Dude where is my scholarship?
                                   A Response To The Polemics of James White

Ehteshaam Gulam


On  June 21 2010 I had a brief "cross examination" type Debate with James White the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries.
As for the details as how this happened, Please see James White Blog on this. At first I was excited. James White was not like the polemical
David Wood or Mary Jo Sharp. He knows his stuff and he is a scholar. But after a brief dialouge with him, I am very disappointed in James White.
To me he is one of those people who just loves the sound of his own voice, lives in his own self praising world and refuses to listen to anyone who
disagrees with him.

In fact I can postively say he is a Christian  polemist ( and not a respectable scholar like Bart Ehrman) and has difficulites staying on topic.
He likes to showboat for his audience (He reminds me of Nabeel Qureshi) and ignores scholarship which disagrees with his  position. I will briefly comment
on our exchange and why I feel that White raises too many red herrings when it comes to a  certain topic and why I honestly believe James White does
not know Islam or even his own religion, Christianity.

How Much of Christianity and Islam does James White Really Know?

In our exchange James White made a very bizzare claim about the Gospel of Mark. He said that there is no evidence that the Gospel of Mark
is our earliest Gospel. However as one Christian website states:

"Mark is the earliest gospel, written around forty years after the historical life of Jesus. During those four decades, the traditions about Jesus developed." [1]

Almost all scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark is the earliest Gospel. The other Gosepls, the annoymous authors of Matthew and Luke depended on
The Gospel of Mark and expanded on his narrative.  This is a view held by all scholars, including New Testament Scholar, Bart Ehrman.
Most scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark (written during 70 A.D.) is our earliest Gospel. [2] Of course Dr.White will have none of this.

Dr.White also disagreed that Early Christianity was very diverse. Most scholars (and not just Bart Ehmran) agree that Early Christianity was in fact
very diverse. In Early Christianity, there were multiple Churches, Scirptures, Gospels (such as the Gospel of Peter, Mary, Eve, Ebionites), etc. There
were also early Christian groups such as The Ebionites and the Marconites [3] that held different views in regards to Jesus. The Ebionites were an early
Christian group that said that Jesus was a human--- and the adopted not begotten son of God. Most scholars say that the Ebionites were closer to the
Historical Jesus than other groups like the Marconites (who believed Jesus was divine). Again Dr.White will have none of this.

As for Islam, Dr.White brought up the preservation of the Quran. First off Scholars agree that the Quran we have today goes back to Prophet Muhammad.
The Quran we have today is the same recitied by Prophet Muhammad. Also we have very early manuscripts of the Quran. Moreover the Quran was revealed
both orally and by written text. The two keep each other in check.

However when it comes to the New Testament... its a different story. The Fact is we don't know who wrote the Gospels. We don't know when they wrote them
or where they wrote them, we don't know what their sources were or even whether their sources are reliable or not. The earliest New Testament manuscripts are
quite fragmentary and even completely lacking from the first century. Below I will list scholars who agree with me on that:

Helmut Koester notes:

... the manuscript tradition for the NT writings is uneven, and, for the first century of the manuscript transmission, even completely lacking. There are only about four dozen manuscripts which contain the entire NT anyway, and only the smaller portions of these are uncials from V to X CE, the others medieval minuscules. All other manuscripts contain but a part of the NT, and among these the majority are manuscripts of the gospels, while the Pauline epistles are represented less frequently, and manuscripts of the Catholic Epistles - not the mention the Revelation of John - are comparatively rare.  (Helmut Koester, An Introduction To The New Testament: History And Literature Of Early Christianity (Vol. 2), Walter De Gruyter, 1982, p. 19.)

