Reliability of the Qur’an and Revisionist Theories

“In comparison with the Bible, the Quran exhibits much greater textual stability, and variant readings found in different manuscripts are largely trivial in pronunciation or vocabulary.  A number of theories have been advanced in recent years by European writers, questioning the traditional account of its composition. Some have proposed that the Quran was actually assembled as long as two centuries after the time of Prophet Muhammad. This hypothetical argument has not gained much traction, because of a lack of supporting evidence. Other more bizarre theories have been advanced, claiming that the Quran is really based on Christian text, or that it is not written in Arabic at all, but in a form of Syrian that is badly understood. Scholars of biblical studies (and readers of The Da Vinci Code) are certainly familiar with breathless exposes that claim to overturn all of the history of Christianity. This kind of radical revisionism probably gets more of a hearing when it concerns Islam, in part because most people are less familiar with the subject, but also because of fantasy expectations about debunking the Quran, otherwise it is hard to understand why such eccentric publications would be featured on the front page of the New York Times”.

How to Read the Qur’an: A New Guide, with Select Translations by Carl W Ernst, published by Edinburgh University Press 2012

Carl W. Ernst is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also the director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.

Categories: Qur'an

3 replies

  1. “And now we appear to have evidence – better evidence than, say, for the Gospel of Matthew, or Paul’s letter to the Romans, or the epistle to the Hebrews – that the Qur’an was (at least by some scribes) very accurately copied over the centuries from the time it was produced.

    Does that “prove” that you can trust what it has to say? Of course not.”

    Bart Ehrman

  2. “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.”

    Allah, God of everyone, including Bart Ehrman and the doorknob.

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