A response to section

What about 'Unto us a child is born'?

I will not accept anything that is not permitted to exist. My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts. This could be the leading objective of Al-Kadhi in this section. The author has already declared in his preface before he started his investigation that

How can we expect him to honestly investigate the Biblical text? His first approach is that instead of trying to understand the text at hand he twists it as far as he can to make it conform to the Qur'an. This is what we see him doing mainly in this section. But should we be able to penetrate this determination and show him that his interpretation is wrong, he would just switch to plan B and dismiss it as corrupted. Our response has not been written for him, or for others with a similar mindset. However, it is our sincere hope and prayer that the truth seekers among the readers will benefit from our explanation and recognize the marvelous truth of God's eternal and unchanging word.

Countering Al-Kadhi's favorite approach of ripping verses out of context in the desperate attempt of giving them a meaning they could never have when read together with what comes before and after, let me start by quoting just one more verse of the prophecy that is topic of this section.

Prophet Isaiah, chapter 9:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Which mere human figure could "reign forever" and have a government that has no end? Verse 7 also is important, not only verse 6; they belong together. It is clear from the passage that this is something "unbelievable", which is the reason to add the last line, confirming that as strange as it sounds, the LORD Almighty will surely do be able to do it. Whether this prophecy refers to Jesus is a second question, but without looking ahead 700 years to the life of Christ, we can clearly see that Isaiah speaks of the future birth of a child which will be absolutely extraordinary by the titles and promises given about this child. Not only does it bear the divine name, it will also excercise eternal rule, an attribute only belonging to God Himself. It is a human birth of one who exercises divine rule.

After we have established the meaning of the text, we have to ask: Has there ever been a person who claimed such attributes for himself? One and only one such person has ever walked this earth. This question has an easy answer. And we all know who he is. Al-Khadi fights a losing battle.

Just as with all of his major moves God works consistently in the way He states in Isaiah 42:8-9

Amazing details on God's Messiah are given in the scriptures. Hundreds of prophecies. The Messiah is clearly at the center of God's prophetic revelations. In contrast, nothing in the scriptures can be found that is a specific prophecy foretelling Muhammad. Utter silence.

Al-Kadhi comments on nearly every phrase of Isaiah 9:6 since he has a lot of work to do in denying the obvious. Al-Kadhi gave a good advice when starting his study: "Firstly, it is important when applying a prophesy to someone to not selectively pick and choose catch phrases from the prophesy and disregard the rest." But then he proceeds to do just that. Not only does he separate verse six from verse seven, he also takes the verse six apart to the fragmentation into single words (smaller than the catch phrase approach he complains about), then claims that these words can also be used in different meanings, and at the end he forgets to put them back together again to determine their meaning in the given context. No wonder he can't understand the text. He is like somebody who tries to understand a picture by looking at it under a mikroscope, examining each paint particle in turn, and never steps back to see their interrelation. This way nobody can appreciate a picture or understand a text. But it is a great way to not see the forrest for all the trees. Al-Kadhi accomplished (to his own satisfaction) what he set out to do.

Let us start with his second point since it is the clearest example.

Al-Kadhi claims that the words "El" and "gibbor" (separately) are at times used for other than Almighty God. And he is right.

But he prefered to overlook that the combined phrase "El-Gibbor" is only used for God. Never for any other person or thing.

The following passage (in the very next chapter of the book) reveals that Isaiah understood El-Gibbor to be none other than the one true God of Israel:

This is exactly the same divine name as the one used in 9:6.

This name [El-Gibbor] comes from the famous passage in Deuteronomy 10:17

This Deuteronomy passage is surely the basis for the passage in Jeremiah 32:18

The Hebrew name in both passages is the same. The differences is only in the translation.

It is also the basis for the passage in Nehemiah 9:32

Again the Hebrew name is the same as that in Deut 10:17. It is the translation that differs. Thus, in all other the places in the Hebrew Bible where the word "Gibbor" modifies the word "El," the reference is undeniably to the one true God of Israel. It is therefore the most reasonable conclusion that Isaiah applied one of the authentic names of the one true God of Israel to the promised Messianic Son in 9:6. Any other explanation is clearly an attempt, based on a theologically motivated agenda, to deny what is self evident from the Biblical evidence.

