In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 8, no.5), Joseph E. Lowry (University of Pennsylvania) reviews Structural Dividers in the Qur’an edited by Marianna Klar (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021).
In the review, Lowry writes “More recent efforts in Western scholarship have looked anew at the Qurʾān’s literary structures with both curiosity about and appreciation for their aesthetic, communicative, and compositional dimensions. But the new approaches to form and structure are themselves highly varied and align with some larger tendencies in the field of qurʾānic studies in the West. The editor of the volume under review, Marianna Klar, has offered her own clear-eyed assessment of some recent approaches to the study of qurʾānic structures in two important articles in the Journal of Qur’anic Studies, in which she argued, among other things, that the drive to detect macro- and microsymmetries has led some interpreters to ignore obvious thematic dimensions of the sūrahs they investigate. This is all to say that the edited volume under review, Structural Dividers in the Qur’an (SDIQ), is a timely and welcome—and enlightening—contribution to debates about the Qurʾān’s literary form and how it should be studied…”
In the review, Zellentin writes “Simon P. Loynes’s monograph, Revelation in the Qur’an, is based on a 2019 PhD dissertation at the University of Edinburgh. In an introduction and six chapters, Loynes argues that the qurʾānic roots n-z-l and w-ḥ-y need to be more carefully distinguished than many translators and commentators tend to do…Loynes’ argument is simple only on the surface, yet the implications of this study for our understanding of the Qurʾān are profound, inviting a careful reconsideration of the Qurʾān’s concept of divine revelation. The volume’s argument is largely compelling, the scholarship flawless, the scope concise, and the presentation impeccable. Some epigraphic and comparative philological considerations, however, are left unexplored, and the study leaves me wanting to learn a bit more about the pagan Arabian as well as the Jewish and Christian context of the Qurʾān’s concepts of Scripture and divine communication…”
In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 8, no.3),Devin J. Stewart (Emory University) reviews George Archer, A Place Between Two Places: The Qurʾānic Barzakh (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2017).
In the review, Stewart writes “In A Place between Two Places: The Qurʾānic Barzakh, George Archer addresses the term barzakh and the associated conception of an intermediate state between life and death, or life and the afterlife, in Late Antiquity, the Qurʾān, and early Islamic literature. One way to look at this work is as a response to an interpretive problem presented by the term, which occurs in three qurʾānic passages. In the first two passages, Q al-Nūr 25:53 and al-Raḥmān 55:19–20, barzakh designates a barrier—somewhat mystifying to human observers—between fresh and salt water. That the term indicates a barrier is clear from the fact that the two bodies of water are said to meet but remain separate, constituting one of the many signs of God manifested in the wondrous features of the natural world. The setting in the third passage, Q al-Muʾminūn 23:99–100, is entirely different. Here, barzakh also denotes a barrier; a dead man’s request to be returned to the world to rectify his former deeds is categorically denied, and this is declared impossible on account of the barzakh: “A barzakh stands behind such people until the day when they are resurrected.” The barrier in this case separates the realm of the dead from the realm of the living…”
In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 8, no.2), Ana Davitashvili (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen), reviews Joachim Jakob’s Syrisches Christentum und früher Islam: Theologische Reaktionen in syrisch-sprachigen Texten vom 7. bis 9. Jahrhundert (Innsburck: Tyrolia-Verlag, 2021).
In the review, Davitashvili writes “Joachim Jakob’s book Syrisches Christentum und früher Islam: Theologische Reaktionen in syrisch-sprachigen Texten vom 7. bis 9. Jahrhundert (in English: Syriac Christianity and Early Islam: Theological Reactions in Syriac Written Texts from the Seventh to the Ninth Century) analyzes a wide range of Syriac sources in exploring Christian theological responses to early Islam. Jakob focuses on the developments of the theological positions of East and West Syrian writers as well as on the connections of the relevant Syriac texts with contemporary Islamic theology. This comprehensive book is essential reading not only for scholars of Syriac Christianity, but also for those interested in interreligious encounters and Christian-Muslim relations more broadly…”
In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 7, no.6), Gordon Nickel reviews W. Richard Oakes Jr., The Cross of Christ: Islamic Perspectives (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020).
