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Friday, 20 December 2013

Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Koran

It has been known for a while that the Quran has Judeo Christian origins with some scholars writing books on the subject. These opinions are not mainstream and generally unpopular amongst those in authority. Occasionally they are aired or featured in a broad reaching publication. Being in the church for some time I have seldom come across any references to this silent research going on around the Quran. I had to leave the church and embark on a course of study on my own before coming across information that every Christian should know.

In the New York Times, the article, Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Koran:

"Scholars like Mr. Luxenberg and Gerd-R. Puin, who teaches at Saarland University in Germany, have returned to the earliest known copies of the Koran in order to grasp what it says about the document's origins and composition. Mr. Luxenberg explains these copies are written without vowels and diacritical dots that modern Arabic uses to make it clear what letter is intended. In the eighth and ninth centuries, more than a century after the death of Muhammad, Islamic commentators added diacritical marks to clear up the ambiguities of the text, giving precise meanings to passages based on what they considered to be their proper context. Mr. Luxenberg's radical theory is that many of the text's difficulties can be clarified when it is seen as closely related to Aramaic, the language group of most Middle Eastern Jews and Christians at the time."

Mr. Luxenberg has traced the passages dealing with paradise to a Christian text called Hymns of Paradise by a fourth-century author.

In many cases, the differences can be quite significant. Mr. Puin points out that in the early archaic copies of the Koran, it is impossible to distinguish between the words ''to fight'' and ''to kill.'' In many cases, he said, Islamic exegetes added diacritical marks that yielded the harsher meaning, perhaps reflecting a period in which the Islamic Empire was often at war.

A return to the earliest Koran, Mr. Puin and others suggest, might lead to a more tolerant brand of Islam, as well as one that is more conscious of its close ties to both Judaism and Christianity.

''It is serious and exciting work,'' Ms. Crone said of Mr. Luxenberg's work. Jane McAuliffe, a professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, has asked Mr. Luxenberg to contribute an essay to the Encyclopedia of the Koran, which she is editing.

The Quran contains stories that can be linked to missing or lost gospels such as the Infancy of Jesus Christ, Testament of Solomon, Visions of Paul and also sharing esoteric themes alongside 1 and 3 Enoch and Apocalypse of Abraham. It is an unusual book which is ignored by Christians and Jews, much to their own peril, since its contents are relevant to them.

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