||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Sunday, March 09, 2014
One David Ashton raised a question at AmRen:
My first impression of Hinduism (formed as a teenager) was based around caste, which I found noxious and "racist". I hardly need disclose anymore that this part of that religion doesn't matter to me so much now - in large part because I realised I didn't understand it as well as I thought I did, or to be honest anything at all about Hinduism. Besides caste I just knew what I've picked up in (mostly linguistic) textbooks. And what I'd read wasn't even Hinduism; it was Aryanism, barely more than the names of gods shared between the Mitanni kings, the Vedas, and (often negative!) allusions within the Avestan hymns.
I do know what Hindutva is on the other hand. This is something rather newer; bound up in pan-Indian nationalism. And I have been getting to know it a lot better as it keeps making the news. From what I've seen, I don't like it and I don't want it anywhere near me.
From The Global War On Christians, I found that persecutions of minority faiths is even worse in India than it is in Islamic nations. Recently we had the picketing of Penguin over Wendy Doniger's "alternative history" of the Hindus. There were also those Gujarati riots but on that much, I'll concede the blame is shared with the Muslims.
Over and over it's the same song: Westerners by nature have a mark of Cain called "privilege". If they look to the Orient and do not convert - even if (like Doniger) liberal and even Jewish - they are "Orientalists". They are a priori not allowed to look into the facts of Hinduism objectively. One has to conclude there are no objective facts, beyond the Hindu truths. But these men won't argue for what facts or truths there may be; they are content just to shun and slander those who dare argue against them. Their song is the same tune that the Muslims sing, and it is time that non-Hindus (and non-political Hindus) started tuning our ears to the Hindutva chorus as well.
I am not here to argue whether or not Hindus belong in the West. I will however argue that these Hindus in the West are here for no good purpose. Men like Juluri want to disarm the non-Hindus here, to shout them down, and to raise themselves as a ... well, as a ruling caste.
If nationalistic Hindus want an alliance with pro-white / pro-Christian Westerners on our common antagonists, those Hindus can do it from their own subcontinent. Otherwise Hindus must accept that they are going to hear stuff about their religion they don't agree with; like the earful Christians and Jews have been getting about their own faiths for the last millennia. Either way it is incumbent on the West to confront Juluri and those who read him like the fifth-column they are.
Welcome, Wendy Doniger, to the Orientalist ranks. Perhaps even welcome to the Counterjihad.
Friday, February 28, 2014
To quote people who don't like you
The anti-Google ruling might be an anti-quoting ruling.
There certainly exist people I've quoted in my... work... who would rather I hadn't stated their names.
I checked up some legal blogs but unfortunately they seem to be conflicted in interest. The blog in question did at least disclose this conflict.
Sarah Palin says "told you so" again
UPDATE 8:54 PM: Synchronicity! Ace of Spades has cited the same Youtube clip as I did:
I poked around a bit today for the latest developments in Synoptic-Problem scholarship.
We are here assuming Markan Priority; and I'll interject here that, still, no-one serious has knocked that assumption yet. Over the last few decades, the discussion has moved to Luke's commonalities with Matthew against Mark. We wonder whether a now-lost "Q" Quelle is or is not required.
The leader of the anti-Q pack, Mark Goodacre, still has not been convinced otherwise; and Goodacre has not convinced the Q pack otherwise. This means we have to look further afield for anything interesting.
It looks like some Germans have proposed a proto-Luke, composed by no less a Christian luminary as the heretic Marcion. Here they've unearthed some arguments made in the eighteenth century that had not, at the time, actually been refuted. That means those arguments still command our attention. Oh, and there's a book out.
So... since this was the field I was university-trained in, I suppose I should offer an opinion.
I will say this: the diagrams and arguments, and counter-arguments, are making my eyes cross. Goodacre's merit is that he is a gifted writer (which I am not), so his book actually made sense. Goodacre might be wrong; but at least the reader got a handle on the issues and so Goodacre's books are worth buying even if he is wrong. By contrast I can't quite make sense of the Marcionite hypothesis/-es as presented in the links above.
I'll wait to see what shakes out.
Moldbug, the Moses of the Dark Enlightenment, forsook us in the wilderness for a new and even more exciting project: fixing the Internet. The codebase he is designing is called "Urbit".
Last October, Mircea Popescu challenged the Urbit programmers to a game of strip poker, which would of course be programmed in Urbit. The challenge was not met.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Upload #89: corrections to the text
As the reader will note, I have been trying to understand the Shi`ite relationship to the Qur'anic text lately.
