||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Monday, September 22, 2014
The announcement was made yesterday. There's a cover; the internal content is done; I've pulled down several related essays. When can you expect Throne of Glass?
Looking at the 2012 archive's mentions of House of War, I'd announced that book's construction in February. The product came out in ... July. (Not counting the later editions.)
I'm more ahead of the game now than I was two years back. Right now, I have to finalise the draft and then go through the "Boring Crap" checklist - you know, going through the xrefs so that the index doesn't suck, stuff like that. And I still want my brother's feedback on the content.
After all that I have two options. One is to post the thing to CreateSpace again, and to get the proof mailed hither; I'd do that by the cheapest, slowest route possible so's I can keep gathering data. That would get it posted soonest.
The other option is to hit up a second-party publisher. It would have to be "indie"; bigger publishers won't touch this niche market, and the academic press won't accept material from outside the guild (we're not talking about individual scholars here, we're talking publishers). Among the options, I can think offhand of ISI, New English Review Press, and Prometheus. NERP would be the easiest "in", based on that they publish Emmet Scott's (very flawed) stuff; but that's the reason I don't want 'em - they're too easy. Anyway I've already burnt that bridge.
As of now I think I'm keeping to self-publishing. I haven't (yet) seen much interest from the scholarly sector in what I do. I've reached out to two; gotten reached out to, by one (and I offended that one, I fear). And I've had no real university-level contact outside this little side of nowhere since mid 2012.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Upload #94: Clearing the deck
Five essays have been cut down: "Repent, Anyway", "Solomon's Revenge", and "The Reformer from Pharaoh's Family"; and "The Devil's Briny Throne" and "Shirts of David's Weaving". The first three are gone; deleted; no mas. The latter bunch will be in the appendix(/ces) to Throne of Glass.
I have also posted the weekend's Big Teaser. And I've fixed ten (10!) essays since the last upload we had, in May.
As background, there are plenty of secularists at Ace's HQ: including the host who presides over the presiders. But since the HQ is Rightist, it has religious people in it. Ace is also rightist enough to see where Leftists have cooked up their own Jewish-Christian (in morality) religion... which can't stand up against Islam, to mention just one place it fails at.
The problem I've had with Christians in general goes back to 1987; I've posted it here already, and won't repeat it.(Feel free to search the archive.) The problem I've had with Christianity isn't so much a problem with Christianity - there are many flavours - but with the Islamicising trend, if we can call it that. Basically it's the problem I'm having with Soona's comments, starting here:
Islam has taken this notion of God's supreme will to heart. Allah acts in history, with colossal power; and He establishes everything by His will. Where He said "the heavens are not supported by visible pillars", this is to be construed not as an endorsement of Newton but as the acceptance of Allah-Atlas. If there are laws to the universe, the laws are an illusion which Allah permits to be believed. Inasmuch as rejectors of God believe these laws, they are in for a rude awakening when Allah rewrites the Book. In fact He won't have to. He'll just quit writing the Book He's been writing.
Catholics wouldn't agree with the above para, and neither would most Protestants; I've had interactions with both. But Christianity cannot reject philosophical Algazels. And if you look at the thread, you'll see that no Christian commenter has disputed Soona.
To be as charitable to that strain of Christianity as I can be, they want a god with Christian love but Islamic reach. Can they get it?
Boys and Girls Club of America
So when I was watching the Texans game today (which they lost), at the Buffalo Wild Wings ("bw3"), I got hit up to donate to the Boys and Girls Club.
Something smelled funny about this, so I looked it up. (Yay modern cellphones!) First thing I ran across was the creepy angular logo, so I kept digging.
It didn't take long to step into What We Do > Character & Leadership. Which is exactly what I expected:
Helping youth become responsible, caring citizens and acquire skills for participating in the democratic process is the main thrust of these programs. They also develop leadership skills and provide opportunities for planning, decision-making, contributing to Club and community and celebrating our national heritage.
Translated from PRspeak, this means "warping their minds" and "getting their vote". Extra fascism points for
We'd be better off as a nation if these kids just went into the Crips.
Shoemaker and Sura 19
So, just over the past week or so, I read Markus Gross's review-article in Christmas in the Koran. That pointed to Stephen Shoemaker's article in 2003. Shoemaker made a strong case that sura 19, at least the early part of it, was based on the cult of the Kathisma church where Jesus was born.
