Sacred Writings of Major Religions

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Dive deep into the sacred writings of the world’s major religions. From the Bible to the Quran, the Talmud, the Vedas to the Tripitaka, to the Book of Mormon, our guide provides a window into the profound books of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Mormonism. Discover the religious texts that influence the faith and lives of people worldwide.

Around the globe, every major religion relies on a sacred text, or texts, that guide the beliefs and practices of their followers. From the Bible in Christianity to the Quran in Islam, the Talmud in Judaism, the Vedas in Hinduism, and the Tripitaka in Buddhism—each of these revered books holds a central place in their respective religions. These texts vary significantly in form, volume, age, and sacredness, yet their common attribute is that their words are perceived by the devout as sacred, highlighting the fundamentally religious nature of humanity.

The Bible, for instance, has been the central guiding text for Christians across the centuries. Its Old and New Testaments provide narratives, prophecies, laws, wisdom literature, and teachings of Jesus Christ. Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 6:4 affirm the monotheistic belief in Jehovah as the one true God. Similarly, in the New Testament, passages like John 3:16 emphasize God’s love for humanity and the salvation available through faith in Jesus Christ.

Islam’s holy book, the Quran, believed by Muslims to be the literal word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, contains teachings on ethics, law, and spiritual practices. A commonly quoted verse, Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4, declares the unity and eternal nature of God, which is fundamental to Islamic faith.

Judaism’s Talmud, a voluminous work of commentary and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish law, is central to Jewish thought and practice. It provides detailed discussions and interpretations of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), reflecting the complexity of the Jewish legal and ethical system.

In Hinduism, the Vedas and the Upanishads are the primary texts. These scriptures contain hymns, rituals, and philosophical discourses that are the basis for Hindu beliefs, including the concept of Brahman (the absolute reality) and Atman (the individual soul). For instance, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.7.23 emphasizes the importance of realizing the oneness of Atman and Brahman as the path to liberation.

Buddhism’s Tripitaka, also known as the “Three Baskets,” is a comprehensive body of texts that includes the teachings of Buddha, monastic rules, and philosophical analysis. The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta in the Vinaya Pitaka (56:11) is particularly important, as it recounts the Buddha’s first sermon, which sets in motion the “Wheel of Dharma.”

Other religious texts, though not recognized as primary scriptures, have significantly shaped various societies. Japan’s Kojiki and Nihongi have influenced Shintoism, while the 13 Confucian Classics have guided Chinese life for centuries. Confucius’ Analects, in particular, is respected as a valuable source of wisdom and moral teachings.

More recent writings, such as the Book of Mormon in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, have gained sacred status among their respective communities. Similarly, nonreligious books like those by Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Mao Tse-tung have impacted societies in profound ways, their ideas championed with near religious fervor.

Yet, establishing a uniform canon—or an authoritative list of holy scriptures—has proven challenging. Many traditions have numerous versions of canons, leading to sectarianism, as seen in the various Buddhist schools of thought. In Hinduism, while the Sruti, including the Vedas and the Upanishads, is considered primary revelation, most knowledge about the religion derives from the Smrti, a secondary, semi-canonical class of scriptures.

Even within Christianity, there have been struggles in establishing a canon for the Bible. While the Council of Trent in 1546 declared certain additional writings as part of the Bible canon, these are regarded by Protestants as apocryphal, their authenticity often questioned. This reflects the complexity and diversity that can arise within religious traditions regarding their sacred texts.

A fascinating aspect of these sacred writings is their transition from oral to written form. In the case of the Bible, Moses completed its first written section in 1446 B.C.E. Conversely, some traditions intentionally retained oral recitation. For instance, the Upanishads were first put into written form only in 1656 C.E. Some Buddhists and Hindus believe that oral recitation bestows maximum meaning and significance to scriptures, emphasizing mantras or sacred utterances.

Thus, sacred writings across religions offer a compelling testament to humanity’s yearning for spiritual understanding and guidance. While diverse in nature, they all hold a revered place in the hearts and minds of their followers, shaping religious beliefs, ethical standards, and social norms across cultures and throughout the ages.

Whose Word, and for How Many?

Examining the essence and intended audience of religious texts, one finds a distinction among sacred scriptures concerning their authorship and distribution. The Upanishads, part of Hindu sacred writings, present an intriguing illustration of such disparity. Derived from the term “sitting near,” Upanishads signify the transmission of secret doctrines from religious teachers to their most beloved and capable students. The implication of esotericism inherent in the term “Upanishads” is evident; the teachings contained therein were not designated for the general population but rather intended for a select audience.

In the same vein, the Qur’an, a central religious text of Islam, is traditionally seen as a book intended exclusively for the Arabic-speaking audience, according to the views of its prophet Muhammad. This is despite the reality that the text is largely presented as the direct speech of God Himself, the Creator of all humanity. Consequently, the act of translating the Qur’an into other languages is often regarded as inappropriate, maintaining that only the original Arabic text can be recited and employed for ritualistic purposes. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgical norms prior to the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, where only Latin was permissible for liturgical use.

