A Rebuttal to Answering Islam on a previous Article, and Even More Solid Evidence of the Law and Gospel Not Being the Old and New Testaments
The other day I received the most hateful, disrespectful and dripping with vitriol e-mail that anyone has ever sent me. It was from Sam Shamoun of the Answering Islam site behaving in his typically Christ-like manner, and it mentioned that he had “shattered” (this seems to be his favorite word, based on my experience in reading his articles) my article “Six Reasons Why the Law and the Gospel Are Not The Old and New Testaments.” The link is http://answering-islam.org.uk/Quran/Bible/sixpoints.html . As you can see for yourself, the article is extremely long, as is customary for Shamoun. I think that somehow, something is drastically wrong about someone writing what could be a lengthy booklet in response to an article that consisted of three, short paragraphs. A large reason for Shamoun’s article being so unnecessarily long-winded is the number of long and extremely irrelevant tangents which he goes on almost constantly--this apparently being his idea of “shattering” an article. But enough with the criticism of his attitude and the quality of his scholarship; on with the show.
The article starts off with the heading “Responding to some More Muslim Polemics Against God’s Word”, a very unfair way or referring to my article. The “polemics” on my website are not meant to attack the Bible as a whole, but only to show that Islam is true and that it contains the best of the previous scriptures connected to it (and perhaps in a certain sense, the Bible as a whole, if you choose to look at it that way) while leaving out everything bad. These bad parts, we Muslims believe, are due to textual corruption, but Shamoun claims at the beginning of his article (the first of a great many points which have nothing whatsoever to do with whether the Law and the Gospel means the Old and New Testaments), that this belief appears to be a modern invention, not believed in by the earliest Muslims. The only way that this could be true is if the earliest Muslims did not believe in the Koran, which does indeed speak of the corruption of the Bible very unequivocally. I’ve already proven this is my FAQ, but I will be glad to repeat myself here and save people the trouble of having to locate it:
Are you so eager that they should believe you, seeing there is a party of them that heard God’s word, and then tampered with it, wittingly?….And some there are of them that are common folk not knowing the Book, but only fancies and mere conjectures. So wo to those who write the Book with their hands, then say, ‘This is from God,’ that they may sell it for a little price….
(The Koran Interpreted 2:75-79, from a context talking about the Jewish religion and thus about the Jewish scriptures)
Shamoun then goes on to say that, “Since the Quran confirms the Holy Bible, while at the same time contradicting its core essential teachings, the Muslim must therefore reject the Quran.” Once again, he does not understand that the Koran itself never says that it confirms the entire Bible, and doesn’t seem to mention the Bible as a whole except to refer to Christians and Jews collectively as “People of the Bible”. Once again, all Shamoun would have to do is read this site’s homepage to see this claim of his disproven as the Koran specifically claims to correct as well as confirm the previous scriptures:
This Koran could not have been forged apart from God; but it is a confirmation of what is before it, and a distinguishing of the Book, wherein is no doubt, from the Lord of all Being.
(The Koran Interpreted 10:37)
People of the Book, now there has come to you Our Messenger, making clear to you many things you have been concealing of the Book, and effacing many things. There has come to you from God a light, and a Book Manifest whereby God guides whosoever follows His good pleasure in the ways of peace, and brings them forth from the shadows into a light by His leave; and He guides them to a straight path.
(The Koran Interpreted 5:15)
After going off on tangents (containing a huge pile of links) about St. Paul and what some Christians regard as evidence of the Resurrection (neither one of these tangents being the subject at hand), he finally addresses the issue of the Torah meaning the Old Testament as a whole, referring us to a link which contains nothing but appeals to authority, support for the claim that Christians, not Muslims, referred to the Old Testament as “the Law”, and only once citation from Islamic scripture in which the notion of the earliest Muslims using the term “Torah” or “Law” to mean the Old Testament, a hadith which merely refers to “ the people of the two scriptures”, easily be the Torah and the unknown true Gospel, both of which the Koran endorses. The article quotes a hadith in which Muhammad (on whom be peace) speaks of a verse from the Torah which is nowhere to be found in the Torah, which should not even raise an eyebrow with us Muslims, because as I just established, the Koran does speak of the corruption of the previous scriptures.
Next, Shamoun unwittingly admits that the term “the Gospel” does not mean the New Testament in the New Testament itself (which never even refers to itself as a whole anyway, since like the Old Testament it was a volume by different authors), but only the “Good News” that Christianity preaches.
After that, Shamoun quotes a much larger section of my encyclopedic reference which speaks of errors being in the Koran. Encyclopedias are supposed to contain facts, and the quotation I offered was a fact, but unfortunately many encyclopedias also present opinions or interpretations as if they were facts, this being what the encyclopedic reference did at several points in the entry in question. I am interested only in facts, and not the author’s exegesis, which proves how poor it is anyway when it refers to only one or two passages from the Psalms being paralleled in the Koran, when as I established in my article on the Psalms on this site’s “Bible and Koran” page, there are many, many more, adding up to a perfect distillation of the Psalms.