So, what's all that all about? The Kathisma church is, rather was, an (octagonal) shrine an hour's hike from the Temple Mount. It was planted in a disused field and was associated with various legends that didn't make it to the Bible, but entered several apocryphal books and local lore. It has yielded mosaics showing pretty much that whole Qur'anic episode. Circa 700 AD it became a mosque. Then the church was abandoned, only to be found in 1997. Anyway, I'm not spoiling the article's full argument here, because it's excellent and you should read it.
What matters for our (selfish, blogger) purposes is that the article came out in 2003. Longtimers here will recall that in early 2003, I'd posted a few webpages that said the sura was based on the Dome of the Rock. Those pages were yanked and became "JW Salopy"'s unpolished (and unread) classic "The Relationship between sura 19 and the Dome of the Rock", in the Journal of Higher Criticism 12.1 (2005->2006).
Not only did Dr Shoemaker beat me to authorship (and publication - there's no way he was reading this blog at the time); but he concluded, independently (obviously), almost exactly what I'd concluded. Sura 19 is Marwanid and belongs to someone associated with the Jerusalem area. Except, Shoemaker did it better. A lot better. I did bring to the table literary evidence that Dome > sura 19, and (if I'm reading Shoemaker right) he allows for sura 19 > Dome (but not very "> Dome") so - there's that.
I wish I'd known earlier. I'd have beat my chest less about "Salopy" in my later work. Especially where I'd noted that certain suras were "Marwanid" when they postdated sura 19.
House of War II
I sent out a grovel at the "morons" on Ace's mailing-list. So, I'll reprint the gist of it here...
One of the first essays I ever posted on my old SBCGLOBAL site (which is now the "Islam" google-sites thing on the sidebar) was a horrible monster called "Explications of sura 27 and sura 28". It was garbled, tangled, and I could never get it to cohere. Around 2012 I started wondering if it should be a book instead. In March 2013, being out of work at the time, I experimented with making it a book, and I brought in a bunch of other essays to bulk it up: some already posted, others not. That "book" ended up being 37 pages long. Ugh.
But then it grew, and got more organised. And now it's at 118 pages if we count the pretty-pictures and the endnotes. And if I do say so myself I think it's good, at least my daddy likes it. Lengthwise, the draft of the new one is where House of War was at until September 2012 - meaning, this is where House's "Edition Zero" was at. All this means that I've finished the draft. The working title is Throne of Glass.
So, here's the grovel. I advertised that first one (and the collection that went with it) in only three places: here, Ace, and Blogmocracy. No reader of any of these sites gave me feedback. To be fair... I didn't much seek feedback, except here; I didn't feel like the book was finished. And it's true - it had serious flaws, until the second edition (the one Ulrich reviewed); and it has some stupidities, like the endnote numeration fail, which hung on 'til the third edition (the third plus, at that).
Anyway I'm seeking that feedback on book one, "Apple III Plus", right here and now. Anything would help in tuning my writing-style for this new one. Or just in collecting questions that seemed obvious to me but not to actual, you know, non-obsessive weirdos.
Lastly, more reviews on Amazon (that didn't just say "5/5 awsome!" or "1/5 u sukk") wouldn't hurt.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Now, here's what I was looking for: ata, to "bring". (Or atha. Doesn't matter.)
Christoph Luxenberg has argued and implied in his latest version of "Christmas and the Eucharist" - Ibn Warraq, Christmas in the Koran, 415-6 - that the Qur'anic `atâ and its atâ are both Syriac. Specifically: Luxenberg argued outright `atâ from aytî; just implied atâ < etâ. This is because ata's trilateral root is 't'; Arabic uses the alifs as hamzas; and Arabic really hates to use more than one hamza per word. Ergo, someone got around this by accenting the first hamza, and when that guy did it he brought the t along for the ride and dropped the second hamza. Oh yeah, there's also a footnote about Hebrew ntn, but this needn't detain us. (His prose ain't the easiest.)
I have learnt tonight that the Syriac etâ is indeed a big deal in its Aramaic base. I've found atâ in Talmudic and I've found atah in Daniel-Ezra... the so-called Imperial Aramaic. The word just plain belongs here. So far so good for Luxenberg right?
