Preliminary Considerations on the Corpus Coranicum Christianum: The Qur’ān in Translation – A Survey of the State of the Art | December 5 – 7, 2018, Berlin

The Corpus Coranicum project requires little introduction to the readers of this blog. Its emerging daughter project, hosted by the FU Berlin, Corpus Coranicum Christianum, developed out of the doctoral research conducted by Manolis Ulbricht, co-supervised by Angelika Neuwirth, on the early Greek translation of the Qurʾān preserved in Nicetas of Byzantium’s Refutation of the Qurʾān (c.870). At present, the long-term goal of this interdisciplinary project is to study qurʾānic translations from the seventh century to the early modern period, in the principal ‘Christian’ languages, i.e. Greek, Syriac, and Latin, comparatively, and to make these texts available online through a synoptic digital edition. The aim of this initial workshop was three-fold: (i) to bring together scholars from various disciplines working on qurʾānic translations; (ii) to establish a methodological framework for a future digital database and a comparative analysis for translation techniques; and (iii) to explore avenues for further collaboration.

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The scope of the sources included in this preliminary workshop was intentionally broad, ranging from full translations to quotations, or mere allusions to the qurʾānic text. As most source material is available in Latin, the Corpus Coranum Latinum made up the most prominent part of the programme, with three panels. In a first panel devoted to the earliest sources, the translations by Robert of Ketton and Mark of Toledo were assessed with regards to the issue of the readership (Nàdia Petrus Pons) and the presence of scientific vocabulary (Julian Yolles). In addition, the qurʾānic quotations included in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Latin translations of Arabic scientific treatises were examined (Charles Burnett). A second panel examined the sources through which Latin Christians read the Qurʾān, with papers on the Latin glosses in Latin and Arabic Qurʾāns (José Martínez Gázquez), Robert of Ketton’s use of Ṭabarī’s tafsīr (J. L. Alexis Rivera Luque), and the question of the character of Ramon Marti’s Islamic sources (Görge K. Hasselhoff). The focus of the third panel was on early modern Qurʾān translations, with papers on the sixteenth-century translation by Egidio da Viterbo (Katarzyna K. Starczewska), the seventeenth-century translation and commentary by the Jesuit, Ignazio Lomellini (Paul Shore), and the recently discovered 1632 translation by Johann Zechendorff (Reinhold F. Glei). Finally, a presentation of the ERC-funded project on the Qurʾān in European cultural history, which will commence soon, should also be mentioned here (Jan Loop).

The single panel of Greek Qurʾān translations covered both the first appearances of the Qurʾān in Byzantium, as well as the late Byzantine Period. The former period was addressed with papers on the linguistic character of the eighth – ninth-century Greek translation, especially its non-classical vocabulary (Erich Trapp), and the historical background of Muslim-Byzantine rivalry behind its emergence (Jakub Sypiański). The late period involved papers appraising the knowledge of the Qurʾān and Islam by Gregory Palamas (Evangelos Katafylis) and John VI Cantacuzene (Marco Fanelli)

Papers on the Corpus Coranicum Syriacum, the language least represented at this workshop, were presented on the qurʾānic quotations in the Arabic disputation of Abū Qurra with the Caliph al-Maʾmūn, which were compared with those contained in the Garshuni version of the Legend of Sergius Baḥīrā (Yousef Kouriyhe), and on the double/triple occurences of qurʾānic verses in Dionysius Bar Ṣalībī’s Disputation against the Arabs (Alexander M. Schilling).

A special panel on the interdisciplinary nature of the overall project and its implications was entitled Corpus Coranicum ChristianumA Digitalized Trial Version. It consisted of papers on the Greek translation preserved by Nicetas of Byzantium (Manolis Ulbricht), the Syriac excerpts from the Qurʾān in Dionysius Bar Ṣalībī’s Disputation against the Arabs (Bert Jacobs), and the Latin translation by the seventeenth-century Fransiscan Germanus de Silesia (Ulisse Cecini). Prior to the workshop, these three scholars had agreed to provide micro-editions of selected common passages (Q 3:42-7; 90:1-4; 112), which were digitally processed in an online interactive edition by Joel Kalvesmaki (see http://textalign.net/quran/). The trial session continued with a presentation on the make-up and functions of this tool (Joel Kalvesmaki), and concluded with a brief comparison of the translation techniques applied to the selected materials.

Besides the work on the sources themselves, the workshop gave special attention to the use of digital humanities in the study of qurʾānic translations. This included an introductory workshop on the goals and techniques of the DH (Nadine Arndt, Oliver Pohl), as well as presentations on the Paleocoran Project (Oliver Pohl), the interactive digital edition of the New Testament (Holger Strutwolf), Ediarum (Nadine Arndt), and the valence of TEI for editing synoptic editions (Joel Kalvesmaki).