It starts with Sayyari's book, Revelation and Falsification. I found worthy of note the flag Sayyari threw against Q. 61:8-9. In the modern Qur'an, God sent "whom He sent (rasulihi)" - redundant, but arguably in tune with the Semitic love of parallelism and it also happens to agree with sura 9. Sayyari tells me of an alternative, "His servant (abdihi)". The latter is more in-tune with sura 25.
I'm arguing that "abdihi" is a better reading for what sura 61 meant at the time; sura 61 was saj` and as such had no interest in poetry. The canonical sura 61, then, has been pulled toward the Umayyad coinage and sura 9.
I also think I've found some ~75AH apocalyptic propaganda around the Byzantine campaign (although not directly related to this sura, or others). So, "In Ranks" has changed.
I've also re-read Hussain Modarressi's classic 1993 article on the Shi`a versus tahrif. This directed me to the Kitab Sulaym. Sulaym affects suras 24 ("Focus") and - alongside Sayyari - 33 ("Women"). Further Modarressi pointed to that old Kharijite complaint against sura 12 ("Retrieval of Joseph").
And while I was looking into "In Ranks", that got me into the Syriac and Greek sources, and that forced some additional corrections to "Caesarea" and "Logothete".
UPDATE 3/2: Yeah, when a lot of essays change at once to this extent, some stuff will inevitably get underexplained. Fixing this blogpost, also, showed me where I could improve "In Ranks" some more.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
The Hittites, hosted by Jeremy Irons
I found the Jeremy Irons documentary The Hittites (2004), at the 2nd And Charles today. I have been watching it this evening; I have reached Suppiluliuma I. This seems like a stopping point for blogging purposes. So far - I am impressed.
Now, it is not perfect. It doesn't give us the (important) information that the Anatolian people are cousins to the proto-Indo-Europeans rather than Indo-Europeans themselves (if I were an Anatolian nationalist, I'd play this up). It then skips the Assyrian-colony period; so we don't have anything on Kanesh and we don't see that the "Hittites" called their own language "Kneshian" (one of the quoted scholars mentions the Assyrian colonists in retrospect). The west is "Arzawa" from the start where it should be "Assuwa" until after Arzawa came into its own. We're also not treated to the Luwian languages in that region. Sapinuwa is completely ignored; even in 2004 it was known as an interim capital, prior to Samuha and the restoration. And the specifics of Suppiluliuma's spectacular campaign into Mitanni, not unlike Heraclius's victory over the Sassanians, are glossed over as well.
We do get a lot about Hittite daily life though. Trevor Bryce got interviewed and I expect he had some input into this.
As a side note: The series comes to us thanks to Turkish interests of the mid-2000s. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was screened in Turkey beforehand. I've been getting the vibe from certain of their cartoons that the secular, urban "Turks" see themselves as Anatolians first; Turks second and Muslims ... maybe south of third. Check this cartoon out. (h/t, Bare Naked Islam.) The shade of Priam himself might have drawn it.
As to what the series has taught me that I didn't already know - Suppiluliuma broke the Law of Telepinu, the law of succession, when he assumed control. He also expelled his tawananna so as to marry a Babylonian instead. In dark-enlightenment terms: he was not content to serve as a constitutional monarch, but sought to rule as a Carlylean lord.
UPDATE 11 PM: Finished it.
The gods, we find, did not approve Suppi's coup. They approved even less his invasion of Egypt; that would be his real sin, from a realpolitik standpoint. And the show seems not to approve of the new tawananna either. Well, no-one ever said that the way of the Sith was easy. . .
Back to the nitpicks: for all that the show touted the Hittite contribution "to east and west", we've not seen much of the west. Achaea? Wilusa? Alasiya-Cyprus? The Luwiyan-speaking regions? Even the freakin' Sea Peoples don't make an appearance here. I know, this DVD gives a Turkish perspective but... the Turks have in the present age learnt a small bit about the Trojan Cycle, as that hyperlink above has illustrated.
More serious, for the Bronze-Age historian, is the short-shrift allotted to the Kashka. Those barbarians had taken Nerik, a holy city to the Hattians which the Kneshians had inherited. The prince Hattusili then retook Nerik (alluded to in passing). This gave to Hattusili some prestige, prestige which his nephew "Urhi-Teshub" (Mursili III) had lacked. And then later the Kashka had allied with the Mushki (probably Phrygo-Armenians) to push the Hittites south again - much further, and permanently, south. Here was some perspective the narrative needed.
And we did, in place of this, have some "padding" that could have been trimmed - like that two minutes of watching Suppi breathe heavily on hearing of his son's death in Egypt. That prince's name, by the way, was Zannanza.
