Sunday, April 09, 2006

Evangelicals and the TC of the Qur'an

As a result of comments on a previous message I have become minded to express a few thoughts on an evangelical approach to the textual criticism of the Qur'an. It is especially important that evangelicals should be able to show that their approach is consistent with their theology.

Thesis 1: Evangelicals should beware of wholesale adoption of the conclusions of 'Orientalist' scholars who work basically within a secular framework. I have seen a tendency amongsts some evangelicals to accept without criticism the conclusions of scholars like Nöldeke on the Qur'an, when the same evangelicals would not similarly accept Nöldeke's conclusions on the Pentateuch. Evangelicals have options open to them to explain the Qur'an's origins that secular scholars do not. They also may have a greater understanding of the nature of religious commitment and the way this affects the choices of scribes in the transmission of religious texts.

Thesis 2: Evangelicals approach the textual criticism of the Bible with sympathy because they 'know' that God has spoken truthfully through Holy Scripture. Being evangelicals they naturally do not believe that God has similarly spoken through the Qur'an (and they might be able to give some justifications for this belief; however, this is not the forum to justify such a belief). However, the divine imperative to judge impartially means that they must give as sympathetic a hearing to any explanation of a Qur'anic 'problem' as they would to an explanation of a biblical 'problem'.

Thesis 3: Evangelicals do not believe that historical information may justifiably be held back from investigation and therefore expect information about biblical manuscripts to be made widely available. They therefore have every reason to call the relevant authorities to make early copies of the Qur'an available in scholarly editions, facsimiles and digital images.

Thesis 4: Just as evangelicals (or at least many in this blog) believe that theological reasoning may be used in a justification of an evangelical approach to textual criticism of the Bible, so also they should accept that Muslim scholars may legitimately seek to justify their approach to the text of the Qur'an within a theological framework.

Anecdote: In response to a written attack by some Muslim on the text of the Bible, I was approached by an evangelical apologetics organisation to write a response. I prepared a brief response which sought to justify an evangelical approach both theologically and historically and openly declared my evangelical commitment (or bias, if you prefer). The organisation decided not to publish it, perhaps because it was too brief, but I also suspect that they wanted me to pretend to be some 'neutral' academic who would come to the Bible's defence as an 'objective' observer. Why do apologists so often think that their arguments are more effective when they feign neutrality?

22 Comments:

Eric Rowe said...

One reason some apologists may have expected you to approach textual criticism with a guise of neutrality is that they are probably used to seeing evangelical textual critics labor to do just that.

I would like to penetrate more into your comment that the divine imperative to impartiality mandates as sympathetic of a hearing for the Qur'an as we give to the Bible. I'm not sure I agree with that. Certainly we should be able to posit the truthfulness of the Qur'an for the simple sake of argument when debating the issue, and to honestly appraise the results of that supposition. But when we as Christians enounter problems with the Bible, we can't approach each one with an attitude that we must either resolve it or renounce our faith. Many times we have to suspend judgment on some problem we haven't yet figured out. Yet, while we suspend that judgment we remain committed to Christianity. This commitment is a result of regeneration. We can't take this same benefit of the doubt to every problem in every false religion as though they have equal footing with the Truth. To do this would require us to remain agnostics until we successfully disprove every false religion, including the ones we've never heard of. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has born witness to us so that we already know the truth of the Gospel and can bring that knowledge to bear in these endeavors.

When you say "divine imperative to judge impartially," what are you talking about? The requirement that we treat the rich and the poor the same way in the assembly is not the same thing as a requirement to give the same benefit of doubt to words of the Devil that we give to words of God.

Christian Askeland said...

There are different issues in biblical and quranic TC and apologetics.

If the the Quran is proven to be accurate in its modern editions, the biblical narrative is unaffected. If the Gospels can be accurately reconstructed as in NA27, the Muslim case is undermined. The Quran rests on the priciples that the Gospels were corrupted, while the Christian case rests upon the corruption not of the Quran but of the prophet who created it.

It seems there may be a difference in the issue of what was inspired. Christians are looking for the autograph. What are Muslims looking for as there is no autograph?... I would assume the original poetry of the prophet with the assumption that the poetry underwent no change in his lifetime. Two other options are the first written edition OR a recension under Uthman (650-656). Of course Muslims believe that the Quran was given by God, but the modern Muslim still has to figure out what to do with the variants and is left with one of these options, the first being the most difficult to reconstruct since the prophet was illiterate and did not produce autographs.

