Video – Academic Lecture series with Dr. Daniel A. Brubaker

Grace Kim — March 21, 2023

The Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam was pleased to host Dr. Daniel A. Brubaker, a postdoctoral researcher in the early history of the Quran and the co-creator of the online research tool Quran Gateway, as our guest speaker for the Academic Lectures event of the spring semester 2023.

Brubaker’s PhD (Rice University, 2014) catalogued and described scribal changes and corrections across approximately a dozen early Quran fragments totaling approximately 3000 pages of ancient written text. Brubaker remains active in research and writing. Among his upcoming publications is an edition of a Quran fragment for Brill’s Documenta Coranica series.

He lectured twice. On Friday, February 3rd, he answered “What is the Quran?” and on Saturday, February 4th, explained “Why You Should Care About Quran Manuscripts.”

In answering “What is the Quran?,” he argued that although it appears as a simple question, this topic is central to the faith of almost two billion Muslims in the world today. Brubaker explained that despite the significance of the Quran to the Islamic faith, Muslims have varying knowledge of the Quran depending on where they live, what language they speak, and their particular community. Some may have been Muslims their entire life and have absolutely no knowledge of the Quran. This is important, because understanding the meaning of the text is central to knowing what the Quran claims to be.

Brubaker expressed that one of the key problems with the traditional account of the Quran is that critical research is not being done on the early manuscripts. Many claims, says Brubaker, have been assumed for such a long time because of the danger of questioning and investigating the Quran and its history. Critical questions seem “off limits” or “impolite,” which creates barriers to critical research and studies on the Quran. However, Brubaker highlights that the tides are turning! The atmosphere of the academic field which studies the early Quran manuscripts is changing, and although there is still much work to be done, more scholars—especially Christians—are taking an interest in this field of academic research and impacting the world with this knowledge.

Brubaker’s lecture was informative, as he explained ways through which we can understand the Quran as a text and its claims about Jesus and many of the biblical prophets. When Brubaker asked the audience what they thought the similarities between the Quran and the Book of Mormon were, many answered that both the Quran and the Book of Mormon claim to be succession in line of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, to be given by angels, to correct information that is given by the Bible, to have a single witness who happened to be a prophet, and to be the correct source in the event that any other book contradicts them.

Brubaker clearly demonstrated that the Quran disagrees with what the Bible says. On key theological matters, he concluded that the Quran should be viewed as an attack on the theology and person of Jesus Christ and as an attempt to take men and women from the way of salvation and set them down on the wide road to eternal destruction.

Brubaker relayed that his 2019 book, Corrections in Early Qur’an Manuscripts: Twenty Examples, quickly received critical attention in the form of an academic journal review, followed by a full monograph critique by a senior scholar. One of the participants asked him if he had ever been seriously threatened since writing his book—to which Brubaker answered that at first, he was worried about his family’s safety, but there was just general criticism and no serious threats to their safety. “Just do what you need to do. As long as God desires, we will be here. We should not avoid doing works for the Lord because of our concern for safety,” Brubaker concluded.

In answering “Why You Should Care about Quran Manuscripts,” Brubaker explained that when he first started his research and study on the early Quran manuscripts, Islamic Studies was not a popular academic field, especially among Christian scholars. It remained untouched. However, through his pioneering works on the study of the early Quran manuscripts, we have clear evidence of how the early Quran manuscripts have been revised numerous times over time. Brubaker strongly encouraged all participants to take interest in getting involved with critical research and study on Islam, as there is still much groundwork to be done and this academic work can impact people all over the world.

One of the remarkably profound moments of Brubaker’s lectures was a testimony from his Muslim friend who decided to leave Islam after reading Brubaker’s book on manuscripts and discovering the changes in the Quran for himself. After a few months, this friend decided to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What a beautiful testimony!

To watch the lectures, see the following links:

Lecture 1: What is the Quran? 

Lecture 2: Why You Should Care About Quran Manuscripts

Here is some feedback we received from the participants:

“As a student who has been interested in the origins and validity of Islamic texts, I greatly appreciated Dr. Brubaker’s presentation of his work. He helped us to see how his work persuaded a former Muslim to follow Christ. Dr. Brubaker and his work has inspired me to be diligent in my studies and to boldly present the truth.” –Jackie Kang

“I was motivated by Dr. Brubaker’s research presentation to confidently approach my Muslim friends by reviewing the reliable and credible evidence that he produced.” –Sharon Narmala

“Dr. Brubaker’s presentation helped me to know more about the similarities between Muhammad’s and Joseph Smith’s experience and gave me a deeper understanding about Islam as a religion.” –Patrick McElhannon

“Through the recent Jenkins Center event, we saw that God raises up his disciples to study the foundations of the faith of the pagans, so we can preach the gospel to them. We want to participate in future Jenkins Center events to expand our vision and to be reminded that there is a group of brothers and sisters around the world fighting alongside us.” –Xiyi Li

We are truly grateful for Dr. Dan Brubaker’s passion for the Lord’s Kingdom, his hard work of research and studies which revealed that this type of academic work can have an impact on the world, and for reminding us that though sometimes we view Muslims as closed, God can reach anyone.

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