Author Archives: Ijaz Ahmad

Jay Smith and the Keeree-Art


In a recent Hyde Park encounter with Br. Muhammad Hijab, my friend and colleague, Joseph Jay Smith of Pfander, made some plainly absurd and false claims, among them:

  •  Claims that all the NT manuscripts are the same, which is demonstrably false.
  • Claims that Codex Sinaiticus has no differences with the NT of today (it has edits going into the 12th century CE, that’s 600 years after nascent Arabian Islam).
  • Claims Muslims have no Qur’anic manuscripts until the 8th century, Dr. Fedeli, Dr. Sadeghi, Dr. Tayyar would all disagree, they’ve published works contrary to this absurd claim.
  • Claims that Brubaker’s research is “new”, but is more than 3 years old.
  • Claims that Br. Hijab has never seen Brubaker’s thesis, false, as I’ve given it to him and his colleagues…3 years ago.

and God knows best.

To Confuse or Not to Confuse?

1 Corinthians is an epistle when read carefully, offers quite a few interesting arguments about the guidance of God. Today we’ll be looking at one such argument. We read as follows:

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound (καταισχυνη) the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; – 1 Corinthians 1:27.

We then read as follows:

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. – 1 Corinthians 14:33.

These two statements are plainly contradictory. On the first hand, we have the argument that God intentionally chose the absurd and foolish things of this world to confound (confuse) the wise. On the other hand, we have the argument that God is not the author of confusion.

Looking at 1 Corinthians 1:27, we note several things. Firstly, that the Christian (concept of) God cannot blame anyone for being guilty of rejecting the belief that God can be both man and God, that God can be both capable of suffering and all powerful, ignorant and all knowing. This is because, as the scripture says, God intentionally chose the foolish things to confuse the wise, if the wise are confused because of the foolish things, then who bears responsibility for the confusing in the first place? In this case, it would be the Christian (concept of) God. We also note that the word here for confounding or confusing is not a translational error. Many translations including the KJV, AKJV, Jubilee Bible 2000, Douay-Rheims Bible and the Webster Bible Translation all use the word “confound” in their editions for this verse. Additionally, the Greek word used here is καταισχυνη which according to Strong’s Lexicon (#2617), means:

Short Definition: I shame, disgrace, put to utter confusion
Definition: I shame, disgrace, bring to shame, put to utter confusion, frustrate.

Therefore, to appeal to claim it is a word equivocation between the words in the two passages would be incorrect, to appeal to a different translation is also incorrect and to also claim that the word does not mean confusion is also wrong.

Looking at 1 Corinthians 14:33, we see the argument that the Christian (concept of) God is not the author of confusion. To understand the context the verse is being used, we read from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

God is not the author of confusion – Margin, “Tumult,” or “unquietness.” His religion cannot tend to produce disorder. He is the God of peace; and his religion will tend to promote order. It is calm, peaceful, thoughtful. It is not boisterous and disorderly.

Some may argue that other interpretations refer to the confusion as women (as we find in the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible commentary) or that the confusion refers to a conflict in prophecy. If the confusion is to be understood as women, it makes the verse much worse, if it refers to prophecy and the words of prophets (or those inspired by God), then the issue is not removed as Christians consider both passages above to be from inspiration and they plainly conflict which does not remove the problem but compounds it. Other commentaries have combined the two and indicated that the confusion is both moral and spiritual, as we find in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace] Confusion; literally, unsettlement. Cf. St James 3:16. Also St Luke 21:9, where the word is rendered commotion. As in the natural, so in the moral and spiritual world, God is a God of order.

Both of these interpretations do not remove the contradiction between the passages, but affirms them, and therefore to appeal to other commentaries would not remove the issue. The contradiction stands as is.

In conclusion, if the Christian (concept of) God is not the author of moral or spiritual confusion, why would the Christian (concept of) God intentionally make the religion of Christianity both difficult and confusing?

and God knows best.

The Intolerance of Tolerance – White/ Qadhi Fallout

Catch Up to Speed: What is the White/ Qadhi Issue?