I wonder if the Greeks, Cypriotes and Phrygians (read, Armenians) were left out for modern political reasons. Unfortunately the secularists who (probably) bankrolled this thing have some blood on their hands here (more blood than even the Islamists). Pity, this.
Can we agree on one thing...
...that the Kaiser was a moron?
I found this book at the store. It says that the Kaiser was involved in dirty tricks on American soil.
Now, look. I think that Germany and, more so, Austria were generally in the right in World War One. I am sympathetic to the Moldbug argument that Britain was the "vampire of the Continent". And sometimes the Kaiser's dirty tricks worked; which is how Russia fell to (mostly non-Russian) Communists.
But... given that... what to make of the Zimmerman Telegram? and of the sinking, as opposed to simple boarding, of the Lusitania? It just seemed so unnecessary, and it got America into a war that the President at the time didn't even really want.
Kitab Sulaym b. Qays
I have run across a fascinating Shi'ite apologetic, ascribed to Sulaym bin Qays (d. ~ 80s / 700s). A pdf of the first part of the "Kitâb Sulaym" (or, "the Saqifa") can be had here; it goes on up to _PVIII.
Which first introduced this to me, was Modarressi's "Early Debates on the Integrity of the Qur'ān: A Brief Survey" (1993). Modarressi's article deals with "page 108" mainly: which is the Hadith 11 / Part 4 (Talha) in _PII, page 33. Modarressi takes the Saqifa for granted. I hear the same of Amir-Moezzi in that September 2011 CISS seminar (pdf summary).
In the Kitâb's current form, it predicts twelve a'immat (Imams). This means the Saqifa belongs to the Imamis; it is, today, generally disseminated by that sect. The Zaydi sect holds to five a'immat and the Ismailis, to seven. (There are various nuances on the roles of Zaydi shaykhs, Fatimid caliphs and such.) Since we can only usefully pin the Imami doctrine of twelve after oh, let's say, the eighth in the line: Sulaym himself cannot be responsible for the final text. Sorry, Professors.
Google is directing us to the following, on the question of Sulaym's authenticity: Kohlberg, "Imâmiyya", 532-3; Modaressi, Tradition and Survival, 1.82-6; and, upcoming, Robert Gleave, "Kitâb Sulaym b. Qays and Early Shi'ite Hermeneutics" (March 8: seminar).
Harper's goes for monarchy
Some cogent critiques of Brill's Encyclopaedia
All that said about Muzaffar Iqbal's main critique against Brill's Encyclopaedia of Islam, he does offer some valid critiques on the side. He's best when highlighting what the Encyclopaedia didn't say.
I am not sure there should be whole chapters to the bee or the ant (or the spider). Suras are named for them, sure. But they're not very important suras.
We can however conceive some chapters of interest to the "Orientalist". The hoopoe might deserve a comment due to its connexion to para-Biblical midrash. The grape has a still higher claim, for its links to Paradise (even if we're only here to refute Luxenberg et al.). And tawhid absolutely deserves one, as the core message of the Dome of the Rock (for starters); as well has having links to Judaism, Jewish-Christianity, and (if Ohlig is right) Syrian Christianity.
Because you are lukewarm I spit you out
Last decade the European publisher Brill published a colossal "Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an". In response the "Muslim World Book Review" in 2009 published Western Academia and the Quran: Some Enduring Prejudices. Now the piece is up on academia.edu.
I do not care for the Encyclopaedia's general editor Jane McAuliffe for other reasons. She is, however, at least willing to air the views of an Andrew Rippin or of other "revisionists" (many of whom I'd class as simple investigators but that is by the way). That very tolerance is the reviewer's problem.
Being willing to air such views is to say, a priori, that the Qur'an might not be of Divine origin. An honest researcher then has to start by saying the Qur'an isn't divine, until the otherwise is proven. This suspension of belief offends the eyes of the believer; and, in this modern age, such a Believer retaliates by slapping the label "prejudice!" upon it. (The same attitude has held in the West amongst Christians, at least up to the mid 2000s.)
The reviewer also calls the Encyclopaedia an "Orientalist" work, and implies it lacks any "degree of respect" for the faith.
I wonder if Professor McAuliffe will apologise for causing such disrespect to Muslims in so prejudicial a manner. It's just a concern many Muslims and others of a more tolerant sort might have.
Penguin Books' ostrich imprint
Penguin has just bent over to please radical Hindus: Wendy Doniger's The Hindus: An Alternative History has been pulped. (Some authors ain't havin' it, to their credit.)
