The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How not to rebut an article

Robert Spencer's off at FrontPage. Here he is, again, saying stuff he should know better than to say, and by the way contradicting the evidence right in front of his face.

..., if the text along with the parchment really dates from between 568 and 645, it may not be a fragment of the Qur’an at all. The Qur’an, according to Islamic tradition, was compiled in its definitive form in the year 653 by the caliph Uthman, who ordered all variant texts burned and the canonical version distributed to all the provinces within his domains. ...

So if this is a fragment of the Qur’an as it now stands (and what portion of the Qur’an is it, anyway? Neither the BBC nor its quoted academics tell us), and yet it could date from as far back as 568, two years before Muhammad is supposed to have been born, it might not be a fragment of the Qur’an at all. It could instead be a portion of some source that later became part of the Qur’an, as did Surat al-Baqara.

I must interject that the earliest articles I saw showed screencaps. Those screencaps did tell us what portion it was; at least those sheets which had the last part of sura 19 with the first part of 20. It does not take a great scholar in Qur'anic Arabic to read bismillah al-rahman al-rahim / ta-ha following a squiggly dividing line; knowledge of the alphabet will suffice. And even if the Beeb hadn't given us the image, we could just look up Birmingham's press-release. Even Spencer knows all of that, because he'll mention it later when he cites the Guardian.

Anyhow, the fact of that ornamental line, and that of the sequence 18>19>20, and - subsequent clearer images show - that of the rosettes dividing verses, all point to a canonical text. That is, to a text of what we're now calling "the Qur'an". We don't know if this particular Qur'an had "The Cow"; I'll concede that much. It was still a theological text of importance to Arabic-speakers of the first or early-second century Levant. Which called itself a Qur'an right on the printed page Q. 20:2, and also 18:54 and 20:113-4.

So here, he says, we have something that isn't the Qur'an; despite that this very portion of text is calling itself... the Qur'an, and is presented to us in a sequence to reiterate that it is the Qur'an.

The man needs to try harder.

posted by Zimri on 18:25 | link | 0 comments

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