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Arabic translations of the Bible

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God?
in response to reader comment: Muslims need to disconnect their jackhammers

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Sep 27, 2017 at 17:11

Hi Michael

Many very interesting questions

>The Bible is available in English and Arabic translations; and it is available to Muslims on this very Internet. I found an online Modern Arabic version at:https://www.stepbible.org/version.jsp?version=NAV

The Bible has been translated from Syriac and Coptic to Arabic and this was very early And the Coptic Museum in Cairo has a collection of magnificent fragments of translations with the Coptic text and the Arabic translation The earliest extant translation is from the Monastery of Ste Catherine in the Sinai and it is dated around 850CE

Now was the Bible translated to Arabic before Islam and during Muhammad's life (570CE-632CE) if there was such translation then it is not extant However, the Islamic Historical Tradition (which is not trustworthy) claims that Zayd Ibn Thabit (he was clearly s Jew and he had hair locks) and he was Muhammad's "secretary" was told by Muhammad that he must learn Syriac (and in other traditions Hebrew) so he can read Mukhatatat (codices ?) that Muhammad had received but it is not clear if these were copies of the Bible or not And we are told that Ibn Thabit indeed learned Syriac (and Hebrew) in 17 days! Is this a real story? May be but more likely than not it is hard to believe because the tradition also tells us that Waraqa Ibn Nawfal (Khadija's cousin?) used to read an Arabic translation of the Gospels and he was a Nusrani (Muhammad's elusive Christians)

So there is no reason for us to believe that there was indeed an Arabic translation of the Bible before the Arab invasions in 633CE

BTW you might find this link interesting

http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/arabic-bible-islam/

>You can probably critique this version yourself. With Arabic, there seem to be several problems:
1. The Muslim holy books are written in an archaic form of Arabic, little understood by Arabs in various countries

Well Quranic Arabic is very heterogeneous. There is an interesting literary phenomenon in the Qur'an called by the Muslim Mufasereen: al-Kalam al-Mukarrar (Allah was in the habit of repeating himself ad-nauseam ) What is most interesting is that these verses come in very different literary styles some very archaic and some with very good grammar and why would it be this way Wansbrough called it Variant Traditions and it could very well be because we have multiple authors and some of the material must pre-date Muhammad by a long time Which really means that the Qur'an (it is a loan word from Syriac Quryana) was most likely than not a Christian Lectionary or Kitab Wa'z in Arabic

>2. Vernacular Arabic varies greatly from country to country, so there seems to be no modern international standard.

Well check Wansbrough's view in his book Quranic Studies and it is as follows: Classical Arabic (a language that no one ever spoke as a mother tongue) is really a derivative of Quranic Arabic which means that it was a case of Quranic Arabic ----> Classical Arabic and not Classical Arabic ----> Qur'an

And indeed what we have was a fast transition to Middle Arabic and the creation of the likes of Egyptian Arabic (which is really a language and not a dialect not unlike Latin and Italian) and the vast difference between let us say Egyptian Arabic and Moroccan Arabic They are very different

Now back to the Qur'an and its claim that it is Quranan 'Arabinian or The Arabic Qur'an This is far from the truth The Qur'an is full of non Arabic words as would be expected and check this

http://www.answering-islam.org/Books/Jeffery/Vocabulary/index.htm

There is no doubt that the most important foreign language that shaped the Qur'an is Syriac (Middle Aramaic) and the names of the prophets are written in their Syriac forms and many Syriac words and at times clearly Syriac and not Arabic Grammar And this should not be surprising

>3. Hebrew and Greek idioms cannot successfully be translated into English, much less Arabic. Often, the best "translations" are paraphrases. These are better than nothing.

Again the material that got into the Qur'an came from the Syriac literary sources not from the Greek of the Hebrew Bible and Syriac is very close to Arabic and the source of the Biblical material must be the Peshitta and the Diatessaron

>I don't know how all these problems can be overcome; but I am convinced that if a Muslim, Arabic-speaking or otherwise, really WANTS to understand the Bible, he can find the resources he needs. Sometimes, it seems that conversations in general with people, whether Muslim or not, is like trying to talk to someone while he's operating a jackhammer. Some day soon, God will sever the air hose to the jackhammer, and they will listen.

Don't forget that Muslims do not read their own scriptures and at times do not even know what is in the Qur'an so why should you expect them to read the Bible? BTW I used to find it funny when Pakistani and Indian Muslims try to tell me what the Qur'an says from some tendentious translation from Arabic to English

>I might list a fourth great problem keeping Muslims from reading and understanding the Bible; and that is Jewish and Christian dogma twisting the words to fit their pet doctrines.

Well Muslims' interest in the Bible is not about Jewish or Christian dogma but to prove that Muhammad's bizarre stories about Christianity and Judaism are the correct versions The problem is Muhammad was a poor theologian

>In the end, the most easily read "Bible" is a sincerely believing Christian or Jew, who fears God and keeps His commandments. These may be in short supply.

Agree

Submitting....

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