Why is Jesus called Isa in the Qur’an?

Of the many explanations for the form of Jesus’ name as it appears in the Qur’an, the most reasonable one from this writer’s point of view is that it reflects an Arabic speaker’s spelling of what he hears in an Arabic articulation of the common East Syrian form of the name: îshô′

Sidney H. Griffith, The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the “People of the Book” in the Language of Islam, note 64, page 83.

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Sidney H. Griffith is Professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America. His books include The Beginnings of Christian Theology in Arabic and The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque (Princeton).


Categories: Jesus, Qur'an

11 replies

  1. “So far as the word ‘Isa (the name given to Jesus in the Kur’an) is concerned, it was apparently in use before Muhammad, and it does not seem probable that it was coined by him. A monastery in South Syria, near the territory of the Christian Ghassanid Arabs, bore in A.D. 571 the name ‘Isaniyah, that is to say, “of the followers of Jesus,” i.e. of the Christians. See fol. 84b of the Brit. Mus. Syr. MS. Add., 14, 602, which is of the end of the sixth, or at the latest of the beginning of the seventh century (16). The Mandean pronunciation “A’Iso” (17), is of no avail as the guttural ‘é has in Mandaic the simple pronunciation of a hamzah. The Mandean pronunciation is rather reminiscent of ‘Iso, as the name of Jesus was written in the Marcionite Gospel used by the Syrians.”

    16 P.714 in Wright’s Catalogue.
    17 Nöldeke’s Mand. Gram., xxix and 55; Lidzbarski. Mand. Liturgien, 191.


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  2. Basically, this is an admission that Islam and the Qur’an got a lot of it’s information from the Syriac Christians – as a cognate, related language to Arabic – which is also where the relation of the word Allah and Aloha / Eloah / El demonstrates. In Aramaic- Syriac, the definite article is on the end, not the beginning.

    In addition, by the Qur’an called Jesus “the Word of His” (the Word of God) kalimat Allah – it is showing that it is, without meaning to, but demonstrating the truth of John 1:1-5; 1:14; 1 John 1:1-4; John 17:5; Revelation 19:13

    devastating to Islam.


  3. @ Ken

    I was going to talk about how Isa (as) is more than likely Abrabized Syriac (i.e. Eastern Aramaic) rendition of Isho.
    “One very tangible difference appears in the fact that the name Jesus was by the East Syrians written and pronounced Isho`, by the West Syrians Yeshu.”


    Tht derives from “Aasa” and “`Essa” which is a star. Which corresponds with:

    “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel…” [Numbers 24:17]

    “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” [Matthew 2:2]

    And Allah is not a derivative of Eloah. IF (and this is a big one) it does derives from a loan word “El” is much more likely.

    But since you admit you’re just talking out your butt it’s not necessary.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Jesus may have been derived from the Sanskrit ईश्वर ees(h)wara which means ‘Supreme’, and refers to Divinity.


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