And, behold, there are indeed some among them who distort the Bible with their tongues, so as to make you think that [what they say] is from the Bible, the while it is not from the Bible; and who say, "This is from God," the while it is not from God: and thus do they tell a lie about God, being well aware [that it is a lie].60
Most of the commentators assume that this refers specifically to the Jews, whom the Qur'an frequently accuses of having deliberately corrupted the Old Testament. However, since the next two verses clearly relate to Jesus and to the false beliefs of the Christians regarding his nature and mission, we must conclude that both Jews and Christians are referred to in this passage. For this reason, the term al-kitab, which occurs three times in this sentence, has been rendered here as "the Bible". - According to Muhammad 'Abduh (Manar III, 345), the above-mentioned distortion of the Bible does not necessarily presuppose a corruption of the text as such: it can also be brought about "by attributing to an expression a meaning other than the one which was originally intended". As an example, 'Abduh quotes the metaphorical use, in the Gospels, of the term "my Father" with reference to God - by which term, as is evident from the Lord's Prayer, was obviously meant the "Father" - i.e., the Originator and Sustainer - of all mankind. Subsequently, however, some of those who claimed to be followers of Jesus lifted this expression from the realm of metaphor and "transferred it to the realm of positive reality with reference to Jesus alone": and thus they gave currency to the idea that he was literally "the son of God", that is, God incarnate.