Was No One Ever Called John Before John the Baptist?

  The Gospel of Luke describes the extraordinary birth of John the Baptist for us:  

  59 When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father.

  60 But his mother responded, “No! He will be called John.”

  61 Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 

  62 So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. 

  63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote: HIS NAME IS JOHN. And they were all amazed.” Luke 1:59-62 (HCSB)

  Now, to better appreciate the Quranic error we're about to see, let's take a second look at that passage as it is translated in the Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB). Just to make sure everyone understands... "John" is the English translation of the Hebrew "Yochanan" and the Greek "Ioannes:"  

  59 And it came about on the yom hashemini (the eighth day) they came for the bris milah of the yeled, and they were calling him by the name of his abba, Zecharyah.
  60 And in reply, his Em said: Lo, but he will be called Yochanan.
  61 And they said to her, There is no one from your krovim who is called by this shem.
  62 And they began motioning to the yeled’s abba to find out what shem he wanted to give him.
  63 And having asked for a luach (tablet), Zecharyah wrote, saying, Yochanan shmo. And everyone was amazed...." Luke 1:59-63 (OJB)

  But 600 years later, what appears to have happened is something akin to what apostate historian and textual critic Bart Ehrman likes to call "the telephone game." While Muhammad picked up on the part of the story that the child's name of John (or Yochanan in Hebrew) had been specially chosen, Muhammad exaggerated it, and took it somewhere it was never meant to go. Take a look at what he said in his Quran:  

  [He was told], "O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. We have not assigned to any before [this] name." Quran 19:7, Sahih International 

  Some other translations:

  (It was said unto him): O Zachariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is John; we have given the same name to none before (him)." Pickthall

  (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)." Hilali-Khan

  [And the angel answered him], o Zacharias, verily we bring thee tidings of a son, whose name [shall be] John; we have not caused any to bear the same name before him." Sale

  "O Zachariah! verily we announce to thee a son, - his name John: That name We have given to none before him." Rodwell

  We have given this name to no one else before him? 

  Perhaps, in his desire to excite his listening audience, Muhammad decided to spice up his story. Or perhaps he just remembered it wrong. But it was something that many of his followers would never be able to confirm since, not only were most of them illiterate, but they were also living in 7th century Arabia. 

  Not so, though, for you and me living in 2014, with all the benefits of Google and the Internet (is it any wonder now that Muslim rulers all over the world seek to censor the websites they allow their people to visit?) Today we can very easily verify what has been said before to determine if it is true. And very quickly we find out that Muhammad was most definitely wrong. 

  There are other sources, but the Bible is the handiest, so let us go there. The Bible does show us that the name has, in fact, been given to others before. Here are a few examples in a straight English version and then in mixed English-Hebrew.

  The name Johanan is recorded in 1 Chronicles, dated at around 1003 BC, or about a thousand years before the birth of John the Baptist:

  "Josiah’s sons: Johanan was the firstborn, Jehoiakim second, Zedekiah third, and Shallum fourth." 1 Chronicles 3:15 (HCSB)

  "And the Bnei Yoshiyahu were, the bechor Yochanan, the second Y’hoyakim, the third Tzidkiyahu, the fourth Shallum." 1 Chronicles 3:15 (OJB)

  Another Yochanan is recorded by the prophet Jeremiah, writing around 580BC,  

  "... and he summoned Johanan son of Kareah, all the commanders of the armies who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest." Jeremiah 42:8 (HCSB)

  "Then he called Yochanan Ben Kareach, and all the army officers which were with him, and kol HaAm from the katon even to the gadol..." Jeremiah 42:8 (OJB)

  And again in the Book of Nehemiah, which was written around 445BC, or almost half a millennia before the birth of John the Baptist: 

  "In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the leaders of the families of the Levites and priests were recorded while Darius the Persian ruled." Nehemiah 12:22 (HCSB)

  "The Levi’im in the days of Elyashiv, Yoyada, and Yochanan, and Yaddua, were recorded rashei haAvot; also the kohanim, to the reign of Daryavesh the Persian." Nehemiah 12:22 (OJB)

  So there were Johanans or Yochanans since at least 1,000 years before John the Baptist, and this proves Muhammad was wrong.

  Or, if you prefer, Allah was wrong.

  Whoever you want to blame, this is one of the more obvious of the errors in the Quran.

  But there may be those who will claim I need to read 19:7 in the Arabic, so let me turn to three of Islam's most-respected Tafsirs to check if I am interpreting this ayah correctly:

  Ibn Kathir writes...

﴾ Allah said,
﴿لَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيّاً﴾

(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.

  * تفسير Tafsir al-Jalalayn
  { يٰزَكَرِيَّآ إِنَّا نُبَشِّرُكَ بِغُلاَمٍ ٱسْمُهُ يَحْيَىٰ لَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيّاً }

  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’.

  * تفسير Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
  { يٰزَكَرِيَّآ إِنَّا نُبَشِّرُكَ بِغُلاَمٍ ٱسْمُهُ يَحْيَىٰ لَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيّاً }

  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.

  So there we are. Both tafsirs agree with the simple understanding.
  And Muhammad, the Quran and Allah are still wrong. 

  How do you explain this, Muslims?

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