However, contrasting with this approach, the Bible explicitly communicates that its message is not to be constrained to any specific group. This philosophy aligns with its assertion as being not “the word of men, but…the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The advocates of the Bible endeavor to disseminate it extensively, maintaining that all individuals have an equal right to draw wisdom from the Creator’s words. Consequently, by the close of 2021, the Bible had been translated, at least partially, into 3,589 languages or dialects, and around 20 million copies were sold.

This disparity in distribution and intended audience brings to light an essential question – whose word are these religious texts, and for whom are they intended? While some texts, like the Upanishads and the Qur’an, have chosen to preserve the sanctity and purity of the message by restricting their audience and opposing translations, the Bible has chosen to take a universal approach, spreading its teachings to all corners of the earth, to all people who wish to receive it.

The nature of these sacred texts’ authorship and dissemination gives us crucial insights into how different faith traditions perceive the Divine and how they believe His word should be shared with His creation. This comparison prompts a thoughtful discussion on the accessibility of religious teachings, the importance of contextual understanding, and the potential impact of broadening or restricting the audience for these sacred texts. It also prompts a reflection on how we interpret and engage with these texts in our personal faith journeys and interfaith dialogues.

This critical exploration of religious texts, their intended audience, and their translation thus provides us with a deeper understanding of the intricate dynamics of religious faith, practices, and interpretations across diverse cultural and linguistic landscapes. It also calls us to reflect on our understanding of the Divine and our approach to embracing and sharing the teachings of our respective faiths with the wider world.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

Judging a Religion by Its Book

Evaluating a religion’s merit often requires careful examination of the adherents it produces. As posited by English philosopher Alfred Whitehead in 1933, “No religion can be considered in abstraction from its followers.” Hence, it is logical to assess a religion as true or false, beneficial or harmful, based on the character and behavior of its practitioners. Moreover, the sacred scriptures that a religious group follows—assuming their teachings are put into practice—significantly contribute to shaping the disposition and ethical framework of their believers.

In this context, the role of sacred scriptures is crucial. They ought to provide appropriate guidance to illuminate the path of righteousness for their followers. As stated in the Bible, these sacred texts should be “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness,” thus empowering individuals to become “fully competent, completely equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

To gauge the impact of these religious texts, let’s consider some examples. Hindu and Buddhist sacred writings, for instance, have a profound influence on the lives of billions of people, especially in countries like India, where religion has a dominant role in society. Historian Will Durant has observed that “in no other country is religion so powerful, or so important” as in India. But how well have these texts equipped their adherents to deal with life’s challenges?

A look at the social fabric of these societies might offer some answers. India, with its deeply embedded religious roots, showcases an eclectic mix of social, cultural, and economic conditions that cannot be detached from its religious milieu. It offers an illustration of how diverse religious texts influence societal structures, moral paradigms, and individual perspectives on life.

However, one must tread with caution while attributing societal conditions solely to religious beliefs or texts. While religious texts indeed influence their adherents’ ethos and actions, myriad other factors such as socio-economic conditions, political governance, historical events, and cultural practices also contribute significantly to the observed societal outcomes.

Thus, assessing a religion by its book requires a nuanced approach. One must consider not only the teachings of the religious texts themselves but also the interpretation and application of these teachings by its followers, the socio-cultural context in which the religion exists, and the historical evolution of religious practices within that society.

It’s crucial to remember that sacred scriptures are not merely repositories of religious doctrine; they also serve as moral compasses, philosophical guides, and historical narratives. They inform the individual and collective identities of their followers, imbuing them with a sense of purpose, community, and continuity.

Therefore, evaluating a religion by its book necessitates an appreciation of the profound and multi-faceted influence that these sacred texts exert on their adherents’ lives. It demands a recognition of the scriptures’ role in shaping moral and ethical norms, influencing societal structures, and guiding individual and collective actions. Above all; it requires an understanding of the immense respect and reverence that believers accord to these scriptures as the divine words of wisdom, guidance, and salvation. So, let’s take a closer look at these sacred texts.

The Talmud in Judaism

“The Talmud is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable literary productions of all times.”—The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia.

“[The Talmud is] one of the great intellectual accomplishments of humankind, a document so dense, so rich, so subtle that it has kept superb minds busy for more than a millennium and a half.”—Jacob Neusner, Jewish scholar and author.

“The Talmud is the central pillar [of Judaism] supporting the entire spiritual and intellectual edifice of Jewish life.”—Adin Steinsaltz, Talmudic scholar and rabbi.

The Talmud, a collection of Jewish law and tradition, has greatly impacted Jewish society throughout history. Despite its influence, it has faced criticism and even censorship due to its perceived complexities and controversial nature. It has been the subject of intense scrutiny, stimulating inquiries regarding its unique features, origins, its relationship with Judaism, and its relevance to non-Jews.

The inception of the Talmud can be traced back to the period following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. In response, rabbis across Israel endeavored to formulate a new framework for Jewish religious practice, resulting in the creation of the Mishnah by the third century CE. The Mishnah’s significance lies in its independence from the Bible, having its own distinctive language style and methods of discourse.

