Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"

"Authority and Authenticity of Scriptures" II


Dr. Badawi concludes his series "Jesus the Beloved Messenger of Allah" with a few more shots at the integrity of the Bible. He begins by taking us through several apparent "errors" in the Bible and concludes by citing his usual "devoted Christian scholars" who do not believe in either the Bible or Christ.

Host: What do you mean by freedom from factual errors?

Jamal Badawi: We talked about this in the Qur'an, the miracle. In the Book of Genesis, the creation of day and night took place before the creation of the sun, this is impossible. The first human lived less then 5800 years ago, this is impossible. Dr. Bucalle says there are no passages in the Qur'an that opposes science. There are logical impossibilities. For example, the Temple of Solomon in 1 Kings 6:23. The measurements is 3000 square feet but the number of people mentioned in 1 Chronicle 23:4 is a total of 48,000 people, 1/10 foot per person. This cannot be divine revelation.

Issue 1: Genesis.

Genesis 1:16 tells us that the sun was created on the forth day, however, God called light into existence on day one. Perhaps the sun and moon did not appear on the earth until day 4 and Genesis 1:3 describes the actual creation of the sun. For more information on Genesis, please read "Avoiding the Mistakes of Genesis".

Issue 2: Scientific errors in the Qur'an

Sura 67:5 tells us

And we adorned the lowest heaven with lamps and we made such (lamps) missiles to drive away Satans.

and Sura 71:15-16 says

"Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens one above the other, and made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a lamp?"

So, according to this verse, the moon is at least as far, or possibly farther, from the earth as the stars, since the moon is in the midst of the seven heavens! This clearly does not conform to ancient, much less modern, astronomy! Another problem with this ayah is that the stars are supposed to be "missiles" to "drive away Satans". Has this been observed by scientists?

Issue 3: 1 Kings 6:23 vs. 1 Chronicles 23:4

1 Kings tells us that the Temple was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits in height. In English measurements 96 by 32 by 48 feet.

1 Chronicles 23:4 DOES NOT say that 48,000 people fit into the Temple. This verse says:

David said, "Of these, twenty-four thousand are to supervise the work of the temple of the LORD and six thousand are to be officials and judges.

Dr. Badawi misread the text.

Host: What about inconsistencies?

Jamal Badawi: Many Biblical scholars have addressed this in the Christian publication Awake, there are 50,000 errors in the Bible. Who provoked David to make a census? Satan or God? 1 Chron 21 and 2 Samuel 24. Duration of famine, 3 years or 7? 1 Chron 21 and 2 Sam 24. Number killed by David 700 chariots 7000 men, 7000 chariots 40,000 men 2 Sam 10 1 Chron 19. How old was 8 years old or 18? 2 Chron 56 2 Kings 24. Number of stalls of David 40,000 or 4,000 1 Kings 4 2 Chron 9.

Issue 1: "50,000 Errors"

This figure was quoted from a Jehovah's Witness publication which, by the way, did not give a single example of any of these 50,000 errors! Once again, Dr. Badawi demonstrates the how weak his arguments really are by citing the works of heretical groups.

Issue 2: 1 Chronicles 21 vs 2 Samuel 24 : Who incited the census of David?

Dr. Badawi misunderstand how God works in history. This is one of several cases in the Bible where God and Satan are involved in soul-searching testings and trials. David and the nation of Israel were inflated with pride and God wanted to teach David a lesson and Satan incited David because he believed that it would anger God

Issue 3: 1 Chronicles 21 vs 2 Samuel 24 : Duration of the famine

Notice in II Samuel 24:13 a question is asked : "shell seven years of famine come to you?" In contrast, 1 Chronicles 21:12 gives an alternative "take for yourself either three years of famine..." In other words, II Samuel records the Prophet Gad's warning to David, in which there was to be a famine for seven years. In I Chronicles, the second, and last, warning from the Prophet Nathan to David, was that God reduced the famine to three years rather than seven years. In the end, David chose for God's third alternative of three days of pestilence - which killed 70,000.

Issue 4: 2 Samuel 10 vs 1 Chron 19 How many chariots and men?

According to "Contradictions: Numerous, Theological, Chronological, Factual, Philosophical, Ethical":

10. An Alleged Multi-Discrepancy Between 2 Sam 10:18 and 1 Chr 19:18. There are two alleged discrepancies in these two passages: the first is the fact that 2 Sam records that David and his army killed 700 charioteers but that 1 Chr records that David and his army killed 7000 charioteers. The second alleged discrepancy is that in 2 Sam 10 the Hebrew term parashim , i.e. horsemen, is used for the 40,000 that David and his army slew, whereas in 1 Chr, the Hebrew term ragli , i.e. footmen, is used for the 40,000 that David and his army slew. So in the first case there is a numerical divergence; the second case presents a difference in terminology.

