Lecture: "Relocating the Qur'an in "Abrahamitic Religions": Straight Trajectories or Dead Alleys?"
The new opening of formerly Early Islamic Studies to a more comparative approach encompassing the two neighboring religions certainly marks an immense progress in academic self-reflection. Yet the concept, however inclusive, again risks to exclude important elements of the nascent Islamic Culture. The lecture advocates a still more extended concept: Late Antique Studies. 'Late Antiquity' should not be regarded primarily as an epoch but rather as a broad field of discourse, a Denkraum, where texts and notions originating from antiquity (Hellenic and Ancient Oriental) were re-read under new -- religious or at least individualist -- perspectives. Such new readings in Arabic language do not exclusively originate with the Qur'an but have not a few precedents in pre-Islamic poetry. The construct of a "Denkraum Late Antiquity" thus does no longer view Jahiliyya, pre-Islamic culture, as the other of Islam, but rather as the Arabian province of a vast space of debate involving diverse cultures, a space out of which the Qur'an and considerable other early Arabic literature emerged. A number of Qur'anic texts will be discussed as evidence.
Professor Angelika Neuwirth was educated in Classics and Oriental Studies at German and international universities (Italy, Iran, Israel). She taught at the Universities of Bamberg, Munich, Amman, Cairo and since 1991 holds the chair of Arabic Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. From 1994-1999 she served as the director of the Orient Institut der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft in Beirut and Istanbul. Her major fields of research are classical and modern Arabic literature, as well as Late Antiquity Studies. In several recent publications Neuwirth has try to vindicate the Qur'an as a Late Antique text, which is not "influenced by" but creatively in conversation with pagan, Christian and Jewish traditions, providing new answers to universally debated questions of its time. Neuwirth whose monograph "Scripture and the Making of a Community -- Literary Readings of the Qur'an" is presently in print, has been acknowledged for her novel approach to interreligious studies with several honorary doctorates and awards.