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Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E. B. Lumbard, and Mohammed Rustom, eds., The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E. B. Lumbard, and Mohammed Rustom, eds., The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary
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  development of academic censure. He suggests that the uniqueness of the documentation of theFoulechatandMontesoncaseshasopenedupnewareasforinvestigation,namelytheroleof the disputation in the process of public revocation. He  fi nally stresses, rightly, that manytexts still remain to be examined.Theconclusionisfollowedbyanappendix(called,forsomereason,appendixA)listingthefourteenth-century chancellors and their degrees, a select bibliography, and indexes of legalcitations, biblical citations, and names and subjects. The last index seems rather limited andcouldhavebeenmoreusefulifashortexplanationofitscontentshadbeengiven:whydoesitlist, for instance, the names Congar and Chenu, mentioned in footnotes, but not others, likeCourtenay (quoted for instance on 165 n. 2)?Apart from some small textual errors, this thorough and careful study seems to me a richand very useful contribution to the discussion of academic heresy and its correction, mainlybecause oftheauthor ’ sapplication ofcanonlawandmedieval corporatetheory.And,astheauthor rightly remarks,  “ the application of [these disciplines] to the every-day problems of university life will continue to enhance our understanding of how medieval intellectualsthought, worked, lived, and contributed to their world. ” Olga Weijers , Institut de Recherche et d ’ Histoire des Textes, Paris SeyyedHosseinNasr ,  Caner K. Dagli ,  Maria Massi Dakake ,  Joseph E. B. Lumbard ,and  Mohammed Rustom , eds.,  The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commen-tary . New York: HarperOne, 2015. Pp. lix, 1988; 11 maps. $59.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-112586-7.doi:10.1086/696034 T he  Study Quran  is a monumental work, comprising more than two thousand pages of densely written text. It is the outcome of a nine-year-long collaborative scholarly effort ledby Seyyed Hossein Nasr. It can be regarded as a counterpart to the long-established  HarperCollins Study Bible  or the  Jewish Study Bible . Written by Muslim scholars from differentbackgrounds,itprovides,similarlytotheseworks,anecumenicaloutlook.Theworkconsistsof threeparts,atranslation, anaccompanyingverse-by-versecommentarywith anintroduc-tion to each sura, and  fi fteen essays on topics relating to the Qur ’ an. In contrast to its Chris-tianandJewishcounterparts,thecommentarysectioninthe StudyQuran takesamuchmoreprominent place, with every single verse being commented upon and comments sometimesreaching a length of several pages.Let us  fi rst consider the translation. The Qur ’ an is notoriously dif  fi cult to translate. Notonly is it very dense and has a very particular style, it is also often elliptical and allows fordifferentreadings.Thishasledmanytranslatorstouseinterpolationstoclarifythetext,usu-allyinlightofthelaterexegeticaltradition.The  StudyQuran  triestoavoidthisandstaysveryclosetothetext.Thisisindeedoftenpossible,astheaccompanyingcommentarycanprovidethe necessary clari fi cation. Nevertheless, some interpolations are still needed to render thetext in proper English; these are clearly indicated by square brackets. Although there are oc-casional archaisms, the editors produced a lucid and mostly consistent translation, a consid-erable achievement given the number of scholars working on the project. There is some in-consistency, however, in the use of the second person singular. It usually rendered as  “ thou ” and implied to be referring to Muh   ̣ ammad (or occasionally to other prophets and their kin),while both the singular form when used in dialogue and the plural form are rendered as  “ you. ” However, in Sura 84.6,  “ thou ”  is used although the pronoun clearly refers to mankind ( “ Omankind!TrulythouartlabouringuntothyLordlaboriously ” ),whileinSura82.6 – 8itisren-deredas “ you ” ( “ Omankind!WhathasdeludedyouwithregardtoyournobleLord ” ).Like-wise, in Sura 12 Joseph and his father are usually addressed by  “ thou ”  (e.g., 12.5 – 6; 12.11), 250  Reviews Speculum  93/1 (January 2018) This content downloaded from on January 05, 2018 06:16:26 AMAll use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (  while