On The Sources of the Story of Cain & Abel in the Qur"anM S M Saifullah, Mansur Ahmed, Elias Karim 1. Introduction
The Reverend W. St. Clair Tisdall in his book The Original Sources of the Qur"an wanted to show that Muhammad (P) "constructed" Islam from several sources: Judaism, Christianity, Sabeanism, Zoroastrianism, paganism, etc. In the chapter dealing with the Jewish sources of the Qur"an, Tisdall proposes that different parts of the story of Cain and Abel as narrated in the Qur"an were borrowed from the Jewish sources such as "Targum of Jonathan and Targum of Jerusalem", "Pirqey Rabbi Eli"zer" and "Mishnah Sanhedrin".  Tisdall also acknowledges that he has borrowed most of the material on the issue of Cain and Abel from Abraham Geiger"s book was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen? 
Accepting the view of Geiger, without any criticism, Ibn Warraq endorses that the story of Cain and Abel in the Qur"an was borrowed from Jewish sources:
The murder of Abel in the Koran is borrowed from the Bible, but the conversation of Cain with Abel before Cain kills him is taken from the Targum of Jerusalem, generally known as pseudo-Jonathan. In the Koran, after the murder God sent a raven that scratched the earth to show Cain how to bury Abel.... [The Qur"anic passages] only become clear if we look at Mishna Sanhedrin 4.5. 
Others, however, believe that the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel is based on Midrash Tanhuma. Such views are held by Masson and Sidersky and endorsed by Stillman. In comparing the narration of Cain and Abel in the Qur"an with that of Midrash Tanhuma, Masson suggests that the Qur"anic story is an allusion to the story in Midrash Tanhuma, "une allusion au repentir de Cain", or an allusion to the repentance of Cain. A similar line of reasoning has been taken by Sidersky and supported by Heller and Stillman.
In this paper we would like to discuss the nature and basis of the claim that the Prophet(P) borrowed the story from the "Pirqey Rabbi Eli"zer", "Targum of Jonathan and Targum of Jerusalem", "Midrash Tanhuma" and "Mishnah Sanhedrin".2. The Case against Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
Tisdall along with other missionaries have claimed that the "Targum of Jonathan and Targum of Jerusalem" are the sources of Qur"an 5:27-29. Let us first start with what they say. Tisdall, in the abridged edition Sources of the Qur"an,says:
Now this conversation and affair of Cain and Abel, as given above in the Qur"an, has been told us in a variety of ways by the Jews) Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziah; also the Targum of Jerusalem. In Arabic Cain is called Cabîl).
Nehl, who basically repeats Tisdall"s work,asserts:
The way the story of Cain and Abel is related in Sura 5:30-35 shows quite clearly that this is copied from the Targum of Jonathan-ben- Uzziah, the Targum of Jerusalem and Pirke Rabbi Eleazar.
Following the footsteps of Tisdall, Joseph Smithsays:
Jewish apocryphal literature stories such as the murder of Abel by Cain in sura 5:31-32, borrowed from the Targum of Jonathan-ben-Uzziah...
The missionaries have called this Targum as "Targum of Jonathan-ben-Uzziah".
1. Firstly, in the Jewish literature there is no one called "Jonathan-ben-Uzziah" to whom a Targum was attributed; the only one that is known in the Jewish literature is Jonathan ben Uzziel.
2. Secondly, the first reference to a Targum of the Pentateuch that is attributed to Jonathan ben Uzziel comes to us from the Italian Kabbalist Menahen Recanati (c. 1320). Azariah de Rossi, in his work Me"or `Enayhim (1573-75), noted that this Targum was also known as Targum Yerushalmi, but in the editio princeps (Venice, 1590-91) the title Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel was used. This latter title seems to be due to the fact that some scribes mistakenly interpreted the abbreviation TY (Targum Yerushalmi) as Targum Yonathan. This fictitious Yonathan was then identified with Jonathan ben Uzziel, the reputed author of the Targum of the Prophets. In order to correct this mistaken identification and to avoid confusion, it has become customary to use the word "Pseudo" when referring to the Jonathan ben Uzziel to whom a Targum of Pentateuch was attributed. The authorship of this Targum is unknown and the Targum itself was rarely found in the Middle Ages, although it was quoted frequently from 11th century CE onwards.
In other words, the "Targum of Jonathan-ben-Uzziah" is falsely attributed to him and that it is called Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is same as the Targum of Jerusalem (Targum Yerushalmi). The missionaries ignorantly depicted Targum of "Jonathan-ben-Uzziah" and Targum of Jerusalem as two different books. However, it has been known for over one hundred years that these two books, going by only different titles, are in reality one and the same.
2.1 What Did Tisdall & Geiger Say About The Borrowing?
Since Ibn Warraq and the missionaries insist that the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel is borrowed from the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, it is fitting to examine Geiger and Tisdall"s remarks on the matter.
Geiger only makes a passing remark of the conversation mentioned in the Jerusalem Targum and the Qur"an. Moreover, he makes no claims regarding similarity and copying:
... The matter of the conversation is given so differently in each case that we do not consider it worth while to compare the two passages more closely. 
In his unabridged edition The Original Sources of the Qur"an, Tisdall has the following to say:
A conversation, or rather argument, between Cain and Abel is mentioned in the Jewish legend both in the Targum of Jonathan and in the Targum of Jerusalem... The resemblance between this narrative and that given in the beginning of the foregoing quotation from the Qur"an is not striking. 