PJW, Question... What is the Oriental approach?

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

PJW asked:

"Why do apologists so often think that their arguments are more effective when they feign neutrality?"

Because they are evidentialists, caught up in the Joe Friday (Dragnet) school of apologetics, "Just the facts Mam". These folks are probably just baptized modernists. 35 years ago I would have started quoting F.Schaeffer, Dooyweerd and VanTil at this point but I am no longer the fire breather I was in my 20s.

Daniel Buck said...

Impartiality and cultural sensitivity aside, I don't think that Qur'anic scholars will take any more kindly to Evangelical Qur'anic Criticism than we do to Islamic Criticism of the New Testament.

I can only hope that 'we' can learn to do 'it' more scientifically than 'they' do. Jay Smith's example does not inspire optimism.

The Buck Stops said...

Another problem is one faced by NT textual critics: access.
If you thought libraries were reluctant to allow inspection of their NT mss, just try getting your hands on an ancient ms of the Qur'an.

Tom said...

Appreciated your comments PJW.

Christian: If the Quran is proven to be accurate in its modern editions, the biblical narrative is unaffected. If the Gospels can be accurately reconstructed as in NA27, the Muslim case is undermined.

Tom: It looks to me as if you switch from textual accuracy to truth. If the Quran is proven to be accurate in its modern editions, yes, the biblical narrative is unaffected. But if the gospels are accurately reconstructed as in NA27, then its not the case that the Muslim “case” (truth-claims) is undermined. It might be that the gospels, though textually accurate, make false truth-claims while the Muslims truth-claims, so far as they are Quranic, are true. My point is there are two different discussions here that it seems to me you have conflated, one has to do with texts and their histories and the other has to do with the truthfulness of the texts claims. And nothing about the truthfulness of either the Quran or the NT is established, or proven, by the mere accuracy of its textual reconstruction.

Christian: The Quran rests on the principles that the Gospels were corrupted, while the Christian case rests upon the corruption not of the Quran but of the prophet who created it.

Tom: Now we’ve moved from textual accuracy to the truthfulness/falsity of truth-claims. I agree that the Quran and the NT make contrary truth-claims. But I just like to keep this separate from the question of “texts” per se.

I’m not sure what you mean by the idea that the Quran “rests on principles” that the gospels were corrupted, but the charge of ‘corruption’ which the Quran levels against believers is a) leveled against Jews, and only the Jews of Medina for that matter, not Christians, and b) is not the charge of what is known as tahrif lafzi (or the corruption of a written source) but is rather only tahrif ma’nawi (the oral corruption of a written source, that is, misquoting or misrepresenting, intentionally or otherwise, the meaning of a written source). The idea that the texts of the Old and New Testaments in the possession of Jews and Christians were in the days of Muhammad were ‘corrupt texts’ is nowhere entertained by the Quran although it is widely thought to be by uneducated Muslims.

Tom

Daniel R. Buck said...

Tom,
You seem to be missing Christian's point. The teaching of the Islamic religion (which has never been limited just to the text of the Qur'an) is that the holy scriptures (al-kutub al-muqaddasah) consist of the Law, the Gospel, and the Recitation (Tawraut, Injil, & Qur'an). The Recitation superceded the Gospel, just as the Gospel superceded the Law. But the Law and Gospel in which Muslims believe (not just the ignorant ones, mind you) do not exist. Like the archtypes of the NT textual critic, they have been forever lost--autographa and apographa. Thus the corruption of the Bible IS an integral part of Muslim belief. If you can't find that specified in the Qur'an, no wonder. Most of what Muslims believe is catalogued elsewhere.

Daniel R. Buck said...

This Koranic quote probably pertains:
'Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, "This is from Allah," that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby." (Surah 2:79).

Anonymous said...

If I could address some of the TC points made by Christian Askeland:

Where in the Qur'an does it say the Gospels are corrupted?

I have been reading the Qur'an for a while now and have never come across this statement.

In fact you are the first person I have ever heard say the Qur'an claims Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are corrupted.

Would you kindly elaborate?

I suspect you have failed to register a large number of assumptions.

Kind regards,

Tom said...

I looked to me that Christian was arguing directly from the accuracy of NT text to the truthfulness of NT claims. My bad for misunderstanding.

Of course it’s the case that the Quran and the Christian Scriptures make contrary truth-claims. I don’t doubt that.