Following a two-part dialogue between Dr. James White and Dr. Yasir Qadhi, an outspoken Christian missionary by the name of Sam Shamoun began a crusade against his coreligionist, Dr. White, for holding the view that not all Muslims are hateful, intolerant, bloodthirsty terrorists. The argument made by Sam was essentially that Islam in its entirety is an intolerant religion.

There’s a problem though. A big one.

If Islam is so intolerant, then why haven’t Muslims erupted in the same anger the Christian community has, for Dr. Qadhi allowing Dr. White, a Christian, to speak about the Trinity in a Masjid (mosque, Islamic center)? So far, some in the Christian community have referred to Dr. White as an apologist for Islam, an apostate, a useful idiot for Muslims. There has been a campaign to have his events cancelled, Churches have been called with the demand that he not be allowed to speak in them. There have been endless YouTube videos, social media posts, and articles damning Dr. White for his claim that not all Muslims are evil, intolerant terrorists. All this, being done by a portion of the Christian community who believe themselves to be tolerant.

Yet where is the same outcry from the Muslim community towards Dr. Qadhi? No major Muslim speaker or apologist has condemned Dr. Qadhi for his dialogue with Dr. White. He hasn’t been called an apologist for Christianity, an apostate or a useful idiot for Christians. There has been no campaign to have his events cancelled, Masjids have not been called with the demand that he be banned from speaking in them. There have been no YouTube videos, social media posts or articles by Muslims, condemning Dr. Qadhi. Remember, Muslims are supposed to be the intolerant ones, and the Christian community is supposed to be the tolerant one, if that is the case then why are the Muslims tolerating Dr. Qadhi’s events with Dr. White?

It would therefore seem that there is an intolerance on behalf of some sections of the Christian community, towards the tolerance of the Muslim community for that interfaith dialogue. The irony here is quite palpable. Surely then, if Dr. White is wrong and the Muslim community and the Islamic faith are intolerant, then where do we find the outcry from the Muslim community?

and God knows best.

Is to Question, to Err?

One of the ways we learn is by asking questions. I don’t believe that someone should be condemned or shunned for asking a question, especially when it is a request for someone to clarify and expound upon what they are saying. This post will highlight the need for meaningful interactions between Muslim and Christian apologists. Forgoing my disagreements with my friend and colleague Jonathan McLatchie, he recently posted in a group of mines regarding a seminar he recently held.


Given my history with Jonathan, one may think I would comment on his post in an antagonistic manner, but as will be seen, this is not and will not be the case. Though I may disagree with Jonathan’s arguments, I prefer to have meaningful interaction with him, rather than argue without reason. Thus, when he posted his link, I left the following respectful comment:


The aim of my respectful comment was to ask my friend Jonathan to explain his reasoning. To break down his argument(s) and to give me an example to qualify his claim. This is the usual way we approach arguments, by firstly asking for the person to explain their argument, and secondly by giving our response as to why we either agree or disagree with what they have presented. As follows, this was my friend Jonathan’s response:


I would like to thank Jonathan for his respectful reply, though I may disagree with the conclusions he had reached. In writing this article, I hope to express to Jonathan that Muslims are willing to engage with him, despite past disagreements. With respect to his comment, I am quite uncertain as to how I failed to interact with his presentation, when I asked for him to give us an example from his presentation, an argument which demonstrated his claim of “undesigned coincidences”. I can’t interact with a video seminar, but I can certainly interact by asking the person presenting the argument to illustrate and explicate their claim. Secondly, I am also uncertain as to how simply asking a question would lead one to believe that I had failed to understand the subject. I had yet to respond to an argument he had presented, therefore I’m not sure how I could fail to interact with or to misunderstand something that was not given to me.

The question for us is, is to question, to err?

I don’t believe so. In respectful and meaningful dialogue, we hope that our questions can lead to elucidation as opposed to remonstration. Should Jonathan be willing to engage with Muslims on the subject of his video, I wish him to know that Blogging Theology, Calling Christians, along with my numerous Facebook groups and pages, of which he is a member of a number of them, that they are all available for him to engage in meaningful dialogue about his arguments.