The above passages reveal an interesting dilemma. If both Geiger and Tisdall both agree that the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel is markedly different from one another, and that it can"t be the source of the Qur"an, then
why have Ibn Warraq and the missionaries so eager to claim that the Qur"anic narrative is borrowed from the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan? 2.2 The Dating Of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
The next logical line of inquiry is to consider the final date of redaction for the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, whether it was after the advent of Islam or before. Michael Maher writing in 1992 in the introduction to his translation of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says:
Although Ps.-J certainly contains ancient traditions; many recent authors argue that this Targum received its final form after the Arab conquest of the Middle East. D. M. Splansky believes that Ps.-J dates from the ninth or tenth century. His main arguments may be summarized as follows: The reference of Aisha and Fatima in Ps.-J. Gen. 21:21 should not be seen as an insertion. The source of the Midrash could not have originatedbefore 633 CE at the earliest. Ps.-J. makes use of PRE [i.e., Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer] and both Tanhumas, a fact which points to the ninth or tenth century as the time of Ps.-J."s compilation. The way in which Ps.-J presents the midrash about Abraham"s refusal to bless Ishmael in Gen. 25:11 betrays an anti-Moslem polemic, and the reference to the blemish of Ishmael and the blemish of Esau in Ps.-J. Gen. 35:22 can best be explained against the background of a world divided between Arabs and Christians. There are possible indications in other texts in Ps.-J (e.g., Gen. 16:12; 25:13; 49:26; Num. 7:87) that they date from a time after the Arab conquest. The precise reference to calendar matters in Ps.-J Gen. 1:16 shows that this Targum was written in the second half of the ninth century at the earliest.
Shinan has also stated his conviction that Ps.-J depends on PRE and that it is the work of an author-editor who was active in seventh or eighth century. Le Déaut affirms that the final redaction of Ps.-J could not have taken place before the eighth century. Cook"s examination of language of Ps-J leads him to conclude that there are a number of indications which place Ps.-J after the Muslim conquest of the East. J. A. Foster, on the basis of the language of Ps.-J., states that this Targum may date from the eighth or ninth century. The findings of these and other scholars who have dedicated special studies to both the content and the language of Ps- J allow us to accept with confidence the view that this Targum in its final form cannot be dated before seventh or eighth century.
In fact, as early as 1905 The Jewish Encyclopedia had already pointed out that Targum Pseudo-Jonathan:
... is not earlier than the seventh century; for it mentions Ayeshah (cA"ishah)(or, according to another reading, Khadija [Hadijah]) and Fatima, the wife and daughter of Mohammad, as wives of Ishmael, who was regarded as Mohammad"s ancestor.
The post-Islamic redaction of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan had been briefly alluded to by Torrey,from whose book Ibn Warraq quotes extensively; but he fails to notice this critical point.
Summing up, this Targum redacted after the advent of Islam. We do not know how the process of redaction proceeded; whether it was redacted by multiple authors or whether there was a single author-redactor. It is accepted that the present text of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is a result of much editing and reediting.  Importantly, the only surviving manuscript of the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is the British Library Additional MS 27031 and is dated to the sixteenth century. On folio 231b, there is a signature of the censor, Dominico Gierosolomitano, with the date 1598. The editio princeps of Pseudo-Jonathan was printed in Venice in 1591 by Asher Forins for the publishder Juan Bargadin. There are significant differences between the British Library manuscript and the editio princeps. 
If Ibn Warraq and the missionaries claim that the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel is borrowed from the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan or Jerusalem Targum, then they carry the burden of proof to establish the integrity of the latter texts. It has already been mentioned that the final redaction of the Targum took place after the advent of Islam and that the matter of conversation between Cain and Abel in the Qur"an and in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is strikingly different. 3. The Case against Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer
As seen earlier the Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer is claimed to be the source of Qur"anic story where God sends down a raven showing Cain how to bury the corpse of his dead brother (Surah 5:27-32). Comparing the stories in the Qur"an and Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer, Tisdall concludes:
When we compare the Jewish legend with the one given in the Qur"an, we see that the only difference is that in the former the raven taught Adam how to bury the body, whereas in the Qur"an it is Cain who is said to have been thus taught.
He then goes on to discuss how the Prophet (P) may have "learned" of this account from one of his acquaintances.
Is the Qur"anic narration based on Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer? This is probably the most anachronic and inexcusable explanation Tisdall puts forward. A simple examination provided by a source contemporary to Tisdall"s own publication of The Original Sources of the Qur"an provides a more acceptable answer. The Jewish Encyclopedia published in 1905 (same year as the publication of Tisdall"s book) under "Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer" informs us that:
Josh was the first to point out that in the thirtieth chapter, in which at the end the author distinctly alludes to the three stages of the Mohammadan conquest, that of Arabia, of Spain, and of Rome, the names of Fatima and Ayesha occur beside that of Ishamel, leading to the conclusion that the book originated in the time when Islam was predominant in Asia Minor. As in chapter xxxvi, two brothers reigning simultaneously are mentioned, after whose reign the Messiah shall come, the work might be ascribed to the beginning of the ninth century, for about that time the two sons of Harun al-Rashid, El-Amin and El-Mamun, were ruling over Islamic realm.... In no case this work be ascribed to R. Eliezer (80-118 CE), since he was a tanna, while the book itself the Pirke Abot is quoted. 
Hence, Jewish scholars have known for quite some time that Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer is post-Islamic and that it cannot possibly be attributed to Rabbi Eliezer. Remarkably, the "esteemed" Reverend Tisdall seems to have been entirely oblivious to this fact.
Since Tisdall"s "decidedly shoddy piece of missionary propaganda" came from Abraham Geiger"s book, it is not at all surprising to find that former sense of chronology matches to a greater extent with the latter.
Recent studies, such as one by Norman Stillman, have criticized Abraham Geiger"s was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen? For instance, Stillman states:…it did tend to give exaggerated view of the Jewish contribution to the Qur"an. Many of the traditions that he cites are in oriental Christian as well as Talmudic and haggadic literature. Our chronology of rabbinic literature is better today than in Geiger"s, and many more texts - Muslim, Jewish, and Christian - have since being published. In the light of this we know now that in some instances what was thought to be a Jewish haggadic influence in an Islamic text might well be quite the reverse. The Pirke de Rabbi Eli"ezer, for example, would seem to have been finally redacted after the advent of Islam. 