But are we really surprised? Penguin Books also flog these fatuous little booklets, "Penguin Great Ideas". These would mostly be Left great ideas: Thomas Paine, JJ Rousseau, and of course Karl Marx. Not featured: Thomas Carlyle, Henry Maine, Konstantin Pobyedonostseff, or, hell, even CS Lewis or Rudyard Kipling.
We'll keep this in mind next time Penguin pokes itself into a "banned books week". Usually this is a time when booksellers, authors, and publishers get together in a big Kumbaya circle to tell each other how brave they are.
As an appendix, this seems to support what Vox Day keeps babbling about with respect to The Doom That Cometh For Traditional Publishers. Penguin's niche will have to be middle-of-the-socialist-road dreck that only government schools buy in bulk. Online shopping, and on-demand outfits like Kitab Bhavan, will carry the books Penguin won't. The Hindutva thugs and Islamists won't be able to touch them.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
The week in reaction
Usually when we talk about the Zionist Conspiracy, receiving our monthly ZOG cheque, etc it's obvious we're snarking. I will have to take note not to crack wise like that around Mark Shea - here on the part of the neo-reaction. The time when the Dark Enlightenment could just be dismissed or laughed off is, I do believe, over.
In other NRx news, and possibly related: spandrell has inaugurated the post-Moldbug era. Monarchism, in short, is more than just that guy with the shiny hat. Anyone who'd skimmed the Merovingian Dynasty already knew that a weak king was no king; but it's handy to have backup from the Far East.
Jim continues to make sweeping statements he can't back up. He has lately been dissing the Talmud, as unsuited for a Jewish ethnostate. If he'd read those last two sedarim of the Mishnah (or, indeed, its contents page) he'd know better; as pointed here. At least Jim acknowledges the core problem and has his heart in the right place. The Jewish Question, and what to do with religious minorities generally, has flummoxed Reaction since the days of Isabella of Castile. But if one is out to recommend actions for Jews to take, he needs to understand where they are now.
Handle and Gurri are sparring over the pros and cons of anti-democracy.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The living stars
I bought a couple books (at the used-book-store): Dauntless and Fearless. These are the first two "The Lost Fleet" books by "Jack Campbell", who is John Hemry. It struck me that the series is almost Mormon. It is not as Mormon as was Battlestar Galactica, but very close.
I was sure I wasn't the only one who noticed so I went looking for commentary. I found some thoughtful forum-posts; but not (yet) anything on the LDS link.
Besides the plot of Dauntless, which begins with the good guys fleeing a tyrannical enemy (common to BSG and also early Dragonlance, and evoking LDS history up to 1855): Campbell's series puts great stock in the captain's religion. This is a form of ancestor-worship, mixed in with "the living stars" and - it's implied - with the lights of the extradimensional "jump-space" between them.
The notion that the gods are of this universe, and not outside it, is a foundational tenet of the Latter-Day Saints. This is really what separates LDS from the mainline Christianity (and Islam). The Jewish Bible, note, fails to exclude God from this cosmos; that God be not "the prince of the world" was mooted first in, I think, the Johannine literature and John 17 in particular - a view more Platonic than strictly Biblical.
Now, the series's Mormonism is not an orthodox reading. I don't think the LDS can even allow for a universe outside. That means that Star Trek / Star Wars hyperspace, by definition a shortcut between points still bound to spacetime internally, cannot exist. BSG by contrast was more doctrinally correct in its jump mechanic: the source and destination are bound together and then unbound - giving the illusion of "travel without moving" (as in Lynch's Dune, and perhaps in the game Homeworld). BSG still retains a few mathematical problems but it did, at least, attempt to conceal the philosophical problem: of a space outside space.
Saturday, February 08, 2014
Scott "Dilbert" Adams (no link) figured he'd make Asok The Intern gay-for-a-day to make a point about a law in India. Google, around the same time (again, no link), put up an Olympic logo in the rainbow-colours.
So brave and daring to say politically-charged opinions ... that the American cultural-elite believes already! How subversive. I guess that explains why no-one's even heard of Solzhenitsyn or Sakharov, but Krokodil is the talk of the town! Everyone's read Alvarus Pelagius but no-one has read Dante. (Okay I might be confused. Not, however, as confused as are the homosexuals, trannies and other perverts.)
"Subversion", in the minds of the critics, means to subvert institutional rivals to the State. Subverting the State is racist. And homophobic. Whatever any of that means, it's heretical. It's only real subversion if it's against our enemies!
Throwing shit (often literally) at enemies is a common primate trick. In the Near East, there was a custom of stoning adulterers. But there was no concept of "adultery" in chimpanzee society (as opposed to gorillas, and us). Somehow we got from there to here.
