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More Hard Issues on the Qur’an Fragments

My plan is to make this the final post for now on the issue of the Qur’an fragments discovered at the University of Birmingham.  Obviously the discussion could go on forever (it’s been going on for 1500 years and is not likely to stop any time soon).   But I’m not a scholar of the Qur’an or of Islam, and I would prefer sticking to topics that are within my realm of expertise. I know that comment itself will prompt emails from two groups of people, (a) from Muslims urging me to study the Qur’an so I will see that it is true and convert to Islam and (b) from Christians urging me to subject the Qur’an to the same kind of scrutiny to which critical scholars have subjected the NT, in order to show that Islam too has abundant problems.   The reason I know this will happen is because I get both kinds of emails, *all* the time!   But I’m sorry to say, I’m not going to convert to Islam and I’m not going to [...]

2020-04-03T13:29:54-04:00July 29th, 2015|Reader’s Questions, Religion in the News|

Fundamentalist Mistakes

When, three days ago, I posted my comments about the discovery of a two-page manuscript fragment of the Qur’an that, according to new reports, can be dated (technically, the parchment on which the text is written can be dated) to the lifetime of the prophet Mohammed or to a decade or so later, I had no idea that the post would be such a big deal.   The Facebook version of the post has had nearly245,000 hits. and counting.   Who would-a thought? There are, as you might imagine, many many comments being made.   And it strikes me that many, many of these comments are simply wrong.   I won’t be taking them on one at a time.   I want simply to say something about a strain of comment that I’m getting (including in private email) from fundamentalists. There are various ways that one can define fundamentalism.  (I often say, in jest, that the easiest definition is that a fundamentalist is:  “no fun, too much damn, and not enough mental.”)   I don’t need to go into a lot [...]

More on the Discovery of Ancient Qur’an Fragments

My post on Saturday about the discovery of two pages of the Qur’an in the library of the University of Birmingham that appear to date from the time of Mohammed himself. or a decade or so later, evoked more than the usual response.   My facebook post has received nearly 260,000 hits.   I think before that my previous highest hit total was 25,000 or so.   Amazing amount of interest in this. And so I’m going to do something I’ve never done before on the 3+ years of the blog:  I’m going to post several comments that I have received (on the assumption that many people reading the blog do not read all the comments and my responses to them) (if I’m completely wrong about that, I’d like to know) (though I’m not sure how I could ever get enough responses to see that I’m *completely* wrong.  :-) )    will say something  about each one – the first two are typical of several that I’ve gotten.  The last two are hard-hitting and particularly informative.   (I will not [...]

2017-11-29T21:26:27-05:00July 27th, 2015|Reader’s Questions, Religion in the News|

The Significance of an Astounding New Discovery

Those of you who follow the news have heard that a truly great manuscript discovery has been made public this week, coming out of the University of Birmingham, England.   The university has a very important collection of manuscripts, and for New Testament scholars it is famous for its Institute devoted to the study, analysis, and editing of Gospel manuscripts, an institute headed by my long-time friend and colleague David Parker, indisputably one of the top NT textual scholars in the world. But the discovery that has been made is not connected to the New Testament.  It is connected to the Qur’an.  Since 1932 the university has had, among its collected works, a virtually full two page fragment of the Qur’an.   Recently they decided to see if they could come up with a (relatively) precise date for these pages.   And so they had a carbon-14 dating done.   The results are nothing less than astounding.  See, e.g., Let me say that carbon-14 dating is indeed a science, but it’s not a highly exact science.  It dates [...]

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