Kalam Allah in Islam and in Christianity

Joseph L. Cumming

A working paper elucidating the key Arabic expression kalam Allah, considering its Semitic parentage and the implications for our understanding of the Christian doctrine of the incarnation of the logos (Verbum caro).

So the Gospel asserts that God’s kalam became manifest to us as flesh (tajalla lana basharan)—i.e. that God revealed himself to humankind in the form of human flesh—in the person of the al-Sayyid al-Masih, to him be glory (lahu al-majd). The expression “became flesh” should not be understood as implying that God’s kalam somehow changed or ceased to be one thing in order to be transformed into another. The original Greek word does not imply this. Rather, the divine kalam, which does not change, was manifested to humankind by its assuming (ittikhadhihi) human flesh.

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For an Arabic version of the paper and other related materials, follow this link to the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.