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None Named John Before the Baptist?

Another Quranic Blunder

According to the Quran, the name “John” hadn’t been given to anyone before the Baptist:

(Allah said) “O Zakariya (Zachariah)! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son, His name will be Yahya (John). We have given that name to none before (him).” S. 19:7 Hilali-Khan

Here is another rendering of this verse:

[Thereupon the angels called out unto him:] “O Zachariah! We bring thee the glad tiding of [the birth of] a son whose name shall be John. [And God says,] ‘Never have We given this name to anyone before him.” Muhammad Asad

The Muslim expositors pretty much reiterate what the text itself says, namely, no one had ever been named John before the birth of Zechariah’s son:

God, exalted be He, in responding to his request for a son that will be the incarnation of His mercy, says: ‘O Zachariah! Indeed We give you good tidings of a boy, who will inherit in the way that you have requested — whose name is John. Never before have We made anyone his namesake’, that is, [never has there been] anyone with the name ‘John’. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and underline emphasis ours)

And so Gabriel called him, saying: (O Zachariah! Lo! We bring you tidings of a son whose name is John) Yahya in Arabic, because he has breathed life (ahya) into his mother’s womb; (We have given the same name to none before (him)) We have not given before a son to Zachariah whose name is John; it is also said that this means: there was no one before him whose name was John. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold and underline emphasis ours)

(We have given that name to none before (him).) Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd said, “This means that no one had this name before him.” Ibn Jarir preferred this interpretation, may Allah have mercy upon him. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold and underline emphasis ours)

<We have given that name to none before (him)>

Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd said, “This means that no one had this name before him.” Ibn Jarir preferred this interpretation, may Allah have mercy upon him. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 39 To the End of Surat Al-Mu’minun, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore July 2000], Volume 5, p. 231; bold emphasis ours)

However, this is blatantly false since the Holy Bible mentions several individuals that were named John long before the Baptist was born:

“And all the captains of the host, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had [thus] appointed Godolias, and they came to Godolias to Massephath, both Ismael the son of Nathanias, and John son of Careth, and Saraias, son of Thanamath the Netophathite, and Jezonias son of a Machathite, they and their men.” 2 Kings 25:23

“And the sons of Josias; the firstborn John, the second Joakim, the third Sedekias, the fourth Salum… And the sons of Elithenan; Odolia, and Heliasebon, and Phadaia, and Akub, and John, and Dalaaia, and Anan, seven.” 1 Chronicles 3:1, 24

“and Achimaas begot Azarias, and Azarias begot John; and John begot Azarias: he ministered as priest in the house which Solomon built in Jerusalem.” 1 Chronicles 6:9-10

“And of the sons of Asgad; John the son of Accatan, and with him a hundred and ten males.” Ezra 8:12

In fact, the claim that no one else was named John is nothing more than a blatant misunderstanding of the accurate biblical account:

“On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, ‘No! He is to be called John (Ioannes).’ They said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has that name.’ Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John (Ioannes).’ Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God.” Luke 1:59-64

One Muslim scholar basically admitted (albeit implicitly) that Q. 19:7 is dependent upon Luke 1:61, even though it gets it totally wrong:

“… According to Luke: ‘None of your kindred is called by this name’ (Luke 1:61)” (Syed Abu Ala’ Maududi, Towards Understanding the Qur’an, an English translation of Tafhim al-Qur’an by Zafar Ishaq, assisted by A.R. Kidwai [The Islamic Foundation (printed and bound in Great Britain by the Cromwell Press), rpt. 1999], Volume V. Surahs 17-21, p. 146, n. 5)

Thus, what was originally a statement indicating that none of John’s relatives were ever given that name before has been twisted by the Quran to mean that the name John was never given to anyone else at any time!

That’s not the only problem with the Quran’s (per)version of the origin of the Baptist’s name. “John” in Hebrew is Yowchannan, which in Greek is Ioannes. In Arabic it would be Yuhanna. The Quran, on the other hand, calls him Yahya, which has absolutely no connection to the Hebrew, Greek or Arabic forms of the Baptist’s name!

Now surely, an omniscient God would know the correct form of the Baptist’s name in Arabic. The fact that the Quran doesn’t know what the Arabic form of John happens to be is simply further proof that it is not a revelation from the one true Creator God of all revealed in the Holy Bible.

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