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Online course

The Qur'an Between Judaism and Christianity

Get an introduction to the history of the Qur'an, and its relationship with Judaism and Christianity.

The Qur'an Between Judaism and Christianity

Explore the relationship between the Qur'an, Judaism and Christianity

This online course will illustrate how the Qur’an situates itself as part of, and as a correction to, the religious discourse of the Jewish and Christian communities of Late Antique Arabia.

The course will use the Qur’an, as well as Jewish and Christian historical documents, to reconstruct the religious landscape to which the Muslim scripture reacts in a pointed, precise and nuanced way.

This will give you a historically more informed understanding of nascent Islam, and will allow you to reconsider many of theological and cultural tenets of Late Antique Judaism and Christianity.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsPeople hold starkly different views about the Qur'an. Some approach it reverently. Some historically. Some try to combine both approaches. Yet no matter who we are and what we believe, we can all agree on two things. First, the Qur'an remains the scripture of Islam, inspiring the lives of over a billion people, whose values continue to shape the world in which we live. The Qur'an matters. Secondly, the Qur'an contains a highly developed view of Judaism and Christianity. This view continues to shape the Muslim views of Jews and Christians on the one hand, and non-Muslim views of Islam on the other. Understanding how the Qur'an relates to Judaism and Christianity allows us better to understand the past as well as the present.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsWe invite you to join a team of international experts in exploring what we can know about the Qura'n's relationship to Judaism and Christianity. We will learn about the history of the study of the Qur'an in traditional Islam and in Western universities. We will probe the unique Arabian character of the Qur'an and trace what Arabian culture in turn may have shared with Judaism and Christianity.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 secondsWe will try to understand why the Qur'an is similar to the bibles of the Jews and of the Christians, and how the Qur'an differs from these scriptures in specific and meaningful ways. We will explore the laws laid down in the Qur'an in light of the laws of late antique Jews and Christians and in light of the laws of later Islamic communities. Most importantly, we will try to understand the continuities between Judaism, Christianity, and the Qur'an, and in this continuity, try to appreciate the Islamic difference.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 secondsThis course invites you to develop and to reassess the question and to deepen your own views of the Qur'an, no matter what they are. And we will discuss what we learned in focused debates. You will have the opportunity to interact directly with many of the scholars teaching the course. What drives us is the vision that the more we learn about the Qur'an in its historical context, the more we will understand the significance of Islam. And the more we know about Islam, the more we equally learn about Judaism and Christianity. This is a unique course, and we hope that you can join the conversation.

What topics will you cover?

  • Traditional and Western approaches to the Qur’an
  • Arabia in Late Antiquity
  • Judaism and Christianity from the first to the seventh century
  • The Qur’an and the Hebrew Bible
  • The Qur’an and the New Testament
  • Law and ritual purity in the Bible, Judaism, Christianity, and in the Qur’an
  • The Qur’an, Judaism and Christianity

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced
Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Compare aspects of the Qur'an's message to Jewish and Christian teachings of Late Antiquity
  • Reflect on some of the similarities and on some of the differences between the Qur'an, Judaism, and Christianity
  • Assess some of the historical reasons for the contemporary misconceptions of nascent Islam
  • Collaborate with others on broadening your historical knowledge
  • Debate historical aspects of religion with people from various backgrounds
  • Interpret select Qur'anic passages in dialogue with the Jewish and the Christian tradition
  • Explore the opportunities and the limitations of "traditional" and "Western" approaches to the Qur'an
  • Identify helpful methods of reading the Qur'an historically, comparatively, and respectfully

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone who is interested in the history of the Qu’ran. It will be of particular interest to educators, clerics, journalists, lawmakers or scholars.

Who will you learn with?

Holger Zellentin

I teach Late Antique Religions, with a special focus on Judaism and on its relationship to Christianity and to the Qur'an, see https://www.divinity.cam.ac.uk/directory/dr-holger-zellentin

Rachel Dryden

Rachel is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the role of angels in the Qur'an. Rachel has worked alongside Holger Zellentin to design and build this course.

Jon Hoover

I teach Islamic Studies, with special interests in medieval intellectual history and Christian-Muslim relations. See further http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/theology/people/jon.hoover

Shuruq Naguib

I am a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Lancaster University, UK. My research covers
the classical and pre-modern intellectual and textual traditions, particularly Qur'an hermeneutics and ritual law.

Who developed the course?

The University of Nottingham is committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring students with world-leading research and benefitting communities all around the world.

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