However, the Mishnah’s authority was challenged by those who questioned its equal footing with the sacred Scriptures. Rabbis thus felt the need to justify the Mishnah’s teachings, indicating their alignment with the Law given to Moses at Sinai. They aimed to demonstrate the unity of purpose and spirit between the oral and written law, transforming the Mishnah from a final word into a foundation for further religious discussion.

The rabbis tasked with elucidating the Mishnah were called Amoraim. They initiated debates around the teachings of the Mishnah at biannual gatherings, which drew hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees. These events involved recitation, comparison, and intense analysis of the Mishnah’s content and were marked by passionate, fiery debates.

Yet, these discussions weren’t confined to legalistic debates. They also included stories, sayings, and philosophical concepts interwoven with the laws and regulations of Jewish life, making the discussions a blend of Halakah (laws) and Haggadah (stories).

Political instability and persecution from the emerging apostate Christianity led to the migration of Jewish people and the dispersion of Jewish scholarship to Babylonia. This geographical shift fostered a significant intellectual turning point when Abba ben Ibo, also known as Rab, established an academy in Sura after studying under Judah ha-Nasi.

Rab’s academy in Babylonia attracted a significant number of students, initiating a tradition of rigorous study and scholarship that was independent from Palestine’s academies, although they maintained a certain level of unity through interchange of teachers and communication.

Eventually, the turbulence in Palestine led to the consolidation of summaries of academy debates into a singular work known as the Palestinian Talmud. Concurrently, the Babylonian Amoraim were enhancing their debates’ complexity, eventually giving birth to the Babylonian Talmud. These compilations were carried out to ensure the preservation of rabbinic debate in the face of political and religious adversity.

The Talmud’s creation served to illustrate the Mishnah’s origin from the same source as the Hebrew Scriptures, reinforcing the authority of the rabbis. Over time, Talmudic study became an act of worship, cultivating a unique thinking process that mirrored God’s mind, according to the rabbis. This belief imbued the Talmud with a distinct power, fostering a sense of unity among Jews and providing them with intellectual resilience.

However, the overarching question remains: Does the Talmud genuinely reflect God’s mind? This inquiry is of relevance not only to Jews but also to the broader non-Jewish population. The Talmud’s profound influence and historical significance are indisputable, making it a fascinating topic of study and debate.

The two versions of the Talmud, the Palestinian and the Babylonian, differ in approach. While the former focused on analyzing evidence, the latter ventured into investigating premises, extending beyond the confines of specific cases. The Babylonian Talmud, thanks to its extensive and meticulous editing, is often the first point of reference when mentioning the Talmud.

An Exploration of Hinduism’s Canonical Texts

At the foundation of Hinduism’s spiritual literary corpus are the Vedas, revered as the oldest scriptures. These consist of four distinct texts – the Rig-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda – composed over several centuries and finally completed around 900 BCE. These anthologies of hymns and prayers were later enriched by other texts, such as the Brahmanas and the Upanishads.

The Brahmanas delve into the specifics of how rituals and sacrifices, applicable in both domestic and public spheres, should be carried out. These texts elucidate the profound significance underlying these practices and were documented from approximately 300 BCE onward. On the other hand, the Upanishads, also known as the Vedanta and written between 600-300 BCE, are profound philosophical dissertations that form the basis for all cognition and action according to Hindu philosophy. These texts introduced critical doctrines like samsara (the cycle of rebirth) and Karma (the principle that past actions influence one’s current state in life).

Further expanding the spiritual catalogue of Hinduism are the Puranas, extensive allegorical narratives encompassing various myths pertaining to Hindu deities and legendary heroes. Additionally, the grand epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata form an integral part of this comprehensive Hindu literary collection. The Ramayana, revered as one of the most significant Hindu texts and dated to the fourth century BCE, narrates the tale of the heroic Rama, or Ramachandra. Viewed as an exemplar of moral conduct, Rama is deemed the seventh avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, and his name frequently serves as a salutation.

Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, describes the Bhagavad-gītā, a part of the Mahabharata, as the zenith of moral instruction. The Bhagavad Gita, often regarded as a gem of India’s spiritual wisdom, captures a pivotal dialogue on the field of battle “between Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa [Krishna], the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Arjuna, His confidant and devotee, whom He guides on the path to self-realization.” Despite its profound influence, the Bhagavad Gita represents just a single facet of the voluminous Hindu sacred library.

A distinction within these texts exists between those viewed as Sruti, or “heard,” such as the Vedas, Brahmanas, and Upanishads, believed to be divine revelations, and others such as the epics and Puranas that are deemed Smriti, or “remembered,” and thus ascribed to human authorship, albeit derived from divine revelations. An exemplar of the latter is the Manu Smriti, which establishes Hindu religious and social law, besides laying the groundwork for the caste system. So, what are the belief systems that have evolved from these profound Hindu texts?

An Overview of Buddhist Scriptures

The profound teachings credited to the Buddha were primarily disseminated through oral tradition, with written documentation only commencing several centuries after his demise. Thus, they essentially reflect the interpretation of his successors about his doctrines and actions. Further, by the time these teachings were inscribed, Buddhism had already fragmented into various sects, resulting in distinct textual representations of the religion.

