A MANNER THAT IS BETTER, AS THIS WILL BE MORE EFFECTIVE.

[Tafsir Ibn Kathir Abridged translation, Vol. 7, p. 495]

So, there is no command in the passage prohibiting Muslims from ever arguing, disputing and having discussions and dialogues with the Jews and Christians. The only requirement is that this should be done in a good manner, with politeness and courtesy. That’s all.

This is the command which I also try to follow.

The Quran calls upon Muslims to have discussions with the Jews and Christians in order to invite them to Islam:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching… 16:125

So, Hay’ arguments very badly backfires upon him on this instance. Note that he argued, albeit wrongly, that since Muslims are supposedly commanded by the Quran not to ever dispute with the people of the book, it follows that their writings are reliable in their entirety according to the Quran. To quote Hays again (bold added):

    “For if the text of the Bible in Muhammad’s time was, indeed, uninspired or inauthentic or so corrupt that you couldn’t tell which from which, then obviously a Muslim would have good reason to dispute with the Jews and Christians.”

Since we now know that the Quran DOES PERMIT dispute, dialogue, debate, discussion etc – albeit in a good/polite manner – with the Jews and the Christians, it follows, as per Hays’ logic, that the writings in the hands of the Jews and Christians cannot be entirely reliable ACCORDING TO THE QURAN.

It would be quite dishonest if Hays now tries to change his argument and wiggle his way out of this new problem. As he says, if disputation was permitted, then corruption would be implied. Now that it is shown that the Quran allows for discussion/debate/disputes to take place, the logical conclusion should be that this is permitted because the books of the Jews and Christians are not deemed entirely reliable.

Moreover, this takes us back to my primary argument: the Quran itself time and time again disputes and argues against many of the claims made by the Christians which they have derived from within the books in their possession. By disputing the claims of the Christians, it becomes clear that the writings of the Christians cannot be accurate and fully reliable ACCORDING TO THE QURAN.

Hays proceeds:

    “Since he presumes that the text of Scripture is corrupt, he can’t say “our God is your God.””

This is even more nonsense. First, I do not innocently and naively “presume” that the Biblical text is corrupt; the textual corruption of the Bible is a reality and fact that we must all face. The evidence is overwhelming to deny corruption. The only disagreement among scholars is over the extant of corruptions.

Second, that “our God is your God” is tied or related to the issue of textual integrity. No matter how corrupt the text is, the Jews and the Christians, nonetheless, still acknowledge to worship One God. The two are entirely unrelated issues.

Yes, the Biblical text is corrupt, but the Jews still worship one God and our God is their God. I would say the same, although hesitatingly (in light of the Christian Trinitarian conception of God), about the Christians, that our God is their God since they still worship one God despite the corruption of their writings and for following non-inspired writings. This is an example of one common point between us, the worship of One God, although with differing understandings of this same One God. This is not disproved by the fact that the Bible is corrupt.

    “Moving along:

      “The Quran no where states that what the Jews and Christians have in their hands is 100% authentic or reliable. Instead, the Quran directly deals with the theological beliefs propounded by the Christians and dismisses them. For instance, the divine sonship of Jesus (P) is denied by the Quran; the Trinity is denied; Jesus (P) being God is denied; the crucifixion is denied and other examples can be offered where certain Christian beliefs are denied by the Quran. Logically, if a person proclaims and affirms such beliefs, then he is wrong according to the Quran. Likewise, if a writing proclaims or affirms such beliefs, then it, and its author of course, is also wrong according to the Quran.”

    Several problems:

    i) The Koran makes conflicting claims about the Jews and the Christians.”

What conflicting claims? Any examples? As usual he only makes assertions and leaves it at that.

    “ii) If Jesus wasn’t crucified, then he didn’t rise from the dead. So, in order to square the Bible with the Koran, Rambo would have to claim that all references to the Crucifixion and Resurrection were interpolated into the text of the NT sometime thereafter.

    What is his text-critical and church-historical evidence for such an immensely ambitious conspiracy theory?”

