A: The Old Testament of the current bible comprises a number of books that the Jews believe were inspired by Almighty Allah to Nabi Moosa (alayhis-salaam) and his followers, while the New Testament contains books that Christians believe were inspired to Nabi Eesa (alayhis-salaam) and his followers. The two collections of books were written thousands of years apart. The Old Testament came first, and then thousands of years later the New Testament was written. However, later on both these collections were compiled in one format.
The above is the viewpoint held by Jews and Christians respectively. We Muslims do not maintain this belief or view, and we have historical facts to back this up. Allah Ta’ala referred to the OId Testament as Taurah, and this was the original book that was revealed to Nabi Moosa alayhis-salaam on Tablets that came directly from Jannat. (Al-Quran 7:145) The Taurah was written down in the time of Nabi Moosa Aalyhis-salaam, but after his demise there began a continuous process of deletions, omission, interpolations, and adulterations. Some books that were not revealed to Nabi Moosa (AS) were added to what the Jews dubbed as the Old Testament and they claimed these books were the result of ‘divine inspiration’ to its authors. Some books contained mere historical facts. The same can be said about the New Testament and its Gospels. Here too, latter Christians added books that just contained historical data to this collection and claimed these were inspired works.
And Allah Ta’ala knows best.
HISTORY OF THE GOSPELS
WHEN WERE THE GOSPELS WRITTEN: CHRISTIANITY’S BROKEN LINK
The Gospel of Luke
The Encyclopedia Britannica, citing Christian sources, dates this Gospel back to round about 63 AD to 70 AD. The New American Bible (page 1019) says it was written after the persecution of Nero that began in 64 AD, whilst some conservative Christians claim Luke’s Gospel was compiled before 60 AD.
What is clear from these sources is that the Gospel of Luke was written at least 60 years after Jesus departed this world. It is also clear that Luke could never have been an eyewitness to even a single event recorded in his Gospel. Luke is also the author of the Acts of the Apostles, another book of the New Testament.
The Gospel of Matthew
Encyclopedia Britannica states that the writer of Matthew is probably anonymous, and was written some time after 70 AD. This timeline is corroborated by The New American Bible, page 965.
The Bible Encyclopedia states: Many hold, in accordance with old tradition, that it (Matthew’s Gospel) was originally written in Hebrew (i.e., the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldee dialect, then the vernacular of the inhabitants of Palestine), and afterwards translated into Greek, either by Matthew himself or by some person unknown.
According to Wikipedia online, today most scholars agree Matthew did not write the Gospel which bears his name, and most contemporary scholars describe the author as an anonymous Christian writing towards the end of the first century. It further states that the consensus view of the contemporary New Testament scholars is that the Gospel was originally composed in Greek rather than being a translation from Aramaic or Hebrew. Matthew (and Luke) used Mark’s narrative of Jesus' life and death, plus the hypothetical Q document’s s record of Jesus' sayings. (Q represents the word Quelle which is German for source. This is an assumed source for Matthew’s Gospel – New American Bible).
Wikipedia also adds that New Testament Scholars agree that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Greek, meaning that the Gospel was later on translated, because the author was not speaker of Greek.
The New American Bible further elaborates that Besides the sayings of the Lord, it is certain that author of Matthew had access to the Gospel of Mark.. Matthew is obviously an expanded version of Mark… (page965)
The Gospel of Mark
We again quote the New American Bible: Following the suggestion of Clement of Alexandria and Origen, the majority of modern scholars consider the Gospel to have been written in Rome. The date of the composition is c 70 A.D.
According to Wikipedia, this Gospel was anonymously written but traditionally ascribed to Mark the Evangelist (also known as John Mark), a cousin of Barnabas.
The Catholic Online Encyclopedia, after lengthy discussion, puts the date as round about the beginning of the first century.
The Gospel of John
The New American Bible states that final editing of the Gospel and arrangement in its present form probably dates between A.D. 90 and 100
Encyclopedia Britannica says: There has been considerable discussion of the actual identity of the author. The language of the Gospel and its well-developed theology suggest that the author may have lived later than John and based his writing on John's teachings and testimonies. It states further that the final chapters appear to be a later addition and this suggests the text may be a composite. Carrying on further, Encyclopedia Britannica states: The Gospel's place and date of composition are also uncertain; many scholars suggest that it was written at Ephesus, in Asia Minor, in about AD 100
According to other Christian sources the Gospel of John and the Revelation may have been written as late as 95 A.D.
Some Christian scholars cite verses 21:20 – 25 of John as testimony that John, the disciple of Jesus was the same John who authored the Gospel and was an eyewitness to all these events. However, the big question that needs to be answered is: If John the disciple was indeed the author of this Gospel, why did he write about himself as reference to a third person? These events were key factors to Christian belief and faith, and would certainly carried far greater weight had he referred to himself in the second person tense. So those verses should have read thus:
1Peter seeing me (not ‘him’) saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me!
24It is me whp testifies (not ‘this is the disciple which testifieth) of these things, and wrote these things: and my testimony is true (not “we know that his testimony is true”).
The answer to the above question is simply that these verse were written by someone other than John the disciple. The corroborating references supplied above also prove that the Gospel according to john was written decades after Jesus’s life.
It is abundantly clear from the above that the Christians do not have a shred of evidence linking up the Gospels to any eyewitness. There is no chain of transmission that goes back right to the time these events took place. In stark contrast to this, the books of Islam like Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmizhi, and a host of others that portray and chronicle the detailed life of Muhammad, have irrefutable chains of transmission for every single act or statement of the Holy Messenger Muhammad. These chains of transmission have been meticulously recorded and preserved over the centuries and provide undeniable proof of Muhammad’s Life and Mission. The cornerstone of Christian belief, Christ’s crucifixion, is widely accepted by Christendom without a single eyewitness. It can thus be safely concluded that the entire edifice of Christianity is based on hearsay. The case for Christ’s “death by crucifixion” must then be thrown out, for hearsay evidence is not admissible.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
Muslims were called Muslim since the inception of man, in The Holy Quran, and in the time of The Holy Prophet Muhammad. Thus the identity of the followers of Muhammad was established and is embedded in history. They were historically known as Muslims. The word ‘Muslim’ means one who has submitted or surrendered to Almighty God, and is derived from the word ‘Islam’ which means to submit or to surrender. Our Religion and our identity, are therefore, in total harmony.
Christians, on the other hand, had no real identity for almost a century after Jesus had departed the world scene. The first time that the term ‘Christian’ was used to refer to followers of Jesus was in a book of the Bible called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. It is stated in Chapter 11, verse 27 of the Acts of the Apostles: It was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time. The New American Bible, in its Encyclopedic Dictionary appended to it at the end, states: The followers of Christ usually applied to themselves such terms as faithful, disciples, brethren, and believers.
It must be born in mind that the Muslims are also referred to as Believers or ‘Mumin’ in the Holy Quran. But remarkably, the term Muslim was introduced by Almighty God so as to differentiate between believers among Christians, who apparently also used this term during the early days, and believers among the followers of Islam. This in itself is proof that The Quran came from God, for Muhammad himself could never have know these details.
Prepared by: Mufti Siraj Desai
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