Thou wilt surely find that, of all people, the most hostile to those who believe [in this divine writ] are the Jews as well as those who are bent on ascribing divinity to aught beside God; and thou wilt surely find that, of all people,96
they who say, "Behold, we are Christians," come closest to feeling affection for those who believe [in this divine writ]: this is so because there are priests and monks among them, and because these are not given to arrogance.97
Lit., "of them".
I.e., they do not believe, as do the Jews, that revelation is God's exclusive gift to the children of Israel, and their "priests and monks" teach them that humility is the essence of all true faith. - It is noteworthy that the Qur'an does not in this context include the Christians among "those who are bent on ascribing divinity to aught beside God" (alladhina ashraku - the element of intent being expressed in the use of the past tense, similar to alladhina kafaru, alladhina zalamu, etc.): for although, by their deification of Jesus, they are guilty of the sin of shirk ("the ascribing of divinity to anyone or anything beside God"), the Christians do not consciously worship a plurality of deities inasmuch as, theoretically, their theology postulates belief in the One God, who is conceived as manifesting Himself in a trinity of aspects, or "persons", of whom Jesus is supposed to be one. However repugnant this doctrine may be to the teachings of the Qur'an their shirk is not based on conscious intent, but rather flows from their "overstepping the bounds of truth" in their veneration of Jesus (see 4:171 , 5:77 ). Cf. in this context Razi's remarks mentioned in note  on 6:23 .