by MATTHEW LONG for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on JULY 17, 2015:
The Qur’an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions (Routledge, 2013) written by Emran El-Badawi, professor and director of the Arab Studies program at the University of Houston, is a recent addition to the field of research on the Qur’an and Aramaic and Syriac biblical texts. Professor El-Badawi asserts that the Qur’an is a product of an environment steeped in the Aramaic gospel traditions. Not a “borrowing” from the Aramaic gospel tradition, but rather the Qur’an contains a “dogmatic re-articulation” of elements from that tradition for an Arab audience.
He introduces and examines this context in the second chapter, and then proceeds to compare passages of the Qur’an and passages of the Aramaic gospel in the subsequent four chapters. These comparisons are organized according to four primary themes: prophets, clergy, the divine, and the apocalypse. Each chapter contains numerous images constituting the larger theme at work. For example in the chapter “Divine Judgment and the Apocalypse,” images of paradise and hell taken from gospel traditions are compared to the Qur’anic casting of these images. Moreover, Professor El-Badawi includes three indices following his concluding chapter that provide a great deal of raw data and textual parallels between the Qur’an and the wide range of sources he has employed.
The value of his work is evidenced by the fact it was nominated for the 2014 British-Kuwait Friendship Society’s Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies.
In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project of which TIRN and ISLAMiCommentary is a part), announced its official institutional affiliation with New Books in Islamic Studies — a bi-weekly audio podcast featuring hour long conversations with authors of exciting new research. For an archive see HERE.