Comments about ‘Hamblin & Peterson: 'Allah' is not pagan term — it means 'God'’

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 12 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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Phoenix, AZ

It is refreshing to read adult educational articles from Mr. Peterson (since he is a university professor) rather than the primary school fairy tales that he too often writes. Good work professor.

Orem, UT

I'll bet that Professor Peterson is really nervous right now, trying to figure out what on earth he's done wrong in this column such that "skeptic" is voicing approval of it.

Salt Lake City, UT

The main problem is that most people don't understand the translation process and that you can rarely find a 1-to-1 match between words in different languages that will convey all meanings and contexts.

I often try to explain the exact same examples given in this article when people talk about "not taking the Lord's name in vain." The Judeo-Christian God does have a name, and it isn't God. Its YHVH/YHWH, as Hebrew doesn't traditionally use vowels, and usually written as Jehovah or Yahweh. In the KJV, whenever you see "LORD God", usually with distinctive capitalization, what is being obscured is usually "YHWH Elohim": a name and title.

The same goes for the "name" Christ. It isn't his name, its his title. An attempt to translate the very Jewish concept of "Messiah" to a Greco-Roman classical world. Christ comes from Christos, a pagan concept. On top of that, Jesus is a corruption of a name that would better be spelled "Yeshua", but after passing through a number of languages on its way to English it changed a bit each time.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Unfortunately, this will not persuade most.

Portland, OR

During the Middle Ages many were illiterate with few understanding Latin, the language of the Catholic mass. As the Eucharist was given, the priest would always turn and gaze at the cross and away from the congregation while speaking, making his words difficult to hear. While raising the host (bread), he spoke "Hoc est corpus mei (drifting off)...", or "This is my body". Most in the congregation understood that there was deep meaning and magic in these words, which turned a cracker into the actual body of Christ. To those with less than perfect hearing, the priests' words of the process of transubstantiation sounded like "hocus pocus" and voila', the words were born.

Pocatello, ID

Enjoyed reading this column - thank you.

layton, UT

RE: We speak today of "theology," which is rational discussion ("logos") about "theos" or "god." True,
In the beginning(Arche) was the Word(Logos), and the Word(Logos) was with God(Theos), and the Word Logos)was God(Theos).(John 1:1) In the Nicene homoousios(same being) to=(the) patri (father) is a perfect paraphrase.

(1John 1:1) That which was from the beginning(archē ), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word(Logos ) of life. John says he was there and touched Jesus.

"In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of Gods. Beyond the power of refutation”.(Hof C v. 6 p.476)? (Genesis 1:1 Greek XX) In the beginning God (*O Theos, Grk. 2316). Clearly God, singular. *Nominative singular article.

Raeann Peck
Salt Lake City, UT

The name "Allah" has always has a sacred sound and feeling about it to me. Mukkake, my feeling about taking the name of God in vain has more to do with the intent of the heart, or even the lack of honorable consideration, rather than the title, spelling, or pronounciation of His Name. He knows who we are referring to, however we say it, honor Him or dishonor Him.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

Ye believers worship ye know not who. Your best scholars obfuscate to hide the fact that none of you even know the name of your god. Titles, word etymologies, pseudo-academic dictionary games are supposed to count as "defending the faith"?

But when you pray to "god", your petition effectively amounts to "Hey! Somebody/anybody out there, please respond!"

You have no idea who or what is "answering", if anything at all!

You don't even know your god's name!

St. George, UT

While the Honorable Professor Peterson is technically correct, anyone who researches the true nature and character of the 'Allah' worshiped in Islam will quickly come to understand that he is NOT at all the same as the God of Abraham. This 'misunderstanding' by most non-Muslims is a result of the Islamic practice of 'Taqiya', another Arabic word meaning 'deception'. Debating the translation of the word 'Allah' is actually missing the point, and a further example of Taqiya in practice. Anyone who researches using Islamic references written by Muslims for Muslims in English can easily distinguish the true character of 'Allah', and learn the truth for themselves. There are plenty of such references available for anyone willing to look.

layton, UT

RE: Evangelical Protestants, though, some are under the misimpression that the term "Allah" refers to a pagan moon deity from pre-Islamic Arabian mythology???

God 79, god 16 KJV,Strong's (Protestant concordance) Number H426 matches the Hebrew ('elahh (Aramaic)), which occurs 95 times in 78 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV. (Ezr 4:24 - Ezr 7:14). A cognate from the word Allah.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Rather than seeking for similarities --

Extremeists and Radicals take issue with anything not precisely the same as being "evil" or "wicked".

This is the perfect example of it.

Thanks for the clarity,
but alas, the deft and ignorant - the one's who need it the most -
still won't get it.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Jesus called on God from the cross crying out Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me) as reported in Mark. In Matthew, the name is Eli. As I understand it, Eloi (Aramaic), Eli (Hebrew), and Allah (Arabic) are all three linguistic derivatives of El, the common ancestral Semitic name for God in the time of Abraham.

