The Quran, Epic and Apocalypse

The Quran, Epic and Apocalypse

by Todd Lawson

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Overview

The Quran, Epic and Apocalypse by Todd Lawson

Suppose our knowledge of the Quran began only recently with the discovery of mysterious scrolls in a desert cave. Suppose there was no Islamic history and no Muslim community to help us understand this book. Is it conceivable, then, that we might mistake it for the central text of a long-vanished apocalyptic community whose ideas about the next world, colorful and extraordinary as they appear, nonetheless make perfect sense in the context of perhaps the most pervasive literary genre of late antiquity, the epic?

How do people understand the Quran to be divine revelation? What is it about this book that inspires such devotion in the reader/believer? Todd Lawson explores how the timeless literary genres of epic and apocalypse bear religious meaning in the Quran, communicating the sense of divine presence, urgency and truth. Grounding his approach in the universal power of story and myth, he provides a unique appreciation of the unparalleled status and unique charisma of the Quran as a religious text and monument of world literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786072276
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Publication date: 12/05/2017
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,235,806
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Todd Lawson is emeritus professor of Islamic thought at the University of Toronto. He has worked in the field of Islamic studies for over forty years, authoring numerous articles and books, and giving lectures around the world. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

What People are Saying About This

—Devin Stewart

‘In this work Todd Lawson takes up the thread of Paul Casanova’s innovative but largely neglected work, Mohammed et la fin du monde (1911) and analyzes the Quran as an apocalyptic text. Inspired by recent work on apocalypticism…and drawing on a wide range of Sunni, Shiite, Akhbārī, and Bābī commentaries in addition to the Quran, Lawson investigates features of the apocalyptic mode – impending Judgment, the signs of the Hour, eschatological expectation, and so on – with great insight and critical sensitivity. He provides at once an appreciation of the Quran’s literary power and a window into the profound religious experience of the Quran’s audience and of early Muslims. Particularly insightful is his analysis of typological figuration, by means of which the stories of Biblical tradition were made directly relevant to the Quran and the Quran’s readers.’

From the Publisher

‘In this work Todd Lawson takes up the thread of Paul Casanova’s innovative but largely neglected work, Mohammed et la fin du monde (1911) and analyzes the Quran as an apocalyptic text. Inspired by recent work on apocalypticism…and drawing on a wide range of Sunni, Shiite, Akhbārī, and Bābī commentaries in addition to the Quran, Lawson investigates features of the apocalyptic mode – impending Judgment, the signs of the Hour, eschatological expectation, and so on – with great insight and critical sensitivity. He provides at once an appreciation of the Quran’s literary power and a window into the profound religious experience of the Quran’s audience and of early Muslims. Particularly insightful is his analysis of typological figuration, by means of which the stories of Biblical tradition were made directly relevant to the Quran and the Quran’s readers.’

--Devin Stewart, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Emory University

‘What a pleasure it is to read the Quran through Todd Lawson’s eyes! In this rich and erudite study of the epic and apocalyptic aspects of the text, Lawson adopts and elucidates many of the habits of ancient readers, and the result is a greater appreciation for the Quran’s sweeping aesthetic, literary and spiritual grandeur. The Quran: Epic and Apocalypse is also invaluable for its deep engagement with recent…scholarship, and its venturesome analyses of minoritarian Muslim exegetical works. Like a thoughtful and generous conversation partner, Lawson asks interesting questions, avoids dogmatic scholarly or religious statements, and leaves us with a lot to think about.’

--Kristin Zahra Sands, Professor of Religion, Sarah Lawrence College

‘The Quran: Epic and Apocalypse offers numerous fresh and important insights regarding Islam’s most sacred text. Grounded in meticulous analysis of the Quran’s religious and literary dimensions, this volume takes an entirely new direction in identifying and studying its epic and apocalyptic qualities. It is a must-read for anyone interested in comparative religious studies, or indeed in cultural and literary history.’

--Sebastian Günther, Professor and Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Göttingen

‘By attending to the Quran’s epic as well as its apocalyptic voice, Todd Lawson proposes to liberate Western readings of Muslim scripture from their current obsessions. It is difficult to imagine a timelier or more necessary scholarly intervention. And when the Quran finally acquires the audience it deserves, i.e., one capable of bracketing theological pre-commitments (pro or con) and appreciating it for the re-visionary work of…literature that it is, Professor Lawson’s book will be recognized as a major contribution towards that long overdue cognitive shift.’

--Peter Matthews Wright, Associate Professor & Chair, Colorado College Department of Religion

"Did James Joyce know the Quran? Todd Lawson brilliantly demonstrates how the Quran anticipates literary modernism as both epic and apocalypse. Its epic voice encompasses a vast temporal and spatial canvas – the cosmos, creation, humanity, time, history, while its chapters, singly and collectively, evoke an apocalyptic musicality. The ‘end’, as Lawson reminds us with lapidary prose unfolding insight upon insight, can be instrumental as well as temporal. The apocalyptic vision of the Quran underscores its true ‘end’: to herald and expedite a just community living in accordance with God’s will, enjoying both peace and prosperity. This innovative book charts new ways of reading literary modernism as Quranic commentary on a grand scale, at once elusive and evocative."

--Bruce B. Lawrence, Marcus Family Humanities Professor of Religion Emeritus, Duke University

"Infuses the field of Quranic Studies with a breath of fresh air… The avenues of interpretation that the work opens up have the potential to occupy generations. Not only does Lawson’s contribution show how both Muslims and non-Muslims can participate meaningfully in reading the Quran, the work is a vivid reminder of a prophetic saying on the virtues of the Quran: its wonders will never cease, and scholars will never be satiated by its study."

--Mahan Mirza, Professor of the Practice, Contending Modernities, Kroc Institute for International Peace, Keough School of Global Affairs

Devin Stewart

‘In this work Todd Lawson takes up the thread of Paul Casanova’s innovative but largely neglected work, Mohammed et la fin du monde (1911) and analyzes the Quran as an apocalyptic text. Inspired by recent work on apocalypticism…and drawing on a wide range of Sunni, Shiite, Akhbārī, and Bābī commentaries in addition to the Quran, Lawson investigates features of the apocalyptic mode – impending Judgment, the signs of the Hour, eschatological expectation, and so on – with great insight and critical sensitivity. He provides at once an appreciation of the Quran’s literary power and a window into the profound religious experience of the Quran’s audience and of early Muslims. Particularly insightful is his analysis of typological figuration, by means of which the stories of Biblical tradition were made directly relevant to the Quran and the Quran’s readers.’

--Devin Stewart

‘In this work Todd Lawson takes up the thread of Paul Casanova’s innovative but largely neglected work, Mohammed et la fin du monde (1911) and analyzes the Quran as an apocalyptic text. Inspired by recent work on apocalypticism…and drawing on a wide range of Sunni, Shiite, Akhbārī, and Bābī commentaries in addition to the Quran, Lawson investigates features of the apocalyptic mode – impending Judgment, the signs of the Hour, eschatological expectation, and so on – with great insight and critical sensitivity. He provides at once an appreciation of the Quran’s literary power and a window into the profound religious experience of the Quran’s audience and of early Muslims. Particularly insightful is his analysis of typological figuration, by means of which the stories of Biblical tradition were made directly relevant to the Quran and the Quran’s readers.’

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