There appear to be no more than 61 manuscripts containing the whole of the New Testament:

The number of Greek "manuscripts that contain the entire New Testament canon" has recently been set at sixty-one (including one duplicate).1 This is one more than previously calculated. In The Text of the New Testament the Alands claimed that only three uncials and fifty-six minuscules (excluding the duplicate one) "contain the whole of the New Testament"2  In the new edition of his Text of the New Testament, Bruce Metzger claims fifty-eight complete copies but provides no documentation.3 The fluctuation in count indicates the uncertainty over the actual contents of many of the minuscules.4 Even the three great uncials on the list require a disclaimer, because their contents are not limited to "the whole New Testament:" Codex Sinaiticus . also includes Barnabas and Hermas, while Codex Alexandrinus (A, 02) adds 1-2 Clement. Codex Ephraemi (C, 04) has many lacunae, including all of 2 Thessalonians, 2 John, and the ending, so it could have contained other writings as well. Codex Vaticanus (B, 03) has to be excluded because it ends at Heb 9:13, with the rest of Hebrews and Revelation supplied by a minuscule manuscript from the fifteenth century. As a result, the portion originally located between Hebrews and Revelation in the sequence of many earlier manuscripts, the Pastoral Letters and Philemon, is lacking entirely in the present combination of the two manuscripts. With such variations in mind, these "complete New Testament manuscripts" are the ones assumed to have been "originally complete" or "written as complete New Testaments,"5 so far as can be determined. (Daryl D. Schmidt, The Greek New Testament as a Codex, in, L. M. McDonald and J. A. Sanders (Editors), The Canon Debate, 2002, Hendrickson Publishers, p. 467.)

This is not the case with the Quran, as we have very early manuscripts of theQuran.  Dr. White has also said that Ibn Masud did not believe in the Uthmanic manuscripts of the Quran. However that is not true, as Ibn Masud did in fact before he died confirmed to have believed in the Uthamic manuscripts of the Quran:

Al-Dhahabi said:

It has been reported that Ibn Masud agreed and followed Uthman . (Al-Dhahabi, Siyar 'A'lam al-Nabula', ed. Shu'ayb al-Arna'ut and Husayn al-Asad, vol. I p. 488.)

Once Ibn Masud realized his error and apologised, he reprimanded some of his angry followers with these words:

Be quiet. This has been done under our eyes. And if I were to take over from him what 'Uthman has taken charge of, I would surely have followed his way. (Ibn Masud's statement cited in: Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, Beirut, 1987, vol. III, p. 9)

For more evidence that Ibn Masud agreed with the text of Uthman the reader is recommended to go to my essay in regards to this issue [5]

As for Islam, The Quran and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) make it clear that the Bible is corrupt. I'll quote some passages of the Quran that
speak about the corruption of the Bible:

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:"This is from Allah," to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby. (Quran 2:79)

Here we clearly see that Allah is warning those (Jews) who wrote the scripture from their own selves and then claimed that it was from God. A clear charge of TEXTUAL corruption. The verse is clear is clearly stating that whatever the Jews wrote, they claimed it was from God. 

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- (Quran 4:157)

The verse is making it clear that the crucifixion of Jesus is conjecture or corruption. The crucifixion of Jesus is clearly taught in the Gospels that we have today, thus the Qur'an is clearly in an indirect way saying that this is corrupted.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)'s Views of the Bible and other Islamic Scholars views of the Bible

In Islam the Quran and Prophet Muhammad are deemed to be the most authentic authorities when it comes to discussing matters of theology.
As we've seen the Quran clearly tells us that the Bible is corrupt. However it is not only the Quran which informs us that the Bible is corrupt
but Prophet Muhammad himself had said that the Bible (the Jewish and Christain scriptures) are corrupt:

Al-Hakim related in Al-Mustadrak the following Hadith...

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah As-Saffar told us: Ahmad Ibn Mahdi Ibn Rustum Al-Asfahani told us: Mu'azh Ibn Hisham Ad-Distwani told us: my father told me: Al-Qasim Ibn 'Awf Ash-Shaybani told me: Mu'azh Ibn Jabal - radiya Allahu 'anhu - told us that he went to Sham and saw the Christians prostrate to their Bishops and priests and saw the Jews prostrate to their Rabbis and scholars. He said, "Why do you do this?" they answered, "This is the greeting of Prophets (peace be upon him)". I said, "We better do this to our Prophet". Allah's Prophet - salla Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam - said, "They lied about their Prophets just as they distorted their Book. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone, I would command woman to prostrate to her husband for his great right upon her. No woman will taste the sweetness of Faith till she does her husband's rights even if he asks herself while she is on a Qutub"

