The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Qur'anic Arabic in the Arabic Bible

I have today read Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, "The Pauline Epistle to Philemon from Codex Vatican Arabic 13". He writes about an ancient translation of this Greek epistle into an Arabic risāla. It was not however into a pure Arabic.

The translation is infused with terms otherwise first mooted in Arabic in the Qur'an. We have here Injīl, which has to be a "smoking gun". On the other hand Jesus is still Syriac Yasū‛ and not ‛Isā. So when we see Masīḥ here, we cannot rule out direct Syriac Msīḥō / Msīḥā stripped of that emphatic-state suffix (pp. 356-7). Ditto Rabb for "Lord". Monferrer-Sala does not seem even to consider Qur'anic intrusions.

But ... rasūl and āyāt are on the list too. Monferrer-Sala directs me to Geo Widengren, Muḥammad, the Apostle of God, and his Ascension (Uppsala: 1955), 15, 55–65, 65–79. The claim is that rasūl is connected with Syriac šlīḥō (/ šlīḥā), otherwise a "neologism". To me that means "new word" - as in, not a Safaitic word (say). When was this word cooked up? It has to be when the first relevant suras were cooked up.

If this epistle had Qur'anic terms in it (and not just Syriac), then it belongs to a milieu in which Christians were being brought up to react to Qur'anic arguments in the Qur'an's own tongue. And in fact we do have much Christian literature in Arabic; not yet Abû Nûh's Tafnīd, unfortunately, but certainly that tractate on the Trinity as Hoyland, Seeing Islam, 502-3 describes it. This consciously recasts Qur'anic vocabulary and phraseology into Christian ends.

Christians who wanted to bring the Gospel to Muslims (or restore it) would have to use these familiar terms.

posted by Zimri on 15:25 | link | 0 comments

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