Odon-Pt 1: The Qur’an came from a pool of earlier texts!
Odon has returned to help us unpack what the Qur’an really is, and where it actually came from, and when…
He begins by noting that the Quran is not a book but a corpus, or a collection of various written texts, with different types, different styles, different literary genres, such as Sermons, proclamations, exhortations, homilies, and Instructional discourses.
The Qur’anic narratives, Odon continues, are made up of biblical commentaries, para-biblical stories,
and apocalyptic literature from the 6th – 7th centuries.
He suggests that there are Different narrators speaking in the Qur’an; such as a “speaking” preacher(s), or a “speaking” teacher(s) (possibly God?), someone who teaches the preacher(s), as well as a “narrative writer”.
Some passages, Odon continues, show traces of an oral tradition, while others show a scriptural tradition.
But the quranic text, he maintains, comes from a scripture transmission, with evidence of an editing or a re-writing process.
Odon refers to the work of Alfred Guillaume (“Concepts and Methods in the Study of the Qur’an”, in Religions, MDPI, 2021; also see the Adam-Iblees narrative variations, Q2, Q38 & Q15 – or the mizan commentary Q5 – @/rel12080599).
Guillaime believes that the Qur’an has a “Synoptic Issue” (i.e. like the 3 synoptic gospels which look the same, but each are modified). Thus, the Qur’an has similar stories, which have been modified (i.e. for instance, the story of the balance in heaven, while the same story, is referenced different ways).
The finished Qur’an which we have today, according to Odon, is not a lectionary, even though parts of the text could have come from a lectionary, defined as just a book containing a collection of
scripture readings appointed for rituals and worship, according to a ritual calendar (i.e. masses, personal prayer, collective prayer…).
The Qur’an, however, is such a collection of a diverse texts that it cannot be a true lectionary, though it was derived from lectionaries.
It is also not a divine text, in that “God” only speaks in some parts, while a “divine origin” is proclaimed only in some parts
The Quran is not a standalone book, Odon continues.
1) In Stephen J. Shoemaker’s An “Arabic Apocryphon” (University of Oregon, “A New Arabic Apocryphon From Late Antiquity : The Quran”, in The Study of Islamic Origins: New Perspectives and Contexts, Issn, 15, De Gruyter, 2021) he says that one cannot read the Qur’an without first looking at the Bible, as there are so many references to the Bible in it.
Thus, it cannot be a standalone book, since to understand it you need to go back to the Biblical 7th
century environment, confronting the Islamic view of the ‘Jahaliya’ (period of ignorance), that the Qur’an was preached to a pagan people who knew nothing of the Biblical environment.
2) Furthermore, it is a book with many sources and influences, from many circumstantial stories; thus, the reason it is difficult to find any direct sources. So, there was not an “Urquran”?
Christoph Luxenberg & Gunther Lüling refer to an Aramaic background, or Aramaic translations and transliterations into Arabic in the Qur’an.
Guillaume Dye in his Le Coran des Historiens (“The Historians’ Quran”, Le Cerf, 2019) found many sources, including Christian & Jewish sources and influences, such as:
-The seven sleepers of Ephesus, The legend of Alexander, The Protoevangelium of James, The Life of Adam and Eve, The Testamentum Domini, etc.
-The story of Alexander the Great (Dhu-l-Qarnayn)
-The Jewish apocrypha of the creation of the world
Muriel Debié, in his book “Les apocalypses syriaques” (“Syriac apocalypses”, in Le Coran des Historiens, refers to the many stories about the apocalypse), and David Hamidovic, “Les écrits apocryphes juifs et le Coran” (“Jewish apocryphons and the Quran”, in Le Coran des Historiens), note that the stories in the Qur’an were already in other Jewish and Syriac texts of that time (6th -7th centuries), and from that place, not from other places. So, it was made from within its context.
It is a book that is also mostly circumstantial (dependent on historical circumstances), relating to the specific situation of its preachers, and reacting to the preacher’s critiques of other criticisms (see S. 17:47). So, how can it be a religious book, since many of the stories in the Qur’an relate to the specific situations of the preacher(s) and his audience?
Other stories react to historical events, or teach how to react to critics, even mentioning those critics (Q17,47 : “Not you follow but a man bewitched”)
So, the Qur’an is definitely not a lectionary, though it derives much of its material from lectionaries, homilies, and hymns, many of which came from the 4th – 7th centuries, proving that the earlier period was not a time of “ignorance” (i.e. jahaliya), all which confronts the Standard Islamic Narrative.
© Pfander Centre for Apologetics – US, 2022
(60,620) Music: “Friends” by Aleksound, from filmmusic-io