This is another massive distortion of my position. Hays is not interested to know what I actually believe and say; he seems more eager to forge arguments on my behalf and invest time “refuting” them.

I have no desire whatsoever to “square” the Bible with the Quran. The references to the crucifixion and the resurrection are more than likely to be an integral part of the canonical gospels and other Christian documents which mention them. These are not later “interpolations.” The authors of the gospels for instance, did say something about the resurrection and the crucifixion. The Muslim argument is that THESE VERY BOOKS ARE WRONG in making these claims. These books are not “revelation” or the “Injil” mentioned by the Quran – described as being revealed to Jesus (p) and being taught/preached by him (p).

Note, our argument is that none of the books in the hands of the Christians are “the Gospel” or “the Injil” which is mentioned in the Quran, though they may certainly contain remnants of the original and historically reliable information as well. Thus, even if we accept their textual authenticity, it does not mean that they are “inspired,” “revealed,” or the Injil described within the Quran.

Regarding the crucifixion, the Quran says:

4:157

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not . . .

The Christians follow the New Testament writings in which they get the story of the crucifixion, and the Quran calls it “conjecture.” The Quran’s Author is aware that Christians believed that Jesus (p) was crucified. But He denies this claim as “conjecture.” Similarly, the Christians read in their writings and traditions that Jesus (P) was “the Son of God,” the Quran denies this as being totally false, being aware that this is what Christians believe, preach and say about Jesus (P). Thus, the books themselves contain false pieces of information. Similarly, there are also certain claims within the Jewish and Christian writings to which Muslims would have no objections whatsoever.

The point is that certain claims made regularly by Christians, which they naturally derived from their books and traditions, are outright denied and directly disputed by the Quran. Therefore, it is only logical to conclude that, according to the Quran, the writings in the very hands of the Christians were not entirely reliable and correct.

Hays says:

    “iii) Why couldn’t a Christian just as well allege that the original Koran taught the Crucifixion and Resurrection, deity of Christ, and Trinity, but it was later corrupted beyond all recognition?”

Well sure, a Christian is more than welcome to just go ahead and “just” make this assertion. So what? Why? I mean duh…

    “iv) Why would the Koran oppose all these Christian dogmas unless they were already attested in the NT during the time of Muhammad?”

Yes! The Author of the Quran is quite aware that Christians make these claims regularly and that these are their dogmas. Yet He then opposes them confidently and declares them to be wrong, conjecture and erroneous. From the logical and natural perspective, the book or books in the hands of the Christians could not have been entirely accurate and reliable according to the Quran since it disputes and denies many of their central claims – though not all of them.

Glad Hays is finally grasping the issue…

    “Or is Rambo going to say that they just so happened to be attested in NT copies belonging to 7C Christians residing in the Hijaz, but were absent in all copies elsewhere?”

No I am not alleging any such thing.

As has become rather obvious by now, Hays is woefully unfamiliar with the Muslim position and despite the fact that I always attempted to explain myself clearly, he still managed make a mess of things.

Moving on again:

      “I do not know what precise books the Christians of Hijaz had in this period. Based on some of their beliefs, which are not to be found in canonical Christian writings, it seems likely they followed another book, or books. Nothing much can be said in this regard with much certainty.”

    “Even if, for the sake of argument, they included some apocryphal books in their canon, this hardly means that they also excluded such core documents as the four gospels or the letters of Paul.”

Of course. I am not suggesting their complete exclusion or inclusion. I am just saying: we can’t be much certain. It would be a speculation to think precisely what book/s they possessed.

Nonetheless, for arguments sake, let’s say that they did posses at least some of the Pauline letters as well as some or all of the canonical gospels? So what? The Quran denies many of their central claims and teachings, so they cannot be entirely reliable and accurate according to the Quran. To quote Hays again (emphasis added):

“…if the text of the Bible in Muhammad’s time was, indeed, uninspired or inauthentic or so corrupt that you couldn’t tell which from which, then obviously a Muslim would have good reason to dispute with the Jews and Christians.

Similarly, not only does the Quran allow Muslims to dispute with the Jews and the Christians – albeit politely – the Quran itself denies and disputes many of the Christian claims and beliefs which they, obviously, derived from their books.