Should there be any Christian willing to take up his cause and argue on his behalf, we would most certainly be welcomed to such a proposition. I firmly do not believe in “undesigned coincidences”, primarily because of the intertextuality of the Gospels, especially in regard to their archetypes, harmonizations and literary borrowing by their authors and scribes. I have discussed this topic previously in other posts, but I am looking for new, well taught out arguments on this topic to challenge the conclusions I already hold. Thus far, I have yet to see such an argument, but then again, this is why I’m posting about it publicly. Perhaps by some undesigned coincidence, I may perhaps find someone willing to provide such an argument.

and God knows best.

The Translational History of the Qur’an and the New Testament

Does the translational history of a scripture matter? Most people don’t often consider this question, but it is very consequential with emphasis being on the transmission and understanding of scripture. While most people would consider translations to be a tool and aid for understanding scripture, the impact of a translation is often ignored. In this article, I wanted to point out some of the benefits and problems that the Qur’an and New Testament would face on this topic.

As Muslims, we believe that God revealed the Qur’an in Arabic:

Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand. – Qur’an 12:2.

We need to consider that when God reveals scripture, that He has chosen a language that would best suit His message, and that when He has chosen a message to send in a specific language, that language and its language devices need to be studied to understand all of scripture. Not all languages are equal, there are language devices that exist in one language that may not exist in another, and so to translate between these languages would raise issues. For example, let’s say you’re trying to translate a metaphor from one language to another. It’s raining cats and dogs. For an English speaker they would know that this refers to heavy rainfall, but if we translate it word for word, literally from English into Spanish, would a Spanish speaker grasp the meaning intended by the phrase? If we translate it contextually to say that it means rainfall (excluding the mention of cats and dogs), is this faithfully representing the text as it was written? Confusion can occur for example, if a Spanish reader in looking at the Spanish text sees rainfall, but when comparing with the English, they see cats and dogs. They may assume the translator made an error and omitted words thus leading to confusion. Translators often have to walk a very fine line, if they translate a phrase word for word it can lead to the loss of intended meaning (context) and if they translate contextually they can be accused of not faithfully representing the original words as they were written.

Therefore, the language of scripture matters.

Throughout Islam’s history, the Qur’an as revealed in the Arabic language has always been regarded as scripture. Translations have however been understood as interpretations of scripture and not necessarily scripture in and of itself. Translators by profession are interpreters, it’s their very job title. This distinction is very important because the Islamic tradition has always definitively defined what scripture is and what it isn’t. The Islamic tradition has always emphasized that Muslims should learn how to read the Arabic Qur’an, how to recite the Arabic Qur’an (tajweed), it is fard al ‘ayn (personally obligatory) to learn the Arabic language such that we can understand the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah. I previously spoke about language devices existing in one language and not in another, an example of this is the dual noun in the Arabic language. In the English language we know of singular and plural nouns, the Arabic language has an intermediate category of nouns, dual nouns, this is not found in the English language. Muslims are taught to perform salaah (prayer) in the Arabic language and to perform the remembrance of God in the Arabic language (dhikr). Suffice it to say, one of the reasons the Qur’an has been preserved, not just merely the text itself but also the recitation and the meaning is because of the commands of God to use the Arabic language when it comes to scripture and worship, it preserves the sources of Islam as they were received by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions (may God be pleased with them all).

This is not the case with the New Testament. While the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament are written in Koine Greek, for 1000 years the New Testament was only considered to be scripture in the Latin language. This would mean that for 1000 years (until the Erasmian text) Christians were not reading scripture in its original language with its original language devices but that they were reading an interpretation of the New Testament altogether. Even when the Greek reconstructions of the New Testament came into favour, Christians still relied primarily on translations. This presents many problems for the transmission and preservation of the New Testament itself. We need to ask ourselves, why would God reveal a scripture in Koine Greek, only for it to be abandoned and a translation used in its place? The fact remains that the go-to language for the New Testament, from its inception has statistically been a language other than the Koine Greek it originated in, whether that be Latin or today’s English. The problem is compounded by the fact that the Christian tradition itself has no internal mechanisms for which Christians need to rely on the language the scripture was allegedly revealed in. Consider that translations are not merely considered translations but equal with the original Koine Greek in and of itself, also consider that there is no onus on a Christian to have to learn to read Koine Greek, to have to study Koine Greek, or to have to use it in any religious practises. This is in stark contrast with Islam, God not only revealed an Arabic scripture but also placed internal mechanisms (religious practises) that encouraged and ensured that the scripture as it was revealed would be preserved and studied, as it was meant to be understood. The same cannot be said for the New Testament and so it brings into question the validity of the New Testament as scripture to begin with.