Let us handle the first alleged discrepancy, that of 700 vs. 7000. The most probable solution is the standard one given: a transmissional corruption in the numbers. More likely the 7000 figure in 1 Chr is correct. But is it reasonable to assume a textual corruption in 2 Sam -- or is this what our subject cavalierly states as "the usual gimmick [for apologetics] in action -- the copyist excuse". However, Gleason Archer on page 60 of the Zondervan book Inerrancy states the well-known fact that "It is very easy to leave off or inadvertently add a `zero' when copying down a number in round figures. The ancient systems of numerical notation were susceptible to this kind of mistake, for they too used decimal notations that were as easily confused as Arabic or Roman numerals." And note that we here have a textual difference which is tantamount to the dropping (or the insertion of) an extra decimal place. There is nothing unreasonable at all in stating that it is much more likely that a transcriptional error has taken place than for an error in the autographs to go unnoticed by people for a long time.

Now the second alleged discrepancy that our subject brings up is the fact that the 2 Sam passage labels the 40,000 as horsemen/cavalry, whereas the 1 Chron 19 passages labels the 40,000 as footmen/infantry. Our subject quotes Arndt's solution found on p, 39 of Does the Bible Contradict Itself?, which states

With respect to the other divergence between the two passages, the one saying that David slew 40,000 horsemen , the other that he slew 40,000 footmen in this battle, a simple solution presents itself. These warriors could fight both as cavalry and as infantry, just as the occasion required. Their status was similar to that of the dragoons a century or two ago.

our subject responds:

Arndt fails to realize that what they `could' fight as is irrelevant. The fact is that the text is stating what they are, in fact, fighting as not what they could be fighting as. The key word is `could'. Anybody could fight as a horseman or as a footman, even you, the reader. But the question is not what they could be fighting as, but what they are, in fact, fighting as.

The fallacy in our subject's above reasoning is that a two-dimensional view of history is taken here. The battle was an event that occupied a linear interval of time, yet the accounts in both 2 Sam and 1 Chr present the action in a punctiliar fashion. our subject's case would be strong if he could prove or adduce reasonable evidence for the assertion that the terms "horsemen" and "footmen" in fact apply to 40,000 at the same instance in time. But such evidence is not presented, and our subject has engaged in the hidden premise that the same instance in time is being recorded. Remember that the 40,000 were not killed at once. It is reasonable (in my opinion) to state that the perspective of the author of 2 Sam views the 40,000 with respect to an early stage of the battle -- when they were on horse, while the Chronicler views the 40,000 with respect to a later stage of the battle, when they were on foot. I personally do not see how one could call such a solution unreasonable. Ask two people about, say, yesterday's football game. Is it not reasonable to assume that person A will probably be thinking about a different point in time for yesterday's game than person B?

Perhaps another example will clarify. You are fighting in a war. You shoot down a helicopter but the pilot escapes to the ground and comes at you. You shoot the pilot dead. What (or, more accurately, Who) have you killed? Some might say that you have killed the pilot (despite the fact that he is not piloting at this instant of time). Some might say that you have killed a soldier. Both accounts are correct: the former views the person you killed in a previous sense ("he was flying a helicopter") while the latter views the person you killed in a more immediate sense ("he was wearing a uniform and charging you on the ground"). I don't see how what is happening between 2 Sam and 1 Chr is any different here than in the two examples given.

Another possibility is that in the battle, some of the 40,000 were on horse, some were on foot. The 2 Sam author used the term "horseman" to denote the whole group, whereas the 1 Chr author used the term "footman" to denote the whole group. Again, this type of labeling is not unfaithful to idiomatic language. For another example of the flexibility of the Hebrew idiom for naming groups, see the discussion in section 13.

It should be kept in mind that round numbers are being given here, and so it is not reasonable to suppose that exact numbers and exact titles are used here. When this is kept in mind, the problem appears to be a non-issue except for those who do not understand basic textual criticism (700 vs. 7000) principles and for those skeptics who insist too dogmatically that the text be read in as wooden a fashion as they see fit.

(The above response was slightly updated and is moved now to this page.)

Issue 5: 2 Chronicles 56 vs 2 Kings 24 How old was Jehoiachin?

There are two possible explanations:

1. Jehoiachin, his father made him co-regent when he was 8 years old, in order that he could be trained to assume the throne. Jehoiachin officially became a king at the age of eighteen, when his father died.

