Original Research - Special Collection: Applied subjects - Practical Theology and Science of Religion

The identity and witness of Arab pre-Islamic Arab Christianity: The Arabic language and the Bible

David D. Grafton
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2726 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2726 | © 2014 David D. Grafton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 May 2014 | Published: 15 October 2014

About the author(s)

David D. Grafton, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, United States of America;Department of New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article argues that Arab Christianity has had a unique place in the history of World Christianity. Rooted in a biblical witness, the origins and history of Arab Christianity have been largely forgotten or ignored. This is not primarily as a result of the fact that the Arab Christian historical legacy has been overcome by Islam. Rather, unlike other early Christian communities, the Bible was never translated into the vernacular of the Arabs. By the 7th century the language of the Qur’an became the primary standard of the Arabic language, which then became the written religious text of the Arabs. This article will explore the identity and witness of the Christian presence in Arabia and claims that the development of an Arabic Bible provides a unique counter-example to what most missiologists have assumed as the basis for the spread of the Christian faith as a result of the translation of the Christian scriptures into a vernacular.


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