The Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions: Sources and Method

In Yūsuf Zaydān’s bestseller, ‘Azāzīl, the main character quarrels with the demons of his conscience, stating, “Did God create man or vice versa? What do you mean? Each era mankind creates a god of his own predilection, and this god always comes to represent his unreachable hopes and dreams.” In the fifth century CE, Hībā was an Egyptian monk whose insecurity about Christian dogma, conscious support for Nestorius (d. 451 CE) before his excommunication, and an affair with a Syrian woman lead him to self-conflict and ultimately tormented him with demonic visions. His conflicted character and the tumultuous days in which he lived leading up to the Church schism in many ways paved the way for the emergence of Islam and the teachings of the Qur’ān.

Zaydān, the director of the Manuscript Center at the Bibliotheca Alexandria who spent many years researching a 30-page Syriac manuscript excavated in Aleppo, was finally inspired to write a novel dramatizing the sectarian conflict, dogmatism, and political instability found within the manuscripts which—more importantly—characterized the Near East in the “late antique period”. More specifically, by Near East is meant Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Abyssinia, Persia, and Anatolia.

The Late Antique Near East
The Late Antique Near East
Source: Labeled by Emran El-Badawi (open source)

The late antique Near East—which Islamic tradition came to know as the “jāhiliyyah” or “pre-Islamic World”—had become accustomed to strong sectarianism and great violence, because imperial powers had merged the functions of religious piety with political life. Imperial power was exercised by the two global polities of the day, the Sasanian and the Byzantine empires. As a result of imperial sponsorship Zoroastrian and Christian practices and religious texts became especially widespread throughout the region.

This also polarized the Near East into an eastern and western sphere, fueled warfare and gave rise to orthodox (state sponsored) vs. heretical (un-sponsored) forms of religious piety. Soon the late antique Near East was transformed into a heated sectarian arena with Zoro-astrian, Monophysite (especially West Syrian/Jacobite), East Syrian (Nestorian), Melkite, Sabian-Mandaean, Manichean, Mazdian, Jewish, Jewish-Christian, and pagan groups, all competing for the souls of the faithful.

In the central lands of the Near East, beyond the immediate reach of Byzantium and Ctesiphon and where the Syrian steppe meets the vast and barren Arabian desert, direct imperial control was absent and different peoples lived within highly decentralized or tribal political structures.

This fostered a diverse cultural and religious environment relatively free from imperial and orthodox persecution. Therefore, this region provided a safe haven for the development of prominent urban syncretistic pagan cults such as those in Harran, T.ā’if, and Mecca; the flourishing of large Jewish communities including those in Khaybar, Yathrib, and‘ā’; and it supported reticent Christian cities including Edessa, al-H.īrā, and Najrān. In this region, traditions of popular Christian lore and piety flourished in the Aramaic dialects of Syria-Mesopotamia—Syriac—and that of Palestine, Transjordan, and the Sinai—Christian Palestinian Aramaic. Long standing trade, tribal resettlement and missionary activity expanded Arabia’s heterogeneous cultural and religious activity to include such Aramaic traditions as scripture and liturgy, including hymns, homilies, dialogues, and other such religious treatises.

Desert hermits encamped in the wilderness, as well as itinerant businessmen like Muhammad (ca. 570–632 CE) from the aristocratic Quraysh tribe of Mecca, were in constant dialogue with such popular Aramaic Christian impulses passing through the trade routes of H.ijāz and along the west coast of Arabia. The scrip-ture revealed to him was the Qur’ān, which like scriptures before it legitimated itself through, built itself upon, and responded to heterogeneous religious tradi-tions, contending ideas of a diverse sectarian audience, and heterodox forms of piety. The verses of the Qur’ān portray an environment of heated sectarian conflict and prosletyzation (cf. in relation Bukhārī 6:60:89).

This is evident in the text’s discursive references to: believers (mu’minūn) vis à vis Muslims (muslimūn; cf. Q 49:14); assemblies who have splintered and disputed (tafarraqū wa ikhtalafū; 3:105); Jewish groups (al-ladhīn hādū; al-yahūd; banū isrā’īl); Christians (nas.ārā); People of the Gospels (ahl al-injīl; Q 5:47); People of the Scripture (ahl al-kitāb); Gentiles (ummiyūn); Sabians (s.ābi’ūn; Q 5:69; 22:17); Magians (majūs; Zoroastrians?; Q 22:17); puritans (h.unafā’; pagans?; cf. Q 22:31) vis à vis associa-tors (mushrikūn; polytheists?); hypocrites (munāfiqūn), and rebels (kuffār).We learn that the rebels live in “complacence and factionalism” (‘izzah wa shiqāq; Q 38:2). Furthermore, we learn that among them are “those who say that God is Christ the son of Mary” (Q 5:17, 72) or “the Third of Three” (Q 5:73). Splinter groups existed even among the believers as reference is made to: sects (firaq, sg. firqah/farīq; especially Q 2:75; 146; 100–101; 3:23, 78, 100; 5:70; 19:73; 23:109; 34:20); groups (t.awā’if, sg. t.ā’ifah; e.g. Q 33:13; 49:9; cf. Q 61:14); units (fi’āt, sg. fi’ah; Q 3:13, 69–72; 4:81; 7:87) and parties (ah.zāb, sg. h.izb; Q 5:56; 58:18–22). To these may be added the brethren in religion (ikhwān fī al-dīn; Q 9:11) and subjects (mawālī; Q 33:5).

Similarly Q 5:48 teaches that different religious groups possessed different laws and customs (shir‘ah wa minhāj). The enmity (‘adāwah) of the Jews and the friendliness (mawaddah) of Christians found in Q 5:82 is also worthy of note in this regard. Moreover, Q 60:7–8 cautions the believers that “God may cause friendliness (mawaddah) between [them] and those whom [they] antagonize,” and that they should deal honestly and equitably with “those who have not fought [them] in religion nor expelled [them] from their homes.” The point is that the Qur’ān makes ample refernce to the sectarian landscape from which it emerged.The prophet Muhammad sought to bring an end to the sectarianism of his world by calling the People of the Scripture to join him in coming to a “common word” (Q 3:64) and commanding his early community to “hold on to the cord of God and [not to] splinter” (Q 3:103).

That Muhammad and his community actively participated in heated, sectarian disputations with Jewish and Christian interlocutors is also made explicit in Q 2:109–136; 3:60–91. But not everyone was convinced; and some rebelled. Concerning his revelations, some rebels claimed that “other folks” (qawm ākharūn) helped Muhammad conjure up perversion (Q 25:4); others claimed that they were merely “tales of the ancients” (Q 25:5). The slander-ous attacks by his many interlocutors caused Muhammad great emotional grief (Q 15:97) and suicidal thoughts (Q 18:6; 26:3).Given the sectarian nature of the audience which the Qur’ān sought to win over—especially Jews and Christians—the text takes up the “dogmatic re-articu-lation” (see definition later) of earlier scriptures belonging to competing religious groups written in neighboring dialects and languages.7 The most potent scriptures in the “Qur’ān’s milieu”8—that is, the religious, cultural, political, and geographi-cal within which the text was first articulated and soon codified—and with which it had to contend were: Hebrew Scripture and Rabbinic commentary (al-tawrāh; Q 5:44—perhaps due to Muhammad’s exchange with Jewish interlocutors), and the Gospel traditions (al-injīl; Q 5:47—including other New Testament books). The latter, which left an indelible mark on the Qur’ān’s worldview, doctrine, and language via different Aramaic intermediaries, is dubbed here the “Aramaic Gos-pel Traditions.” Specifically, these are the extant Gospel recensions preserved in the Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic dialects.9 However, we first begin our inquiry by defining “dogmatic re-articulation.”

Dogmatic Re-Articulation

This study will demonstrate how the Qur’ān, via the agency of the late antique lingua franca of the Near East—Aramaic—selectively challenged or re-appropriated, and therefore took up the “dogmatic re-articulation” of language and imagery coming from the Aramaic Gospel Traditions, in order to fit the idiom and religious temperament of a heterogeneous, sectarian Arabian audience.

The word “dogmatic” is an adjective coming from the noun “dogma” which is derived from the Greek word dokein, meaning “to think.” Thus, the word “dogmatic” in this case conveys the meaning “thought, opinion or tenet.” It does not, in this case, connote formulations resulting from institutional enforcement or consensus, like in the case of the Catholic Church. In sum, our use of the term “dogmatic” describes belief, not institution. The content of this belief is driven by a preoccupation with a type of monotheism whose nature is anti-Trinitarian, post-Rabbinic and apocalyptic. In other words, “strict monotheism”—as it is dubbed herein—fundamentally rejects orthodox forms of Christian belief in God as well the monopoly of Jewish clerics on matters of orthopraxy, and it demands urgent and austere obedience to the One true God before the coming end of the world.

To contextualize dogmatic re-articulation in this study consider that amid the divisive theological controversies surrounding the nature of God and creation—exemplified in the discussion on monotheism found in Gēnzā RbāR1:1:34–39;Aphrahat’s (d. 345 CE) strong exchange with his Jewish interlocutors, Ephrem’s (d. 373 CE) Refutiation of Mani, Marcion and Bardaisan, to Q 112’s response to the Nicene Creed of 325 CE—Muhammad’s espousal of strict monotheism set the agenda for the dogmatic re-articulation of qur’ānic passages from the Aramaic Gospels. In addition, the Qur’ān not only promotes this hermeneutical agenda—centered around a vision of strict monotheism—when debating the nature of God and creation (Chapters 5–6), but also when re-telling the stories of the prophets and their followers, as well as relaying stories and lessons from the past (Chapters 3–4). That the re-telling of stories and lessons—down to the smallest detail—is thoroughly dogmatic is made explicit in the verses of the Qur’ān itself, which state,

  • Those who rebel (al-ladhīn kafarū) state, “if only the qur’ān were revealed [lit. descended] upon him [Muh.ammad] as a single volume (jumlatan wāh.idah). Thus do we secure your heart; for We [God] have recited it gradually (wa rattalnāh tartīlan). And they do not bring you a parable (mathal) except that We have brought you the truth (al-h.aqq) and a better interpretation (ah.sana tafsīran.

(Q 25:33)

  • In relation to Q 25:33 other verses state, “these are the signs (āyāt) of God/Scripture” which God recites/reveals upon you “in truth” (bi al-h.aqq; Q 2:252; 3:108; 13:1). Elsewhere it states,

This is some of the hidden news (anbā’ al-ghayb), about which neither you nor your folk knew [and] with which We inspire you.

(Q 11:49)

The Qur’ān also claims to possess “the best stories” (ah.san; Q 12:3) and “the best speech” (ah.san al-h.adīth; Q 39:23). It is evident that these stories ( and lessons—including parables (amthāl; sg. mathal), signs (āyāt), and hidden news (anbā’ al-ghayb)—represent from the viewpoint of the Qur’ān “the truth” (al-h.aqq) and the “best” (ah.san) “speech” (h.adīth). Q 29:46 further instructs that only “that which is best” (al-ah.san) may be used to dispute with the People of the Scripture. Therefore, the Qur’ān’s stories and lessons are unequivocal dogmatic instruments for use against especially Jews and Christians. These lessons and stories, however, were not articulated as a single (written?) volume (jumlatan wāhidah) but rather recited in segments (tartīl) over an extended period of time—perhaps according to the exigencies of Muhammad’s interlocutors and the circumstances of his community. If we accept the general framework of the Sīrah narrative, the 23-year period in which these verses were articulated may have paralleled the military victories of Muhammad and his early band of followers, the emergence of a Muslim polity and—most importantly—allowed for their dogmatism to become entrenched among the Qur’ān’s heterogeneous, sectarian Arabian audience.

Concerning the details of the proposed “re-articulation,” in the sphere of God and creation, the result was to remove Christological constructs from the Gospels and related imagery in which the person of Jesus or individuals in relation to him were granted divine or saintly status, and often replace them with con-structs centered upon God alone, which serve as a theological corrective measure. In the sphere of stories and lessons the result was to embark on an “intertextual dialogue” with the teachings of the Gospels—along with earlier passages from Hebrew Scripture and later ones from New Testament letters—which took the form of fulfilling prophecies concerning God’s chosen people, tightening policies on communal charity and religious works, adopting teachings against the clergy and Satan, as well as teachings that elaborate upon apocalyptic imagery and similar language found in the Gospels. In this respect the Qur’ān shares the hermeneutical and literary approach of Syriac Christian homiletic works with which it must be considered in parallel.

This study analyses the literary process, i.e. dogmatic re-articulation, behind the ‘qur’ānic homily’ on verses emanating from the Aramaic Gospels. It demonstrates dogmatic re-articulation by analyzing correspondences between the discourse of salient qur’ānic passages and those in dialogue with them from the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Of the four canonical Gospels I will argue that due to its popularity in the late antique world and its emphasis on a prophetic and apocalyptic worldview, the Gospel of Matthew became somewhat more dif-8 Sources and Methodfused in the Qur’ān’s milieu via the participation of Arabic speaking Christians in the sphere of Arabian oral tradition.

Arabic speaking Christians lived in a state of diglossia, wherein they used Arabic for common everyday purposes and Aramaic (probably Syriac) for liturgical and religious purposes.18 It is they who were the cultural agents, this study argues, absorbing various elements of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions into the oral tradition of pre-Islamic Arabia, elements that eventually entered into the Qur’ān’s milieu. This, however, does not discount the possibility of orthographical relationships between the Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospels, which came about after committing the Qur’ān to text and editing it in the era following the prophet Muhammad’s death—ca. 632–714 CE.

Furthermore, this study will systematically analyze the Arabic language of qur’ānic passages, verses, phrases, idioms, words, and rhetorical schemes, as com-pared to the Aramaic text of the Gospels in an effort to demonstrate that the process of cultural absorption took place over an extended period of time—decades or centuries—and not overnight. This study will also argue against a Jewish or Christian urtext to the Qur’ān and problematic notions of ‘influences’ or ‘borrowings’ as were prevalent in earlier studies on the Qur’ān. For instance, the Qur’ān’s phrasing of the verses lahu maqālīd al-samāwāt wa al-ard., “to Him are the keys of the heavens and the earth” (Q 39:63), or kullu nafs dhā’iqat al-mawt, “every soul shall taste death” (Q 3:185), originate in the context of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions, but find no exact verbal equivalent in those traditions as we shall see in following chapters. Furthermore, the rhetorical style of Jesus’s speech in the Gospels, namely of responding to questions he himself posits by stating, “truly I say to you” (amīn ēmar lak [ūn]; Matthew 5:18; Mark 11:23; Luke 4:14; John 3:3; and so on), is modified in the Qur’ān that it may respond to its own questions with the command, “say, indeed” (qul innamā; Q 10:20; 13:36; 21:45; and so on).

Furthermore, verses which discuss matters of faith and orthopraxy preserving the formula “if it is said to them . . . they say . . .” (idhā qīl lahum . . . qālū..; Q 2:170; 5:104; 6:30; 25:60; 31:21; 36:47; cf. Q 45:32) are styled as dialogues, not unlike those in Gēnzā RbāR3:1 or The Book of the Laws of Countries for example. However, unlike the dialogue between the speaker and the “Magnificent Living One,” or between Bardaisan (d. 222) and his student Awīdā, the qur’ānic verses typically illustrate a dialogue between an omniscient third person (God?) and an unnamed interlocutor(s), both of whose names have been deliberately stricken from the record. The point is that these qur’ānic verses demonstrate a long process of cultural exchange, theological debate, and morphological adjustment—not mere borrowing. There was therefore no process of “cut and paste.” Having absorbedSources and Method 9and localized aspects of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions, the Qur’ān transformed pre-Islamic Arabian oral tradition into a dogmatic, pious religious repository.

The Qur’ān’s complex manipulation of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions is, furthermore, neither accidental nor haphazard. It is rather, quite deliberate and sophisticated. It wood behoove readers to realize a basic fact concerning dogmatic re-articulation as we have laid it out herein, namely that the Qur’ān excercises complete control over its challenging or re-appropriation of passages from the Aramaic Gospels—not vice versa. This is evident both implicitly and explicitly within the text. Concerning the former, the Qur’ān is intimately familiar with the passages it dogmatically re-articulates, as this study will prove. Concerning the latter, consider that the text asserts itself as “a scripture whose signs are explained as Arabic recitations (kitāb fus.s.ilat āyātuh qur’ānan ‘arabiyyan) for a people who know” (Q 41:3; cf. also Q 6:97–98, 126; 7:52; 10:37; 11:1; 12:111; 41:44). That is to say, the text consciously and calculatingly elucidates its verses in the Arabic language because, ostensibly, the (Biblical?) scripture that came before it was not clearly articulatable to this knowledgable audience, nor Arabic in any case. In this vein, consider further that the text claims to fulfill earlier prophecy by explicitly quoting Biblical scripture, Rabbinic commentary and Christian homiletic. Such is the case when God states, “We have commanded” (katabnā ‘alā; Q 4:66; 5:32; 57:27). In addition to this, consider that the text divulges the limits of its audience’s knowledge (who are mainly steeped in the Bible), by evoking a technical phrase (for example, al-h.āqqah, yawm al-dīn, al-h.ut.amah) and then immediately asking, “and what do you know of?” (wa mā adrāk; e.g. Q 69:1–3; 82:16–17; 104:5). Finally, consider that the text skillfully translates or interprets Hebrew and Aramaic terminology and seamlessly integrates them into the overall literary, rhetorical, and theological coherence of the particular passage or Surah wherin they occur, which is the unmistakable intention behind zakariyyāin Q 19:2 and s.arrah in Q 51:29 for example.

Dispensing with hasty and superficial readings of the text—which may incorrectly yield ‘mistakes’ or ‘contraditions’ in the qur’ānic re-telling of Biblical narratives or post-Biblical controversies—is the first step in truly appreciating its linguistic, structural, and thematic integrity. That is to say, on the intra-qur’ānic level—that is, between Surahs—the outright conflation of Mary the mother of Christ (Q 5:17) on the one hand with Mary the daughter of Amram (‘imrān; Q 66:12) or sister of Aaron (Q 19:28) on the other, and the primacy of God’s will on the one hand (Q 2:284) versus that of mankind on the other (Q 18:29) should not immediately be viewed as contradictions, but rather a “creative tension” imposed on the reader by the text—at least not until systematically and methodologically proven otherwise. The point is that such a dexterous command of Biblical and post-Biblical literature as a whole, and such strong volition on the part of the Qur’ān’s authorship, is central to our understanding of its dogmatic re-articulation of the Aramic Gospels Tradition.

Our systematic and comparative study is useful for a few reasons. It will help clarify the meaning of qur’ānic verses in their earliest context. It will help illustrate how the late antique Arabian milieu in which the Qur’ān was revealed served as an intimate point of contact between the oral culture of Arabians and the sacred literature and theological expression of Aramaic speaking groups. Finally, this study will make its humble contribution to enhance our understanding of the murkiest period of Islamic civilization—its origins.

