Impossibly…just read the context, consider the implications and check the Manuscripts
The "Paraclete" as a prophecy of Muhammad (Ahmad)?
On pages 102-106 of his book comparing the Bible and the Qur'an ( Link), Dr. Bucaille (Link) has a lengthy treatment of the Biblical verses in John, Chapters 14-16, which mention that a "Paraclete" will come. Except for his discussion of Genesis Chapter 1 and the genealogies, no other verses of the Bible are dealt with in such detail.
In these four pages, after claiming to have quoted all the relevant verses, Dr. Bucaille makes six attacks or criticisms against the validity of this Biblical passage. For example, he maintains that some material was suppressed from the Gospel, that other words were added, that Greek words are wrongly used, and that most translations are in complete error.
These are very serious attacks, and Dr. Bucaille pursues them with a fine-tuned literary skill which gives the impression that there is great scholarly support for his ideas.
Therefore, we are going to consider each one of these six criticisms, plus a seventh false claim.
Christians believe that this word "paraclete" (paracletos in Greek) refers to the Holy Spirit of God, and that this Holy Spirit comes to live in each Christian in order to help him fight sin (According to the Gospel, the Holy Spirit is the guiding Spirit of God and not the angel Gabriel).
Muslims have proposed that it is a prophecy of Muhammad. A Muslim believes that there is such a prophecy because of the following words found in the Surah of the Battle Array (Al-aff) 61:6, from 3 AH.
"And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: `Oh Children of Israel! I am the apostle of God to you...giving glad tidings of an apostle to come after me, whose name shall be AHMAD. But when he came to them with clear signs, they said, `This is clearly sorcery!'
In Arabic the names aHMaD (more praiseworthy) and muHaMmaD (praised) have the same root letters (you would find them both under H M D in the Arabic dictionary) and related meanings. Therefore Muslims believe that this is a slightly veiled prophecy by Jesus saying that Muhammad will come.
Since a quick reading of the Gospel does not reveal such a prophecy in any obvious form, a more detailed search has continued over the years; and many Muslims now claim that Jesus' promise of the Counselor or Paraclete in John 14 is that very prophecy. Professor Katkat claims this in an article on the subject in Manr Al-Islm, and Yusuf Ali expresses the same idea in the following note on Surah 61:6,
"Ahmad", or "Muhammad", the Praised one, is almost a translation of the Greek word periclytos. In the present Gospel of John, 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7, the word "Comforter" in the English version is for the Greek word "Paracletos"...Our doctors contend that Paracletos is a corrupt reading for Periclytos, and that in the original saying of Jesus there was a prophecy of our holy Prophet Ahmad by name.
The first thing to be understood is that in Greek, unlike Arabic, the vowels are written into the text. Thus to change from pErIclYtos to pArAclEtos would require the alteration of three written letters.
Secondly there is absolutely no textual evidence for such a reading. Not one copy of the Gospel of John, from the oldest Greek copy of 200 AD until now shows periclytos in place of paracletos.
Thirdly, although periclytos, which means famous or renowned, was used by Homer when he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey in the classical Greek of the 10th century B.C., there is not one instance where this word, or any of the other members of its word group, are used in the Koine Greek of the New Testament or the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament.
Thus there is neither textual or linguistic support for "periclytos".
a. Dr. Bucaille's preliminary remarks
By placing his comments about the Paraclete, or Holy Spirit, at the end of his chapter on Contradictions and Improbabilities, Dr. Bucaille pushes the reader to assume that there is a contradiction or improbability even before reading the information.
Next, claiming that only one author mentions this Paraclete who is to come, he asks how a matter of such "fundamental importance" could be mentioned in only one of the four Gospel accounts.
This then leads to two suggestive and critical questions.
1. "Was it originally in the other accounts and then suppressed?"
Suppression? Who said anything about suppression? Then without having provided even one fact of confirming evidence to prove that something was suppressed, he asks,
2. "Why was it suppressed?"
