But Sura 5:110 says he taught the people in (up to his) old age. Can 33 years considered "oldage" by any stretch of imagination?
The missionaries also add that the ministry of Jesus lasted until he was "about 33".According to them, one strand of evidence for this claim comes from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's (1872 – 1953 CE) commentary in the footnotes of his English translation of theQur'an. In this paper we would like to examine the claim whether the Qur'an reallysays that Jesus preached when he was in his "old age". Is there any agreementamongst Judeo-Christian scholars concerning Jesus' age or other periods of timeassociated with his earthly life? All these issues will be the focus of our investigation,establishing beyond doubt whose "stretch of imagination" is in consonance with thelexical, exegetical and chronological data.
2. Does The Qur'an Say "Old Age"?: A Lexical Enquiry
It is quite strange that the Christian missionaries used Yusuf Ali's footnote concerningJesus' earthly ministry to be of about 33 years and yet did not follow his translation of Qur'an 3:46. Instead theychoseShakir's translation which says that Jesus will speak to people "when in the cradle and when of old age". Yusuf Ali, on the other hand,correctly translates the verse as Jesus speaking to people "in childhood and inmaturity", as we shall soon see.While discussing the time when Jesus spoke to the people, the Qur'an in 3:46 as wellas 5:110 uses the word
. The word
refers to a placesmoothed out for a small child to sleep in. It does not refer to a piece of furniture suchas a cradle,
although Shakir has translated it this way. What about
? What agedoes it refer to? Christian missionaries following in the footsteps of the Qur'anictranslator Shakir have claimed that it refers to "old age". On the contrary,
saysconcerning the word
refer to one whose hair has gone gray and appears to be old or over 30 years or over 34years up to 51 years. The plural takes various forms:
.The feminine is
Similarstatementscan also be found in
. From the discussion inboth
, it is clear that a person who is a
can have an age anywhere between 30 to 50 years. This range of ages is commonly