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It is quite a famous argument from Muslims for authenticity of the Quran that the previous Holy Books (Bible and Torah) sent by God have been corrupted or changed by their followers and that Quran is the only one which remains intact in its original form. Though they never provide any evidence for this claim against today's Torah, it is still one of the main arguments.

What is the counter argument to this claim according to Jewish teachings? Have there been any later versions, additions or omissions in/from the Torah? Or is it really the original one according to Judaic teachings? And what evidence can be presented to dismiss this Muslim claim?

Note: This question isn't meant to be for ridicule or anything. It's just academic curiosity. So I apologize if this causes any sort of offence. I'm not very knowledgeable about Jewish religion.

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Ali, welcome to Mi Yodeya. Thank you for bringing your question here and for asking it so respectfully. I hope you enjoy the site. – Monica Cellio Mar 26 '14 at 13:34
up vote 14 down vote accepted

As you yourself say, the Muslim claims have never been backed up with proof.

If there would be proof, why would they not inform us?

That seems ample proof that it's a baseless claim.

There are various proofs that the Torah we have is essentially identical to the original (with some minor spelling variants).

One is the fact that all Jews have the same version - even though they were dispersed all over the globe for over 1,000 years, with no communication between them. Yet, when they eventually met-up in the 20th century, they all had the same version.

Another proof would be the dead-sea scrolls where almost the entire Bible was found (our version) - and they are about 2,500 years old. That's about 1,000 years before Muhammad was born.

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"Yet, when they eventually met-up in the 20th century, they all had the same version." - While I'm not jewish, the consistency of the texts seems very interesting. Is there a link that goes into more detail about the Torahs being compared after they come back together? – Mark Rogers Mar 26 '14 at 14:58
What source do you have that for the past 1000 years they had no communication? Even the Yemenites famous for being the most isolated had contact with the Rambam in the 12th century at the minimum. – mevaqesh Feb 8 '15 at 19:21
@Mark Rogers torah-code.org/controversy/… – Lee Jan 9 at 21:24
This would be an decent answer if it were true. "If there would be proof, why would they not inform us?" Ibn Hazzam, an Islamic polemicist wrote various proofs (which were later attacked by Rashba). The claim that there was no communication between various Jewish groups for a millenium is also false. Even the Yemenites who were perhaps the most secluded, had ample contact with other communities throughout the centuries. – mevaqesh Jan 10 at 2:32
Furthermore, this says nothing about changes that took place before the thousand year mark. (Noteworthy is the fact the the Tiberian massoretes responsible for determining our text lived before a millenium ago), thus any claimed correspondence in texts is irrelevant. Not sure where you get the 2500 year old claim for dead sea scrolls; that is older than the consensus. Who cares how much older it is than Mohammed; he isnt accused of making the changes; the Jews are! – mevaqesh Jan 10 at 2:33

To expand on Danny's answer.

As per Danny, it's clear that Jews everywhere have had essentially identical texts for thousands of years. If you want to look back before that, I recommend David Weiss Halivni's books, particularly "Peshat & Derash". He defends the thesis that the texts did suffer some issues in the era of the Judges, and that Jewish authorities have often discussed these issues and their relationship to various special dots and modified letters in the traditional scribal text.

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There are differences between texts of Tanach now and in the past. In fact, there are several different so-called "textual witnesses" of Tanach that exist, each of which has their own strengths and weaknesses.

The textus receptus — received text of the Jews is the Masoretic text, whose ancestors are present in some form in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other books found in the Judean desert. It is clear linguistically and archaeologically that the Masoretic text is old, but not the urtext of Tanach.

Other traditions, such as those in the Samaritan Pentateuch, in the LXX and in other non-premasoretic scrolls have certain elements that appear to be more acceptable than those in the textus receptus.