(Al-Hakim commented, "This hadith is authentic according to standards of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, but they did not relate it" This hadith was also related by At-Tabarani in "Al-Mu'jam Al-Kabir" vol. 8, p.31 but it includes An-Nahhas Ibn Fahm who is a weak narrator. Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal related it with a sound chain of transmission in his Musnad vol. 4, p. 381 (online source) with the following chain: 'Abdullah told us: my father (Ibn Hanbal) told me: Mu'azh Ibn Hisham told us: my father told me: Al-Qasim Ibn 'Awf - a man from Al-Kufa, one of Bani Murra Ibn Hammam - told me: Mu'azh Ibn Jabal - radiya Allahu 'anhu - told us that .. and mentioned the hadith. This hadith has been authenticated by Ibn Hajar Al Haytami in his Majma' Al Zawaaid, Volume 4, page 312. He said of the narrators in the chain 'their men are men of authenticity' ) 

Islamic Scholars Views on the Bible

Also Muslim commentaors such as Al-Tabari, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Hazm,  all say that the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is corrupt.
Below I will quote them:


Also, Ibn Kathir quotes Imam Tabari as saying...

Ibn Jarir said, "The Qur'an is trustworthy over the Books that preceded it. Therefore, whatever in these previous Books conforms to the Qur'an is true, and whatever disagrees with the Qur'an is false.'' (Tafsir Ibn Kathir's commentary on Quran 2:41, You can also see Al Tabari saying this himself in his commentary on
Surah 2:41)

Ibn Kathir states:

I [Ibn Kathir] say: As for the Arabic Torah in their hands, no sane person doubts its alteration, textual corruption, change of stories and words, additions and obvious clear omissions. Glaring lies and extreme errors are so abundant in it. As regards what they recite with their tongues and write with their pens, we have no access to, but it is assumed they are dishonest liars who frequently invent forgeries against Allah, His Messengers and Books.As for Christians, their four Gospels on authority of Marks, Luke, Matthew and John are much more divergent and different by addition and omission than the Torah. They disobeyed the rulings of the Torah and the Injil in so many things they legalized for themselves. (Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah, Volume 2, pages 152-153)

Ibn Abbas

Ibn Abbas was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), an Islamic scholar and a important commentator of the Quran, who
was given a special prayer by the Prophet to teach the Quran. [4] Ibn Abbas, clearly states that the Bible (or the Jewish and Christian scriptures)
is corrupt:

Narrated 'Ikrima:Ibn 'Abbaas said, "How can you ask the people of the Scriptures about their Books while you have Allah's Book (the Qur'an) which is the most recent of the Books revealed by Allah, and you read it in its pure undistorted form?" (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 614)

Narrated 'Ubaidullah bin 'Abdullah: 'Abdullah bin 'Abbaas said, "O the group of Muslims! How can you ask the people of the Scriptures about anything while your Book which Allah has revealed to your Prophet contains the most recent news from Allah and is pure and not distorted? Allah has told you that the people of the Scriptures have changed some of Allah's Books and distorted it and wrote something with their own hands and said, 'This is from Allah, so as to have a minor gain for it. Won't the knowledge that has come to you stop you from asking them? No, by Allah, we have never seen a man from them asking you about that (the Book Al-Qur'an ) which has been revealed to you. (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 614)

Ibn Abbas position is clear. According to him, the Jews and Christians have corrupted their scriptures.

In Conclusion Islam teaches that the Bible is corrupt. Dr. White cannot get around this fact.

The Red-Herrings of James White

James White very bizzarely brought up the Orientalists in our exchange in order to do some consistency control. He thought he could outsmart the Muslims
saying that when we bring up the Atheists scholarship why do we reject the Orientalist scholarship? Because the Orientalist do not know Islam. Orientalits
have not studied Arabic, The Transmission of the Quran, Hadith literature, etc. However people such as Bart Ehrman, have studied Christianity. Bart Ehrman
knows Greek, knows the New Testament manuscripts, is an authority of Early Christianity and the Historical Jesus. So this is why Muslims like myself use
Bart Ehrman--- because he knows his material, Christianity. The Orientalists do not know Islam, the language or have read Tafsir, hadith studies books or
a vast majority of Islamic scholarship (because the best materials of Islam are in Arabic). 