The earliest Buddhist texts, composed around the first century BCE in Pali, a language considered akin to the Buddha’s vernacular, are endorsed by the Theravada school as the bona fide scriptures. These texts encompass 31 books structured into three distinct collections known as the Tipitaka (Sanskrit, Tripitaka), translating to “Three Baskets,” or “Three Collections.” The Vinaya Pitaka (Basket of Discipline) primarily discusses the rules and regulations for monastic life. The Sutta Pitaka (Basket of Discourses) incorporates the sermons, parables, and proverbs articulated by the Buddha and his principal disciples. The final basket, the Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Ultimate Doctrine), comprises commentaries on Buddhist doctrines.

In contrast, the Mahayana school’s scriptures, mainly composed in Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan, are extensive. The Chinese texts alone constitute over 5,000 volumes. These documents introduce numerous concepts not found in the earlier texts, such as narratives of countless Buddhas, each presiding over their individual Buddha worlds for innumerable eons. One scholar aptly noted the characteristics of these texts as diverse, imaginatively grand, vividly characterized, and repetitively thorough.

Evidently, comprehending these highly abstract treatises is beyond the reach of most individuals. Consequently, these later developments have seemingly diverted Buddhism from the original intent of the Buddha. As per the Vinaya Pitaka, the Buddha desired his teachings to be accessible to everyone, irrespective of their educational background. He emphasized the usage of the common language for teaching his concepts, rather than the archaic sacred language of Hinduism. Therefore, in response to the Theravada Buddhists’ contention that these texts were noncanonical, Mahayana followers argue that the Buddha initially imparted teachings to the unlettered and naive while he revealed the doctrines later written in the Mahayana texts to the erudite and wise.

One of the more notable contradictions in the Quran involves freedom of worship. On the one hand, some expressions favor religious liberty, such as, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” And on the other hand, oftentimes, expressions appear that say the direct opposite: “When the sacred months are passed, kill those that join other gods to God wherever ye find them; and seize them, besiege them, lie in wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way for God is gracious.” And again: “Fight for the cause of God against those who fight against you: Kill them wherever you find them. . . . Fight therefore until there be no more civil discord, and until the only worship be that of God,” or “until the temptation stops.”—Sura 2:186-190, 212, 213; 8:12; 9:5, 124, Rodwell. Everyday Muslims today make the claim that the Quran teaches freedom of religion and supporters only defensive warfare. So, how are we to understand such expressions as “kill those that join other gods to God wherever you find them,” “but if they convert . . . let them go their way,” and “kill them . . . until the temptation stops” be construed as either defensive warfare or permitting freedom of religion? The very Arabic word jihad disproves such a contention, for it means “A religious war against infidels or Mohammedan heretics.” (Webster) Other Muslims slew many, many Muslims because of religious differences. Indeed, that does not suggest freedom of religion.

Is the Quran a Literary Marvel?

Imagine you’re on a long journey and meet a companion at a crossroads heading to the same destination. Your friend proposes a different route, challenging the accuracy of yours. Would you respond with rage or engage in a calm discourse to compare routes? The latter seems the more reasonable choice. This analogy provides a suitable frame for our discourse on the Quran and the Bible. Muslims and Christians, both journeying towards eternal happiness, rely on distinct guides – the Quran and the Bible. So, who’s right?

It’s crucial to dissociate the Bible from popular Christian religions as they don’t truly represent it. Christendom, marked by religious wars, political intrigues, and racial oppression, contradicts Jesus Christ’s teachings. Hence, Muslims shouldn’t dismiss Christianity or the Bible because of Christendom’s historical shortcomings.


The Quran, widely recognized by Muslims as divine revelation, was delivered through Muhammad, an Arabian born in Mecca during the late sixth century. Around forty, he believed he received a message from the angel Gabriel confirming the divine unity and his role as a prophet. For the next twenty-three years, Muhammad received additional revelations, recorded by scribes due to his illiteracy. These dictations, initially recorded on varying media, were compiled after his death into the Quran. Despite some disputes over different readings, the Quran has remained relatively unchanged for twelve centuries.

The Quran, translating to “the recitation” or “the reading,” contains 114 chapters or suras of varying lengths. Allah, speaking in the first person, narrates most of the Quran, attesting to its divine origin. However, the question of authenticity persists.

The litmus test for prophets has always involved the performance of miracles. Moses was authorized by signs from Jehovah, and his people saw these proofs and believed. Jesus, similarly, performed miracles to affirm his divine commission. These signs established Moses and Jesus as God’s prophets.

However, Muhammad, unlike his predecessors, performed no miracles to validate his prophecies. Repeatedly, the Quran reveals accusations against Muhammad as a fabricator. Considering the history of prophetic signs, his listeners were justified in asking for a sign. Instead, they received the message that God refrained from sending signs due to their historical dismissal.

A striking distinction between Muhammad and earlier prophets is the evidence supporting his mission: the Quran’s literary merit. While Muslim commentators hail its beauty and spiritual depth, the Quran has been criticized for its repetitiveness, lack of coherence, and discrepancies between titles and content. The literary weaknesses of the Quran, despite Muhammad’s supposed illiteracy, cannot be overlooked.

