Rebuttal to Jochen's Article "The Injil: A Greek Book for the Children of Israel?"
Bassam Zawadi, Mansur Ahmed & Sadat Anwar
Jochen wrote an article that could be found here. We encourage the reader to first read Jochen's article before proceeding on to read our rebuttal.
The main thrust of Jochen's argument could be summarized as follows:
- Jesus was sent to an Aramaic speaking people.
- This means that Jesus must have spoken Aramaic since the Qur'an claims that Messengers spoke in the language of the people that they were sent to.
- The Qur'an claims that the Injil was revealed to Jesus.
- However, the word Injil is derived from Greek. This implies that the Injil itself must be in Greek.
- All this cannot be harmonized and the Qur'an is in error.
This issue is quite simple. If the Arab society in which the Qur'an was revealed was referring to the Revelation given to Jesus (peace be upon him) as the "Injil", then it is only rational that Allah would continue to use that word, which is already familiar to the people. It does not really matter whether the word "Injil" is derived from the Greek word "Evangel" (which it most likely is) and whether Jesus (peace be upon him) ever used this word himself or not.
If one speaks Urdu with villagers in Pakistan, he refers to "Amreeka", not "America." One doesn't do this out of ignorance, one does this for the convenience of the people he is talking to. To condemn that person for "historical inaccuracy" over this would be to miss the whole purpose of the use of language -- the effective conveyance of meaning.
Let us imagine the two possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: JESUS DID NOT SPEAK GREEK
If one objects to the use of a "Greek" word in the Qur'an (on the basis that Jesus never used this word), then one should also reject the Greek statements attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. Yet when it comes to all those Greek "I am" statements, Christians treat each and every word as significant and God-breathed and they refer to lexicons of Koine Greek to get at the real meaning of Jesus' statements and they tell us Muslims that we should study Greek in order to ascertain the true, original, and layered meanings of the text! If Christians want to turn around now and say that there was historically no "Injil" or "Evangel" uttered by Jesus' lips then they must acknowledge and confess that there was also no "ego kai ho pater en hesmen" (The Father and I are one), "ere Abraham genesthai ego eimi" (Before Abraham was, I am), and so on. Quite simply, we don't know WHAT Jesus ever said to those Pharisees in the Gospel of John, and we will never know. It is like pouring over a Chinese dictionary in order to understand what the Chinese translation of Shakespeare means in order to ascertain the true and detailed meanings of Shakespeare's original words! That is an exercise in futility.
Furthermore, we see that the Gospels themselves attribute statements to Jesus saying the word "gospel" in Greek in several passages:
I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the
If Jochen were consistent in his methodology he would be asking the question "How could Jesus be saying that he is preaching the Gospel, which is a Greek title if he were speaking Aramaic?"
Scenario 2: JESUS DID SPEAK GREEK
On the other hand, there are some Christians who say that Jesus would have spoken Greek because that was the lingua franca of the day. If that is the case, then Jesus could very well have used the word "Evangel" to describe the Message/Revelation that he was commissioned to preach, and hence the use of the word "Injil" (just an Arabized variation of the word "Evangel", right?) in the Qur'an is justified and not historically inaccurate.
Refuting Possible Counter Claims By Jochen
Jochen might argue back that the analogy between the Qur'an mentioning "Injil", which is derived from the Greek with the NT mentioning it is fallacious, because the Qur'an is an Arabic book while the NT is in Greek, hence its expected for the NT to mention the gospel in Greek, while the Qur'an an Arabic book shouldn't be mentioning foreign words in an Arabic book.
Well, the response is quite simple. Who said that the Qur'an cannot include foreign words understood by its audience into it while the NT a book in Greek mentions Aramaic words in it (see here)?
Jochen might argue back that we are attacking strawman and that he said that his argument is that a book must either transliterate or translate the title of the book it is speaking about. So he would claim that the Greek word for gospel found in the NT attributed to Jesus is simply a translation of the Aramaic word for gospel that Jesus really spoke. However, the Qur'an is using the word "Injil", which is neither a translation nor transliteration of the Aramaic word that Jesus used for gospel.
If that is the case, then we would like Jochen to provide evidence that Jesus used a word in Aramaic that meant "good news" and that the New Testament is simply translating this word. He can't just assume that this is what the New Testament authors have done. He must prove it. Since we don't know what Jesus' original words in Aramaic are, that means that there is no way for Jochen to achieve that task.
Secondly, what is Jochens proof that a book must either translate or transliterate the title of another book when referring to that book? Why can't a book refer to another book using the name that the people it is communicating to are familiar with? Injil is an Arabized word that was understood by the Arabs. What's the problem with using that Arabized word?
In summary, we've seen that Jochen is simply creating his own standards and rules in regards to how authors of books must communicate and imposing it upon the Qur'an. Jochen's "standards" and "rules" are completely baseless and unfounded, for they are not based upon any solid evidence.