Since the missionaries are unable to establish that Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer was the "source" of the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel, they now endorse Stillman"s hypothesis that the source of this narration is based on Midrash Tanhuma. The missionaries rhetoricallyask:
Does this prove that Jewish texts were not the source of the Qur"an account? No,...
They go on to mention Stillman who endorses that the source of story of Cain and Abel in the Qur"an is probably from Midrash Tanhuma. 4. The Case against Midrash Tanhma
Is the Qur"anic narration based on Midrash Tanhuma? The most recent endorsement that Midrash Tanhuma is the source of the Qur"anic narration of Cain and Abel comes from Norman Stillman:
Sidersky has rightly pointed out that the Qur"anic version should be traced back to Midrash Tanhuma which reads:
When Cain killed Abel, the latter"s body lay cast aside for Cain did not know what to do. Then the Holy One (Blessed be He) sent him two pure birds, and one of them killed the other. Then he dug with his claws and buried him, and from him Cain learned. So he dug and buried Abel.
The qur"anic version is merely an epitome of the above Midrash. 
Before commenting on this pretentious claim, it behooves us to explore the origins of Midrash Tanhuma. 4.1 What Is Midrash Tanhuma?
Midrash Tanhuma designates certain recensions of a homiletic Midrash on the Pentateuch. These recensions include the following: 
1. Midrash Tanhuma in the standard printed edition;
2. Midrash Tanhuma, Buber recension;
3. Exodus Rabbah, Part II;
4. Numbers Rabbah, Part II;
5. Deuteronomy Rabbah in the standard printed editions;
6. Deuteromomy Rabbah, Lieberman Edition;
7. Various other Pesiqta-type material; and
8. Over a hundred other fragments.
This is the most acceptable view of what constitutes Midrash Tanhuma. In the literature Midrash Tanhuma is also known as Tanhuma Yelammedenu and both the designations are used interchangeably.
But there are, of course, scholars who do not refer to Midrash Tanhuma and Tanhuma Yelammedenu synonymously, especially when discussing different manuscripts. 4.2 What Is The Date Of Compilation Of Midrash Tanhuma?
Solomon Buber, in 1885, published an edition of the Midrash Tanhuma based on upon an Oxford University manuscript, Opp. 20. In his introduction, he asserted that it was the oldest Midrash extent, preceding even Genesis Rabbah.  This would mean that this particular Midrash pre-dates Islam.
It was perhaps Buber"s dating that led Sidersky, Masson and Stillman to conclude that the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel was based on Midrash Tanhuma. However, they seem to be unaware that Leopold Zunz, in 1892, a few years after the publication of Buber"s recension, had already made a detailed argument against this dating by showing the similarities with the She"iltot and Genoic writings and presence of Karaite polemics. Based on this he dated this Midrash it to first half of the ninth century! 
Writing around a century later, Strack and Stemberger assert the following concerning Zunz"s dating of Midrash Tanhuma:
Even today this dating is still very common.
Modern scholars like Meyer Waxman agree with this dating of Midrash Tanhuma. Waxman, who provides further details, says:
... it [printed Tanhuma] could not have been the work of the author whose name it bears, as there are evidences which show definitely that the compiler was acquainted with the Karaite movement, with the works of Geonim written in the eighth century and other late events.The date of compilation is, therefore, placed by most scholars to be the second half of the ninth century.... The manuscript Tanhuma is not much younger than the printed one. It dates most likely from the end of the ninth century and is an incomplete version, as it contains new material only on the first three books of Moses; the other two are alike in both. 
Waxman differentiates between Tanhuma and Yelammedenu. Seizing the issue of this differentiation, Andrew Vargoclaims that we have omitted some material from Waxman"s book that states otherwise (i.e. that Yelammedenu is older than the advent of Islam). Regrettably, Vargo"s pretentious comments are not supported by the facts. After discussing the issue of Tanhuma and Yelammedenu at length, the Encyclopaedia Judaica states that:
It does seem, however, that Yelammedenu and Tanhuma are nothing but two different appellatives designating one and the same thing, namely, a whole family, or type, of Midrashim of a distinct literary genre.
Similarly, The Universal Jewish Encyclopaedia states that:
Tanhuma, an exegetical Midrash to the Torah... It is also called Yelammedenu, from the fact that the Halachic introductions to the homilies begin with the words yelammedenu rabbanan. 
Stack and Stemberger in their Introduction To The Talmud And Midrash say:
Tanhuma and Yelamdenu designates a homiletic midrash on the whole Pentateuch which is known in several collections.
It goes without saying that both Tanhuma and Yelammedenu are dated to the same period. We will see more of it below.
After a sound refutation of missionary"s position let us look at his clutching of the straws. Instead of showing that the MidrashTanhuma pre-dates Islam, he ends up quoting a paragraph from Berman"s book that says that the name Tanhuma, was adopted from the name of Tanhuma bar Abba, one of the most prolific aggadists in Jewish literature, who lived in the fourth century CE and that the formula yelammedenu rabbenu, "may our master teach us", existed long before Midrash Tanhuma Yelammedenu was compiled. A clear red-herring! He hoped that nobody would bother to cross-check about the dating of this Midrash. Instead, if we read a little bit further, we see Samuel Berman clearly stating:
The Midrash Tanhuma Yelemmedenu is a homiletical Midrash divided according to the Palestinian practice of reading the Torah according in a triennial cycle. This fact, together with the preponderance of saying quoted in the name of Palestinian sages, has lead some midrashic authorities to maintain that it was compiled in Palestine. Other scholars insist that the references to the Babylonian academies, the inclusion of passages from the She"iltot of Rav Ahai Gaon, who lived in Babylon where he wrote the She"iltot, and the quotation of a considerable number of earlier Babylonian teachers, indicate that the Tanhuma was produced in Babylon. Concerning the date of the completion of this text, we may assume from the inclusion of She"iltot passages and the references toheretics (i.e., the Karaites) that the earliest manuscript of this text was completed in the late eight or the ninth century.