Also James White brought up Prophet Muhammad's night journey, and asked whether Prophet Muhammad proved his night journey. Well, Prophet
Muhammad did in fact proved his night journey.[6]

So--- Who Was the Historical Jesus?

Jesus was an Apocalyptic Jewish Prophet. Scholars who agree that Jesus was a Jewish Prophet include:

- E.P. Sanders
- Bart Ehrman
- Dale C. Allison
- Paula Fredriksen
- Geza Vermas

Who agrees with James White position that Jesus was the divine son of God? Nobody. Thus as I said, I have the vast amount
of scholarship that supports my position-- that Jesus was a human prophet. No scholarship on James White claim that Jesus is
the divine son of God.

Who Wrote The Gospels? (Hint: It wasn't Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

The fact is we don't know who wrote the Gospels. We don't know when they wrote them, or where they wrote them or
even whether their sources are relibale or not. As Bart Ehrman states:

"The Gospels were written by annoymous Greek speaking and writing Christians living in the late first century.... they are
not eye witness accounts..... some time in the later second century were the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John added
to these annoymous books".

Of course the hadith are better preserved that the Gospels [7].

Problems with Paul/ Jesus in Paul's writings

Dr. White is apparently embarrssed by Paul's slience about Jesus. Paul never mentions anything about Jesus. Paul never met Jesus,
Paul never mentions anything about Jesus. Paul never mentions Jesus virgin birth, his miracles, his sayings, etc. This is important because
Paul made the claim that he met with the actual disciples of Jesus. Where is the proof for this claim? It's just not there.

Moreover how did Paul know how Jesus looked like? Paul never met the historical Jesus-- so how did Paul know it was Jesus who came
to him in that vision to the road to Damascus?


In conclusion, I am very disappointed in my brief exchange with Dr. White. He fails to stick to the topic, rises too many red herrings, has not
read Quranic commentators properly (like Ibn Kathir, Al-Tabari, Ibn Abbas), does not know any Arabic, and is dishonest when it comes to
New Testament scholarship and N.T. Critics (like Bart Ehrman). He also has no respect for his audience and showboats for his audience.
I have no interest in engaging in conversations with James White again because of his ignorance, inconsistent scholarship, his lack of credentials
when it comes to Islam, his lack of knowledge of the Arabic language, and bascially his lack of knowledge of Islam.

While I admit I am not a good speaking debater (I have admitted this before) I will destroy James White or anyone else if it comes to a textual
debate. I have decided to quit public debates, and stick to textual debates. I will in the future however give lectures and talks in regards to Islam
and Christianity.

In conclusion, James White is not a true or honest scholar (I don't believe he is a scholar, just straight up polemical) and in his own words
his arguements on Christianity and Islam are:

"Not worth listening to".

Thus I don't have the time or energy in engaging in conversations with people like James White who disregard scholarship that doesn't agree with them
, constatnly self-praise themselves and don't really know anything about Islam. Bart Ehrman is a Scholar of Christianity. James White is polemical.

The Arrogance and Ignorance of James White never ceases to amaze me. Thus again it is not worth my time to engage in converstions
with arrogant men like him.

Notes and References

[1] http://www.explorefaith.org/resources/books/the_gospel_of_mark.php

[2]  Brown, Raymond E. (1997). Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible. pp. 164

[3] See Ehrman, Bart (2009): Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) New York,
HarperCollins Publishers. pages 191 to 195

[4] For Prophet Muhammad's praise and prayer for Ibn Abbas to learn the Quran please see  Bukhari Volume 001, Book 003, Hadith Number 075,
Volume 1, Book 4, Number 145, Muslim Book 031, Hadith Number 6055.

[5] http://www.answering-christian-claims.com/The_Preservation_of_the_Quran.html

[6] Please refer to my article The Miracles of Prophet Muhammad

[7] Please refer to my article Introduction to the Hadith