Renowned historians and critics, such as Carlyle and Gibbon, found reading the Quran a toilsome and wearisome task. While it contains beautiful passages, it also suffers from repetitious narratives, lack of coherence, and literary irregularities.

The claim that Muhammad’s illiteracy explains these inconsistencies falls short, as he was a successful businessman married to a cultured widow. Moreover, translation issues cannot account for these defects inherent in the original Arabic text.

The question of authenticity was not resolved based on literary merit during the Quran’s compilation but on the testifiers’ oaths. This further exacerbates the argument regarding the Quran’s claim to be a literary miracle.

The Quran—Confirmatory of Previous Scripture?

The Quran, the sacred text of Islam, esteemed as divinely inspired by 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, has a notable relationship with Biblical accounts, referencing figures like Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus, and incidents such as the Great Flood. Composed in the 7th century C.E. by Muhammad’s associates, the Quran asserts to corroborate and confirm previously given divine revelation.

The Quran’s assertions resonate with the notion of God as a deity of reason and order, providing consistent revelations. This consistency is apparent in the coherence of the Hebrew and Greek New Testament. Despite their diverse authorship spanning numerous centuries, the Hebrew Scriptures’ 39 books are in accord with each other. Similarly, the 27 books of the Greek New Testament are harmonious within themselves and confirm the Hebrew Scriptures.

The compatibility between the Hebrew and Greek New Testament bolsters their authenticity. Consequently, it’s reasonable to expect the Quran, claiming divine inspiration, to harmonize with and confirm these previous revelations. However, the Quran’s alignment with these scriptures warrants scrutiny.

Significantly, the name Jehovah, distinctive to the Bible’s God and critical in the Hebrew Scriptures, is absent in the Quran. Despite its 6,823 appearances in the Hebrew Scriptures, not a single mention of Jehovah exists in the Quran, highlighting a discrepancy.

Moreover, the Quran contradicts the Hebrew Scriptures’ teaching of death as sin’s penalty, with the Greek New Testament confirming this belief. Conversely, the Quran warns of eternal torment post-death in numerous suras, starkly deviating from prior scriptures.

Concerning Jesus Christ, the Hebrew Scriptures refer to God’s sons, with one holding a unique position. The Greek New Testament further affirm this by identifying Jesus as this special Son, “the only begotten one from the Father,” “the only begotten God,”[1] “his only begotten Son,” and “his only begotten Son of God.” (John 1:14; 3:16, 18) However, the Quran, despite acknowledging Jesus’ virgin birth, repeatedly denies God Jesus Christ as the second part of the Trinity and this special relationship with the Father, thus failing to affirm prior scriptures.

In the narrative of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection for humanity’s sins, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures align. The Quran, on the other hand, rejects the assertion of Jesus’ crucifixion, thus contradicting previous scriptures and denying the doctrine of atonement for sin.

In terms of historical accounts, the Bible’s depiction of Noah and his family’s survival of the Great Flood contradicts the Quran’s narrative of one of Noah’s sons perishing. Additionally, the Quran differs from the Bible regarding the status of angels and humans.


In response to these discrepancies, Muslim scholars contend that the Quran confirms the original scriptures, not the ostensibly corrupted modern versions. However, ancient manuscripts disprove post-Muhammad corruption, indicating any supposed corruption must have predated Muhammad.

This argument raises a dilemma: why present the Quran as confirmatory if no accurate scriptures were available for comparison? The Quran itself does not suggest the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures were corrupted during Muhammad’s time, instead accusing Jews and Christians of misinterpreting or selectively quoting their scriptures.

Historical evidence and the views of Muslim religious leaders also refute the concept of scriptural corruption. Despite arguments from Muslim scholars and modern Christian critics, historical accounts consistently corroborate biblical narratives. Therefore, the claim that the Quran confirms previous scriptures is just not true, given the observable discrepancies.

The Quran—A Test of Internal Consistency?

The Quran claims divine origin, citing its source as the same celestial being responsible for delivering the Pentateuch to the Israelites and the Gospel to Christians. While both these texts cite miracles as proof of divine authorship, the Quran offers no such evidence. Some argue that the Quran’s literary brilliance serves as a miraculous sign of divine authorship, but this view is contentious. Some Muslim authorities believe the Quran’s linguistic prowess and profound truths it imparts are miraculous in their own right.

As a document asserting divine truth, the Quran should display self-consistency. However, upon close analysis, this proves not to be the case. Instead, we discover numerous discrepancies and the Quran seems to acknowledge them. For instance, the Quran often replaces one revelation with another. While some may question the need for Allah to change, substitute, or abrogate any revelations, the Quran defends this practice, suggesting it is Allah’s prerogative. Such a practice seems to contradict the approach of other divinely inspired figures, such as Moses, Jesus, and Paul, who did not find it necessary to alter or revoke their revelations.

Perhaps the most glaring discrepancy lies in the Quran’s views on religious compulsion. While some verses encourage tolerance and non-violence in religious matters, others encourage force in spreading the faith. The attempts to reconcile these conflicting messages through religious commentary seem inadequate, further highlighting the inconsistency.