Challenges Posed by the Qur’ān Text

Unearthing the beginnings of Islamic civilization is particularly challenging because beyond the pages of the Qur’ān itself there is a lack of documentary evidence capable of clearly exhibiting the milieu in which it was revealed and the precise scriptural textswith which it was in dialogue. Furthermore, because the Qur’ān emerged from the humble sectarian landscape in which it did, and not from a well established metropolis of the Near East where advanced religious and legal writing were prevalent—like Alexandria, Jerusalem or Babylon for example—the Qur’ān’s milieu and the life of Muhammad are not entirely clear, and remain a matter of serious, persistent debate. For this reason a particularly thorough review of major Qur’ānic Studies works and scholarly arguments is necessary here in order to contextualizeour literary and historical analysis of the Arabic text of the Qur’ān in light of the Aramaic Gospels.

The paucity of documentary evidence is made more difficult due to the paucity of the archaeological record as well, whichpreserves noevidence of widespread destruction nor large scale flight as one would expect from the time period of the early Islamic conquests (futūh.āt; ca. 630–656 CE). While there are some nonMuslim sources dated to the latter half of the first/seventh century from nearby lands that mention the advent of a new Arabian prophet and the conquests of hordes coming from Arabia, there exists no narrative of the prophet Muhammad and the revelation of the Qur’ān prior to the Sīrah literature—written over one century after the fact. Subsequent Islamic literary sources, far removed from the Qur’ān’s milieu and Muhammad’s locale, embellish historical fact with pious lore and political forgery. This reality was well known by early Hadith compilers and was brought to light by orientalists and traditional scholars alike, both of whom insist that one must understand the Qur’ān through the Qur’ān and not through the accretions of later ascribed Hadith reports. Abandoning the Hadith’s exegetical qualities and focusing on understanding the Qur’ān through itself was also amethodological consideration by reformist Muslim scholars and proponents of the Qur’ānist/Qur’ān Only School (ahl al-qur’ān; qur’āniyyūn) who accept the veracity of the Qur’ān but reject that of the Hadith corpus.

The lack of documentary evidence and problematic nature of the literary sources has had great implications for modern approaches to studying the Qur’ān and its relation to earlier scripture. The nature of the Qur’ān’s original dialect and its relation to the Arabic language (North Arabian) proved controversial from the start. Theodor Nöldeke recognizes the frequent use of—among other things—Christian and Rabbinical Aramaic formulae in the Qur’ān, but ultimately agrees with the traditional theory that classical Arabic or fus.h.āexisted as a spoken language among Arab tribes even prior to the rise of Islam and that this, therefore, reflects the original expression of the Qur’ān. Karl Vollers compellingly refutes this claim by arguing that before the rise of Islam, Arab tribes spoke various dialects of Arabic koiné and that fus.h.āonly developed with later Islamic civilization. Voller’s thesis is aided by Chaim Rabin’s assertion that dialects of Ancient West Arabian, in which the Qur’ān was originally expressed, exhibit phonological qualities found in Aramaic dialects farther north.That such border dialects existed in the Qur’ān’s milieu is likely given the reading of Q 13:36 in ‘Abd Allāh b. Mas‘ūd’s (d. 31/652) codex, which claims the Qur’ān contains “different dialects” (lughāt mukhtalifah) and evident given epigraphic evidence from the third to fourth century CE (see Figure 1.6). Epigraphic evidence adduced by some scholars also strongly suggests that the Qur’ān’s language was not isolated from neighboring peninsular dialects as it preserves formulae from both Old North Arabian and Old South Arabian.

The Arabic oral tradition to which the Qur’ān belongs and challenges, that is the “pronouncements of poets [and] priests,” (qawl shā‘ir . . . kāhin; Q 68:41–42), is demonstrated clearly in powerful passages of rhymed prose (saj‘), which was the primary attribute of Arabian prophetic speech. Some have disqualified most of the preIslamic poetry preserved as Islamicized or fabricated by later Islamic tradition, and stress rather that the Qur’ān is the only reliable example of pre-Islamic Arabian oral tradition. Others have more recently argued that some of the pre-Islamic poetry preserved in Islamic tradition, like the verses of the poet Umayyah b. Abī al-Salt. al-Thaqafī (d. ca. 1/623), can be reliably traced back to the jāhilīcontext ascribed to the Qur’ān. While the concern for the problem of forgery in collections of pre-Islamic poetry remains prudent, careful empirical examination of Umayyah b. Abī al-Salt.’s verses is a reminder that the entire corpus, like that of the Hadith, cannot be fully rejected.

In addition to this, numerous scholars have situated the belief system inherent in the Qur’ān’s milieu within a polytheistic Arabian context. Some hold to the traditional view that the jāhiliyyah was a purely idolatrous world within which marginal Jewish and Christian characters made their mark. Others similarly claim that despite its stern monotheism, elements of pagan superstition are embedded within the worldview of the Qur’ān. Even Montgomery Watt accepts, for the most part, this traditional narrative in his discussion of pagan ideas latent in the Qur’ān and Sīrah pertaining to waning “tribal humanism,” “fatalism” and the role of Abraham as the first h.anīf (see discussion below). To Watt, the Qur’ān’s depiction of a Trinity comprised of God, Mary and Jesus (Q 5:116), its claim that the Jews call Ezra “the son of God” (Q 9:30), and other such heterdox beliefs which he perceived as mistakes, provide evidence that Mecca had little knowledge of Hebrew and Christian scripture. These views have become somewhat outdated especially due to their blind acceptance of narratives and interpretations from Islamic tradition. That being said, some recent scholarship accepts the overall portrayal of pre-Islamic Arabia in the Islamic literary sources. This portrayal does not seem fully justified given that the Qur’ān’s deepest roots are planted within a Judeo-Christian discourse first and pagan discourse second.

Some orientalists try to make sense of the Qur’ān’s seemingly erratic use of Judeo-Christian literatue, claiming that Muhammad was afflicted with insanity and epileptic seizures conjuring his experiences of revelation. Others claimed that Muhammad was a rational and faithful adherent to the ancient scriptures until his lust for power caused him to fabricate his own. Yet others aim to prove that the Qur’ān is not the word of God—apparently a merit worthy of the Bible alone—and that Muhammad was a mere opportunist. These polemical ideas are no longer mainstream and do not reflect the relative urban sophistication of the Qur’ān’s milieu in which pagan religious ‘superstitions’ interacted intricately with corresponding Judeo-Christian doctrine. Other scholars, whose valuable insights may be underlain with some polemical assumptions as well, bring attention to the socio-economic forces of seventhentury Arabia which produced Islam and which are demonstrated in the Qur’ān, claiming that there was an economic boom in Mecca which functioned as the principal impetus for Islam’s birth and expansion. Although an economic rise may have played some role in the spread of Islam, the concern with this theory is that it does not account for the religious dimension which is basic to qur’ānic teachings. On the other hand, others draw a connection between the religion and economics of Arabia, holding that the belief system in the Qur’ān represents a break with Hanifism and paganism. This break occurred as a result of international trade practices, tribal resettlement, and other socio-cultural changes in Arabia.

The traditional view of the Sīrah concerning the time period and geographic location of the Qur’ān text we possess today, and the widespread acceptance of problematic data concerning early Islamic history in the Islamic literary sources, was decisively challenged by John Wansbrough and the “skeptical school” that developed in concert with his ideas. Wansbrough’s Qur’anic Studies investigates the Qur’ān in the context of earlier topoi and through the lens of the Rabbinic principles of exegesis. His new methodology relegates traditional Islamic models of Meccan vs. Medinan Surahs, narratives used as “occasions of revelation” (asbāb al-nuzūl), and the concept of abrogation as the product of later Islamic exegesis. One result of Wansbrough’s research is that the Qur’ān, as a “closed canon,” was subsequently placed in a later Mesopotamian context with ambient Jewish and Christian literary traditions in various topoi, polemic, or homiletic forms. Whereas Wansbrough’s study was a purely literary endeavor, other authors whom he inspired applied the skeptical methodology to a historical analysis of the Qur’ān and Islam’s origins.

In Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World Patricia Crone and Michael Cook justifiably cast doubt on the traditional narrative of early Islam and claim that the early Muslims inspired by Jewish or Samaritan teachings and that the Qur’ān was the product of eight-century Mesopotamia. Other studies argue, using scanty documentary and archaeological evidence, that the Byzantines were already in a state of military withdrawal from the Near East when the Islamic conquests began, claiming that the epoch of Muhammad and the rightly guided caliphs is a myth and that a basic understanding of Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic monotheism took hold in the Umayyad period (661–750 CE) and that the Qur’ān text became codified in the Abbasid period (750–1258) due to nationalist and legal exigencies of the growing Islamic community. Other skeptics situate the locus of qur’ānic teachings after Muhammad and its textual development in the Umayyad Period. While the skeptical school unabashedly brings to light the significant problems with the traditional narrative of Muhammad’s life, the mysteriousness with which the Qur’ān arose, and the assumption that ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwān (d. 86/705) and al-H.ajjāj b. Yūsuf (d. 95/714) played a significant role in standardizing the Qur’ān text we possess today, their approach suffers from certain theoretical and methodological problems.

The opening chapter of Fred Donner’s Narratives of Islamic Origin: The Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing refutes the theoretical and methodological flaws of the skeptical school and instead dates the composition of the Qur’ān, as a closed canon, to an Arabian context of early believers preceding the schismatic aftermath of the first civil war in 656 CE, which gave rise to Jamā‘ī-Sunnī (that is, majority), Shī‘ī (that is, opposition) and Kharijī (that is, cessationary) proponents, and to which all later Islamic literary sources exhibit signs of substantial political and sectarian tampering. Along with Donner’s perspective which has become mainstream, new evidence and further studies have caused some members of the skeptical school to make sizeable concessions concerning the integrity of the Qur’ān text as we posses it today and the sizeable role played by the historical Muhammad in Islam’s development. Evidence supporting an early date for the crystallization of the Qur’ān—including carbon dating—is found ina study of a non-‘Uthmānic palimsests from San‘ā’ which dates to first half of the seventh century. In addition, some scholars have argued based on qur’ānic pronouncements, like “these are the verses of the clear book (al-kitāb al-mubīn); we have descended an Arabic qur’ān that you may understand [it]” (Q 12:1–2), that the Qur’ān was odified as a scripture during Muhammad’s lifetime. It remains virtually impossible to verify Tilman’s dating of the Qur’ān’s codification to Muhammad’s life-time. Nonetheless, there is little doubt that the idea of al-kitāb and the process of codification occurred early, and most likely in an Arabian context.

The general discussion surrounding al-kitāb, which may be translated literally as “the book, letter” or in this context “scripture” (for example, Q 29:45) interests many Qur’ān specialists. Régis Blachère and Kenneth Cragg generally claim that the Qur’ān’s notion of itself as al-kitāb, emerged as an Arabic response to the dominance of Hebrew and Christian scripture. Arthur Jeffrey defines the Qur’ān as Scripture, that is as part of the chain of late antique Near Eastern revealed texts, which beyond Biblical sources include the heterodox religious texts of Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt. Following Richard Bell, some have interpreted the Qur’ān’s reference to itself as al-kitāb as marking a shift in the understanding and preservation of oral revelations into a written, canonized scripture. To William Graham al-kitāb came to designate a fixed scripture, where qur’ān—although influenced by the semantic use of Syriac qeryānā(lectionary)—had beforehand not differentiated scripture specifically from other utterances of Muhammad. In addition to the points made by Blachère and Welch, Nas.r H. Abū Zayd deduces in his in-depth study on Mafhūm al-nass.: dirāsah fī‘ulūm al-qur’ān that the Qur’ān refers to itself as al-kitāb to liken itself to and thus challenge the ahl al-kitāb (Q 3:64) or “People of the Scripture”—that is, Jews and Christians—and conversely distance itself from the ummiyyūn, the un-scriptured peoples, pagans or gentiles (Q 3:20; 62:2; see later discussion).

For others the text’s internal con-tradictions, its distinction of itself vis à vis the heavenly tablet (al-lawh. al-mah.fūz.; Q 85:22; cf. also 87:19; Jubilees 5:13; 16:3, 29; 30:21–2; 32:10–24; and so on), and thsufficient evidence that the Qur’ān was not necessarily intended to be inerrant; the tendency to the orthodox policy of inerrancy, he claims, comes from later Caliphs and scholars. While there is no doubting the fact that the history of the Qur’ān’s later development is intertwined with strong-armed Caliphal politics, it seems less certain given its own words that the text sees itself as inerrant (Q 2:2; 25:33). The most comprehensive discussion regarding this subject is to be found in Daniel Madigan’s The Qur’ān’s Self-image: Writing and Authority in Islam’s Scripture. Madigan argues that by calling itself al-kitāb, the Qur’ān is not merely self-referential but also self-aware. Thus, the inerrancy of the Qur’ān may be better understood as the self-awareness that God is in a current state of re-writing scripture, the implication of which is that the scripture is living logos. As the living ‘word’ of God and a means of communication between Himself and mankind, still others argue that the aim of the Qur’ān’s God is to call mankind to live ethically.

The living nature of the Qur’ān text is equally essential for the Islamic Modernist and Arab Enlightenment School, which from an exegetical viewpoint hold that while the Qur’ān’s text is fixed, its interpretation is a progressive and evolutionary science and, furthermore, that in order to understand the Qur’ān’s teachings and values one cannot rely on Islamic tradition but rather one should have recourse to rational, philosophical, and humanist principles. This approach is—in some ways—more faithful to the text’s origin as it aims to eradicate the coagulated interpretations of classical exegesis (tafsīr) and access the text itself through independent scholarly insights (ijtihād).

Scholars have explored the Qur’ān’s rich literary composition and rhetorical style, which lend it much of its animate qualities, arguing that the integrity in meaning and artistic beauty of the Qur’ān’s text remain intact only if its narratives ( are read as they are in the text, and neither taken out of their context nor broken up into smaller parts. Angelika Neuwirth argues that we might speak of each Surah—with its unique literary and rhetorical devices—as smaller scriptures of late antiquity, compiled into a larger scripture. Others draw attention to Muhammad not merely as a prophet, but a “literary artist.” In relation to the literary style of the text, Michel Cuypers sees “Semitic Rhetoric as a Key to the Question of Nazm of the Qur’ānic Text,” a trait which is shared in large part with the Gospel of Matthew. Others underscore the impact of Muhammad’s hijrah from Mecca to Medina upon the literary style of the Qur’ān, exploring “spatial and temporal implications of the qur’ānic concepts of nuzūl, inzāl and tanzīl,” all of which changed with the hijrah. Pierre C. de Caprona researches the metric system employed within certain Meccan Suras. After rigorous study of the Qur’ān’s stanzas, modules, accents, syllables, vowels, pauses, rhythm, and other hymnological and structural mechanisms, de Caprona comes to the bold conclusion that the structural complexity of the text excludes a conscious composition by Muhammad, but may rather be the work of more than one author, or as he puts it the text is “transpersonal.” De Caprona’s somewhat skeptical treatment of the Qur’ān’s structural complexity and the transpersonal authorship which he postulates are countered by Behnam Sadeghi’s stylometric study of the text, which demonstratesthe gradual change of morphemes in the Qur’ān and establishes with some certainty that the text had one author, be that Muhammad, his alleged scribe Zayd b. Thābit (d. 46/666; see below) or otherwise.

Michael Sells argues in “A Literary Approach to the Hymnic Suras of the Qur’ān” that the early Suras of the Qur’ān are not just unique in their literary quality but also that their hymnic quality, rhyme, breathing patterns employed within, and “aural intertextuality” constitute the voice of the Qur’ān and is rich with spiritual imagery and theological meaning. The depths of spiritual imagery and theological significance are summarized in Fazlur Rahman’s understanding that the Qur’ān was brought down upon Muhammad’s heart (Q 2:97; 26:193–194; cf. Luke 2:35) and was therefore a divine experience whose verbal manifestation was mediated through the prophet’s own mental faculties and emotional sensibilities. In relation to this point, Abdolkarim Soroush argues that from an experiential perspective the Qur’ān is as much God’s word as it is Muhammad’s word. Others undermine the veracity of Muhammad’s mystical insights and argues that the Qur’ān is not the word of God, but rather a human synthesis of earlier traditions and wisdom. On the other hand, Malik Bennabi asserts that Muhammad’s absolute conviction at the time of revelation means that thesource of revelation was completely objective and came from outside his person. Still others do not address Muhammad’s personal mystical or spiritual experience specifically but rather that of all mankind (al-insān), whom God created “in the best stature” and “then reduced . . . to the lowest of the low” (Q 95:4–5). He explains that God created mankind and revealed to him “perennial and universal” cosmic and moral wisdom which quench his perennial thirst to transcend the finite. This perennial wisdom is to be found in all mystical disciplines including Sufism, Christian mysticism, Buddhism, and Hindu Vedanta.

As the source of Islam’s practical values and mystical experience, the Qur’ān also re-produces and re-configures the doctrines, legends, and customs of neighboring cultures and earlier peoples within the late antique Near East. Many scholars have shed light on the mythological and folkloric dimensions of the Qur’ān and their relationship to repetition and formulae employed therein. Similarly others provide strong evidence that the Qur’ān’s teachings on the universe, embryology, and related physical sciences (for example, Q 10:61; 23:13–14; and so on) are part and parcel of the late antique tradition of Greek scientific discourse, embod-ied—for example—by the Roman philosopher Lucretius (d. ca. 55 BCE) and the Egyptian physician Galen (d. ca. 200 CE). Devin Stewart, who apart from sharing a nearly comprehensive survey on the phenomenon of rhymed prose in the Qur’ān, adduces evidence from Greek oracular texts that demonstrates that the Qur’ān’s use of rhymed prose was not isolated to the Arabian peninsula but was part of a greater Near Eastern phenomenon of prophetic expression.

Insofar as ancient Arabian peoples represented a particularly early stock of Semitic peoples, the Qur’ān is to some authors the scripture of the Semitic people, coming after the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. On the other hand, others see in the qur’ānic vision of the seven heavens (Q 42:12; 65:12; 67:3; 71:15), Muhammad’s night journey or ascension (isrā’; Q 17:1; cf. in relation 2 Enoch), and the light of Muhammad (Q 33:46) a strong Persian, non-Semitic, substratum. In so far as such claims are influenced by sentiments of Arab nationalism and Christian polemic, their arguments take little notice that in the Qur’ān’s milieu Arabians were not a united race (for example, Q 49:14); nor were the Persians favored in the Qur’ān’s milieu (vis à vis the Byzantines; Q 30:1–5). Marshall Hodgson argues more carefully that the Qur’ān is an articulation of what he portrays as “Irano-Semitic tradition,” which was current in the late antique Near East.

Still others have seen both qur’ānic and Biblical scripture as a continuation of religious impulses originating from Semitic lands, Egypt, North Africa, the Niger valley and Ethiopia, which include common myths, folklore, rituals, customs, and beliefs. Some, however, have argued based on archaeological evidence that Islam and Christianity owe their origins to Egyptian civilization, or similarly that the qur’ānic and Biblical vision of monotheism emerged as a result of the cult of the god Aton promoted by pharaoh Akhenaton (d. ca 1334 BCE). It is entirely plausible that Biblical and qur’ānic lore is to some degree informed by impulses from ancient Egypt and perhaps even Akhenaton’s theological reform as well. However, this lore is informed not just by an Egyptian context, but by a multiplicity of impulses from many civilizations.

