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Voice, the Word, the Books: The Sacred Scripture of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims

by F E Peters Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 320 pages
AU$62.00 NZ$64.35
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Peters, the master comparatist, turns his attention to the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He investigates how each tradition recorded the word of God and transmitted it over the generations, from Moses on Sinai through the age of the printing press. Peters tells of the texts' canonization, authorship, content, function, evolution throughout time, and the difference between the texts. He comments on shared stories that are interpreted differently by the various traditions. The book is being produced to go along with an exhibit at the British Library that runs from late April into October. There will be color plates to show manuscripts through the ages

Introduction. The Voice from Sinai 1

Chapter 1: Sacred Words, Sacred Book 5

"Thus Spake Yahweh": What Is the Bible? 7

"Then the Lord Said": What Is the New Testament? 17

"Recite! in the Name of God": What Is the Quran? 28

Chapter 2: Book Shaping: The Making of a Canon 38

From Biblia to Book: The Making of the Bible 41

The Making of a "New" Testament 51

The "Old" and the "New" in the Covenant 61

The Collection of the Quran 67

Chapter 3: Reciters, Rhapsodes, and Scribes: How the Bible Reached Us 80

The Matter of Authorship 81

The Higher Criticism of the Bible 83

Composing and Performing 85

The Scribes 87

From Recitation to Writing 88

Authors behind the Authors 90

Enter J, E, and Company 92

The Writing Begins 94

Jeremiah 95

Who "Wrote" the Books? 96

Writing in Scripture 98

The Levites 100

The Masoretes 101

Chapter 4: The Reporters: The Good News and How We Got It 105

Jesus: The Setting 105

The Gospels 106

Extracting Q 107

Dating the Gospels 108

John 109

The Gospels as Documents 109

From Aramaic to Greek 110

New Approaches 111

Community Authorship 113

Paul and the Rest 114

The Apocryphal Gospels 115

Thomas and His Twin 117

Chapter 5: The Poet in Performance: The Composition of the Quran 120

The Revelations 120

Biography and the Quran 122

Approaching the Quran 126

The Cultural Environment 127

Writing and the Quran 128

Writing in Arabia 130

Oral Poetry and the Quran 132

Muhammad, Poet and Performer 133

The Bible in the Quran 135

The Mantic Seer 137

The Oral Performance 139

A Change in Style 140

The Writing Down of the Quran 141

Other Possibilities 143

Uthman or Later? 147

In Sum 150

Chapter 6: The Book in Mortal Hands 152

The Word Made Flesh: Books and Bookmaking in the Ancient World 152

Scrolls and Books 153

Searching the Scriptures 155

From Notebooks to Books 157

The Christians Adopt the Codex 159

Toward a Standard Edition? 160

The Shape of the Page: Chapter and Verse 164

Dividing the Text 164

Marking the Text 167

Suras and Ayas 169

The Sacramental Text 172

Sefer Torah: Torahs and Their Arks 174

Washing Their Hands of the Christians 180

A Matter of Etiquette: The Book in Our Hands 182

Chapter 7: In Other Words 189

The Loss of God's Tongue 190

Targums and Methurgemans 192

Scripture for the Hellenized: The Septuagint 195

Origen: Multitasking the Bible 198

From Old Latin to the Vulgate 200

Hebraica Veritas and the Latin West 203

The Polyglot 208

Enter the Humanists 210

Translating the Untranslatable Quran 214

Chapter 8: Picturing the Word 219

The Rabbis and the Second Commandment 219

Adorning and Illustrating the Hebrew Bible 223

Christian Images 228

Icons and Iconoclasm 229

The Bible with Pictures 233

Printing with Pictures 238

The Reformation and Images 240

The Word Unpictured: Islam and Images 242

Drawing in the Book 243

Chapter 9: Giving Voice to the Word 247

Talking Back to God 248

Reading through the Torah 249

The Scripture in Church 251

Praying the Quran 256

The Scripture as Libretto 258

The Cantorial Scripture 259

The Divine Office 260

The Art of Qira 263

Epilogue. Three Books, Side by Side 271

Glossary 277

List of Illustrations 281

Index 283

"This is a thorough and rich book, the remarkable work by one of the great authorities of our time on the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions. It examines scripture'Jewish, Christian, and Muslim'from every conceivable angle. It is written in Peters's engaging prose and accessible to any intelligent reader."'Mark R. Cohen, Princeton University
F. E. Peters is Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. His books include 'The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam: A New Edition' and the forthcoming 'The Creation of the Quran: The Making of Muslim Scripture' (both Princeton).