Thus, without any facts at all, he has created a contradiction and implied that Christians suppressed part of the Gospel.
He then concludes,
"No answer is possible. So the mystery remains."
Now we have a mystery - a mystery made entirely out of worthless words. Notice I did not say powerless words. These are very strong words, but they are worthless because they are not supported by any facts. It is about words like this that Jesus spoke when he warned,
"Men will have to give account in the day of judgement for every careless (idle) word they have spoken." Matthew 12:36.
The first thing to be said is that Dr. Bucaille is wrong when he claims that this matter of such "fundamental importance" is reported by only one Gospel writer. Though he does not use the name Paraclete, Luke tells of Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of the promise in Acts Chapters 1 and 2.
Secondly, behind Dr. Bucaille's questions there seems to be the assumption that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE ALL-POWERFUL GOD TO DIRECT ONLY ONE WRITER TO REPORT AN EVENT.
If this assumption is valid it also holds for the Qur'an. The entire Qur'an came through one human author - Muhammad. In addition, many events, such as the young men who slept over 300 years in a cave, are mentioned only once in the Quranic text. Even the words placed in Jesus' mouth that "Ahmad" will come are found only once. Are we therefore to assume a contradiction and mystery?!? How many readers will accept that logic?
And if his negative assumption is valid are we allowed to infer the opposite: that something mentioned by two, three, or four of the Gospel writers IS TRUE? If so then it must be noted that Jesus' death for our sins and the empty tomb following his resurrection are mentioned by all four Gospel writers, plus Paul. This is very strong evidence.
b. The verses concerning the "Paraclete" as quoted by Dr. Bucaille
Before going further we need to look at the verses which mention the "paraclete”. On page 106 Dr. Bucaille quotes them as follows:
John 14:15-16. "If you love me (Jesus), you will obey what I command, and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete."
John 14:26. "But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
John 15:26. "He will testify about me"
John 16:7-8, 13-14. "It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. when he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment..."
"But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me..."
After the above quotations, Dr. Bucaille has a special note:
"It is to be noted that the passages from Chapters 14 to 17 of the Gospel according to John which are not cited here, do not modify in any way (ne modifient aucunement) the general sense of these verses." (sic)
On the basis of the verses given above he makes the following criticisms.
3. It is "curious" and "inconceivable" that one can attribute to the Holy Spirit the powers of “speaking and saying what he hears" because in Greek these words are invalid for a spirit.
4. Since it is invalid to use these words for a spirit, it could be that the text was tampered with and the words "Holy Spirit" were added to John 14:26 at a later time.
5. Why were they added later? The words could have been added "deliberately, in order to modify the original sense of a passage which, by announcing the coming of a prophet after Jesus, was in contradiction with the teaching of the early Christian Churches, which desired that Jesus would be the last of the prophets." In other words, the Christians wanted to suppress a prophecy by Christ that any other prophet would come after him.
6. The translation of the word "paraclete" is totally inaccurate.
We shall now evaluate the validity of each of these criticisms.
4. The reliability of the text
Dr. Bucaille starts his discussion of this point by saying, "Every serious study of a text starts with the search for variant readings." In other words he is looking for any evidence that the words "Holy Spirit" were added to the text at a late date (Considering the question of variants for both the Qur'an and the Bible, in almost all cases they could be shown to be scribal errors by comparing the various copies with each other).
So what is the result of Bucaille's investigation? Are there any variant readings for John 14:26? Only one! In a 4th or 5th century translation into the Syriac Language. It omits the adjective "Holy", but retains the noun "Spirit". The verse in question then reads, "But the Paraclete, the Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name..."
What weight of importance shall we give this one variant in a translation? John wrote his Gospel account in Greek, and when we examine the Greek Papyri from 200 to 400 AD, they all read "Holy Spirit". The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus from 350 AD do not show the variant. The Codex Alexandrius from 450 AD, also reads "Holy Spirit".
