Pastor Peter Simpson was preaching the gospel in High Wycombe High Street on May 2nd, helped by three ladies members of the church at Penn. 

As pastor Simpson was preaching, a middle-aged man walked by and said, Jesus is not in Palestine, is he?, the plain implication being that He is powerless and does not nothing to stop war. The preacher responded by saying that the advent of war is in fact proof of all that the Bible teaches, namely that the sin of man is at the root of the world’s problems. How strange that when men fight one another, the atheist or sceptic so often blames God for what men are doing of their own free will!

Again as Pastor Simpson was preaching, a man went past on his bicycle shaking his head in rejection of the message. So Pastor Simpson shouted over to him, Why are you shaking you head, Sir? This is the truth! Although he did not say so, it appears that he was a Muslim, for he then asserted strongly that Jesus was not God. The minister responded that Jesus forgave sins and received worship, which only God can do. The man did not then come up to the minister to engage in a conversation, but he just continued from a distance to shout out his arguments, and so sadly, it was not possible for the preacher to really debate meaningfully  with him, but what was noteworthy was the immediate assumption that he was publicly making that the Christian message was unreliable from the outset, because it asserts the divine status of Jesus of Nazareth.  

Another Muslim lady approached the pastor and was again very dismissive of the message. She argued that the Bible is not reliable and that there was no original manuscript of it such as there is for the Qur’an. She said that such a manuscript existed at the University of Birmingham.

There is indeed a manuscript there of the Qur’an (1), which has been tested by radiocarbon analysis and is said to date from the period AD568 to 645.  Mohammed received his revelations between AD610 and 632. However, what was revealed to him was never immediately compiled into book form. A compilation had to be subsequently made from fragments recorded on parchment, in stone and on palm leaves, and also from what people had memorised.

In other words, no complete manuscript of the Qur’an existed during Mohammed’s lifetime. Many of those who memorised what Mohammed had told them had died in the Battle of Yamama in December 632 (2), some six months after Mohammed’s death in June 632 (3). 

Abu Bakr, the first caliph after Mohammed’s death, ruled from 632 to 634 (4). He  gathered together the available portions of the Qur’anic text around 634. This compilation was given to Hafsa, Mohamamed’s widow. The third caliph, Uthman, ruled from 644 to 656. During his reign, some 19 years following Mohammed’s death, there were disagreements about the text of the Qur’an. Uthman therefore decreed that Hafsa’s copy, along with other textual sources, should be brought together to make an official version. One copy of this version was sent to every province with instructions that “all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt” (5),(6). Pastor Simpson tried to explain some of these details to the lady, but she continued to insist that the Quranic text had never been altered or revised. 

The minister also pointed out how the fact that there is no one original manuscript of the Bible is because because copies were constantly being made, avidly read, and then wearing out. In fact, for example, there are some 5656 manuscripts of the New Testament available, along with some 10,000 Latin manuscripts (7). Many of these were compiled within four centuries of original copying, and they all broadly agree with only minor differences such as spelling and variations which do not affect any doctrine. 

In any case, we must not ignore the providence of God in all of this. He is omnipotent and has preserved His word, and so we can be sure that what we read today in our Bibles is indeed the His unadulterated word and is utterly trustworthy. 

What is more, it is indisputable that manuscripts which date to, say, the 14th century AD are almost exactly the same as those from the 3rd century AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered between 1946 and 1956, can be dated from the 3rd to the 1st centuries BC, and were earlier than anything else discovered up to then, yet they were extremely similar to the ancient Old Testament manuscripts already in existence from much later periods (8).

May this Muslim lady and many others who heard the gospel in HIGH WYCOMBE be made to see the absolute infallibility and trustworthiness of the Bible, and may they take its urgent message to heart, namely the need to flee from the wrath to come and into the arms of the unique and merciful Saviour of sinners, our Lord Jesus Christ.



3 David Wood,



6 Sahih al-Bukhari 4987