However I have ALSO found atha in Biblical HEBREW. And not just in "second Isaiah" (41:25); I am aware that chapters 40-on are in an Aramaic-Hebrew pidgin, and won't count. I am talking Isaiah 21:12; and Micah 4:3, Jeremiah 3:22, Deuteronomy 33:2...
Anyway, precisely because atha developed in Hebrew and in Aramaic independently, I have to assume that some version of 't' is protoSemitic. I can't rule out that it survived in Arabic too.
Now, we might be able to salvage `atâ < aytî still. Especially since `atâ got used in the imperial jargon (for taxes) where atâ really didn't.
This gets us to Luxenberg's side-contention, that `atâ is dialectical. This he bolsters with the Ubay variant in Q. 20:36 - ûtîta in canon, u`tîta for Ubay. I noted similar in the hadiths about the Parable Of The Workers (here). It's certainly true that `atâ isn't Semitic (trust me, I'd have found out if it was); it just plays it on the telly. I'll also agree that the Arabs had a problem with the double-hamza'ed 'a'ata. I'll even concede that the neologue was one unfamiliar with Arabic; and I'll throw in his origin in the north, for free (getting us into the tax-code). Since Luxenberg meant this whole thing as an excursus anyway - to his main argument about Q. 108 "Kawthar" - I think we've conceded all that Luxenberg needs us to concede.
Note, what is not needed, is an origin for `atâ in Christian Syriac. Especially since that `atâ isn't even Aramaic - as Luxenberg already pointed out - despite that language knowing both the 3ayin and the emphatic-t. What is needed is a Semite from the Aramaic-speaking fringe who had some Arabic but not much, attached to the tax-collection racket in one or the other pre-Islamic empire.
Auto - Phoenician loanword?
So I went hunting for Syriac cognates for this and that, and I didn't find any... but I did run across something else interesting by accident.
It's a Hebrew word: otô. Generally the former is used in the sense of French "même" or English "selfsame" or Latin "ipsus" (you know, "ipso"). otô happens to have another use, extending et which means, conveniently, "it".
otô in the sense of both happens to match Greek autos. Especially if you want to go really old-school with your Canaanite dialects and spell it out awtû.
A couple of points here, one from the Indo-European end and the other from the Semites'. I don't find autos in very many Euro languages. I've already noted three languages which use something totally different. The word is definitely Greek as of the Mycenaean era (see, autoio). Still - autos ends in -os. That's the easy way out, when dealing with Eurospeak. The harder declensions - r stems, k stems, let alone the pronouns - are older. So autos smells like a loan.
From the Semites, otô (or awtû) shows signs of undergoing that famed vowel-shift from a to o. (Which Arabic, and most Aramaic dialects, didn't.) If this word made the shift then its base preceded the shift - as in, pre-Biblical.
I'm guessing that the Greeks learnt to be more precise with their lingo when dealing with Canaanite Phoenicians.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
A tip to Labour leaders who want to keep Scotland in the Union -
Yes, we all know the Quebec plan, to stuff the province full of foreigners who will be loyal to an antinativist system.
But don't bring your many Asian minders to the conference [ht, ace sidebar]. That sorta tips your hand.
So what about the pagan features of Islam?
The Black Stone isn't noted in the Qur'an. If it's even alluded to, it's with hostile intent: sura 41. Mecca is alluded to... again, vaguely... in suras 14 and 22. Very few scholars think anything much happened in Mecca until the Zubayrids. Sura 53 could be authentic but either way is interpolated; even the Hadith lets slip that it has changed here and there - this is the locus of the Satanic Verses. The Satanic Verses by the way were themselves an interpolation, according to the Hadith. The internal evidence of that sura points that way too.
So we don't have the Black Stone, Mecca, or any of the pagan stuff in the sira; and the Qur'an doesn't help us here either. But we do still have evidence for pagan Arab goddesses! They're on the other side of Arabia, in the Lakhmids' Hira (now, al-Kufa), but, that all counts, right?
I suppose this is me plugging those two books again...
But self-promoting spam aside: the pagan features mainly came into Islam after the fact. Specifically, they came after the qur'an genre became canonical, which process bumbled along for several decades after the Prophet. The final canon of the Qur'an and of Islam is a later and beside-the-point development. At the iman's core, is Judaism and Christianity.
