The Bible, the Qur’an and Science (2/3) [Archives:2005/846/Culture]

May 30 2005

Abu Alkalmah Al-Tayyibah
Author: Maurice Baucaille

Language: English (translated from French)

Publisher: American Trust Publications 1

Year Published: (1st) 1978

“There are those, from the people of the Scriptures, who believe in Allah2, and that which was descended to you, and that which descended to them, submissive, they do not purchase the verses of Allah at a small price3. Those, are for whom there is reward with their Lord, God is speedy in his accounting ” (The Holy Qur'an III/68)

We gave to Moses the Scripture and with him we designated his brother Harun4 a Minister5 (The Holy Qur'an XXV/35

Then the angels said to Mariam6: Verily does Allah gives you advance word from Him, his name is Christ, Jesus the son of Mariam, a distinguished personality in this world and the hereafter and among the intimate He will teach him the Scriptures, wisdom, the Torah and the Bible.

In this part of the review of the above book, we will consider how the author dissects the Torah and Old and New Testament part of the Bible.

The author of the book has concluded that in the Old Testament, while not questioning the revelation origin of the scripture, the human element in the Old Testament is seen to be quite considerable. He adds: “It is not difficult to understand why from version to version (the author has shown the various versions, editions and languages that the Bible has been produced in over the years) and translation to translation, with all the corrections inevitably resulting, it was possible for the original text to have been transformed doing the course of more than two thousand years” (underlined by literary corner).

To strengthen the legitimacy of the genuineness of original revelation, Maurice Baucaille points out: “It is perfectly possible to believe in the reality of the Creation, God's transmission to Moses of the Ten Commandments, Divine intercession in human affairs, e.g., at the time of Solomon.” However he qualifies this presupposition: “This does not stop us, at the same time, from considering that what has been conveyed to us is the gist of these facts, and that the detail in the description should be subjected to rigorous criticism.”

The author then goes into the historical details of how the Books of the Old Testament came to be collected, noting them to be a “collection of works of greatly differing length and many different genres written in several languages over a period of more than nine hundred years”.

Then the author goes into the comparison of the descriptions or events in the Old Testament and the findings of modern science that are of relevance. His emphasis in this regard is the Creation (of both the Universe and Mankind). He suggests that there are contradictions within the accepted Yahwist and Sacredotal texts, with the latter containing additions to the similar items covered by both. For example the Yahwist version makes no mention of the Sabbath whereas the Sacredotal insists on the Seventh Day of the Creation Period, being the day that God rested, hence the Sabbath. He also questions some of the logic in the order of appearance of creatures: “The beasts of the Earth are not mentioned until the sixth day in Genesis; after the appearance of the birds. This order of appearance, beasts of the earth after birds is not therefore acceptable.” The time span (six days) does not agree with the modern scientific assertion that the Earth alone went through four stages of formulation, with man appearing in the fourth. The span here is 4 – billion years. There are also doubts as to the genealogical tables offered in the Bible, which make Adam the father of mankind go back 40 centuries before Christ, whereas science and archeology have shown man to go back to tens of thousands of years, if not hundreds of thousands of years. Baucaille wonders why many Bible experts do not delve into such issues, but rather leave them there and regard them as merely necessitated by the authors to conform to the acceptable beliefs of their time, depending on who is doing the writing. Furthermore, the Church for many centuries, prior to the 17th Century would not sanction arguments against Biblical text even if it contradicted itself from version (Yahwist-earlier, to Sacredotal-later). The additions that were found in the Sacerdotal version, clearly reflect a human interference. He then points out the issue of the Flood and how it relates to archeological and scientific reasoning, ruling out the Flood as being a full destruction of all life and the regeneration of civilizations in less than three hundred years. This contradicts with many archeological findings in Egypt and Babylonia, for example.

On the Gospels, or the New Testament (the words of Jesus Christ), the author notes that there was a deliberate attempt to avoid having all the New Testament circulate among the worshippers: “At a Roman Catholic school, I had copies of the works of Virgil and Plato, but I did not have the New Testament. The Greek text of this would nevertheless have been instructive. It was only much later on that I realized why they had not set us translations of the holy writings of Christianity. The latter could have led us to ask our teachers questions they would have found it difficult to answer.” After noting the inconsistencies and difficulties in the acceptance of the genuineness of the textual versions of the Gospels the author points out: “Observations such as these denote the element of human participation in the writing and modification of the tests The author presents how modern historians or chroniclers have been able to come out with a plausible rendition of the early days of Christianity and how the Gospels were formed. Out of Judaeo-Christianity and Pauline Christianity, the latter triumphed. The struggle between the two, however produced the Gospels as they are known today. While he Gospels originate in their most recent versions to the Second Century A.D. it was not clear whether they were reliant on textual material or related traditions (oral renditions). In 170 AD he Gospels acquired the status of canonic literature.

The modern attitude towards the Gospel maybe summarized as the author has suggested: “According to the declarations of the Second Vatican Council, a faithful account of the actions and words of Jesus is to be found in the Gospels; but it is impossible to reconcile this with the existence in the text of contradictions, improbabilities, things which are materially impossible or statements which run contrary to established reality”.

In summary, the Gospels are the life story, teachings and sayings of Jesus Christ, in four different versions, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Although they are taught by the Church to be apostles of Jesus, the author points out that they in fact wrote their gospels much later than the time that Jesus lived. The author points out the various discrepancies and inconsistencies in the four Gospels and notes the far deviations found in John's Gospels with respect to the other three. After discussing the source background and the linkages and discrepancies or differences among the four Gospels, the author writes: “The conclusion to be drawn from the above is that when we read the Gospel, we can no longer be sure that we are reading Jesus' words.

1 The English version. The French version was first published in May 1976, with a Fourth Edition published in 1977. The book apparently aroused the interest of the Presidency of the Shari'ah Courts in Doha, Qatar, who contributed to the printing of the English translation.

2 I.e., God

3 i.e., they place great value to what Allah says in the Scriptures.

4 I.e., Aaron

5 i.e., a distinguished assistant.

6 I.e., Mary (PABUH)