And so we return to our original question.

If God revealed scripture in a specific language, then surely there was a purpose for that. While we can account for this purpose in Islam, we cannot account for this purpose in Christianity.

Yes it is true that scripture is meant to be understood, so there is no inherent harm in translating scripture into a language so people may understand it, but there is harm in abandoning the original language of scripture altogether. At a very young age Muslims begin the practise of teaching the Arabic language but we do not find this in Christianity when it comes to Koine Greek, this has led to a significant divide in the way that Muslims and Christians understand scripture. Should you ask a Christian if it is important to learn Koine Greek, they’d tell you no. Yet when we look at their commentaries of the New Testament, we find endless translation notes and lexical explanations. If there is no need to learn the language of the New Testament, then why do these translation notes and lexical explanations exist? Seminary graduates have to learn Koine Greek to understand scripture, to be able to exegete scripture, so while the lay Christian is told that they don’t need to learn the language, their scholars and preachers who attend seminaries realise that they do have to learn Koine Greek. This cognitive dissonance when it comes to the attitudes that Christians have towards the New Testament harms the religion of Christianity. A person who relies solely on the understanding of scripture through a translation will either end up with a wrong understanding or a wrong impression of what scripture teaches. Often times we find preachers using word studies to prove doctrines based on English translations! Clearly there is a problem inherent to the Christian understanding and definition of scripture.

To demonstrate the validity of this point, let’s take for example Dr. Michael Licona’s new book, “Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography”. After specifically studying Graeco-Roman bios (biographical) literature for 7-9 years, Dr. Licona, a well-known Christian scholar and apologist, advertises his book with the claim that he has discovered a literary device used by ancient authors in biographies that explains the contradictions in the stories about the life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. This literary device he calls, “literary spotlighting”, a device not ever named by anyone before in the some 2000 years that Graeco-Roman literature has been studied by scholars worldwide. Consider the troubling consequences of such a claim. That for 2000 years, scholars who have dedicated not merely 7-9 years of study on classical ancient works but their entire lives did not know of an important and core literary device used extensively by Graeco-Roman authors. Even worse off, is the claim that this literary device was used in scripture and not known by anyone else. How is such an absurd claim possible? It’s only possible when the language the scripture was allegedly revealed in, was ignored, discarded and abandoned. Literary devices directly affect the way we understand a language, Dr. Licona is effectively saying that for some 2000 years there has been a language device in use in scripture, that had not been identified previously. This fundamentally affects the way we understand the New Testament and at the very least demonstrates the importance of preserving a scripture in the language it was said to have been revealed in.

In the end, when Christians preach to Muslims and those of other faiths, they boldly claim that all you need to be saved is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It’s only when a new Christian (or newly practising) becomes devoted to Bible study, do they find themselves being told that they should probably find a better translation, or compare translations for a better understanding, or that they need to return to the Koine Greek rendition of a passage to wholly grasp its meaning. For some, they quickly realise that the requirements of understanding scripture go beyond reading a translation and that it’s more than just accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It’s a lot like being signed up for a cable subscription only to discover that there are hidden fees. We do not find this problem with Islam, and so we must ask once more, if God revealed a scripture in a specific language then surely that language and learning it must matter, right?

and God knows best.