2. This is possibly a scribal error. The article 101 Cleared Up Contradictions in the Bible says:

It may be helpful to interject here that there were three known ways of writing numbers in Hebrew. The earliest, a series of notations used by the Jewish settlers in the 5th century BC Elephantine Papyri (described in more detail below) was followed by a system whereby alphabetical letters were used for numbers. A further system was introduced whereby the spelling out of the numbers in full was prescribed by the guild of so-perim. Fortunately we have a large file of documents in papyrus from these three sources to which we can refer.

As with many of these numerical discrepancies, it is the decade number that varies. It is instructive to observe that the number notations used by the Jewish settlers in the 5th century BC Elephantine Papyri, during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, from which this passage comes, evidences the earlier form of numerical notation. This consisted of a horizontal stroke ending in a downward hook at its right end to represent the numbers in tens (thus two horizontal strokes one above the other would be 20). Vertical strokes were used to represent anything less than ten. Thus eight would be /III IIII, but eighteen would be /III IIII with the addition of a horizontal line and downward hook above it. Similarly twenty-two would be /I followed by two horizontal hooks, and forty-two would be /I followed by two sets of horizontal hooks (please forgive the deficiencies of my computer; it is not the scholar Dr. Archer is).

If, then, the primary manuscript from which a copy was being carried out was blurred or smudged, one or more of the decadal notations could be missed by the copyist. It is far less likely that the copyist would have mistakenly seen an extra ten stroke that was not present in his original then that he would have failed to observe one that had been smudged.

In the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, the corrections have been included in the texts. However, for clarity, footnotes at the bottom of the page mention that earlier Hebrew MSS include the scribal error, while the Septuagint MSS and Syriac as well as one Hebrew MSS include the correct numerals. It only makes sense to correct the numerals once the scribal error has been noted. This, however, in no way negates the authenticity nor the authority of the scriptures which we have.

Issue 6: 1 Kings 4 vs 2 Chron 9 The article 101 Cleared Up Contradictions in the Bible says:

(Category: copyist error, or misunderstood the historical context)

There are a number of ways to answer these puzzling differences. The most plausible is analogous to what we found earlier in challenge numbers five and six above, where the decadal number has been rubbed out or distorted due to constant use.

Others believe that the stalls mentioned in 2 Chronicles were large ones that housed 10 horses each (that is, a row of ten stalls). Therefore 4,000 of these large stalls would be equivalent to 40,000 small ones.

Another commentator maintains that the number of stalls recorded in 1 Kings was the number at the beginning of Solomon's reign, whereas the number recorded in 2 Chronicles was the number of stalls at the end of his reign. We know that Solomon reigned for 40 years; no doubt, many changes occurred during this period. It is quite likely that he reduced the size of the military machine his father David had left him.

Host: What about the New Testament?

Jamal Badawi: The classic example is the lineage of Jesus. Matthew and Luke went out of their way to show the lineage of Jesus who they claim to be the Son of God. Matthew 1 and Luke 3, there are 3 problems:

1. Matthew said that Jesus is a descendent of David through Solomon, Luke said it is through Nathan, both cannot be correct.

Matthew gives Joseph's genealogy while Luke gives Mary's. Joseph was descended from David through Solomon and Mary through Nathan.

2. Matthew said there were 26 generations between David and Jesus and Luke said 41.

That is because there are two separate lines - one for Joseph and one for Mary.

3. Comparing the names, we find that no two names are identical except Joseph.

That is because there are two separate lines - one for Joseph and one for Mary.

In the events of crucifixion, there were 27 inconsistencies.

All of these were shown not to be inconsistencies in previous segments.

Host: How about prophecies?

Jamal Badawi: The synoptic Gospels say that Jesus will return to rule in the present generation Mt 10:16,24 Mk 15, Lk 21. We all know that this didn't happen. Mt 19:27-29 Jesus prophesied that each of the 12 would rule over Israel, this has not happened and one of the 12 was Judas. Muslim respect Jesus and believe that he did not say it.

Issue 1: When will Jesus come?

Matthew 10:16, 24

take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep......" A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

Mark 15 makes no mention of this.

Luke 21:32

"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

The Greek word used in this verse is genea which is also translated as race or nation - and both Israel and the Jewish people are with us today.

Host: What does it mean to be authentic?

Jamal Badawi: It is the extent that a document has been preserved over time. A document can be authentic but not authoritative. Shakespeare's works are preserved but they are not the word of God. The Suras in the Qur'an, we are given evidence that it is authoritative and cannot be the words of Muhammad, how it was written and memorized during the life of the Prophet.

William Shakespeare never claimed that his work was divine. I see no proof in the Qur'an that it is from God. In fact, when one compares the Qur'an to other sources, it is very clear that Muhammad borrowed most of the material in the Qur'an from Arabic folklore, Jewish and Christian apocryphal sources, and Zoroastrian legends.

Host:What are the main differences between the Bible and the Qur'an?

