Koran may be older than Mohammed

Discussion about the Quran, hadith, the history of Islam, etc.
Huon
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by Huon » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:22 am

outhouse wrote:
They created these animal skins to be written on asap after making the skin ready for writing. They did not sit on shelves waiting to be written on. They were for the most part created to be used for a specific task. This was expensive material, not to be confused with paper on a shelf waiting to be used.

Had it been used previously, we would see it without issue or question.
Palimpsest...

outhouse
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by outhouse » Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:17 am

Huon wrote:
outhouse wrote:
They created these animal skins to be written on asap after making the skin ready for writing. They did not sit on shelves waiting to be written on. They were for the most part created to be used for a specific task. This was expensive material, not to be confused with paper on a shelf waiting to be used.

Had it been used previously, we would see it without issue or question.
Palimpsest...
Had it been used previously, we would see it without issue or question.

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Peter Kirby
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:36 am

BBC wrote:Because radiocarbon dating creates a range of possible ages, there is a handful of other manuscripts in public and private collections which overlap. So this makes it impossible to say that any is definitively the oldest.
But the latest possible date of the Birmingham discovery - 645 - would put it among the very oldest.
Clive wrote:This report fails to realise implications of carbon dating

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33436021
What may be the world's oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham.
Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.
Tom Holland ‏@holland_tom 3h3 hours ago
As with other carbon datings, the intriguing possibility is raised that some qur'anic fragments may antedate Muhammad
Blood wrote:In the Christian tradition, scholars are always eager to seize on the oldest possible date as the actual date, but in this case, the oldest possible date pre-dates Muhammed's birth by 25 years!

So it's safe to say in this case, no Islamic scholar will be trumpeting the earliest date.
Assuming that the numbers in the news report are correct...

645 CE + 1370 y.a. = 2015 CE

That checks out, but I can assume that the reporter might have come up with the 1370 years ago date, from the 645 CE upper bound on dating.

The traditional date of Muhammad's death is 632, and the earliest mention of him (from a non-Muslim) comes from 640.

The inherent uncertainty involved with carbon dating means that we should find texts like this, whether our oldest text is actually from after 632 or before 632. We don't really have the means to say on the basis of the carbon dating technique.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

outhouse
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by outhouse » Sat Sep 26, 2015 12:44 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
Assuming that the numbers in the news report are correct...

645 CE + 1370 y.a. = 2015 CE

That checks out, but I can assume that the reporter might have come up with the 1370 years ago date, from the 645 CE upper bound on dating.

The traditional date of Muhammad's death is 632, and the earliest mention of him (from a non-Muslim) comes from 640.

The inherent uncertainty involved with carbon dating means that we should find texts like this, whether our oldest text is actually from after 632 or before 632. We don't really have the means to say on the basis of the carbon dating technique.

Isn't the whole point that these dates pre date the korans compilation? And gives us insight to what we already know.


And agreed we know these text existed exactly from this period pre compilation.


I see no reason to accept some of the traditions predate the collectors birth.

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Peter Kirby
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:27 pm

outhouse wrote:
Peter Kirby wrote:
Assuming that the numbers in the news report are correct...

645 CE + 1370 y.a. = 2015 CE

That checks out, but I can assume that the reporter might have come up with the 1370 years ago date, from the 645 CE upper bound on dating.

The traditional date of Muhammad's death is 632, and the earliest mention of him (from a non-Muslim) comes from 640.

The inherent uncertainty involved with carbon dating means that we should find texts like this, whether our oldest text is actually from after 632 or before 632. We don't really have the means to say on the basis of the carbon dating technique.

Isn't the whole point that these dates pre date the korans compilation? And gives us insight to what we already know.


And agreed we know these text existed exactly from this period pre compilation.


I see no reason to accept some of the traditions predate the collectors birth.
I'm not sure what the whole point is. It seems various people have different interpretations of what the 'whole point' is.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

neilgodfrey
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat Sep 26, 2015 5:09 pm

Peter Kirby wrote: 645 CE + 1370 y.a. = 2015 CE
quibble -- 645 CE + 1370 y.a. = 2014 CE (there is no year zero)

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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:47 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
Peter Kirby wrote: 645 CE + 1370 y.a. = 2015 CE
quibble -- 645 CE + 1370 y.a. = 2014 CE (there is no year zero)
Quibble -- the non-existence of a year zero is irrelevant to the sum, as it starts on the near side of it all anyway...
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

shunyadragon
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by shunyadragon » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:10 am

outhouse wrote:
ficino wrote:"Saud al-Sarhan, the director of research at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said he doubted that the manuscript found in Birmingham was as old as the researchers claimed, noting that its Arabic script included dots and separated chapters — features that were introduced later. He also said that dating the skin on which the text was written did not prove when it was written. Manuscript skins were sometimes washed clean and reused later, he said."

I would think that if the two leaves were from a palimpsest, that fact would have been recognizable. But al-Sarhan's points about dots (vowel pointing?) and separated chapters seem well taken.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/world ... pe=nyt_now
He is biased, and it shows.


They created these animal skins to be written on asap after making the skin ready for writing. They did not sit on shelves waiting to be written on. They were for the most part created to be used for a specific task. This was expensive material, not to be confused with paper on a shelf waiting to be used.

Had it been used previously, we would see it without issue or question.
He may show bias, but nonetheless it is True skins were often cleaned and reused as were linen paper in the west.