The proceedings of this first Corpus Coranicum Christianum workshop are planned for publication. A second workshop will be held in the near future.

Bert Jacobs, KU Leuven

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.

Tenth SOAS Qur’ān Conference, November 9 – 10, 2018, London

Around a hundred delegates met in London from November 9 – 10, 2018 for the Tenth SOAS Qur’ān Conference. The conference theme was “Text, Translation and Culture” and featured presentations in both English and Arabic. SOAS LIBRARY, BLOOMSBURY

The conference began with an opening address by Professor Abdel Haleem, who first established the conference. The first morning featured two panels on qur’ānic rhetoric, which included papers by Adam Flowers (Chicago), on The qur’ānic Exhortation, Salwa El-Awa (Swansea), on Discourse Markers as Indicators of Text and Structure in the Multiple-topic qur’ānic Suras: A Meta-analysis of Q. 2, Thomas Hoffmann (Copenhagen), on A Qur’anic Self-Deconstruction? Q. 20:113 and Mamoon Abdelhalim Wagih (Fayoum University), on ‘أثر النحو العربي في خدمة النص القرآني’ (The Role of Arabic Grammar in Understanding and Interpreting the qur’ānic Text). 

After coffee, Rachel Claire Dryden (Cambridge) discussed The Typology of Rain and Other Weather-Related Phenomena in the Qur’ān, Johanne Louise Christiansen (Copenhagen) examined How to be Deliberately Vague: On the Rhetorical Strategy of Vagueness in the Qurʾān and Ulrika Mårtensson (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) analysed Between mustaqīm and mukhliṣ: ‘Covenant’ as a Linguistic and Rhetorical Analysis of the Canon’s Composition and Key Concepts. The first morning’s session concluded with a presentation by Professor Haleem himself on Sūrat al-Mulk, Q 67: Reading the Qur’an According to its balāgha: ‘ḥaqqa tilāwatihi’. 

In the afternoon, a panel on qur’ānic reception featured Mirina Paananen (Oxford), who discussed Taghannī or not taghannī? Ibn al-Jazarī on the Musical Recitation of the Qurʾān, Suleyman Dost(Brandeis), who examined The Rise and Fall of a Genre: The maṣāḥif Books in Context. Under the broader theme of qur’ānic theology, Livnat Holtzman (Bar-Ilan University), presented on The Rhetorical Aspect of āyāt al-ṣifāṭ: The Ashʿarite Prohibition of Gestures and the Ultra-Traditionalistic Response (12th–14th Centuries), Oliver Leaman (Kentucky), asked Is the Ethics of the Qur’an Utilitarian? and Ramon Harvey (Ebrahim College), discussed Al-Māturīdī on Abrogation of the sharīʿa in the Qur’an and Previous Scriptures. 

Day two of the conference continued with presentations on contemporary approaches to the Qur’ān by Todd Lawson (Toronto), who spoke about The Qur’an and the Shaykhiyya, Walid Saleh (Toronto), who discussed The Encyclopaedia of Tradition-based Qur’an Commentary and Sohaib Saeed (Glasgow), who examined Qurʾān Citations in Qurʾān Exegeses: A Case Study of Sūrat al-Anʿām (Q. 6) and a panel on tafsir, which included presentations by Ahmad Al-Dubayan (ICCUK), ‘نقد منهج المعالجة اللغوية لدى محمد شحرور’ (Linguistic Methodology of Muhammad Shahrur), and Ahmed Bouaoud (Université Abdelmalek Essaadi), ‘القرآن والتاريخ بحث في أطروحة أنجليكا نويفيرت حول تاريخ النص القرآني’ (Qur’ān and History: Angelika Neuwirth’s Thesis on the History of the Qur’anic Text). 

The afternoon sessions focused on different aspects of qur’ānic translation: Nàdia Petrus Pons (Autonomous University of Barcelona) discussed the Transmission and Survival of Mark of Toledo’s Latin Qur’an translation, Nora S Eggen (Oslo), analysed Modality in translations of the Qur’ān and Shawkat M. Toorawa (Yale), examined Ḥaqqa tilāwatihiDoing the Qur’an justice in English translation. 

The theme of qur’ānic translation continued with presentations on The Qur’ān in Non-Western Languages such as that by Johanna Pink (Freiburg), on Joseph and the Tiger, Mary and the Angel: What we can learn from Javanese Qur’an Translation, M. Brett Wilson (CEU/Macalester College), on The Poet of Islam’s Translation of the Qur’an and Philipp Bruckmayr (Vienna), which was entitled From Manuscripts to Printed Editions: The Translation of the Qurʼān into Indochinese Languages. 

