Foreword HERBERT BERG The methods and theories that John Wansbrough introduced in his Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation (1977) and further applied in his Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History (1978) undermine nearly all previous scholarship on the first three centuries of Islam. His literary approach to Islamic texts will not be unfamil- iar to biblical scholars who employ the tools of form, redaction, and literary criticisms. Yet his method and the consequent reconstructions of the canoni- zation process of the Qur'an, the biography (and historicity) of Muhammad, the development of classical Arabic, and the history of Qur'anic exegesis seem to have impinged upon the faith of both Muslims and Islamicists alike. Perhaps most controversial are his assertions that much of the Qur'an is a product of a sectarian milieu, that this material was canonized some 150 years after the date given by tradition, and that Muhammad is a construct, a fiction designed to place the origin of Islam in Arabia instead of Iraq. Many scholars have chosen simply to dismiss the implications of Wansbrough's work and to continue to believe in the historical reliability of early Islamic literature. An increasing number
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1997
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