Have the Christian Scriptures Changed?
“The Qur’ān teaches that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures were changed”
In several places, the Qur’ān criticizes the Jews (not Christians) for how they misuse their scriptures, accusing them of perverting ( حُيَرِّفُونَهُ – 2:75), concealing (6:61, 2:140) twisting their tongues when they read ( يَلْؤنَ السِنَتَهُم – 3:78) and even changing the words from their right places ( حُيَرِّفُونَ الكَلِمَ عَنْ مَوَاضِعِهِ – 5:12-14) when they quote scripture. For example:
And lo! there is a party (فَرِيق) of them who distort the Scripture with their tongues, that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture. And they say: It is from Allah, when it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly. (Al-‘Imran 3:78)
However, the Qur’ān never once says that the written text has been modified, nor that the original scriptures are different than those today. Instead, the Qur’ān says a lot of very positive things about the Jewish and Christian scriptures:
“Let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel” (Sura Maidah 5:47)”Say: O People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.” (Sura Maidah 5:68)
“If you doubt what We have revealed to you, ask those who have read the Scriptures before you.” (Sura Yunus 10:94)
“None can change His Words” (Sura Al-An’am 6:115)
The only legitimate way to reconcile these two diverging Qur’ānic attitudes is actually found in the Qur’ān —the repeated assertion that there are two distinct factions (فَرِيق fariq ) or sections (طَاءِفَه Ta’ifa ) of Ahle-Kitab , the good and bad. The pious faction maintains their sacred scripture and follows it faithfully, while an evil faction teaches unscriptural doctrine and twists the meanings for their own benefit:
“Yet they are not all alike. Some of the People of the Book are an upright people.” (Al-Imran 3:113)And there are, certainly , among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the Verses of Allah for a little price , for them is a reward with their Lord.” (Al-‘Imran 3:199)
“We rewarded those true believers; many were evil-doers.” (57:27)
Using this Qur’ānic framework, we can differentiate the characteristics of these two groups:
-Untrustworthy, tight-fisted (3:74)
-Shamelessly break faith (3:75)
-Rebels and transgressors (3:112)
-Consumed with rage (3:120)
THEOLOGY & DOCTRINE:
-Believed God had a wife and thereby a carnal God-son (Sura 6:101, 72:3); they say “God has taken (borne) a son” (10:68)
-They believed in three separate gods: Jesus, Mary and Allah (5:116). They say God is one of three (5:73)
-They think they can control God’s grace (57:29)
-They discriminate against Abraham, Ishmael, `Īsāac, Jacob, Moses and the Jews.
ATTITUDE TO SCRIPTURE:
-Throw away the Book of God behind their back as though they didn’t know it (2:101)
-Knowingly say untruths of God (3:76)
-Knowingly conceal the truth (2:146)
-Ignorant of scriptures, they know nothing but wishful fancies and vague conjecture (2:79)
VIEW OF JESUS:
-They deny Jesus’ humanity (5:75) and claim that Jesus said, “Worship me instead of God” (3:79) and “Serve the angels and the prophets as your Gods”
ATTITUDE TO MUSLIMS:
-They do not love Muslims (3:119)
-Rejoice at Muslims’ harm (3:121)
-Enemies of Muslims (5:82)
|Pious, Good Faction||Heretical Bad Faction|
MORALITY:-Free from pride (5:83)-Trustworthy with lent gold (3:74)-Enjoin justice, forbid evil (3:113)-Vie with each other in piety (3:113)-Righteous (3:113)
-Compassionate and merciful (57:27)
THEOLOGY & DOCTRINE:-Believe in God and the Last Day (3:113)-They worship God and worship sometimes all night (3:113)-They instituted monasticism with good intent, but they did not observe it faithfully (57:27)-They have nothing to fear (5:69)-They will be rewarded at judgment (3:113)
|ATTITUDE TO SCRIPTURE:-Recite their scriptures (3:113)-Read it with the right reading (2:121)-Believe in them (2:121)-Judge by their scriptures (5:47)||VIEW OF JESUS:-Say Masih was God’s servant (4:172)-Say Messiah was God’s Word||ATTITUDE TO MUSLIMS:-“You will find .. that the nearest in affection to them [Muslims] are those who say: ‘We are Christians.’|
It is clear from the above list that the “pious” Christian faction lines up with the teaching found in the Injīl, while the “evil” faction described above represents a small heretical, unscriptural viewpoint. The Qur’ān must be describing a Christian heresy which taught that God had sexual relations with Mary (God forbid!) and Jesus was the semi-God result. Historical records show that the “bad faction” described in the Qur’ān represents a very small faction of Christianity which would have been rejected by the majority of Christians as well.
Now let us investigate the accusations of corruption. There are three general accusations: 1) selling verses for a miserable price, 2) twisting, hiding or contorting verses when translating them, and 3) changing (التَّحْرِيف tahrif ) verses.
The first accusation, of selling verses for a small profit, is largely directed at the polytheists who took Muhammad’s Qur’ānic suras and sold them as their own compositions.
The second accusation, of concealing or twisting verses, is consistent with how the heretical faction of ‘Christians’ concealed what the Injīl actually says while teaching false doctrines. For example, they taught people that Jesus said “worship me instead of God” and “serve the angels as Gods” while deliberately concealing that the Injīl actually says the exact opposite.
The third accusation, of changing scripture, is limited to four verses in the Qur’ān. It is used primarily to describe what the Jews do with Muhammad’s Qur’ān , not with their own scriptures. The term for “changing the actual words” (التَّحْرِيف اللَفْظي al-tahrif al-lafzi ) is never used for the Jewish or Christian scriptures.
So in conclusion, we see that while the Qur’ān condemns a heretical faction of false Christians who taught three Gods and twisted the meaning of the Gospel, the Qur’ān also speaks positively about the true Christians who follow the Gospel, recite it correctly, and believe in God and the Last Day, telling them to judge by their scriptures.
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