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The Qur’an as a Source for Late Antiquity

Project description

Studying the Qur’an within the Jewish and Christian traditions

Western approaches to the theory and methodology of interpretation tend to focus on how the Qur’an is influenced by Judaism and Christianity. The EU-funded QaSLA project proposes a new approach that completes and redefines the relationship between these religions. It considers the Qur’an as a witness to the history of Judaism and Christianity taking into consideration the different cultural aspects of Judaism and Christianity in the Arabic Peninsula, the Middle East and eastern Africa in Late Antiquity. Since there is no comparable witness, it will outline the religious environment of the Arabian Peninsula and propose a new perspective to approach the development of Late Antiquity Jewish and Christian traditions.


The Qur’an’s message to the populations of Mecca and Medina can only be fully understood in the context of its sustained and critical engagement with the Jewish and the Christian traditions. QaSLA complements and redevelops this approach from the ground up by utilizing the Qur’an across disciplines as witness to the history of Judaism and Christianity. Its innovation is twofold. The Qur’an, firstly, will become the primary literary source allowing us to sketch the religious landscape of the Arabian Peninsula, for which no comparable late antique witness exists. Secondly, the Qur’an’s testimony to the religious culture of its contemporaries will enable us to approach the development of Jewish and Christian traditions throughout Late Antiquity from a new perspective.

QaSLA’s main innovation consists in turning the table on the predominant hermeneutics of Western approaches to the Qur’an, which tend to focus on the question of how the Qur’an is influenced by Judaism and Christianity. By taxonomizing the religious profiles reflected in the demonstrable interface between the Qur’an and its Jewish and Christian contemporaries, the project first reorients and then revamps this approach. QaSLA initially analyses the affinity between the Qur’an and known forms of Judaism and Christianity surrounding Arabia in order to identify which biblical, exegetical, homiletic, legal, narrative, ritual, and poetic discourses and practices circulated within the peninsula. It then employs the Qur’an as a new vantage point from which to reconsider broader late antique religious trends across the Middle East. QaSLA combines expertise across disciplines to create a novel local Arabian and an enhanced longitudinal Middle Eastern understanding of Rabbinic Jewish and Syriac, Ethiopic and Arabic Christian cultures. In a final step, the project then returns to portray the Qur’an in sharper contradistinction to more clearly defined forms of Judaism and Christianity.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 900 268,00
72074 Tuebingen

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Baden-Württemberg Tübingen Tübingen, Landkreis
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 900 268,00

Beneficiaries (2)