Earlier we saw how people are foisting Islam on the pagans. Commenter "despair" tells us why:
We'll accept that this assessment of Islam is correct, when the Book of God and the Sunna of His Prophet are taken to their logical conclusion. For the sake of argument.
One could ALSO note this is the same god who commanded death to Amaleq, ordered Joshua upon a rampage, and deliberately forced belief in (questionable) assertions as the key to the Kingdom.
Christians and Jews are disclaiming paternity of their bastard child. This doesn't change the child's DNA one bit.
Allow me. Rather... allow the people who know what they're damned well talking about, whether or not that includes me. There exists an increasing literature on Islam's origins. The only people talking about Arab paganism these days are Muslims, pro-Islam apologists, and Jack Chick. None of what I am about to say is secret knowledge.
Now, in olden days, the notion of an Arab pagan origin for Islam wasn't entirely silly. Islam in several ways indicts itself, with that Stone and those planet-style circumambulations around it. And where the Qur'an mentions mushrikun (those associating alien entities to God) it is sometimes in connexion with female... supernatural forces ... like al-Uzza, if with hostile intent. Al-Uzza was worshipped by Arab pagans, by the way; in the Hira, under Sasanian benevolent oversight. During the Muslim heyday of the Abbasids, the traditionist and proto-haeresiologist Ibn al-Kalbi taught a bunch of classes about Arabian "idolatry" (asnam). The book which his students made of these lectures has been pretty much everyone's point of departure since then.
But G.R. Hawting has since looked into the Qur'an's treatment of "shirk", and into Ibn al-Kalbi's work, in The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam (Cambridge University Press, 1999). Al-Uzza herself might have been an angel; who knows. What matters is that none of this is central to the Qur'an's argument - which argument is displayed before all the peoples of the Book around the Rock under that Dome. The mushrikun were and are Christian trinitarians.
So, what is everyone saying about Islamic origins instead? For the audience in question, we mostly care about the revisionists... like Hawting. Well, the Orientalists are all circling around Jewish-Christian thought. Mostly the "Elkasaites" are being namechecked here. Just in the last few years we've had Ibn Warraq's Christmas in the Koran, Ohlig's Early Islam, a lot of Luxenberg's output (in both), Zellentin's Qur'an's Legal Culture and many others. John Wansbrough himself wrote many essays about Islam's sectarian-milieu, on how nothing in the Qur'an makes sense outside a Jewish and Christian matrix. Patricia Crone and Yehuda Nevo wondered if Samaritans were involved. And on, and on.
Again: these men and women are not apologists for Islam. And it is disgusting to submit that they are propagating a "lie".
Forget that stupid moon god. PLEASE.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Amr w ʿeṣâ
Among the articles in Ibn Warraq's Christmas in the Koran is Baljon, "The Amr of God in the Koran". There's a 1974 summary here. I ran across some cringe-inducing references to "pre-Islamic" poetry in there, and this sparked me off the article. But now I've slept on it, so let's salvage something from the mess.
Baljon's notion here is that "amr" for the Qur'an's first authors was how those authors interpreted Hebrew ʿeṣâ. ʿeṣâ had the connotation of a plan; so if God was involved, this is a Divine judgement. The Qur'an, for its part, treats God's amr as
A more literal Qur'anic calque of ʿeṣâ, then, would be shâ': [God's] "will". But there shâ' is often arbitrary which brings us to back to Baljon's preference for amr. One might also try makar: "plot"; or ḥukm: "justice". But these terms, at least in the suras, are used with more narrow intent than is amr - or, in the Bible, ʿeṣâ.
I'm left thinking that the Qur'an doesn't owe squat to Judaism here. All that is needed is a notion of a powerful God who commands His will upon Earth. This is had in all the monotheisms including the Iranians'. Baljon's squib is as damp as ever.
Here's one loose thread though: ʿÎsâ in the Qur'an. He is called "word of God" and "breath of God" in the earlier suras. However there the suras explain that there was one, specific, word used here: namely, "Be!". Thus they inform us that ʿÎsâ is the issue of this word. Ultimately the Qur'anic Jesus is (an) Ayat Allâh; not (the) Amr Allâh.
