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Sunday, September 21, 2014
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.
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