I am interested in religions and languages. For years I have been reading the famous first sentence of the Gospel of John in Arabic "In the beginning was the Word" "fî l-bad'i kâna l-kalimatu" without noticing the big grammatical mistake. An Egyptian, on a Muslim forum, pointed it to me: the verb "to be" kâna must agree in gender with kalimah which is feminine. So it should be "fî l-bad'i kânati l-kalimatu". I was very much surprised that the Arabic translation (I think there is only one around) of John had such a big mistake. Usually the first lines are the best translated. I did some research in different grammars and found a rule that said the agreement in gender was not compulsory in ancient classical Arabic when the verb is at the beginning of the sentence. The Egyptian dismissed the rule as nonsense, said there is no ancient Arabic anyway, asked a scholar who agreed with him, and said he knew Arabic grammar better than me, a lone French beginner in Arabic. My opinion is that the XIXth century translator revived an old rule to give a neutral aspect to the verb "to be". Does anyone of you know of this old rule?