Most of the changes are rather insignificant, e.g. chaser vs. maleh, additional "ve-", confusion of letters in transcription. Other changes are more substantial, like random ommissions:

Gen 4:8:

Masoretic: וַיֹּאמֶר קַיִן, אֶל-הֶבֶל אָחִיו... וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם בַּשָּׂדֶה

Samaritan (~LXX, Peshita, etc.): ויאמר קין אל הבל אחיו נלכה השדה ויהי בהיותם בשדה

or even some apparently intentional changes, such as this anti-polytheistic one

Deut 32:8

Masoretic (=Samaritan, Peshitta, etc.): בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

4QDeutj: בני אלהים

Within the Masoretic text itself, there are variations. These are often regarding small details, like placement of ga``aot (metegs) or te`amim.

Nonetheless, despite the differences between different manuscripts are small and seldom change the meaning of things. Certainly the text has not been corrupted remotely close to the extent claimed.


M. Goshen-Gottstein. The Book of Isaiah, sample edition with Introduction.

E. Tov. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

I. Yeivin. Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah.

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Why downvote? I think this answer is perfectly reasonable. – Argon Jan 17 at 1:01

זה כתוב במזמור שנים עשר

:אִמְרוֹת יְהוָה, אֲמָרוֹת טְהֹרוֹת כֶּסֶף צָרוּף, בַּעֲלִיל לָאָרֶץ; מְזֻקָּק, שִׁבְעָתָיִם. אַתָּה-יְהוָה תִּשְׁמְרֵם; תִּצְּרֶנּוּ, מִן-הַדּוֹר זוּ לְעוֹלָם.

זה כתוב בספר משלי

כָּל-אִמְרַת אֱלוֹהַּ צְרוּפָה

זה כתוב בספר ישעיהו יָבֵשׁ חָצִיר, נָבֵל צִיץ; וּדְבַר-אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יָקוּם לְעוֹלָם.

זה כתוב בספר ירמיהו

וַיִּשְׁלַח הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶתעיְהוּדִי, לָקַחַת אֶתעהַמְּגִלָּה, וַיִּקָּחֶהָ, מִלִּשְׁכַּת אֱלִישָׁמָע הַסֹּפֵר; וַיִּקְרָאֶהָ יְהוּדִי, בְּאָזְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ, וּבְאָזְנֵי כָּלעהַשָּׂרִים, הָעֹמְדִים מֵעַל הַמֶּלֶךְ. וְהַמֶּלֶךְ, יוֹשֵׁב בֵּית הַחֹרֶף, בַּחֹדֶשׁ, הַתְּשִׁיעִי; וְאֶתעהָאָח, לְפָנָיו מְבֹעָרֶת. וַיְהִי כִּקְרוֹא יְהוּדִי, שָׁלֹשׁ דְּלָתוֹת וְאַרְבָּעָה, יִקְרָעֶהָ בְּתַעַר הַסֹּפֵר, וְהַשְׁלֵךְ אֶלעהָאֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֶלעהָאָח: עַדעתֹּם, כָּלעהַמְּגִלָּה, עַלעהָאֵשׁ, אֲשֶׁר עַלעהָאָח. וְלֹא פָחֲדוּ, וְלֹא קָרְעוּ אֶתעבִּגְדֵיהֶםעעהַמֶּלֶךְ, וְכָלעעֲבָדָיו, הַשֹּׁמְעִים, אֵת כָּלעהַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה. וְגַם אֶלְנָתָן וּדְלָיָהוּ וּגְמַרְיָהוּ הִפְגִּעוּ בַמֶּלֶךְ, לְבִלְתִּי שְׂרֹף אֶתעהַמְּגִלָּה; וְלֹא שָׁמַע, אֲלֵיהֶם. וַיְצַוֶּה הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶתעיְרַחְמְאֵל בֶּןעהַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֶתעשְׂרָיָהוּ בֶןעעַזְרִיאֵל, וְאֶתעשֶׁלֶמְיָהוּ בֶּןעעַבְדְּאֵל, לָקַחַת אֶתעבָּרוּךְ הַסֹּפֵר, וְאֵת יִרְמְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא; וַיַּסְתִּרֵם, יְהוָה. וַיְהִי דְבַרעיְהוָה, אֶלעיִרְמְיָהוּעעאַחֲרֵי שְׂרֹף הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֶתעהַמְּגִלָּה וְאֶתעהַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר כָּתַב בָּרוּךְ מִפִּי יִרְמְיָהוּ, לֵאמֹר. שׁוּב קַחעלְךָ, מְגִלָּה אַחֶרֶת; וּכְתֹב עָלֶיהָ, אֵת כָּלעהַדְּבָרִים הָרִאשֹׁנִים, אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ עַלעהַמְּגִלָּה הָרִאשֹׁנָה, אֲשֶׁר שָׂרַף יְהוֹיָקִים מֶלֶךְעיְהוּדָה.