We must bear in mind as we read this Midrash and the others that they are not transcripts of sermons as actually preached. By the time the recension of the first Tanhuma Yelemmedenu text took place, much had been lost in transmission; and much was subsequently added by the scribes who copied the manuscripts. Some of the homilies ultimately became obscure and difficult to follow. 
Two points must be observed. Firstly, the authorship of Midrash Tanhuma Yelammedenu has little or nothing to do with Tanhuma bar Abba, a fifth generation Palestinian amora, to say nothing of whether he was actually the author of the work. This is because of a great deal of loss of material in recension and addition of material by the later day scribes. It is similar to the position that Rabbi Eleizer was not the author of Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer as already
observed. Secondly, the dating of this Midrash is much later, around ninth century CE. This dating is similar to that of Midrash Tanhuma, not least because both Midrash Tanhuma and Midrash Tanhuma Yelammedenu belong to one and the same collection of literature. Hence, Vargo"s remarks do not merit much, if any, value upon a simple cross-referencing of the sources. 4.3 Differing Texts of Midrash Tanhuma
Apart from the issue of dating, there are textual problems with Midrash Tanhuma. To a large extent, the first half of Buber"s edition of Midrash Tanhuma differs from the old printed Tanhuma, even though they both contain similar passages. The second half is, however, mostly similar. 
To show the (forced) "borrowing" of the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel present in the first part of the text, Stillman had preferred the Warsaw edition of Midrash Tanhuma (edited from a manuscript) over the Buber"s edition (edited from a manuscript in Oxford University) because:
... the text of which [i.e., Warsaw edition] differs greatly from that edited by S. Buber (Wilna, 1885).
In other words, various recensions of Midrash Tanhuma do not agree with each other in the first half to a large extent. It is worthwhile to compare the story of Cain and Abel in Townsend"s Midrash Tanhuma (based on Buber"s edition) with Berman"s Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu. Only then do we discover that they both are from different manuscripts. The disparity is rather glaring!  4.4 Conclusions Concerning Midrash Tanhuma
There are a number of serious problems with the theory that Midrash Tanhuma is the source of the Qur"anic Cain and Abel narration. There is a much uncertainty concerning the first half of Midrash Tanhuma (which includes the story of Cain and Abel) coupled with the late date of its compilation in post-Islamic times (ninth century CE).
Are we to believe that a problematic text of the ninth century is the source of Qur"anic story? Such a theory is untenable. It may very well be the case that the Qur"anic story is the source of the Cain and Abel story in Midrash Tanhuma. Perhaps Stillman himself put it best:
Our chronology of rabbinic literature is better today than in Geiger"s, and many more texts - Muslim, Jewish, and Christian - have since being published. In the light of this we know now that in some instances what was thought to be a Jewish haggadic influence in an Islamic text might well be quite the reverse.  5. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5, the Qur"an 5:35 & "Censuring" Of the Text
Quoting from the Mishnah Sanhedrin, the Christian missionaries have the following to say:
We find it said in the case of Cain who murdered his brother, "The voice of thy brother"s bloods crieth" (Gen. 4:10). It is not said here blood in the singular, but bloods in the plural, that is, his own blood and the blood of his seed. Man was created single in order to show that to him who kills a single individual it shall be reckoned that he has slain the whole race, but to him who preserves the life of a single individual it is counted that he hath preserved the whole race.
Mishnah Sanhedrin, 4:5
Finding a similarity between the above passage and Qur"an 5:35, the missionaries add with some excitement:
Here is a passage from the Mishnah! The Mishnah is a Jewish commentary on the Torah.
Unfortunately, they did not provide a proper reference for the Sanhedrin that they have quoted so as to verify their statements. We can easily guess that they only have two sources of "knowledge"; one is Geiger and the other one is Tisdall. Ibn Warraq uses Geiger"s work to allege that Mishnah Sanhedrin is the source of Qur"an 5:35.
We will first examine what Geiger remarked concerning Sanhedrin 4:5.
Man was created single in order to show that to him who kills a single individual, it shall be reckoned that he has slain the whole race; but to him who preserves the life of a single individual, it is counted that he hath preserved the whole race. 
Tisdall, on the other hand, says:
... On this account was Adam created alone, to teach thee that everyone who destroyeth one soul out of Israel, the Scripture reckoneth it unto him as if he had destroyed the whole world; and everyone who preserveth alive one soul out of Israel, the Scripture reckoneth it unto him as if he had preserved alive the whole world. 
The issue of concern here is that in Tisdall"s version the Sanhedrin 4:5 reads the sin / blessing limited to killing / saving the soul of Israel whereas Geiger"s version universalizes the sin / blessing and it is not limited to killing / saving the soul of Israel. This difference is enough to ring alarm bells concerning the textual state of Sanhedrin 4:5. Curiously enough, even Encyclopaedia of Islam does not discuss the two versions of Sanhedrin 4:5. It endorses the universalizing of the sin/blessing.
From this episode, the Kur"ân argues for the prohibition of murder, underlined by a consideration inspired, no doubt indirectly, from the Mishna, Sanhedrin, iv, 5; to take the life of an innocent being is as serious crime as to cause the death of the whole humanity; to save the life of a single person is as meritorious as to do so for all men. 
Another problem that is related the issue of "Scripture" as mentioned in Sanhedrin 4:5. Tisdall says: We are not concerned with the correctness or otherwise of this fanciful exposition of the sacred text, but it is of importance to notice that the thirty fifth verse of Sûrah Al Mâidah is an almost literal translation of part of the extract.
