The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Monday, September 08, 2014

Calder > Luxenberg

What doth Q. 37:103 mean, by fa-lamma aslama wa-tallahu li'l-jabîni?

BARTH: this jabîn is Syriac, "eyebrow". Arthur Jeffrey went along with this, as have the Muslims more or less.

CALDER, "The Sa`y and the Jabîn" (1986): Pff. Sura 37 is rajaz. Don't expect fancy-shmancy borrowings from other languages. A jabîn is just a highland - the composer is screwing around with Arabic words, in this case Kufan jabbâna. And it's Biblical.

LUXENBERG, Syro-Aramaic: Barth was right, this is Syriac... but it means "firewood". Hey, Biblical! (I'm not aware if Luxenberg cited Calder but if he did, it wasn't seriously.)

KING, reviewing Luxenberg: "convoluted". (BTW, King didn't even cite Calder but, such is life.)

Calder got from the âya to the Biblical verse with the fewest detours. I side with Calder.

Although... Luxenberg deserves some credit, for - like Calder did - calling shenanigans on "eyebrows". We can perhaps credit the exegetes for bringing in Syriac where - for once - it wasn't in the original. So Luxenberg's general thesis is given the exception that tests the rule: the Muslims by now expected Syriac in their Qur'an, which means there was lots of it elsewhere.

I just wish that Luxenberg had backed off and made that argument. Hey, he could even have brought in Wansbrough, for that one's musings on tafsir.


posted by Zimri on 18:27 | link | 0 comments

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