Anthony H. Johns completed a degree in Arabic and Malay at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; his Ph.D. thesis was on Sufism in the Malay world (1954).After four years in Indonesia he was appointed to the Australian National University in Canberra where he taught Arabic and Islamic Studies for many years. In the course of his distinguished career he has held visiting appointments in Jerusalem, Toronto, Tokyo and Oxford, and spent many research periods in Cairo. He has published numerous major papers in journals, and chapters in books on various aspects of the Qur‘an and Qur‘anic exegesis, and on the vernacularisation of the foundation texts of Islam in Indonesia. Now Emeritus Professor, he is Visiting Fellow in the Division of Pacific and Asian History of the Research School of Asian and Pacific studies at the Australian National University.
In this volume Qur’anic narratives and pericopes on Prophetic figures and personalities are examined with the aim of gauging not only the unique characteristics of the literary presentation of personages such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Job, Moses, Jesus, and others, but also the setting provided by their encounters and experiences for the broader religious message of the text. With a concern for both context and relevance, the survey extends its coverage to individuals who are notably exclusive to Qur’anic narratives. Although it is conventionally assumed that the materials relating to figures who feature in the Qur’an were ultimately distilled from a miscellany of traditional and apocryphal Biblical sources, or even conventionally viewed as digressions from a body of normative materials, the internal dynamic and imperatives which prefigure the Qur’anic treatment and characterisation of such personalities are probed for their distinctiveness and importance within Islamic exegetical discourses. Highlighting distinctions which separate scripture from its interpretation, attitudes towards the use of extra-Islamic sources for the elucidation of allusive narratives are assessed as is the wider paraenetic function of Qur’anic exempla. Moreover, specific attention is paid to the function of the literary character and framework of the Qur’an as a vehicle for the presentation of figures and personalities and the role of dialogue and ethics; while, dogmatic exigencies germane to the treatment of exempla are also probed. The legacy of exegetical literature is assessed. The book serves as a lucid introduction to the personalities and figures of the Qur’an, adumbrating the experiences and encounters through which the ethical, theological, and doctrinal teachings of the text are subtly defined and cogently animated.
1 Literary and aesthetic matrices: The Qur’an as a unique religio-literary entity
2 The scope of human experiences and encounters: Affinities with meta-historical covenant and the modes of presentation
3 Prophetic figures in the Qur’an: A common heritage
4 Personalities and figures in the Qur’an: the dynamic of doctrine and ethics in Qur’an narratives on prophets
5 Doctrine and dogma in the treatment of exempla
6 Attitudes to the corpora of extra-islamic material
7 Stories of prophets in the exegetical literature: individual and spiritual perspectives
8 Designs and features of the narratives: dramatic dialogue and the element of wonder