Christopher Luxenberg (this is a pseudonym), a scholar of ancient Semitic languages, has recently argued that a mistranslation is responsible for furnishing the Muslim paradise with "virgins" (Arabic hur, transliterated as "houris" -literally "white ones"). It seems that the passages describing paradise in the Koran were drawn from earlier Christian texts that make frequent ues of the Aramaic word hur, meaning "white raisins." White reasins, it seems, were a great delicacy in the ancient world. Imagine the look on a young martyr's face when, finding himself in a paradise teeming with his fellow thugs, his seventy houris arrive as fistfuls of raisins.
- From The End of Faith by Sam Harris
Wow, that's awesome. Right up there with the mistranslation of "almah" (Hebrew for "young woman") from Isaiah in the Gospel of Matthew to mean "virgin." I guess "young woman birth" doesn't have quite the same ring as "virgin birth," and it's definitely nowhere near as miraculous.
Just goes to show, always check your work! It may define history for the next 2000+ years.