Book: The Academic Study of The Qur'an
Chapter: The current state of Quranic studies: “disarray”?
Charting developments in the history of the academic study of the Qur’an, this book examines the key debates and methodological issues which have defined the attendant discourses. Assessing the profound influence of the work of figures such as Theodore Nöldeke, Abraham Geiger, Gustav Weil and Ignaz Goldziher, it considers not only historical antecedents for the study of the Qur’an, but also the impact that biblical criticism and the study of the Semitic languages had upon the developing scholarship. Key preliminary questions include the technical parameters of academic scholarship of the Qur’an, insider-outsider perspectives, secular and confessional approaches, claims about truth value statements and the intrusion of polemical discourse into scholarly work. Attention is paid to the discrete contributions to the field made by scholars such as Richard Bell, Régis Blachère, Rudi Paret, Montgomery Watt, Toshihiko Izutsu, and Fazlur Rahman with the aim of circumscribing paradigms, strategies, and methodologies which have impacted upon current discourses. This seeks to identify key suppositions and preconceptions, assessing their importance, while also drawing attention to the critique of the epistemological foundations of the academic scholarship as ventured in the work of Mohammed Arkoun. The impact of the work of John Wansbrough with its accentuation of the literary interrogation of the sources will be highlighted as will more recent endeavours, including projects such as the Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an and the Corpus Coranicum.