2.1.10 But the “ancient copies” are exact copies of one-another, right?: Well, where do all of these Bibles come from and why the difficulty in defining what is a truly “inspired” word of God? Well, as we have just seen, they come from the “ancient manuscripts” (also known as “MSS” or “authorities”). The Christian world today is claimed to possess anywhere up to 24,000 “ancient manuscripts” of the Bible with a very few of them dating all the way back to the fourth century after Christ (but not back to Christ or the apostles themselves). In other words, they have with them gospels and epistles which date back to the century when the Trinitarians took over the Christian Church. All manuscripts from before this period have strangely perished. All Bibles in existence today are compiled from these “ancient manuscripts.” However, any reputable scholar of the Bible will tell us that no two ancient manuscripts are exactly identical.

RESPONSE: It is not strange at all that "all manuscripts before this period have perished". Before 312 CE, the church was an illegal sect and suffered extension persecution, including the burning of their books by Roman persecutors. Also, because the church was poor, they could not afford high quality book materials which would last.

People today generally believe that there is only ONE Bible, and ONE version of any given verse of the Bible. As we have begun to see, this is far from true. All Bibles in our possession today (Such as the KJV, the NRSV, the NASV, NIV,...etc.) are the result of extensive cutting and pasting from these various manuscripts with no single one being the definitive reference.

RESPONSE: I guess you could call it "cutting and pasting". But more accurately, it is a careful and honest comparison of manuscripts to determine the exact nature of the original text. Muslims, as we have noted, have not been willing to scrutinise the Qur'an in the same way.

There are countless cases where a paragraph shows up in one “ancient manuscript” but is totally missing from many others. For instance, Mark 16:8-20 (twelve whole verses) is completely missing from the most ancient manuscripts available today (such as the Sinaitic Manuscript, the Vatican #1209 and the Armenian version) but show up in more recent “ancient manuscripts.” There are also many documented cases where even geographical locations are completely different from one ancient manuscript to the next. For instance, in the “Samaritan Pentateuch manuscript,” Deuteronomy 27:4 speaks of “mount Gerizim,” while in the “Hebrew manuscript” the exact same verse speaks of “mount Ebal.” From Deuteronomy 27:12-13 we can see that these are two distinctly different locations. Similarly, Luke 4:44 in some “ancient manuscripts” mentions “Synagogues of Judea,” others mention “Synagogues of Galilee.” This is only a sampling, a comprehensive listing would require a book of it’s own.

RESPONSE: Mark 16:9-20 is dealt with below. The other verses cited are simply minor details caused by errors in copying. Is that the best Al-Kadhi can do?

There are countless examples in the Bible where verses of a questionable nature are included in the text without any disclaimer telling the reader that many scholars and translators have serious reservations as to their authenticity. The King James Version of the Bible (Also known as the “Authorized Version”), the one in the hands of the majority of Christendom today, is one of the most notorious in this regard. It gives the reader absolutely no clue as to the questionable nature of such verses.

RESPONSE: Of course not! The KJV was produced in 1611. The translators simply were unaware of the fact that they were using inferior Greek manuscripts.

However, more recent translations of the Bible are now beginning to be a little more honest and forthcoming in this regard. For example, the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, by Oxford Press, has adopted an extremely subtle system of bracketing the most glaring examples of such questionable verses with double square brackets ([[ ]]). It is highly unlikely that the casual reader will realize the true function these brackets serve. They are there to tell the informed reader that the enclosed verses are of a highly questionable nature.

RESPONSE: The brackets are their meaning are obvious. Besides, the praface clearly says: "double brackets are used to enclose a few passages which are generally regarded as later additions to the text, but which we have retained because of their evident antiquity and their importance to the textual tradition."

Examples of this are the story of the “woman taken in adultery” in John 8:1-11 ,

RESPONSE: Just how this story found its way into John's gospel is amyone's guess. UBS4 (the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, 4th Edition) notes that many manuscripts mark the passage with asterisks, indicating the scribes were aware that there was doubt over the authenticity of the passage. Perhaps it was a very well attested piece of oral tradition which the church thought had to be preserved.

