Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Snap: Sami Ameri's "Hunting for the Word of God"



I haven't had much in the way of dealings with Muslim apologists; my few encounters have shown me that Muslim apologetics has a highly derivative nature, which is to say, they tend to just borrow ammo from others rather than come up with their own material. Sami Ameri's Hunting for the Word of God is a case in point; the bulk of this book could be summed up as a case of Ameri hunting for any statement by any textual critic suggesting the least amount of doubt on any issue related to the textual criticism of the New Testament, and collecting them all into one big mishmash, and then smugly posing as though Christians ought to panic because he's managed to assemble this Frankenstein.

What continually escapes Ameri, however, is that Christians as a whole don't need a Bible that is handed down as though still dictated word for word. In fact, much of his projected worrywarting obviously derives from an assumption that Christians need for the Bible to be as he supposes the Quran to be -- preserved with often word for word accuracy from Day 1 of writing until now.

Well, sorry, Sami -- that's not the case. And while I didn't find anything in this book that I don't handle in Trusting the New Testament (including Ameri's apparent obsession with the "obscure zone" between the time of the writing of the NT, and the earliest substantial manuscripts), it is rather breathtaking the way Ameri (who has no qualifications in the field of textual criticism) presumes to dictate to what he calls the "inflated arrogance" of those who practice textual criticism [9] just because they won't drop into panic-crisis mode when he thinks  they should.
Needless to say, Ameri doesn't deal with the fact that his paranoid criteria for textual reliability would render the whole of ancient history a blank slate. He bypasses that matter quickly and quietly in one paragraph, declaring that "it is nonsensical to use books for whose texts no one can vouchsafe complete integrity to prove the faithful transmission of the New Testament," [37] adding rather irrelevantly that we can't be certain of the Homeric authorship of the Iliad. So there you have it folks: Latin scholars are being "nonsensical" for relying on a text like Tactitus' Annals. Isn't it nice to know that Ameri is here to set all those people straight? And yet he also has the nerve to speak of "inflated arrogance"?

Even when Ameri gets down to specific textual problems, he's as lost in the woods as Hansel and Gretel being followed by a vacuum cleaner.  For some reason, he expects intelligent Christians like Daniel Wallace to wring their hands because later scribes expanding Luke 11:11-12 so that there is a third pair of items in opposition.  The panic-polemic brings to mind for me to draw a cartoon of Ameri as a tiny chihuahua, jumping up and down and barking, "Worry! Worry! Worry!!!" Inflated arrogance? Not him.

A final section of his book discusses the textual state of the Quran, which frankly would not interest me even if all that Ameri said about it were accurate.
I'll leave that aspect to others rather than collect sound bites a la Ameri.

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