Comparison: Scribes of the Qur’an vs Scribes of the New Testament (Part 1)


A quick comparison on the identities of the scribes of the Qur’an and the scribe(s) of the New Testament. Quite the disparity!

cc-2015-qscribesvsntscribes

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The list of names of the Qur’anic scribes was transcribed from Shaykh Muhammad Mustafa al Azami’s work on the Qur’an’s preservation[1]. To understand why the New Testament has unknown scribes, it should be noted that Irenaeus in 185 CE, was the first to name the authors of the New Testament gospels[2][3]. Prior to this, no name was attached to them and none of their authors were known. Moreover, since none of their authors were known, we know of none of their scribes. Comparisons are usually made between the hadith corpus and that of the New Testament. However, this is the fallacy of false equivalency, as the conditions for establishing a narration as da’eef, or weak is not met by the New Testament literature:

The Riwaayah of an unknown person is not acceptable because if his name is not known then his Haal (condition) cannot be defined (as to whether he is reliable or not). The Saheeh (correct) verdict is that a Mubham (unknown) Raawi cannot be declared as Aadil (reliable).[4]

On this basis, at the very least, the New Testament does not compare to a single weakly graded tradition from the hadith corpus.

Note: Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan (d. 640 CE), is not to be confused with Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah (d. 683 CE), they are two different persons.

and Allah knows best.

Sources:

  1. Al Azami, Muhammad Mustafa. The History of the Qur’ānic Text: From Revelation to Compilation : A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments. Leicester: UK Islamic Academy, 2003. 68. Print.
  2. Ehrman, Bart. “The Gospels Are Finally Named! Irenaeus of Lyons.” The Gospels Are Finally Named! Irenaeus of Lyons. – Christianity in Antiquity (CIA): The Bart Ehrman Blog. 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 3 July 2015.
  3. Irenaeus, Saint. Adversus Haereses. Vol. 3. Print.
  4. Al Asqalani, Ibn Hajr. Nukhbat Al-Fikar Fī Muṣṭalaḥ Ahl Al Athar. 62. Print.

3 comments

  • ‘To understand why the New Testament has unknown scribes, it should be noted that Irenaeus in 185 CE, was the first to name the authors of the New Testament gospels[2][3]’

    I would just note that while all of the Gospels are not (to my knowledge) named until Irenaeus, Papias attributes authorship of a certain text to Matthew (though is it the same Gospel – Hebrew original?), and of another text to Mark. While this is itself quoted in a 4th century text (Eusebius), my impression was that scholars would trace Papias’ text which is quoted back to the first half of the second century (though I stand open to correction on this point).

  • @Richard,

    Concerning this statement:

    “While this is itself quoted in a 4th century text (Eusebius), my impression was that scholars would trace Papias’ text which is quoted back to the first half of the second century (though I stand open to correction on this point).”

    There are several problems. To begin with, we do not know if Eusebius actually quotes Papias correctly, since we do not have what Papias himself said and we know that Papias himself was unreliable, or atleast what was attributed to him directly contradicts many of the Gospel’s accounts, as well as New Testament Textual Criticism (especially in regard to documentary style).

    See:

    1. What Papias is alleged to have record about Judas’ death (https://youtu.be/cDr4w_qqeUc?t=3970).
    2. Eusebius’ claim of Papias’ alleged statement on Mark (https://callingchristians.com/2015/05/23/the-markan-gospels-systematic-development-in-light-of-miracle-sets/).

    I can give a hundred, or even more reasons as to why there are many discrepancies between what Eusebius and Iranaeus record Papias to have said, when they were decades and centuries beyond him. I suggest you do more studies, or that you find someone with a subscription to Bart’s blog, as he has mentioned some of these problems a few times (http://ehrmanblog.org/believing-papias-when-its-convenient/).

    Thanks.

  • Hi Ijaz, thank you for taking the time to respond,

    I hope my tentativeness came through in my original comment. I would not deny that there are problems here, as I have not looked into the issue in any detail. Thank you for raising a few issues, and I hope to look into this more in the future. I simply hoped to raise the issue of Papias for anyone who might read your blog, and who might want to look into these issues.

    The impression I had was that, while of course we cannot be sure if it’s verbatim, is that Eusebius at least reflect the gist of what Papias had said. I’ve never come across any suggestion to the contrary, however perhaps I’m mistaken. You said ‘To begin with, we do not know if Eusebius actually quotes Papias correctly, since we do not have what Papias himself said’ – I believe this happens a lot in the ancient world, but I thought generally the approach scholars take would be to trust that at least the gist is accurately conveyed, unless there is reason to trust otherwise. However, I could be mistaken.

    As for whether the statement speaks about Mark, I was influenced in my opinion by Schoedel in the Anchor Bible Dictionary (v. 5, pp. 141-142): ‘Some have suspected that Papias did not have in mind the gospel of Mark that we know, but the arguments are tenuous.’ Schoedel could of course be wrong, however.

    Just to clarify, as your response seemed to focus on this, that I was in no way suggesting that Papias is actually correct in any of the opinions that he holds.

    Best wishes,

    Richard