The conference concluded with some closing remarks by Professor Abdel Haleem. Many thanks to the SOAS Qur’ān conference team for organizing such a successful conference. 

 

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.

 

Biblical Traditions in the Qur’ān, British Academy, London | October 11 – 12, 2018

Delegates were welcomed to the conference at the British Academy, in London by Nicolai Sinai (Oxford), who explained the impetuous behind the conference; a new publication on biblical traditions in the Qur’ān, which will hopefully go to press in 2019. While noting the continuing importance of the contribution made to the field by, amongst others, Heinrich Speyer, with his Die Biblischen Erzählungen im Qoran (1931), Sinai noted that this work remains untranslated and thus inaccessible to many scholars. Developments in the ways in which scholars approach the Qur’ān and view its relationship with biblical literature also call for a new publication that comprehensively examines biblical traditions in the Qur’ān, in light of these new approaches and methods.

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The British Academy was established in 1902 and is based at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace in London (Photo Courtesy of the British Academy)

The conference suitably began with a presentation about The Creation in the Qur’ān and its reworking of biblical antecedents by Sean Anthony (Ohio State). Marianna Klar (Oxford) discussed the qur’ānic presentation of Adam, His Mate, and Their Sons, and Shari Lowin (Stonehill College) examined Noah and the Deluge in the context of the Qur’ān. Nicolai Sinai (Oxford) then spoke about the qur’ānic view of Abraham, while Adam Silverstein (Bar llan University) focused on Joseph. Nora K. Schmid (FU Berlin) and Michael Pregill (University of California, Los Angeles) considered Moses in Egypt and Moses in the Wilderness, respectively. The first day of the conference concluded with a presentation by Saqib Hussain (Oxford) on Elijah, Jonah, Job, and Uzayr.

Day two of the conference began with presentations by Walid Saleh (Toronto) on Saul, David, and Solomon and Jack Tannous (Princeton) on John the Baptist and Zechariah. This was followed by Gabriel S. Reynolds’ (Notre Dame) exposition of Mary, Jesus, and the Apostles, while Sidney Griffith (CUA) discussed The Narratives of Surah 18: The Companions of the Cave, Moses’ Journey, Dhū l-Qarnayn. In the afternoon, Stephen J. Shoemaker (Oregon) examined qur’ānic Eschatology, while Devin Stewart (Emory) looked at Qur’anic Parables. The final panel of the conference concluded with presentations by Angelika Neuwirth (FU Berlin) on the Qur’an and Liturgy and Holger Zellentin (Cambridge) on Law and Ritual.

The conference was well-attended by academics, graduate students and members of the public. Both the particular interests of the participants and the venue itself fostered a positive environment for further discussion and exchange both during the question sessions and various breaks.

IQSA looks forward to the publication resulting from the conference and will endeavor to keep readers posted as to a publication date. Many thanks to the organizers, both delegates and the staff at the British Academy for making the conference such a success.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

The Qur’ān: A Form-Critical History

The corpus coranicum eludes familiar categories and resists strict labels. No doubt the threads woven into the fabric are exceptionally textured, varied, and complex. Accordingly, the introductory chapter of this book demonstrates the application of form criticism to the text. Chapter two then presents a form-critical study of the prayer genre. It identifies three productive formulae and addresses distinct social settings and forms associated with them. The third chapter begins by defining the liturgy genre vis-à-vis prayer in the Qurʾān. Drawing a line between the hymn and litany forms, this chapter treats each in turn. Chapter four considers the genre classified as wisdom literature. It identifies sapiential formulae and sheds light on wisdom contexts. The fifth chapter examines the narrative genre writ large. It also surveys narrative blocks of the long saga. The subsequent chapter on the proclamation genre inspects a set of vocative formulae, which occurs in the messenger situation. The concluding chapter looks at the corpus through synchronic and diachronic lenses. In the end, Qurʾānic genres encapsulate the form-critical elements of formulae, forms, and settings, as well as an historical dimension.* 

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Author: Karim Samji, Gettysburg College, PA, USA
Series: Studies in the History and Culture of the Middle East 32
ISBN13: 978-11-058988-4
Publication Date: March 2018 

 

*content courtesy of De Gruyter 

Podcast Series: Introducing the Qur’ān

Professor Nicolai Sinai, of the University of Oxford, has recorded four short talks funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council which aim to introduce the general public to aspects of current research on the Qur’ān’s historical context and literary character. These are now available as podcasts online here:

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Link: https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/introducing-quran

Although most IQSA members will be familiar with more specialised scholarship on many of the issues covered in these talks, they may be useful for teaching purposes.

