Page:Koran - Rodwell - 2nd ed.djvu/27

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11
The Koran


are a few passages as where alms are said to be given to be seen of men, and as, none forgiveth sins but God only, which might seem to be identical with texts of the New Testament, yet this similarity is probably merely accidental. It is, however, curious to compare such passages as Deut. xxvi. 14, 17; i Peter v. 2, with Sura xxiv. 50, p. 448, and x. 73, p. 281—John vii. 15, with the “illiterate” Prophet—Matt. xxiv. 36, and John xii. 27, with the use of the word hour as meaning any judgment or crisis, and The last judgment—the voice of the Son of God which the dead are to hear, with the exterminating or awakening cry of Gabriel, etc. The passages of this kind, with which the Koran abounds, result from Muhammad's general acquaintance with Scriptural phraseology, partly through the popular legends, partly from personal intercourse with Jews and Christians. And we may be quite certain that whatever materials Muhammad may have derived from our Scriptures, directly or indirectly, were carefully recast. He did not even use its words without due consideration. For instance, except in the phrase “the Lord of the worlds,” he seems carefully to have avoided the expression the Lord, probably because it was applied by the Christians to Christ, or to God the Father.
It should also be borne in mind that we have no traces of the existence of Arabic versions of the Old or New Testament previous to the time of Muhammad. The passage of St. Jerome—“Hæc autem translatio nullum de veteribus sequitur interpretem; sed ex ipso Hebraico, Arabicoque sermone, et interdum Syro, nunc verba, nunc sensum, nunc simul utrumque resonabit,” (Prol. Gal.) obviously does not refer to versions, but to idiom. The earliest Ar. version of the Old Testament, of which we have any knowledge, is that of R. Saadias Gaon, A.D. 900; and the oldest Ar. version of the New Testament, is that published by Erpenius in 1616, and transcribed in the Thebais, in the year 1171, by a Coptic Bishop, from a copy made by a person whose name is known, but whose date is uncertain. Michaelis thinks that the Arabic versions of the New Testament were made between the Saracen conquests in the seventh century, and the Crusades in the eleventh century—an opinion in which he follows, or coincides with, Walton (Prol. ad Polygl. xiv.) who remarks—“Plane constat versionem Arabicam apud eas (ecclesias orientales) factam esse postquam lingua Arabica per victorias et religionem Muhammedanicam per Orientem propagata fuerat, et in multis locis facta esset vernacula.” If, indeed, in these comparatively late versions, the general phrase-