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Full Access Hebrew Bible Quotations in Arabic Transcription in Safavid Iran of the 11th/17th Century: Sayyed Aḥmad ʿAlavī’s Persian Refutations of Christianity

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Hebrew Bible Quotations in Arabic Transcription in Safavid Iran of the 11th/17th Century: Sayyed Aḥmad ʿAlavī’s Persian Refutations of Christianity

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In Muslim polemical writings on the Bible written in Arabic, scriptural quotations frequently appear in Arabic transcription of the original Hebrew. This phenomenon also occurs in the Persian refutations of Christianity by the 11th/17th-century Shīʿī scholar Sayyed Aḥmad ʿAlavī. The adduced biblical materials, however, vary significantly depending on the particular manuscript or recension. Nevertheless, they reflect the common repertoire of scriptural verses invoked by Muslim authors. In contrast to Henry Corbin, who argued on the basis of the Hebrew verses transcribed in Arabic characters that ʿAlavī was a Hebraist and directly acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures, it is suggested here that the Shīʿī scholar relied instead on lists of biblical “testimonies” to Muḥammad. Although ʿAlavī’s literary sources are as yet unknown due to a lack of research, there is evidence from the manuscripts dating from ʿAlavī’s lifetime that he copied the transcribed Bible quotations from earlier Muslim writings.

Affiliations: 1: Research Unit Intellectual History of the Islamicate World, Freie Universität Berlin dennis.halft@dominikaner.de

10.1163/2212943X-20130110
/content/journals/10.1163/2212943x-20130110
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In Muslim polemical writings on the Bible written in Arabic, scriptural quotations frequently appear in Arabic transcription of the original Hebrew. This phenomenon also occurs in the Persian refutations of Christianity by the 11th/17th-century Shīʿī scholar Sayyed Aḥmad ʿAlavī. The adduced biblical materials, however, vary significantly depending on the particular manuscript or recension. Nevertheless, they reflect the common repertoire of scriptural verses invoked by Muslim authors. In contrast to Henry Corbin, who argued on the basis of the Hebrew verses transcribed in Arabic characters that ʿAlavī was a Hebraist and directly acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures, it is suggested here that the Shīʿī scholar relied instead on lists of biblical “testimonies” to Muḥammad. Although ʿAlavī’s literary sources are as yet unknown due to a lack of research, there is evidence from the manuscripts dating from ʿAlavī’s lifetime that he copied the transcribed Bible quotations from earlier Muslim writings.

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2013-01-01
2016-12-08

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