For our discussion here, we should note that the passage does not introduce any new theology. It is about the forgiveness of sins, a theme which is very clear through the entire New Testament.

as well as Mark 16:9-20 (Jesus’ resurrection and return),

RESPONSE: This is dealt with in detail below. But let me remind the reader again that Jesus' resurrection is described in the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John and is mentioned countless times in the rest of the New Testament.

and Luke 23:34 (which, interestingly enough, is there to confirm the prophesy of Isaiah 53:12).....and so forth.

RESPONSE: UBS4 agree that this was not part of Luke's original gospel. But why does Al-Kadhi say it was "inserted to confirm the prophesy of Isaiah 53:12"?

The dubious part of Luke 23:34:
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing"

Isaiah 53:12
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide spoils with the strong,
necause he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.

I can't see any direct connection between the two verses.

For example, with regard to John 8:1-11, the commentators of this Bible say in very small print at the bottom of the page:

“The most ancient authorities lack 7.53-8.11; other authorities add the passage here or after 7.36 or after 21.25 or after Luke 21.38 with variations of text; some mark the text as doubtful.”

RESPONSE: It is not "very small print". It is the same size print as all of its footnotes.

With regard to Mark 16:9-20, we are, strangely enough, given a choice of how we would like the Gospel of Mark to end. The commentators of the NRSV by Oxford Press have supplied both a “short ending” and a “long ending.” Thus, we are given a choice of what we would prefer to be the “inspired word of God”.

RESPONSE: If the scholars do not know the truth with certainty, isn't it better to be honest about that uncertainty?

Once again, at the end of this Gospel in very small text, the commentators say:

“Some of the most ancient authorities bring the book to a close at the end of verse 8. One authority concludes the book with the shorter ending; others include the shorter ending and then continue with verses 9-20. In most authorities, verses 9-20 follow immediately after verse 8, though in some of these authorities the passage is marked as being doubtful.”

Peake's Commentary on the Bible records; “It is now generally agreed that 9-20 are not an original part of Mk. They are not found in the oldest MSS, and indeed were apparently not in the copies used by Mt. and Lk. A 10th-cent. Armenian MS ascribes the passage to Aristion, the presbyter mentioned by Papias (ap.Eus.HE III, xxxix, 15).”

“Indeed an Armenian translation of St. Mark has quite recently been discovered, in which the last twelve verses of St. Mark are ascribed to Ariston, who is otherwise known as one of the earliest of the Christian Fathers; and it is quite possible that this tradition is correct” Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, F. Kenyon, Eyre and Spottiswoode, pp. 7-8

Even at that, these verses are noted as having been narrated differently in different “authorities.” For example, verse 14 is claimed by the commentators to have the following words added on to them in some “ancient authorities”:

“and they excused themselves saying ‘This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore, reveal your righteousness now’ - thus they spoke to Christ and Christ replied to them ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was handed over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, that they may inherit the spiritual and imperishable glory of the righteousness that is in heaven’.”.

Dr. Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin Von Tischendorf was one of the most eminent conservative biblical scholars of the nineteenth century. He was also one of the staunchest most adamant defenders of the “Trinity” history has known. One of his greatest lifelong achievements was the discovery of the oldest known Biblical manuscript know to mankind, the “Codex Sinaiticus,” from Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai. This was one of the manuscripts which influenced the Christian recognition of the need to produce the RSV Bible. One of the most devastating discoveries made from the study of this fourth century manuscript was that the gospel of Mark originally ended at verses 16:8 and not at verse 16:20 as it does today. In other words, the last 12 verses (Mark 16:9 through Mark 16:20) were “injected” by the Church into the Bible sometime after the 4th century. This conclusion was supported by the fact that the early Church fathers of the second century C.E. such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen never quoted these verses. Later on, it was also discovered that the said 12 verses, wherein lies the account of “the resurrection of Jesus,” do not appear in codices Syriacus, Vaticanus and Bobiensis. Originally, the “Gospel of Mark” contained no mention of the “resurrection of Jesus” (Mark 16:9-20). At least four hundred years (if not more) after the departure of Jesus, the Church received divine “inspiration” to add the story of the resurrection to the end of this Gospel.