    “Indeed, that’s where they would get the crucifixion, resurrection, Trinity, &c. A Gnostic canon would never have a crucifixion or resurrection.”

Yes, I agree, although I am not sure about the Gnostic bit. Nonetheless, the important point to note is that the Quran disputes and denies all of the above referred claims.

Moving on:

    “Continuing:

    ***QUOTE***

      Nonetheless, I took a moment or two to think about what Mr Hays said. According to him, and quite rightfully so, the Quran disagrees with many of the key Christian doctrines, such as the crucifixion for instance. It is likely that the writings of the Christians of Hijaz, whatever they may have been, affirmed at least the crucifixion. Therefore, ACCORDING TO THE QURAN, their writings were wrong just as the people affirming such beliefs were also wrong. Thus, the Quran does not endorse the textual integrity of any particular writing within the hands of the Jews and Christians. As such, Mr Hays was quite wrong to assert that we need to presuppose the “inspiration” of the New Testament writings because the Quran supposedly affirms it. This assertion is baseless. The Quran deals with the beliefs propounded by the Christians, which they obviously derived from their books and traditions, and rejects many of them outright.

    ***END-QUOTE***

    Of course, this oversimplifies the Koranic data. On the one hand, early surahs affirm the Bible. On the other hand, later surahs disaffirm certain central Christian dogmas.”

Which “early surahs” allegedly “affirm” the Bible? He just makes an assertion and leaves it it that. And he again contradicts himself because, as noted before, Hays previously acknowledged that the textual corruption of the Jewish Bible was mentioned by the Quran.

Coming back to his baseless assertion: for example, which “early surahs” within the Quran supposedly “affirm” the “central Christian dogmas” and “later surahs” which “disaffirm” the previously “affirmed” central “Christian dogmas”?

Hays needs to present “early surahs” where the crucifixion, for instance, is “affirmed” and later surahs where it is “disaffirmed.” Similarly, he needs to present “early surahs” where the resurrection, Jesus’ (P) sonship, the Trinity and Jesus (P) dying as atonement for sins, for example, are “affirmed” and “later surahs” where these are “disaffirmed.” I am sure he would fail to present any such examples because, quite simply, none exist. Instead, the Christian dogmas, beliefs and claims, referred to above, have been consistently disputed, denied and rejected throughout the Quran.

    “The only consistent explanation is that Muhammad was simply confused.”

On the contrary, we have come to the inescapable conclusion that HAYS IS CONFUSED.

      “Coming to his question, the textual corruption and lack of reliability of the Christian writings is very clearly suggested within the Quran from the fact that many of the doctrines and claims made within these writings are head on dismissed and rejected by the Quran. Therefore, logically speaking, the author would not accept as authentic and reliable any person who affirms his rejected doctrines or any book which affirms his rejected doctrines. I think this is quite logical.”

    “It’s only logical if Muhammad was consistent. But that is not a logical inference from the totality of the Koranic witness.”

Do note that the call of “consistency” is being made by one who a little while ago admitted that the Quran mentioned the textual corruption of the Jewish Bible and who later suddenly took a U-turn and denied it.

Be that as it may, Hays again makes an assertion and does nothing more than that. At the very least, he acknowledges that what I said is indeed sensible “but only if” Muhammed (P) was consistent. In order to prove his (P) alleged “inconsistency,” Hays needs to carry out the impossible feat which I presented above:

Hays needs to present “early surahs” where the crucifixion, for instance, is “affirmed” and later surahs where it is “disaffirmed.”

He needs to present “early surahs” where the resurrection, Jesus’ (P) sonship, the Trinity and Jesus (P) dying as atonement for sins, for example, are “affirmed” and “later surahs” where these are “disaffirmed.”

Making empty assertions is not good enough.

He proceeds:

    “What is more logical is that Muhammad made mistaken claims about the Bible based on his garbled, hearsay knowledge of the Bible.”

What are these alleged “mistaken claims?” We are just expected to accept his assertions…

    “He was originally under the misimpression that what he was preaching was a republication of what the Jews and Christians already believed.”