This is exactly similar to finding a variant in the Persian translation of the Qur'an made by a committee in 345 AH, of which there are still copies available today. What weight would you give to such a variant in a Persian translation?
Is it valid to make a doctrinal decision on the basis of this type of single reading in either the Qur'an or the Bible?
Surely this is no more than a scribal error and the answer is NO!
Dr. Bucaille also admits the possibility of a scribal error when he asks, "Did the scribe merely miss out a word?" However, he wants to think that the omission was intentional, so he asks,
“ or, knowing full well that the text he was to copy claimed to make the Holy Spirit hear and speak, did he perhaps lack the audacity to write something that seemed absurd to him?”
But the Bible and Qur'an are both full of verses saying that God speaks and hears, so why is it absurd to say this of God's Spirit?
See as well: http://www.answering-islam.org/Silas/comforter.htm
John 14:16. The New Testament passage that Muslims most often refer to is John 14:16,
" And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever." Yusuf Ali makes the case in a footnote to Qur’an 3:81.
That argument is: You (People of the Book) are bound by your own oaths, sworn solemnly in the presence of your own Prophets. In the Old Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in Deut. xviii. 18; and the rise of the Arab nation in Isaiah, xlii. 11, for Kedar was a son of Ismail and the name is used for the Arab nation: in the New Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in the Gospel of St. John, xiv. 16, xv. 26, and xvi.7: the future Comforter cannot be the Holy Spirit as understood by Christians, because the Holy Spirit already was present helping and guiding Jesus. The Greek word translated "Comforter" is "Paracletos", which is an easy corruption from "Periclytos", which is almost a literal translation of "Muhammad" or "Ahmad" ...
He further comments in a footnote to Qur’an 61:6.
"Ahmad," or "Muhammad," the Praised One, is almost a translation of the Greek word Periclytos. In the present Gospel of John, xiv. 16, xv. 26, and xvi. 7, the word "Comforter" in the English version is for the Greek word "Paracletos," which means "Advocate," "one called to the help of another, a kind friend" rather than "Comforter." Our doctors contend that Paracletos is a corrupt reading for Periclytos, and that in their original saying of Jesus there was a prophecy of our holy Prophet Ahmad by name.
Simply put, the argument is that in our Greek manuscripts the word paracletos is a corruption of periclytos. But there is absolutely no manuscript evidence to support this claim. Of the over 5,000 manuscripts now available, not one witnesses to periclytos. So, the charge of textual corruption is self-serving and completely without textual support.
Further, while Muslims assert that the identification of the Counselor with the Holy Spirit is a misinterpretation, in the very context of John 14:16 Jesus draws just this identification:
" But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26).
Of course, the Muslim can claim that this statement is a fictive retrojection of the later theology of Christians, but such a claim would need at least some evidence.
Numerous additional difficulties attend the Muslim attribution of John 14:16 to Muhammad. The Counselor was to be with Jesus’s disciples "forever" (14:16), but Muhammad was never with them. Nor is the answer that the message of Muhammad has continued to this day in the Qur’an a sufficient response. Jesus also said the Counselor would be "in you" (14:17), which accords perfectly with the Counselor being the Holy Spirit. The Counselor would be sent in Jesus’s name (14:26), but Muhammad was not. Several additional elements could be referenced. In the end, I would hope that any Muslim who would seek to attribute the prophecy of John 14:16 to Muhammad would first read the entirety of John chapters 14-16 to see the qualities of the Counselor and how these cannot plausibly be attributed to Muhammad.