What exactly does "Scripture" mean in Sanhedrin 4:5? Tisdall dismisses "Scripture" as a "fanciful exposition of the sacred text" and connects it to the Qur"anic verse 5:35. That verses reads:
On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
It is quite clear that the Qur"anic verse is not "almost literal translation" of Sanhedrin 4:5. Tisdall"s version of Sanhedrin 4:5 restricts the sin/blessing limited to killing/saving of the soul of Israel whereas the Qur"anic version universalizes it with a condition (absent in Sanhedrin 4:5) "unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land".
Ibn Warraq and many missionariespreferred
the Geiger"s as it fitted well with their pre-conceived ideas about the Qur"an, but no comment were made in any of their writings concerning the version of Tisdall. The issue now is, which version of Sanhedrin 4:5 is correct, Geiger"s or Tisdall"s? 5.1 The Translation of Mishnah Sanhedrin 37a in Babylonian Talmud
Let us quote again the passage from Sanhedrin: 
What is interesting here is the additional "from Israel", which is not to be found in the missionaries" quote. This authoritative edition of the Talmud is translated from the classic Romm Edition of the Talmud, universally known as the Vilna Shas. 
The Socino English translation of the Babylonian Talmud says:
... whosoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture imputes [guilt] to him as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whosoever preserves a single soul of Israel, Scripture ascribes [merit] to him as though he had preserved a complete world.
Similarly, we also see in Jacob Neusner"s edition:
J. ... whoever destroys a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had destroyed a whole world.
K. And whoever saves a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had saved a whole world.
5.2 The Standard Translations Of Mishnah Alone
Let us now see the standard translations of Mishnah.
J. ... whoever destroys a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had destroyed a whole world.K. And whoever saves a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had saved a whole world.
Similar translations are made by Isidore Fishman:
... he who destroys one human life of Israel, it is accounted to him by Scripture as though he had destroyed a whole universe; and he who saves one human life of Israel, it is accounted to him by Scripture as though he had preserved a whole universe.
Similarly Herbert Danby"s translation say:
... if any man has caused a single soul to perish from Israel Scripture imputes it to him as though he had caused a whole world to perish; and if any man saves alive a single soul from Israel Scripture imputes it to him as though he had saved alive a whole world. 5.3 The Jerusalem Talmud
The Jerusalem Talmud is not considered as authoritative as Babylonian Talmud in traditional Judaism.
... when people now talk about the Talmud, they always mean the Babylonian Talmud. The authority of the Babylonian Talmud is also greater than that of the Jerusalem Talmud. In cases of doubt the former is decisive.
Our interest here is to know what exactly is said in Sanhedrin.
... whoever destroys a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had destroyed a whole world. And whoever saves a single Israelite soul is deemed by Scripture as if he had saved a whole world. 
This is basically the same as what we have seen in Babylonian Talmud. 5.4 Censored & Uncensored Talmudic Texts
In the beginning of the 20th century, the Christian missionaries had translated a decent amount of Jewish and Islamic works for their missionary activities in various parts of the world. Among them was one such translation of Sanhedrin by Herbert Danby for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge as early as 1919. Perhaps translations earlier than these were employed by the Christian missionaries such as Tisdall. In the old Danby translation we read:... whosoever destroys a single soul is regarded as though he destroyed a complete world, and whosoever saves a single soul is regarded as though he saved the complete world.
Notice the absence of the qualifier "of Israel".
We have already seen above that Danby was to later translate the verse by adding the qualifier from Israel. What made him change his translation with the inclusion of "Israel" on a later day? This question is not difficult to answer if we examine the patterns of transmission and censorship of the Talmud.
Various editions of the Talmud mention that for many passages of the Babylonian Talmud, there exist alternative texts. Though the editors of the Talmud agree that the original text of Sanhedrin should read "a single soul of Israel", editorial notes in a few editions mention that some texts of the Talmud omit the phrase "of Israel", resulting in a text that universalizes the verse as:... whosoever destroys a single soul is regarded as though he destroyed a complete world...
We would also like to point out that although some early translations and editions of the Jerusalem Talmud do omit the phrase "of Israel", the most recent edition of passages from the Jerusalem Talmud has the version listed above.
After the Talmud was finally committed to writing, some of its offensive passages eventually became known to those outside of Judaism, especially during the time of Islamic Spain. This period had resulted in considerable interaction between the Jews and Christians. After the fall of Islamic Spain and the advent of printing press in the 15th century, the dominant Church authorities became involved in stringent censorship of the text of the Talmud and other Rabbinic writings. Though permission was granted to print Hebrew literature, it was only under the condition that the books were censored to bring them in line with Christian beliefs. William Popper, in his book, The Censorship Of Hebrew Books discusses the cruel measures adopted by Christian authorities in Europe to eliminate or censor the Jewish writings. The passages in Jewish writings which said Jesus was an idolater, or the passages about the Virgin Mary and about gentiles (i.e., Christians) that were deemed offensive, had to be changed or omitted entirely. In some cases, editions of the Talmud which contained offensive passages were destroyed by the Church.
At the same time, however, some Talmud manuscripts faithful to the uncensored original, were saved from destruction, while other Jewish authorities marked new editions so that readers would know something was omitted, printing the omitted sections separately. One such book is called Hesronot ha-Sh""s ("That which is removed from six-orders") which gives details of the omissions in Babylonian Talmud. It states specifically that the word "from Israel" had been removed due to censorship. Hence the actual reading of Sanhedrin is:
... he who destroys one human lifeof Israel
, it is accounted to him by Scripture as though he had destroyed a whole universe; and he who saves one human lifeof Israel
, it is accounted to him by Scripture as though he had preserved a whole universe.
