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Colloquium : "What is the European Qur’ān? Definitions, descriptions, representations (12th-19th c.) Nantes, 11-12 May 2023


Colloquium : "What is the European Qur'ān? Definitions, (...)

Home > Conferences > 2023 > Colloquium : "What is the European Qur’ān? Definitions, descriptions, (...)


Over the centuries, Muslim religious thought has taken hold of the Qur’ān in its textual and canonical materiality, but also as a theological object. This is evidenced by the rich vocabulary denoting revelation (kitāb or book; qur’ān or recitation; kalām Allāh, the word of God; furqān, an ambiguous term that is often translated as ‘criterion’; tanzīl or descent; waḥy or inspiration; muṣḥaf, the Qur’ānic codex), but also by the discussions on the modalities of its revelation (kayfiyyāt al-tanzīl) and the famous controversy about its created or uncreated nature (Watt, Wolfson). The Qur’ān itself puts forward the bases of a sophisticated prophetology and theology of revelation (Boisliveau, Andani). A self-referential text par excellence, the Qur’ān dedicates many passages to legitimising its authority and arguing its heavenly nature preserved in the “Well-Guarded Tablet” (Q 85: 22) or the “Mother of Books” (Q 43: 3).
To a certain extant aware of the complex significance of the Qur’ān in the Islamic tradition, European Christians have also had to grapple with the problem of defining the “Alcoran”. Indeed, the problem of its definition has been the subject of varied reflections and debates which have marked the history of the European reception of the Muslim scripture, even in contexts most alien to scholarly disputes. The Qur’an self-definition, the theorisations developed in the Muslim world and the representations elaborated in the Christian world have intersected or repelled each other variably according to the times, the authors and the contexts. Faced with this plurality of definitions touching on different aspects of the nature of the Qur’ān, how have European Christians conceived what the Qur’ān is? In what ways have they defined, grasped and represented its different facets? Or, how did they recast and reinterpret them? How did they conceive the Qur’ān in relation to what was familiar to them (notably the Bible) and in relation to their concerns (anti-Muslim polemics, interfaith controversies, deistic aspirations, language learning, literary tropes etc.)?

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