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Where Are the Original Torah and Gospel?

Question and answer details
Helen Abdalla
2012/03/26
Assalamu alaikum. Could you please tell me where the original copies of the Taurat [Torah] & Injeel [Gospel] are? I am getting different answers from my Muslim friends. I was of the understanding that the originals were destroyed/corrupted and that is why the Quran was sent to mankind. Does a copy of Taurat & Injeel exist on earth in it's original form? I hope you understand my question and I thank you in advance for your time. Regards Helen.
Idris Tawfiq
Answer
Salam, Helen.


Many thanks for your question. You are right that there is a little bit of confusion about this, and also that some Muslims don't quite know the facts properly.


The earliest copy of Saint Luke's Gospel in existence is known as the Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV. It belongs to the Vatican Library and can be dated from between 175-225 AD, which is roughly one hundred to one hundred and fifty years after scholars believe the original was written. The document consists of fifty-one pages of a manuscript that originally contained seventy-two pages.


The very earliest known fragment of the New Testament is from Saint John's Gospel and is slightly earlier. It dates from some time in the first half of the second century, which is maybe fifty years after the original was written, according to Biblical scholars.


As for the Old Testament, there are around one thousand manuscript copies in existence. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the earliest Hebrew copy of the Old Testament was the Masoretic text (named after a group of Hebrew scribes known as the Massoretes), dating from around 800 AD.


The oldest Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint dates back to around the second century BC. However, with the discovery in 1947 of many ancient manuscripts in earthenware jars found in a cave at Qumran near the Dead Sea, two copies of the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, written in Hebrew, were found, which were one thousand years earlier than any previous manuscripts.


So, what does all this tell us, and how does it fit into what Muslims believe about the original Torah and Injeel (Gospel) being corrupted? In other words, how does it answer your question?


For our purposes, the Torah responds to what is now referred to by Christians and Jews as the Old Testament, and the Injeel refers to what Christians refer to as the Gospels, which form a part of the New Testament.


There are clearly, then, existing copies of both the Jewish and Christian texts, dating back quite a long way. Biblical scholars are agreed that most of these texts agree with one another in about ninety-five per cent of their content. That seems quite a lot and seems to suggest not much change in thousands of years.


However, five per cent of a book is still a considerable number of words, especially when you consider that the Old Testament is made up of 39 different books and a total of 593,493 words, and that the New Testament is made up of 27 books and 181,253 words. That means that nearly thirty thousand words differ in the Old Testament and nearly nine thousand words are different from one another in the New Testament.


Enough of playing with numbers. Muslims believe that the original of both the Torah and the Injeel no longer exist in their original form. We read in the Quran what means:


*{Some of the Jews pervert words from their meanings.}* (An-Nisaa 4:46)


And also:


*{So woe to those who wrote the Book with their hands, and then say: 'This is from Allah,' that they may sell it for a little price. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings.}* (Al-Baqarah 2:79)


Muslims believe that God the Almighty did indeed reveal His message to previous generations through Prophets He sent down to them. Each of these messages was for a particular people at a particular time in history. The message given to Moses, then, was for the Jews of his time. The message given to Jesus, was for the Jesus of his own time.


The Quran, though, which was revealed to the unlettered Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) over a period of twenty-three years, was for all people and for all time.


So you see, there are indeed copies in existence of the books which Christians and Jews believe were the revelation of Allah. Muslims, however, do not believe that these books are a true record of what was originally revealed. They were either written down wrongly in the first place, or were corrupted by translation or by the deliberate actions of men.


It would take an answer much longer than this one to explain, for example, how the Gospels were written. The early Christian Church eventually chose four Gospels from among many, which roughly corresponded to what Christians already believed.


The writers of these particular four differ in their intentions in writing, but none of them write to prove anything about Jesus. They write to portray a different aspect of Jesus for a particular audience.


In some places they actually disagree with one another, because they are not dealing with facts, as we know them, but with artistic creativity. These Gospels are indeed beautifully crafted, but cannot and do not claim to be the literal word of God.


These Gospels were written after the letters of Saint Paul, in which the case is made very strongly for Jesus being divine. Paul claims his knowledge of this came from a personal revelation from Jesus.


You will realize, sister, that trying to sum up the whole breadth of Biblical scholarship and Quranic belief in such a sound-bite answer is like trying to explain nuclear physics in a thousand words.


In a nutshell, the answer is this: yes, there are copies of both the Old and New Testament in existence, which date from relatively close to the time the original message was revealed.


Muslims, however, do not believe that these scriptures are indeed the Torah and the Injeel (Gospel) originally revealed to men by Allah Almighty. They believe this because the Quran tells them that they are not. The originals no longer exist.


We should be very careful, then, in quoting from them to prove a point, since we are quoting from something which we believe to be corrupted.


This does not, however, prevent us from respecting what Christians and Jews believe, because their own books are sacred to them and we do, after all, worship the One God.


I hope this answers your question.


Salam.


Useful Links:


Is the Bible the Word of God?


The Revelation of the Bible


The Authenticity of the Quran and the Bible


What Islam Says About the Bible


The History of the Bible and the Quran


How Were the Quran and the Bible Compiled?

The Unity of Divine Revelations

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