The authentic quote is thus distinct from the one quoted by Ibn Warraq and the missionaries, which excludes the words "of Israel". This is also confirmed if we look into uncensored translations of Talmud. In the beginning of 20th century, Lazarus Goldschmidt did a German translation of the uncensored Babylonian Talmud. In the introduction of his translation, he specifically mentions that his Talmud translation is based on the uncensored Bomberg edition. He compares this with the well-known and uncensored Munich Talmud manuscript. If we look into the Sanhedrin 37a, we read:
... dass wenn jemand eine jisraelitische Seele vernichtet, es ihm die Schrift anrechnet, als hatte er eine ganze Welt vernichtet, und wenn jemand eine jisraelitische Seele erhalt, es ihm die Schrift anrechnet, als hatte er eine ganze Welt erhalten.
The phrase to notice is "eine jisraelitische Seele" meaning "an Israelite soul" and the restriction of a blessing reserved only to saving an Israelite soul.
Rabbi Tzvi Marx writing in Tikkun about the "perplexing rulings of Maimonides regarding murder" says:He first ruled in his Laws of Murder and Preservation of Life (1:1) that "whoever kills a human being (ben-adam) transgresses on a negative precept, as it says, "Thou shalt not murder" (Ex. 20:13). And if he murdered intentionally before witnesses, he is to be executed by the sword." This seems to validate the universal prohibition of murder - against any human beings - and its indiscriminate punitive consequences. This universal implication gets confounded when we realize that this only reflects the censured and amended printed text whereas the original manuscripts have it only as "whoever kills an Israelite..."
Further corroboration is obtained from the writings of Maimonides, or Rambam as he is usually called as. In his commentary of Sanhedrin 37a in Mishneh Torah, Rambam specifically mentions the words "of Israel". 
Further, it should be mentioned that Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, in his introduction to the translation of the Babylonian Talmud reference guide says:Indeed, almost every passage dealing with non-Jews must be suspected of having undergone some change.
Hence it is not surprising to see that the modern day translation of Talmud includes the qualifier, "a soul of Israel", or something similar to that effect, instead of the older and universalizing version of this passage. There are significant differences between the original account in the Babylonian Talmud and the Qur"an 5:35 on the issue of Cain and Abel. The original account in the Babylonian Talmud restricts the sins/blessings for killing/saving an Israelite soul. The Qur"an, on the other hand, universalizes the sins/blessings for killing/saving a human being with a condition, absent in Sanhedrin 4:5, "unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land". Given these pertinent facts, it is difficult to see how one can claim that the Qur"anic story was borrowed Sanhedrin 4:5. Moreover, there is no evidence of the existence of an Arabic Talmud during the advent of Islam in Arabia especially Makkah. It is also known that the final version of the Talmud came after the advent of Islam.
The different parts of the Qur"anic story of Cain and Abel were claimed to have been borrowed from Jewish sources like the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer, Mishnah Sanhedrin and Midrash Tanhuma. It has been shown that the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer and Midrash Tanhuma are post-Islamic compilations and it is highly probable that the Qur"anic narrative is the source of the stories of Cain and Abel found these Jewish texts. Stillman pointed this out quite some time ago:
Our chronology of rabbinic literature is better today than in Geiger"s, and many more texts - Muslim, Jewish, and Christian - have since being published. In the light of this we know now that in some instances what was thought to be a Jewish haggadic influence in an Islamic text might well be quite the reverse. The Pirqe de Rabbi Eli"ezer, for example, would seem to have been finally redacted after the advent of Islam. 
As for Mishnah Sanhedrin in Babylonian Talmud, the original text restricts the sins / blessings for killing / saving an Israelite soul; the Qur"an on the other hand universalizes the sins / blessings for killing / saving a human being with a condition "unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land". The condition as mentioned in the Qur"an is absent in Sanhedrin 4:5.
Now we partially quoted Stillman"s conclusions.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that one should be extremely cautious about assigning specific origins to the story discussed here - or for that matter, any other story in the Qur"an.
They have provided the full quote further to prop up their already hopeless case:Julian Obermann has justly pointed out that "what with the vast overlapping of Jewish and Christian lore, especially in the period and area involved... Old Testament and even rabbinical materials might have been transmitted to Arabia by the Christian channels; while seemingly New Testament matter might easily have been derived from rabbinical homilies." As stated from the outset, the parallels brought here are not necessarily to prove direct source. They are cited to emphasize a similarity of approach and demonstrate the more or less direct translocation of homiletic values. 
The Manuscripts of the Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer:
Following are the extant manuscripts of the Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer. They date from 11th century CE onwards.
Cairo Genizah Fragments of Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer: It contains chapters 26-29 (beginning). They are dated to eleventh century.
MS. A. Epstein: The manuscript is complete and probably has a Spanish origin. It is dated to twelfth or thirteenth century.
MS. Vatican No. 303: It is dated 1509 CE.[66
MS. Parma No. 541: Undated.
There are various editions of Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer known: Constantinople, 1518 [lacunae due to self-imposed censorship]; Venice, 1548; Sabbionetta, 1568; Amsterdam, 1712; Wilna, 1837; Lemberg, 1864.
The Manuscripts of the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan:
There is only one surviving manuscript of the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan.
British Library Aramaic Additional MS 27031: It contains 231 folios and written in a characteristic Italian hand. On folio 231b we find the signature of the censor Dominico Gierosolomitano with the date 1598 CE. The manuscript was probabaly written in the 16th century.
The editio princeps of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan was printed in Venice in 1591 CE by Asher Forins for the publisher Juan Bragadin.
The Manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud:
A detailed list of the manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud was produced by Michael Krupp. We will be dealing with some of the earliest and important ones here.
MS Oxford Bodleian Lib. 2673: It is the oldest firmly dated manuscript of the Babylonian Talmud. It is dated from 1123 CE and contains Keritot with lacunae.
MS Florence National Lib. III 7-9: It was completed in 1177 CE. It comprises about one third of the Babylonian Talmud. It is written in Italo-Ashkenazic script.
