Which is Greater in the Qur’an; Jesus or Muhammad?

Posted By Thomas Perez. June 12, 2011 at 1:41pm. Copyright 2011. 

Which is Greater in the Koran?

According to Islam Muhammad is greater than and supercedes Jesus Christ, but what does the Koran actually teach about the person of Christ and the person of Muhammad?

Who Did Miracles?

The Koran teaches that Jesus Christ performed Miracles (Koran 3:49, 5:110).

But the Koran admits that Muhammad did no Miracle, but was a “Warner Only”  (Koran 27:92, 17:59).

Who is greater? The one who only warns men or the one who performs divine miracles?

Which Was Without Sin?

The Koran teaches that Jesus was righteous and without sin {Koran 3:45).

But the Koran teaches Muhammad sinned much and needed forgiveness (Koran 40:55, 47:19, 48:2).

Who is greater? The one who is sinless, or the sinner?

Who Was the Messiah?

The Koran teaches that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah, the anointed one [Koran 3:45]

Muhammad is never called the Christ or Messiah.

Which is greater ‘The Christ’ or the ‘Warner’?

Which Was Born of a Virgin?

The Koran teaches that Jesus was miraculously conceived in the Womb of Mary, without the aid of an human father (Koran 3:45-47)

While the Koran teaches that Muhammad was born of natural parents.

Which is greater, the Miraculous or the common?

Which One Did Allah Take to Heaven?

The Koran teaches that Jesus did not see death, but was raised to heaven and is very near Allah (Koran 4:157-158, 3:45),

While we know Muhammad is dead and his tomb is still with us today.

Which is greater, the living or the dead?

Clearly the Koran teaches that the person of Jesus is greater than Muhammad, even though the Koran gives more honor to Muhammad. I would ask any honest Muslim to consider these facts. If Jesus is all that the Koran says he is, why not read his words for yourself? They are contained in the Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] of the Holy Bible, which the Koran admits to be inspired:

Koran 3:3  It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the Criterion (of judgement between right and wrong).

You do not have to worry about the words of Jesus being changed over the years. The New Testament, was written immediately following the time of Jesus. He died around A.D. 33, and the writing began between A.D. 45 and A.D. 55 and continued until around crica 70AD or 96AD. All writing of the New Testament was done by eyewitnesses and contemporaries of Jesus. The New Testament is composed of 27 books, which are similar to chapters or Surahs. They were written in Greek, the written language of the Roman Empire in that day.

The New Testament circulated throughout the Middle East and southern Europe as individual books and as a collection of books. Again, great care was taken for error less copying. Before A.D. 300, the Old Testament and the New Testament were assembled into one book, two copies of which are preserved in the two complete manuscripts that we have today, known as the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. These manuscripts are written in Greek and compare identically with the thousands of portions available of even older manuscripts. The translations that we have today (in English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Chinese, Swahili, Russian or any of more than 2,000 languages) must come directly from these ancient Greek manuscripts — not from translations of translations — in order to be considered accurate. Just as with a Xerox copy, the quality of the duplicate decreases when you make a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. The clearest copies come from the original or a near original.

There are thousands of ancient manuscripts and you can compare them yourself and see that the words of Jesus have not changed. In the Gospels you will find that Jesus is truly Wonderful, and is more than you have ever imagined.

A Muslim will ask, “Which Version then is inspired”?

An English version of the Bible did not exist until a little more than 600 years ago. Before then, a version translated into Latin by Jerome in the fourth century, called the Latin Vulgate, was the most widely-used Bible translation in the middle ages (the first major book printed on Gutenberg’s press in 1456). Portions of scripture in English began to emerge in the early seventh century, but the first complete English translation was not produced until 1382 by the influence of John Wycliff. Despite fierce opposition of the Roman church, and absence of the printing press, copies of this work were widely circulated. Later in the 16th century, seven more popular English versions were produced, beginning with William Tyndale’s work in 1525. This English version of the New Testament was the first to be translated directly from the Greek instead of Latin texts. Before Tyndale’s completion of the Old Testament, he was tried as a heretic and executed in 1536. After Tyndale, several other famous Bibles were produced in the 16th century. The Cloverdale Bible in 1535, Matthew’s Bible in 1537, The Great Bible in 1539, The Geneva Bible in 1560 (the first to use chapters, verses, and the italicization of added words), and the Bishops Bible in 1568.

