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The Bible in Arabic:
The Scriptures of the 'People of the Book' in the Language of Islam
Sidney H. Griffith

Hardcover | 2013 | $29.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691150826
272 pp. | 6 x 9 | 6 halftones. | SHOPPING CART

eBook | ISBN: 9781400846580 |
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From the first centuries of Islam to well into the Middle Ages, Jews and Christians produced hundreds of manuscripts containing portions of the Bible in Arabic. Until recently, however, these translations remained largely neglected by Biblical scholars and historians. In telling the story of the Bible in Arabic, this book casts light on a crucial transition in the cultural and religious life of Jews and Christians in Arabic-speaking lands.

In pre-Islamic times, Jewish and Christian scriptures circulated orally in the Arabic-speaking milieu. After the rise of Islam--and the Qur'an's appearance as a scripture in its own right--Jews and Christians translated the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament into Arabic for their own use and as a response to the Qur'an's retelling of Biblical narratives. From the ninth century onward, a steady stream of Jewish and Christian translations of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament crossed communal borders to influence the Islamic world.

The Bible in Arabic offers a new frame of reference for the pivotal place of Arabic Bible translations in the religious and cultural interactions between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Sidney H. Griffith is Ordinary Professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America. His books include The Beginnings of Christian Theology in Arabic and The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque (Princeton).


"[M]eticulous but eminently lucid."--Eric Ormsby, Literary Review

"Griffith offers an exhaustive yet engaging discussion of the history of translations of the Bible."--Choice

"This book by Sidney Griffith is of great value to whoever is interested in the complex issue of relationship between Hebrew-Christian Scriptures and Muslim ones. . . . Griffith depicts in a synthetic but very valuable way the relationship between respective Scriptures, mirror of relationships between respective communities."--Valentino Cottini, Islamochristiana

"Griffith's book is a welcome introduction to the field and is written in an accessible style, directed to a broad audience. . . . The Bible in Arabic will hopefully inspire much needed further research."--Ronny Vollandt, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations

"The Bible in Arabic is an important contribution not only as a corrective to inter-religious debate in the twenty-first century, but also because it succeeds it drawing the Bible into a dialectical tradition of exchange that has become severely hampered by dominant discourses on identity politics that fill the spectrum between cultural clash and calls for tolerance."--Rana Issa, SCTIW Review


"This book opens up a new world. With consummate learning and characteristic intellectual courtesy, Sidney Griffith reveals an Arabic civilization of unexpected diversity, where Muslims, Jews, and Christians continued to debate, for a thousand years, the conflicting messages of their three, intricately intertwined scriptures. We emerge the richer for this generous vision of the religious texture of the medieval Middle East."--Peter Brown, author of Through the Eye of a Needle

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1
Chapter I: The Bible in Pre-Islamic Arabia 7
Chapter II: The Bible in the Arabic Qur'aˉn 54
Chapter III: The Earliest Translations of the Bible into Arabic 97
Chapter IV: Christian Translations of the Bible into Arabic 127
Chapter V: Jewish Translations of the Bible into Arabic 155
Chapter VI: Muslims and the Bible in Arabic 175
Chapter VII: Intertwined Scriptures 204
Bibliography 217
Index 247

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      File created: 3/10/2015

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