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L-H-M, Hanpe, lectionary etc.

Reader comment on item: Dhimmis No More
in response to reader comment: Carl Becker revisited! Language, identity, and historical continuity v discontinuity

Submitted by gato branco (Lithuania), Feb 6, 2018 at 03:28

I think that the general meaning of the root L-H-M was "food". In Syriac and Hebrew it came to mean "bread" since Syrians and Hebrews practiced agriculture, why for Arabs who where pastoralists it is the meat which was their staple food, hence the difference.

Regarding Hanpe, most probably its general meaning in Syriac "a person outside the faith community of either Old Israel(Jews) or "New Israel"(Christians)" has underwent an alteration of sense and came to mean "a monotheist not originally from established Jewish or Christian communities" or " a person in whose native language no Scripture has yet been revealed" I think meaning similar to that of "ummi" in Arabic, or "goyim" in Hebrew or "ta ethne" in Greek or "gentiles". Sometimes it is understood as disparaging term, sometimes without any negative connotations. When Qur'an says that God has sent "nabiyyan ummiyan" it probably means not the the prophet himself was ignorant but rather that he was called from outside the Israel either Old or New, from an "ignorant" people lacking scripture in their own language.

I have heard about what Gerd Puin said, I think he is largely correct although saying that every 5th word is unintelligible maybe is exageration, more likely it is every tenth word :) By the way, there are not only Syriac, but also Ethiopic loan words in Qur'an - the most famous are burhan in Sura Yusuf(Eth. berhan - light) and muSHaf(a copy of Qur'an)(Eth. meSHaf - books). Roots who have the same sound but have quite different meanings not only in different semitic languages but in Arabic dialects as well are quite abundant, so that Tabari certainly had not an easy task of sorting them all(especially if he knew no Syriac :) and frequently he could be mistaken.

I doubt that Qur'an started as a Christian lectionary it has too little Christian contents and its focus is definitely non-Christian although it can be said to be Judeo-Christian, a group largely based on a kind of Judaism but recognizing Jesus as Mesias. But how could such a group come to existence? Was it a survival from the pre-Nicene Christianity? Or was such a syncretist sect born from the efforts of Justinian to forcibly convert Jews and/or Samaritans? Since, differently from Rabbinic Jews, Muslims have the concept of the Temple and animal sacrifice there could be some Samaritan connection.

It is diffilcult to find a context for Qur'an, but one could propose a working hypothesis, that Muhammed's initial community was a Judeo-Christian community, that the community of Quraysh was probably a Monophysite Christian community with many "pagan" accretions and then look if this helps to elucidate Qur'an and put it into a sort of a context.

There is video of Dan Gibson, a (non-mainstream) scholar openly proposing the hypothesis of Petra as initial Mekka. I cannot assess how seriously he is but anyway it can be worth watching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOxZl60MyqE

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