Thursday, August 24, 2017

AJR review of Griffith, The Bible in Arabic

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | The Bible in Arabic (Josh Mugler).
Sidney H. Griffith. The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the 'People of the Book' in the Language of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
This issue of identification aside, much of the first half of the book is devoted to determining the date and context of the earliest written Arabic translations of the Bible among both Jews and Christians, and particularly whether there is any evidence that such translations may have been in existence before the advent of the Arabic Qur’an, as argued by Hikmat Kachouh and other scholars. To make a long story short, Griffith finds no conclusive evidence for such an early date, and in fact argues what may be a somewhat counterintuitive point: that the publication of the Qur’an was itself the major catalyst for Jewish and Christian efforts to translate their own scriptures into the newly dominant regional language, and that the influence of the Qur’an upon the lexicon and style of classical Arabic in turn means that these translations are necessarily marked by numerous Qur’anic turns of phrase.
I noted another review of the book here. For more on Arabic translations of the Bible, see here and links.

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