Thursday, September 03, 2015

Hughes on the Birmingham Qur'an fragments

MARGINALIA: MRBlog | The Birmingham Quran and the Palimpsest of History (Aaron W. Hughes). An essay that encourages us not to accept over-interpretation of the evidence in any direction. One comment:
Third, it should not be a political act to claim that parts of the Quran — given the two points above — might well have predated Muhammad. We do not yet have that evidence, despite what the “experts,” whom the media frequently drags out in front of us, say. Yet I see no reason to think that what became the final version of the Quran — again comparing it to the Old and New Testaments — recycled earlier materials and oral traditions. One has to be able to say this and not be accused of “undermining” Islam.
As it stands, the flow of thought in this paragraph does not work very well. I wonder if the word "not" was accidentally left out before "to think that." That is the sentence I would agree with: there is no reason not to think that the Qur'an recycled earlier materials and oral traditions. In fact there is good reason to think that it did. But, as I observed earlier (as a non-specialist), the style of the Qur'an seems very uniform to me, which makes me think that earlier traditions were throughly reworked and re-thought when they were used rather than being copied verbatim. For more on the story, see that post and follow the links.