Bible and Qur’an: The Reliability of the Original Bible and the Original Qur’an

Islam’s Great Prophet Muhammad’s highly-literate wife Khadiya’s sectarian Christian cousin Warakah Ibn Nawfal knew how to write in Hebrew, and probably knew at least how to read Greek.   Consequently, the following points are very important.   For they all bear upon the genesis and the inscripturation of Muhammad’s original Qur’an.

All the jots and tittles of the Old Testament are canonized by Jesus (Matthew 5:18).   Paul canonized the sayings of Jesus (Luke 10:7 cf. First Timothy 5:18).   Peter equated all the Epistles of Paul with the other Scriptures (Second Peter 1:21 & 3:15f).   And Jesus, through John, warns us neither to subtract from nor to add to the then-finished Bible (Revelation 22:18-20).

But what is a jot?   And what is a tittle?   On Matthew 5:17-18, Dr. John Calvin speaks of "un iota ou un seul poinct" – "one iota or a single point."   Does that mean "one small consonant or one consonantal spur thereof?"   Or does Calvin not rather mean: "one ‘i’ and one ‘o’ – one chireq i-dot and one cholem o-dot?"   Significantly, Cassell’s French-English Dictionary defines Calvin’s own word poinct or point as: "Point; speck; dot" etc.  

Around 400 A.D., the great Bible Scholar Jerome of Bethlehem was not only reading the Hebrew Scriptures from a vowelled or pointed copy of the Old Testament.   He was also reading the vowelled Greek New Testament – and translating both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament into his own Latin Vulgate edition of both.

Nearly three centuries later, the Qur’an re-established the authority of the Bible.  Yet the Qur’an itself teaches God’s having abrogated parts even of the Qur’an.

Many Christian Scholars maintain that the original (now lost) autographs of the various canonical books of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures (1440 to 400 if not even from 4004 to 400 B.C.), were vowelled alias ‘pointed.’   One such, was the A.D. 400 Jerome of Bethlehem.  

Others include first-rate Hebraists such as the Westminster Assembly Commissioners Archbishop Rev. Dr. James Ussher and Dr. John Lightfoot, Dr. John  Owen, the Buxtorffs, Gerard, Glassius, Voetius, Flaccius Illyricus, Polanus, Leusden, Whitaker, Hassret, Wolthuis, Rev. Dr. John Gill, Rev. Professor Dr. Robert Dabney and Rev. Dr. George Ella.   Interestingly, the Westminster Confession I:8r cites Matthew 5:18 re the Hebrew autographs.

Why, then, would the original Hebrew vowels ever later have been omitted?   Some believe it was to expedite the rapid production of hand-written copies thereof.   Such copies were then produced,  more rapidly, without vowels.   However, yet-later copies were ‘re-vowelled’ – when rapid production  also of  vowelled copies became feasible both somewhat before and especially after the 14th-century-A.D. invention of movable-type printing. 

Here are some of the arguments on the subject by Rev. Dr. John Owen – by far the greatest British Theologian of all time.   In summary, he regards the view that the Hebrew originals were not vowelled or unpointed – as a sixteenth-century innovation of the Judaist Elias Levita which was propagated then and thereafter also by the Romanists.  

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Levita used his new theory (contrary to earlier Judaistic arguments in favour of original pointing) to try to judaize Christians – by making them dependent on the early-mediaeval Jewish Talmud in order to arrive at the true meaning of the Old Testament.   Romanists used the same argument to try to get Judaists and Muslims and also Protestants to depend solely on the dogmas of the Papal Church in order to understand all revealed truth.

Owen’s arguments here below, are taken from three of his 1659 treatises.   They are:  The Divine Origin…of the Scriptures; and A Vindication of the Purity and Integrity of the Hebrew and Greek Texts of the Old and New Testament; and Some Exercitations about the Nature and Perfection of the Scripture.   See the 1968 Banner of Truth edition of his Works (16:281-421).

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