Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis

Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis

Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis

Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis

Synopsis

Scholars have long pointed to the great affinity between stories found in the Bible and the Qur an, yet no explanation has been proposed that satisfactorily explains the odd combination of incredible likeness and unique divergence. Firestone provides a refreshing, new approach to scriptural issues of textuality, exegesis, and the origins and use of legend.

This book clearly presents the full range of Islamic legends from the Qur an and early Islamic exegesis about Abraham's journeys and adventures in the Land of Canaan and Arabia, many of them available for the first time in English translation. The author examines this broad sample of Islamic legends in relation to those found in Jewish, Christian, and pre-Islamic Arabian communities, and postulates an evolutionary journey of the literature. He presents a thorough textual analysis of the material and proposes a model for understanding early Islamic narrative based in literary theory, approaches to comparative religion, and the history of the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Middle East."

Excerpt

This book would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of friends and colleagues. Professor William Brinner offered early guidance by helping me to wend my way through the maze of problems and issues inherent in the study of Isrā'īliyyāt, and continued to offer suggestions and comments throughout. Very helpful comments on parts of all of this work have been offered by Professors Gordon Newby, Marilyn Waldman, Steven Wasserstrom, Jacob Lassner, Robert McChesney, and Ross Brann. They alerted me to a number of errors and stylistic difficulties as well as questions regarding my interpretation of the material, thereby greatly strengthening the book. I am particularly indebted to Professor Bayly Winder, whose passing has been a tremendous loss for the study of the Middle East. and Professor F.E. Peters, who served in many respects as mentor throughout my studies at New York University and beyond, deserves special thanks for his encouragement and willingness to impart some of his tremendous creativity and incisive thinking. This book would have been unthinkable without the patience, support, and encouragement of my wife Ruth, whose own professional and family responsibilities made her support of this enterprise no simple matter.

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