Finally in 1604, in an effort to resolve severe factions between Englishmen over Bible versions, King James I authorized the translation of another version that came to bear his name. Forty-seven scholars spent six years on the translation, with all work meticulously reviewed and refined by their combined collaboration. The four existing Massorec texts were used for the Old Testament, and a third edition of the Byzantine Greek text by Stephanus (often referred as the “Textus Receptus”), was used for the New Testament. The King James Version was finally published in 1611, and together with its four revisions (in 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769), it remains as the most widely circulated Bible in existence. A few other translations were produced over the centuries, but the real revolution of new Bible versions began to erupt in the 20th century, largely due to the widening language barrier. Some of the more influential, recent translations have been: The Revised Standard Version in 1952, The Amplified Bible in 1965, The New English Bible in 1970, The New American Standard Bible in 1971, The Living Bible in 1971, Today’s English Version in 1976, The New International Version in 1978, and the New King James Version in 1982.

Apart from these versions, there are numerous study Bible editions, such as the Scofield Reference Bible, the Open Bible, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, or the Spirit Life Bible, etc., but these are not different translations. These volumes merely feature special study helps, commentaries or references added as a supplement to a particular translation. Besides updating the Bible to contemporary language, another controversy with new translations arises over the issue of the original texts. The KJV New Testament (and all editions since Tyndale) was compiled primarily from the Byzantine family of manuscripts (A.D. 500 – 1000) frequently referred to as the Textus Receptus. But many of the newer translations were produced using a composite of later discoveries of other manuscripts and fragments dating from an earlier period. Among such are The “Alexandrian Family” manuscripts (A.D. 200-400) which include the three oldest: The Codex Alexandrius, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, all which were major contributors to most Bible versions after the King James version. Other important codices come from The Western Family, (of the Western Mediterranean areas), and the Caesarean Family of manuscripts (A.D. 200). (A codex is a manuscript bound together like a book instead of rolled into a scroll. Codices is plural for codex.)

Many scholars feel that the older manuscripts have been somewhat more accurate and important to the refinement of the newer translations. However, this has been disputed by others, especially since the older copies make up a tiny portion of the large quantity of manuscripts available. At least 90% of the 5,400 existing Greek manuscripts come from the Byzantine family (the basis for the Textus Receptus), and due to the overwhelming numbers of copies with which to compare and verify for accuracy, some scholars feel that the small handful of older texts should not be used to overrule the credibility of the majority. Although textual criticism shows only slight differences between the manuscript families, in those passages where the older text differs with the newer, the modern translators usually deferred to the older, primarily from the Alexandrian Family manuscripts — Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus. It should be emphasized that none of the revisions in the new era translations, such as the NIV or NASB (compiled with Alexandrian Family Manuscripts), conflict with any rule of faith or doctrinal issue, but some conservative church leaders refuse to accept any tampering with the “tried and proven” Textus Receptus translation of the King James Version.

In response to such concerns, the theological community came to see the need for another version, one which would satisfy the need for updated language without venturing beyond the traditional text source. Thus, in the late 1970’s, Thomas Nelson Publishers commissioned a company of scholars to produce a revision of the traditional King James Version. Relying on the familiar Textus Receptus, 130 translators made the needed revisions to modern English and corrections to minor translation errors, while making every effort to retain the traditional phraseology of the old version. This New King James Version, as it was called, was completed in 1982.

Today, most Evangelical churches will make random use of any of the various translations mentioned here. Frequently a pastor will recommend one particular version to be used exclusively by the congregation so that everyone will have an identical source to refer to during the preaching or Bible studies. This not only helps eliminate confusion, but also makes it possible to engage in corporate word-for-word readings of scripture, something that wouldn’t be possible if everyone was reading from a different version. After some research on the various versions, every believer would do well to zero in on a primary version to which they devote their study and commit passages to memory. It’s inadvisable to allow the issue of translations to become a distraction. For the average layman, most of the differences between the translations are relatively insignificant.

All the versions we have listed have a high degree of harmony and convey the same general message of God’s Word, but will use some of their own distinctive phrases and words. Although, not all translations/versions are to be recommended or trusted, due to its original sources (as in its Hebrew & Greek Origins). For we must remember that there were two sources to begin with. I also distrust paraphrase Bibles. For one often losses a verses true meaning, as it may reflect upon the translator. Such is the risk of translating and updating the English version of the Scriptures.

