What can the Qur’an tell us about the centuries preceding Islam? Over the past two decades, Western scholarship has learned to read the Islamic Scripture not so much as a passive repository of Jewish and Christian teaching, but as testimony to a vibrant debate among monotheists. This scholarly development has opened up the possibility to assess the Qur’an’s historical significance not only as a neglected source for the seventh century C.E., but also as a witness for a variety of legal and cultural developments that have their roots in the events following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in the first century. Considering the example of ritual purity laws imposed on non-Jews in the Hebrew Bible, in the Acts of the Apostles and in early canon law, in the Talmudic literature and finally in the Qur’an, this talk will seek to show that the Qur’an, in addition to containing valuable testimony for the end of Late Antiquity, can help us reassess major developments that defined its beginning.
Holger Zellentin holds a PhD from Princeton University (2007) and is currently Associate Professor in Jewish Studies at the University of Nottingham. He has previously taught at the University of California, Berkeley, at the Graduate Theological Union, and at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (New Brunswick). Professor Zellentin has been a mid-career fellow at the British Academy, and is a holder of the Philip Leverhulme Prize. Among his publications are Rabbinic Parodies of Jewish and Christian Literature (2011); The Qur’an’s Legal Culture: The Didascalia Apostolorum as a Point of Departure (2013) and a monograph titled Law and Literature from the Bible to the Qur’an which is under contract with Oxford University Press.
Department of Religion