Another classic article by Eric bin Kisam
Many Muslims consider the Bible (which consists of Old Testament and New Testament writings) to be quite unlike the Qur’an: they are not God’s direct speech, but are just like the Hadiths, that is the Bible was written-collected by men, and are based on the sayings-teachings of the prophets. Just as the Hadiths are with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Muslims also do not consider those who transmitted or collected the sayings-teachings were inspired by God. They were all human and prone to errors and mistakes. The Muslim scholars took great care to make sure that the collection of the sayings by those men were authentic teachings of the Prophet himself.
Even so, Muslim scholars then developed a methodology to authenticate the collection. Most importantly:
The collection must contain who actually collected the saying-teachings, and who passed them on, and who actually made the original statement that was passed on. It is called the chain of transmission or the Isnād إسناد : a complete line of transmission.
Muslim scholars even go as far as checking the biography of the transmitter names, where they lived, when they were born, when they died and go further whether a person in the chain could have been known as untruthful.
From this method the scholars then classify different types of Hadiths:
Requirements for a Sound (Saheeh) Hadiths:
- Each reporter should be known as pious and trustworthy person
- He/She should be known to be truthful in his narration, to understand what he narrates
- He should have met the person he narrates from
- He/she should know how a different expression can alter the meaning
- He should know how to report the Hadiths verbatim not just its meaning
- Its source is known
- Its reporters are unambiguous
- A Hadiths that fails to meet the status of Hasan
- Could be a break in its chain
- One of the narrators has a bad character such as: lying, excessive mistakes, opposition to a more reliable narration, involvement in innovation, or ambiguity surrounding his person
- The text goes against the established fundamental norms of the Qur’an and the Prophet’s sayings.
- It reporters include a known liar.
- They are also known by their discrepancies related to time and historical events.
Here is more elaborate example on How did Muslim scholars sift through the masses of Prophetic reports to single out the authentic ones
In the case of the Bible writings, we literally do not know who was passing on the stories and whether they are reliable people. Even worse, we do not know the original source because many of them are anonymous writings or pseudepigraphica (Gr: ψευδής, pseudes, “false” and ἐπιγραφή, epigraphē, “name” ). Authorship of 6 out of the 13 letters of Paul has been questioned by both Christian and non-Christian biblical scholars. These include the Epistle to the Ephesians, Epistle to the Colossians, Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, First Epistle to Timothy, Second Epistle to Timothy, and Epistle to Titus.
In another example, the Book of Isaiah, is also widely accepted that the prophet did not write the entire book of Isaiah himself but it was rather authored by anonymous scribes of men.
All these problems stem from the fact that the Bible has no proper documentation regarding its sources and chains of transmissions like in the collection of the hadiths. We can not be certain who were the authors nor the biographies of the transmitters.
This leaves us in great doubt as to whether the Bible contains the actual teachings of God.
Categories: Bible, Eric bin Kisam, Hadith, Islam, New Testament scholarship, Qur'an
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