18. M. How do you know that these MSS. are as ancient as you say they are? What proof have you that they were not written in quite recent times? How could paper last all these centuries?

C. All these old MSS. are written on parchment, not on paper, and their great age is evident at a glance. This also accounts for the loss of some pages from some of them. They are written in very old 1 Greek characters, as different 2 from later Greek writing as is the modern Arabic character from Cufic, which we find on old coins. Learned men have made a special study of this; and it is well known that the modern Greek writing itself, which is far more recent, came into use before Muhammad's time 3. All men of learning, believers and unbelievers alike, are agreed as to the fact that these MSS. were written not later than the dates which I have mentioned (in the text or notes), though it is acknowledged that some of

1 I mean in Uncial (Majuscule), not in the later Cursive (Minuscule) characters. "This running hand found its way into MSS. of the Bible in the course of the ninth century." (Nestle, op. cit. p. 35.)
2 Here again an object lesson will be useful. It may be given by showing the photograph of an extract from an old Greek MS. of the N.T., and asking the inquirer to compare its letters with those in a printed Greek N.T.
3 Cursive Greek writing of a kind, though not the modern kind, "arose even previous to the Christian era. . . The oldest Cursive MS. of the N.T., the exact date of which is known, is 481 evv.; it bears the date 835." (Nestle, op. cit. p. 35.)

them may be still more ancient 1 than I have said. We have plenty 2 of other MSS. dating from about Muhammad's time and onward, the writing of which is quite different 3.

19. M. You have said nothing about the Hebrew Old Testament.

C. We have no MS. of the Hebrew text of it which is as ancient as the Greek ones mentioned above, but we know from Josephus and other historians that the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) was made from the Hebrew between 250 and 200 years before Christ, that is between 872 and 822 years before the Hijrah, and every one knows that a translation must be more recent than the original from which it is made. We have also other translations of the Old Testament made

1 Table showing the centuries to which the leading MSS. of the N.T. belong, according to different opinions.
Vollert Scrivener von Gebhardt
IV Cent. 5 ... 2
V Cent. 4 10 15
VI Cent. 18 22 24
VII Cent. 6 9 17
(Nestle, op. cir. p. 35.)
2 3,829 MSS. of the N.T. have been catalogued up to the present. There may be thousands more. See Nestle, pp. 33, 34.
3 On this paragraph the Bishop of Lahore writes: "In my experience this kind of argument carries conviction to very few of those with whom we mostly have to do. It really appeals to the critical and scholarly instinct more even than we realize, and in these the average Muhammadan is wholly lacking. Still, as this is the true answer, it must be best to give it. In time it will sink in."