Tag Archives: dan brubaker

Missionary Mishap: Brubaker’s Error

Yesterday I published a brief review of Dan Brubaker’s book wherein I made a comment about missionaries who have not read it being those who were praising it the most. Case in point, here is a fine example of one such individual:

cc-2019-ko-brubakerrror1

Missionary Mishap of the Week

It is strange that this missionary laughed while reading my article, as I explained (about the corrections) the very same reasons which Dan Brubaker wrote in his book, the same book the missionary is now praising. To recount very briefly about the reasons a scribe can make an error given the examples in Dan’s book, I stated:

In many cases, Dan’s inability to understand Arabic nahw allowed him to choose examples which didn’t make much sense, especially in the cases where:

  • The scribe omitted or repeated a word due to confusing it with another verse (homoeoteleuton or homoeoarcton).
  • The scribe omitted or repeated a word due to copying the letters as shapes (unable to understand what they are writing, they are able to identify shapes but don’t know words or what the words mean).
  • The owner preferring another Qira’ah and requesting it be changed to that reading.

I also stated that Dan’s interpretation of a change not being made by the same scribe is largely down to the interpretation of some physical (written) characteristics of the scribe:

But it is an intentional change!
Well yes, I would imagine that if someone wrote something and realised they made an error that they would have intentionally chose to correct it.

He says that some of the corrections were later!
Not exactly, he only comes to this conclusion because the nib (writing tip of the writing instrument – think of a lead pencil’s point) was different, the same scribe could have had more than one nib, especially if they were untrained and prone to error, as some of the manuscripts clearly demonstrate some scribes were untrained. It is also possible that there was an initial scribe with one writing instrument (think of a pen, or a pencil), what scholars call the initial scribe or the prima manus and then there was a corrector or secunda manus reviewing the work of the first scribe who used a different nib or the same nib (but due to difference in writing ability their corrections were more noticeable). Therefore a difference in the nib (writing instrument) or in the stroke of the hand of the scribe (or corrector) would appear different but would not necessitate it being centuries later (that conclusion is a matter of interpretation and not one of a factual or immutable nature).

This concludes what I mentioned in my review, Dan mentions the exact same reasons in his book, from pages 19-21:

“The most obvious cause that any one of us can easily imagine if we put ourselves in the place of working as a scribe is making a simple mistake when copying or writing, realizing the mistake, and then correcting it soon after. A simple mistake-and-correction scenario fits what we see in some manuscript corrections where the ink, nib, and writing style appear to match that of the rest of the page.” – pages 19-20.

“Here are some of the questions I ask that help me think carefully about what is going on in a given situation:

Is there a discernible reason that could have caused a simple mistake? One of the common reasons for mistakes in manuscript transcription from an exemplar, for example, is the repeated occurrence of a word or sequence of words in close proximity to each other. A scribe may finish copying the first instance of the word or word sequence, go to dip the nib into the ink, and accidentally begin writing again after the second occurrence of the word or word sequence. This could be noticed later and corrected. Such a scenario or others like it is not uncommon in manuscript transmission.” – page 20.

Therefore, this missionary unfortunately renders himself as an embarrassment by trying to palm off the critical review I posted of a book he has not read but which he must support to avoid scrutiny of the Bible’s textual faults.

and Allah knows best.