Jamal Badawi: It centers around version vs transmission. It is possible to have different translations, but when we speak of translations we are talking about different spelling, the Bibles are different versions. The Catholic Bible has 73 books and the Protestant Bible has 66 books. Which is the word of God? The KJV and RSV are very different. John 3:16 there is a difference, the RSV drops begotten. 1 John 5:7 is not is the RSV, it is inauthentic. Mark verse 9-20 is in the KJV and not in the RSV. We have no copy of the New Testament in the language that Jesus spoke, the Qur'an is in Arabic which Muhammad spoke. There is no evidence that any such manuscript existed. No one knows how the four Gospels were chosen. In Encyclopedia Americana, there is an indication of this difficulty "we have no certain knowledge as to how or where the Canon was formed". We are not sure if they are the exclusive works of the authors. Rev Conner says that if you examined the texts, there is a lack of literary unity so others wrote it. Most of the New Testament was written by people who were not witnesses.

Issue 1: Bible "versions"

The number of books in the Catholic and Protestant Bibles are a very minor issue at best. None of the additional books in the Catholic Bible support Dr. Badawi's, or Islam's, beliefs. In fact, these book actually refute Islamic beliefs. Also, what about the Qur'an Abdallah ibn Masud's had 111 Suras, Ubayy b. Kabb's had 116 Suras, while the Uthmanic Text has 114 Suras. Which correct? The fact that Uthman suppressed and destroyed all other texts does not erase the fact that their was disagreement over the canon of the Qur'an. Also, the KJV and RSV are translations of the original text and there are some differences. You can find similar differences in Qur'an translations such as Yusuf Ali and Hilali and Khan.

Issue 2: Language

I do not believe that the language in which a scripture is written makes any difference at all. After all, the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Marshall Applewhite (Heaven's Gate) were written in the language of their "prophets"! I am always fascinated when my fellow Muslim students tell me that the Qur'an can only be properly read in Arabic, the language of approximately 20% of the world's Muslims! Why would God reveal His Word in the only language on earth that cannot be accurately translated into other languages?

Issue 3: Honesty

Christians have honestly examined old manuscripts, when they have become available, and have made corrections. Have Muslims been this honest with the Qur'an? Will Muslims ever look to the San'a (Yemen) manuscripts to determine and improve the textual integrity of the Qur'an?

Issue 4: The Canon

The authenticity of the Canon has been discussed in many publications. Norman Geisler says:

"Of the four gospels alone there are 19,368 citations by the church fathers from the late first century on. This includes 268 by Justin Martyr (100-165), 1038 by Ireneaus (active in the late second century), 1017 by Clement of Alexandria (ca. 155-ca. 220), 9231 by Origen (ca. 185-ca. 254), 3822 by Tertullian (ca. 160s-ca. 220), 734 by Hippolytus (d. ca. 236) and 325 by Eusebius (ca. 265-ca. 339...) Earlier, Clement of Rome cited Matthew, John, 1 Corinthians in 95 to 97. Ignatius referred to six Pauline Epistles in about 110, and between 110 and 150 Polycarp quoted from all four Gospels, Acts and most of Paul's Epistles. Shepherd of Hermas (115-140) cited Matthew, Mark, Acts, I Corinthians, and other books. Didache (120-150) referred to Matthew, Luke, 1 Corinthians, and other books. Papias, companion of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John, quoted John. This argues powerfully that the Gospels were in existence before the end of the first century, while some eyewitnesses (including John) were still alive." (Norm Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics [Baker Books, Grand Rapids; 1999], pp. 529-530)

Host: How do you explain that?

Jamal Badawi: The New Testament contains 27 books. One half was written by Paul, not an eyewitness. Jude does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Acts was written by Luke who was not a witness. Three epistles and Revelation are attributed to John and we don't not know if this is the same John who was a disciple. Mark, the oldest, according to Dennis Meinham, this Mark is different than the John Mark and there was no person known by that name. Matthew and Luke were based on Mark, a non-eyewitness. Matthew, John Fenton says that he is not Levi, Mark 2:14 talks about Levi. Mt 9:9 it describes the same story but calls him Matthew, this is not the same person. Lk says that his writing is based on what he has been told by others. John, many believe it was not the John of the Bible, John 19:55:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

who is he? The letters of James and Peter are less than 4%. The manuscripts of the same Gospels have problems.

All of the authors of the New Testament were either Apostles or close friends of the Apostles. The early Church Fathers agreed that John Mark was the author of Mark and he compiled the accounts of Peter. In fact, Papias, based on the testimony of Eusebius, traced this account back to the time of John Mark. Matthew was indeed Levi, people can have more than one name in spite of what Dennis Meinham thinks!

Andrew Vargo

Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
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