Chandler, AZ

It seems to me that the controversy over whether to use the term Allah in Arabic translations of the Bible occurs as well WITHIN Arabic Christian circles, and this is why it becomes an issue for evangelical translators. It is recognized that Allah is the generic term for God. But it's still an issue for Muslims who convert to Christianity. In their minds, the term Allah subjectively has strong Islamic overtones, and as sensitive Christians, they don't want to violate their consciences. This is certainly understandable-- "Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves" (Rom 14:22b).

Now, just because Allah is the generic term for God doesn't mean that the Allah of Islam and the Allah of Christianity are one and the same God. Despite the fact that they are both Abrahamic, there are still irreconcilable differences. Christians and the LDS have the same issue. Mormons say, "We are Christians, because we worship someone named Jesus Christ." But they neglect the substantial differences between the two views in order to make this semantic judgment. As an orthodox Christian, I find such comparisons to be highly offensive.

Bakersfield, CA

Exactly, brokenclay. Thank you for correctly clarifying what Prof. Petersen knows. It isn't the translation of a word; it's the definition of the characteristics that signify the differences.

The Arab Baptists in my church refuse to use Allah, preferring Al Rab, The Lord, where possible. That is their cultural preference, because they know the differences between the attributes given to Allah by non-Christian theology. The God of Islam is as foreign to The God of the Bible as the Mormon God is. It is the attributes and description of "God" that defines and separates those who seek salvation "in any other than who we have declared to you", said the apostle Paul.

In whatever language the word for "God" is, He/She/It needs defining. This IS the reason those who come to the Biblical Messiah/Christ/Savior become "born-again" as "new creatures in Christ", with an indwelling of the promised Holy Spirit: That is the Biblical promise. Those who alter Christ's power, promises and profession receive a totally different outcome.

Dr. Petersen should know that salvation does not come from all Gods...

Bakersfield, CA

Which God are you claiming salvation in, Professors? The God of Mohammed, Joseph Smith, or the Bible? Joseph's God is a polygamous exalted man; Mohammed's God had no Begotten Son. The God of the Bible "is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

That is the issue: "Who do you say I am?"

I have taught Hebrew for over 20 years. Every student knows that El, Elohim,Ya and Yaweh are just words. Lower case and upper case in English are inserted exactly to differentiate between false gods and the Triune God, both rendered ELOHIM in an ancient language that has no lower case...

I first learned my Hebrew at BYU. It hasn't changed from the different synagogues or colleges where I further studied the language. But each religion puts different meanings, salvation power and requirements into that "God", rendering Him different in essence, power and message..

That is the issue, not the entymology of the liguistics.

layton, UT

RE: Joseph Smith "retired to the woods to make the attempt (to pray)" (Joseph Smith-History 1:13). Arabic-speaking Latter-day Saints, reciting the first Article of Faith, testify that "We believe in Allah, the Eternal Father." Readers of the Arabic Book of Mormon are encouraged to "ask Allah, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true" (Moroni 10:4).
Elijah(YHWH is God), In(D&C 110: 1-16) Elias and Elijah appear to JS, but in the Bible they are the same person. The KJV translators attempted to transliterate Elijah to Elias because there isn’t a Greek character for the English letter J.
To avoid confusion, modern translations: NIV, NJKV, NASB and the Catholic Bible have Elijah instead of Elias in(Mt 11:14,; Luke 1:17

Bakersfield, CA

'Scuze the type-O, please. Make that "the etymogy of the linguistics". (See last sentence in my previous post). :-)

How a misplaced letter can render a sentence into jibberish! So will an incorrect belief in God, or a belief in the wrong God take you to an eternal dwelling other than The Father's Kingdom. Jesus said that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. "No one comes to the Father except by Me." (John 14: 6). You don't have to believe it, but you can't add your own specifications and remain true to the original.

You can deny the validity of the original, as Joseph and many others have, but you cannot pretend a 19th-century rewrite is the original.

So choose your definition of God carefully, Professors. He might be more than just a word. He claims to be The Word.

Saint Geeorge, UT

It appears that the authors are intent to draw parallels that don't exist between Christianity and Islam by pointing out linguistic similarities between the semitic languages and forcing illogical conclusions. As a native Hebrew and Arabic speaker I can tell you the teachings of Muhammed (The Quran, the Hadith and Sirat al-Rasul) are antithetical to the western Judeo-Christian ethic. Look around the world; any country governed by sharia is a human rights disaster. In Islam women are property not human beings.

Rather than writing puff pieces maligning "evangelical preachers" as "ignorant", guide your readers to research "Taqiyya" and "Kitman". Learn what abrogation means and how the Quran is organized. Google "Holy Land Foundation Trial", learn why CAIR and HAMMAS are both Muslim Brotherhood front groups.

In short, educate yourselves.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


"Dr. Petersen should know that salvation does not come from all Gods."

That wasn't the point of his article. He didn't even imply that.

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