Muslim Perceptions and Receptions of the Bible

The Qurʾān defines itself as the last, perfect link in a chain of progressive divine revelations. This determines the ambivalent attitude of the Qurʾān and the Muslim tradition towards the two earlier monotheistic religions: Judaism and Christianity, and their scriptures. In this lecture, Sabine Schmidtke, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, investigates, in a diachronic manner, the ways in which Muslim scholars perceived, used—or avoided—the earlier scriptures, and discusses the most pressing desiderata in research and other challenges to scholarship in this field. Schmidtke explains the commonly employed polemical tropes—abrogation and distortion of the earlier scriptures on the one hand, and the identification of (alleged) scriptural predictions of Muḥammad on the other. Moreover, Schmidtke shows the impact of historical events and internal discussions among Jewish and Christian intellectuals on the Muslim attitude towards the Bible. The much-debated issue of when and through which channels Muslim scholars became familiar with the Bible will be summarized, as well as the emergence of a so-called Muslim Bible scholarship from the 13th century onwards.



Professor, School of Historical Studies