I expect that throwing stones was an ancestral way for a human band to, ritually, cast out a fellow human. Where there was adultery, the trust of the family was broken. So that's part of it.
If Neanderthals were the first human monoandrists, then they had the first adulteresses. It also happens that Neanderthals first met modern humans in the Near East, which is after all the border between East Africa and the rest of the planet (assuming the impassibility of the Sahara and Med).
So it was Neanderthals who taught our ancestors how to stone adulteresses. For this to have affected the Neanderthal sperm-cell, Neanderthals must have been doing it for a long time and, by the time we met, the stonings had become fatal.
I leafed through Svante Pääbo's book Neanderthal Man. It seems like an opportunity to dump some links here.
As an aside on Pääbo's book, it is a scientist's memoir; but you might want to buy it anyway. I don't normally like those because, from a scientist, I am more interested in the science. Here we do get some interesting observations on what DNA is, how it gets corrupted (the C molecule in ACGT decays to a U, usually - this byproduct becomes urea), how to duplicate DNA so it can be usefully tested, how miserably cold Siberia is etc. This particular book ends in 2011ish just after the Denisova cave. I wonder if it was first written in German around then, subsequently translated. But it has an afterword with some of the highlights of the last three years.
- which is already dated, this field moves so fast. Some of the recent news: mainland Asians are a tiny bit Denisovan after all (0.2%), and are more Neanderthal than are Europeans. Also the "Denisovans" in that cave are a mix of Denisovans and others (so really, "Denisovan" describes only the by-blow and not whatever-you-call-it who created both that hybrid, and the modern Asian). Elsewhere the significant Neanderthal contribution to modern Eurasian DNA happens not to include material expressed in the X chromosome nor in the male reproductive system - implying that most human hybrids were mules.
Actually to be fair to Pääbo, if we step back to the differences in human reproduction, this much was foreshadowed in his book. Pääbo and his crew had found that modern humans have higher sperm mobility than did the ancestral Eurasian relicts (I am tempted to call them Others). But this brings up other issues!
Pääbo points to two other primates for analogy. The male gorilla has lower sperm mobility than his chimpanzee counterpart. The gorillas instinctively form a stable family, with an apex male ("silverback") and harem of females; Pääbo calls this "monogamy", which isn't wrong, but "monoandry" would be better. The chimpanzees form a tribe with, um, looser conjugal relations. (Ditto the bonoboes.) Throw in modern humans' superiority in building a Dunbar network and this tells me that African humans then were like chimpanzees and ... African humans today. Pääbo doesn't like racists (at least, not so he'll admit in his book) and so, beyond here, he doesn't go.
Which is a pity, because the line of thought brings up non-racist spinoffs too. For instance: the (monoandrous) family (as opposed to polygamous clan) was, I believe, invented - by Neanderthals (and Denisovans?). We who displaced our predecessors from Neander Thal did not inherit their reproductive system - and, therefore, did not adopt their reproductive habits. It was some generations afterward when we reinvented monoandry. On a biological level, we are not free of hypergamous femininity to this day; but at least our advanced Dunbar score made civilisation possible.
The degree to which any given family in the animal-kingdom be monogynous or polygynous correlates with how relatively large be the family's females (I haven't looked this up for Neanderthals). Polygamy > polygyny > monogyny would appear to be the natural evolution. I do know that the Neanderthal girl in the first linked article was inbred. This implies a shortage of fertile males and/or females. In healthy (I mean, self-perpetuating) populations that is a result of polygyny. But we cannot rule out that this girl's tribe might not have been healthy; the Neanderthals did, after all, die out in the end. This group might have tried breeding with modern humans; but as mentioned, that rarely worked.
What kind of Nazi am I? (what kind are you?)
The classic Harper's article Who Goes Nazi? (Dorothy Thompson) has been making the rounds. It is interesting (for Harper's) in that it doesn't hit just the Right for Nazism; one of the worst men tagged as going-Nazi is a union agitator. Harper's was then perhaps more classically liberal then than it is today. That is probably why the Right side of the 'sphere has been booting it around (it's a mainstay at Ace's HQ and American Thinker; also here).
I have already gone Nazi - Charles Johnson gave me the opportunity to purge the LGF community's enemies in return for "updings", and I took it. I get to live with that knowledge. I don't get to deny it. Given that I don't much like being a Nazi, what's left is to go through Thompson's list and figure out why I went Nazi. Maybe then I won't go Nazi again for real.