Similar discrepancies appear concerning predestination. The Quran oscillates between presenting mankind as capable of choosing their destiny and suggesting that all is predetermined by divine will. Not only is eternal destiny at stake, but also the immediate life is often depicted as being controlled by a divine hand, hinting at fatalism.

An Ottoman courtroom (1879 A.D. drawing)

This apparent contradiction regarding predestination is recognized not only by critics but also by Muslims themselves, giving rise to various sects within Islam. A similar discrepancy is observed in the Quran regarding the direction Muslims should face while praying. While the Quran initially suggests that the direction does not matter, later texts emphasize the importance of facing a specific direction during prayers.

Another discrepancy involves who can be considered a Muslim. While some verses state that the apostles of Jesus and even Abraham were Muslims, others suggest that Muhammad was the first Muslim. Furthermore, the Quran presents conflicting views on salvation. Some passages suggest that people of other faiths can achieve salvation, while others suggest that salvation is exclusive to Muslims.

Even within individual Suras, contradictions are present. For instance, one verse states that all apostles are equal, while another suggests that some are more endowed than others. Other discrepancies involve the number of people that will gain paradise from different generations.


These contradictions prompt Muslim commentators to employ the principle of “abrogation,” suggesting that later verses supersede earlier ones. But this approach is problematic as it doesn’t clarify which verses are abrogated and which ones abrogate.

To cover up these discrepancies, some translators take the liberty of interpreting the texts loosely. For example, there is a contradiction regarding the death of Jesus, with one verse suggesting Jesus was not killed while another one suggests that he was caused to die by God. However, a loose translation can make it appear as if there’s no contradiction.

Despite these numerous discrepancies, some Muslim scholars maintain the Quran’s divine authenticity, often citing the Quran itself as proof. But when the Quran’s consistency is questionable, using it as evidence of its divine origin becomes a circular argument.

The Eternal Quran—A Divine Revelation or a Human Invention?

Orthodox Islam regards the Quran as uncreated and eternal, depicted in radiant beams, etched onto a celestial tablet, and revealed to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. This notion, though grandiose, paradoxically raises a question: if the Quran is co-eternal with God, how could it be inscribed on a tablet? And who could have written it? This conundrum challenges the traditional Islamic perspective as it attempts to elevate the Quran to a divine level.

Earlier sections of this analysis have scrutinized the origins of the Quran, establishing that, unlike the Law and the gospel, it was not revealed through miracles, making the claim of its literary marvel questionable. Furthermore, its claim to confirm earlier Scriptures was found lacking. The lack of consistency and numerous discrepancies observed within the Quran text have raised questions about its divine authorship.

One argument proposed by Muslim scholars for the Quran’s divine inspiration is its foretelling of Muhammad’s work in the Bible. This assertion refers to passages from Deuteronomy 18:18-19 where God promises Moses a prophet like himself from their brethren. However, this proposition seems weak as Muhammad, an Ishmaelite, was not from Moses’ brethren and neither did he speak in the name of Jehovah God like Moses. This prophecy, according to the New Testament, is actually linked to Christ Jesus.

Muslim scholars also argue that Jesus’ prophecy of a “helper” or “comforter” refers to Muhammad. However, considering Jesus’ promise that the “spirit of truth” would arrive not many days after his departure, it is illogical to wait six centuries for Muhammad. The reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost by Jesus’ apostles and the subsequent transformation in their actions and influence makes a compelling argument against this assertion.

Muslim scholars often refer to the Quran’s prophetic aspects to establish its divine origin. For instance, they refer to a prophecy about a victory by Romans over Persians in the Quran’s Sura 30:1-3. However, this prophecy lacks the specificity and could be interpreted either way due to the absence of vowel points in the original Quranic text. Furthermore, the Quranic prophecy that Islam will be victorious over every other religion has not materialized, indicating another unsuccessful prediction. Therefore, on the basis of its prophetic content, the Quran’s claim of divine origin remains questionable.

On closer examination, intriguing parallels exist between the Quran’s teachings and the prevailing customs and beliefs during Muhammad’s era. For instance, the Quran’s teachings echo those of the Hanifs, a group of reformers from Mecca. It also promotes practices present in Arabian pagan religion and has similarities with the Talmud of Judaism and the Avesta of Zoroastrianism. Moreover, stories about Jesus from apocryphal gospels are found in the Quran, and local circumstances often reflect in the contents of certain Quranic chapters.

Emphasizing its Arabic origins, the Quran often reiterates that it was sent in pure Arabic to Arabs. It also contains societal norms, such as the prohibition of wine and polygamy, that may be acceptable for Arabian inhabitants but contradict global societal norms. The Quran seems more connected with local Arabian culture and circumstances than a timeless, universal divine revelation.

Undeniably, the religion Muhammad propagated through the Quran was an improvement over the existing Arabian practices. However, it is evident that his message, while perhaps sincerely believed to be divine, was not of divine origin. The Quran could possibly contain human and non-human elements, potentially including the influence of malevolent spirits, aligning with biblical warnings about deceptive transformations of evil forces.