As for the Quranic passages in question, anonymous has a point—these don’t claim the widespread textual corruption of the New Testament (nor OT for that matter). Nor do the Hadith make this claim regarding all Jews and Christians. Nor is there any comment in the Quran (or Hadith so far as I know) about the textual history of the Old and New T’s or anything that might be construed as bearing on this history (except perhaps those passages that testify to God's providential preservation of the Old and New Ts and assume the health of the texts in the possession of the Jews and Christians of Muhammad's day).

The passage Daniel mentions (2:79) involves not a corruption by all Jews and Christians believers everywhere of all the texts in their possession. It has nothing to do with the sort of scribal errors and amendations TO THE TEXT which I understand is the 'stuff' textual critics deal with. The most it does is accuse the Jews of Medina of passing off handwritten texts they knew were not Scripture and claiming they were Scripture, most likely to either ridicule and falsify Muhammad’s claims to prophethood. In this sense 2.79 ASSUMES the accuracy of the OT texts then in the possession of Jews, since THEY are accused of corrupting (viz., misrepresenting) its message. There are other interpretive possibilities for 2.79 one could discuss as well. My point is, there is in the Quran and Hadith simply no knowledge of or appreciation for textual historical matters of the sort you guys here discuss.

Anonymous has a point, the Quran nowhere accuses Christians of tampering with their texts. Muslims do believe the Injil prophesies Muhammad’s coming (Q 61:6), and should an accurate reconstruction of the NT not contain this prophecy, the Muslims case in this regard is undermined. If this is Christian’s point, then I agree. I just wanted to be clear on the actual charges of corruption that are made in Muslim texts: a) they regard only some Jews, those of Medina, and b) they regard tahrif ma’nawi (concealing the truth, teaching falsely, attempting to profit from misrepresenting their texts, etc.). Q 3:78 (“There is among them a portion who distort the book with their tongues”) levels the charge only to “some” Jews. And Q 3:113-115 speaks of faithful Jews and Christians who were not guilty of such corruption.

Blessings,
Tom
NB I love this site and appreciate all the hard work that goes into it.

Daniel R. Buck said...

Come on, guys.
I'm not going to bother cutting and pasting from Islamic da'wa sites to prove that it is official Muslim doctrine that the Tawrat and Injil were inspired scriptures that were subsequently corrupted and cannot now be trusted (especially, of course, where they contradict the Qur'an). The Qur'an does treat these as scripture, and to accept that what we have now is essentially what was inspired then would strike a death blow to all the Islamic doctrines that are incompatible with Scripture as we now have it. Far better just to bury one's head in the sand and repeat the corruption mantra.

I've watched a textual critic debate an Al Azhur graduate, and I felt sorry for both sides. One couldn't win, and the other wouldn't lose.

P J Williams said...

Eric wrote:

"I would like to penetrate more into your comment that the divine imperative to impartiality mandates as sympathetic of a hearing for the Qur'an as we give to the Bible. I'm not sure I agree with that. Certainly we should be able to posit the truthfulness of the Qur'an for the simple sake of argument when debating the issue, and to honestly appraise the results of that supposition. But when we as Christians enounter problems with the Bible, we can't approach each one with an attitude that we must either resolve it or renounce our faith. Many times we have to suspend judgment on some problem we haven't yet figured out. Yet, while we suspend that judgment we remain committed to Christianity. This commitment is a result of regeneration. We can't take this same benefit of the doubt to every problem in every false religion as though they have equal footing with the Truth. To do this would require us to remain agnostics until we successfully disprove every false religion, including the ones we've never heard of."

Well put. However, I think we should distinguish how we deal with the competing truth-claims of various systems of belief as a whole and individual arguments. I'd prefer for my search for a solution to a Qur'anic problem to be long and sympathetic, just as it would be for the Bible. An ultimate failure on my part to find a solution should not necessarily be taken to mean in either case that there is none.
However, I do not envisage finding offering even temporary credence to the Qur'an as a whole attractive.

Tom said...

Daniel-

Appreicate the comments and your keen insights. I’m completely on board with you regarding the need for an impartial attitude in approaching interfaith dialogue. I don’t think this means we can’t or shouldn’t be convinced of our own faith. I think the biggest part of it is the ability to restate a person’s position to that’s person’s satisfaction. In my years (20+ as a missionary in the Middle East) of living with, befriending, and discussing these same issues with Muslims, it seems to me that what Muslims want to hear from me is that they’re ‘understood’, really understood. And that’s something we can and should give them regardless of how convinced we are of our own religious experience.

