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Featured Textual Criticism conundrum of the Qur’an

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by firedragon, Aug 12, 2020.

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  1. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Textual Criticism conundrum of the Qur’an

    Textual criticism of the Qur’an began maybe around a 1,000 years ago to the level of professional analysis and scholars like Ibn Mujahid who lived earlier in his work on the readings or recitations of the Qur’an in the 9th century is extensive in approach. In the recent years it has taken a different twist in the non-muslim circles where they apply biblical criticism methods to the Qur’an, though not very extensively, they have done a decent job and it takes a different route to what people have been thinking in the 20th and 21st century. Textual criticism of the Quran was silent for some time when biblical textual criticism arose in the west, thus the west didn’t hear much about the Quranic criticism during this period beginning from Wellhausen to times of Gunkel, Baukham, Skeat, arlands and ehrman. Well, Muslims seem to have forgotten this area of study or at least, the majority of Muslims. I would probably tend to think that scholars tend to not get people involved in the subject because they think people are dumb and are not capable of analysis. This is a phenomena in both worlds, the Christian and Muslim although the Christians began this journey in two centuries ago. But what should not be forgotten this has been a well-known subject, far and wide, practiced by many Islamic scholars throughout history. Also what surprises many is the fact that even Christian scholars have had work done on Quranic manuscripts in the beginning of the 20th century with people like Bernhard Mortiz and Russian Shebunin.

    One problem I noticed is that whenever someone uses this word “Criticism” there are some people in this forum (as elsewhere) who get affected in the wrong way. Please understand that criticism does not mean insulting or finding faults with a book but it is the exercise of applying existing methods of criticism to a book. I once opened a post called form criticism of the Quran and people questioned if I am finding faults with the Qur’an, but no, form criticism is a scientific application of a method of criticism upon a book or a text. It is not like two kids finding fault with each other because one was jealous of the other.


    The other problem I see is the learning about the Quranic textual criticism from complete amateurs in the subject. Or even those who have never ever studied Quranic textual criticism. People like Jay Smith and David wood with their polemics say a lot of things as evangelists and anti-islamic propaganda for whatever reasons have created a new wave of people who think from what they hear from these people. Well, the fact remains that they are complete amateurs in the subject with absolutely no knowledge in it so people are actually learning from the wrong people. Yeah, they make it sound good to their audience but its foot-sock to scholars.


    Anyway, one major mistake or blatant error in scholarship is when people quote a palimpsest and say the upper text is different to the lower text. This mistake is absolutely due to lack of scholarship. Even a layman in the subject would know that pages are not bound and stapled like a book and verses are not marked in one single page exactly where they were to identify mistakes or even to begin talking about it. Ill give you an example. Lets say you have a book with 10 pages. You write a story starting from page 1 to 10, 10th page being “the end”. This is your practice book. So you erase everything, and since the pages are not bound, you just pick up all the pages again and start to write the same story. Which page would you begin with?


    The pages are not bound, nor are they marked, so you may have begun with the original 10th page which for you now has become your first page. Thus, if you take one page and analyse the older text and the new text it would be different. It is obvious now because you learned this, but to someone who never did, it looks like a eureka moment. Yey. Bottomline is, this is the type of silly mistake these pseudo scholars do and the internet, social media consumers believe these things because it sounds good.


    Any palimpsest that has been used twice is the same. Same goes to the Bible. Codex Nitriensis is a very well-known manuscript and has the same characteristic. But the thing is when scholars analyse this if they take an academic approach, they will never do that silly mistake of making claims like “The upper text and the lower text are different so its an edit job”, such a kindergarten level error in judgment.


    Ill give you a direct example from the most famous Quran manuscript all of these people use. The San’a manuscript.


    Folio 30B contains the lower text which is chapter 9:81-90 and the Upper Text of chapter 30:40-54. Thus can you see? Its 21 chapters away from each other which is normal practice. When these people claim its two different texts and is an “edit job” it is actually a childish remark for shock effect of an unscholarly layman.


    Another error is the lack of understanding in textual variants and a rendition variant. A rendition variant is a difference of a vowel mark. A textual variant is the difference of a letter in the manuscript. These people like Jay present all kinds of variants like a difference in a Madhwajib which is just a drag in pronunciation.


