Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#25)
10/10/2005 - James WhiteThe next variant in a noted by Bentley and repeated by Saifullah and Azmy is found by comparing Luke 15:19 with vs. 21. Bentley claims, "Now the delightful change in later manuscripts is that the son, himself so unexpectedly welcomed by his father, prudently omits to offer himself as a hired servant!" Delightful? In any case, there is a fair amount of evidence for the inclusion of the phrase in verse 21, however, once again Bentley shows his unfamiliarity with textual sources in that he says "later manuscripts...omit" the reading. Except that P75, which clearly pre-dates a, likewise does not contain the phrase in question. More probably you have a common textual variant here: same phraseology in both verses, and given the familiarity of a scribe with v. 19 and the inclusion of the phrase leads to its inclusion in v. 21; on the other hand, a good argument could be made that since the phrase in question ends in sou and the final phrase preceding it likewise ends in sou, a normal example of "similar endings" could be in play. In any case, we must again remind the reader: at least the Christian has the manuscript evidence to see the variation: how many of these existed in the pre-Uthmanian Qur'anic manuscripts which went up in flames?
At this point Bentley (whose track record so far has been pretty miserable) transitions into a brief discussion of Mark 16:9-20 relevant to the resurrection account. Specifically, after citing an encouraging statement from Tischendorf concerning Christian faith, our authors once again begin beating upon the "longer ending of Mark" drum. Though Mark 16 does proclaim the resurrection, since there is no post-resurrection appearance of Jesus, this, it seems, is a terrible blow to Christian belief (the assumption being, of course, that every gospel has to record the same details in the same fashion, a common error of anti-Christian polemicists, religious and non-religious alike). The idea that Mark may have had sufficient reasons unto himself to end where he did does not seem to cross the mind of zealous critics, nor do they seem to allow for the possibility that God is more than sufficiently in control of His creation, let alone the creation of His Scriptures, to make sure we get the message with more than enough repetition (the God who inspired Mark well knew about Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, 1 Corinthians, etc.). In any case, I have addressed the various endings of Mark in The King James Only Controversy. Suffice it to say, a is not alone in raising questions concerning the ending of the Gospel of Mark.
Amazingly, after all this time, we finally come to the end of the citation of Bentley on the part of Saifullah and Azmy. After working through his many less-than-factual statements and his general misunderstanding of textual issues, we are left with little basis upon which to accept S&A's smug statement, "Now that we know that the contents of Codex Sinaiticus are different from modern day Protestant Bibles, we have provided Campbell with good reasons to cry. His cornerstone for the historical proof of textual integrity of the Bible lies shattered before his own eyes when tangible and touchable evidences are presented. Unfortunately for him, emotionalism and sob-stories are not substantive proofs for the textual integrity of the Bible." Of course, S&A have done little more than plagiarize a poor source, and evidently lack the acumen to identify the problems in the materials they are using. One truly wonders if they accept any of the testimony regarding the early textual problems with the Qur'an? Or do they apply a completely different standard to the Qur'an than they apply to the Bible? It has been my experience that Islamic apologists do indeed utilize glaring double standards in this arena.
We will continue with our examination of Saifullah and Azmy's article, though our progress should speed up now that we are not dealing with the Bentley citation one variant at a time.