The multiplicity of impulses is demonstrated best in the work of Arthur Jeffrey who provides systematic philological evidence to expand the Qur’ān’s cultural sphere to its greatest extent in the Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur’ān. From the many loan words that gradually worked their way into the Arabic of the Qur’ān, including words from Hebrew, Akkadian, Sumerian, Persian, Greek, Egyptian, Ethiopic, and Indic dialects, it becomes evident from Jefferey’s priceless research that the majority of these terms come from dialects of the Aramaic language, the lingua franca of the late antique Near East.

The religious symbols and figures that flourished in different Aramaean spheres intersected with the Qur’ān’s milieu. Some scholars demonstrate that the Qur’ān’s language shared many pagan and heterodox religious beliefs with Aramaic speaking cultures. Others interpret certain qur’ānic narratives with respect to the cultural and mythological ideas circulating in the Near East, including those of the illusive Sabians. And Adam Silverstein argues that “The Qur’ānic Pharaoh” harkens back to its Biblical antecedent, from which it made significant theological changes. However his study on Q 28:6, 8, 38; 29: 39; 40:24, 36 argues that “Hāmān’s transition from the Jāhiliyya to Islam” was inspired—among other things—by the ancient legend of Ahīqār (seventh–sixth century BCE)

Qur’ān specialists have paid perhaps the most attention to the Jewish and Christian background of qur’ānic doctrine and language. Abraham Geiger and others following him highlight the relationship of the Qur’ān to Jewish traditions—that is, all texts and customs stemming from ancient Israelite religion and the Hebrew Bible. Subsequent research proved that Rabbinic commentaries—especially the Talmudim and Midrashim—play a significant role in the Qur’ān’s milieu. Charles Torrey believes, ultimately like Geiger before him, that “The Jewish Foundation of Islam” was the result of Muhammad’s interaction with Jewish groups in his day. This idea is developed further by Claude Gilliot who argues that Muhammad had “informants,” like Zayd b. Thābit (d. 46/666) and others, from whom he learned Jewish and even Christian doctrine and scripture. Although this thesis may hold some truth, ascribing to Muhammad’s revelations a “foundation” or “informants” comes across as short sighted and highly problematic. This is because it leaves no room for the religious and cultural exchanges that occurred between sectarian groups in Arabia (including but not limited to Jewish, Christian, and pagan groups) centuries before Muhammad, and which likely account for a great deal of relationships between both the Qur’ān and earlier religious texts and traditions. In this vein, other scholars have demonstrated a more nuanced appreciation of the long and complex history of the Jews in the H.ijāz.

In a similar fashion, many scholars have examined the crucial history of Christianity in the Arabian sphere that birthed the Qur’ān. Scholars are justified in their claim that Monophysites from Syria and Yemen-Ethiopia, as well as Nestorians from the Persian Gulf, proselytized the peripheries of Arabia and came to exert some influence upon its very heartland. However, other scholars are equallyjustified in claiming that many Near Eastern audiences, including the Arabians of the H.ijāz were—based on common understandings of monotheism popularized by Judaism, rising national consciousness, and persecution at the hands of Byzantium—more pre-disposed to Monophysite Christianity with its simple unitary view of Christ’s nature.

Many scholars hint at the possibility that heretical Jewish-Christian sects like the Ebionites-Elchasaites and Nazorean-Essenes, dualist sects including Marcionites and Manichaeans,  Gnostics and other ill-defined groups played a significant role in the development of the Qur’ān. More recently, some scholars have given some credence to this possibility arguing that the mushrikūn were not crude pagans or polytheists as tradition has it, but rather monotheists whose cult was too accommodating for the strict monotheism of Muhammad. That the sectarian identity of monotheists was close to that of polytheists in the qur’ānic milieu is evident from Q 12:112. Taking this a step further, Günter Lüling believes that the pre-Islamic monotheists of the Qur’ān’s milieu were “central Arabian Christians.” He further argues that the ur-Qur’ān, marked by an anti-Trinitarian angel-Christology, was originally composed of ancient Arabian Christian strophic hymns that went through progressive stages of Islamization by later exegetes.

Others have gone further in fashioning intricate theories to the effect that the movement of Muhammad and the vision of the Qur’ān were the original product of such heretical Jewish-Christian sects. This has produced very different scenarios. For example: for Yūsuf al-Durrah and Jospeh Azzi the Qur’ān was inspired by the Jewish-Christian book known as the Aramaic Gospel of Matthew; and for Azzi it was the individual dubbed by the Islamic literary sources as Waraqah (that is, scribe?) b. Nawfal (d. 610), the cousin of Muhammad’s first wife Khadījah bt. Khuwaylid (d. 619), who was his alleged teacher. However, these theories remain controversial within mainstream Qur’ānic Studies. Some scholars completely reject a heretical Jewish-Christian substratum to the Qur’ān’s text or Muhammad’s movement. It is true that such theories, like all those that seek to find a hidden and meanwhile convenient “source” for Islamic origins, are either short sighted or have within them the polemical tendency to rob Islam of its creative force and reduce it to heretical—that is, illegitimate—beginnings. How-ever, in recent years more nuanced studies have searched within the verses of the Qur’ān themselves to guide their search for neighboring textual or religious impulses that might shed some light on the Qur’ān’s “legal culture,” and its place between “Rabbinic Judaism and Ecclesiastical Christianity.”

That being said, it is not out of the question—though more research is needed—that Muhammad knew Waraqah intimately, perhaps even as an apprentice. It is not unexpected—though quite intriguing—that Bukhārī mentions that when Waraqah died, Muhammad became deeply saddened; immediately his revelations (wah.y) ceased for a period of time and he contemplated suicide (Bukhārī 1:1:3). Perhaps this was due to the shock of suddenly losing the scholarly (and parental?) guidance Waraqah provided Muhammad, and which might have given his revelation some of its Jewish-Christian coloring. Others go as far as to say that Muhammad’s life—and therefore the Qur’ān’s message—were to a great degree shaped by Waraqah, and his cousin who became Muhammad’s first wife Khadījah bt. Khuwaylid (d. 619)—sometimes including the monk Bah.īra—all of whom were presumed Christian. Nor is it impossible that rural monotheistic and Jewish-Christian groups who had doctrinal and theological disputes with the orthodoxy of urban imperial centers sought refuge in the remote heterodoxy of Arabia. Their ideas became part of the Qur’ān’s milieu. Therefore, that such groups were present in the Qur’ān’s milieu is plausible. However, that they were the central inspiration behind qur’ānic revelation, or the Islamic movement more generally, is not supported by the evidence, nor likely in any case. The most important of these groups with whom the Qur’ān is in conversation is the nas.ārā, who probably constituted the mainstream group of Christians or Jewish-Christians.

Even more significant is the Qur’ān’s adaptation of mainstream Christian doctrine and theology illustrated in many studies. Consequently, the Qur’ān does share a good deal of doctrinal and theological beliefs with New Testament books like the Gospels. Where the Qur’ān and Gospels disagree on doctrine and theology, the ethics shared between the two scriptures become a fruitful arena of comparison. Nabil Khouri argues that qur’ānic ethics are deeply informed by “ethical themes” common to itself and the Gospel of Matthew. Khouri’s conclusion—colored by his Christian faith but insightful nonetheless—about the different understandings of ethics and law in both scriptures is,

The qur’ānic ethical demands are consistently supported by a higher stand-ard which escapes the letter of the qur’ānic law. However, the Qur’ān never attempts, like the Gospel of Matthew, to abrogate the letter of the law in order to exclusively highlight the spirit of the law.

There is a great deal of truth to this assessment if taken theologically. Where the Qur’ān seeks to provide mankind with practical, ethical standards and laws through which mankind can live righteously, in the Gospels the centrality of the law lies in understanding God’s holiness and love.

Christian ideas from many different spheres became part the Qur’ān’s. However, it was through the Christian Aramaic sphere generally, and Syriac literature specifically, that Christian ideas likely circulated. Qur’ān specialists have been aware of the prominent role Syriac has played since the beginning. The intimacy of the Qur’ān with liturgical language of Syrian churches (Syriac) came into being, albeit under the radar, with Tor Andrae’s Der Ursprung der Islams und das Christentum. After portraying an image of late antique Arabia similar to that of Bell’s, in which the Nestorian churches from the Persian sphere and Monophysite churches of the Abyssinian sphere exercised much influence along Arabian trade routes, Andrae’s insightful analysis compares the description of paradise in Q 56, likening the “wide eyed maidens” (h.ūr ‘īn) with the imagery of the bridal chamber (Q 34:37) in the Hymn of Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373). This received some criticism from Edmund Beck. However, it was shortly thereafter that Alphonse Mingana set the foundation for research on the Qur’ān in light of Syriac in a study entitled “Syriac Influence on the Style of the Kur’ān.” He provides a brief typology and some examples of Syriac words used in the Qur’ān, asserting that 70 percent of the Qur’ān’s “foreign vocabulary” is Syriac in origin. However, Mingana’s study was too succinct to leave a lasting impact. Thus, the study of the Qur’ān with respect to Syriac did not flourish for decades to come.

All of this changed with the publication of Christoph Luxenberg’s Die syroaramäische Lesart des Koran: Ein Beitrag zur Entschlüsselung der Koransprache in which he argues the Qur’ān was originally a Syriac Christian lectionary that was misinterpreted by classical Muslim exegetes. Luxenberg emends the meaning and orthography of dozens of qur’ānic verses to fit what he deems to be a suitable Syro-Aramaic reading. The most publicized case for which Luxenberg has been attacked concerns his revival and development of Andrae’s theory, adding that the h.ūr ‘īn are “white grapes.” While it is quite clear that the qur’ānic description of h.ūr ‘īn does not refer to white grapes but rather women, it is equally clear that the description of Q 56 has the imagery of the bridal chamber of Syriac literature in mind, including Aphrahat’s Demonstration on Death and the Last Days. It is not uncommon to find descriptions of paradise associated with hanging fruit in both the Qur’ān and the extant corpus of Syriac literature. Oddly enough, Luxenberg does not make this case. Nor does he identify any specific genre or corpus of Syriac literature to compare with the Qur’ān.

Furthermore, he does not systematically explain the arbitrariness of selecting Syriac words of his predilection to fit his new qur’ānic reading. In fact, while Luxenberg’s book provides rich—though often unsubstantiated—insights, and a handful of solutions to previously problematic passages, his work produces more problems in their place and is so methodologically problematic as it maintains an exclusive focus on philology, with little regard for the Qur’ān “as a literary text…that has to be decoded and evaluated historically.” This is not the place to assess the strengths and limitations of Luxenberg’s work. Several scholarly reviews and responses have done this job sufficiently. What remains to be said about Luxenberg is hat his flawed—and some would say polemical—study finally delivered a rude awakening to the field of Qur’ānic Studies concerning the importance of Syriac. Despite his marginalization, at least some scholars equally skeptical about the Qur’ān’s origins have gravitated towards Luxenberg’s approach.

At the head of mainstream scholars who study the Qur’ān in light of Syriac literature is Sidney Griffith. Keeping in mind that the religious, cultural and linguistic landscape of seventh-century Arabia was for centuries inextricably tied to communities in the greater Near East compels one to avoid simplistic generalizations. Griffith cautions against reductionist theories of direct or linear “influences,” and expounds upon the complex, diffuse, diverse, and free flowing ideas present in the Qur’ān’s “thematic context.” Among many studies Griffith convincingly argues that qur’ānic language concerning the Trinity, the nature of Jesus, and the story of the Youths of Ephesus (Q 18:9–26) are all informed by an intimate understanding of Syriac literature. A similar study by Kevin van Bladel traces the qur’ānic story of Dhū al-Qarnayn in Q 18:83–98 to a Syriac Alexander Legend which circulated in the Near East in the final years of Muhammad’s life.

Yousef Kouriyhe systematically discusses the role of the qur’ānic h.ūr ‘īn—which Luxenberg fails to do—and the relationship to its counterpart in Syriac literature. Kouriyhe ultimately corroborates the qur’ānic notion of the term while staying true to its conceptual, Syriac precedent. He argues that the h.ūr/h.ūrāyē are symbols—hanging fruit—of virgin female companions for which desert hermits longed, but to whom they could only allude. In addition, Joseph Witztum demonstrates that Syriac literature also preserved Christian stories of Hebrew patriarchs like Abraham and Joseph upon which the Qur’ān built.

The kinds of debates that have shaped Qur’ānic Studies have helped shape this study. To undertake a truly profound study of the Qur’ān in light of the Aramaic Gospels is to try and answer, how and why did religious questions asked in the Christian Aramaic sphere find a resounding answer in the prophetic speech of the Arabian sphere? In broader terms, this means negotiating the tension between the Qur’ān’s autonomy and its belonging to the world of the Bible. Undertaking this study also means considering the paucity of our sources and—therefore—the value of what precious little we have, both from within and without Islamic tradi-tion, which we turn to next.

Our Sources

This study will make use of a wide range of primary sources, spanning several languages and a long time period. In the coming pages they are discussed under four categories: (1) The Aramaic Gospel Traditions; (2) The Qur’ān; (3) Islamic Sources; and (4) Non-Islamic Sources. For a table of these sources see following Table.

The Aramaic Gospel Traditions ca. 180–616 CE

The Aramaic Gospel Traditions refer to the canonical Gospels preserved in Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic (CPA). Neither corpus of Aramaic Gospels is considered original. They are both translated from Greek. How the Gospels were translated into Syriac and CPA is a matter about which Aramaicists and Biblical scholars have yet to reach a consensus. Scholars do, nonetheless, agree on one key point. It is generally accepted that the earliest official Aramaic Gospel was in Syriac. The Diatessaron of Tatian (ca. 180) was used for liturgy and worship by the early Syriac church. Therefore, the circulation of a canonical Syriac Gospel would have taken place during the final years of Tatian’s life or after his death in ca. 180. Tatian’s Diatessaron survives only in fragments quoted by polemical works and a later Christian Arabic translation by Abū al-Faraj al-T.ayyib (d. 434/1043). At any rate, the existence of a Syriac Gospel text earlier than this is a matter of debate, which principally revolves around the issue of whether or not the Syriac Gospels in general reflect an ancient Palestinian Aramaic substratum going back to the first century.

Survey of Main Primary Sources for quran and aramic gospel
Survey of Main Primary Sources

Most scholars agree that the Old Syriac Gospels, the subsequent official Gospel texts of the Syriac church, were heavily influenced by the Diatessaron. The two extant Old Syriac Gospel manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Curetonius, are translations of the Greek, albeit highly Syriac in style.

Syriac Ms of Matthew-aramic gospel and quran
Syriac Ms of Matthew 15:20–25
Source: The S.S. Teacher’s Edition: The Holy Bible, Ed. Henry Frowde, New York: University of Oxford Press, 1896, plate XIV (Public domain)

In due course, this text was supplanted in the fifth century by the New Testament Peshitta (Syriac pšit.tā, “simple, vulgar”), which Rabbula (d. 435) is believed to have edited. It is a version of the Old Syriac Gospels, mimicking the Greek style and syntax a bit more closely. Furthermore, the whole corpus of the Peshitta is comprised of the entire Biblical canon of both Old and New Testament books. It was the basis of Syriac “spirituality” and remains to this day the Bible of the Syriac churches. In 616, a final revision of the Syriac Bible called the Harklean version was in part based on the work of Philoxenus of Mabbug (d. 523) and commissioned under the auspices of Thomas of Harkel (d. 627), which endeavored to follow the Greek text more austerely than ever before. Irrespective of the scholarly debates over the origins of the Syriac Gospels and over the existence, or non-existence, of philological evidence for an underlying ancient Palestinian Aramaic substratum dating to the time of Jesus’ prophetic activity, the content and literary style of the extant Syriac Gospel texts merit scholarly examination in their own right.

The earliest extant CPA Gospels come from scriptural fragments and through liturgical texts, dating from the fifth to eighth centuries. They are incomplete and did not enjoy the same level of popularity as their Syriac counterpart.

Christian Palestinian Aramaic Ms of Romans
Christian Palestinian Aramaic Ms of Romans 8:1–15
Source: The Codex Climaci Rescriptus, Palimsest Manuscript on Vellum, In Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Greek and Syriac, image CCR1_F3b-F4f_rgb001 (Courtesy of the Green Collection)

CPA is nonetheless written in the Syriac script which had long become the official script of Near Eastern Christian literature. However, what truly distinguishes the CPA Gospels from the Syriac ones is the strong influence that Greek Biblical traditions had upon it. This is evident, for example, in the syntax of the Gospel passages and even in the spelling of proper nouns, both of which duplicate the Greek Gospels.

Therefore, unlike Syriac where “Jesus” is spelled īšū‘, in CPA it is spelled īsūs.However, it is no surprise that Aramaicists can recognize various linguistic, phonological word plays or rhyme schemes in the Aramaic Gospels—especially Syriac—which suggest some level of integrity and antiquity and not mere translation. These features are altogether absent in the corresponding Greek verses. It is also taken for granted that the late antique Christian discourse of the Near East and the contact of the Arabian peoples with Christianity, principally involved the Aramaic traditions—and not so much Greek.

The Qur’ān ca. 610–714 CE

At the age of 40—that is, the age when individuals were culturally perceived to possess the maturity, wisdom and sanctity to commune with God—Muhammad received revelations from God mediated through the angel Gabriel as he would meditate in a cave on the outskirts of Mecca called H.irā’. Although these revelations were a novelty at the time to the Arabic language (that is, North Arabian) they were expressed according to conventional forms of rhymed prose (Q 16:103) as performed by local poets and soothsayers (Q 68:41–42). These “recitations” or qur’ān (Q 75:17–18)—so named after the Syriac qēryānā(see earlier)—did not constitute a prayer lectionary as much as the verbal manifestation of Muhammad’s mystical and pious experiences which he shared orally with his followers and greater audience.

Once codified and canonized, the Qur’ān (with a capital “Q”), functioned as the scriptural and cultural repository of the Arabian peoples. The canonical collection of Surahs preserved the religious lore of the Arabian peoples in writing, and was, therefore, the next step in literary development beyond Arabian oral tradition. As the product of a cosmopolitan commercial Arabian setting, among other things the Qur’ān reflects much of the wisdom and lore of Syriac Christian tradition which was integrated into the Arabian milieu by Arabic speaking Christians. Nonetheless, the Qur’ān’s own self image makes explicit the claim that it is the first Arabic book. While seeing itself as the scriptural continuation of Hebrew and Christian Scripture, it insists that it is a unique, linguistic, Arabic novelty (Q 16:103; 42:7). Mingana notes, therefore, that “the author” of the first Arabic book did not risk coining new terminology, but rather,

The best policy was to use for [its] new idea of Islam the words which were understood by his hearers and found in a language akin to his that had become an ecclesiastical and religious language centuries before his birth and the adherents of which were surrounding him in all directions in highly organized communities, bishoprics, and monasteries.

The language to which Mingana is referring, of course, is Syriac. It is crucial to keep in mind that while much of its cultural and linguistic inspiration came from the Syriac—or more generally Aramaic—sphere, the Qur’ān is indeed an Arabic scripture which was conveyed through the person of Muhammad at a time when he was formulating the religion that would come to dominate almost the entire late antique Near East.