In reading Ibn Warraq (a scholar and former Muslim), I’ve felt the temptation to get behind his criticisms of Islam, but then I do remember that the same scholarly presuppositions behind his criticisms of Islamc are shared by many who criticize the NT in ways I don't accept precisely because of the presupposition. So I check myself.

I’ve sat and had discussions with Muslim theological students, and Imams and Sheikhs and often met with the standard Muslim claim that “what explains the contrary truth-claims of the Quran and NT is the fact that the NT texts were corrupted,” and then they quote a few Quranic passages.

I first took a second look at this, at what the Quran’s accusations regarding the Old and NT texts actually are, when reading Muslim commentators on the Quran. What you find is that early Muslim commentators (and some later ones who dealt more dispassionately with the text) didn’t feel the Quran made the specific charge that so many Muslims today argue, viz., that of the wholesale corruption of the Old and New Testament texts. With Quran in hand, they fully expected to find in the Old and New Testaments confirmation of the Quran’s claims. This shows they properly understood the ‘corruption’ passages to concern localized attempts by SOME Medinan Jews of Muhammad's days to hide and/or misrepresent their texts. There was (and is) nothing in the Quran to suggest the universal textual corruption that modern day Muslims just assume (because they’re fed it in local Mosques and, yes, at El-Azhar even). Interestingly, as Islam expanded and Muslim apologists came to possess and read for themselves the Old and New Testaments, THEN you find emerging a NEW claim that the texts of the Jews and Christian Scriptures must have been universally corrupted. How else could they explain the differences? But even here it was just a philosophical assumption based on the conjoining of their belief that the Quran is infallible and the contrary NT truth-claims they were discovering. There was at first no expectation based on the Quran that the Old and New Testaments would not agree with and confirm the Quran, and this in spite of their knowing the Quranic passages (like 2.79) you’ve pointed out (which just proves my point about those passages). They THEN asked themselves how this could be, and of course the Quranic texts in question were the only way to account for their experience. Can’t blame them I suppose. But it’s not at all difficult to show this interpretation of the Quran could not represent the historical context or intention of the passages in question. And it's a catch-22 for them, for interpreting the Quran this way creates further problems for them that undermine their case.

So, let’s approach their texts with impartial academic respectability. I’m all for that, and that’s what I try to do. But this might mean arguing for an interpretation of the Quran and Islamic history that is at odds with modern-day popular assumptions and sensibilities. If we have to argue to Millions of Muslims that they’ve misunderstood their text and history, so be it. We Christians have to face this with regard to OUR faith when others confront us with evidence. I take this as part of the sort of honest approach to Islam you and others here are advocating.

So I’m sure you’ll find plenty of rhetoric on Islamic Da’wa sites claiming the Old and New Testaments in our possession today are so corrupted by Jews and Christians as to be useless and without any authority whatsoever. (We can find a lot of inaccurate rhetoric on fundamentalist sites about historical Christianity too.) What you won’t find on those Da’wa sites is any thoughtful interpretive work on the Quran itself. As for me, I wouldn’t need to run to Christian apologists to make my point. I would only need to refer to well-known and respected Muslim commentators.

Peace,
Tom

Tom said...

PS-

I'm familiar with how Muslims react when they run into the facts about the textual history of the Old and New Testaments. All those MSS! All those differences! We share fundamentally different views on inspiration to begin with. Ours HAS to be compatible with no autographs and a textual history. Theirs is not. That's their problem (to say nothing of the evidence of textual differences for the Quran, which conveniently never gets introduced into the discussion by THEM). Be that as it may, we can't concede that this is what the Quran describes in 2.79 and then talk about academic impartiality. Not only should we hold ourselves accountable with respect to being impartial and acadmically honest, but we should hold THEM accountable to being the same.

Tom

Daniel Buck said...

Thanks for explaining yourself, Tom. Actually, in interacting with most Muslims (the ones who claim not to be Islamists), I find that they bear no hostility to my religion, taking a somwhat universalist view of our differences. An important thing to remember is not to tell a person of another religion what *his* religion requires him to believe; just tell him what yours does and let him decide if there's an incompatibility problem!

P J Williams said...

