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Thanks for the References, Plus Some Thoughts

Reader comment on item: Study the Koran?
in response to reader comment: Gerd Puin and al-Ahqaf or is it al-A3maq and Leuke Kome

Submitted by Amir al Kuffar (United States), Oct 3, 2014 at 20:40

Thanks for the citations Dhimmi, I'll check into them. As to your points, I agree about the significance of Syriac terminology; my own sense is that many base Qur'anic texts were likely composed in the Aramaic-influenced dialects of Syria/Palestine -- certainly they were written in a derivative of the Nabatean script, and I believe they likewise record the Nabatean Arabic dialects as well (which we are just beginning to understand -- check out the recent work of Ahmad al-Jallad if you have not already done so).


In other words, late Nabatean script, late Nabatean language, late Nabatean theology, late Nabatean geography .... produced the base Qur'an texts, which is why examining them as a product of Syriac/Aramaic culture is so fruitful.

What's clear enough, as I think you point out, is that classical Islamic exegesis had a deeply inadequate understanding of the conditions in which the Qur'an manuscripts had slowly emerged centuries before. The reason Luxenberg's method works surprisingly well is because he exploits the fact that much of the Qur'an was composed in a context that was more deeply suffused with Aramaisms (semantic, orthographic, and Christian-theological) and Northern Arabic dialect than the later exegetical tradition had recognized, concerned as it was to locate its prophet deep within a mythical pagan Hijazi background. I doubt this was because the Qur'an is a strict translation of Syriac originals -- more likely it was the product of a culture in which Syriac and Aramaic traditions had defined the religious terminology and background, and the early Qur'anic texts were Arabic vernacular commentary on that background.

More and more, I believe, recent scholarship is converging on this picture from multiple angles. At any rate, I look forward to your future posts on these subjects.


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