Google full text of our books:


The Koran in English:
A Biography
Bruce B. Lawrence

Hardcover | 2017 | $26.95 | £21.95 | ISBN: 9780691155586
280 pp. | 4 1/2 x 7 1/2 | 14 halftones.
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400887798 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Chapter 1[PDF] pdf-icon

The untold story of how the Arabic Qur'an became the English Koran

For millions of Muslims, the Qur'an is sacred only in Arabic, the original Arabic in which it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century; to many Arab and non-Arab believers alike, the book literally defies translation. Yet English translations exist and are growing, in both number and importance. Bruce Lawrence tells the remarkable story of the ongoing struggle to render the Qur'an's lyrical verses into English—and to make English itself an Islamic language.

The "Koran" in English revisits the life of Muhammad and the origins of the Qur'an before recounting the first translation of the book into Latin by a non-Muslim: Robert of Ketton's twelfth-century version paved the way for later ones in German and French, but it was not until the eighteenth century that George Sale's influential English version appeared. Lawrence explains how many of these early translations, while part of a Christian agenda to "know the enemy," often revealed grudging respect for their Abrahamic rival. British expansion in the modern era produced an anomaly: fresh English translations—from the original Arabic—not by Arabs or non-Muslims but by South Asian Muslim scholars.

The first book to explore the complexities of this translation saga, The "Koran" in English also looks at cyber Korans, versions by feminist translators, and now a graphic Koran, the American Qur'an created by the acclaimed visual artist Sandow Birk.

Bruce B. Lawrence is the Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Professor Emeritus of Religion at Duke University. His many books include Who Is Allah?; New Faiths, Old Fears: Muslims and Other Asian Immigrants in American Religious Life; and Shattering the Myth: Islam beyond Violence (Princeton). He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.


"Comprehensive. . . . Lawrence has done pathbreaking work for English-speaking students of the Qur’an."--Publishers Weekly

"Lively, open-minded and erudite. . . . You don't have to be a Muslim or all that religiously inclined to find this book, the latest installment in the sprightly Princeton University Press series called ‘Lives of Great Religious Books,’ delightful reading."--Patrick Reardon, Chicago Tribune

"Exploring the motivations, reactions, and inspirations for other activities makes this work not only unique but also valuable for those trying to evaluate the discussions surrounding translations of the Koran."--Muhammed Hassanali, Booklist


"At a moment when historically grounded reflection on European and American interactions with Islam and Muslims is vital, Bruce Lawrence offers an engaging and opinionated book based on wide-ranging scholarship. Accessible to adventurous beginners and illuminating for specialists, The "Koran" in English is a terrific read."--Kecia Ali, author of Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence

"Lawrence’s lively and fascinating study ranges well beyond textual history. It probes the international politics of Qur’an publication and even showcases the recently completed graphic Qur’an of American artist Sandow Birk. There is nothing like this book."--Jane Dammen McAuliffe, editor of the Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an

More Endorsements

Table of Contents:

Illustrations ix
Preface xi
1 Muhammad and Revelation 1
2 The Orientalist Koran 29
3 The South Asian Koran 50
4 The Virtual Koran and Beyond 81
5 The Koran Up Close 104
6 The Politics of Koran Translation 122
7 The Graphic Koran 135
Conclusion 165
Acknowledgments 173
Appendix: The Koran in English by Author and Date 177
Notes 191
Index 233


Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Kobo eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Hardcover : $26.95 ISBN: 9780691155586

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Hardcover  £21.95 ISBN: 9780691155586

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 9/7/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    Middle Eastern Studies
    More Choices