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Thanks for this and welcome to MiYodeya. This is an English-language site (see meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/1606/…) so it would be helpful if you provide an English summary. Tanakh sources are easy to translate e.g., via sefaria.org – mbloch Jan 9 at 19:20
In English: It is written in psalm 12, The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. It is written in the book of proverbs, Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. It is written in the book of Isaiah, The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. – jahhouse Jan 30 at 22:56
It is written in the book of Jeremiah, So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. – jahhouse Jan 30 at 22:59
Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them. But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them. – jahhouse Jan 30 at 22:59
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. – jahhouse Jan 30 at 22:59

Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen, an acclaimed lecturer and teacher, has a class proving the veracity of the Oral Torah tradition, as well as dealing with a number of the main questions on the transmission of the Torah as we have it today. The class is freely available here.

Additionally, Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg has a wonderful class addressing similar issues, freely available here.

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Consider the orthographic changes between the pre and post Babylonian captivity (that you can see from the Dead Sea Scrolls). And consider the textual differences between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic texts.

Though these textual changes exist, it remains an exercise for the student to ascertain whether they are significant.

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As the Hebrew scriptures I refered to show, there are those who would destroy the scriptures, but God promises to preserve it. What was the first thing God shows us that Satan said so long ago in the garden. He questioned God's word. Thus we have two "text types". 1) the supernaturally inspired and preserved holy scriptures 2) the changed, altered, messed up text derived from this and motivations of Satan, and people who have no big problem with changing the word of God. For all the minutiae of "textual criticism" people should be reminded of this bigger and more important truth. And to be expected are those who will argue with the above, as Satan, and hearts which do NOT believe the true supernatural nature of holy scriptures abound.

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From the language that you use, there is no question that you are not one of the children of Israel. But you are one of the children of Noach. For those who care about this, the archeological evidence, the scrolls of Qumran which preceded 'their prophet', show clearly that the Torah of Moshe, or as they call him, 'Mussiah', have not been corrupted. May G-d bless you to discover and see 'clearly' the true path in your individual service to the Creator of us all. – Yaacov Deane Jan 16 at 23:59
Rabbinical Judaism uses scripture which God used a Karaite scribe to copy. No matter what, for a Jew or anyone else to question the inspiration and preservation of the holy scriptures, in any way is an abomination to the most high Jehovah. – jahhouse Jan 23 at 16:38
Also note: textual criticism has been around since before the discovery of the dead sea scrolls. And before this discovery textual critics, of course, were asserting (from their own minds) that scribes introduced various readings. However with the discovery of said scrolls, which supposedly would have contained pre-changed text, "changed" readings were in the scrolls! HA! So they were not introduced post scroll time frame like some critics asserted. – jahhouse Jan 30 at 23:09
I asked a muslim once almost two decades ago, if he believed God allowed the scriptures to be corrupted previously with no pure scriptures available now (for example the law of Moses), HOW could he then believe God would keep the Koran pure? He had no answer. – jahhouse Jan 30 at 23:13
Something else. Hebrew is the original language. The word of God does not say the original language was destroyed at the tower of Babel. It is in fact the language of Eber. It is in fact the language of Adam. Now, from a linguistics point of view, said language should be very efficient, as many modern languages are not (for example Polynesian languages). And on examination it is. It is an efficient root system based language, using originally and still by some a full proper use of the vocal tract with strong sound/phoneme contrast/disambiguation including the epiglottal pharyngeal region. – jahhouse Jan 30 at 23:22

protected by msh210 Mar 27 '14 at 3:37

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