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18. Bible and Qur'an Series
BOOKLET 3 - The Textual History of The Qur'an and the Bible
(A reply to Amad Deedat's Booklet: Is the Bible God's Word?)
A Study of the Qur'an and the Bible

8. Alleged Contradictions in the Bible

Deedat begins his seventh chapter “The Acid Test” with a claim that there is a contradiction between 2 Samuel 24:1, where we read that the Lord moved David to number Israel, and 1 Chronicles 21:1, which says it was Satan who provoked him to do so. Anyone who has a reasonable knowledge of both the Bible and the Qur'an will immediately perceive that Deedat is exposing nothing but his hopelessly inadequate understanding of a distinctive feature of the theology of both books. In the Qur'an itself we find a similar passage which sheds much light on this subject:

Seest thou not that we have set the devils on the disbelievers to confound them with confusion? (Surah Mar­yam 19:83)

Here we read that Allah sets devils on unbelievers. Therefore, whereas it is God who moves them to confusion, he uses the devils to provoke them towards it. In precisely the same way it was God who moved against David and used Satan to provoke him to number Israel. Likewise in the Book of Job in the Bible we read that Satan was given power over Job (Ayyub in the Qur'an) to afflict him (Job 1:12) but that God later spoke as if it was he who was moved against him (Job 2:3). Whenever Satan provokes men the action can also indirectly be described as the movement of God for without his permission Satan could achieve nothing. This quote from Zamakshari's commentary on Surah 2:7 (Allah hath sealed their hearing and their hearts) should suffice as the final word on this matter:

It is now in reality Satan or the unbeliever who has sealed the heart. However, since it is God who has granted to him the ability and possibility to do it, the sealing is ascribed to him in the same sense as an act which he has caused. (Gätje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, page 223).

It appears that novices like Deedat should take a lesson in Qur'anic theology from renowned scholars like Zamakshari before exposing themselves to ridicule through unwarranted attacks on the Bible.

Deedat's further points about the three or seven years of plagues in 2 Samuel 24:13 and 1 Chronicles 21:11 and other similar discrepancies are all accounted for as minor copyist errors where scribes mistook one figure for another. For example in Hebrew one very small word is used for 2000 in 1 Kings 7:26 and it is remarkably similar to the figure for 3000 found in 2 Chronicles 4:5 (see Deedat, Is the Bible God's Word?, page 42). To any objective enquirer it is clear that a scribe in the latter case mistook 2000 for 3000. In all the cases set out by Deedat we have minor copyist errors easily identifiable as such and not contradictions in the normal sense of the word as he suggests. No one has ever shown us what effect these negligible errors have on the contents of the Bible as a whole.

We can just as easily allege that there is a palpable contradiction in the Qur'an where a day with God is described as a “thousand years” in our reckoning (Surah al-Sajda 32:5) whereas in an earlier Surah such a day is described as “fifty thousand years” (Surah al-Ma'arij 70:4). Instead of haranguing about the fact that 2 Chronicles 9:25 speaks of four thousand stalls while 1 Kings 4:26 speaks of forty thousand, which he describes as a “staggering discrepency (sic!) of 36000” (Is the Bible God's Word?, page 44), Deedat should rather explain an even more staggering discrepancy of “49000” whole years which have summarily disappeared from the reckoning of a day with God in the Qur'an.

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