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Fr. Brian Johnson wrote:

Dear AskACatholic,

This was a question, or statement of sorts, posed by a Muslim recently, and I was hoping to get your thoughts and opinions on this rather interesting statement.

The statement is as follows exactly as was written:

The Qur'an came as confirmation, judgement and witness to what is in the Gospel. Parts of the Gospel that conforms to what is in the Qur'an are correct. Conversely, and discrepancy between the two indicates distortion in the Gospel that is corrected in the Qur'an. Allaah says (what means): (And we have revealed to you,
[O Muhammad], the Book of truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it.)
[Quran 5:48] The miraculous birth Eesa (Jesus) as depicted in the Quran. It states that Allaah created Him, as He created Adam with the Word 'Kun" (Be). Allah says (what means): (Indeed, the example of Eesa (Jesus) to Allaah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then he said to him , "Be", and he was.) [Qur'an 3:59] The true nature of Al-Maseeh (Eesa) and His Mother Maryam (Mary), may Allaah exalt their mention, as mentioned in the Qur'an in the saying of Allaah (which means): (The Maseeh, son of Maryam (Mary), was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food) [Qur'an 5:75]. Indication of the distortion that occurred in the Gospel and resulted in great differences between the Qur'an and the Gospel with regards to the nature of 'Eesa' and his mother, may Allaah exalt their mention. The occurrence of such contradictions that exist between various versions of the Gospel. Allaah knows best.

  • Since the Gospel accounts predate the Qur'an by centuries, how can there be "distortions or contradictions" to something that predates what is historically by Tradition been passed down as a "distortion or contraction" according to the Qur'an?

Thank you and God bless,

Rev. Fr. Brian

  { If the Gospel accounts predate the Qur'an by centuries, how can there be "distortions"? }

Eric replied:

Dear Fr. Brian:

Muslim tradition (but not the Qur'an itself, although there are elements that relate to the Qur'an) posits something known as tahrif: that Christians and Jews corrupted the Bible. See tahrif on Wikipedia. The idea is that the Qur'an is a "correction" of these corrupted elements. What I think that statement means to say is that because the Qur'an contradicts the Bible, and because
(a priori) the Qur'an is a revelation of God, therefore the Christian Scriptures were corrupted.

This is obviously not a particularly cogent argument. It's sort of like saying the Bible claims it is inspired, therefore it is inspired. Another way to look at it is that there is the Revelation of God, which the Jews and the Christians had, but bungled somehow as clearly illustrated by the fact that the Qur'an, shining light that it is, contradicts them. Again, not intellectually satisfying.

Muslims also adduce internal evidence to the Scriptures to prove that it was corrupted, which pretty much just boils down to a misreading or misunderstanding of the character of the text or the nature of inspiration. God does stuff they don't expect Him to do, so they dismiss it; poetic language taken too literally, for example.

In answering this, I'd focus on the consistent textual witnesses to the texts, in particular of the New Testament, which agree in substance even though they were distributed throughout the world very early.

Eric

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