Evangelical Textual Critic Debunks Common New Testament Reliability Myths

James E. Snapp Jr. makes some quite candid points with respect to the reliability, preservation and transmission of the New Testament in a response to some of these misconceptions being part and parcel of the recent movie, “The Case for Christ” based on the book sharing the same name by Lee Strobel. Here are some of those points:

He starts off with pointing out the obvious, having a single early partial manuscript of one book of the New Testament does not mean we can misjudge all of the New Testament’s book as being equally as early as that one fragment. Rather, it is judged book by book:

For example, the earliest New Testament manuscript is probably either Papyrus 52 or Papyrus 104 – but they are both small fragments.  They tell us nothing about the accuracy of the transmission of the books of the New Testament that they do not represent.  So, comparisons between “the New Testament” collectively, and single compositions from the ancient world, are sort of unfair; it would be better to separate the individual New Testament books, and go from there when making  comparisons.

The number of manuscripts rarely matter, as I have duly pointed out before, on more than one occasion. The current reconstruction of the New Testament isn’t based on which manuscripts agree with each other the most. It’s a very common misconception to say the least:

Most English translations of the New Testament are based on minority-texts at points where the Byzantine and Alexandrian text-types disagree with one another.  The New International Version, the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and the New Revised Standard Version are all based primarily on editions of the Nestle-Aland compilation, which, despite being compiled via a method called “reasoned eclecticism,” almost always rejects the majority-reading (that is, the Byzantine reading) in favor of the reading in the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian family of manuscripts.

My point being that it is inconsistent to argue for the reliability of the New Testament by an appeal to the existence of 5,843 manuscripts, and then turn around and reject 85% of those manuscripts by consistently favoring minority-readings, which is precisely what one does when using the NIV, ESV, NLT, etc.

Furthering his point, he then goes on to critique Lee Strobel’s misuse of the number of manuscripts argument, as well as the argument that the differences are, “as minor as a few typos in a few insignificant words”:

In his book, Strobel states that the differences between New Testament manuscripts are “as minor as a few typos in a few insignificant words in an entire Sunday newspaper.”  That is simply not true.  He also compares the transmission of the New Testament text to a game of telephone in which, at the end of the game, 29 out of 30 telephone-game players say the same thing.  The problem is that the illustration does not hold, as far as the base-text of the NIV is concerned:  in the base-text of the New International Version New Testament that Lee Strobel uses, 29 out of 30 manuscripts are routinely rejected in favor of Alexandrian minority-readings.

He then goes on to debunk the very common misconception, that given we possess early partial manuscripts from the 2nd century that it means they must have been written during the 1st century CE several decades after Jesus, and that the New Testament’s books are the earliest between extant (still surviving) manuscripts and their initial date of composition. He indicates that this is probably not true:

The relatively recent claim that the New Testament’s manuscript-support is closer to its composition-date than any other literary work of ancient times is probably not true.  When Papyrus 52 (also known as John Rylands Greek Papyrus 457) was identified by C. H. Roberts as a fragment of the Gospel of John, some apologists began crowing about how this new discovery confirms that there is only a 40-year gap between the production of the New Testament, and its earliest extant manuscript – a gap far less than there is for any other work of ancient times.  However, this is not all that significant.

Papyrus 52 was assigned a production-date in the first half of the second century due to palaeographical considerations – that is, via a comparison of its script to the scripts used in other manuscripts in various eras.  But if we reckon that a copyist’s handwriting stayed relatively the same, and that we have no means to deduce how old a copyist was when he made a particular manuscript, and if we also reckon that a copyist might live another 50 years after the beginning of his career as a copyist, then there is potentially a 100-year swing, 50 years each way, built into palaeographically assessed estimates of when a manuscript was made.  That is, when other factors are not in the picture, a production-date deduced exclusively from palaeographic evidence could be off by 100 years.  So in the case of Papyrus 52, saying that it was made “in about 125” could mean that it was made 50 years earlier (although that is precluded by the point that the Gospel of John itself is traditionally given a production-date around AD 90), or 50 years later.

With the crux of his argument being one I have previously espoused and argued many times upon:

Thus, while Papyrus 52 might have been made just two or three decades after the Gospel of John was composed, it is also true that Papyrus 52 might have been produced in the 170’s.  To ask for greater precision in the estimate is like asking researchers to tell us the age of the copyist.

Very recently, Br. Yahya Snow shared a very impactful quote regarding the traditional Christian history of the Gospel attributed to Mark and the disparity between that history, our current reconstructions and its earliest manuscript 𝔓45.

and God knows best.

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