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Clean and Unclean Animals in the Arabic Traditions of the Bible: A Contribution to the Study of Christian Arabic Manuscripts of Leviticus

English title Clean and Unclean Animals in the Arabic Traditions of the Bible: A Contribution to the Study of Christian Arabic Manuscripts of Leviticus
Applicant Nihan Christophe
Number 185373
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut romand des sciences bibliques(IRSB) Faculté de Théologie Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Religious studies, Theology
Start/End 01.06.2019 - 31.10.2021
Approved amount 154'760.00
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Keywords (3)

medieval translations; history of the biblical text; Arabic versions of the Bible

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Prof. Christophe Nihan (Lausanne)Prof. Meira Polliack (Tel Aviv)
Lay summary

Les manuscrits arabes de la Bible font aujourd’hui l’objet d’un intérêt renouvelé dans la communauté scientifique. La présente recherche a pour principal objectif d’identifier et d’analyser l’ensemble des manuscrits préservant la législation sur les animaux purs et impurs dans le livre du Lévitique (chapitre 11). Elle est dirigée par un spécialiste du livre du Lévitique (Christophe Nihan, université de Lausanne) et une spécialiste des manuscrits arabes de la Bible (Meira Polliack, université de Tel Aviv), et représente par conséquent une collaboration internationale et interdisciplinaire.

L’étude approfondie et la comparaison des différents manuscrits arabes de Lévitique 11 viseront notamment à identifier les principaux types de traduction attestés dans ces manuscrits ainsi que les sources employées par les traducteurs arabes, de manière à reconstruire aussi précisément que possible l’origine de ces traductions et l’histoire de leur transmission au Moyen Age. La recherche comprendra également une analyse approfondie du lexique des animaux purs et impurs employé dans les traductions arabes de la Bible, qui sera comparé au lexique zoologique attesté dans d’autres traditions arabes médiévales, de manière à mieux cerner le profil linguistique et culturel de ces traductions.

Au final, cette recherche contribuera à l’étude des manuscrits arabes de la Bible à trois niveaux simultanément : (1) en reconstruisant l’histoire des traductions arabes du Lévitique dans les différentes traditions manuscrites ; (2) en proposant une nouvelle méthodologie pour l’étude des manuscrits arabes de la Bible ; et (3) en éclairant les interactions entre les manuscrits arabes de la Bible et leur milieu culturel à travers l’étude du lexique employé dans ces manuscrits.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 09.05.2019

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Abstract

While Arabic versions of the Bible have been the subject of renewed scholarly interest in the last decade or so, the current state of the research points to the need to develop a renewed methodology which (a) takes into account the complexity of the history of textual traditions; (b) acknowledges the diversity of translations reflected in Arabic versions of each biblical book; and (c) understands Arabic Bible translations as being an inherent part of the surrounding medieval Arabic world.The study will innovate by presenting an exhaustive analysis of all identified manuscripts containing the legislation on clean and unclean animals in Leviticus (chapter 11). In the present state of research, this approach offers several advantages, and can helpfully contribute to move the discussion forward. Firstly, the size of the corpus will make it possible to include all the manuscripts available, and to discuss extensively (a) the different types of translations reflected in these manuscripts; (b) the sources for these manuscripts, and therefore the genealogy of the Arabic translations of Leviticus 11; and (c) the history of transmission of each group of translations during the medieval period. Secondly, because the legislation on clean and unclean animals is the only legislation that has a parallel in another book of the Pentateuch, chapter 14 of Deuteronomy, the topic selected will provide a unique opportunity to compare and confront Arabic translations of Leviticus and Deuteronomy across various manuscripts. Thirdly, the description of clean and unclean animals in Leviticus and Deuteronomy uses a specialized vocabulary, which offers an excellent basis for comparison with the lexicon for fauna in other, mainstream contemporary Arabic traditions. As such, the study of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 in Arabic translations is likely to provide further information on the linguistic and cultural profile of these translations. The team behind this research comprises an expert of Leviticus (prof. Christophe Nihan), an expert on Arabic manuscripts of the Bible (prof. Meira Polliack), and a doctoral student specially trained in a wide range of ancient and medieval languages required for this project (Aurélie Bischofberger). The research will significantly contribute to the scholarly study of Arabic versions of the Bible in several regards. In particular, it will be the first study to compare all the known Arabic manuscripts of a biblical text (and some previously unknown manuscripts as well). It will develop a new, integrative methodology for the study of Arabic versions of the Bible, which includes and coherently articulates the four basic dimensions of source identification; translation techniques; paratextual elements; and linguistic analysis, thereby providing a model that can be used for other analyses of Arabic versions of the Bible. It will illuminate the translation into Arabic of two key books of the Pentateuch, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and therefore contribute to our understanding of the production and transmission of Arabic versions of the Bible in the Middle Ages. Last but no least, the research will also innovate by focusing on the lexical analysis of the vocabulary for clean and unclean animals in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and its relationship to fauna lexicon in other Arabic traditions, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the interactions between these translations and the culture of the larger Arabic world in which they were produced.
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