I wonder if what Al-Kadhi would say if this approach would be applied to the 99 names of Allah. Let's take them apart, let's see where else these words are used and find that most of the words are also used for persons, concepts or things that are not God. Ergo, they aren't really names of God at all.

One could stop here, since Al-Kadhi's feeble attempts have already fallen apart, but since he raised some more issues, let us discuss them.

A few comments on the further names: One clearly divine name is enough to make the point. Together with verse 7 this is a solid case. Al-Kadhi does the same "divide and conquer" strategy with the other names, taking them apart in words that can be used in other meanings, but we have already seen that is a meaningless exercise. For those who want to see a detailed argument about the other names may consult Edward J. Young's (3 volume) commentary "Book of Isaiah", Eerdmans Publishing Co., where the author argues the first three of the four names imply deity.

There is one other major point Al-Kadhi tries to make in this section.

Seemingly, Al-Kadhi has already realized part of the answer, but it is him who is not willing to go the second mile. No, it is not only the government in the hereafter. Does God govern only in the hereafter? Is his government or reign here and now less real than that of the earthly kings? Is God not in power on this earth because he is not sitting on a visible throne? Does Al-Kadhi deny the reality of "spiritual" government as a presence in this world?

In fact, there is no need to transfer this government in the hereafter. Jesus said to his disciples "You are in this world but not of this world." But he very much expects them to influence and transform this world. Jesus did not deny that he has ruling power in this world, but when he answers to Pilate in John 18:36, he points out that his kingdom is of an entirely different nature. Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that he confirms that he has a kingdom. He is in power. And he affirms this again after his resurrection when saying to his disciples (Matthew 28:18-20):

Jesus claims certainly more than just "spiritual" authority. He says he is in control over everything. And he claims omnipresence at all times wherever his disciples will go in obedience to his commissioning.

Yet, we do not have to stay in these spiritual terms only. Jesus will visibly rule the earth upon His return, as even the Qur'an affirms. He will be the judge of all the world. Muslims also look forward to the second coming of Jesus and to his rule in this world. They are right in this as wrong the rest of their expections might be in this regard. Has Al-Kadhi with his objection forgotten his own theology? If He is the judge, then let us consider carefully His ways, and follow in His footsteps. Jesus laid down the conditions for following Him when said, "If anyone does not take up his cross daily and follow me, he cannot be My disciple." And what is the cross but death to self?

Al-Kadhi is concerned that this kingdom is only "spiritual".

In Psalm 2, we find the Lord's promise to the Messiah:

Wherever the Gospel has spread, it has brought peace, stability and human rights into focus. By it kings rule, and without it, nations perish in squalor. Is it not then, a kingdom of this earth? And the Lord has told us more about the kingdom of God on earth, appearing in fulness at his return. For He promised all who would be His true disciples that they will hear: "Well done, good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful over few things, take charge of many cities." (Luke 19:11-27).

It is true, the kingdom of Jesus was not of this world. His rule is God's sovereign rule which is above all the kings of the earth. When he was with us in human flesh he had another mission, but after the completetion of it he has resumed his sovereign power.

Yet, when he comes back there is no choice but

Will you be prepared to face him?

In an attempt to support his corruption of the word of God, Al-Kadhi then goes on to claim support from others saying:

Al-Kadhi had to scrape hard to find two obscure such "scholars" but that is not exactly sufficient to sustain the claim of "many Christian scholars...". But in his great enthusiasm he overlooked that Powis Smith contradicts him and translates name "El-Gibbor" as "God Almighty".

The problem of this translator is that he is unwilling to believe what the Scripture says about the deity of the Messianic Son, so he added the word "is" to the text to change its obvious meaning. Thus he links together (with a nonexistent word) two phrases that are separated by the disjunctive accent in the Hebrew text known as "pashta." Such an accent functions much like a comma does in English. So Smith's unbelieving theology forced him to violate the Hebrew accents (punctuation) and to add a word to the text, changing a name into a sentence - something rather strange.