I got as far as Mr. C and there I found my avatar. Mr. C is a misanthrope. He has been shut outside every group he's wanted to join, unless some of its members needed something he had and then only as long as they needed it. Mr. C's antiSemitism is just an animosity he's latched onto; it's not his core, he doesn't have to be an antiSemite, he could be anti-anything - starting with his "white trash" cousins. Otherwise I can't argue with Mrs. T's conclusion.
But the article has more letters of the alphabet to go through. So I shall keep eavesdropping on Mrs. T's conversations and see if we can agree upon her other little Eichmanns.
Mr. G, says Mrs. T,
Now I am curious about Mrs. T. She is not the hostess of the party. She is floating from here to there about the room, not saying much in public, observing the other guests. Sometimes she
Mrs. T's little drinkin' game sounds like great fun. In a former life I'd be happy to accept her RSVP. But I think I prefer my Nazis more honest.
I am not here to dispute the tenets in question. I actually agree that most of the fifteen "lies" listed are lies, especially the ninth. I don't agree over the seventh (which contradicts the fourth and the ninth anyway) nor over the twelfth. But most of that is handled in my Blogmocracy comment.
I am here to dispute the tone. A reasonable person, looking at the tenets objectively, can dispute at least two of them. In the mindset of the article, more Zoroastrian than Christian, one who does so isn't just wrong, he follows the druj. The article isn't arguing a point (or points).
The article is erecting a Pale: reject all these "lies", or You're Not One Of Us. Inasmuch as it holds the contrary truths as universal, it asserts world supremacy.
The world it wants is a Christian world. It encompasses all forms of government save the Islamic and liberal forms. It even encompasses denominations of Christianity and scientific freedom (which is interesting): Protestantism and evolution are not among the "lies" (although the Orthodox must duck a rock shied at the "Byzantines"). Judaism, naturally, must be off to the ghetto again (at best). We'll not discuss the atheists.
As a reactionary myself, I bear some sympathy with the cause. I am reminded of Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev. But at least Pobedonostsev argued the case.
Anyway it does seem that where Pobedonostsev stated that Orthodox / Catholic Christianity was incompatible with, well, anything else, and with Jews and atheists in particular he was probably right. Christians who (truly) believe "that Jesus was who He said He was" don't seem able to accept a rival opinion.
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Rice University supports Israel
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the presidents of more than 80 American colleges have condemned the boycott as an assault on the free exchange of ideas. The website Legal Insurrection has published a list of universities opposed to the boycott at http://bit.ly/KlaFSQ.
One learns to read between the lines. For instance: this statement by Leebron is, on its face, humbug:
Rice University highly values the free exchange of ideas and points of view, and we fully support the statement of the Association of American Universities, of which Rice is a member, . . . The open exchange of ideas, especially those with which we may disagree, is essential to an academic institution and the learning experience.
What puts teeth into this, is the link to Legal Insurrection. That blog isn't one I've linked to much, so far; but it's been on my radar for many years as a non-PC right-wing(ish) outfit.
True, everything these two admins've said that I've noted here, including that link to a blacklisted site, is just so much wind. Rice still offers a "policy studies" major and pays (off) any number of other tenured bullshit-artists on faculty. And then there are the other administrators. We'll see what Leebron does in future.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Jesus from a Qur'anic perspective
There is one last important point I should add. Muslim scholars have always written about Jesus using Islamic sources only. While I write about Jesus from a Qur’anic perspective, my writings are not based on the Qur’an only. The genuinely new contribution I try to make to the literature is bringing in historical facts and sources. My writings attempt to start a study of the historical Jesus from a Qur’anic perspective. The historical Jesus has been studied extensively by Christian and Western scholars, and I try to encourage the development of a similar discipline in Islamic scholarship.
I have ruled any
I am leaving aside Aslan and Khalidi. Aslan's work wasn't at base an Islamic perspective. Khalidi's was a study of later Muslim attitudes. Both books have value to scholars; both are irrelevant to the (meta)question.
What we'd want from a Qur'an-centred view of the historical Jesus is, first, any assurance that the Qur'an (or Hadith) brings relevant information to the ma`îda. It must be agreed that the suras' information about Jesus postdates the man's mission by about six centuries. We would therefore inform the researcher to use the Qur'an as reflecting the attitudes of its own (Arabophone) community, and not as God's will. In sha' llâh.
We would then almost certainly be following Imam Bart Ehrman, to declare Jesus the "apocalyptic [Jewish] prophet of the new millennium". Fortunately this much is not so unreasonable; I believe this myself. Aslan's work is a start along this road.