In the review, Nickel writes “In the middle of his translation of several traditions from al-Ṭabarī’s (d. 310/923) interpretation of Q al-Nisāʾ 4:157, Richard Oakes presents a story that would likely intrigue many readers well familiar with the Gospel passion accounts but with only the most general Islamic explanation of how Jesus did not die on the cross (190–191). As recorded by Oakes in his recently published The Cross of Christ: Islamic Perspectives, al-Ṭabarī’s story begins with Allāh telling ʿĪsā that he will leave this world…”
In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 7, no.5), Holger Zellentin (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen) reviews Zishan Ahmad Ghaffar’s Der Koran in seinem religions- und weltgeschichtlichen Kontext: Eschatologie und Apokalyptik in den mittelmekkanischen Suren (Leiden: Ferdinand Schöningh / Brill, 2020).
In the review, Zellentin writes “In Ghaffar’s view, the Qurʾān retells and transforms many of the historical and eschatological narratives circulating at its time, and especially those suggesting or even explicating the messianic role of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who ruled 610–641 CE. Instead of prevalent messianic and apocalyptic imperial ideologies, according to Ghaffar, the middle Meccan sūrahs – in arguable contrast to the later Medinan ones – offer a theology of individual piety and divine mercy that portrays the only relevant eschatological battle between good and evil as occurring within each individual, rather than on the world stage…”
In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 7, no.4), Ameena Yovan (University of Chicago) reviews Gabriel Said Reynolds’ Allah: God in the Qur’an (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020).
In the review, Yovan writes “Gabriel Said Reynolds’ most recent book, Allah: God in the Qur’an, explores Allah’s characterization in the Qurʾān through His relationship with creation. Reynolds frames his discussion around the dichotomy of divine mercy and justice (or vengeance) in the Qurʾān; but the book is more than an analysis of the Qur’ān’s presentation of these characteristics. Rather, the book offers a wide-ranging introduction to theological debates framed by the Qurʾān, with a methodological intervention by Reynolds as to how to reconcile these dichotomous elements and the contentious debates they engender…”
In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 7, no.3), Reuven Firestone (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion) reviews Michael Pregill’s, The Golden Calf between Bible and Qur’an: Scripture, Polemic, and Exegesis from Late Antiquity to Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).
In the review, Firestone writes “Michael Pregill’s The Golden Calf between Bible and Qur’an sets out, via a thick reading of a single pivotal and representative narrative in the story of the Calf (or “Golden Calf” in common Jewish and Christian discourse), to situate the Qur’an within the larger religious and literary context of the Late Antique world. That it takes him nearly 450 pages to present and develop his argument attests to the complexity of the intertextual relationships he examines and the sticky methodological issues that have plagued and continue to beset those trying to make sense of traditions known from the Bible as they occur in the Qurʾān. It also attests to the extent of due diligence he undertook through his exhaustive reference to earlier research on the episode in its many literary settings…”
In the first installment of this year’s the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 7 no.1), Andrew O’Connor (St. Norbert College) reviews Jeffrey Einboden’s The Qur’ān And Kerygma: Biblical Receptions of the Muslim Scripture across a Millennium (Sheffield: Equinox, 2019).
In the review, O’Connor writes “An enduring interest in scholarship on the Qurʾān is the text’s engagement with biblical and post-biblical traditions. How does the Qurʾān develop or contest biblical characters, motifs, imagery, and diction? How should scholars characterize the relationship between the Bible and the Qurʾān, and precisely what texts or traditions does the Qurʾān engage with in particular? Does the Qurʾān exhibit an awareness of the text of the Bible itself, or does it reflect engagement with oral traditions? These are important questions in our endeavor to understand the genesis of the Qurʾān, but in his recent book Jeffrey Einboden reminds us that these questions address only part of the Qurʾān’s relationship with post-biblical traditions. Yes, the Qurʾān is shaped by earlier lore, but the text has also, in turn, shaped the inheritance of biblical literature…”
In In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 6, no 9), Nora K. Schmid (University of Oxford) reviews Sean W. Anthony, Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The Making of the Prophet of Islam (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020).
In her review, Schmid writes “What do we know about Muḥammad? How do we know what we know and how certain can we be of that knowledge? These are questions that have been asked by scholars many times and answered in many different ways. In Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The Making of the Prophet of Islam, Sean W. Anthony presents a fresh attempt to provide answers to these questions. The book has two goals. It strives to “revitalize historical research into the life and times of Muḥammad” and it attempts to “shed new light on the historical circumstances and the intellectual currents that gave rise to the sīrah-maghāzī tradition as a discrete genre of Arabic letters from the last decade of the seventh century C.E. up until the end of the eighth.” The book is therefore truly a study of two topics, the historical Muḥammad and the sīrah-maghāzī genre, and an urgent plea to make sense of the former in light of the latter…”