MS Hamburg 165: It was written in 1184 CE at Gerona. It is an exemplary representative of Spanish manuscript tradition.
MS New York Jewish Theological Seminary No. 44830: It is dated to 1290 CE and contains Avoda Zarah.
MS Munich Cod. Heb. 95: It contains the entire Talmud, written in Ashkenazic script and dated to 1342 CE. Its completeness makes it certainly the most important Talmud manuscript.
There are various other manuscripts of Talmud and the readers are kindly advised to refer to the above reference.
 Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur"an, 1905, Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge: London, pp. 62-66 for complete discussion.
 A. Geiger, Judaism And Islam (English Translation Of Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?), 1970, Ktav Publishing House Inc.: New York, pp. 79-82 for discussion on the story of Cain and Abel.
 Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not A Muslim, 1995, Prometheus Books: Amherst, NY, p. 57.
 D. Masson, Le Coran et la Révélation Judéo-Chrétienne: Études Compareés, 1958, Volume I, Librairie D"Amérique et D"Orient Adrien-Maisonneuve: Paris, p. 340.
 D. Sidersky, Les Origines des Légendes Musulmanes Dans le Coran et Dans les Vies des Prophètes, 1933, P. Geuthner: Paris, pp. 17-18.
 B. Heller, "La Légend Biblique Dans L"Islam: Récents Travaux et Nouvelles Méthodes de Recherches", Revue des Études Juives, 1934, Volume XCVIII, p. 9. Heller also criticizes the work of Sidersky, see pp. 11-13.
 N. A. Stillman, "The Story Of Cain & Abel In The Qur"an And The Muslim Commentators: Some Observations", Journal Of Semitic Studies, 1974, Volume 19, p. 236.
 "Targum", The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1905, Volume XII, Funk & Wagnalls Company, p. 60; "Jonathan Ben Uzziel", Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 10, Encyclopaedia Judaica Jerusalem, p. 188; L. Zunz, Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden: Historisch Entwickelt, 1892, Verlag von J. Kauffmann: Frankfurt, pp. 69-75.
 A. Geiger, Judaism And Islam (English Translation Of Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?), Op. Cit., p. 80.
 Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources Of The Qur"an, Op. Cit., p. 63.
 M. Maher, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis Translated, With Introduction And Notes, 1992, T & T Clark Ltd.: Edinburgh, pp. 11-12; Also see "Targum", The Universal Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1969, Volume 10, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New York, p. 174; For a general discussion on the issues of dating Targumic literature see A. D. Clark"s, "The Dating Of Targumic Literature", Journal For The Study Of Judaism In The Persian, Hellenistic And Roman Period, 1974, Volume V, No. 1, pp. 49-62. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan"s late redaction (after the advent of Islam) is discussed on p. 53.
 "Targum", The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1905, Volume XII, Funk & Wagnalls Company, p. 60.
 C. C. Torrey, The Jewish Foundation Of Islam, 1967, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New York, p. 84.
 E. G. Clark, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Deuteronomy Translated, With Notes, 1998, T & T Clark Ltd.: Edinburgh, p. 3.
 M. Maher, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis Translated, With Introduction And Notes, Op. Cit., pp. 12-13 for complete discussion.
 Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources Of The Qur"an, Op. Cit., p. 64.
 "Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer", The Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1905, Volume X, Funk & Wagnalls Company, p. 59.
 F. de Blois, "Review of Ibn Warraq"s The Origins Of The Koran: Classic Essays On Islam"s Holy Book", Journal Of The Royal Asiatic Society", 2000, Volume 10, Part 11, p. 88.
 Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources Of The Qur"an, Op. Cit., p. 7.
 N. A. Stillman, "The Story Of Cain & Abel In The Qur"an And The Muslim Commentators: Some Observations", Op. Cit., p. 231.
 See ref. 7.
 J. T. Townsend, Midrash Tanhuma: Translated Into English With Introduction, Indices, and Brief Notes (S. Buber Edition), 1989, Volume I, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New Jersey, p. xi.
 "Tanhuma Yelammedenu", Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 15, Encyclopaedia Judaica Jerusalem, p. 795; "Tanhuma", The Universal Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1969, Volume 10, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New York, pp. 169-170.
 S. A. Berman, Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu: An English Translation Of Genesis And Exodus From The Printed Version Of Tanhuma-Yelammedenu With An Introduction, Notes, And Indexes, 1996, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New Jersey, p. x-xiii.
 S. Buber, Midrash Tanhuma, 1885, 3 vols. in one, Wilna, See discussion in pp. 4-7.
 L. Zunz, Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden: Historisch Entwickelt, Op. Cit., pp. 246-247. Full discussion on Tanhuma Yelammedenu is from pp. 237-250.
 H. L. Strack & G. Stemberger (Trans. Markus Bockmuehl), Introduction To The Talmud And Midrash, 1991, T&T Clark, p. 332. Also see "Tanhuma Yelammedenu", Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 15, p. 795. Berman, who translated Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu from a manuscript, says that the earliest form of the text appeared in the late eight or the ninth century, see Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu: An English Translation Of Genesis And Exodus From The Printed Version Of Tanhuma-Yelammedenu With An Introduction, Notes, And Indexes, Op. Cit.,
 M. Waxman, A History Of Jewish Literature: From The Close Of The Canon To The End Of The Twelfth Century, 1960, Volume I, Thomas Yoseloff: New York & London, p. 139.
 "Tanhuma Yelammedenu", Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 15, Encyclopaedia Judaica Jerusalem, p. 795.
 "Tanhuma", The Universal Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1969, Volume 10, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New York, pp. 169-170.
 H. L. Strack & G. Stemberger (Trans. Markus Bockmuehl), Introduction To The Talmud And Midrash, Op. Cit., p. 330.
 S. A. Berman, Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu: An English Translation Of Genesis And Exodus From The Printed Version Of Tanhuma-Yelammedenu With An Introduction, Notes, And Indexes, Op. Cit., pp. xii-xiii.