It is evident from the Qur’ān itself that Muhammad was learning while he was formulating the tenets of his new faith (Q 20:114), that the new revelation being received by him was slow in coming (Q 17:106), that the versions of the stories in the Qur’ān challenged the stories preserved by rival sects (Q 25:33), and that it was derided by non-believers as the work of witchcraft or fables dictated to Muhammad (Q 6:7; 25:5). During the latter stages of his prophethood the Qur’ān’s notion of itself evolved further into that of a written scripture or al-kitāb, which ostensibly came to replace earlier revealed scripture (Q 10:94). The austere understanding that scripture had to be preserved and fixed in writing (Q 32:2; 39:1; 40:2; 45:3; 46:2) carried on through the early stages of Islamic history as the Qur’ān was expeditiously compiled, written, and canonized within decades of Muhammad’s death. Thus, the approximate date for the oral and possibly written origins of the Qur’ān are 610–632, or thereabouts. Unfortunately, there is no evidence for writ-ten fragments dating to this time period.

In fact, no qur’ānic fragments survive, which according to Islamic literary tradition, were recorded by Muhammad’s scribe Zayd b. Thābit (d. 46/666) on animal shoulder blades (for example, Bukhārī 4:4704). At any rate, the time period between 610 (Muhammad’s call to prophecy) until 714 (the death of Iraq’s governor al-H.ajjāj, see later discussion) is considered the “qur’ānic period.” It marks the transition between the “late antique period” (180–632) and “early Islamic period” (714–845) in which the Qur’ān was articulated and preserved in canonical form.

Documentary evidence of the Qur’ān survives in the Dome of the Rock inscription dated to ca. 72/692 or soon thereafter. There are also a handful of inscriptions, graffiti, and coins dated to this time period which contain some qur’ānic formulae and even Muhammad’s name. The earliest extant Qur’ān codicies (mas.āh.if)—a matter of some contention—are the H.ijāzī manuscripts of‘ā’, London, Paris, and St. Petersburg. These codicies preserve many copies of the “standard” ‘Uthmānic codex. Some of these were written in the H.ijāzī script probably in Yemen or Egypt.

Both of these facts suggest that the‘ā’ manuscripts were the work of an official commission by the state, that is, the Caliph. The Islamic literary sources inform us of early commissions in which the Qur’ān was printed by the state. One is the endeavor of the caliph ‘Uthmān b. ‘Affān (d. 656) to standardize and print the first official, canonized Qur’ān which took place in about 650. We also know that during the reign of ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwān (65/685–86/705)—who supervised the construction of the Dome of the Rock, Arabicization of the Umayyad bureaucracy and standardization of the Arabic script—al-H.ajjāj b. Yūsuf al-Thaqafī(d. 95/714) was commissioned to edit the ‘Uthmānic Qur’ān while governor of Iraq, which occurred approximately 691–714. Therefore, the approximate date of the earliest‘ā’ codicies—around which there is some consensus—is no later than 656–714.

Hijāzī MS of Q
Hijāzī MS of Q 8:73–9:6
Source: Memory Of The World:‘ā’ Manuscripts, CD-ROM Presentation, UNESCO, image 148239B. (Courtesy of UNESCO)

H.ijāzī quran and aramic gospel
H.ijāzī MS of Q 26:210–27:4
Source: Or. MS 2165, ff 76v–77 (Courtesy of the (c)British Library Board)

For early Muslims, the script employed in writing the (new) word of God had to be official in nature and noble in appearance. Hence, while the Arabic script developed in the late antique period out of the Aramaic script of Nabataean pagans, a writing style of greater religious legitimacy was needed with which to pen the Qur’ān. As a result, the H.ijāzī script—or Meccan script as Ibn al-Nadīm (d. 376/987) calls it—which evolved from the administrative and epigraphic styles of Arabic—was employed. However, building on the work of her predecessors—mainly Abbot and Grohman—Beatrice Gruendler notes that the slanted writing and long fingered letters (alif, lām, t.ah, z.ah but not the ligature lām-alif) are internal developments of the H.ijāzī script. These developments are in part parallel to the Syriac script of the day, which was the script in which popular late antique scripture and liturgy was written. This may further explain some accounts in the Islamic literary sources which claim that the Arabic script was derived from the Syriac script of al-Hīrā. Al-H.ajjāj was involved in vocalizing the text and providing diacritics, both of whose relationship to Syriac is most likely but the details of which remain debated. From the time of Muhammad to that of al-H.ajjāj, the Qur’ān developed in the background of Syriac religious literary precedents and writing practices.

It is worth pointing out at this stage that comparing the recensions of the Aramaic Gospels and the Qur’ān by themselves may well suffice to demonstrate how dogmatic re-articulation mediates their dialogue. However, this study aims to demonstrate this literary process at a higher standard that engages the literature of the non-Muslim, late antique Near East as well as that produced within Islamic tradition.

Islamic Sources

The Islamic documentary sources that come from Islam’s earliest time period are few in number but give us a lexical corpus with which to work, and an orthographical yardstick with which to assess the text of the Qur’ān. These include attestations preserved in papyri collections.

The history of the Qur’ān’s revelation to the prophet Muhammad and its codification by later generations is discussed by too many Islamic literary sources for us to consider here. Most of these sources are concerned with piety and not what we would call today history. Furthermore, later generations of Muslim authors frequently took to ‘compiling’ the opinions and narrations of their predecessors rather than ‘producing’ new material. I will make use of “earlier” and “later” Islamic literary sources from which original insights and facts about the Qur’ān’s milieu can be extracted—that is, those which ‘produce’ rather than those which ‘compile’. The early period of Islamic literature begins after the Qur’ān’s codification (ca. 714) and ends with the writing of Ibn Sa‘d’s (d. 230/845) Kitāb alt.abaqāt al-kabīr (also known as Kitāb al-t.abaqāt al-kubrā) which by documenting the entirety of the early Muslim community marks a new period of maturation. The later period of Islamic literature follows from 845 until the present (see “early Islamic period” and “later Islamic period” in this Table).

For the pre-Islamic period—which as mentioned earlier is synonymous with the late antique period—leading up to the Qur’ān’s first articulation, two works are of principal interest. One is Abū Zayd al-Qurashī’s (d. 170/786) Jamharat ash‘ār al-‘arab fī al-jāhiliyyah wa al-islām which gives us a corpus of pre-Islamic poetry—albeit imperfect as it is recorded much later—with which to compare to the Qur’ān. Also essential is Hishām b. al-Kalbī’s (d. c. 206/821) Kitāb alas.nām which is unique in its portrayal of the origin of pre-Islamic pagan cults in the Qur’ān’s milieu and their relation to Judeo-Christian prophetic tradition (see the article: Prophetic Tradition in the Late Antique Near East).

The earliest sources of Islamic history are in the biographical and historical works. Muhammad b. Ish.āq’s (d. ca. 151/768) Sīrah and Abū Mikhnaf’s (d. 157/774) Nus.ūs. are the vital starting points as they are the first Islamic looking glass through which we see both Muhammad and the Qur’ān. The biographies historicize Muhammad within the sectarian Judeo-Christian framework of the late antique Near East. Citing the opening verse of Q 96, “recite in the name of your Lord!”—itself a calque of a Hebrew or Aramaic formula—Ibn Ishāq models Muhammad’s episode of revelation at the cave of h.irā’ after Isaiah 29:11–12. Likewise, Waraqah’s words of praise upon learning about Muhammad’s revelation—quddūs quddūs or “holy, holy”—reproduce Isaiah 6:3. Furthermore, the prophet awaited by the Jews and Christians, al-nabī al-ummī(Q 7:157)—originating from a Hebrew or Aramaic epithet meaning the “gentile” or “unscriptured prophet” —while faithfully rendered by Ibn Ish.āq, it is reinterpreted by later Islamic tradition to mean “the illiterate prophet” in order to emphasize that the Qur’ān was not the product of Muhammad’s intellect, but rather divine revelation. Similarly, in Q 61:6 the “advocate” (Greek parakletos; John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7) whom Jesus promises to his disciples at the last supper is called ah.mad, “more praised,” which shares the same root h.-m-d with the name muhammad, “praised one,” and was invariably identified with his person by the Islamic literary sources. In the Sīrah of ‘Abd al-Malik b. Hishām (d. ca. 218/833), the author synthesizes these different appellations by ultimately equating muhammad with mnāh.mā, the word for “advocate” in Jewish dialects of Aramaic and Syriac.

The biographical literature also cites Jewish-Christian authorities—all of whom were familiar with Aramaic scripture and language—like the figure of the monk Bah.īrā (cf. Aramaic bh.īrā, “elect”) who allegedly met the child Muhammad with a caravan in Bosra, the priest Waraqah b. Nawfal who had an impact on Muhammad’s early life and the scribe Zayd b. Thābit who played a paramount role in the Qur’ān’s compilation. To this genre of historical works we may add Azraqī’s (d. ca. 251/865) Akhbār makkah which chronicles the events of the region in which the Qur’ān emerged and possesses valuable records of the houses of worship and architectural landmarks present at the time.

A number of reports from the canonical Sunnī Hadith corpus may similarly preserve historical insights about qur’ānic passages or otherwise be rooted in Biblical literature. Included in this category are the S.ah.īh. works of Bukhārī (d. 256/870) and Muslim (d. 261/875), as well as the Sunan of Abū Dāwūd (d. 275/888).Similarly, the history of the collection and initial codification of the Qur’ān by ‘Uthmān and the role that al-H.ajjāj played in editing it later on are narrated in the Risālah of ‘Abd al-Masīh. al-Kindī (d. 259/873), which is exceptional because it is a Christian Arabic source. The changes al-H.ajjāj made to the ‘Uthmānic text of his day, and the variations of circulating non-‘Uthmānic codicies, are well documented in the Kitāb al-mas.āh.if of Ibn Abī Dawūd al-Sijistānī (d. 316/928).

Within the broad discipline referred to as the Qur’ānic Sciences (‘ulūm al-qur’ān) is Ma‘ānī al-qur’ān by al-Farrā’ (d. 207/822) and other works of lexicography (lughah) and grammar (i‘rāb). These different approaches to studying the Qur’ān’s language are illuminating becasue they provide evidence for the standardization of Arabic grammar from its diverse dialectic origins into its classical form, which is the point that Vollers argued all along.

Islamic exegetical tradition (tafsīr) is to a great extent a continual compilation of reports, one building upon another. However, different threads of tafsīr literature exist. Muqātil b. Sulaymān’s (d. 150/767) Tafsīr is attacked vehemently by later orthodox Muslim authorities for its frequent use of Christian and Jewish Rabbinic lore, collectively called isrā’īliyyāt, which was a necessary resourcefor the earliest work of Islamic exegetical tradition. Orthodox Muslim authorities were also wary of Mujāhid b. Jabr’s (d. 104/722) Tafsīr for the same reason. An example of their reliance on isrā’īliyyāt is the episode of Muhammad’s marriage to Zaynab bt. (d.4/626) recounted by Muqātil concerning Q 33:37, which is modeled after King David’s scandalous marriage to Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11:1–27 (cf. further Q 37:17–26; 2 Samuel 12:1–6; Matthew 18; Luke 15). The Tafsīrs of ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Abbās, (d. 68/688), and possibly even that of Sufyān al-Thawrī (d. 161/778) are of questionable authorship. These authors’ names are probably pseudonyms for later authors who sought to project their orthodox views back onto the founding fathers of Islamic exegesis.

The related genre of “occasions of revelation” (asbāb al-nuzūl) supports the notion that early Muslims realized that revelation was mediated through historical context; meaning that the wording of the Qur’ān was directly influenced by occurrences in Muhammad’s life, the people surrounding him and the objectives he aimed to achieve. This is evident, for example, in the unique wording of Q 33:35 and its entirely plausible ‘occasion of revelation’ recorded later on. It states, “Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women and the believing men and believing women . . . God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.” This verse is allegedly an egalitarian response to an episode narrated in a report from Abū al-H.asan al-Wāh.idī’s (d. 468/1076) Asbāb nuzūl al-qur’ān. It mentions that a female companion of Muhammad by the name of Asmā’ bt. ‘Umays (d. ca. 40/660) complained to him that all women have been shamed because his revelations failed to mention the virtues of women, which incidentally happens to be a common trait of late antique and Islamic literature alike. However, this did not sit well with Muhammad’s egalitarian sensibilities—by seventh century standards of course—and the report continues that after this episode Q 33:35 was revealed bringing good news to al-muslimūn wa al-muslimāt, that is, both Muslim men and women. As jurisprudence became the quintessential Islamic science, the historical context of qur’ānic verses was prioritized according to the legal exigencies of the growing Muslim community. As a result, verse abrogation (al-nāsikh wa al-mansūkh) permits that verses belonging to an earlier time period of revelation be abrogated by verses from a later one.

The early exegeticaland asbāb al-nuzūl literature also had a tendency to indirectly biblicize historical events attributed to qur’ānic verses. For example, dār al-arqam was the name of the secret home in Mecca where Muh.ammad preached to his earliest companions, incuding ‘Ammār b. Yāsir (d. 37/657). ‘Ammar and his family were said to have endured severe torture which claimed the lives of his parents and led to his denial of Muh.ammad, after which he wept and recanted. ‘Ammar’s act of “dissimulation” or “caution” under duress (taqiyyah), along with his unwavering support of ‘Alī b. Abī T.ālib (d. 40/661), made him a model and hero especially among the Shī‘ah. The details of this story, however, emerge from the ‘interpretation’ and ‘occasion of revelation’ derived from Q 16:106–8 and, furthermore, echo Peter’s denial of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:27) as well as the persecution of Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:25.

Some later exegetical works use the Bible to interpret the Qur’ān more explicitly. This is especially the case with Naz.m al-durar fī tanāsub al-āyāt wa-al-suwar of al-Biqā‘ī (d. 808/1460) who believes that the canonical Hebrew and Christian scriptures are in fact the tawrāh and injīl mentioned in the Qur’ān. His incorporation of the Judeo-Christian corpus into his work was too revolutionary for the orthodox scholars of his day who destroyed his reputation. However, Suyūt.ī’s (d. 911/1505) similarly revolutionary claim in al-Itqān fī ‘ulūm al-qur’ān that loan words (mu‘arrabāt) were part of the qur’ānic articulation, and therefore Arabic language, was generally accepted by the Muslims of his day, perhaps in part because there was already a precedent for this idea in earlier Islamic literary sources. Apart from discussing the Qur’ān’s foreign vocabulary, of which Jeffrey makes ample use, Suyūt.ī’s work is a systematic, comprehensive examination of the Qur’ān’s literary structure and hermeneutical devices. It is at the same time a mammoth compilation of earlier exegetical material.

Non-Islamic Sources

Unlike the Islamic sources, which are valuable albeit pious assessments of the Qur’ān’s milieu coming centuries after the fact, the non-Islamic sources are independent traditions which were part of the Qur’ān’s milieu itself. The literary sources may come from the late antique or earliest Islamic periods, spanning roughly 180–714 CE, with some documentary sources being significantly older—that is, before 180 CE.

Documentary sources also include epigraphic texts, dictionaries and lexicons that attest the major ancient dialects people spoke and the religious formulae of their writings. This background data, the majority of which is ancient and comes from the Arabian Peninsula, gives us the earliest surviving precedent for pre-qur’ānic Arabian oral and literary forms of articulation.

Raqūsh Inscription Dated 267 CE
Raqūsh Inscription Dated 267 CE
Source: Healey and Smith, “Jaussen-Savignac 17,” pl. 46. The inscription reads “This is a grave K b. H has taken care of for his mother, Raqush bint ’A. She died in al-Hijr in the year 162 in the month of Tammuz. May the Lord of the World curse anyone who desecrates this grave and opens it up, except his offspring! May he [also] curse anyone who buries [someone in the grave] and [then] removes [him] from it! May who buries…be cursed!” (Courtesy of John Healey)
These sources include collections of inscriptions and from lexicons of: Old South Arabian (mainly Sabaic); Old North Arabian (mainly Thamudic and Safaitic); late antique Arabic; Ethiopic (Ge’ez); pagan Aramaic (Nabataean, Palmyrene and Hatran); and Syriac.

Non-Islamic literary sources include texts from a diverse range of languages and traditions. They may be classified by religious tradition. The Jewish sources upon which the Qur’ān frequently depends include the Hebrew Bible, its translations in Aramaic (Targumim) and Syriac (Old Testament Peshitta), further Rabbinic literature, and Essene literature from Qumran. Christian literature which also played an integral part in the Qur’ān’s milieu includes the Greek Septuagint, fragments of the CPA Old Testement, some Greek religious and historical writings, and the vast sea of Syriac literature which is an essential link between the Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions. These works are principally composed of: stanzaic homilies to be sung (madrāšē) like the Odes of Solomon (second–third century), those by Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373), Narsai (d. 502) and Jacob of Serugh (d. 521); and verse homilies to be recited (mēmrē) by Aphrahat the Persian Sage (d. 345), Isaac of Antioch (d. ca. 452), Philoxenus of Mabbug (d. 523) and Babai the Great (d. 628); as well as the Book of the Laws of Countries by Bardaisan (d. 222), and the Ecclesiatical History of John of Ephesus (d. 586).

Zoroastrian literature also played some role in contributing to the Qur’ān’s milieu. Such literature includes the Avesta and pre-Islamic Pahlavi works like the Ardā Virāf Nāmak and the Bahmān Yasht. The impact of Zoroastrian literature on late antique Judeo-Christian apocryphal literature, which also played a great part in the Qur’ān’s milieu, was profound.

Apocrypha and Pseudepigripha account for some of the heterodox doctrinal articulations espoused by the Qur’ān. These sources originated mainly in Coptic, Syriac, Greek, and Ethiopic. They include the Gospel of Thomas, the Infancy Gospels, books of Enoch, Jubilees and the Apocalypse and Testament of Abraham. The Gēnzā Rbā(lit. “Great Treasure”) preserved in the Mandaic dialect of Aramaic may also be placed in this category.

Methodology and Organization

It is worth recalling at this stage that taking a confluence of earlier non-Muslim and later Muslim sources into consideration serves to raise the standard of our study of the Qur’ān and Aramaic Gospels, as well as the role of dogmatic rearticulation therein. The method behind using these sources in a meaningful way is of no less importance.

The analysis phase will proceed as follows. Texts—that is, passages, phrases or words—in the Qur’ān and Aramaic Gospels are compared if general linguistic relationships are outwardly apparent—without emending the (typically) undotted written skeleton (rasm) of the traditional readings. Such relationships include philological, grammatical, lexical, phonological, and orthographical correspondences. General parallels with respect to content but not language, for which limitless possibilities exist, do not receive consideration. The qur’ānic text is first read in the context of the cluster of verses with which it forms a logical whole—that is, the verses immediately before or after it. Then the text is checked alongside earlier Biblical, Rabbinic, Apocryphal, Pseudepigriphal, homiletic, historical, and epigraphic literature to identify if it has a precedent, orechoes a source, outside of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions. Once the qur’ānic text has been solely linked to the Aramaic Gospel traditions, the Islamic literary sources are consulted regarding opinions that can further shed light on the study’s findings thus far. The official, canonical scriptures—the ‘Uthmanic codex and the Peshitta—are initially compared side by side. Variant Qur’ān codicies or Aramaic Gospel versions will be consulted and incorporated insofar as their content can contribute to the study.