Is this assessment harsh? Consider this: would it make sense for God to introduce a superior system through Christ Jesus and then revert to a more primitive system through Muhammad seven centuries later? These observations invite a thorough reconsideration of the claim that the Quran is divine. It seems more plausible that the Quran’s origin and content are more reflective of the historical and cultural context of seventh-century Arabia than of an unchanging, eternal divine message.

The Book of Mormon Compared with the Bible

To adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon is deemed the divine word of God, regarded as perfectly compatible with the Bible. This viewpoint was epitomized by Brigham Young, who asserted in the Journal of Discourses of July 13, 1862 that the Book of Mormon doesn’t contradict the Bible. Instead, it substantiates it, making their faith in the Book of Mormon unshaken when it’s subjected to comparisons with the Bible. This firm belief invites external scrutiny and comparison. But first, we should succinctly analyze the origins of both books.

The Bible’s composition spanned over 1600 years, with a significant portion of its historical narratives corroborated by numerous archaeological discoveries and various secular historians across diverse periods. Numerous manuscript copies of the Bible, dating back nearly to the times of the apostles, are available in their original languages for academic scrutiny.

Conversely, the Book of Mormon is claimed to document a period from roughly 600 B.C. to 421 C.E. Joseph Smith stated that he translated it from golden plates, revealed to him by an angel. The unavailability of these plates for public examination is justified by the angel’s supposed prohibition of displaying them to anyone, save those specifically chosen by the angel. Upon completion of the translation, the angel allegedly reclaimed the plates.

Notably, there’s a dearth of archaeological data or secular records supporting the purported historical narrative of the Book of Mormon. This lack of corroborative evidence starkly contrasts with the abundance of validation for the Bible’s historicity. Furthermore, the enigmatic nature of the Book of Mormon’s creation differs significantly from the transparent production of the Bible. Unlike the Book of Mormon’s plates, the stone tablets bearing God’s laws weren’t clandestinely kept away by angels, nor was Moses instructed to conceal them. Similarly, the other writings constituting the Bible were openly exhibited and widely disseminated.

Discrepancies arise when considering the Book of Mormon’s premature references to Jesus Christ, His sacrifice for sin, resurrection, and other Christological elements. The Book of Mormon’s chronologically misplaced discussions of these events conflict with the Bible, which situates these references post-Christ.

The Book of Mormon’s apparent anachronisms extend to its use of the term “Bible,” a title not applied to the scriptures until the fifth century C.E., yet it appears in the Book of Mormon more than 500 years prior. This inconsistency, along with others, raises doubts about the accuracy of the Book of Mormon, while the Biblical text has been refined through comparisons with ancient manuscripts, rendering it highly accurate and similar to the version the apostles possessed.

One of the most notable features of The Book of Mormon is its numerous quotations or paraphrases from the Authorized or King James Version of the Bible, the dominant English translation during the lifetime of Joseph Smith. It should be mentioned that the original texts of the Bible were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, without the chapter and verse divisions that we recognize today. These were not introduced until the 16th century C.E. Nevertheless, The Book of Mormon, in its manifold references to biblical passages, typically aligns with the verse divisions established in the Authorized Version. Aside from occasional additional words, these quotations remain virtually identical. This can be seen in the chapters from The Book of Mormon that mirror whole sections of Isaiah, Malachi, and 1 Corinthians in the Authorized Version.

What further intrigues scholars is that The Book of Mormon attributes phrases from the Greek New Testament of the Bible, which were written after the time of Christ (45-98 C.E.), to characters who are purported to have lived centuries before Christ. For instance, the phrase used by Paul in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever,” (AV), is echoed at least five times in The Book of Mormon, with the earliest reference supposedly penned over 600 years before the time of Paul. Similar parallel expressions abound, paralleling the resurrection concept in 1 Corinthians 15:53, as well as various citations from Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews and others.

Even more interestingly, some verses in The Book of Mormon amalgamate familiar phrases from multiple biblical sources. Consider Alma 34:36, which incorporates variations on phrases from Acts 7:48, Luke 13:29, and Revelation 7:14. Another instance is found in Mormon 9:9, which combines expressions from Hebrews 13:8 and James 1:17. Though supposedly written in North America about 400 years after Christ, the origins of these phrases in the Bible are unmistakable.

In The Book of Mormon, it is narrated that Jesus Christ, post-resurrection and ascension, made a physical appearance to the inhabitants of North America. Strikingly, much of his reported discourse replicates verbatim passages from the Authorized Version of the Bible. This includes nearly identical verses from the Gospels of Matthew found in the third book of Nephi. A close comparison of these passages reveals a level of similarity that challenges the notion of them being authentic recollections transcribed by different authors in different languages.


Numerous sayings of Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, are liberally interspersed throughout The Book of Mormon, from parts dated nearly 600 years before his birth to those dated over 400 years after his birth. In some instances, the words of other biblical figures, like Peter, are presented as Jesus’ own words, as seen in a passage from Acts 3:22-25.

Interestingly, The Book of Mormon also includes disputed passages from the Authorized Version, such as the latter part of Matthew 6:13 and verses from Mark 16:17, 18. These are recognized by most biblical scholars as likely additions to the original biblical texts, yet they appear almost verbatim in The Book of Mormon.

