The Mysterious lost archives of the Koran

Andrew Bostom raises his eyebrows over a scandal in the world of Koranic scholarship. A priceless archive of photographs of early Koran manuscripts was claimed to have been destroyed in bombing of the Bavarian Academy of Science. This was a lie perpetrated by "a powerful figure in postwar German scholarship" according this account  by Andrew Higgins in the Wall Street Journal. Anton Spitaler, an Arabic scholar at the academy, hid the 250 rolls of film away for decades.

Higgins' Journal story focuses on Spitaler's former student, Angelika Neuwirth, now a professor at the Free University of Berlin. Neuwirth aknowledges their existence and is leading a "renewal" of Koranic studies, with state funding for her team for 18 years, expecting to take much longer to produce results.

But rather than applaud the new venture Andrew Bostom points out: 
…in effect Neuwirth has likely DENIED serious scholars access to this material for 20 years.

H
e cites a footnote in an essay by by Dr. Gerd Puin on p. 743 of Ibn Warraq's 2002 book What The Koran Really Says 

Angelika Neuwirth has given the impression the photographs taken in order to build up the "Koran Archiv" in Munich...  were destroyed at the end of World War II. This impression is false, and thus it is an amazing fact that evidently no attempt has been made since to study the photographs! 
Whatever the ethics of Spitaler and Neuwirth keeping the manuscript copies secret, she has them now and her team will take its time. Neuwirth's team will produce

the first "critical edition" of the Quran -- an attempt to divine what the original text looked like and to explore overlaps with the Bible and other Christian and Jewish literature.
It is clear that this sort of scholarship is risky. Anything challenging the legitimacy of various Koranic passages has political meaning, and risks the ire of fanatics. The Journal deadpans:

Applying Western critical methods to Islam's holiest text is a sensitive test of the Muslim community's readiness to both accommodate and absorb thinking outside its own traditions
Ever since the 19th Century, Muslims resented Germanic scholarship on the Koran and other saced documents, raising questions about accepted texts:

During the 19th century, Germans pioneered modern scholarship of ancient texts. Their work revolutionized understanding of Christian and Jewish scripture. It also infuriated some of the devout, who resented secular scrutiny of texts believed to contain sacred truths.
Keeping the manuscripts apparently out of the public domain and in the hands of what amount to German civil servants for decades, this may be a step forward from secrecy and lies, but it is very far from open scholarship.

And that is the huge difference between Islam and the other major faiths. Fanatics willing to kill do not want to allow open scrutiny of the faith.
Andrew Bostom raises his eyebrows over a scandal in the world of Koranic scholarship. A priceless archive of photographs of early Koran manuscripts was claimed to have been destroyed in bombing of the Bavarian Academy of Science. This was a lie perpetrated by "a powerful figure in postwar German scholarship" according this account  by Andrew Higgins in the Wall Street Journal. Anton Spitaler, an Arabic scholar at the academy, hid the 250 rolls of film away for decades.

Higgins' Journal story focuses on Spitaler's former student, Angelika Neuwirth, now a professor at the Free University of Berlin. Neuwirth aknowledges their existence and is leading a "renewal" of Koranic studies, with state funding for her team for 18 years, expecting to take much longer to produce results.

But rather than applaud the new venture Andrew Bostom points out: 
…in effect Neuwirth has likely DENIED serious scholars access to this material for 20 years.

H
e cites a footnote in an essay by by Dr. Gerd Puin on p. 743 of Ibn Warraq's 2002 book What The Koran Really Says 

Angelika Neuwirth has given the impression the photographs taken in order to build up the "Koran Archiv" in Munich...  were destroyed at the end of World War II. This impression is false, and thus it is an amazing fact that evidently no attempt has been made since to study the photographs! 
Whatever the ethics of Spitaler and Neuwirth keeping the manuscript copies secret, she has them now and her team will take its time. Neuwirth's team will produce

the first "critical edition" of the Quran -- an attempt to divine what the original text looked like and to explore overlaps with the Bible and other Christian and Jewish literature.
It is clear that this sort of scholarship is risky. Anything challenging the legitimacy of various Koranic passages has political meaning, and risks the ire of fanatics. The Journal deadpans:

Applying Western critical methods to Islam's holiest text is a sensitive test of the Muslim community's readiness to both accommodate and absorb thinking outside its own traditions
Ever since the 19th Century, Muslims resented Germanic scholarship on the Koran and other saced documents, raising questions about accepted texts:

During the 19th century, Germans pioneered modern scholarship of ancient texts. Their work revolutionized understanding of Christian and Jewish scripture. It also infuriated some of the devout, who resented secular scrutiny of texts believed to contain sacred truths.
Keeping the manuscripts apparently out of the public domain and in the hands of what amount to German civil servants for decades, this may be a step forward from secrecy and lies, but it is very far from open scholarship.

And that is the huge difference between Islam and the other major faiths. Fanatics willing to kill do not want to allow open scrutiny of the faith.