 See ref. 13.
 N. A. Stillman, "The Story Of Cain & Abel In The Qur"an And The Muslim Commentators: Some Observations", Op. Cit., p. 236. See footnote 5.
 See Townsend"s Midrash Tanhuma: Translated Into English With Introduction, Indices, and Brief Notes (S. Buber Edition), Op. Cit., pp. 17-18. with Berman"s Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu: An English Translation Of Genesis And Exodus From The Printed Version Of Tanhuma-Yelammedenu With An Introduction, Notes, And Indexes, Op. Cit., p. 28-32.
 N. A. Stillman, "The Story Of Cain & Abel In The Qur"an And The Muslim Commentators: Some Observations", Op. Cit., p. 231.
 A. Geiger, Judaism And Islam (English Translation Of Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?), Op. Cit., p. 81.
 Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources Of The Qur"an, Op. Cit., p. 65.
 "Hâbîl waKâbîl", Encyclopaedia Of Islam (New Edition), 1971, Volume III, E. J. Brill: Leiden & Luzac & Co.: London, p. 13.
 Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources Of The Qur"an, Op. Cit., p. 65.
 Rabbi H. Goldwurm (ed.), Talmud Bavli: The Schottenstein Edition, 1993, Tractate Sanhedrin, Volume 1, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.: Brooklyn, New York, p. 37a3.
 Ibid., pp. xxvi-xxvii.
 Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein (trans.), The Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nezikin - III, First published in 1935, The Soncino Press: London, Sanhedrin 37a, pp. 233-234.
 J. Neusner, The Talmud of Babylonia; An Academic Commentary, 1996, Volume XXIII, Scholars Press: Atlanta (GA), Bavli Tractate Sanhedrin, p. 183.
 J. Neusner, The Mishnah: A New Translation, 1988, Yale University Press: New Haven and London, Sanhedrin 4:5, p. 591.
 I. Fishman, Gateway To The Mishnah, 1955, Jack Mazin Ltd.: London, Sanhedrin 4:5, p. 156.
 H. Danby, The Mishnah: Translated From The Hebrew With Introduction And Brief Explanatory Notes, 1933, Oxford University Press: London, Sanhedrin 4:5, p. 388.
 R. C. Musaph-Andriesse, From Torah To Kabbalah: A Basic Introduction To The Writings Of Judaism, 1981, SCM Press Ltd., London (UK), p. 40.
 J. Neusner, The Talmud of Land Of Israel: A Complete Outline Of The Second, Third, And Fourth Divisions, 1996, III, Volume B, Scholars Press: Atlanta (GA), Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 4:10 A, p. 42.
 H. Danby, Tractate Sanhedrin: Mishnah And Tosefta, 1919, Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge: London, Sanhedrin 4:5b, p. 79.
 For such textual notes see, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein (trans.), The Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nezikin - III, Op. Cit., p. 234, note 2; H. Danby, The Mishnah: Translated From The Hebrew With Introduction And Brief Explanatory Notes, Op. Cit., p. 388, note 4.
 See for example, Möise Schwab, Le Talmud De Jérusalem, 1960, Volume 6, Besson & Chantemerle: Paris, Sanhedrin 4:9, p. 270; J. Neusner, The Talmud of Land Of Israel: A Preliminary Translation & Explanation, 1984, Volume 31, University of Chicago Press: Chicago (IL), Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 4:9, p. 146.
 W. Popper, The Censorship Of Hebrew Books, 1969, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New York.
 "That which is removed from six-orders": Sh"s or Sha"s (or simply Shas) is often used to designate the Talmud. See W. Popper, The Censorship Of Hebrew Books, Op. Cit., p. 59, footnote 215. There are six broad divisions of Babylonian Talmud and hence "six orders".
 Emmanuel Bambasti (Manuel Benveniste), Hesronot ha-Sh""s: We-Hu" Sefer Qevusat Ha-Hashmatot, 1893, A Faust: Krakaw, p. 44.
 L. Goldschmidt, Der Babylonische Talmud: Mit Einschluss Der Vollstaendigen Misnah, 1906, Volume 1, Otto Harrassowitz: Leipzig, see pp. x-xiv.
 L. Goldschmidt, Der Babylonische Talmud: Mit Einschluss Der Vollstaendigen Misnah, 1906, Volume 7, Otto Harrassowitz: Leipzig, Sanhedrin 37a, pp. 169-170.
 T. Marx, "A Post-Hebron Letter To My Son Michael Who Just Went From Yeshiva To Basic Training", Tikkun, 1994, May / June edition, p. 45.
 F. Rosner, Maimonides" Commentary On The Mishnah Tracte Sanhedrin: Translated Into English With Introductions And Notes, 1981, Sepher-Hermon Press, Inc.: New York, p. 57, see footnote 62.
 Rabbi A. Steinsaltz, The Talmud The Steinsaltz Edition: A Reference Guide, 1989, Random House Inc.: New York, p. 50.
 N. A. Stillman, "The Story Of Cain & Abel In The Qur"an And The Muslim Commentators: Some Observations", Op. Cit., p. 231.
 Ibid., p. 239.
 H. L. Strack & G. Stemberger (Trans. Markus Bockmuehl), Introduction To The Talmud And Midrash, Op. Cit., p. 358.
 G. Friedlander, Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer, 1916, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd.: London, p. xiv.
 "Pirke De-Rabbi Eli"ezer", The Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1905, Volume X, Funk & Wagnalls Company, p. 59.
 M. Maher, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis Translated, With Introduction And Notes, Op. Cit., p. 12.
 M. Krupp, "Manuscripts Of The Babylonian Talmud", in S. Safrai (ed.) The Literature Of The Sages, 1987, First Part, Fortress Press: Philadelphia, pp. 351-361.