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The Qur'an

A Historical-Critical Introduction

Nicolai Sinai

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An accessible and up-to-date introduction to the study of the Qur’an in its historical context

The Qur’an represents both Islam’s historical point of origin and its scriptural foundation, inaugurating a new religion and, ultimately, a new civilisation. Yet the text itself can be difficult to understand, and the scholarship devoted to it is often highly technical. This comprehensive introduction to the basic methods and current state of historical-critical Qur’anic scholarship covers all of the field’s major questions, such as: Where and when did the Qur’an emerge? How do Qur’anic surahs function as literary compositions? How do the Qur’an’s main themes and ideas relate to and transform earlier Jewish and Christian traditions?

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Part One: Background
1 Some basic features of the Qur’an
2 Muhammad and the Qur’an
3 The Qur’anic milieu
Part Two: Method
4 Literary coherence and secondary revision
5 Inner-Qur’anic chronology
6 Intertextuality
Part Three: A diachronic survey of the Qur’anic proclamations
7 The Meccan surahs
8 The Medinan surahs

About the Author

Nicolai Sinai is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University, and a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. He has published on the Qur’an, on pre-modern and modern Islamic scriptural exegesis, and on the history of philosophy in the Islamic world.


'One of the best critical introductions to the Qur’an which sets in apposite context the latest research discussions, discourses and trends in the field… it represents a truly definitive contribution to the study of the text.'

- Mustafa Shah, University of London

'The best book I have seen to lead critically-minded readers into the myriad issues and complexities of the Qur'an text. Its various chapters, firmly rooted in a wealth of scholarship on the Qur'an, discuss many key questions raised about and by the text, including its literary coherence, its chronology, its "closure" as a body of scripture, its textual stability, and aspects of its content: the relation to Christianity, Judaism, and paganism, its key themes, its relationship to the life of Muhammad, and much more. It will serve scholars and novices alike as an invaluable guide.'

- Prof Fred M. Donner, The University of Chicago

'The best available overview of the subject…Sinai offers not only new insight into the inner structure of the Qur’an, but also a masterclass in textual analysis.'

- Eric Ormsby, Times Literary Supplement

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