Bible Scholars Back More Critical Studies of Qur'an

Article excerpt

The Society of Biblical Literature, the largest international body of scholars of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and related texts, hopes to assist experts on the Qur'an in creating an independent body for fostering research on Islam's holiest book.

The SBL announced May 29 that it was awarded a $140,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to provide travel expenses, meeting space and other assistance over a three-year period, allowing scholars to explore creation of such a network.

"It cannot be overstated that the agenda of the scholars in this consultation will not be directed by the SBL," said John Kutsko, executive director of the Atlanta-based biblical society. The guidelines aim to allow scholars "to set their own research and publishing agendas" that may transcend institutional and international lines, he said.

"The level of interest in the Qur'an and Islam in the West today is unprecedented," said Emran El-Badawi, assistant professor of Arab studies at the University of Houston and codirector of the consultation. …