    Where does one think it has all gone wrong or right?
     
    #1 firedragon, Aug 12, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
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  2. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    What we see people of one religion do is more important than a million words in their scriptures.
     
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  3. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Good thought.
     
  4. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    As long as we differentiate the actions of a tiny minority from the vast majority, I agree.
     
  5. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    To the OP, I'm reminded of other textual arguments such as done at SCOTUS all the time. SCOTUS has the advantage of an only slightly changed English language and a great deal of historical debate about the provisions of the Constitution etc.

    But there's similarity when it comes to how to apply the meaning of the words to specific situations and issues.

    I'm not qualified to answer that question. That really needs to be answered by people intimately familiar with the issues involved.

    The Wikipedia page notes that there is no evidence that the Uthmanic text is not the true version of the Quran. Unless there's a serious disagreement from that assertion, what's left is an interesting historical research project but not one that affects our view of the meaning of the Quran.
     
  6. icehorse

    icehorse Veteran Member
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    (I added the bold)

    From what I can gather, you're talking about a specific type of analysis called "form criticism", is that correct? If so, then I think what's important in these threads is that that context be made very clear. For example, in the OP you could have had a sentence devoted to explaining that you want to talk about "form criticism" not general criticism. If you do that, I think you'll be fine.

    I know that in the past, you and I have debated the Quran. But the perspective I'm taking is the cognitive science perspective, not "form criticism". It seems to me that both are valid approaches, but that in order to debate, we'd have to first acknowledge the two approaches.
     
  7. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    No. Not form criticism at all.
     
  8. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    The surveys have never been encouraging in some cases. We do not know how large that 'tiny' minority is.

    As I said, what is written in scriptures is totally out of context. What do they write when they want to eulogize? A few Hindi proverbs are appropriate - 'Kathani aur karni mein antar hai" (there is a difference between what is said and what is done), "Hathi ke do dant, ek dikhane ka, dusara khane ka" (the elephant has two sets of teeth, one for show and the other for eating).
     
    #8 Aupmanyav, Aug 12, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  9. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    I understand that your main aim is to some-how bring the demonisation of people into every thread, but please do try not to derail this thread also because what your intending to do is not relevant to this thread.

    Peace.
     
  10. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Brother. I presume SCOTUS is the Supreme courts in the US? I dont honestly know exactly what you are talking about. But if they are studying different manuscripts and analysing variant readings they are probably engaging in textual criticism.

    There is absolutely no difference in the meaning unless you are looking at a Malik vs Maalik difference which is two readings that both have meaning relevant to the God. What you are raising is actually an entire discussion of itself. I would rather not get into that. Try not to look at it from a theological point of view. None of this should be addressed from a religious point of view. It should be addressed simply from a textual point of view. I hope you understand.
     
  11. icehorse

    icehorse Veteran Member
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    hmmm - you said "form criticism" in the OP, so now I'm really confused. Is there a name for the type of criticism you're talking about?
     
  12. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Brother. Just because one person mentions the two words "Form Criticism" in the whole post once that doesn't mean the whole thing is about form criticism. You have not read that passage properly. It was an example of people reacting to criticism.
     
  13. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Yeah, I resent "holier than thou" attitudes.
     
  14. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Not relevant though.
     
  15. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    Sorry - Supreme Court of the United States.

    I meant to try to understand the OP by drawing on my background. The Supreme Court does not engage in textual criticism in the sense of variant readings. So it was probably a bad analogy I reached for.

    Yes, that makes perfect sense to me.
     
  16. icehorse

    icehorse Veteran Member
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    Dude, I'm just trying to ask you to name the type of criticism you're talking about in the OP. Will you tell us what it's called?

    thanks
     
  17. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Textual Criticism.
     
  18. icehorse

    icehorse Veteran Member
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    Awesome thanks!

    Here's a section from the wikipedia article on Biblical criticism:

    The summary is that there are four main forms of criticism approaches:

    - textual
    - source
    - form
    - literary

    Would you say that people use the same four approaches when analyzing the Quran?
     
  19. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Mate. Address the OP.
     
  20. icehorse

    icehorse Veteran Member
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    Mate, I'm trying to make sure I UNDERSTAND the OP ;)
     
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