RESPONSE: Al-Kadhi has his facts distorted. Verses 9-20 are cited by two SECOND century writers (Irenaeus and Tatian), indicating that they cannot possibly date later than that time. (By the way, Origen is 3rd century (185-254), not second as claimed by Al-Kadhi).

But rather than being an attempt to add new doctrine (as Al-Kadhi is implying), the exact opposite is true. Mark 16:9-20 actually takes material FROM the other gospels.

In other words, a scribe (bothered by the abrupt ending of Mark), added material culled from the other gospels and the book of Acts. Apart from the odd detail, there is nothing "new" here.

For a detailed proof of this, click here.

The author of “Codex Sinaiticus” had no doubt that the Gospel of Mark came to an end at Mark 16:8, to emphasize this point we find that immediately following this verse he brings the text to a close with a fine artistic squiggle and the words “The Gospel according to Mark.” Tischendorf was a staunch conservative Christian and as such he managed to casually brush this discrepancy aside since in his estimation the fact that Mark was not an apostle nor an eye witness to the ministry of Jesus made his account secondary to those of the apostles such as Matthew and John. However, as seen elsewhere in this book, the majority of Christian scholars today recognize the writings of Paul to be the oldest of the writings of the Bible. These are closely followed by the “Gospel of Mark” and the “Gospels of Matthew and Luke” are almost universally recognized to have been based upon the “Gospel of Mark.” This discovery was the result of centuries of detailed and painstaking studies by these Christian scholars and the details can not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that most reputable Christian scholars today recognize this as a basic indisputable fact.

RESPONSE: Let's just clear this up a bit. PARTS of Matthew rely on Mark, and PARTS of Luke rely on Mark. They are not merely re-written versions of Mark, but each adds material which he was aware of, which is not in Mark. This is true, for instance, of the resurrection appearances. Therefore the non-originality of Mark 16:9-20 has no bearing on the authenticity of Matthew and Luke's gospels. In fact, as demonstrated here, Mark 16:9-20 is dependent on Luke's gospel, not the other way around.

Today, the translators and publishers of our modern Bibles are beginning to be a little more forthright and honest with their readers. As we have just seen, although they may not simply openly admit that these twelve verses were forgeries of the Church and not the word of God, still, at least they are beginning to draw the reader’s attention to the fact that there are two “versions” of the “Gospel of Mark” and then leave the reader to decide what to make of these two “versions.”

Now the question becomes “if the Church has tampered with the Gospel of Mark, then did they stop there or is there more to this story?. As it happens, Tischendorf also discovered that the “Gospel of John” has been heavily reworked by the Church over the ages. For example,

1. It was found that the verses starting from John 7:53 to 8:11 (the story of the woman taken in adultery) are not to be found in the most ancient copies of the Bible available to Christianity today, specifically, codices Sinaiticus or Vaticanus.

RESPONSE: Discussed above.

2. It was also found that John 21:25 was a later insertion, and that a verse from the gospel of Luke (24:12) that speaks of Peter discovering an empty tomb of Jesus is not to be found in the ancient manuscripts.

RESPONSE: (John 21:25 is dealt with below). UBS4 gives Luke 24:12 a "D" ("very difficult to decide"), but concludes it is probably original. Even if it is not original, it is probably simply derived from the account of Peter finding the empty tomb in John 20:1-10. Luke has already mentioned the empty tomb in 24:2-7. The empty tomb is also testified to by Matthew (28:1-15), Mark (16:1-8 - note this is before the disputed final verses). So all four gospels testify to the empty tomb.

Much of the discoveries of Dr. Tischendorf regarding the continuous and unrelenting tampering with the text of the Bible over the ages has been verified by twentieth century science. For example, a study of the Codex Sinaiticus under ultraviolet light has revealed that the “Gospel of John” originally ended at verse 21:24 and was followed by a small tail piece and then the words “The Gospel according to John.” However, some time later, a completely different “inspired” individual took pen in hand, erased the text following verse 24, and then added in the “inspired” text of John 21:25 which we find in our Bibles today.

