authority, either habitually, or casually in the present instance, held by
the Jewish opponents of Mahomet to attach to the opinions and commentaries of
their doctors. There is nothing that can be fairly held to imply any tampering
with, or interpolation of, the manuscripts of the Scriptures. The Jews have in
all ages been as noted for the scrupulous, and even superstitious, care with
which they have preserved the exact text of their sacred books, as the
Mahometans themselves for their care of the Corân. Their character in this
respect is not affected, nor does it appear that Mahomet intended to impugn it,
by the very different accusation that they brought forward the interpretations
of their doctors, or rabbinical traditions, or extracts copied from these, and
alleged for them an authority equal to that of the Scriptures. That the Jews
attached an undue weight, as they have from the earliest times, to the
uninspired dicta of their, rabbins, does not imply any defect of veneration, or
any want of care, for the inspired Scriptures themselves.
It is, therefore, a gratuitous assumption that, because the Jews made copies
of what were merely human compositions, and then produced them before Mahomet as
having a divine authority, they in any way tampered with the sacred Scripture.
Had they gone even further, and having written out fabricated passages,
fraudulently pretended in argument that they were extracts from the Pentateuch
(though such a construction of the text is not the natural one), it would not
even then have amounted to such a charge ; it would not by any means have
implied that they altered or interpolated their copies of the Scripture.