The Transformative Effects of the Bible across Religions: Shiite Muslim Readings of Jewish and Christian Scriptures, 1600-1900


Mon, 20/01/2020 - 10:30 to 12:30
The Transformative Effects of the Bible across Religions


Mandel Building, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus


Dennis Halft

In his presentation, Dennis Halft outlined a new research project on the cross-cultural effects of Bible translations in Southwest Asia. This project analyzes the largely unexplored manuscript corpus of Shiite exegetical works of the Bible in ‘Standard (New) Persian’ and partly in Arabic from the early-modern Islamic East. Shiite scholars between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries were heavily engaged with the various books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the New Testament as reference-texts for citation, paraphrase, comment, and rework. They were also sources of secondary translation by Shiite Muslims from Arabic to Persian. The project seeks to answer the following interrelated questions: What prompted Shiite Muslims to study the Bible? How did they access, read, and conceptualize the biblical text in Shiite contexts? What are the patterns, images, and formulas used in the Shiite exegesis of the Bible? To what extent did the views of Shiite scholars resemble or differ from those of Sunni Muslims? How did Shiite reading and writing practices lead to change and a possible reinterpretation of Muslim theology in the longue durée?