Quran Contradiction

The Injil: A Greek Book for the Children of Israel?

Jochen Katz & Bassam Khoury

The Quran makes the following three statements:

And in their footsteps, We sent 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) confirming the Taurat (Torah) that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Taurat (Torah) that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqun (the pious - see V.2:2). S. 5:46 Al-Hilali & Khan; cf. S. 57:27

And will make him ['Iesa (Jesus)] a Messenger to the Children of Israel (saying): "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's Leave; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by Allah's Leave. And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you, if you believe. S. 3:49 Al-Hilali & Khan

And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. S. 14:4 Al-Hilali & Khan

To summarize the three points that are important for this article:

Any two of these three statements may be possible to harmonize, but all three passages together result in a logical contradiction, as we will explain in the following.

It is generally recognized that "Injil" is a Greek word, or more precisely, that it is derived from the Greek word for gospel, euangelion:

The Injil ... (or Injeel) is one of the five Islamic Holy Books the Qur'an records as revealed by God, the others being the Suhuf-i-Ibrahim, Zabur, Tawrat and Qur'an. The word Injil is generally held by non-Muslim historians to be an abbreviation of the Greek word Ευαγγελιον, sometimes rendered in English as "evangel" (literal meaning "good news"). It is usually translated as "Gospel", as in the four Gospels of the New Testament. (Wikipedia, Injil, 20 July 2008; underline emphasis ours; cf. the entry Injil in Arthur Jeffery's The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, pages 71-72)

The Arabic edition of Wikipedia states:

الإنجيل كلمة معربة من اليونانية ايوانجيليون التي تعني البشارة السارة
Al-Injeel is an Arabized word (derived) from the Greek Evangelion which means "the good news". (Source; accessed 28 August 2008; translation ours)

On a website that is published by the highest Shia authority in Lebanon, we find this statement:

إنّ كلمة الأناجيل كلمة يونانية تعني الخبر السار
The word Anajeel [lit. Gospels; Anajeel is the plural form of the singular Injeel] is a Greek word which means "good news".
(Arabic source; accessed 28 August 2008; translation and explanation in square brackets ours)

When speaking in one's own language about a book that is written in a different language, one either quotes the title in the original language (perhaps in some kind of transliteration), as the Qur'an did in case of the Torah, or translates the title into a term or phrase in one's own language, as the Qur'an did in case of the Psalms (Zabur). Injil is not an Arabic word but this name is easily recognized as being derived from the Greek word for Gospel (probably via the Ethiopian wangel), i.e. the author of the Qur'an did not translate the name of the book of 'Isa (Jesus), but spoke about it by using a transliteration of the original title.

Note: According to S. 5:46, the Injil was a book given to 'Isa by Allah. That means, it is not the New Testament or the Gospels contained in the NT, because those books were not given to Jesus during his life on earth, but they were written by his disciples (under divine inspiration) after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. That alone is a serious error in the Islamic understanding of what the Gospel is, but this error is not the topic of this article.[1] For this article, we are talking about the book that is allegedly given by Allah to Jesus (whether directly or through the angel Gabriel) and which bears the name Injil.

The fact that the Injil is a message/book with a Greek title implies that the book is in Greek. But here is the conflict with the other claims of the Qur'an. Greek was not the language of the people of Jesus (although it was probably understood by many of them). The common language of the Jews of Jesus' time was Aramaic. Since the time when Alexander the Great established his vast empire, Greek became the "world language" of that time (like English today) and was thus also understood by many of the Jews. However, it was not the native language of the Jews. Rather, it was the language of people who had invaded and occupied their land.

Therefore, the above three claims of the Qur'an are in conflict. If Jesus had been sent to the people in Israel in his/their own language, then it would have been Aramaic, and his message would also have had an Aramaic name, just as the Aramaic translation of the New Testament (the Peshitta) uses the term "ha-bishara" (the good news) for the Greek Ευαγγελιον.

If Jesus' book/message and its title had originally been in Aramaic, then the author of the Qur'an would have referred to it using either its Aramaic title, or an Arabic translation of the meaning of that title, but certainly not by using a transliteration of a Greek term.[2] In fact, the Arabic al-bishara is nearly identical to the Aramaic name. The use of the Greek title is an indirect confirmation that the book itself was originally in Greek, i.e. that this name is its original and authentic title.

Any way one turns it, these three passages of the Qur'an cannot all be true.

The use of the Greek title indicates one or more of the following.

  1. The author of the Qur'an didn't know the language of the Jews.
  2. Jesus was not sent to the Jews.
  3. The language of the Jews was Greek.
  4. Jesus was a messenger who was sent to people with a language that is not theirs.
  5. The Greek Gospel is recognized by the Quran to be the Gospel of 'Isa.

Option (1) destroys the claim of divine inspiration of the Qur'an. Option (2) implies that S. 3:49 (and others) are wrong. Option (3) is a serious historical error. Option (4) means that S. 14:4 is wrong. Finally, option (5) means that the Greek Gospel, Christian NT is the Injil after all and, consequently, the Quranic claim of a "Gospel of 'Isa" cannot be upheld and S. 5:46 is also wrong.


1. This matter is discussed in detail in the article, What kind of book is the Injil?

2. Even worse, remember that Muslims don't recognize the four Gospels as the Gospel of 'Isa. Under the Muslim assumption that the Christian New Testament is a collection of books written (or at least corrupted) by people who perverted the message of Jesus by proclaiming that he is the Son of God and that he died on a cross, does it make sense that Allah would give the same Greek name of this perverted Greek message also to the genuine Aramaic book supposedly revealed to 'Isa? And that without providing any further clarification on the matter? Why would Allah want to confuse everyone, particularly the Muslims? (The Christians are not confused by the Qur'an, they know what is the authentic Scripture. This Quranic confusion only affects the Muslims.)

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