Shamoun goes on to say that just because there is no evidence for the Bible having been translated into Arabic at the time doesn’t mean that it wasn’t, and speaks of it being a possibility--which I never denied or contradicted, but the rational and universal practice is to disbelieve in something for which there’s no substantial evidence until substantial evidence emerges. Shamoun adds that there was no need for the Bible to have been translated into Arabic for Muhammad (on whom be peace) to have been learned in it, which is true, but all traditions of him speak of him being illiterate and none speak of him being bilingual. This leaves only the possibility of someone translating it to him--which was unlikely due to the extremely low literacy rate and which there is no substantial evidence for anyway. So as you can see, even though my point is not absolute proof and never said it was, it remains intact, regardless of Shamoun’s confidence that he had “shattered” it.
After some allegations about the Koran which Shamoun admits is off topic (and would have to be responded to in an article of its own), Shamoun refers to a hadith speaking of Waraqa translating the Gospel in Arabic before the advent of Islam. Ahadith are fallible, and as I have shown and will establish even further in this paper, the Gospel is a single, separate book and not any part of the Bible. As such, there is no mess for me to sort out, regardless of what Shamoun erroneously thinks.
Finally, Shamoun’s long-winded article gets to the second of my six points, and after making a few unsupported claims which are circular from a Christian viewpoint, he points out the slander of Jesus (on whom be peace) in the apocryphal Gospel I mentioned and how late it was written--as if pointing out one parallel in that book is tantamount to endorsing the whole thing! Fact and legend were dispersed throughout the apocryphal Gospels (some statements or stories in them paralleling the four Gospels, for example, and some not, in the same Gospel). Since the apocryphal Gospel in question (The Infancy of Thomas) was written 100-200 years after the time of Jesus (on whom be peace), it would only stand to reason that the book would be soaked with legend and only a couple of actual facts would remain in it. And what do you know! The Koran, written in a time of oral tradition when people had a very historically ignorant standpoint, has only a couple of parallels with the book! Would that not be expected in a book that tells the truth about everything? And how would Muhammad (on whom be peace) from this historically ignorant standpoint have known if he were not a true prophet? It is only a minor piece of evidence for the Koran’s authenticity and there are much more substantial reasons for believing in the Koran, but evidence it is all the same. Shamoun asks me if I am implying that The Infancy of Thomas was the Gospel that the Koran speaks of. The answer is, “Obviously not.” And it is very irrational (especially in light of the things I pointed out above) to think that a book which confirms one Gospel cannot have two parallels in another Gospel.
As for my next points, Shamoun tries to prove that the Law and the Gospel spoken of in one passage in Romans (the only place in the entire Bible where the two are mentioned together) does indeed refer to a tangible scripture in the case of the law. First, he cites a passage from Romans which is not of that part where the Law and the Gospel are mentioned together, the bottom line of the passage being;
“Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you WHO HAVE THE WRITTEN CODE and circumcision but break the law." (Romans 2:13-27)
Does that look to you, dear reader, like it’s automatically using the terms “law” and “written code” synonymously because they’re in the same sentence? Could it not be that the written code (which the passage does not actually call “the Law” is separate from the abstract Law that is written on people’s hearts, and this is why two, different terms are used? Even if this is not the case, the passage says “the written code”, not “the Old Testament”, and the translation “the Law” is, of course, the Torah. Next, Shamoun quotes another Pauline passage outside of that critical passage in Romans which speaks of the Old Testament and doesn’t call it the Law or even contain the word “Law”.
Then Shamoun contradicts himself about “the Gospel” meaning “the Good News” by claiming that it is indeed a tangible scripture. Very strangely, he follows this with more quotes from the Bible in which the term blatantly means “Good News”. (Just read them and replace “Gospel” with “Good News” and see for yourself.) After making some appeals to Islamic authority (as if I had to agree with anything any of my brothers or sisters say), Shamoun tries to establish by appealing to the Bible that the Gospel was a part of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. I plan to start a new page on this site about that, especially if I can relocate the site (there are still a couple of things to work through before/if I can do it), and in any case the word “Gospel” nowhere is more clearly meant to mean “Good News” than in this case.
After more on the alleged Old Testament prophecies of the Resurrection and Atonement (both off topic and soon enough to be written about by me in separate articles), Shamoun quotes the Koran in saying that Jesus (on whom be peace) was spoken of in “the Law”, and this fits very well with what we Muslims tend to believe about Deuteronomy 18, as such Jesus (on whom be peace) being spoken of in The Torah, the Hebrew word for “Law”. After another hadith reference about the “two Books”, a subject I’ve already addressed, Shamoun quotes another hadith and makes an argument from silence about it (I am with those who think that the Argument from Silence should be considered and official logical fallacy), which is irrelevant even if it’s true since the Koran, the scripture that we do believe is infallible whereas the ahadith are not, specifically speaks of the textual corruption of the Jewish scriptures, as I have proven above. In light of this, the next hadith Shamoun quotes is also futile. He asks if there is documentary evidence of the corruption of the Bible. While there is not, the Bible itself proves that about itself, as I showed in my FAQ, which apparently Shamoun has not read. Besides, even if this were not the case, is there anything wrong with our believing something just because the Koran says it’s true, since we believe that it’s infallible? Aren’t there many things in the Bible which Shamoun believes even though there is no documentary evidence for them?