other individuals are addressed by  “ you ”  (e.g., 12.41, 12.50, 12.78). But Zulaykh ā  also addresses her husband by  “ thou ”  (12.25), while the prisoners address Joseph by  “ you ” (12.36).Thereareclearlysomemistakesorinconsistenciesintheaboveexamples,butthede-liberate distinction between  “ thou ”  as referring to prophets and their kin and  “ you ”  (singu-lar)asreferringtootherpeopleseemsproblematicingeneral.Itisadeviationfromtheprincipleof translating the text with as little commentary as possible, as the second person singular canoften be understood to refer to the reader or listener of the text in general, rather than (or inaddition to) the Prophet. This would, for instance, be true for many of the occurrences of thephrase “ andhastthounotseen ” ( a-lamtara ),forwhichatleastinsomecasestheaddresseedoesnothavetobetheProphet.ThecommentaryonSura35.27mentionsthispossibility,andinsomecasesthisseemstobethemorelikelyintention,forinstanceinSura31.31( “ HastthounotconsideredthattheshipssailupontheseabyGod ’ sBlessing,thathemayshowyou[plu-ral]Hissigns.Trulyinthataresignsforallwhoarepatient,thankful ” ).Theseinconsistencies,however, should not distract from the overall very clear and readable translation.The second part, the verse-by-verse commentary, is at the heart of the  Study Quran , andthis is what really sets it apart from all previous translations. There are a number of Englishtranslations of the Qur ’ an that come with annotations, and there are even a few translationsof individual  tafs ī  r  works. But this isthe  fi rst work that provides insight into the vast exeget-icaltraditionofhowspeci fi cverseswereunderstoodandhowtheyinformedIslamiclaw,the-ology,andother fi elds.Theforty-onecommentariesusedincludeearlyworks,suchasMuq ā  tilibnSulaym ā  n ’ s,andallthemajorclassicalandmedievalcommentariesaswellastwomodernones(Ibn ʿ Ā sh ū randT   ̣ ab ā  t   ̣ ab ā  ʾ  ī  ).Thefocusisclearlyontheclassicaltradition,andthisispre-sented in its diversity, including Sunni and Shi ’ i views, esoteric interpretations, and differenttheologicalpositions.Onemighthavewishedfortheinclusionofafewmorein fl uentialmod-ern interpretations (in particular because some modern interpretations are adduced, anony-mously,inthecommentary,forinstanceonSura4.34oronSura7.80),butthereareofcourselimitstowhatisachievableinaprojectlikethis.Thecommentariesprovidegoodinsightintotheintellectualtraditionandthediversityofinterpretations.Thisdiversityofinterpretations,includingsomewhichmaynotconsideredtobemainstream,makesthecommentarylesssuit-ableasasourceforguidanceforMuslims,inparticularinquestionsofcreedandlaw.Itlike-wisecannotpresentallviewsonaspeci fi cverseanditsinterpretation.The  StudyQuran  thusneither provides a comprehensive discussion of the exegetical tradition on a verse nor neces-sarily clearly identi fi es a majority position on its interpretation. But it provides an excellentstarting point for further exploration and will suf  fi ce in many contexts. One might havewished for cross-references to parallel passages in other suras, but this would have resultedin an even more voluminous work.The fi nalpart consistsof   fi fteen essayson varioustopics related totheQur ’ an, suchas dif-ferent forms of Qur ’ anic commentaries, the Qur ’ an as a source of Islamic law, Qur ’ anicethics,orthequestionofwarandpeaceintheQur ’ an.Therationalefortheselectionoftopicsis not always apparent. One may, for instance, wonder why an essay on the scienti fi c com-mentary of the Qur ’ an was included, while these commentaries are absent from the mainpart. The essay on how to approach the Qur ’ an will be very particularly useful for those un-familiarwiththetext.Asisthecasewiththecommentary,theseessaysprovidegoodstartingpoints to explore speci fi c topics in more detail. To this end, it would have been helpful to in-clude some advice on further reading on each topic.Thethreepartsaresupplementedbyanindexofthe h   ̣ ad  ī  th sreferredtointhecommentaryandaveryhelpfulgeneralindex,aswellasshortbiographiesofthecommentatorsandelevenmaps. The Study Quran  will prove to be a tremendously useful resource for everyone who isinterested in getting beyond the literal meaning of the Qur ’ anic text. Andreas Görke , University of Edinburgh Reviews  251 Speculum  93/1 (January 2018) This content downloaded from on January 05, 2018 06:16:26 AMAll use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (
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