Once the use of primary sources has been exhausted, the secondary literature is consulted for its insights on thepassage(s) in question. After consulting all the literature and noting their insights, I will formulate a hypothesis concerning the qur’ānic passage and its corresponding passage in the Aramaic Gospel Traditions. This study will show that the driving principle mediating the Qur’ān’s use of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions is dogmatic re-articulation. Thus will end the sequence of analysis.

However, the type of linguistic relationship (lexical, phonological, or otherwise) also plays a role in determining the results of our analysis. Phrases or words in the Qur’ān and Aramaic Gospels often share more than one linguistic relationship, making a typology of the relationships not immediately possible. This will have to wait until the very end of our analysis. Chapter 2 sets up “Prophetic Tradition” as the master narrative of the late antique Near East and places the Aramaic Gospel Traditions and the Qur’ān on a level field from which they can be compared. Furthermore, this study will break up its analyses into themes—chapters. Chapter 3 deals with the “Prophets and their Righteous Entourage;” Chapter 4 discusses “The Evils of the Clergy;” Chapter 5 delves into the place of the “Divine Realm;” and Chapter 6 explores the vivid language and imagery of “Divine Judgment and the Apocalypse” employed in both scriptures. Chapter 7 will then summarize the findings of the analysis phase (Chapters 3–6), construct a detailed typology of the linguistic relationships, and formulate a tentative reconstruction of how the Qur’ān’s milieu came to absorb and articulate the language of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions. This chapter will also discuss prospects for ongoing research as well as the phenomenon of Prophetic Tradition after the Qur’ān. The data accumulated in this study will be recorded in a number of appendices that should prove useful to the reader.


