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Started by Jacob_Richter on Jun 27, 2018 9:14:13 PM
New Light on the Arabian Religious Background of Islam?

There is a key problem with our sources on early Islam. Aside from the Qur’an itself, all the sources we have were written down after the Abbasid Revolution of 750 against the Umayyads.

One source that is only beginning to be explored by pioneers like Ahmad al-Jallad at Leiden is rock inscriptions in Arabic from the 500s forward. That there are thousands of rock inscriptions by Bedouin in late antiquity (many of them in Aramaic) has long been recognized, but it is only in the past few years that they have begun being found in Arabic with dates attached or other firm indications of their time period, for the 500s and 600s.

Jacob_Richter - 27 Jun 2018 21:18:00 (#1 of 25)

Past experience with some of Cole's previous publications suggests that, in the run up to publication of his new book, he will cite other examples of interesting source material.

diomu_II - 28 Jun 2018 06:19:39 (#2 of 25)

Hatra? Oh, of course, that isn't there any more...

Jacob_Richter - 28 Jun 2018 11:19:46 (#3 of 25)

Hatra isn't mentioned in the article. Sorry - what point are you making?

YorenInTheNorth - 28 Jun 2018 23:51:48 (#4 of 25)

<is intrigued>

Post deleted by user
Delighted_User - 29 Jun 2018 22:10:34 (#6 of 25)

I suspect the problem here is that while I'm sure we all love a good Aramaic or Arabic inscription, there are few if any posters here who can do much more with them apart from muster a smile and say, "I'm sure they're very lovely." Not much to hang a thread on.

Jacob_Richter - 30 Jun 2018 09:41:10 (#7 of 25)

Sure. I thought the article was interesting in its own right, especially as the origin of ideas and religions is something I find interesting, and, as I say in #1, Cole will likely link other evidence in the run up to the publication of his book as he did with the one on Napoleon in Egypt and these will be in an accessible form for the general reader who is interested.

HerrWalrus - 04 Jul 2018 19:48:25 (#8 of 25)

Paul Strathern is the author of"Napoleon in Egypt" (great read btw). Is he the same person as Juan Cole?

HerrWalrus - 04 Jul 2018 19:50:24 (#9 of 25)

Scratch that. Two entirely different books but on the same subject.

barkis - 04 Jul 2018 20:06:46 (#10 of 25)

I recently read a [translation of] the Koran and I noticed in one of the parts written in Medina the people of Mecca are accused of refusing access to Allah for the muslims. I took that as meaning that in at least one aspect Allah was an idol, specifically the meteoric rock that forms the centre of the haj.

brooklyn - 04 Jul 2018 20:48:54 (#11 of 25)

I am certain I'm just being slow on the uptake, but I'm not quite sure: what are the new developments? are they:

1. Islam in part grew out of older pagan religions in the Arab world

2. Islam sought to "purify" local paganism by reducing the number of deities, and a bit of the savagery?

if that's right, it may well be new that we are clearer about that than we were. but it sounds quite familiar as to Christianity as well. I don't know much about the origins of Judaism, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were the same there.

dottie30 - 04 Jul 2018 20:52:46 (#12 of 25)

I don't know much about the origins of Judaism, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were the same there.

With Judaism there's absolutely no evidence that the Israelites were monotheistic before the time of the Babylonian captivity. And even then, they sort of copied the stories from their captors. Yahweh and Elohim (the 'El' of the Canannites) aren't even the same deity.

barkis - 04 Jul 2018 20:54:24 (#13 of 25)

I think parts of what I know as the Old Testament indicate that the jews were hentheist before they became monotheist.

SunkenTreasures - 04 Jul 2018 20:55:13 (#14 of 25)

All bollocks isn't it. Chinese whispers over centuries. Interesting though.

dottie30 - 04 Jul 2018 20:55:22 (#15 of 25)

Well the idea that 'you shall have no other gods before me' does sort of imply there are other gods to be had.

And not only that, if you read the OT, it's very clear the other gods often were victorious. The followers of Yahweh were more often than not on the losing side.

Delighted_User - 04 Jul 2018 21:01:25 (#16 of 25)

It's fairly clear that the monotheistic faction, which eventually won out, tried to recast the story to make it appear that it had been the thing for ages, but it's unwise to be too dogmatic about what exactly happened when.

There are, of course, those who take the OT at face value on this point, such as Orthodox Jews.

BadgerDancing - 04 Jul 2018 23:21:22 (#17 of 25)

I can recommend The Unauthorised Version by Robin Lane Fox if anyone's interested in the time lines of the various threads that make up the Bible.

Jacob_Richter - 05 Jul 2018 16:07:52 (#18 of 25)

The idea that the OT was partially written and re-written as late as c200CE in a response to the challenge of the Christian sect to Judaism is fascinating.

Delighted_User - 08 Jul 2018 20:53:47 (#19 of 25)

Is there the slightest evidence for it? I'm unaware of who is proposing this theory, assuming someone is, so perhaps someone can link to it all.

Jacob_Richter - 09 Jul 2018 09:08:56 (#20 of 25)

If you're referring to #18, then I claim no expertise nor significant in-depth reading but that particular insight would originate with either/both Niels Peter Lemche and/or Philip R Davies.

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