Regarding the fifth of my sixth points, Shamoun makes an irrational logical connection based on dogma alone, proving nothing whatsoever: “As we stated above, if the New Testament is the inscripturation of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ given to his Church, the inspired record of the Gospel God gave to the true believers, then the New Testament can be rightly called the Gospel.” Then after some more appeals to authority outside the Muslim scriptures, Shamoun speaks of the Koran’s endorsement of the Torah, the Gospel, and all of the inspired scriptures aside, but there is no reason why the other two scriptures that the Koran mentioned (the scroll of the blessed Abraham and the Davidic Psalms) should not be, along with the Torah and the true Gospel, the entirety of the inspired scriptures, especially since the Koran does not identify any other previous scriptures as being inspired. The same goes for Shamoun’s following comments about “the Books” and “the scriptures”. Finally, Shamoun refers to a hadith which says, “Do these Jews and Christians not RECITE THE TORAH AND THE BIBLE but not act according to WHAT IS CONTAINED IN THEM?” What is the point here? How does this prove or even indicate that the Law is the Old Testament and the Gospel the New Testament? It is referring to what Christians believe, not what Muslims are told to believe.
Next Shamoun quotes words of mine about the Bible being corrupted, but it does not logically follow that the Koran confirms the whole Bible just because the whole Bible has been corrupted. The four scriptures it identifies are evidently what it confirms and corrects, as I have shown--not that such an apparent fact needs to be shown.
Finally, when discussing the sixth and final point of my article that he’s responding to, Shamoun makes a plausible point. It does indeed look like I contradicted myself about “the Law” being a somewhat ambiguous phrase, because I carelessly did not mention (my fault!) that I was referring to the Bible’s usage of the term and not the Koran’s. The Bible speaks of God’s law being written on our hearts, and then there are specific laws which are set down in the Law of Moses (on whom be peace). But you can drop this sixth point if you wish, since it offers only a possibility and not a likelihood or certainty the way that the others do. Shamoun goes on to say that a Christian can prove that Muhammad (on whom be peace) was not a genuine prophet, since according to Shamoun, he failed the Bible’s tests for prophethood. This statement essentially boils down to, “The Bible says it’s true, and that is proof that it’s true.” Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Shamoun, but it doesn’t work that way. The reasoning is circular and we Muslims could, after all, say similar things about the Koran, but we wouldn’t be proving anything either.
At long last, the article ends, and on another irrelevant tangent, this time a rebuttal to the mere possibility I mentioned that the Gospel which the Koran refers to is the long lost Gospel of the Nazarenes. The Nazarenes, as he said, believed that Jesus (on whom be peace) was the one and only son of God. So what? As I establish in article after article on this site’s “Trinity” page, Christians nowadays believe in this doctrine despite a true lack of basis for it in their Gospels. Why could the Nazarenes not have done the same? But more importantly, so what if the Gospel of the Nazarenes isn’t the Koran’s Gospel? It was just a possibility I mentioned, an idea I threw out, food for thought.
The final point Shamoun makes (the last part of this particular irrelevant tangent) is that the source I cited while tossing out this idea translates “al-Injeel” into “Gospels” rather than “the Gospel”, a translation of the term which almost no other translator of the Koran (a very small minority indeed) makes. Even if the translation is correct, all that is being referred to is multiple, unidentified Gospels. Even if this means “the Four Gospels” (which can only be inferred, as there is no proof), that means that the term “al-Injeel” does not mean “the New Testament” and as such Shamoun is still wrong.
Finally, I am going to conclude with some more facts which I neglected to mention in my original article (my fault again). While Shamoun, as we have seen, does not have a molecule of actual evidence to offer for “the Law” and “the Gospel” being the Old and New Tesaments, I can prove that this is not the case. First, there is the point in my original article which Shamoun just skipped around, that there are miracles of Jesus (on whom be peace) being spoken of in the Koran which were not in the New Testament but instead in a book outside of it which was never part of the Bible, so if the Koran considers the New Testament infallible, the miracles it mentions should stand on their own and it would be downright bizarre to have other miracles from an apocryphal Gospel. But that is merely evidence; the proof comes when you add it to the points I’m about to make (which, in fact, can stand on their own as well). First, the Koran quotes al-Injeel (the Gospel) at one point, and this quote is nowhere to be found in the New Testament, so obviously neither the New Testament as a whole nor any of its Gospels, together or apart, are the Gospel which the Koran claims to confirm. Second, the Koran repeatedly speaks of al-Taurat (the Law, the Torah) as being revealed to the blessed Moses and never to anyone else, indicating that it could only be the Pentateuch. This is further confirmed by the enormous amount of parallels between the Koran and the Pentateuch
I‘ll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide just who has shattered whose arguments, and I have total confidence that anyone reading with an open mind and even a modicum of intelligence will see that it is me.