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Chapter 27

The Revised Standard Version and Islam

 

One significant feature of the use of the perverted manuscripts of Scripture is its influence upon those of other faiths. This aspect has, we believe, received no attention in any other work considering the new translations of Scripture. The influence of the new translations is most marked in Islam. To many in the West it may seem to be a matter of minor import. But such ignore that Islam is growing at a rate which exceeds that of Christianity and that almost one-fifth of the population of the world professes this faith. Only nine nations upon earth have populations exceeding 100 million. Yet three of these (Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) are Islamic nations and three others (India, China, and the former U.S.S.R.) have large Islamic minorities. Even in huge nations which we traditionally see as Christian, Islam is making giant strides. Thus the Islamic population of Brazil has reached two million. In Colombia where the population contained only four Islamic believers per 10,000 citizens in 1988, no fewer than 26 adherents of that persuasion were members of parliament; two held ministerial portfolios and many of the journalists of the country professed the Islamic faith.

The use of the corrupted version of Scripture is understandably cited by Moslem apologists as proof beyond dispute that the Bible has been corrupted by human devising. And unquestionably, so it has, in the manuscripts upon which the new translations are based. In his book, The Choice—the Qur’an or the Bible, the South African Moslem author, Ahmad Deedat, devotes an entire chapter to the topic of The Multiple Bible Versions. He avidly quotes from the demeaning introduction to the Revised Standard Version of Scripture which falsely asserts that

The King James Version has grave defects and that these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision. Ahmad Deedat, The Choice—the Qur’an or the Bible, 7, The Thinker’s Library, Selangor, Malaysia

Little could the writers of this disgraceful introduction have anticipated that their words would be seized upon as evidence of the inferiority of the Bible as compared with the Qur’an, concerning which Sir William Muir is credited with asserting two hundred years ago:

There is probably in the world no other book that has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text. Ibid, 9

It is of no casual interest that Deedat invariably points to the Catholic and the modern Protestant versions as more accurate than the King James Version. This latter version always appears to strike at the heart of unbelievers and call forth their greatest wrath. This striking power in itself should be cause for contemplation. Quoting God’s denunciation of those who delete material from Scripture (Revelation 22:18-19), Deedat attacks Protestants who have

bravely expunged seven whole books from their Book of God. Ibid., 9, emphasis in the original

His reference is here to the absence of the Apocryphal books from the King James Version of Scripture.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have, for their own purpose, also made efforts to destroy the credibility of the King James Version of the Bible. They claim that

as early as 1720, an English authority estimated that there were at least 20,000 errors in the two editions of the New Testament commonly read by Protestants and Catholics. Modern students say that there are probably 50,000 errors. Awake, September 8, 1957

This article did not escape Deedat’s attention. When visited by a Jehovah’s Witness in his home, he produced the article, The following conversation ensued.

I asked, "Is this yours?" He readily recognized his own. I said, "It says: 50,000 errors in the Bible, is it true?" "What’s that!" he exclaimed. I repeated, "I said, that it says that there are 50,000 errors in your Bible."

"Where did you get that?" he asked. (This was printed 23 years ago, when he was perhaps a little nipper.) I said, "Leave the fancy talk aside—is this yours?" pointing again to the monograph, "Awake." He said, "Can I have a look?"

"Of course," I said. I handed him the page. He started perusing. They (the Jehovah’s Witnesses) are trained. They attend classes five times a week in their "Kingdom Halls." Naturally they are the fittest missionaries among the thousand-and-one-sects-and-denominations of Christendom. They are taught that when cornered, do not commit yourself to anything, do not open your mouth. Wait for the Holy Ghost to inspire you with what to say. I silently kept watching him, while he browsed the page. Suddenly, he looked up. He had found it. The "Holy Ghost" had tickled him.

He began, "The article says that most of these errors have been eliminated."

I asked, "If MOST are eliminated how many remain out of the 50,000? 5,000?, 500?, 50? Even if 50 remain, do you attribute those errors to God?" He was speechless. He excused himself by suggesting that he will come again with some senior member of his Church. That will be the day! Ahmad Deedat, op. cit., 13-14

The perversions of Scripture relating to Christ’s divinity have been eagerly exploited in the Islamic world. Referring to the exclusion of 1 John 5:7 from all modern versions, Deedat asserts:

This verse is the closest approximation to what the Christians call their Holy Trinity in the encyclopedia called the Bible. This keystone of the Christian faith has been scrapped from the Revised Standard Version without even a semblance of explanation. It has been a pious fraud all along and well-deservedly has been expunged in the RSV for the English-speaking people. Ahmad Deedat, op. cit., 16

Here the perverted text used in the modern versions of Scripture is used as a powerful argument by Moslems against the divinity of Christ, whom they debase to the status of a mere prophet.

Another Islamic author seizes upon the "evidence" of some modern versions of Scripture which state that the last verses of Mark, chapter 16, are not authentic, to cast doubt upon Christ’s ascension.

Neither Matthew nor John speaks of Jesus’ Ascension. Luke in his gospel situates it on the day of the Resurrection and forty days later in the Acts of the Apostles, of which he is said to be the author. Mark mentions it (without giving a date) in a conclusion thought today not to be authentic. The Ascension, therefore, has no solid scriptural basis. Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, 62. The Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah, Tripoli, emphasis added

Many more examples of the misuse of the new versions of Scripture by Islamic apologists could be cited. There is no doubt that these versions are accomplishing much more harm to God’s cause in the non-Christian world. Missionaries there must meet these arguments. Much time is thus needlessly expended which could be better invested presenting positive truth.

The new translations of Scripture are the work of Catholics, a segment of Christianity which has never valued God’s Word, and of Protestant higher critics, and often of Jews. This unholy alliance has performed untold evil to the cause of God. That Protestants would promote translations of Scripture bearing such poor credentials needs thorough investigation. We should be careful not to support such works. Virtually all the arguments used against the Holy Bible by Islamic authors are not original but are extracted from the works of "Christian" theologians with a penchant for higher criticism. Platitudes used by "Christian thinkers" who do not believe the historicity of the gospels are understandably scorned by writers from Moslem nations. Their opposition to Scripture is bolstered by that which they read in "Christian" literature. Thus Bucaille used Roguet’s wordy excuse for ignoring the plain statements of fact in the gospels as proof of the Bible’s lack of veracity. Roguet’s offending statement follows:

Here, as in many similar cases, the problem only appears insuperable if one takes biblical statements literally, and forgets their religious significance. It is not a matter of breaking down the factual reality into symbolism which is inconsistent, but rather of looking for the theological intentions of those revealing these mysteries to us by providing us with facts we can apprehend with our senses and signs appropriate to our incarnate spirit. Roguet, Initiation to the Gospel, 187, 1973

By subtly using the doubt-engendering words of apostate theologians and their scriptural translations, non-Christian authors powerfully hinder the progress of the gospel. This hindrance to our missionary endeavors has scarcely received attention in the West. But for those who are on the cutting edge of the worldwide commission, it is significant. The time surely has come for God’s people to take a stand against perverted scriptural versions.

 


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