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The History and the authenticity of the Injeel

Jesus conveyed orally to the people the Bible that Allah (God) had originally revealed to him. His disciples, too, propagated it among the people by the spoken words in such a manner that they presented an admixture of their Prophet's life-story and the revealed verses of the Bible. None of this material was put into writing during the lifetime of Jesus (peace be upon him) or even in the period following him. It fell to the lot of the Christians whose vernacular was Greek to transform the oral traditions into writing. It must be borne in mind that Christ's native tongue was Syriac or Aramaic and his disciples, too, spoke the same language.

Most Greek-speaking authors heard these traditions in the Aramaic vernacular and committed them to writing in Greek. None of these writings is dated prior to the year 70 AD; there is not a single instance in these works where the author has cited an authority for an event or maxim attributed to Jesus in order that we might construct a chain of transmission. Furthermore, even their works have not survived. Thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were collected, but none of them is older than the 4th century AD; rather the origin of most of them does not go beyond the period intervening between the 11th and the 14th centuries. Some scattered fragments on papyrus found in Egypt claim no greater antiquity than the third century. Who translated the Bible from Greek into Latin and when did he do it, we cannot say.

In the 4th century AD, the Pope commissioned a review of the Latin translation. In the sixteenth century, this was discarded and a fresh translation from Greek into Latin was prepared. The four Bibles were more probably rendered into Syriac language from Greek in 200 AD, nevertheless, the oldest Syriac manuscript extant was written in the 4th century. A hand-written copy dating back to the 5th century AD, contains in most parts a different version.

Among the Arabic translations made from Syriac none is known to have been prepared before the 8th century AD It is a strange fact that about seventy different versions of the Bible were prepared, four of which were approved by the leaders of the Christian religion, while the rest were rejected by them. We have no information as to what were the grounds of their approval or rejection. However, can this material be credited with authenticity to any extent as regards the character and message (Gospel) of Jesus?

This is taken from part of a speech "Message of Prophet's (saw) Seerah", given by Syed Abul 'Aala Muadoodi. He compares the history and authenticity of three scriptures, Torah, Injeel and Quran.

If you need more help, please send e-mail. mmirza@ee.eng.ohio-state.edu (Muhammad Mirza)

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