A Muslim that I talked to argues that Muhammed was predicted in the Bible in Isaiah chapter 29 verse 12: "And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned." He claims that this is exactly what happend when Mohammed recieved the Quran. When the angel Gabriel asks Mohammed to read he responds "I am not learned." I know a lot about Islam and I have to say this is pretty odd on how close it is to the story of Mohammed. what is your take on it?
I have heard this one before. Such things only work when a Muslim takes the passage out of its context. Even then, it still really does not work, but if one reads Isaiah 29, the chances that a reasonable person would say this is a prophecy of Mohammed is pretty much zero. Let us consider the passage in its context.
In the context, God is speaking to Isaiah in about 730 BC. "For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give this scroll to someone who can read and say to him, "Read this, please," he will answer, "I can’t; it is sealed." Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say "Read this please," he will answer "I do not know how to read."
Now, let us be honest. Do you see any indication that God is speaking to Isaiah about Mohammed? The scroll in question is a judgment on Israel. There is absolutely zero indication it has anything to do with Mohammed or the Arabs. The point of the passage is that when God gives his teaching to Israel through Isaiah the people will not want to listen to it.
The only thing which even extremely remotely can be misapplied to Mohammed is the fact that a person who does not read is mentioned. The problem with this is that almost no one in the ancient world read. The idea that this is a reference to a specific person who lived 1300 years later is truly outrageous unless someone can show the context refers to something about Muhammed. This content is comletely lacking.
The resource you mention mentions the angel Gabriel. There is no indication whatsoever that Gabriel has anything to do with the Isaiah prophecy. His name is certainly not mentioned. Only in the imagination of a Muslim, intent on finding Mohammed in the Old Testment, can Gabriel be found here. You say that this passage is "close to the story of Mohammed." I disagree. In fact, I see nothing at all in this passage which is similar to Mohammed, other than the fact that it mentions an illiterate person, which would describe the vast majority of all people who ever lived before recent times.
By the way, the version of the Old Testament this islamic teacher is using is the King James Bible. If another, better, translation is used, the similarity disappers. The Hebrew words in Isaiah translated as "don’t know how to read" or perhaps "not learned" are yada seper. Yada means recognize or understand and seper means "letter, deed, certificate." I suppose not learned is a possible translation of this Hebrew phrase, but not able to read is closer. The claim that Isaiah 29:12 is just like something Mohammed supposedly said to Gabriel depends on a particular translation of the Hebrew which is not a very likely translation.
In conclusion, the only way anyone could find Mohammed in Isaiah 29:12 is if they are scanning the Old Testament to find passages, no matter how far out of context, that they can say are about Mohammed. I believe we could do this with any figure from ancient history if we want to play games with the Bible.
John Oakes, PhD