The inescapable conclusions from a comparative study of The Book of Mormon and the Bible are as follows: The former does not align harmoniously with the latter, often promoting doctrines that contradict biblical teachings. The reason why it contains “many words like those in the Bible,” as Brigham Young noted, is its extensive borrowing and integration of biblical phrases into its own narrative. Its language, mimicking the archaic English of the Authorized Version, adds a veneer of biblical authenticity.

However, when evaluated against the rich historical narratives of the Pentateuch, the lyrical beauty of the Psalms, the pithy wisdom of Proverbs, and the edifying guidance of the Pauline epistles, The Book of Mormon emerges as a lesser imitation of God’s Word, lacking in inspiration, grace, and brevity.

Is the Bible the Word of God?

Central to Christian faith is the conviction that the Bible represents the absolute, inerrant Word of God. But how can we know this to be true? This question has been at the heart of theological debates and scholastic inquiries for centuries. To answer it, we must delve into the realms of the Bible’s historical accuracy, prophetic fulfillment, internal consistency, and its profound transformative power.

Historical Accuracy: The Bible is an extraordinary historical document. Its accounts of civilizations, nations, and individuals are not only consistent with other historical records but, in many instances, are validated by them. Archaeological findings have continuously corroborated the Bible’s historical narratives. From the discovery of the Hittite civilization, once thought to be a biblical myth, to the unearthed city walls of Jericho, the historical accuracy of the Bible bolsters its credibility as God’s Word. Jehovah’s chosen people, the Israelites, were not myths but a well-documented historical group, their existence testified to by both the Bible and numerous external sources.

Prophetic Fulfillment: One of the strongest pieces of evidence for the Bible as God’s Word is its prophetic accuracy. The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies, many of which have already been fulfilled in meticulous detail. The prophecies regarding the Messiah are especially noteworthy. The books of the Old Testament, penned centuries before Jesus’ birth, predicted not only His miraculous birth and teachings but also His suffering, death, and resurrection. For example, Isaiah 53:5 prophesied, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed.” This prophecy was precisely fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as detailed in the New Testament accounts.


Internal Consistency: Comprising 66 books written over a span of 1,600 years by over 40 different authors from various walks of life, the Bible maintains a remarkable internal consistency. Its central message, that Jehovah seeks to establish a loving relationship with humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, is consistently reiterated throughout. Its moral teachings and theological doctrines are coherently presented, displaying a unity of thought and purpose that points to a single divine Author behind its human writers. Even when authors were unaware of each other’s writings, their works harmoniously align in theme and teaching, a phenomenon that testifies to divine orchestration.

Transformative Power: The Bible has had a profound impact on individuals and societies throughout history, a testament to its divine origin. Its teachings have guided the development of ethical systems, legal frameworks, and social institutions. On a personal level, the transformative power of God’s Word, as depicted in the Bible, is evident in the lives of countless individuals who, upon embracing its teachings, have experienced radical changes in their character and conduct. This transformative power aligns with Hebrews 4:12, which states, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”


Preservation and Restoration: The preservation of the Bible through millennia of political upheaval, religious persecution, and attempts at destruction speaks to its enduring authority. Despite such adversities, the Scriptures have been meticulously copied and widely disseminated. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, offer an invaluable glimpse into the care taken by scribes in preserving the Old Testament Scriptures. The New Testament, too, boasts an unparalleled number of ancient manuscript evidence, offering a high degree of confidence in the reliability of our current texts. Of course, since copyists were not inspired by God, we have hundreds of thousands of variants in the 5,898 Greek New Testament manuscripts. However, over the last 500 years many dozens of world-renowned textual scholars, through the art and science of textual criticism have restored the Bible to its original words. It is now a 99.99% reflection of the originals.

Testimony of Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ Himself treated the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God. He frequently quoted from them, saying, “It is written,” signaling His acceptance of their authority (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Jesus also affirmed the accuracy of Old Testament events (Matthew 24:37-38; Luke 17:26-29), upheld the Ten Commandments (Mark 10:19), and endorsed the prophetic writings (Luke 24:44). His high view of Scripture lends credence to our recognition of the Bible as God’s Word.

Self-Proclamation: The Bible explicitly claims to be God’s Word. Passages like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 assert, “All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.” This self-proclamation, combined with its demonstrated authenticity, warrants our acceptance of it as the inerrant Word of God.

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

In conclusion, the Bible’s historical accuracy, prophetic fulfillment, internal consistency, transformative power, preservation, the testimony of Jesus Christ, and its self-proclamation all collectively affirm its status as the absolute, inerrant Word of God. These factors not only validate the Scriptures’ divine authorship but also underscore their enduring relevance and authority in our lives. When we approach the Bible with an open heart and mind, we encounter not just a historical text, but the living Word of God, meant to guide, comfort, and transform us.

[1] John 1:18: The original words were μονογενὴς θεός or ο μονογενης θεος “only-begotten God” or “the only-begotten God” (P66 P75 א B C* L 33 syrhmp 33 copbo) A variant reading is ο μονογενης υιος “the only begotten Son” A C3 (Ws) Θ Ψ f1, Maj syrc).

About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).




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