The four 10 – 20 minute talks are entitled:

  1. Hovering about the Qur’an without entering into it? On the academic study of the Qur’an, asks what it means to study the Qur’ān historically and considers how historically orientated research on the Qur’ān relates to religious belief and traditional Islamic scriptural interpretation.
  2. Rekindling Prophecy: The Qur’an in its historical milieu, examines the historical context in which the material now collected in the Qur’ān was first promulgated with special attention being paid to the various groups addressed by the Qur’ān.
  3. Confirming and Clarifying: The Qur’an in conversation with earlier Judaeo-Christian traditions, discusses the fact that the Qur’an’s original audience must have been familiar with earlier Jewish and Christian traditions, which the Qur’an claims both to “confirm” and “clarify”. Narratives about Abraham and the death of Pharaoh serve to exemplify what this means.
  4. The Qur’an as literature, takes as its starting point that the Qur’ān’s compelling literary aspect was the main reason it was able to establish itself as a text believed to constitute divine revelation. It further asks how Islamic and modern Western scholars approach the Qur’ān’s literary dimension.

Sinai

Many thanks to Professor Sinai for sharing this free resource.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

The Routledge Handbook on Early Islam

The formative period of Islam remains highly contested. From the beginning of modern scholarship on this formative period, scholars have questioned traditional Muslim accounts on early Islam. The scholarly fixation is mirrored by sectarian groups and movements within Islam, most of which trace their origins to this period. Moreover, contemporary movements from Salafists to modernists continue to point to Islam’s origins to justify their positions.

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This Handbook provides a definitive overview of early Islam and how this period was understood and deployed by later Muslims. It is split into four main parts, the first of which explores the debates and positions on the critical texts and figures of early Islam. The second part turns to the communities that identified their origins with the Qurʾān and Muḥammad. In addition to the development of Muslim identities and polities, of particular focus is the relationship with groups outside or movements inside of the umma (the collective community of Muslims). The third part looks beyond what happened from the 7th to the 9th centuries CE and explores what that period, the events, figures, and texts have meant for Muslims in the past and what they mean for Muslims today. Not all Muslims or scholars are willing to merely reinterpret early Islam and its sources, though; some are willing to jettison parts, or even all, of the edifice that has been constructed over almost a millennium and a half. The Handbook therefore concludes with discussions of re-imaginations and revisions of early Islam and its sources.

Almost every major debate in the study of Islam and among Muslims looks to the formative period of Islam. The wide range of contributions from many of the leading academic experts on the subject therefore means that this book will be a valuable resource for all students and scholars of Islamic studies, as well as for anyone with an interest in early Islam.

Edited by Herbert Berg, The Routledge Handbook on Early Islam has been published by Routledge and can be ordered on their website.

*Accessed from the publisher’s product page.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

New Publication “The Qur’an: A Historical-Critical Introduction”

(Content courtesy of Edinburgh University Press)

The International Qur’anic Studies Association is pleased to announce the publication of The Qur’an: A Historical-Critical Introduction by member Nicolai Sinai (Chair of Programming Committee). Nicolai Sinai is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University, and a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. He has published on the Qur’an, on pre-modern and modern Islamic scriptural exegesis, and on the history of philosophy in the Islamic world.

“The Qur’an represents both Islam’s historical point of origin and its scriptural foundation, inaugurating a new religion and, ultimately, a new civilisation. Yet the text itself can be difficult to understand, and the scholarship devoted to it is often highly technical. This comprehensive introduction to the basic methods and current state of historical-critical Qur’anic scholarship covers all of the field’s major questions, such as: Where and when did the Qur’an emerge? How do Qur’anic surahs function as literary compositions? How do the Qur’an’s main themes and ideas relate to and transform earlier Jewish and Christian traditions?” –Edinburgh University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Part One: Background
1 Some basic features of the Qur’an
2 Muhammad and the Qur’an
3 The Qur’anic milieu

Part Two: Method
4 Literary coherence and secondary revision
5 Inner-Qur’anic chronology
6 Intertextuality

Part Three: A diachronic survey of the Qur’anic proclamations
7 The Meccan surahs
8 The Medinan surahs

ISBN Hardback: 9780748695768
Paperback: 9780748695775
eBook (PDF): 9780748695782
eBook (ePub): 9780748695799

Find this publication at your local library or for purchase online at Edinburgh University Press!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.