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Thursday, August 18, 2016
The emergence of the Koran
I just found out about a book by Professor Karl-Friedrich Pohlmann. It's in German. If it were in English, the title might - I'm told - be “The emergence of the Koran : New insights from the perspective of the historical-critical biblical scholarship”. This book first came out in 2012, and another (more famous) German professor Angelika Neuwirth has reviewed that edition (pdf). This month Mehdi Azaiez reports a third edition is coming out.
Two updates in four years. Sounds kind of like… me! I wholly endorse Pohlmann’s passion for the topic.
Mehdi Azaiez quotes a blurb. I am translating – well, interpreting from Google’s translation –
How is an enlightened and reflective Koran-reading possible? In today's Biblical scholarship it is standard to use text-critical methods with regard to the origin and authorship of open-ended passages. The application of such methods to the Koran is far more of a rarity. So it is no surprise that the Koran is mostly returned as a whole to Mohammed as the sole author. Karl-Friedrich Pohlmann in this comprehensive overview poses rather the opposite. He for the first time (erstmals) applies the text-critical methods known from Biblical scholarship to the long passages of the Qur'an, and he comes to new results about the authorship of the Koran. This fills the long-lamented research gap.
One caveat: I do hope I’m mistaken about that translation of “erstmals”. Pohlmann is hardly “first” to think to himself “I know, let’s do to this Arabic book what Westerners have already done to all the others”. Neuwirth thinks so too; her review had likened Pohlmann's work to the work of Gabriel Reynolds. Maybe the blurb applies to specific passages, which other scholars might not have touched yet.
Either way, now that the book's on the third go-round, I hope there’s an English translation in the works. I’m intrigued.
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