At this point we might be able to discuss such proto-Islamic influences as also went into Christianity but are unique to Christianity and Islam (so, no mainline Second-Temple Judaism to the extent there was such a thing). We would be discussing Qumran, Nabataeans in the Book of Acts, desert poetry, and Near East prophecy. Basically we'd be re-reading Philonenko.
It could be done. But it would be difficult. And (as pointed out with reference to Aslan) the exercise would do more harm to Islam than to Christianity; given that sura 4 would have to go. In consolation, I've said about the same about Christian researches into the historical Jesus.
The French review alluded to below dinged Kohlberg / Moezzi for not taking into account John Burton's research into abrogation (naskh, also alluded to below). Those authors had some justification in that Burton's book just isn't very easy to read, and (perhaps more so) because Burton's notions elsewhere about the Qur'an itself were, shall we say, famous.
I have just found that Burton has, himself, lately been abrogated - by Louay Fatoohi. Fatoohi offers in part a response, in part an update to Burton; so that modern scholars (and Muslims) can at least understand what Islamic abrogation is, and in what context they can refer to it.
Unfortunately it was then that I encountered Fatoohi's other book. It shows that Fatoohi at heart is an ideologue. I worry, should I purchase Fatoohi's books, that I am going to encounter the same problem I encountered at ShiaChat: a latter-day Believer projecting his current understanding of Truth back into times and places in which the contemporary understanding of Truth was different. In short I have to worry whether I am getting a tract rather than a book.
It's possible that he's kept his biases better controlled this time. His coreligionist Reza Aslan has done okay. From "my" side of the fence, Ibn Warraq has enjoyed (mixed) success as an editor. I won't belabour the point with further examples.
How not to write a book about Jesus
We discussed Reza Aslan half a year back. By pure chance, this morning I found a back-and-forth about Louay Fatoohi's Jesus the Muslim Prophet (yeah, I know). Fatoohi let slip this:
Point 3. You are right in your observation that I use the Qur’an to differentiate between which statements attributed to Jesus that are likely to be historical and which are not. This is consistent with the approach of the book, as explained in detail above.
To borrow a dialogue from the fine movie Event Horizon: er, you can't actually do that...
It does indeed seem that Reza Aslan has the better read on the historical Jesus. Although I am still inclining toward Tarif Khalidi, if only because he doesn't touch the topic.
I don't even know who is supposed to be making up Fatoohi's audience. He certainly won't be convincing any Christians (or Mormons) with this a priori attitude. And Muslims bringing his book into debates are going to receive a rude surprise when their opponents laugh off the book's whole premise.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Late in 2011, I bought Which Koran? and its last essay was Bar-Asher, "Variant Readings and Additions of the Imami Shia". That essay's addendum - literally the last word of the book - brought to my addition Etan Kohlberg and Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, Revelation and Falsification (Brill, 2009) - the bulk of which was an edition with commentary of al-Sayyari's book of reading / reciting the Qur'an.
I read most of the introduction to this, back then; and last November at the Library of Congress I printed much of its main text. Over the last few nights I have read its take on suras 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, and 19-46 plus Musabbihat. (There are some gaps. I admit.)
Today I browsed some reactions. Here's one in French. Further enlightening are some comments at ShiaChat; people over there do care about the topic, and aren't nearly as dogmatic as I'd feared (although, we're to get to that). In particular the commenter "Ya Bab-ul-Hawaij" posted a seminar on the Shîite tahrîf topic itself, for those who don't own the book and for alladhîna ûtû nasîban mina'l-kitâbi as it were.
The general theme is that Kohlberg and Moezzi are "provable but not sound" because Sayyari relied on / is of weak sources... as defined by the Shi`a today. The commenter "imami" directs the Party instead to Madelung at the seminar and, also, to Poonawala's review of Modarressi (use that instead of the dead link given in-thread). As I said: they're hardly going to give up on modern Shiite dogma, and they've abandoned many early Shi`ites; but they're at least giving a listen to the non-Shi`a.
So now we get to the review by Mohammad Saeed B Ahmanpour, Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies 3.2 (Spring 2010), 231f.. Ahmanpour is, according to the Shiachatters, the best word about Sayyari from within the scholarly malakut ("ivory tower" as Westerners put it). Although he is, I think, a Shi`ite himself.
Ahmanpour notes the editors' erudition but faults them for bias. The editors assume on the part of "the modern scholar" that the Qur'an was corrupt as of Sayyari's time. The Ahmanpour begs to differ (232): "Given Al-Sayyari’s admitted notoriety, the contention that al-Sayyari is representative of early Shi‘a thought on the Qur’an requires somewhat more support."