RESPONSE: There is no doubt over the authenticity of John 21:25. UBS4 doesnt even discuss it. More likely, the original copier of Sinaiticus omitted it (or it was absent from his source), so naturally this was later corrected, seeing all other manuscripts had verse 25!

The evidence of tampering goes on and on. For example, in the Codex Sinaiticus the “lord’s prayer” of Luke 11:2-4 differs substantially from the version which has reached us through the agency of centuries of “inspired” correction. Luke 11:2-4 in this most ancient of all Christian manuscripts reads:

“Father, Hallowed by thy name, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so upon earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, as we ourselves also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation.”

Further, the “Codex Vaticanus,” is another ancient manuscript held by the scholars of Christianity in the same reverent standing as the Codex Sinaiticus. These two fourth century codices are together considered the most ancient copies of the Bible available today. In the codex Vaticanus we can find a version of Luke 11:2-4 even shorter than that of Codex Sinaiticus. In this version even the words “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so upon earth.” are not to be found.

When we observe this fact we begin to see why it is that even in our modern Bibles “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13 is not exactly the same as the version presented in Luke 11:2-4.

RESPONSE: The longer version IS in all manuscripts in Matthew 6:9-13. So a scribe simply filled in the missing words to make Luke 11:2-4 agree with Matthew 6:9-13. While the alteration should not have been made, it was not an introduction of any doctrine.

So why were the two prayers different in the first place? They are different because they describe two different sermons. Matthew's is from a sermon on a mountain to a crowd (Matthew 5:1), Luke's is in response to a private question (Luke 11:1).

With regard to the verse of Luke 24:51 which contains Luke’s alleged account of the final parting of Jesus (pbuh) and how he was “raised up into heaven.” However, as seen in previous pages, in the Codex Sinaiticus and other ancient manuscripts the words “and was carried up into heaven” are completely missing. The verse only says:

“And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them.”

C.S.C. Williams observed, if this omission were correct, “there is no reference at all to the Ascension in the original text of the Gospel.”

RESPONSE: This (the fact that Jesus' ascension is referred to a further ten times in the New Testament) has already been discussed in section 2.1.6.

Some other discrepancies between the Codex Sinaiticus and our modern Bibles are:

Matthew 17:21 is missing in Codex Sinaiticus.

REPONSE: Already discussed in section 2.1.6.

In our modern Bibles, Mark 1:1 reads “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;” however, in this most ancient of all Christian manuscripts, this verse only reads “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” Strangely, the very words which are most grating to the Muslim’s Qur’an, “the Son of God,” are completely missing. Isn’t that interesting?

RESPONSE: UBS4 gives this phrase a "C" ("difficult to decide") but includes it. But since Jesus is called "the Son of God" countless times, in the New Testament, this is not really a problem. Perhaps Mark omitted "Son of God" so as not to offend readers at the start of his gospel? Mark makes it clear that Jesus is the Son of God in 14:61-62.

The words of Jesus in Luke 9:55-56 are missing.

RESPONSE: Like most of the "corruptions" listed in section 2.1.6, this is assimilated from another verse: Luke 19:10 in this case.

The original text of Matthew 8:2 as found in Codex Sinaiticus tells us that a leper asked Jesus to heal him and Jesus “angrily put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean.” In our modern Bibles, the word “angrily” is strangely absent.

RESPONSE: The overwhelming evidence is that the word was not in Matthew originally. UBS4 does not even list it.

Luke 22:44 in Codex Sinaiticus and our modern Bibles claim that an angel appeared before Jesus, strengthening him. In Codex Vaticanus, this angel is strangely absent. If Jesus was the “Son of God” then obviously it would be highly inappropriate for him to need an angel to strengthen him. This verse, then, must have been a scribal mistake. Right?

RESPONSE: Wrong. Jesus was also a human being and suffered the same human frailties as you and me, except that he was without sin.

In fact, the evidence is very strong that the verses are NOT original (UBS4 gives the omission an "A", i.e. "certain"). So they were a later addition, not an excision.