  1. Yūsuf Zaydān, ‘Azāzīl, Cairo: Dār al-Shurūq, 2008, 348.
  2. For more on the history of the development of Church schism and doctrine see John P. Jenkins, Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years, New York: HarperOne, 2010. For more on the rise of Islam in the context of late antique Christian heresy see Daniel Sahas, John of Damascus on Islam: the Heresy of the Ishmaelites, Leiden: Brill, 1972; James Howard-Johnston, Witnesses to a World Crisis: Historians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  3. For purposes of this study, the world of the pre-Islamic jāhiliyyah is synonymous with the late antique Near East. It represents the time period and sectarian milieu from which Muh.ammad sought to make an immediate break and from which he wished to distinguish himself. Aside from the Qur’ān, late antique Syriac literature and later Islamic histories and Sīrah literature make it clear that surrounding Near Eastern communities and customs were intertwined with that of pre-Islamic Arabia. For example, Isaac of Antioch (d. ca. 452), Homiliae S. Isaaci Syri Antio-cheni, Ed. Paul Bedjan, Paris: Otto Harrassowitz, 1903, 180–213, cites the worship of pagan gods in Syria and Mesopotamia which are cited in Hishām b. al-Kalbī, Kitābal-as.nām, Ed. Ah.mad Zakī, Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Mis.riyyah, 1924. That Ibn al-Kalbī ascribes the origin of these pagan cults—the hallmark of the jāhiliyyah—to Syria is evidence enough to compel us to widen our scope of this context beyond the pagan worship of Arabia popularized by Islamic tradition. For a broader discussion of earliest Islam as a civilization belonging to late antiquity see Chase Rob-inson, “Reconstructing early Islam: Truth and consequences,” in Herbert Berg (ed.), Method and Theory in the Study of Islamic Origins, E. J. Brill: Leiden, 2003, pp.101–8.
  4. This religious governance was demonstrated when Ardeshīr I (d. 242) made Zoroastrianism the official religion of the Sasanian Empire. Constantine I (d. 337) followed suit in 313 CE gradually transforming the Roman Empire into a Christian entity. In Mesopotamia, the Syriac speaking kingdoms of Osrhoene (132 BCE–244 CE) and Adiabene (15–116 CE) also became Christian. For more on this For more see Harold A. Drake, Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Practices, Aldershot; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006, 69–83, 103–12, 167–77, 235–52, 253–63, 321–2. Cf. further Thomas Sizgorich, Violence and Belief in Late Antiquity: Militant Devotion in Christianity and Islam, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
  5. See the definition of both camps in Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971, xxi–xxiii, which is useful for the late antique Christian context. 6
  6. John Trimingham, Christianity among the Arabs in Pre-Islamic Times, Beirut: Longman, 1979, 137, 163, 296; Sidney Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008, 9, 50; Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1984, 435–47.
  7.  T.ayyib al-Tīzīnī, Muqaddimāt awwaliyyah fi al-islām al-muh.ammadī al-bākir nash’atan wa ta’sīsan, Damascus: Dār Dimashq li al-T.ibā‘ah wa al-Sah.āfah wa al-Nashr, 1994, 329 suggests this dogmatism on the part of the Qur’ān stresses strict monotheism and may be a reflection of the desolate living conditions and somewhat sober socio-psychology which gave rise to this religious atmosphere. Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, vol. 1, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977, 1:117, 130 attributes this to what he calls the “mercantile impulse” which stresses justice and populism.
  8. The word “milieu” is general enough to afford a gradual, complex, heterogeneous development of the Qur’ān, which contrasts the word “origin” which is too specific and implies that the Qur’ān sprang forth from a particular source.
  9. It is just as important to keep in mind that the Aramaic Gospel Traditions are themselves part of the general Biblical, Rabbinic, Apocryphal, and Pseudepigraphal background with which the Qur’ān was in dialogue and with which it had to contend.
  10. For purposes of this study, the terms “Arabian” or “Arabic speaking” people is used instead of the word “Arab” which implies a modern, nationalist grouping ill-suited for the tribal and sectarian social structures with which peoples in the late antique period identified.
  11. Anonymous, Gēnzā Rbā, Ed. Husām H. al-‘Aydānī, Baghdad: Mawsu‘at al-‘Uyun al-Ma‘rifiyyah, 2011. Its books are divided between the Right (19 total) and Left (7 total).
  12. Ephrem the Syrian, St. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan, 2 vols, Ed. C. W. Mitchell, London; Oxford: William Norgate, 1912.
  13. This point has been discussed by a number of studies including Angelika Neuwirth, Studien zur Komposition der mekkanischen Suren: die literarische Form des Koran – ein Zeugnis seiner His-torizität?, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2007, 26; Manfred Kropp, “Tripartite, but anti-Trinitarian formulas in the Qur’ānic corpus, possibly pre-Qur’ānic” in G. S. Reynolds (ed.), New Perspectives on the Qur’an: The Qur’an in Its Historical Context 2, London; New York: Routledge, 2011, 251, 260; Nas.r H. Abū Zayd, “Theological Interpretation,” Lecture delivered to the Bibliotheca Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt, December, 2008, concerning an earlier discussion with Angelika Neuwirth.
  14. John Wansbrough, Qur’anic Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977, reprinted, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2004, 36 argues that the notion of a single volume harkens back to “Mosaic revelation.”
  15. For more on intertextual dialogue with respect to the Qur’ān see Neuwirth, Studien zur Komposi-tion der mekkanischen Suren, 51–54.
  16. Gabriel Reynolds, The Qur’ān and its Biblical Subtext, New York; London: Routledge, 2012, 232–57. Cf. also Rosalind W. Gwynne, Logic, Rhetoric and Legal Reasoning in the Qur’an: God’s Arguments, New York, Routledge Press, 2009.
  17. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: Other Early Writings, New York and Oxford: Oxford Univer-sity Press, 1998, 9.
  18. Trimingham, Christianity among the Arabs, 19; Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, 8–9, 12; Ernst A. Knauf, “Arabo-Aramaic And ‘Arabiyya: From Ancient Arabic To Early Standard Arabic, 200 CE–600 CE” in Angelika Neuwirth et al. (eds) The Qur’ān in Con-text, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2009, 199.
  19. Cf. Fred Donner, “Qur’ānic furqān,” JSS 52:2, 2007, 279.
  20. Bardaisan, The Book of the Laws of Countries, Ed. H. J. W. Drijvers, Piscataway, NJ: Gogrias Press, 2007
  21. See further Emran El-Badawi, “A humanistic reception of the Qur’an,” Scriptural Margins: On the Boundaries of Sacred Texts, ELN 50.2, 2012, 99–112; Angelika Neuwirth, Der Koran als Text der Spätantike: Ein europäischer Zugang, Berlin: Verlag der Weltreligionen, 2010, 565. Ibid., 561–64; 761–68 propose “koranisches Drama” and “rhetorischer Triumph” respectively, as a way of explaining—in my view—how the text consciously and competently re-create what are otherwise quaintly considered Biblical parallels.
  22. Carl Ernst, How to Read the Qur’an: A New Guide with Select Translations, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2011, 199 sees the coherence of the Qur’ān text in the “ring structure” of Cuypers as well as the chronology proposed by Nöldeke and elaborated upon by Neuwirth. See also Mustansir Mir, Coherence in the Qur’an: A Study of Islahi’s Concept of Naz.m in Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1986, 2, 98–100. Contrast these positions with Wansbrough, Qur’anic Studies, 44.
  23. See in relation Ernst, How to Read the Qur’an, 94, 163, 204.
  24. Walter Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995, 106, 145, 156.
  25. See Robert Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jew-ish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam, Princeton: Darwin Press, 1997.
  26. Fred Donner, Narratives of Islamic Origin: The Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing, Princ-eton: Darwin Press, 1998, 132. These conquests became the subject of the maghāzī/futūh.āt genre of later Islamic literature. Cf. generally Ah.mad b. Yah.yā b. Jābir al-Balādhurī, Futūh. al-buldān, Cairo: Sharikat T.ab‘ al-Kutub al-‘Arabiyyah, 1901; Muh.ammad b. ‘Umar al-Wāqidī, Kitāb al-maghāzī, 3 vols, Ed. Marsden Jones, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966; Futūh. al-shām. Ed. William Nassau Lees, 3 vols, Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag, 1981.
  27. Joseph Schacht, The Legacy of Islam, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974, 139. From within Islamic tradition Schancht also cites Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898). In this category also is Muh.ammad ‘Abduh (d. 1905). See also Kate Zebiri, Mahmud Shaltut and Islamic Modernism, Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 134.
  28. Muhammad Abū Zayd, al-Hidāyah wa-al-‘irfān fī tafsīr al-qur’ān bi al-qur’ān, Cairo: Matba‘at Mus.t.afā al-Bābī al-H.alabī, 1930.
  29. Rashad Khalifa, Quran, Hadith, and Islam, Fremont, CA: Universal Unity, 2001; Ah.mad S. Mans.ūr, al-Qur’ān wa kafā: mas.daran li al-tashrī‘ al-islāmī, Beirut: Mu’asasat al-Intishār al-‘Arabī, 2005; Nihrū T.ant.āwī, Qirā’ah li al-islām min jadīd, Cairo: Nihrū Tant.āwī, 2005; Ibn Qirnās, Sunnat al-awwalīn: tah.līl mawāqif al-nās min al-dīn wa ta‘līlihā, Köln, Germany: Manshūrat al-Jamal, 2006.
  30. Theodor Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorāns, Göttingen, Verlag der Dieterichschen Buchhandlung, 1860, 6–7, 13, 25, 39, 270, 309.
  31. Theodor Nöldeke, Neue Beitrage zur semitischen Sprachwissenschaft, Strassburg: APA-Philo Press, 1904, 2–23.
  32. Karl Vollers, Volkssprache und Schriftsprache im alten Arabien, Strassburg, K. J. Trübner, 1906, 185–95. Cf. In relation Pierre Larcher, “Arabe Préislamique Arabe Coranique Arabe Classique: Un Continuum?” in Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd Puin (eds), Die dunklen Anfänge: neue Forschun-gen zur Entstehung und frühen Geschichte des Islam, Berlin: Schiler Verlag, 2005.
  33. Chaim Rabin, Ancient West-Arabian, London: Taylor’s Foreign Press, 1951, 107, 109, 123, 129, 167.
  34. Arthur Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’ān: The Old Codicies/Kitāb al-mas.āh.if, Leiden: Brill, 1937, 51.
  35. See J.F. Healey and G. R. Smith, “Jaussen-Savignac 17 – The earliest dated Arabic document (A.D. 267),” ATLAL 12 (1989): 77–84; Beatrice Gruendler, The Development of the Arabic Scripts: From the Nabataean Era to the First Islamic Century According to Dated Texts. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1993, 123–30.
  36. Robert Hoyland, “Epigraphy and the Linguistic Background to the Qur’ān,” in G. S. Reynolds (ed.), The Qur’ān in its Historical Context, London; New York: Routledge, 2008, 51–68; “The Earliest Written Evidence of the Arabic Language and Its Importance for the Study of the Quran,” in ibid. (ed.), New Perspectives on the Qur’an, New York: Routledge Press, 2011; Hani Haya-jneh, “The Earliest Written Evidence of the Arabic Language and Its Importance for the Study of the Quran,” in ibid. (ed.), New Perspectives on the Quran, New York: Routledge Press, 2011.
  37. T.āhā H.usayn, Fī al-shi‘r al-jāhilī, Cario: Dār al-Ma‘ārif, 1925, 27–35.
  38. Nicolai Sinai, “Religious poetry from the Quranic milieu: Umayya b. Abī l-S.alt on the fate of the Thamūd,” BSOAS, 2011, 397–416. For more on the applicability of pre-Islamic poetry see also Neuwirth, Der Koran als Text der Spätantike, 674–85.
  39. Julius Wellhausen, Muhammed in Medina: das ist Vakidi’s Kitāb alMaghazi, in verkürzter deut-scher Wiedergabe, Berlin: G. Reimer, 1882, 41, 310, 370–72; Reste arabischen heidentums, gesammelt und erläutert, Berlin: G. Reimer, 1897; Ignác Goldziher, Muhammedanische Studien. Halle a. S.: M. Niemeyer, 1888–90, Eng. trans. S. M. Stern, C. R. Barber and Hamid Dabashi,Muslim Studies. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction, 2006, 31–32, 44, 237.
  40. Samuel Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam: An Account of Popular Superstitions, New York: Macmillan Company, 1920.
  41. W. Montgomery Watt, Muh.ammad at Mecca, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953, 23–29.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Michael Lecker, “Pre-Islamic Arabia” in Chase Robinson (ed.), The New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 2010, pp.153–170.
  44. Aloys Sprenger, Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad, 3 vols, Berlin: Nicolaische Verlags-buchhandlung, 1869, 3:211, 522.
  45. William Muir, The Life of Mahomet. London: Smith, Elder& Co., 1861, 63.
  46. William Goldsack, The Origins of the Qur’ān: An Inquiry into the Sources of Islam, London, Madras and Columbo: The Christian Literature Society, 1907, 6.
  47. Henry Lammens, L’Arabie occidentale avant l’hégire, Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1928, 249.
  48. Mohammed Bamyeh, The Social Origins of Islam: Mind, Economy, Discourse, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999, 273–93.
  49. Wansbrough, Qur’anic Studies, op. cit.
  50. Ibid., 38–52. In relation See Gabriel Reynolds, “Le problème de la chronologie du Coran,” Arabica 58, 2011, 477–502.
  51. Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977, 29–30.
  52. Yehuda Nevo and Judith Koren, Crossroads to Islam: The Origins of the Arab Religion and the Arab State, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003, 87–168, 255–81. More recently Tom Hol-land, In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Empire, London: Doubleday, 2012 advances the skeptical hypothesis for the masses and in a manner reminiscent of Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, New York: Modern Library, 2003, 131–208; George Anastaplo, But Not Philosophy: Seven Introductions to Non-Western Thought, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2002, 175–224. Were their claims not problematic enough, Hol-land, Gibbon and Anastaplo also did not know Arabic
  53. Alfred-Louis de Premare, Aux origines du Coran: questions d’hier, approches d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Téraèdre; Tunis: Ceres Editions; Casablanca: Editions Le Fennec, 2005, 97–9, 135–6.
  54. Fred Donner, Narratives, 49, 60–61. The sectarian problem was first enflamed by the first civil war or fitnah (656–661). To appreciate the siesmic effect that this had on the religious and politi-cal makeup of Islamic civilization cf. Nas.r b. Muzā, Waq‘at s.iffīn, Second Edition, Ed. ‘Abd al-Salām M.Hārūn, Cairo: al-Mu’assasah al-‘Arabiyyah al-H.adīthah, 1382/1962.
  55. Patricia Crone, “What do we actually know about Muh.ammad?,” Open Democracy,
  56. Behnam Sadeghi and Uwe Bergmann, “The Codex of a Companion of the Prophet and the Qur’ān of the Prophet” A 57, 2010, 370–71 conjectures 632–700 CE. Sadeghi’s dating and textual analy-sis is fully fleshed out in Behnam Sadeghi and Mohsen Goudarzi, “‘ā’ 1 and the Origins of the Qur’ān,” DI 87.1–2, 2012, 1–129. Also cf. generally Déroche, F. La transmission écrite du Coran dans les débuts de l’islam, Leiden: Brill, 2009; Keith Small, Textual Criticism and Qur’an Manuscripts, Landham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011. For more on issues of orality versus textu-ality, as well as the codification and canonization of the Qur’ān cf. Régis Blachère, Introduction au Coran, Paris, Besson & Chantemerle, 1959, 18–102; Fred Donner, “The historical context” in Jane McAuliffe (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’ān, Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-sity Press, 2006, 30–35; Claude Gilliot, “Creation of a fixed text,” in ibid. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’ān, 2006, 41–57; Harald Motzki, “Alternative accounts of the Qur’ān’s formation” inibid. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’ān, 59–75; Angelika Neuwirth, “Structural, linguistic and literary features” in ibid. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’ān, 97–113.
  57. A. J.Droge, The Qur’ān: A New Annotated Translation, Sheffield; Bristol, UK: Equinox Press, 2013, xxvi discusses this position held by John Burton; Nagel Tilman, Der Koran: Einführung- Texte-Erläuterungen, Munich: C. H. Beck, 1983, 11, 86–7.
  58. The translation “book” for kitāb is too arbitrary here since what is more precisely intended is “scripture.” For more on this, see Arthur Jeffery, Qur’ān as Scripture, New York: Russel F. Moore, 1952, 67–8.
  59. Blachère, Introduction au Coran, 16, 136.
  60. Kenneth Cragg, The Mind of the Qur’ān: Chapters in Reflection, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1973, 14–15, 30.
  61. Jeffery, Qur’ān as Scripture, 6–7.
  62. Ernst, How to Read the Qur’an, 43, 118; Neuwirth, “Structural, linguistic and literary features,” 102. This point is also shared by Alford Welch, Presentation at the second conference on theQur’ān in Its Historical Context, 2009, which points out that this may have began taking place as early as Muh.ammad’s lifetime as indicated by the Qur’ān’s shift from calling itself qur’ān (recita-tion) to al-kitāb (book, scripture). For more on al-kitāb and its signification of authority (sult.ān) see Wansbrough, Qur’anic Studies, 75.
  63. Tor Andrae, Mohammad: The Man and his Faith. New York: Scribner, 1936, 96; William Graham, “The Earliest meaning of Qur’ān,” DWI 23–4, 1984, 1–28.
  64. Nasr H. Abū Zayd, Mafhūm al-nas.s.: dirāsah fī‘ulūm al-qur’ān, Cairo: al-Hay’ah al-Mis.riyyah al-‘Āmmah lil-Kitāb, 1990, 59–63
  65. Mondher Sfar, Le Coran Est-il Authentique?, Paris: Les Editions Sfar, Diffusion Le Cerf, 2000, English trans. Emilia Lanier, In Search for the Original Koran: The True History of the Revealed Text, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2008, 15–75. In relation see the discussion in Sadeghi and Bergmann, “The Codex of a Companion,” 372 which, in light of Eahrman’s work, portrays the evolution of qur’ānic scribes from a somewhat early and haphazard phase to a more careful one.
  66. Walid Saleh, “The Politics of Quranic Hermeneutics: Royalties on Interpretation,” Lecture deliv-ered to the University of California at Los Angeles, June 6, 2009.
  67. Daniel Madigan, The Qur’ān’s Self Image, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001, 101–5, 183.
  68. Ibid., 124.
  69. Toshihiko Izutsu, God and Man in the Koran: Semantics of the Koranic Weltanchauung, Tokyo: The Keio Institute of Cultural and Linguistic Studies, 1964, 216. Cf. generally his Ethico-Reli-gious Concepts in the Quran, Montreal, McGill University Press, 1966; and Nawāl Zarzūr, Mu‘jam alfāz. al-qiyam al-akhlāqiyyah wa-tat.awwuruhā al-dalālī bayna lughat al-shi‘r al-jāhilīwa-lughat al-qur’ān al-karīm, Beirut: Maktabat Lubnān Nāshirūn, 2001 which is a ethical lexi-con of the Qur’ān.
  70. For a survey of classical Tafsīr literature see Mahmoud Ayoub, The Qur’ān and Its Interpreters, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984.
  71. S.ādiq al-‘Az.m, Naqd al-fikr al-dīnī, Beirut: Dār al-T.alī‘ah, 1982, 12–54; T.ayyib al-Tīzīnī, al-Nas.s. al-Qur’ānī amāma ishkāliyyat al-binyah wa-al-qirā’ah, Damascus: Dār al-Yanābī‘, 1997, 419–21. See further Tīzīnī, Muqaddimāt, 519; Mohammed Arkoun, Lectures du Coran, Paris: G.-P. Maisonneuve et Larose, 1982, 115–16; Muh.ammad S. al-‘Ashmāwī, Jawhar al-islām, Beirut: al-‘Arabī; Cairo: Maktabat Madbūlī, 1984; Muh.ammad Shah.rūr, al-Kitāb wa al-qur’ān: qirā’ah mu‘ās.irah, Damascus: al-Ahālī li al-T.ibā‘ah wa-al-Nashr wa-al-Tawzī‘, 1990, 4, 484–99; Burhān Ghalyūn, al-Wa‘y al-dhātī, Beirut: al-Mu’assasah al-‘Arabiyyah li al-Dirāsāt wa al-Nashr, 1992, 87–8; H.asan H.anafī, Min al-nas.s. ilā al-wāqi‘, Beirut: Dār al-Madār al-Islāmī, 2004, 5–17; T.āriq H.iggī, Sujūn al-‘aql al-‘arabī, Cairo: Dar Mirīt, 2009; Gamāl al-Bannā, Tathwīr al-qurān. Cairo: Dār al-Fikr al-Islāmī, 2000, 106.
  72. Muh.ammad A. Khalaf Allāh, Hawl al-fannī fī al-qur’ān, Fourth Edition, London; Beirut; Cairo: Mu’assasat al-Intishār al-‘Arabī; Sīnā’ li al-Nashr, 1999.
  73. Angelika Neuwirth, “Einige Bemerkungen zum besonderen sprachlichen und literarischen. Char-akter des Koran” DO 1975, 1977, 736–39. For an in-depth study of qur’ānic chronology and the context of late antiquitysee Angelika Neuwirth, Der Koran. Band 1: Frühmekkanische Suren, Berlin: Verlag der Weltreligionen, 2011; Der Koran als Text der Spätantike, op. cit.; Studien zur Komposition der mekkanischen Suren, op. cit. Salwa El-Awa, Textual Relations in the Qur’an: Relevance, Coherence and Structure, New York, Routledge Press, 2006, 45–159 goes a step further and discusses the section and paragraph divisions of Q 33 and Q 75 respectively. See also the seve- part division of the Qur’ān by the Farahi-Islahi school in Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i qur’ān pak ek nazar, Lahore: Dār al-Tadhkīr, 2007.
  74. Christopher Nouryeh, The Art of Narrative in the Holy Qur’ān: a Literary Appreciation of a Sacred Text, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008, 52–4.
  75. See Michel Cuypers, Le festin: une lecture de la sourate al-Mā’ida, Paris: Lethielleux, 2007, 385; “Semitic Rhetoric as a Key to the Question of Nazm of the Qur’ānic Text,” Lecture delivered to the The Qur’ān: Text, History & Culture Conference, London, November 12, 2009. For a lucid integration of Cuypers “ring structure” and Noldeke’s “chronology,” see Ernst, How to Read the Qur’an, 48–9.
  76. Stefan Wild, “We have sent down to thee the book with the truth: Spatial and temporal implica-tions of the qur’ānic concepts of nuzul, inzal and tanzil” in Stefan Wild (ed.) The Qur’ān as Text, Leiden; New York and Köln: E. J. Brill, 1996, 137–56.
  77. Pierre de Caprona, Le Coran: aux sources de la parole oraculaire: structures rythmiques des sourates mecquoises, Paris: Publications orientalistes de France, 1981, 557.
  78. Behnam Sadeghi, “The Chronology of the Qurān: A Stylometric Research Program,” Arabica 58, 2011, 210–99.
  79. Michael Sells, “A Literary Approach to the Hymnic Suras of the Qur’ān” in Issa Boullata (ed.)Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qur’ān, Padstow, UK: Curzon Press, 2000, 3–25.
  80. One should be cautious, nonetheless, that Ibn Mas‘ūd’s codex states upon your “mouth” instead of heart for Q 42:24. See Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’ān, 86.
  81. Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur’ān, Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1980, 97.
  82. Abdolkarim Soroush, Bast-i Tajrubay-i Nabavī, Moasese Farhangi Serat, 1999, English trans. Nilou Mobasser, The Expansion of Prophetic Experience, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2008, 1–25.
  83. ‘Alī Dashtī, Bīst va sīh sāl, Paris: Forghan, 1990–1994, English trans. F. Bagley, Twenty Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, London; Boston: G. Allen & Unwin, 1985, 50–164.
  84. Malek Bennabi, Le phénomène caranique: essai d’une théorie sur le Coran, 1968, Arabic trans. ‘Abd al-S.abūr Shāhīn, al-Z.āhirah al-qur’āniyyah, Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1968, 360.
  85. Seyyed H. Nasr, “Sufism and the Perennity of the Mystical Quest,” Sufi Essays, Albany: SUNY Press, 1973, 25.
