Approaches to the Qur'an in Early Christian Arabic Texts (750-1258 C.E.)
By: Clare Elena Wilde (author)Hardback
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How might early Christian Arabic texts aid contemporary research scholars / students of the Qur an? Within a century of the Prophet s death, Christians were writing in Arabic. Although various recensions of the Covenant of Umar prohibit Christians from teaching the Qur an to their children, this very prohibition indicates that Christians were, in fact, teaching the Qur an to their children - for grammatical or theological purposes. During Abbasid times, representatives from various theological and philosophical schools would be summoned to debate the merits of their respective religions on the basis of logic, rather than competing religious texts. In his Jadhwat al-Muqtabis , Ab Abd All h al-Humayd recounts the amazement of an Andalusian visitor to the caliphal majlis in 4th/10th century Baghdad, when he found that Jews and Christians, Shi a and Sunni, atheists and materialists were accorded equal respect in a debate session he attended. This spirit of free inquiry and open debate that shocked the Andalusian visitor to Baghdad is reflected in a number of Christian Arabic texts dating to the Abbasid period.
Given the high degree of inter-confessional contact, and the presumed freedom of Christians from the dictates of normative Islamic thought, might early Christian Arabic discussions of the Qur an be mined in order the better to understand the history of the reception, if not the transmission, of the qur anic text? This work is an initial exploration into the use of the Qur an in three such texts all from Melkite authors, the first Christians to write in Arabic. All texts date to the Abbasid caliphate - Paul of Antioch s Letter to Muslim friends; Theodore Abu Qurra s debate with members of al-Ma mun s entourage in a caliphal majlis; the unique manuscript Sinai Ar 434. The texts were chosen both because of their early provenance from the first Christian community to write in Arabic (the so-called Melkites), as well as for their relative dearth of gratuitous polemics against Islam.
Clare Elena Wilde , PhD, School of Theology, University of Auckland, New Zealand
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- ID: 9781936320813
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