Al-Kadhi brings his next 'witness' to the stand:

Moffatt attempted to avoid the obvious deity of the Messianic Son by translating El Gibbor contrary to how the expression is translated everywhere else in Scripture. This problem was already discussed above. Further, Moffatt has translated El as an adjective and Gibbor as a noun. However, El is a noun and Gibbor is an adjective. This is contrary to the normal meaning of the words. In Hebrew Grammar, an adjective follows the noun it modifies. However, if El is an adjective (contrary to its normal function as a noun), and if Gibbor is a noun (contrary to its normal function as an adjective), then the word order is contrary to the grammatical conventions of Hebrew. Moffatt likely got his rendering from the Brown-Driver-Briggs HEBREW AND ELGLISH LEXICON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT which renders El Gibbor as "divine hero" for Isaiah 9:6. However, that is the only place in the Bible where BDB indicates that El is an adjective. The many other occurences of the word are nouns. That smacks of unbelieving theological bias.

Scholars who let their unbelieving theology influence their translation will find a way to twist the sense of the text to avoid the obvious meaning of the text. Nearly all translations of the Bible made by Christians from various theological views translate El Gibbor in Isaiah 9:6 as "Mighty God" - so KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASV, NAB, RSV, NRSV, WEB, RWB, and so forth.

Al-Kadhi refers to the Bible editions by Moffat and Powis Smith in various sections throughout his book ([1], [2], ...) and embraces their false translations over and over again.

It might therefore be profitable to point out that this is just one of Al-Kadhi's tools of trade. He quotes Powis Smith and Moffat as some rare brand of "honest Christian scholars".

The obvious questions would be: How honest are they? We have answered to this in the above and in the responses in the other section linked above. Here we want to respond to the question: How "Christian" are they? (What is Al-Kadhi's definition of a Christian?)

Regarding James Moffatt, he was a professor at Union Theological Seminary, one of the most radical liberal institutions. His attitude toward miracles and the supernatural is illustrated by the following quotation from his book INTRODUCTION TO THE LITERATURE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT:

Clearly, Moffatt regards the miracles of the Bible, such as Jesus' virgin birth and His raising of the dead, as mere myth or legend.

Regarding J. M. Powis Smith, he was a professor in another radical liberal institution, the University of Chicago. His attitude toward the virgin birth is evidenced by the way he translated Isaiah 7:14 - "A young woman is with child ..." Thus depriving the passage of any prophetic significance and of any reference to the virgin birth, even though the passage is cited in Matthew 1:23 for that very purpose. In fact, The Complete Bible renders Matthew 1:23 as "A maiden will become pregnant ..." - again denying the virgin birth. Even if one might debate whether the Hebrew word has to mean virgin, there is no question that the Greek word parthenos in the passage in Matthew means virgin. This is scholarly consensus. His formulation of Matthew 1:23 is unquestionably a mistranslation. Like Moffat, Smith regards the miracles of the Bible, such as Jesus' virgin birth, His raising of the dead, and others as mere myth or legend.

Both of these translators allowed their unbelieving theology to bias their translations.

Is Al-Kadhi prepared to accept their presuppositions on which their conclusions (translations) are built? The use of liberal unbelieving theology for Muslim apologetics is intellectual suicide. But most of these apologists have never studied the issues in sufficient depth to understand this. The acceptance of these presuppositions are the end of the Qur'an just as well, since the Qur'an incorporates the same "myths" (virgin birth and several of Jesus miracles). On the other hand one cannot with intellectual integrity accept the results without accepting the presuppositions.

Note: Even though Moffatt is not correct in all his translations, as we have seen above, it is interesting to observe that where Moffat does honest scholarly work, Al-Kadhi immediatly feels the urge to abuse Moffat's translation by presenting it in a context which makes it appear to convey something different than intended.

Acknowledgement: The above rebuttal would not have possible without the substantial help on questions of Hebrew language which I received from James D. Price, Ph.D., Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament, Temple Baptist Seminary, Chattanooga, TN 37404.
Further reading: The Names and the Nature of the Messiah

The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
Answering Islam Home Page