CHAPTER 3

    That I may bring to the world the good news of a messenger who will come after me as

    light and mercy to all the nations; his name shall be called Admirable. (Note 1)

    And he will be of the family of Abraham, as God promised to him saying, Through your

    seed I shall save the world. (Note 2)

    And he will be from Kedar, a tribe of the children of Ishmael, the son of Abraham.

    As Esias prophesied, saying, Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voices

    in rejoicing, the villages that Kedar inhabits. (Note 3)

    And he shall come from Mount Paran, as Moses spoke of him, saying, God came from

    Mount Paran with ten thousand saints. (Note 4)

    And when he is come, he will guide the nations into all truth, for he shall not speak of

   himself but whatsoever he hears that shall he speak and coming things he will announce

   to you. (Note 5)

    He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he has set justice in the earth, and the isles shall

    wait for his law. (Note 6)

    For God did choose the family of Abraham and the family of Amran and Adam and Noah

    over the people of all nations.

    And God hears and knows all things. (Note 7)

    When Mary's people heard this, they marveled at it. They said one to another, What do

    we about this marvelous babe? People will not believe what we have heard and seen.

    One of them, Joseph (Note 8) of Bethlehem, said, I wed her and take her and the babe

    to Bethlehem, and then we return to Nazareth after a period. (Note 9) And so it was

    done.

    And before God the creation of Jesus is like the creation of Adam. He made him from

    dust and then said to him, "Be," and he was. (Note 10)

    This is the true account; and there is no god besides God, the exalted in power, the

    wise. (Note 11)

    He is self-sustaining, and He begetteth not, nor is He begotten.

    And there is none like unto Him. (Note 12)

    Go to Chapter 4

Notes (Chapter 3)

1Qur`an 61:6. In Isaiah 9:6, one of the names of a promised figure is given in Hebrew as "Pele." This name can be translated as "Admirable", and indeed it is so translated in the Vulgate. The expectation of the figure of Isaiah 9:6 as well as the title 'Admirable' was current among the Qumran people (see Hymns III in G. Vermes' translation, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Penguin Books, 1975), and there is some warrant for the view that the Qumran sectarians identified this figure, whom they also called Geber, Man, with the Messianic Prophet believed to be premised in Deuteronomy 18:18-19 (cf. G. Vermes, op. cit. p. 50). Since the Qumran tradition is known to have played a considerable part in the formation of Christianity, it is a plausible explanation of Qur`an 61:6 that the expectation of the messianic prophet under the name Admirable was taken over by Christian tradition. Of course, as glorification of Jesus increased, Christianity lost inclination to expect an independent figure after Jesus and, in the main, began to see in Jesus the only bringer of salvation. Nevertheless, the New Testament has preserved evidence that shows that tradition sometimes expected not one but three messianic figures. Thus, in the Gospel of John (1:19-21, 25), the messengers sent from Jerusalem ask John the Baptist, "Who are you?" and when he confessed, "I am not the Christ (i.e., the Messiah)," they asked him, "What then? Are you Elias?" Again the Baptist denies, and this prompts the messengers' next question, "Are you that Prophet?" The Baptist denies even that, and then the messengers ask him, "Why baptize you then, if you are not the Christ, nor Elias, neither that Prophet?"

In another passage of the same gospel, people argue among themselves about Jesus: "Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is that Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?" (7:40-41).

The evidence for the expectation of three messianic figures is not limited to the fourth gospel. The same expectation is presupposed in the synoptic account of Jesus' transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13; Matt. 17:1-13; Luke 9:28-36) in which Jesus the Messiah appears to his close disciples in the company of Elias and Moses (who was often believed to return in the role of "that Prophet"). The earliest tradition, of course, saw the Messiah in Jesus and Elias in John the Baptist, but does not present us with any person corresponding to the figure of Moses or that Prophet; we must therefore assume that this latter figure was expected to come soon after John and Jesus. This expectation of Moses or a figure like him, soon abandoned by the mainstream Christianity, seems to have survived in some Eastern Christian circles and given rise to hopes for a messenger bearing the title Admirable. [return]

2Gen 22:18. Following the story of the births of John and Jesus by the prophecies about the coming of Muhammad reflects the position, taken in this gospel, that the three prophets form a kind of a "messianic trinity," with John corresponding to the messianic priest (or, Elias, or, in the language of the Qumran Scrolls, the messiah of Aaron), Jesus corresponding to the messianic king (or the Messiah of Israel), and Muhammad to the messianic prophet (or "that prophet" of John 1:20, 25; 7:40). In the Quran, too, the stories of the births of Mary, John, and Jesus (3:33-63) are followed by a reference to earlier prophecies about Muhammad (3:81) and his relation with Abraham (3:68).

To say that John, Jesus, and Muhammad correspond to the three messianic figures expected in the Jewish tradition cannot be true in the sense that they fulfill all what the tradition promised about those figures since the tradition is not consistent. One must go beyond the inconsistencies in detail and see what the Jewish messianism is really concerned with. And one must also rid it of some of its narrower, nationalistic concerns. If we do that, it would seem that the essential feature of the Jewish messianic thought, when it rises above nationalism and racialism, is the prediction that there will arise in the world up to three eschatological (or last) envoys from God who will usher in a final stage in human history during which there will be a period of dramatic improvement in man's spiritual and material condition. And in view of the influence of John, Jesus, and Muhammad in history, it seems justified to regard them as the three promised eschatological messengers even though they do not fulfill some of the specific predictions found in the Jewish messianic tradition. [return]

3Isa. 42:11. See A. Yusuf Ali on Qur`an 3:81, and also Mishkat Al-Masabih XXVI, 18:1:4. [return]

4Deut. 33:2. [return]

5John 16:12-13. For identity between John's Paraclete (or Counselor), the Admirable, and the messianic prophet like Moses, see Note 1 above and Note 3, Chapter 24. [return]

6Isa. 42:4. [return]

7Qur`an 3:33-34. [return]

8The tradition about the marriage of Joseph and Mary is so firmly established in the gospels that it cannot be ignored. Matthew (1:18-25) reconciles it with the virgin birth by saying that the birth of Jesus took place when Joseph and Mary were engaged and did not yet "know" each other, that is, did not have sexual relations. The Qur`an does not follow the story of Mary beyond the birth of Jesus and does not mention Joseph. We may therefore presume that Joseph entered Mary's life after the birth. [return]

9It is implied by Luke 2:1-5 that Joseph was of Bethlehem and that he made a journey from Nazareth and back with Mary. Matthew (2:1) also implies that Joseph and Mary lived both in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Both Matthew and Luke make Mary deliver in Bethlehem, probably in order to fulfill the Scriptures (see Matt. 2:5-6; cf. Micah 5.2). [return]

10Qur`an 3:59. [return]

11Qur`an 3:62. [return]

12Qur`an 102:2-4. [return]