A Muslim confesses that the Orthodox / Traditional Interpretation of John 1:1 is the correct meaning of the Greek text. (That Arian and Jehovah's Witnesses' treatment of this text is wrong.)
Now, this Muslim, Paul Williams, does not believe that John 1:1 is "God-breathed" or inspired, or that the apostle John actually wrote the Gospel of John, and he does not believed it is truth, but he does admit that the traditional /orthodox interpretation is the right one of the intention of the Greek text; and that is a great start in communication.
Since very few Muslims bother to learn New Testament Greek, it is refreshing to find one who says he knows Koine Greek, and claims to have even memorized John 1:1-18 in the original. That is quite remarkable and a real breakthrough. One of the things that probably facilitated this is that this person claims to have been a Christian before, and converted to Islam a few years ago. (His name is Paul Bilal Williams, a British convert to Islam, who is the Director of the Muslim Debate Initiative. The Muslim Debate Initiative is a team of Muslim Debaters including Abdullah Al Andalousi, Sammy Zaatari, and Abdullah Kunde)
From the combox discussion and back and forth with several Muslims, including Abdullah Kunde, and Paul Bilal Williams, in a Muslim’s article about the Debate on the Incarnation between Abdullah Kunde and Dr. James White:
Notice the “exemplary behavior” of 2 particular Muslims, one who goes by “Rambo John” and another who is named, “Rehan Ullah”. [ No longer there, as Paul Williams has changed his web-site several times over the past few years.]
Dr. White mentioned on a recent Dividing Line about Shabir Ally being motivated by Dr. White’s challenges to him to study NT Greek again. I remember that at the time I watched that particular debate. That is very refreshing to learn that Shabir is willing to do that. Hopefully, he will be able to them correct all the mistakes of Ahmed Deedat and Zakir Naik’s butchering of John 1:1 from their approval of Jehovah’s Witnesses kind of treatment of that and other verses.
Paul Bilal Williams says he can read the Greek New Testament and admits that the Arian and Jehovah’s Witnesses’ interpretation of John 1:1 is wrong.
“I find it somewhat curious that you feel yourself competent to judge a scholarly translation from the quranic Arabic but do not read Arabic yourself as you have confessed!
[ I admitted I don't know Arabic, but I do know Farsi, and can recognize all the Arabic words in the Qur'an that have come into the Farsi language. ]
At least when I write about the NT I can read the original!”
Paul Bilal Williams wrote:
“Just look at parts of the King James Old Testament – it is often unreadable because it sticks too closely to the original.”
My Response: No. It is difficult today because we don’t speak that way in English anymore. But there are more “word for word” translations in modern English, like the New American Standard version, the English Standard Version, and the New King James, and the NIV is a good translation also (the old one, not the “gender neural ones”; the NIV is a more dynamic equivalent translation, although it leaves out the connector “gar” (for) γαρ too many times, among other issues. But all of those translations are fine and good translations of the Bible in English.
If you can read Greek, then do you really understand John 1:1; and since you claim to read Greek and understand it, can you explain the significance of the word order, the Predicate nominative issue, and why the Jehovah’s Witnesses translation of John 1:1 is wrong?
Paul Williams said, on January 11, 2012
“if you can read Greek, then do you really understand John 1:1; and since you claim to read Greek and understand it, can you explain the significance of the word order, the Predicate nominative issue, and why the Jehovah’s Witnesses translation of John 1:1 is wrong?”
Claim? Lol. I know the prologue of John 1 in Greek by heart and Yes, I do understand 1:1 and Yes, the JW translation is wrong and Yes, I accept the traditional translation of the verse:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Very good Paul; I commend you for that – Mash’allah!
Explanation of "Mash'allah!" ماشاءالله [“Mash’allah” is said in a positive way in all Muslim cultures for encouragement for something well done or well said. In Iranian culture is the equivalent of “bravo” or “way to go!” or “good for you!”. It literally means, “Whatever Allah wills”. The meaning is like, “God has willed you to do good or give a right answer.”
Here is an online explanation from a Muslim:
" "Mash'allah" literally means 'Whatever Allah (God) wills'. It is often used in occasions where there is surprise in someones' good deeds or achievements. For example people say Mashallah when someone does very well in their exams.” ]
I am glad you recognize that the JW translation and interpretation is wrong of John 1:1. You know all of John 1:1-18 by heart in Greek? حافظه ؟ (Hafezeh) – by memory? If so; very good. Double Mash’allah !
I wrote this little article a while back:
If one only has a beginning knowledge of Greek, it is very dangerous. The grammar and Greek syntax of John 1:1 determines the right theology. The doctrine of the Deity of Christ and the eternality of the Son is based on Scripture, not the Council of Nicaea. The Council of Nicaea is based on Scripture, and derives secondary authority from the only infallible authority – the Scriptures. Another Roman Catholic, “Nick the Catholic” also has an article with a title that claims that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were right about John 1:1. “JWs are correct about John 1:1; Jesus is not God” ( !!!) Then he clarifies later from his controversial, heretical, and inflammatory title. He says they were right if they mean “the Father is not Jesus”; ie the same person; but they are not right in that the JWs deny that Jesus is God or Deity. The predicate nominative issue is the key interpretive issue, more important than the definite article issue.
and the Word was God.
καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
And God was the Word.
Daniel Wallace has a good word on this issue: “We know that “the Word” is the subject because it has the definite article, and we translate it accordingly: “and the Word was God.”
Two questions, both of them of theological import, should come to mind:
1) Why was θεὸς (Theos) thrown forward? And
2) why does it lack the article?
In brief, its emphatic position stresses its essence or quality: “What God was, the Word was” is how one translation brings out this force. Its lack of a definite article keeps us from identifying the person of the Word ( Jesus Christ) with the person of “God” (the Father). That is to say, the word order tells us that Jesus Christ has all the divine attributes that the Father has; lack of the article tells us that Jesus Christ is not the Father. John’s wording here is beautifully compact! It is, in fact, one of the most elegantly terse theological statements one could ever find. As Martin Luther said, the lack of an article is against Sabellianism [Modalism]; the word order is against Arianism.
To state it another way, look at how the different Greek constructions would be rendered:
καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν ὁ θεὸς = “and the Word was the God” ( ie, the Father, Sabellianism, [or Modalism])
καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν θεὸς = “and the Word was a god” (Arianism) [also Jehovah’s Witness theology]
καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος “and the Word was God” (orthodoxy) [sound, Biblical doctrine)
Jesus Christ is God and has all the attributes that the Father has. But He is not the first person of the Trinity. [the Son is not the Father] All this is concisely affirmed in καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. “ Basics of Biblical Greek, William D. Mounce, Zondervan, 1993, p. 28-29. (Quoting Daniel Wallace)
So, here we have the principle of Sola Scriptura as the basis for all sound doctrine and theology. The first four Ecumenical councils were right, only because they got the Bible right. We don’t need Popes or any idea of an “infallible church council”. The Scriptures themselves teach us sound doctrine, and the good and right decisions in the Ecumenical councils derive their rightness from Scripture itself. Only Scripture is infallible. Here we see the Greek grammar and syntax teaching us the distinction between nature and person. God revealed the doctrine of the Trinity based on the Scriptures alone; Sola Scriptura stands.