Christian asked: 'What is the Oriental approach?' By referring to 'Orientalist' scholars (with scare quotes) I was meaning to refer to those scholars who approach the Qur'an from a secular viewpoint. We may see some correspondence between 'historical-critical' study of the Bible and 'Orientalist' study of the Qur'an. That said, evangelicals are not entirely against 'historical-critical' study of the Bible and nor would their conclusions about the Qur'an necessarily differ from those of Orientalists. However, we must be able to justify any approach, whether to the Bible or the Qur'an, from within our theology and not simply adopt secular approaches.

Anonymous said...

From my understanding of the Quran and interaction with Muslims although the Quran doesn't directly say the Christians or Jews have distorted God's revelation the Quran does say that the true Christian will be a Muslim. So even though the Quran doeesn't say the NT has been distorted or otherwise the Christian who is truly following God would believe in the Quran.

Anonymous said...

Hello P. J. Williams,

When I clicked on the link leading to this short essay I was expecting to find the usual type of polemics on the Quran. But I must say I am pleasantly surprised and ended up agreeing with almost all of your points.

I have been attempting to apply a similar type of model in my own personal study of the New Testament. Briefly, I try to stick with writings authored by scholars who define themselves as committed Christians and attempt not to immediately endorse conclusions agreeing with my presuppositions without critical thinking. More importantly, I try to maintain a mindset where I am open to different viewpoints and to the fact that I could be wrong in my stance. I think such an approach helps a lot and applying it has made me more appreciative of different viewpoints, and not to mention the New Testament itself.

Having said this, while I commend your manner of approaching the subject, I do hope that you investigate the subject of Quranic mss and transmission starting with Muslim scholarship first. This is, afterall, how most Christians would like an outsider to approach Christianity. That is, understand Christianity from the Christians first and only then consider external views. The same starting methodology should apply upon all religions: first see what "insiders" have to say, familiarise ourselves with their writings and viewpoints, and then, by all means, consider the more sceptical views and decide for ourselves. In my experience - and as you have noted - many Christians (and Muslims) approach the "opposing" religion with a priori stance and deep seated presuppositions, interested only to read that which agrees with their prejudice.

Regarding specifically the Quranic mss, a wonderful resource on this subject is available at: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss/ As you can see, a lot of Quranic mss are readily available to scholars, including Western scholars, and have been examined in detail (this continues). This is a far, far rich collection of Quranic mss available.

There are a few books on my mind, specifically on the subject of Quranic mss, compilation, and transmission, which I would like to recommend to you. If you permit me, I would like send you 2-3 books on the subject...may I email you regarding this?

Many regards

Anon007

London

Anonymous said...

Just a few comments regarding what has been said here regarding the Quran's position viz. a viz. "the Bible." Mark Tapley, in the comments section to P. J. Williams response to the islamic-awareness.org essay, explained the Muslim position quite adequately.

Tom started out correctly pointing out the flaw in Christian's argument, but then he said something problematic:

"I’m not sure what you mean by the idea that the Quran “rests on principles” that the gospels were corrupted, but the charge of ‘corruption’ which the Quran levels against believers is a) leveled against Jews, and only the Jews of Medina for that matter, not Christians, and b) is not the charge of what is known as tahrif lafzi (or the corruption of a written source) but is rather only tahrif ma’nawi (the oral corruption of a written source, that is, misquoting or misrepresenting, intentionally or otherwise, the meaning of a written source)."

This is not entirely accurate. First, the Quran accuses the Jews of altering their writings a number of times, most prominently in 2:79 (which he later discusses). This is tahrif lafzi (textual corruption). The Quran does not state when the textual corruption took place, but only mentions that it has taken place. Referring to this Quranic passage, Ibn Abbas (nephew of Muhammad), in a hadith in Bukhari, admonished some Muslims for referring to the Jewish writings because the Quran clearly claimed that they were textually unsound. This does not support the odd "interpretation" of the verse later presented by Tom. Moreover, Tom also tries to downplay the clear meaning of this passage by insisting that it does not claim that "all" Jews corrupted the texts. Well, yes, so what? Some corrupted the texts, not all. But the end result is that the texts were corrupted. (deliberate) Corruption is done by some not all... It is not the Muslim argument that every Jew and Christian who has ever walked on this good earth (Lord of the Rings) from day one exerted mighty efforts to corrupt the texts.

