Medieval polemics tended to be harsh and belligerent, but while Muslims and Christians produced polemics under the protection and encouragement of their own religious and political authorities, Jews lived everywhere as minority communities and therefore lacked such security. In order to maintain their own sense of dignity Jews polemicized as well, but they had to be subtle in argument for their own protection. One form of polemic produced by Jews and developed entirely for internal consumption is “counter-history,” which retells well-known narratives in a manner that questions or undermines their message. One such counter-history is an ancient Jewish re-telling of the traditional Muslim Sīra, the narrative of divinely authorized prophethood and revelation accorded to Muhammad.
Reuven Firestone is the Regenstein Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Affiliate Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California. Currently he is a Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow in Berlin. He served as vice president of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) and president of the International Qur’anic Studies Association. His research interests are amongst other things the Bible and its exegesis, the Qur’an and its exegesis and Comparative Religion. Reuven Firestone has written over one hundred scholarly chapters and articles and eight books with translations into several languages.
Moderation: Professor Dr. Stefan Beyerle
Bildnachweis: zur Verfügung gestelt von Professor Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D.