Where? Proof? Evidence? Which exact “preaching?” Is this how arguments take place?

I suppose this is an indication that Hays really does not have anything worthwhile to say apart from wasting time in this manner.

He seems to be arguing that when the Quran denies the previously presented Christian beliefs and dogmas, it does so “mistakenly” believing that the Christians also denied them! And yet, in the Quran itself, it is the Christians who are condemned for saying that Jesus (P) is God, “the Son of God,” and it is the Christians who are condemned for believing that Jesus (P) was crucified, that he died for the sins as an atonement and so on!

    “When, however, he began to encounter resistance from the Jews and the Christians, he was forced to backpedal.

    And yet he couldn’t admit outright error without losing face.”

Hays is projecting his undesirable traits upon Muhammed (P). The inability to admit mistakes is Hays’ behaviour, which we have witnessed numerous times now.

And which alleged “error,” and on what topic/issue is he talking about? He makes no attempt whatsoever to present a shred of evidence for his fancy hypothesis. Let’s wait and see if Hays is willing to offer proof and evidence to substantiate his assertions in the future.

Thus, my original argument stands. The unreliability and inerrancy of the writings in the hands of the Christians is denied by the Quran. This can be seen since the Quran confidently disputes and rejects many of the central claims to be found within these writings.

      “I see no such “tension.” What is certainly confirmed in totality within the Quran are the original revelations revealed by God, such as the Torah, Injeel and Zaboor, in their original form. While the writings in the hands of the Jews and Christians may very well contain elements of the truth within them, they are no where said to be entirely authentic, correct and fully reliable.”

    “This is simply an ad hoc compromise. It has no textual basis in the Koran itself.”

It has textual basis as I demonstrated above. The Quran denies many of the claims, assertions and beliefs which are to be found in the writings in the hands of the Christians. Hays also supplied textual basis to support my statement in one weird moment (emphasis added):

if the text of the Bible in Muhammad’s time was, indeed, uninspired or inauthentic or so corrupt that you couldn’t tell which from which, then obviously a Muslim would have good reason to dispute with the Jews and Christians.

So, the Quran itself disputes and denies many of the teachings within the books in the hands of the Christians and it also encourages Muslims to have discussions and dialogues with the Christian, but in a good manner. This means that the Quran does not regard the writings in the possession of the Jews and Christians to be entirely reliable.

Moreover, it is always clear when the Quran is referring specifically to the original revelations.

Let me end this discussion by quoting Watt, a prominent Orientalist scholar, on this subject who wrote:

While it is stated that Jesus received from God a scripture called the Gospel (or Evangel – Injil), there is nothing to suggest that this was any more like our actual gospels in the New Testament than the tawrat received by Moses was like the actual Pentateuch. Indeed Muslims usually deny that our actual gospels are the book received by Jesus, since that consisted entirely of revelations from God and not of historical statements about Jesus.

[William Montgomery Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions And Misperceptions, 1991, Routledge, p. 24]

    “Rather, Rambo must manufacture extratextual distinctions and read them back into the Koran in order to save the reputation of his prophet.”

With a manufacturer like Hays, who even managed to manufacture fake “arguments” on my behalf, I really don’t see the need for any manufacturing.

Hays has consistently done the manufacturing of his desires and read them back into the Quran (not to mention his manufacturing when it comes to the Bible – 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:19-20 for instance). Moreover, it is Hays’ reputation which on the line, for distorting my position multiple times, for misinterpreting the Quranic passages, making baseless assertions, and for making erroneous and inconsistent comments highlighted above.

I am very eagerly looking forward to his new set of evasion maneuvers since that will give me another opportunity to expose his distortions in detail.

Finally, Hays also does not bother to make any attempt to defend his erroneous comments pertaining to Bart Ehrman. He had erroneously denied that Prof. Ehrman is the co-author of the Metzger’s latest edition of “The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration.” Of course, this does not come as a surprise in light of the fact that many other parts of my initial response were also totally ignored.

In the near future I will write something on Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman to respond to some of the Evangelical polemics and deceptions.

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