I do not believe the existence of these documents are evidence that the Koran or a large part of it predate Muhammed. Pretty much all scripture over the Millennia contain significant references to early literature.
go with the flow the river knows . . .

Frank

I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

jayraskin
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by jayraskin » Sat Nov 21, 2015 5:26 am

Hi All,

From the BBC article in the OP: "These tests provide a range of dates, showing that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 and 645." The key date here is not 645, but the mean between 568 and 645, which equals 606.5. There is a 50% chance of the parchment being before 606 and a 50% chance of it being after 606. This would indicate there is approximately a 53.2% chance that this parchment predates the date that is traditionally given for Mohammad beginning to write the book in 6010. We get this by dividing all the years from 568 to 609 (41 years) by the total number of years from 568 to 645 (77 years). 41/77 = 53.2% That is the percentage of the years that would predate the accepted date.

However the Koran allegedly took 20 years to writes. That would mean that any passage in the Koran has a 50% chance of being written between 610 and 620 and a 50% chance of being written after 620. If we accept this tradition, then we have all the years from 568 to 620 as going against the tradition and all the years from 620 to 645 as being correct. This means 52 of the 77 years would yield an earlier date and 52/77 = 67.5% chance of this tradition being wrong.

There are two seemingly countervailing arguments that can increase or decrease these possibilities. One is a) how quickly parchment was used after its production and the other b) is how long in time this copy is from the original.

a) Seventh century Arabia was at a subsistence standard of living and producing a parchment was a laborious process taking months to produce. It was a luxury item and would not have been produced except on demand for immediate use. In other words, nobody could afford to produce a bunch of parchments and wait for someone to come along and buy them. Rather, the person/people who would have a need for the parchment would order it produced for immediate use. This note makes it clear that there were plenty of ways to make money off of sheepskin, so unless there was a direct order placed for a parchment, it would not have been produced:

from http://www.bradford-delong.com/2012/11/ ... tment.html
Lawrence said in reply to John Howard Brown...

Wool is not a joint product with sheepskin, since the sheep must still have its skin to produce the wool. Sheep are sheered for wool and the opportunity cost of a sheep skin is the wool production you would get from the sheep whose skin was sacrificed for learning.(In the middle ages each live sheep produced about 1.4 pounds of wool. Just a point. The skins themselves had alternative uses and weren't simply thrown away, if they were then the opportunity cost would be low. In fact the skins had a lot of uses other than books. They were used for clothes, coats,cloaks, gloves (the original chamois leather), caps, shoes, boots. blankets, and other uses. In fact sheep skin was especially valuable for cloaks and caps because it kept out the rain and snow. During the little ice age probably was much more important than books for survival, and thus even the sheepskins themselves had high opportunity costs. So the opportunity costs were actually higher, than say movies. Another example,
"The base material of those magnificent illuminated medieval manuscripts we cherish came at great cost: one particularly splendid gospel required 1,500 calfskins to make the vellum. The use of other animal hides is far from unknown. Visitors to the Kung.Biblioteket (King's Library) in Stockholm will marvel over the immense Devil's Bible (Codex Gigas, literally Giant Book) on display there, made c1325 from the skins of 160 asses."


As previously noted if this was a reused parchment (palimsest) it would have been evident and since the article does not state that it was, we can assume that it was not. Thus we can assume that the killing of the sheep occurred shortly before the parchment was written on and years did not pass. It is highly improbable (one chance in 100) that this would be the case in a subsistence culture such as the one we're dealing with. Thus the 55% chance of this manuscript predating the traditional dates for Mohammed writing the Koran remains intact.

b) While it is lovely to think that a miracle occurred and somebody copied this manuscript a few days or years after Mohammed, this very rarely happens. We most often find manuscripts that are many generations removed from the time of original authorship. Again, the chances of this manuscript being first generation written a few years or a decade or two after the original composition is small. In 99% of cases what we find are manuscripts (even the earliest manuscripts) are written decades or hundreds of years after the composition of the work. We have to assume that there is no more than a one percent chance that this is a manuscript that was produced in the years just after the composition of the Koran. Rather there is a 99% percent chance that this was copied from a manuscript that was decades after the composition of the Koran.

These factors combined, we can say that based on this carbon dating, there is at least a 53.2% chance that the Koran was written before the traditional date given for Mohammad's beginning production of it, by decades or even a century or more.

Warmly,

Jay Raskin

shunyadragon
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Re: Koran may be older than Mohammed

Post by shunyadragon » Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:56 am

outhouse wrote:
ficino wrote:"Saud al-Sarhan, the director of research at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said he doubted that the manuscript found in Birmingham was as old as the researchers claimed, noting that its Arabic script included dots and separated chapters — features that were introduced later. He also said that dating the skin on which the text was written did not prove when it was written. Manuscript skins were sometimes washed clean and reused later, he said."

I would think that if the two leaves were from a palimpsest, that fact would have been recognizable. But al-Sarhan's points about dots (vowel pointing?) and separated chapters seem well taken.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/world ... pe=nyt_now
He is biased, and it shows.


They created these animal skins to be written on asap after making the skin ready for writing. They did not sit on shelves waiting to be written on. They were for the most part created to be used for a specific task. This was expensive material, not to be confused with paper on a shelf waiting to be used.

Had it been used previously, we would see it without issue or question.
Considering the evidence, there is enough bias to passed around for both sides of the argument. It is pretty much accepted that the text of the OT, NT and the Quran contains material from older sources.
go with the flow the river knows . . .

Frank

I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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