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The Long Overdue Restoration of Cook and Crone

Reader comment on item: A Prophet Has Appeared

Submitted by Renox (United States), Sep 9, 2021 at 17:14

With his new book, Professor Shoemaker has provided students of early Islam with invaluable English translations of original source materials previously available only in "impossible" languages such as old Georgian, Armenian and Coptic. His commentaries on these sources will also prove extremely useful for any aspiring professional in the field.

But it is in his "Introduction" to his book that Shoemaker shines. In nearly hagiographic terms, Shoemaker makes reference to the radical book "Hagarism" and its authors Patricia Crone and Michael Cooke. It appears he often collaborated with Crone in subsequent years and in his "Introduction" he often refers to her as "Patricia".

"Hagarism" (1977) revolutionized the study of early Islam by claiming that the traditional, native story of the beginnings of Islam had to be looked at more closely in light of modern advanced standards of research and archaeology.

Or rather, I should say, the book should have revolutionized the study of early Islam because what actually happened was that the book was heavily criticized for its thesis and conclusions and was largely dismissed, even vilified, in academic circles. The result has been that the field has since been diminished and become more or less moribund, most recent books weaving fanciful tales and interpretations within the traditional history of early Islam. One recent US publication, for example, had the peripatetic Prophet visiting "intellectual" circles during his business travels where discussions were very likely conducted in Greek (!) To which I can only say "Kalimera".

Professor Shoemaker goes on to enumerate and discuss the various conclusions/hypotheses at which Crone arrived and suggests than many of these have not been conclusively disproved.

Perhaps now, with Shoemaker's enlightened introductory essay to his book, what should have become a foundational text----"Hagarism" (and Crone's several later books)----- can now be restored to the true position of eminence and importance they deserve.-----


1 - Readers interested in a short essay by Crone showing how her thinking progresses on a controversial subject, can check online at: opendemocracy.net/en/mohammed_3866jsp/

2 - Curiously, one of Professor Shoemaker's earlier books was entitled "The Death of a Prophet" (2001). It wasn't until 20 years later (2021) that "A Prophet Has Appeared" came out. When I first saw the anomaly, I wondered if two different prophets were being discussed.

3 – Strangely, one year following publication of "Hagarism" (1977), Edward Said published his blockbuster "Orientalism"(1978). One wonders if there's any significance to this coincidence.


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