As we noted before, there are additional passages used by Muslims in support of their claim that prophecies of Muhammad are found in the Bible, but the very same difficulties that attend their attempts to use Deuteronomy 18: 15, 18 and John 14:16 trouble the other (less significant) passages. In this light, the conclusion of Blaise Pascal is apropos:
"Any man can do what Mahomet has done; for he performed no miracles, he was not foretold. No man can do what Christ has done."
as-Saff 61:6, means "Praised One" in Arabic, see also prophesied in the Bible? under MUHAMMAD. Muslims identify this name with Muhammad. Muslims have identified the Comforter metioned in the Bible in John 14 & John 16 that Jesus said he will send to be Muhammad. In order to do that, the Muslims charged that the word for Comforter should not be Paraclete (or Paracletos), but have been changed from the original Periklutos, meaning "Praised One
However, the Qur'anic verse in question has variants found in other codices that were also in circulation before the Uthmanic codex became standard.
According to Ubayy b. Kab, one of the secretaries of Muhammad, the verse reads: "O children of Israel, I am God's messenger to you, and I announce to you a prophet whose community will be the last community and by which God will put the seal on the prophets and messengers" where "Ahmad" is not mentioned. (See also SEAL OF THE PROPHETS, and for a more detailed discussion of Ubayy's variant refer to Gilchrist.)
This is also attested to by Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham's account of the verse, as recorded in Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad:
" Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted from what John the apostle set down for them when he wrote the Gospel for them from the Testamant of Jesus Son of Mary: "He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not had sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the Law must be fulfilled, 'They hated me without a cause' (ie. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord's presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord's presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that you should not be in doubt." The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad, in Greek he is the Paraclete." (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Guillaume, pp. 103-104)
Ibn Ishaq does not say that the word "Paraclete" is "Periklutos". In fact, he confirmed that the word in Greek is Paraclete. Moreover, he affirms that John wrote down the Gospel that was revealed to Jesus. He also used Comforter when translating that word. In order to apply the verse to Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq identifies the Syriac word Munahhemna to Muhammad, instead of using "Ahmad" in both the above passage as well as in as-Saff 61:6, which would be the best (obvious) way to prove that the "Paraclete" is Muhammad
The menahhemana in Syriac means the life-giver and specifally the one who raises from the dead. Muhammad hardly fits the description of one who raises the dead, nor is he a life-giver. When the Syriac Christians applied that title to Jesus, it is perfectly within his authority to give life and raise the dead, as he had demonstrated.
" Muslim children are never called Ahmad before the year 123AH. But there are many instances prior to this date of boys called 'Muhammad.' Very rarely is the name 'Ahmad' met with in pre-Islamic time of ignorance (Jahiliya), though the name Muhammad was in common use. Later traditions that the prophet's name was Ahmad show that this had not always been obvious, though commentators assume it after about 22 (AH) (W.M. Watt who researched the name "Ahmad", as quoted by G. Parrinder, Jesus in the Koran, Sheldon Press, pp. 98-99)
" It has been concluded that the word Ahmad in Quran as-Saff 61:6 is to be taken not as a proper name but as an adjective... and that it was understood as a proper name only after Muhammad had been identified with the Paraclete. (J. Schacht, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol I, 1960, p.267)
“ Note that by the middle of the 2nd century AH, Muslims already identified Muhammad with the Greek word "Paracletos" (Counsellor/ Advocate) or the Aramaic translation "Menahhemana" (New Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol I, 1960).
However, it is only after the middle of the 2nd century AH that Muslims begin to say that the word "Paracletos" should be "Periklutos", and this has been the favourite argument since then. Note the following: In the Syrian Bible translation, the word in dispute is translated as "Paraqlit", and in Arabic it is "Faraqlit", which is very close to be confused. This could the source of confusion among Muslims, but the Greek is very clear
Last but not least, it should be noted that Mani, around 216 a.D., founder of the Gnostic sect of Manichaeism, tried to sell himself as the Spiritus Paraclitus. Christians would have had lots of time trying to destroy these passages if they were afraid that they were not talking about the Third Person of the Trinity. The same goes for the Old Testament, where there are lots of prophecies about the coming of Jesus Christ. But as well in this case, Jews did not alter their Holy Scriptures.