Sheets or Teachings?

Surah al-A`la (87:18-19)

An Arabic transliteration of these verses is:

Pickthall Yusufali Shakir Sher Ali Rashad Khalifa
Lo! This is in the former scrolls.
The Books of Abraham and Moses.
And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelation),-
The Books of Abraham and Moses.
Most surely this is in the earlier scriptures,
The scriptures of Ibrahim and Musa.
This, indeed, is what is taught in the former Scriptures -
The Scriptures of Abraham and Moses.
This is recorded in the earlier teachings.
The teachings of Abraham and Moses.

Suhuf means sheets, scroll or book. It is the physical existance of the text, the writing material, that is in view when this word is used. It is not correct to translate it as "teachings". Now, this is not a major error. What could have motivated Khalifa to choose this unusual translation? Maybe it was the issue that there is no Biblical record of "books of Abraham" and so he might try to divert from this problem by talking about teachings instead of a fixed book?

All this would be a very minor quibble were it not for the recurrent Muslim line of attack that the Bible is clearly corrupted because of "those lost books of the Bible" which are mentioned in the Bible, but that are no longer to be found. That is the reason to draw attention to this verse and its various renderings in the different versions.

General discussion and links on the lost books of the Bible issue.

Qur'an Versions
Answering Islam Home Page