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Reclaiming Babylon: The Multiple Languages Of The Qurān

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presupposes the Qurʾān not as the fixed corpus it had become after the death of the prophet, in Mohamed Arkoun's words 'the Closed Official Corpus', but as a chain of communications conveyed to the Meccan and later the Medinan community, whose expectations and religious background are implied in the qurʾānic texts. Two cases of later re-composition of an individual qurʾānic text in a new 'key', inviting multiple voices, is presented. The first case study focuses on the Medinan expansion of a Meccan reading of a Biblical story that had to be revised at Medina in view of a new, Jewish audience involved. The second case study addresses the Medinan re-reading of the Meccan story of Mary and Jesus. One particularly striking case of the use of Christian cultural language in response to a Jewish challenge is presented.

Keywords: Christian cultural language; Jewish cultural language; Jewish tradition; Meccan story; Medinan community; qurʾānic text



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