Ahmanpour also argues that Sayyari wasn't as guilty of tahrîf as his editors think. Our reviewer points out here that the book is called, elsewhere, "the book of tafsir" (232). I perceive contradiction between Ahmanpour's two arguments. To evaluate his critiques requires an understanding of what Sayyari was trying to do himself, and then of what his successors made of his work.
First, inasmuch as the Qirâ'ât is not (only) a collection of Shiite readings, Ahmanpour is right. There *is* tafsir in the text: that is, ahadith where Sayyari does not dispute the text, but simply explains it. Especially the Qirâ'ât employs naskh to resolve contradictions, which would be redundant if Sayyari knew textual readings that lacked the contradictions.
So where we see the text introducing Shiite pluses, we are most likely reading exegetical inline glosses never intended to be written into a mushaf. I saw the same in the Tafsir Muqatil. No Muslims at the time cared what Muqatil did, because they understood that Muqatil was giving a sense of what the Qur'an meant and not what it literally said. With Sayyari, it's more subtle; because he argued for an "oral torah" such that the Prophet privately told his family and the Shi`a what God had intended.
The Qirâ'ât reminds me of a "virtual machine" in operating-system design. This is an interpretive layer overlaying immediately the text itself. Even the Shiite mullahs weren't supposed to read the Qirâ'ât. The book is for other Shiite mufassarun, who would be producing the (real) commentaries from which the mullahs would teach. Ayyashi was probably the most important student of the Qirâ'ât; we might also consider Kulayni's al-Usul min al-Kafi.
I do not get the impression from Sayyari that he intended a single controversy against his fellow Shi`ites. I do find trenchant comments, by contrast, against `Umar "the Roarer" and other opponents of the a'immat. Sayyari, then, thought himself orthodox.
Elsewhere within the Shi`a, Sayyari's variants belong to that early milieu in which many doctrinally-charged variants roamed the early `Abbasid-era Hadith. Many of these variants were Shi`ite in focus, although ending up in non-Shiite tafâsir like Tabari's: as seen in the late Daud Rahbar, "Relation of Shi`a Theology to the Qur'an". As far as I know no-one has suggested that Sayyari was so desperate in his Shiism that, for his pro-Shi`a variants, he had delved into polemic anti-Shi`ite works (like this one). Sayyari simply recorded what he had learnt from his own teachers.
Ahmanpour is overall correct, then, in his second argument; if we find Sayyari to be controversial, that is a problem mainly with how we are reading his book. One of Sayyari's editors, Amir-Moezzi, has followed this up with The Spirituality of Shi`i Islam (2011); in p. 220 he goes further and says an opponent of Sayyari would be having a problem with early Shi`ism itself. At any rate, there is no problem in Sayyari. It is now time to return to the review's first argument.
Clearly Sayyari retained his orthodoxy at first in some learned circles, starting with Ayyashi and Kulayni. Amir-Moezzi, 233f here repeats several variants shared between Sayyari and (often) Kulayni. Shi`a today consider Kulayni's own work, in turn, to be the most reliable hadith-collection available (although not infallible).
Perhaps this is why Ahmanpour prefers to discuss the more respected (today) Shiite Bab[a]wayh (232-3). Our reviewer raises the question that, had Babwayh been diverting Shiite orthodoxy from Sayyari (and Ayyashi): then why has he not heard of mediaeval debate on the topic. I find this argumentum ex silentio less compelling than does Ahmanpour - for the simple reason of kitman (Kulayni devoted whole chapters to kitman and to its close relative taqiyya - also see Amir-Moezzi, 219-20). Babwayh was able to discuss the Qur'an IN PUBLIC: with the Sunnis and, depending on location, Khawarij. In PRIVATE, Ayyashi and Kulayni continued to circulate. If anything Sayyari outlived Ayyashi: we have four MSS for the former with (almost) the full text, where the latter has come to us only incompletely. We have already met Kulayni.
(Ahmanpour also associates these scholars' work with the Fasl al-Khitab of Mirza Husayn Nuri. Not that Mirza Husayn Nuri; this is the Tabrisi, d. 1902. I haven't read it so I can't judge on the strength of its argument. I just assume it's dated.)
It is, it seems, very difficult for Shiite scholars to be, simply, scholars where the topic of Shi`ism comes up. Sayyari should be read as Muqatil is read: not as OMG THIS IS THE REAL KORAN!! but as purveyor of early Imami interpretations of said text. Ahmanpour, (some of) the Shiachatters and arguably even Kohlberg and Moezzi really should take deep breaths and calm down.
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