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Medieval Exegesis and Religious DifferenceCommentary, Conflict, and Community in the Premodern Mediterranean$
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Ryan Szpiech

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264629

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264629.001.0001

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Al-Biqāʿī Seen through Reuchlin

Al-Biqāʿī Seen through Reuchlin

Reflections on the Islamic Relationship with the Bible

(p.58) 3 Al-Biqāʿī Seen through Reuchlin
Medieval Exegesis and Religious Difference

Walid Saleh

Fordham University Press

This chapter offers a comparison of Al-Biqāʿī (d. 1480), a Mamlūk scholar interested in the Hebrew Bible, and his younger contemporary Johannes Reuchlin (d. 1522), a Christian humanist and Hebraist who played a key role in introducing Hebrew study to many European universities. Considering by the profound differences between these contemporary personages, Saleh reflects on the differences between Muslim and Christian engagement with the Hebrew Bible. Beginning with a discussion of what he calls a “difference of emotionality” between their approaches to the Hebrew Bible, Saleh considers the notable lack of engagement with or interest in Christian and especially Jewish scriptures among many Muslim exegetes and intellectuals. Arguing that Islamic exegesis generally avoided explicit confrontation and discussion of the Bible for both theological and linguistic reasons—it neither made theological sense nor was it an important part of early Arabic philological studies—Saleh concludes that this ignorance or indifference was the basis of a practical acceptance of Jews within Islamic societies.

Keywords:   Al-Biqāʿī, Johannes Reuchlin, Jewish-Muslim encounter, Muslim study of the Bible, Christian Hebraism, Anti-Judaism

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