Coming to "the Gospel" (Injil), on the other hand, then the Quran describes it as something which was revealed to Jesus and taught to him. The Quranic "Injil" is not the equivalent of ancient biographical type of books on the life of Jesus - as also observed by Montgomery Watt - though they may well contain parts of Jesus' teachings. The unreliability of the Christian writings - though not necessarily their total or complete unreliability - is presupposed by the polemical tone of the Quran. The Author is aware that the Christians worship Jesus as God, deem him to be divine, believe he was crucified/resurrected, and regard him to be Son of God etc. But the Author, quite aware of these Christian claims, denies them consistently as false and misleading (as also noted by Prof. Walid Saleh) assertions. He need not spell out "your books are corrupt" when he is denying and dismissing their contents knowing that Christians make such claims - derived naturally from their books and traditions. Moreover, the books need not necessarily be textually corrupted - the texts, which are authentic, are erroneous in their claims.

The most crucial passage in the Quran describing its position viz. a viz. the earlier writings is 5:48, which is almost always ignored. Here the Quran is described as a "muhaymin" over the earlier writings. If one looks at the classical tafsirs (Tabari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir etc), it will be seen that scholars understood this as a clear reference to the unreliability of the earlier writings: so whatever agrees with the Quran is accepted and whatever disagrees with it is rejected. This need not mean the wholesale corruption and unreliability of the texts, but only that they contain a mixture of both reliable and unreliable details. For a Muslim, the ultimate final authority is the Quran.

Unfortunately, the problem here is that Tom (who is a missionary), and other Christian commentators on this site, have fallen victim to a huge missionary propaganda campaign on the internet, which has done much to distort the actual Muslim viewpoint. Every passage that you cite as an "affirmation" of the "Bible" is understood quite differently by Muslims. Tom tries to belittle the Muslim position by labelling it the view of "uneducated" Muslims. Furthermore, Tom also asserts that earlier Muslims "affirmed" the textual authenticity of "the Bible" (Protestant canon?) as do the hadith. This too is false. Ibn Abbas Muhammad's nephew), Uthman (son in law of Muhammad), Muawiya (companion of Muhammad), Umar (companion of Muhammad), Hudaifah (companion of Muhammad) made mention of textual corruption, as did plenty of Muslims from the earliest of times (Mujahid, Ibn Guraij, Qatada, Thabit al-Bunani, Sufyan Ibn 'Uyaiinah, Tabari, Al-Mustamli, to name a few). I am in the midst of collecting references on this subject.

Unfortunately Muslims have been quite slow to respond to these straw-men arguments which you will find in excess quantities on the internet. But watch out, a change is about to take place in the near future I am told :).

Very briefly, let me summarise the Muslim view. There have been 3 opinions among Muslims on the subject of the status of the Jewish and Christian writings. 1. They are textually corrupt/unreliable, but still contain a lot of truth and reliable information; 2. They are quite corrupt/unreliable; 3. The texts were not corrupted, only the meanings were changed. The predominant viewpoint among Muslims in all the times has been: the texts are corrupt and unreliable, but with disagreements over the extent of the corruption and the level of unreliability of the writings. The third viewpoint (that only the meanings were distorted) has never won widespread acceptance and was held by a handful of scholars.

Another problem with Tom's statement, unrelated to the above subject. He writes "In reading Ibn Warraq (a scholar and former Muslim)..." - Though Warraq is a former Muslim, he is NOT a "scholar." Warraq is a well-known and vocal anti-Muslim (atheist) polemicist. He has no scholarly credentials or training in the subjects in question and has been the subject of harsh comments in a number of critical reviews (by both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars). Rippin describes Warraq as a polemicist in his recent essay in the Cambridge Companion to the Quran.

Anon007

P J Williams said...

Dear Anon007,
Thanks for your comments. I am glad that you agree with so much of what I wrote. I'm happy to receive e-mails from you (you can see my address by going to the Aberdeen University website and then the Department of Divinity.

I'm also happy to receive books, though I have a very high pile of books waiting to be read and I am wary of making guarantees to read particular books.

I do not think that the fact that someone lacks the ability to speak Arabic, necessarily invalidates their arguments. If their arguments fall down due to specific instances of ignorance of Arabic this should be pointed out.

Anonymous said...

Hello P. J. Williams,

Thanks for your considerate reply.

I completely agree with your statement that a lack of ability to speak Arabic invalidates ones argument. I am sorry if I gave this impression.

Regards

Anon007

Radical Atheist said...

It is only a literal interpretation with prevents one from accepting that all of the various religions are accurate.

Of course, a fundamental literal interpretation of one is anathema to the other.

It's fun to watch.