  86. Ibid., 36.
  87. Firās al-Sawwāh., Mughāmarat al-‘aql al-ūlā: dirāsah fī al-ust.ūrah, Damascus: Ittih.ād al-Kuttāb al-‘Arab, 1976; Sayid al-Qimanī, al-Ust.ūrah wa al-turāth, Cairo: al-Markaz al-Mis.rī li buh.ūthārah, 1999. His work by the title al-H.izb al-hāshimī wa ta’sīs al-dawlah al-islāmiyyah, Cairo: Maktabat Madbūlī al-S.aghīr, 2008 won the Egyptian honorary state award and caused great con-troversy; Alan Dundes, Fables of the Ancients? Folklore in the Qur’ān, Lanham; Boulder; New York; Oxford, 2003. Although Dundes is not a Qur’ān scholar, his use of literary tools from the Classics and Biblical parallels are insightful nonetheless.
  88. Mohammad Abu Hamdiyyah, The Qur’ān: An Introduction, Routledge: New York, 2000, 29; B. F. Musallam, Sex and Society in Islam, London: Cambridge University Press, 1983, 54–6. Cf. in relation Job 10:8–12.
  89. Devin Stewart, “Saj‘in the Qur’an: prosody and structure,” JAL 21, 1990, 101–39.
  90. Devin Stewart, “The Qur’ān in Light of Greek Oracular Texts” in ibid. (ed.), New Perspectives on the Quran, New York: Routledge Press, 2011. Cf. in relation Walter de Gruyter, Zeit und Gott: Hellenistische Zeitvorstellungen in der altarabischen Dichtung und im Koran, Berlin; New York: Gruyter, 2008.
  91. Ah.mad Dāwūd, al-‘Arab wa al-sāmiyyūn wa al-‘ibrāniyyūn wa banū isrā’īl wa al-yahūd, Damas-cus: Dār al-Mustaqbal, 1991, 61–4.
  92. The topos of the heavenly journey or “ascension” is attested in several ancient and late antique Near Eastern religious works, including Genesis 28:11–12 (Jacob’s Ladder); 1 Enoch; Testament of Abraham 10–20; Ardā Virāf Nāmak; Ephrem, “Des Heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen de paradiso und contra Julianum,” CSCO 174–5, 78–9, 1957, 16–19, 15–18 (hymn 5.3–15); Q 6:35; 17:93; 52:38.
  93. William Clair-Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur’ān,London: SPCK; New York: E.S. Gorham, 1911, 85–100. His thesis is made clear as well in the title of the first edition of his workThe Sources of Islam: A Persian Treatise, trans. Sir William Muir, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1901.
  94. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, 1:61–2, 117.
  95. Julian Baldick, Black God: The Afroasiatic Roots of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religions, London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1997, 168.
  96. Sarwat al-Assiouty, Origines égyptiennes du Christianisme et de l’Islām: résultat d’un siècle et demi d’archéologie: Jésus, réalités historiques, Muh.ammad, évolution dialectique, Paris: Letouzey & Ané, 1989; Robert Feather, The Copper Scroll Decoded: One Man’s Search for the Fabulous Treasures of Ancient Egypt, London: Thorsons, 1999, 155, 216, 270.
  97. Arthur Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur’ān, Baroda, India: Oriental Institute, 1938.
  98. Siegmund Fraenkel, Die Aramäischen Fremdwörter im Arabischen, Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1962, 11, 141, 255, etc. See also Rudolf Dvorák, Ein Beitrag zur Frage über die Fremdwörter im Korān, München: F. Straub, 1884.
  99. Ilse Lichtendstadter, “Origin and Interpretation of some quranic Koranic Symbols,” in G. Mak-disi (ed.) Arabic and Islamic Studies in honor of Hamilton A. R. Gibb, E.J. Brill: Leiden, 1965, 426–36; Tamara Green, The City of the Moon God: Religious Traditions of Harran. Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1992, 6, 104.
  100. Adam Silverstein, “The Qur’ānic Pharaoh” in ibid. (ed.), New Perspectives on the Quran, New York: Routledge Press, 2011, 467–77.
  101. Adam Silverstein, “Hāmān’s transition from the Jāhiliyya to Islam,” JSAI 34, 2008, 285–308.
  102. Wilhelm Rudolph, Die Abhängigkeit des Qorans von Judentum und Christentum, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1922; Joseph Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen, Walter De Gruyter: Berlin & Leipzig, 1926; Anton Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur mit Ausschluss der chris-tlich-alästinensischen Texte, Bonn: A. Marcus and E. Webers Verlag Dr. jur. Albert Jahn, 1922; Clement Huart, “Une nouvelle source du Qoran,” JA, IO Series 10, 1904, 125–67; Muhammad, Asad, The Message of the Quran, Gibraltar: Dar Al-Andalus, 1980; Denise Masson, Le Coran et la révélation judéo-chrétienne; études comparées, Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1958; Rudi Paret, Muh.ammad und der Koran: Geschichte und Verkündigung des arabischen Propheten, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1957; Joshua Finkel, “Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan influences on Arabia” in R.W. Barstow (ed.), The Macdonald Presentation Volume, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1933; H. Z. Hirschberg, Jüdische und christliche Lehren im vor- und frühislamischen Arabien, Krakow: Polska Akademia Umiejetnosci, 1939; Heinrich Speyer, Die biblischen Erzählungen im Qoran, Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1961; Henry Smith, The Bible and Islam: Or the Influence of the Old and New Testaments on the Religion of Moh.ammad, London: James Nisbet, 1898; Johann-Dietrich Thyen, Bibel und Koran, Köln: Böhlau, 1989; David Brady, “The book of Revelation and the Qur’an: Is there a possible literary relationship,” JSS, 23: 216–25; Ugo Bonanate, Bibbia e Corano, Torino, Italy: Bollati Boringhieri, 1995; Heribert Busse, Die theologischen Beziehungen des Islams zu Judentum und Christentum: Grundlagen des Dialogs im Koran und die gegenwar-tige Situation, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1988; F. E. Peters, The Mono-theists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, vol 1, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003, 2–63; Roberto Tottoli, I profeti biblici nella tradizione islamica, Paideia: Brescia, 1999, English trans. Michael Robertson, Biblical prophets in the Qur’ān and Muslim Lit-erature, Richmond: Curzon Press, 2002; Jacqueline Chabbi, Le coran décrypté: figures bibliques en Arabie, Paris: Bibliothèque de culture religieuse, 2008; Reynolds, The Qur’ān and its Biblical Subtext, op. cit.
  103. Abraham Geiger, Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen? Eine von der König. Preussischen Rheinuniversität gekrönte Preisschrift, Leipzig: Verlag von M. W. Kaufman, 1902, English trans. F. M. Young, Judaism and Islam, Madras: MDCSPCK Press, 1896.
  104. Hartwig Hirschfeld, Jüdische Elemente im Koran, Berlin: Selbstverlag, 1878; George Lamsa, The Short Koran: Designed for Easy Reading, Chicago: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, 1949.
  105. Gustav Weil, Biblische Legenden der Muselmänner, Frankfurt: Literarische Anstalt, 1845; Walther Eickmann, Die Angelologie und Dämonologie des Korans, New York; Leipzig: Selbts-verlag Des Verfasser, 1908; Abraham Katsh, Judaism in Islam: Biblical and Talmudic Back-grounds of the Koran and its Commentaries, New York: Sepher-Hermon, 1980; Bat-Sheva‘Garsi’el, Mik.ra, Midrash v.e-Kur’an:‘iyun’ali be-h.omare sipur meshutafim, Tel Aviv: ha-K.ibuts ha-me’, 2006.
  106. Charles Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of Islam, New York: Jewish Institute of Religion, 1933.
  107. Claude Gilliot, “Les ‘informateurs’ juifs et chrétiens de Muh.ammad: reprise d’un problème traité par Aloys Sprenger et Theodor Nöldeke,” JSAI 22, 1998, 84–126.
  108. David Margoliouth, The Relations between Arabs and Israelites Prior to the Rise of Islam, Lon-don: Oxford University Press, 1924; S. D. Goitein, “The Origin and Nature of the Muslim Friday Worship,” MW 49, 1959, 183–95; Uri Rubin, “Morning and Evening Prayers in early Islam,” JSAI 10, 1987, 40–64; “Between Arabia and the holy land: A Mecca–Jerusalem axis of sanctity,” JSAI 34, 2008, 345–62; Gordon Newby, A History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to their Eclipse under Islam, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1988; Etienne Couvert, La vérité sur les manuscrits de la Mer Morte: qui étaient les Esséniens?, Chiré en Mon-treuil: Editions de Chiré, 1995, 95–7; Michael Lecker, Jews and Arabs in Pre- and Early Islamic Arabia, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998; Uri Rubin, Between Bible and Qur‘ān: The Children of Israel and the Islamic Self-Image, Princeton: Darwin Press, 1999; cf. in relation Gerald Hawting, The Development of Islamic Ritual, Aldershot: England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate/Variorum, 2006; Jawād ‘Alī, Tārīkh al-s.alāh fī al-islām, Baghdad:‘at Diyā’, 2006.
  109. John M. Arnold, The Koran and the Bible or Islam and Christianity, London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1866; John Trimingham, Christianity among the Arabs in Pre-Islamic Times, Beirut: Longman, 1979; Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, Washing-ton, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1984; Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century, Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1989;Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2002; Byzan-tium and the Arabs in the Seventh Century, Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2010; Hans Zirker, Der Koran, Zugänge und Lesarten, Darmstadt: Primus Verlag, 1999; Munīr Ghabbūr and Ah.mad ‘Uthmān, al-Masīh.iyyyah fī al-islām, Cairo: al-Hay’ah al-Mis.riyyah al-‘Āmmah li al-Kitāb, 2009.
  110. William Shedd, Islam and the Oriental Churches, Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publica-tion and Sabbath-School Work, 1904; Richard Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environ-ment. London: Macmillan, 1926, 18–39; Hasan, Askari, “Limits to comparison: New Testament and Qur’ān,” Newsletter, CSIC 5, 1981; Stuart Munro-Hay, Axum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991, 3; cf. in relation John Bowman, “The debt of Islam to monophysite Syrian Christianity,” NTT 19 (1964–5): 177–201.
  111. Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976, 92–6; David Cook, “The Beginnings of Islam in Syria during the Umayyad Period,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chi-cago, 2002, 60–6. For more on the role of Christianity in Umayyad Syria cf. The Encounter of Eastern Christianity with Early Islam, Ed. Emmanouela Grypeou et al., Leiden: Brill, 2006; Jack Boulos Victor Tannous, “Syria between Byzantium and Islam: Making incommensurables speak,” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2010.
  112. Bell, The Origin of Islam, 20, 59–60; Trimingham, Christianity among the Arabs, 48–49; Jeffery, Qur’ān as Scripture, 13; Azzi, Le prêtre et le prophète, 190.
  113. Édouard-Marie Gallez, Le messie et son prophète: aux origines de l’islam, Paris: Éditions de Paris, 2005; Joachim Gnilka, Die Nazarener und der Koran Eine Spurensuche, Freiburg: Herder, 2007.
  114. Arnold, The Koran and the Bible, 372.
  115. de Blois, “Nasrani and Hanif: Studies on the Religious Vocabulary of Christianity and Islam,” BSOAS 65:1, 2002, 5–7.
  116. Harris Rendel, The New Text of the Kuran, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1926, 10.
  117. Hamilton Gibb, “Pre-Islamic Monotheism in Arabia” in F. E. Peters (ed.) The Arabs and Arabia on the Eve of Islam, New York: Ashgate, 1999, 295–306; Karl-Heinz Ohlig, “Das syrische und arabische Christentum und der Koran Autorenverzeichnis,” in ibid. (eds) Die dunklen Anfänge, 366–404; “Hinweise auf eine neue Religion in der christlichen Literatur “unter islamischer Herrschaft”?” in Ohlig, Karl-Heinz (ed.) Der frühe Islam: eine historisch-kritische Rekonstruk-tion anhand zeitgenössischer Quellen, Berlin: Verlag H. Schiler, 2007, 223–326.
  118. Gerald Hawting, The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam: From Polemic to History, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 16; Patricia Crone, “The Religion of the Qur’ānic Pagans,” Arabica 57, 2010, 151–200 concludes this after arguing that Jewish monotheism had a strong presence. Chase Robinson, “The rise of Islam: 600–705” in ibid. (ed.)The New Cambridge History of Islam, 177–83 argues vehemently for the dominance of Syriac Christian monotheism.
  119. Günter Lüling, Über den Ur-Qur’ān, Erlangen: Lüling, 1971, Englishtrans. A Challenge to Islam for Reformation, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2003, 423.
  120. Ibid., xiv.
  121. Louis Cheikho, al-Nas.rāniyyah wa-ādābuhā bayna ‘arab al-jāhiliyyyah, Beirut:‘at al-Ābā’ al-Mursalīn al-Yasū‘iyyyīn, 1923; M. P. Roncaglia, “Éléments ébionites et elkésaïtes dans le coran: notes et hypothèses,” POC 21, 1971, 101–26; Joseph Dorra-Haddad, al-Qur’ān da‘wah nas.rāniyyah, Beirut: Durūs Qur’āniyyah, 196?; “Coran, prédication nazaréenne,” POC 23 (1973); Joseph Azzi, Le prêtre et le prophète: aux sources du coran, Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2001.
  122. Dorra-Haddad, al-Qur’ān da‘wah nasrāniyyah, 88, 124–37; Azzi, Le prêtre et le prophète, 190.
  123. Cf. C. F. Robinson, EI2, “Warak.a b. Nawfal.”
  124. Azzi, Le prêtre et le prophète, 265–84.
  125. Sidney Griffith, “Syriacisms in the Arabic Qur’ān: Who were those who said ‘Allah is third of three’” in Meir Bar-Asher, Simon Hopkins, Sarah Stroumsa and Bruno Chiesa (eds) A Word Fitly Spoken: Studies in Medieval Exegeses of the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’ān, Jerusalem: The Ben-Zvi Institute, 2007, 87; Sāmī ‘As.s.ās, al-Qur’ān laysa da‘wah nas.rāniyyah: radd ‘alā kitābay al-haddād wa al-h.arīrī, Damascus: Dār al-Wathā’iq, 2003.
  126. Most important for the development of this theory were Sprenger, Das Leben, 1:131; Wellhausen, Reste arabischen heidentums, 205; Rudolph, Die Abhängigkeit des Qorans, 27; H. J. Schoeps, Theologie und Geschichte des Judenchristentums, Tubingen: Mohr, 1949, 334–43; S.D. Goitein,Jews and Arabs, New York: Schocken, 1955. My thanks go to Gabriel Reynolds for sharing this point with me.
  127. Holger Zellentin, The Qur’ān’s Legal Culture: The Didascalia Apostolorum as a Point of Depar-ture, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013 argues that within Islamic origins, the “Qur’ān’s legal cul-ture” may be in close dialogue with that of the Didascalia Apostolorum. See also John Jandora, The Latent Trace of Islamic Origins Subtitle: Midian’s Legacy in Mecca’s Moral Awakening, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2012.
  128. Khalīl‘Abd al-Karīm, Fatrat al-takwīn fī h.ayāt al-s.ādiq al-amīn, Cairo: Mīrīt li al-Nashr wa al-Ma‘lūmāt, 2001, 9–10; Abū Mūsā al-H.arīrī, Qiss wa nabī: fī nash’at al-islām, Beirut: s.n., 1979, 33–4; Tīzīnī, Muqaddimāt, 260, 300–2.
  129. Several heterodox Christian doctrines are manifested in the Qur’ān, such as Jesus’ infancy tradi-tions (Q 19:29–31), Docetic teachings (Q 3:55; 4:157), Christ’s single human nature (Q 3:59; 5:116), Christ styled as a Hebrew prophet (Q 2:87), and a pronounced anti-Trinitarian stance (Q 4:171; 5:73). Therefore it is little surprise as Sahas, John of Damascus on Islam, 26, notes that some seventh-century Syrian Christian Churches first perceived the Arab-Muslim conquerors as Christian heretics, such as the Arians. See further Yūh.annā al-Dimashqī [John of Damascus], Schriften zum Islam: Johannes Damaskenos und Theodor Abū Qurra: kommentierte griechisch-deutsche, Ed. Reinhold Glei and Adel T. Khoury, Würzburg: Echter, 1995.
  130. Cf. De Blois, “Nasrani and Hanif,” 26. For more on this cf. in relation H.J. Schonfield, The History of Jewish Christianity, London: Duckworth, 1936; J. Danielou, The Theology of Jew-ish Christianity, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1964; “Christianity as a Jewish Sect” in Arnold Toynbee (ed.), The Crucible of Christianity, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1969. The termnas.rānī, “Christian,” is attested in Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, 203.
  131. Karl Ahrens, “Christliches im Qoran,” ZDMG 84, 1930, 148–90; Joseph Henninger, Spuren christlicher Glaubenswahrheiten im Koran, Schöneck; Beckenried: Administration der Neuen Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft, 1951; Samir K. Samir, “The theological Christian influence on the Qur’ān: A reflection” in ibid. (ed.), The Qur’ān in its Historical Context, 141–62.
  132. Nabil Khouri, “Selected ethical themes in the Qur’ān and the Gospel of Matthew,” Ph.D. diss., Fuller Theological Seminary, 1999, 4–5.
  133. Ibid., 244.
  134. Ibid., 245.
  135. Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorāns, 6–7; Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur’ān, 19.
  136. Andrae’s article was originally published in a little known journal in Uppsala Sweden called Kyrkshistorisk årsskrift between the years 1923 and 1925; furthermore the book’s title made no direct claim to be a comparative work of Qur’ān and Syriac literature. See Tor Andrae, Der Ursprung der Islams und das Christentum, Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksells, 1926; French trans. Jules Roche, Les origines de l’islam et le christianisme, Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1955, 21, 118, 131, 205.
  137. ‘Uthmān’s codex states ghurufāt, “chambers,” whereas Ibn Mas‘ūd’s codex states the singularghurfah, “chamber.” See Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’ān, 77.
  138. Tor Andrae, Der Ursprung der Islams und das Christentum, 151–61.
  139. Edmund Beck, “Les Houris du Coran et Ephrem le syrien,” MIDEO 6, 1959–1961, 405–8.
  140. Alphonse Mingana, “Syriac Influence on the Style of the Kur’ān,” BJRL 2, 1927, 80.
  141. Christoph Luxenberg, Die syro-aramäische Lesart des Koran: Ein Beitrag zur Entschlüsselung der Koransprache, Berlin: Verlag Hans Schiler, 2000, 20. Other than reminding us that the Arabic qur’āncorresponds to Syriac qeryānāhe does not substantiate his argument with concrete evidence.
  142. Aphrahat, “Demonstrations,” PS 1, 1894, 1003–7 (On Death and the Last Days).
  143. For example, Q 2:266; 6:99; 16:11; 36: 34; 56:20; 95:1; and so on; Ephrem, “Des Heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen de paradiso und contra Julianum,” 19, 18 (hymn 5.15); Kouriyhe’s unpublished paper cites similar examples from Jacob of Serugh’s (d. 521) Memre.
  144. Angelica Neuwirth, “Qur’ān and history – A disputed relationship: Some reflections on qur’ānic history and history in the Qur’ān,” JQS 5.1, 2003, 8–9.
  145. Ibid.; Phoenix, R. and C. Horn. “Review of Christoph Luxenberg (ps.) Die syro-aramaeische Lesart des Koran; Ein Beitrag zur Entschlüsselung der Qur’ānsprache,” HJSS 6:1, 2003; Simon Hopkins, “Review of Luxenberg’s Die syro-aramäische Lesart des Koran: Ein Beitrag zur Entschlüsselung der Koransprache,” JSAI 28, 2003; Wilhelm Maria Maas, “Der Koran – ein christliches Lektio-nar?,” NZSE 11–12, 2003, 18–22; F. Corriente, “On A Proposal For A ‘Syro-Aramaic’ Reading of The Qur’an,” CCO 1, 2003; Murtad.ā Karīmī-Nyā, “Masaley-e ta’sīr-e zabānhay-e arāmī va siryānīdar zabān-e qur’ān,” ND 4:107, 1382/2004, 45–56; Jan van Reeth, “Le vignoble du paradis et le chemin qui y mène: la thèse de C. Luxenberg et les sources du Coran,” Arabica 53, 2006, 511–24; Ah.mad al-Jamal, “al-Qur’ān wa lughat al-suryān,” MKLT 10, 2007, 62–109; Devin Stewart, “Notes of medieval and modern emendations of the Qur’ān” in ibid. (ed.), The Qur’ān in its Historical Context, 225–45; Walid Saleh, “The etymological fallacy and Quranic Studies: Muhammad, para-dise, and late antiquity” in Angelika Neuwirth et al. (eds) The Qur’ān in Context, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2009, 649–98; Daniel King, “A Christian Qur’ān? A Study in the Syriac Background to the Language of the Qur’ān as Presented in the Work of Christoph Luxenberg,” JLARC 3, 2009, 44–71. Of course, writing Arabic in Syriac script (garšūnī)—which Luxenberg contends the Qur’ān was written in originally—was used to write some of its verses by Christians after the fact. For more on this see Salah Mahgoub Edris, “Teile des Qur’ān in Garšūnī Umschrift. Eine Studie zur Berliner Handschrift Nr. Sachau 98,” PDO 22, 1997, 641–65.
  146. Fred Donner, “The Historian, the Believer, and the Quran” in ibid. (ed.), New Perspectives on the Quran, New York: Routledge Press, 2011.
  147. Manfred Kropp, “Athiopische Arabesken im Koran. Afroasiatische Perlen auf Band gereiht, einzeln oderzu Paaren, diffus verteilt oder an Glanzpunkten konzentriet” in Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Markus Gross (eds) Schlaglichter: Die beiden ersten islamischen Jahrhunderte, Berlin: Schiler Verlag, 2008, 384–410; Jan van Reeth, “Eucharistie im Koran “in ibid. (eds) Schlaglichter, 457–60; Gabriel Sawma, The Qur’ān: Misinterpreted, Mistranslated, and Misread. The Aramaic Language of the Qur’ān. Plainsboro, NJ: GMS, 2006.
  148. Sidney Griffith, “Christian Lore and the Arabic Qur’ān: The ‘Companions of the Cave’ in Sūrat al-Kahf and in Syriac Christian Tradition” in ibid. (ed.), The Qur’ān in its Historical Context, 111.
  149. Sidney Griffith, “Syriacisms in the Arabic Qur’ān,” 83–110; “The Gospel, the Qur’ān, and the Presentation of Jesus in al-Ya‘qubi’s Tarikh” in John Reeves (ed.) Bible and Qur’ān: Essays in Scriptural Intertextuality, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2004, 133–60; “Christian Lore and the Arabic Qur’ān,” 109–38.
  150. Kevin van Bladel, “The Alexander legend in the Quran 18:83–102” in ibid. (ed.), The Qur’ān in its Historical Context, 175–203.
  151. Yousef Kouriyhe, unpublished paper.
  152. Joseph Witztum, “The Foundations of the House Q 2:127,” BSOAS 72:1, 2009, 25–40. Cf. also Joseph Witztum, “A Re-Examination of Surat Yusuf (Q 12)” in ibid. (ed.), New Perspectives on the Quran, New York: Routledge Press, 2011 with Bennabi, Le phénomène caranique, 109–53.
  153. Sebastian Brock, The Bible in the Syriac Tradition, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2006, 31. Nevertheless, the Diatessaron is a Gospel-harmony; it combines the four canonical Gospels into a single narrative. And while its rendition preserves material from all four Gospels, it omits major problem passages and harmonizes conflicting statements.
  154. Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on the Diatessaron, Ed. L. Leloir. Dublin: Chester Beatty, 1963; Tatian, Diatesseron de Tatien, Arabictrans. Abū al-Faraj ‘Abd Allāh al-T.ayyib, Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1935.