In order to understand its origin and history, a brief survey is necessary of the earlier English translations of the Scriptures. From very early times portions of the Bible have been translated into English. It is well known that Venerable Bede was finishing a translation of St. John’s Gospel on his deathbed 640 AD to 735 AD 

But the history of the English Bible as a whole does not go back nearly so far; it dates from the Wycliffe Version, believed to have been completed about the year 1380. The translation was made from the Vulgate as it then existed, that is before the Sixtine and Clementine revisions, and was well and accurately done. Abbot Gasquet contends confidently (The Old English Bible, 102 sqq.) that it was in reality of Catholic origin, at any rate, Wycliffe translated from the Vulgate into English. The version, however, undoubtedly derived its chief importance from the use made of it by Wycliffe and the Lollards, and it is in this connection that it is chiefly remembered, during the progress of the Reformation.

Moreover, a number of English versions appeared, translated for the most part not from the Vulgate, but from the original Hebrew and Greek. Of these the most famous were Tyndale’s Bible (1525); Coverdale’s Bible (1535); Matthews’ Bible (1537); Cromwell’s, or the “Great Bible” (1539), the second and subsequent editions of which were known as Cranmer’s Bible; the Geneva Bible (1557-60); and the Bishop’s Bible (1568). The art of printing being by this time known, copies of all these circulated freely among the people. That there was much good and patient work in them.

Here is a brief outline concerning the history of the Bible.

What a fascinating history the English Bible has including martyrs, translations by Kings and poets and a search for the definitive translation that would confirm “truth”.  Here’s a short, concise history of the English Bible from the earliest times to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

60 – 96AD  Completion of the Greek manuscripts which make up the 27 books of the New Testament

90-95 AD Council of Jamnia, a Jewish council,  met to revise the Books of the Canon (or the Old Testament as it is known to Christians.)  These were the criteria:

1. The books had to conform to the Pentateuch (the first 5 books).

2. The books had to be written in Hebrew.

3. The books had to be written in Palestine.

4. The books had to be written before 400 B.C..

One result is the removal of the 14 books known as the Apochrypha.

200 BC Completion of the Septuagint Greek manuscripts which contain the translation of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 14  books of the Apochrypha.

360 AD Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible is produced and in wide circulation.  It includes all 80 books including the Apochrypha.   It is used in Celtic monastaries in Britain.  During this period the British within the Roman Empire use Latin as the official language

443 BC Completion of all the books of the original Hebrew manuscripts which make up the 39 books of the Old Testament

Historical Background:  5th – 6th Century:  Germanic peoples who came to Britain bring their dialects of which Saxon becomes standard Old English.   Because of this, a need for an English version of the scriptures arises.

7th Century Herdsman Caedmon, spoken of by Bede, the learned monk of Jarrow,  sings the themes of the Bible in English.  This becomes a common method for presenting scriptural themes in English.

640 AD to 735 AD Aldheim is credited with translating the whole Bible into English while Bede was still  working on completing his translation when he died.  The translations of these times are based on translations of  the Latin Vulgate version rather than translations of the original Hebrew and Greek versions.

1384 John Wycliffe finishes the first translation of the entire Bible into English.  His version and copies of it are handwritten.

1408 Synod of Oxford tries to suppress the Wycliffe Bible with little success.

1455 Gutenberg invents the printing press making it possible to mass produce books.  The first book printed is Gutenberg’s Bible in Latin.

Historical Background: Reformation

A revolution in western thinking followed the midpoint of the 15th century A.D. The Renaissance opened up the treasures of both classical and patristic learning in a new way. It also revived an interest in the study of both Greek and Hebrew that made possible the study of the Bible in the original languages. This new interest in original editions stimulated textual research and also evidenced anew the corruption and ignorance of the contemporary church. The Renaissance created new opportunities for humanist scholars such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, who sought to make the Bible available to people of all ages, social levels, and countries.

More radical in outlook than Renaissance humanists were the Reformers, who measured the teaching and practice of the contemporary church by the standards of Scripture. The Reformers were horrified by the obvious discrepancies. There soon emerged a mission to discover the pure Biblical message and to reconstruct both the teaching and practice of the church. The Reformers became deeply convinced that it was both reasonable and necessary to circulate God’s word in order to purify the church from ignorance and destructive practices. (from http://davidsonpress.com)

1525 Tyndale was committed to taking the Bible directly to the people. Expressing open defiance of the Pope, Tyndale said that if God would spare his life he would make it possible for even a ploughboy to know more about Holy Scripture than the Pope himself.   By August of 1525 his translation of the New Testament was complete. Printing began at Cologne, but when the authorities forbade the project, Tyndale escaped to Worms, where 6,000 copies were printed and sold in England by April of 1526. Official opposition in England led to the destruction of most of these early copies.

