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      Linguistic Theory in tafsīr between 100/400 and 700/1000: Implications for Qur’anic Studies

      research-article
      Journal of Qur'anic Studies
      Edinburgh University Press
      tafsir, the Qur'an, linguistics, pragmatism, semantics, context, usul-al-fiqh

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          Abstract

          The article aims to explore the possibility that tafsīr and the Qur’an might share a common linguistic theory, and the methodological relevance of such a relationship for Qur’anic studies. This is done by, firstly, engaging with debates on the definitions and dating of tafsīr and the methodological implications of these; secondly, by developing a model of a theoretical paradigm that spans the disciplines of tafsīr, linguistics, rhetoric, and law, and applying it to the interpretations of key terms in five Qur’anic verses as found in the works of a selection of exegetes. The exegetes in question are Muqātil b. Sulaymān (d. 150/767), ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Ṣanʿānī (d. 211/827), Yaḥyā b. Sallām (d. 200/815), Ibn Abī Zamanīn (d. 399/1009), and al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923). The case studies are Q. 1:5–7 ( mustaqīm); Q. 2:1 ( aliflāmmīm dhālika’l- kitāb); Q. 2:125 ( maqām Ibrāhīm); Q. 19:34 ( qawl al-ḥaqq); and Q. 18:19 ( azkā ṭaʿāman).

          The analysis finds that (1) tafsīr shares a pragmatist semantic paradigm with linguistics and law, and the selected exegetes’ legal methodologies are decisive in shaping their exegetical methods; (2) studies of developments within tafsīr need to consider its relationship with the other disciplines and the diverse exegetical genres; and (3) the pragmatist semantic paradigm connects tafsīr methodology with the Qur’an’s composition and some of its concepts, because they reflect the same theory that meaning depends on context. Consequently, if tafsīr is studied from a discipline- and theory-oriented perspective, it can provide new methodologies for Qur’anic studies.

          Most cited references83

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          Validity in Interpretation

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            Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation

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              The Formation of Islamic Hermeneutics: How Sunni Legal Theorists Imagined a Revealed Law

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                JQS
                Journal of Qur'anic Studies
                Edinburgh University Press ( The Tun - Holyrood Road, 12(2f) Jackson's Entry, Edinburgh EH8 8PJ UK )
                1465-3591
                1755-1730
                October 2022
                : 24
                : 3
                : 1-45
                Affiliations
                NTNU – The Norwegian University of Science and Technology
                Article
                10.3366/jqs.2022.0514
                77c501b5-6e44-4188-984e-0d7dd249cf61
                © Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS
                History
                Page count
                References: 84, Pages: 45
                Categories
                Articles in English
                Islamic Studies

                Political science,Literature of other nations & languages,Art history & Criticism,Religious studies & Theology,Arab world & Islam,History
                usul-al-fiqh,semantics,the Qur'an,pragmatism,linguistics,tafsir,context

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