The alleged words of Jesus on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) were originally present in the Codex Sinaiticus but was later erased from the text by another editor. Bearing in mind how the Church regarded and treated the Jews in the middle ages, can we think of any reason why this verse might have stood in the way of official Church policy and their “inquisitions”?

RESPONSE: The verse is ABSENT in the oldest manuscripts and PRESENT in the later manuscipts (including the Byzantine text used during the Middle Ages). There is NO evidence of the verse being absent or removed during the Middle Ages. So Al-Kadhi's insinuation about tampering to support the inquisitions is groundless at best, and deceptive at worst.

John 5:4 is missing from Codex Sinaiticus.

RESPONSE: dealt with in section 2.1.6.

In Mark chapter 9, the words “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” are again missing.

RESPONSE: dealt with in section 2.1.6.

In Matt. 5:22, the words “without cause” are missing in both the codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

RESPONSE: The difference is over a single Greek word. UBS4 gives this a "B" (almost certain) that the word should be absent. There is no affect on Christian doctrine: Jesus is demanding we must be perfect (which we can't be, which is why we need a Saviour).

Matt. 21:7 in our modern Bibles reads “And [the disciples] brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set [Jesus] thereon.” In the original manuscripts, this verse read “and they set [Jesus] upon them,” However, the picture of Jesus being placed upon two animals at the same time and being asked to ride them at once was objectionable to some, so this verse was changed to “and they set [Jesus] upon him” (which “him”?). Soon after, the English translation completely avoided this problem by translating it as “thereon.”

RESPONSE: "them" means the clothes, not the animals.

In Mark 6:11, our modern Bibles contain the words “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” However, these words are not to be found in either of these two most ancient of Christian Biblical manuscripts, having been introduced into the text centuries later.

RESPONSE: This is another "assimilation" (for a discussion see section 2.1.6.). The words are (indisputably) recorded in Matthew 10:15, and were added to Mark 6:11 by a scribe.

The words of Matthew 6:13 “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” Are not to be found in these two most ancient manuscripts as well as many others.

RESPONSE: True. They were apparently added to match church practice. While this addition is unfortunate, there is no effect on doctrine.

The parallel passages in Luke are also defective.

RESPONSE: Already discussed in this very section!

Matthew 27:35 in our modern Bibles contains the words “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” This passage, once again, is not found according to Rev. Merrill in any Biblical uncial manuscript dating before the ninth century.

RESPONSE: This is another assimilation: the event IS recorded in John 19:24.

1 Timothy 3:16 originally read “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: which was manifest in the flesh..” This was then later (as seen previously), ever so subtly changed to “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh….” Thus, the doctrine of the “incarnation” was born.

RESPONSE: UBS4 considers the mistake to be accidental, since the Greek words hos (who/which) and theos (God) looked quite similar. But of course the doctrine of the incarnation was present well before this mistake was made: the two clearest passages are John 1:1-18 and Philippians 2:5-11.

In all, Tischendorf uncovered over 14,800 “corrections” to the manuscript by nine (some say ten) separate “correctors,” which had been applied to this one manuscript over a period from 400AD to about 1200AD (see Fig. 1). Although he was well known to be quite ruthless and unscrupulous in his dealings with his fellow Christian, still, he strove in his dealings with his holy texts themselves to be as honest and sincere as humanly possible. For this reason he could not understand how the scribes could have so continuously and so callously

“allow themselves to bring in here and there changes, which were not simple verbal ones, but materially affected the meaning” or why they “did not shrink from cutting out a passage or inserting one.”

RESPONSE: What Al-Kadhi does not make clear is that all of these changes to Codex Sinaiticus can also be found in other manuscripts. In other words, the changes were not introduced by the keepers of Sinaiticus. Rather, they made changes when they were made aware of manuscripts which read slightly differently. So, like today's modern Bible translators, they were open and honest: if they were convinced that their copy of the Bible was wrong, they were willing to fix the mistake. And as I have continually shown, these changes never affect Christian doctrine or practice.

These were not changes to make the Bible fit doctrine. Rather, they were the results of comparing other manuscripts. The keepers of Codex Siniaticus were aware of uncertainties in the text, and tried to make their Codex as faithful as possible to what was originally written.