But that might not have been the case before the Qur'an, for the Jewish-Christians who are the theme of Ibn Warraq's book. Suppose some punster called Jesus, ʿEṣâʿel?
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Fred Donner's Muhammad and the Believers's thesis is that the Prophet’s movement concerned militant piety. Here, the Prophet gathered together a movement of everybody in the Near East who was just plain tired of the Byzantines and Sasanians. So if you were a Jew or Samaritan (still a going concern back then) and could stomach another Prophet -- you’re in. If you were a Christian and you didn’t like the Greeks much -- also, you’re in. Nestorian? Manichaean? Mandaean? Come on down!
Is this thesis plausible? Perhaps; not terribly falsifiable as yet, but plausible. But do we trust Donner to make the argument? Donner is pro-Palestinian to the expense of others.
Something Else Is At Work - and it's not scholarship. Donner wants us to think that there exists a “real Islam”, back there, somewhere, that would be worthwhile for Westerners to follow; or at least to accept as the baseline Islam, before we look at what Islam actually does to its minorities. This Western-concocted ultra-pious trans-religious Islam is, by chance, the same liberal Islam which Greenfield has marked out.
Six decades ago Schlomo Pinès asserted that Islam is Jewish-Christian at base - that is, it was informed by an actual Jewish Christian sect, and wasn't just a freeform riff on the mainstream denominations' texts (as Mormonism). Pinès's main evidence was a tract he'd extracted from Abd al-Jabbar. Several scholars in the revisionist school ran with this claim, of which I was first aware of Nevo and Koren in 2003. But three years after that, Gabriel Said Reynolds in his study of Abd al-Jabbar proved Pinès's main claim was bunk. As a result I was de-convinced of the whole thing; I wouldn't touch Pinès with a barge-pole. But now I am ready to be re-convinced, in part.
Last year I'd included "Islam, Judaeo-Christianity and Byzantine Iconoclasm" as among the works of Patricia Crone which you shouldn't bother yourself with. This was because of Reynolds again: Crone's article
I have recently received Holger Michael Zellentin's The Qur'ân's Legal Culture: The Didascalia Apostolorum as a Point of Departure. This brings another set of sources to the Christian milieu, bridging the gap between "Jewish-Christianity" and the pre-Furqanic suras 5 and 17. (I still insist on suras 25, 26 etc being Marwanid-era; anyway those don't add much to Islamic doctrine.) I have also been independently pointed to Adolf von Harnack, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, 1909 edition (not noted in Zellentin). I cannot find this except in Google's snippet-view; but Marcus Gross has translated the relevant portion to English and I am reading it in Ibn Warraq's Christmas in the Koran. Von Harnack looked into the sects within Jewish Christianity, and dismissed the Ebionites; to focus our attention on the Elkasaites. Lastly, Zellentin's book tells us that Patricia Crone has drafted what is (unfortunately) likely to be her last book, another look at Jewish Christianity in Islam. This is likely to iron out the errors that she had transmitted before.
We can perhaps re-read Pinès with those chapters on Abd al-Jabbar deleted.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Near Eastern Christianity again
Cruz tried arguing with these Christians. Really, he tried. But it just has to come down to this:
And (I have to add this, these days) not because of that whole Zion angle. There is no point in getting a united front going if the people involved have no interest in it.
UPDATE 9/18: Pell weighs in @ taki. I suspect we're both right: me about the Arab-Christians' honour-cult, him about Cruz's opportunism. All actors on a stage.
Assuming we've all outgrown the bigot Gibbon and the fatuous Runciman - here are more recent books: Cobb, Race for Paradise and Catlos, Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors. I've read the first part of Cobb; haven't read Catlos. Cobb does put it all in the context of the Mediterranean, as does the ISI.
A Sunni defends Baghdadi
Now, "The Book of God and the Sunna of His Prophet" has two meanings. One is the text of the Scripture and the practice of Muslims in good standing. The other is a simple battle-cry, probably first heard at Siffîn. (Crone and Hinds, God's Caliph.) So Tamîmî could be winking at his ultra-Islamic fan-club.
Let's not take sides on what Tamîmî meant. Either way - it's time Muslims had a debate about that. On what basis does this new self-styled Caliph of... we haven't been told yet... derive his right to abrogate classical Sunna?
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