Tyndale’s English work is similar to that of Martin Luther. Although he used Luther’s German translation, Tyndale also drew upon the Latin Vulgate as well as Erasmus’ Greek text.  Ninety percent of the New Testament in the King James Version (KJV) is Tyndale’s translation. By the same token, where the KJV departed from Tyndale’s wording, the English Revised Version (ERV) of 1881 went back to it. Without question, this first printed English New Testament is the basis of all future works of translation.

1536 Tyndale executed.  Tyndale did not live to complete his Old Testament translation. On May 21, 1535, he was arrested and later executed for heresy at Vilvorde, Belgium, on October 6, 1536. His dying prayer was that the Lord would open the eyes of the King of England. He left behind a manuscript containing the translation of the historical books from Joshua to 2 Chronicles that was finally published in 1537.

1535 Myles Coverdale, student of Tyndale’s, produces a Bible.  It includes 80 books (The 39 Old Testament, 27 New Testament and 14 Apochrypha)  His version uses the translations Tyndale was able to complete.  Coverdale finished translating the rest of the Bible but not being a Hebrew or Greek scholar his portions are based on intermediate Latin and German translations rather than the original Greek and Hebrew.

1537 Matthews Bible printed.  Matthews Bible is really Tyndale’s  translation supplemented by Coverdale’s translation.  Henry VIII through the efforts of Archbishop Crammer and Thomas Cromwell gave permission for this English version of the Bible to be bought and sold throughout Britain.

Historical Background Leading to King James (Protestant) and Rheims-Douay (Catholic) Bibles:

It is during this time that the Protestant Reformers gain political power in England with the breakoff from the Catholic Church by Henry VIII.  The various Bible translations that follow are dependent upon the rise and fall of Protestant power.  Mary Tudor is Catholic and during her time no new translations are permitted.  Elizabeth is Protestant.  Mary Stuart, never allowed to reign, is Catholic.  Her son James who became King James I of England and King James VI of Scotland was raised in England by Elizabeth as a Protestant upon Mary Stuart’s abdication of the crown of Scotland when James was one year of age.

1539 The Great Bible is called that because of it’s size but it is basically Matthews Bible and was authorized for public use. It contains 80 books including the Apochrypha as an appendix.

1546 Council of Trent is called to answer the accusations of corruption and apostasy in the Catholic Church by the Protestant Reformers.  The Council meets over a 27 year period. One of the results is that Jerome’s Latin Vulgate version of the Bible is held to be the official version of the Bible accepted by the Catholic Church.

1560 The Geneva Bible is printed.  Verses are added for the first time in this edition.  It is also the first translation of the Bible based entirely on the original Hebrew and Greek.  It was translated by exiles from England living in Geneva during the Catholic Mary Tudor’s reign.  The majority of the translation  is attributed to William Whittington a relative of John Calvin.

1568 Bishops Bible produced.   Because there was no “official” version of the Bible in England at this time, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested the Geneva Bible be revised by the Bishop’s to be used by all the churches.  This is the version known as The Bishop’s Bible

1609 Rheims-Douay Bible is the First Complete English Catholic Bible.  Called Rheims – Douay because the New Testament portion was first completed in Rheims France in 1582 followed by the Old Testament finished in 1609 in Douay. In this version the 14 books of the Apochrypha are returned to the Bible in the order written rather than kept separate in an appendix

1611 King James Version. The stated purpose of the King James translation was “”not to make a bad version good, but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones one principal good one.”  It is primarily a re-translation of the Bishop’s Bible.  54 men work on translation using all the widely accepted versions up to then including Bishop’s, Geneva, Matthews, Coverdale and Tyndale translation as well as looking at original manuscripts.  All available copies of the original manuscripts are brought in.  It is found that the Hebrew manuscripts are virtually identical while there is wide variations in the Greek manuscripts as they have been hand copied and handed down. The 54 men work as teams checking each other’s work.  It was printed originally with all 80 books including the Apochrypha again as a separate section.

1613-1901: At that time until today translations have continued as translators gained a better understanding of the Hebrew language and the Greek writers.  300 corrections were made in the 1613 version of the King James Version.  In the 18th century Bishop Challoner made revisions to the Rheims Douay Bible removing some Latin terms and adding the use of King James translation in some areas.

The Apochrypha  were removed in 1885 from King James Versions when the English Revised Version was printed and in 1901 when  the American Standard Version was printed.

Conclusion

Jesus says to you: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30. 

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