  155. Despite the assertions of some Greek church fathers such as Hegesippus (d. 180), Irenaeus (d. ca. 202), Origen (d. 254), Eusebius of Caesaria (d. 399), Epiphaneus of Salamis (d. 403), and Jerome (d. 420) regarding the alleged existence of the Hebrew (that is, Aramaic) Gospel of Matthew (See W. Schoemaker, “The Gospel according to the Hebrews,” BW 20.3, 1902, 196–203), no extant original Palestinian Aramaic Gospel text exists that emerged from the milieu of Jesus. Although the earliest extant Gospels are in Greek, the basic linguistic affinity of the Palestinian dialect (west Aramaic) spoken by Jesus of Nazareth with Syriac (east Aramaic) is a substantial foundation upon which some have framed their inquiry. Such efforts are considerably complicated by the fact that Syriacists and Biblical experts remain divided regarding the details of this relationship. The fundamental disagreement between scholars involves the philological treatment of archaic lan-guage present in either the Old Syriac or the Peshitta versions of the Gospels. Consequently, the archaic lexical and grammatical features of the Syriac Gospels were perceived by William Cure-ton, Ancient Syriac Documents Relative to the Earliest Establishment of Christianity in Edessa and the Neighbouring Countries, from the Year after Our Lord’s Ascension to the Beginning of the Fourth Century, London; Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate, 1864, 2–5; Matthew Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967, 269–71; Jan Joosten, The Syriac Language of Peshitta and Old Syriac Versions of Matthew, Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1996, 22–7, as preserving earlier Palestinian Aramaic. This view is not mainstream among Aramaicists. While he generally claims that archaic phrases in the Syriac Gospels do not reflect an old Palestinian Aramaic tradition, Brock, The Bible in the Syriac Tradition, 34, 108 argues that the Syriac text of the Gospels, in and of itself, “often recreates the Palestinian Aramaic original.” Moreover, to appreciate the full meaning behind the Gospels, Brock suggests one should read the Syriac translation alongside the Greek (and the Hebrew for the Old Testament). In relation to this point, see Francis Burkitt, Early Christianity Outside the Roman Empire: Two Lectures Delivered at Trinity College, Dublin, Glasgow: Cambridge University Press, 1899, 17–21; Robert Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition, London: Cambridge Univer-sity Press, 1975, 193–4. See also Asad, The Message of the Quran, 304.
  156. Black, An Aramaic approach to the Gospels and Acts, 265–66; Joosten, The Syriac language of Peshitta and old Syriac versions of Matthew, 16–17.
  157. For more on this, see Matthew Balck, Rabbula of Edessa and the Peshitta, Manchester: Manches-ter University Press, 1951.
  158. Joosten, The Syriac Language of Peshitta, 21. See further Anonymous, Syriac New Testament [Peshitta] and Psalms, Istanbul: United Bible Societies, 1994. For more information cf. generally Sebastian Brock, “The Syriac Versions [of the New Testament]” in Bruce Metzger (ed.), Early Versions of the New Testament, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.
  159. Brock, The Bible in the Syriac Tradition, 99–102.
  160. For a comparative study of the four Syriac Gospel translations see George Anton Kiraz, Compar-ative Edition of the Syriac Gospels: Aligning the Sinaiticus, Curetonianus, Peshītā and Harklean Versions, 4 vols, Leiden: Brill, 1996. Also cf. generally Sebastian Brock, “Greek Words in the Syriac Gospels,” LM 80, 1967.
  161. The Christian Palestinian Aramaic New Testament Version from the Early Period, vols 2A–2B, Ed. Christa Müller-Kessler and Michael Sokoloff, Groningen: STYX Publications, 1998, 1. For more information cf. generally Moshe Bar-Asher, Studies in Palestinian Syriac: Its Sources, Traditions, and Select Problems of Its Grammar, Jerusalem: _____, 1977; “The Syropalestinian Version of the Bible,” Lešonenu 61, 1998, 131–43; 251–2; Lucas Van Rompay, in J. Neusner and A.J. Avery-Peck (eds), “Christian Translations of Scripture in Christian Palestinian Aramaic” in Encyclopedia of Religious and Philosophical Writings in Late Antiquity,Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  162. The Qur’ān’s milieu intersected with the Syriac Christian sphere of influence, which was diffuse and popular among Arabians. The Greek sphere of influence in the Near East and Arabia was limited to select classes of urban centers like coastal Syro-Palestinian cities including Antioch, and Jerusalem, as well as monasteries in Sinai. For more see David Cook, “The Beginnings of Islam in Syria during the Umayyad Period,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2002; Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy, 2. On the importance of Syriac to the Gospels also See Burkitt, Early Christianity Outside the Roman Empire,17–21; Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom, 4, 193–94; Brock, The Bible in the Syriac Tradition, 34. Furthermore, the native cultures of Syria and Egypt especially, were in some ways in conflict with imported Hellenism. For more on the alienation and outrage of Syrian Jacobites towards the Greek church, See Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, 1:201; Kamal Salibi, Syria under Islam: Empire on Trial, 634–1097, Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1977, 18, 28. The animosity towards Greek elements was also prevalent among the Copts of Egypt. For more on the theological scuffles between the Coptic populace and Greek colonizers See Severus b. al-Muqaffa‘ (d. 377/987), History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria, ed. B. Evetts, Paris: Permis D’Imprimer, 1903. This was the case especially once the Greek Church came to control much of Christian doctrine and canon.
  163. Dundes, Fables of the Ancients?, 65.
  164. Mingana, “Syriac Influence on the Style of the Kur’ān,” 78; Gilliot, “Creation of a fixed text,” 43.
  165. Jeffery, The Qur’ān as Scripture, 67–8; Q 3:3.
  166. Furthermore, Q 42:12 states, “and before it [that is, the Qur’ān] was the book of Moses as a guide and mercy, however this is a book confirming [it] in an Arabic language, to warn those oppressive ones and to give good tidings to the doers of good.” See also Thyen, Bibel und Koran, 221; Claude Gilliot and Pierre Larcher, EQ, “Language and Style of the Qur’ān.”
  167. Mingana, “Syriac Influence on the Style of the Kur’ān,” 78.
  168. This time period roughly coincides with Fred Donner, “From believers to Muslims,” AA 50–1, 2002–3; Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2010, 194’s conception of the “emergence of Islam” which begins in the late seventh or early eights century.
  169. C. Kessler, “‘Abd al-Malik’s Inscription in the Dome of the Rock: A Reconsideration,” JRAS, 1970, 2–14.
  170. Among others these include b-ism-illāh (Q 27:30) and allāh-humma(Q 3:26; 5:114; 8:32; 10:10; 39:46). See further ‘Alī Ibrāhīm Ghabbān, “Naqsh Zuhayr: Aqdam naqsh islāmī Mu’arrakh bi-sanat 24 H/644–45 M” Arabia 1, 2003, 293–342.
  171. In relation to this point see Sadeghi and Bergmann, “The Codex of a Companion,” 364.
  172. Ibid., 344, 364.
  173. Ibid., 371.
  174. Ibid., 383.
  175. Mas.āh.if‘ā’. Kuwait: Dār al-Āthār al-Islāmiyyah, 1985, 42–4. Sadeghi and Bergmann, “The Codex of a Companion,” 364–5 dates the “standard Qur’an” to the late seventh or early eighth century. Sadeghi and Goudarzi, “‘ā’ 1 and the Origins of the Qur’ān,” 8, argues based on carbon dating for a date prior to 656—actually before 646 with a 75 percent chance to be exact. Since this study assumes the person of Muh.ammad to be the primary articulator of the Qur’ān, the precise dating of its earliest extant written record does not affect our literary analysis in any significant way. Therefore, designating 610–714 as the “Qur’ānic period” provides a time period that is historically broad and methodologically conservative.
  176. Gruendler, The Development of the Arabic Scripts, 123–30.
  177. Ibid., 133–4.
  178. Ibid., 134–5; see also Mas.āh.if‘ā’, 14–15; see further M.C.A. Macdonald, “Reflections on the Linguistic Map of Pre-Islamic Arabia,” Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 11, 2000, 28–79.
  179. Gruendler, The Development of the Arabic Scripts, 2. In addition, Tīzīnī’s student Yousef Kouri-yhe has shared with me his insights concerning fifth to sixth century Syriac manuscripts which he says set the standard for the writing of early Qur’ān manuscripts.
  180. Shelomo Morag, The Vocalization Systems Of Arabic, Hebrew, And Aramaic: Their Phonetic And Phonemic Principles, Gravenhage, Netherlands: Mouton & Co., 1962, 46; Phillip Hitti, His-tory of the Arabs: From the Earliest Times to the Present, London: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1970, 219; Luxenberg, Die syro-aramäische Lesart des Koran, 16–24.
  181. Adolf Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, Cairo: Al-Maaref Press, 1952; I Arabische Chronologie, II Arabische Papyruskunde, Handbuch Der Orientalistik, Leiden; Köln: E. J. Brill, 1966; Nabia Abbott, The Rise Of The North Arabic Script And Its Kur’ānic Development, with A Full Description Of The Kur’ān Manuscripts In The Oriental Institute, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939; Gruendler, The Development of the Arabic Scripts, op. cit.
  182. Abū Zayd, Mafhūm al-nas.s., 92–9.
  183. Muh.ammad b. Sa‘d, Kitāb al-tabaqāt al-kabīr, 11 vols, Ed. ‘Alī M. ‘Umar, Cairo: Maktabat al-Khānjī, 2001. This cut off date is found generally in al-Sayyid Taqi al-Din, Us.ūl al-adabī wa-manāhijahu: fī mas.ādir al-tārīkh al-dīnī, Cairo: Dār Mis.r, 1984, 11–17; Wadad al-Qadi, “Biographical dictionaries: Inner structure and cultural significance” in G. N. Atiyeh (ed.), The Book in The Islamic World: The Written Word and Communication in the Middle East, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995, 97. For an in-depth study on the development of the Islamic literary sources in this period see further Gregory Schoeler, Ecrire et transmettre dans les débuts de l’islam, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2002, Englishtrans. Uwe Vagelpohl, Ed. James Montgomery, The Oral and the Written in Early Islam, London; New York: Routledge, 2006.
  184. Abū Zayd al-Qurashī, Jamharat ash‘ār al-‘arab fī al-jāhiliyyah wa al-islām, First Edition, Ed. Muh.ammad A. al-Hāshimī, Riyadh: al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Sa‘ūdiyyah, Jāmi‘at al-Imām Muh.ammad ibn Sa‘ūd al-Islāmiyyah, Lajnat al-Buh.ūth wa al-Ta’līf wa-al-Tarjamah wa-al-Nashr, 1981.
  185. Ibn al-Kalbī, Kitāb al-as.nām, op. cit.
  186. Muh.ammad b. Ish.āq, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2 vols, Ed. Ah.mad F. Al-Mazīdī, Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyah, 2004.
  187. Lūt. b. Yah.yā Abū Mikhnaf, Nus.ūs. min tārīkh abī mikhnaf, First Edition, 2 vols, Ed. Kāmil S. al-Jabbūrī, Beirut: Dār al-Mah.ajjah al-Bayd.ā’; Dār al-Rasūl al-Akram, 1999.
  188. Gilliot, “Creation of a fixed text,” 41.
  189. Ibn Ish.āq, Sīrah, 1:168–69; See further Cragg, The Mind of the Qur’ān, 26–7.
  190. Ibn Ish.āq, Sīrah, 1:169.
  191. Cragg, The Mind of the Qur’ān, 60–2. Cf. also this correct meaning of ummīin Wansbrough, Qur’anic Studies, 54 and the traditional interpretation of the term in ibid. 63.
  192. Ibn Ish.āq, Sīrah, 1:168, does not portray Muh.ammad as illiterate at the first episode of revela-tion, but rather that he did not know what to recite. This is clear from the rhetoric intrinsic to his question to Gabriel,“and what should I recite?” (wa ma aqra?). Cf. also Muh.ammad b. Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī, S.ah.īh. al-bukhārī, First Edition, 4 vols, Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1997, 3:31:137; Robinson, “The rise of Islam,” 186. El-Badawi,“A humanistic reception of the Qur’an,” 102–3 demonstrates that both the articulator as well as audience of the Qur’ān possessed the “cultural refinement” with which to comprehend and appreciate the literary and rhetorical sophistication of the text.
  193. Muqātil, Tafsīr, 3:356. That the names Muh.ammad or Ah.mad may be titles acquired through prophetic office instead of birth names is consistent with the nomenclature of prophets throughout the Qur’ān. For more see Reynolds, The Qur’ān and its Biblical Subtext, 185–99.
  194. ‘Abd al-Malik b. Hishām, al-Sīrah al-nabawiyyah, 4 vols, Ed. ‘Umar A. Tadmuri, Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi, 1990, 1:262 narrates an apocryphal transmission of John 15:24–27. His thesis is reproduced by Asad, The Message of the Quran, 1170. See further CAL, “mnh.m;” Michael Sokoloff, A Syriac Lexicon: A Translation from the Latin, Correction, Expansion, and Update of C. Brockelmann’s Lexicon Syriacum, Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2009, 908. Cf. in relation Ramazan Zuberi, “The prophecy of the comforter (John 16:7–13),” Answering Christianity,; al-Jamal, “al-Qur’ān wa lughat al-suryān,” 99–101 which agree with Ibn Hisham’s problematic derivation. In addition, the names Muh.ammad and Ah.mad are attested in the early Arabic papyri of Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, 202–3 and throughout. For more on the biblical and messianic background of the name Ah.mad see Wansbrough, Qur’anic Studies, 64.
  195. Sokoloff, A Syriac Lexicon, 135–6. For more on Bah.īrā see K. Szilágyi, “Muh.ammad and the monk: the making of the Christian Bah.īrā legend,” JSAI 34, 2008.
  196. Ibn Ish.āq, Sīrah, 1:122–24, 171; Ibn Sa‘d, Tabaqāt, 2:309; 5:306.
  197. Muh.ammad b. ‘Abd Allāh al-Azraqī, Akhbār makkah wa mā jā’ fīhā min al-āthār, Ed. ‘Abd al-Malik b. Duhaysh. Mecca: Maktabat al-Asadī, 2003.
  198. Muh.ammad b. Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī, S.ah.īh. al-bukhārī, op. cit.; Sulaymān b. al-Ash‘ath al-Sijistānī, Sunan abī dāwūd, 7 vols, Ed. Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ūt. and Muh.ammad Kāmil Qarah Balilī, Beirut: Dār al-Risālah al-‘Ālamiyyah, 2009.
  199. ‘Abd al-Masīh. b. Ish.āq al-Kindī, and ‘Abd Allāh b. Ismā ‘īl al-Hāshimī, Risālat ‘Abd Allāh b. Ismā‘īl al-Hāshimī ilā ‘Abd al-Masīh. b. Ish.āq al-Kindī yad‘ūhu bihā ilā al-islām wa-risālat ‘Abd al-Masīh. ila al-Hāshimī yaruddu bihā ‘alayhi wa-yad‘ūhu ilā al-nas.rāniyyah, London: W.H. Allen, 1885, Englishtrans. William Muir, The apology of al Kindy, written at the court of al Māmūn (circa A.H. 215; A.D. 830), in defence of Christianity against Islam. With an essay on its age and authorship read before the Royal Asiatic Society, London: Smith Elder, 1882.
  200. Abū Bakr ‘Abd Allah b. Abī Dāwūd al-Sijistānī, Kitāb al-mas.āh.if, Cairo: al-Farīq al-H.adīthah, 2002; Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’ān, op. cit.
  201. Yahyā b. Ziyād al-Farrā’, Ma‘ānī al-qur’ān, Third Edition, 3 vols, Beirut: ‘Ālam al-Kutub, 1403/1983; Abū al-H.asan Sa‘īd b. Mas‘adah al-Akhfash al-Awsat., Ma‘ānī al-qur’ān, 2 vols, Ed. Hudā M. Qurrā‘ah, Cairo: Maktabat al-Khānjī, 1991; Abū ‘Amr ‘Uthmān b. Sa‘īd al-Dānī, Kitāb al-taysīr fī al-qira’āt al-sab‘, Ed. Ūtū Birizil, Istanbul:‘a al-Dawlat, 1930; Abū ‘Ubayd al-Qāsim b. Sallām, Lughāt al-qabā’il al-wāridah fī al-qur’ān al-karīm, Ed. ‘Abd al-Hamīd al-Sayyid, Kuwait City: Mat.bu‘āt Jami‘at al-Kuwayt, 1985. (For more on Ibn Sallam’s questionable authorship of this work see Andrew Rippin, “Ibn ‘Abbās’s al-Lughāt fī’l Qur’ān,” BSOAS 4, 1981); Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm b. al-Sārī al-Zajjāj, Ma‘ānī al-qur’ān wa i‘rābuh, 5 vols, Ed. ’Abd al-Jalīl Shalabī, Cairo: Dār al-H.adīth, 1994; Muh.ammad b. Mukarram b. Manz.ūr (d. 711/1311), Lisān al-‘arab, 6 vols, Ed. ‘Abd Allāh A. al-Kabīr et al., Cairo: Dār al-Ma‘ārif, 1981. The Kitāb al-qirā’āt by al-Sayyārī (third/ninth century)—and other Shī‘ī works dealing with the “integrity of the Qur’ān”—are too sectarian in nature to sufficiently contribute literary or historical insight for purposes of this study. On this point see Hossein Modarresi, “Early debates on the integrity of the Qur’ān: A brief survey,” SI 77, 1993, 5–39; Etan Kohlberg and Mohammad A. Amir-Moezzi,Revelation and Falsification: The Kitāb al-Qirā’āt. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2009.
  202. Vollers, Volkssprache und Schriftsprache im alten Arabien, 185–95
  203. Muqātil b. Sulaymān, Tafsīr muqātil b. sulaymān, 3 vols, Ed. Ah.mad Farīd, Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2003.
  204. Mujāhid b. Jabr, Tafsīr al-imām mujāhid ibn jabr, Ed. Muh.ammad ‘Abd al-Salām Abū al-Nīl, Cairo: Dār al-Fikr al-Islāmī al-H.adīth, 1989; A Rippin, EI2, “Mudjāhid b. D_J_abr al-Makkī, Abu l-H.adjˉdjˉādj.” Cf. In relation Zeev Maghen, “Intertwined triangles: remarks on the relationship between two prophetic scandals,” JSAI 33, 2007; “Davidic motifs in the biography of Muham-mad,” JSAI 35, 2008.
  205. Muqātil, Tafsīr, 3:46–49; see further Zeev Maghen, “Davidic Motifs in the Biography of Muh.ammad,” JSAI 35, 2008.
  206. Veccia Vaglieri, EI2, “Abd Allāh b. al-‘Abbās;” H. P. Raddatz, EI2, “Sufyān al-Tˉhawrī.”
  207. Cf. the mysogyny in works like Aphrahat, “Demonstrations,” 1:255–60, 265–70 (On Monks); Ardā Virāf Nāmak 20; 26; 62; 63; 69; 70; 73; Bukhārī 1:2:28; 1:6:301.
  208. Abū al-H.asan al-Wāh.idī, Asbāb nuzūl al-qur’ān, Ed. Kamāl Zaghlūl, Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1991, 370.
  209. e.g. Qatādah b. Di‘āmah al-Sadūsī, al-Nāsikh wa al-mansūkh, Third Edition, Ed. H.ātim S. al-Dāmin, _____: Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 1409/1988; Abū ‘Ubayd al-Qāsim b. Sallām, al-Nāsikh wa al-mansūkh, First Edition, Ed. John Burton, Cambridge: Trustees of the E. J. W. Gibb Memorial, 1987.
  210. al-Wāh.idī, Asbāb nuzūl al-qur’ān, 288–89.
  211. Ibrāhīm b. ‘Umar al-Biqā‘ī, Naz.m al-durar fī tanāsub al-āyāt wa-al-suwar, Ed. ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Mahdī, 8 vols, Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995.
  212. Ibrāhīm b. ‘Umar al-Biqā‘ī, In Defense of the Bible: A Critical Edition and an Introduction to al-Biqā‘ī’s Bible Treatise. Ed. Walid Saleh. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2008, 33.
  213. Cf. Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūt.ī, al-Itqān fī ‘ulūm al-qur’ān, 7 vols, Ed. Markaz al-Dirāsāt al-Qur’āniyah, Medina: Majma‘ al-Malik Fahd li-T.ibā‘at al-Sharīf, 1426/2005; al-Muhadhdhab fīmāwaqa‘a fī al-qur’ān min al-mu‘arrab, Ed. Muh.ammad al-Tunjī, Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-‘Arabī, 1995.
  214. Cf. Abū Muh.ammad ‘Abd Allāh b. Muslim b. Qutaybah, Tafsīr gharīb al-qur’ān, ed. Ah.mad S.aqr, Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyah, 1978; Abū Mans.ūr al-Jawālīqī, al-Mu‘arrab min kalām al-‘arab ‘alā h.urūf al-mu‘jam, Ed. Ah.mad Shākir, Cairo: Dār al-Kitāb, 1389/1969.
  215. Note that while Muh.ammad b. ‘Alī al-Shawkānī (d. 1249/1834), Fath. al-qadīr, al-jāmi‘ bayn fannayy al-riwāyah wa al-dirāyah min ‘ilm al-tafsīr, Beirut: Dār Ibn H.azm, 1421/2000 is written very late, it preserves some useful original insights.
  216. A. F. L. Beeston, Dictionnaire sabéen, Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1982.
  217. Albertus Branden, Les inscriptions thamoudéennes, Louvain-Heverlé: Bureaux du Muséon, 1950; Sulaymān Dhuyayb, Dirāsah li-nuqūsh Thamūdiyyah min Jubbah bi-h.ā’il, Riyadh: Makta-bat al-Malik Fahd al-Wat.aniyyah, 2000; Nuqūsh Thamūdiyyah min al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Sa‘ūdiyyah, Riyadh: Maktabat al-Malik Fahd al-Wat.aniyyah, 1999; Nuqūsh S.afawiyyah min shamālī al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Sa‘ūdiyyah, Riyadh: Mu’assasat ‘Abd al-Rah.mān al-Sudayrī al-Khayriyyah, 2003; F.V. Winnett, Inscriptions from Fifty Safaitic Cairns, Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1978.
  218. Gruendler, The Development of the Arabic Scripts, 152–71.
  219. Wolf Leslau, Concise Dictionary of Ge‘ez, Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1989.
  220. Sulaymān Dhuyayb, Dirāsah tah.līliyyah lil-nuqūsh al-Ārāmiyyah al-qadīmah fī Taymā’, Riy-adh: Mat.bū‘āt Maktabat al-Malik Fahd al-Wat.aniyyah, 1994; al-Mu‘jam al-Nabat.ī: dirāsah tah.līliyyah muqāranah lil-mufradāt wa-al-alfāz. al-Nabat.iyyah, Riyadh: Maktabat al-Malik Fahd al-Wat.aniyyah, 2000.
  221. Han Drijvers and John Healey, The Old Syriac inscriptions of Edessa and Osrhoene, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 1999.
  222. The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Soci-ety of America (JPS), 1917.
  223. See Onkelos, Targum Onkelos; Jonathan ben Uzziel, Targum Jonathan ben Uziel; Anonymous, Targum Psalms in CAL; Anonymous, The Old Testament in Syriac according to the Peshitta Ver-sion, Ed. International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament, Leiden: Brill, 1996.
  224. Anonymous, The Talmud, with English translation and commentary, Ed. A. Ehrman. Jerusalem: El-‘Am-Hoza’a Leor Israel, 1965. Furthermore, Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 4 vols, Forgotten Books, 2008 (Reprint of Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909), is a col-lection of the narrative material from the voluminous library of Talmudic and Midrashic literature translated and arranged chronologically, beginning from the creation of the world until Esther.
  225. Chaim Rabin, “Islam and the Qumran Sect” in Qumran Studies, New York: Oxford University Press, 1957, 112–30.
  226. The Christian Palestinian Aramaic Old Testament and Apocrypha Version from the Early Period, vol 1, Ed. Christa Müller-Kessler and Michael Sokoloff, Groningen: STYX Publications, 1997. Biqā‘ī, Naz.m, 1:102, claims that the Arabic text of the Hebrew Bible was translated from the Syriac (Peshitta?) of the Christians, which in turn was translated from the Greek text. Biqā‘ī himself, however, claims to have used an Arabic version of the Hebrew Bible translated from Hebrew.
  227. For example, Anonymous, “Barnabas;” “The Epistle of Barnabas;” “The Shepherd of Hermas,” in J. A. Robinson (ed.), Barnabas, Hermas and the Didache, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1920; Sozomenos of Gaza, Historia ecclesiastica, Ed. Edward Walford, London: S. Bagster, 1846; Anonymous, Didascalia Apostolorum, trans. R. H. Connolly, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929.
  228. It is difficult to overstate the depth and complexity of the dialogue between the Qur’ān and late antique Syriac Christian literature. This is especially the case concerning verses from mystical hymns which frequently echo the imagery, ethics, and style of qur’ānic āyah s.
  229. See Clair-Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur’ān, 85–100.
  230. Ardā Virāf, The Book of Arda Viraf in The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, Vol. 7, Ed. Charles Horne, New York; London: Parke, Austin, and Lipscomb, 1917; “Bahmān Yasht,” trans. E. W. West, in (ed. Max Müller) Pahlavi Texts, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1880, 189–235. The Ardā Virāf Nāmak is also in strong dialogue with Hadith reports on Hell.
  231. Anonymous, The Gospel of Thomas: the Hidden Sayings of Jesus, Trans. Harold Bloom, San Fransisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992; Anonymous, Arabic Infancy Gospel [Infancy Gospel of James; Protovangelium of James], Ed. M. Perova, II Vangelo arabo dell’ Infanzia, Jerusalem, 1973; Anonymous, The Book of Enoch [1 Enoch], Ed. R. H. Charles, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893; Anonymous, The Book of Jubilees: a critical text, Ed. James C. VanderKam, Lovanii: E. Peeters, 1989; Anonymous, The Apocalypse of Abraham, Ed. G. H. Box, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; New York: Macmillan, 1918; Anonymous, The Testament of Abraham, Ed. G. H. Box. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; New York; Toronto: The Macmillan Company, 1927. For a series of apocryphal texts in Syriac that were part of the Qur’ān’s milieu see Apocrypha Syriaca: The Protevangelium Jacobi And Transitus Mariae With Texts From The Septuagint, The Corān, The Peshitta, And From A Syriac Hymn In A Syro-Arabic Palimpsest Of The Fifth And Other Centuries, Ed. A. S. Lewis. London: C. J. Clay and Sons, 1902. See further Cornelia Horn, “Intersections: The Reception History of the Protoevangelium of James in Sources from the Christian East and in the Qu’rān,” A2 17, 2006, 113–50

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles