• The Human Jesus: A Debate in the Ottoman Press

    Mizan: Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations (view group) , Ayşe Polat
    Michael Pregill
    Mizan: Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations
    Qurʼan, Islam--Study and teaching, Turkish literature, Bible, Reader-response criticism
    Item Type:
    Islamic literature, prophets in Islam, Jesus in Islam, bible in islam, Qur'an studies, Islamic studies, Reception of the Bible
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    During the first decades of the 20th century, Ottoman Turkish periodicals in Istanbul bore witness not only to great socio-political transformations, but also to vehement religious-intellectual discussions. At the end of 1921, one concrete example of the latter was a disputation concerning the birth, death, and miracles of Jesus between three Ottoman intellectuals, Ömer Rıza Doğrul, Mehmet Ali Ayni, and Milaslı İsmail Hakkı, in the newspaper Tevhid-i Efkar. They articulated their overlapping and conflicting arguments by taking into account both Christian missionary understandings and polemics against Islam and a variety of Muslim interpretations of Jesus, past and present, conventional and radical, orthodox and heterodox. While all three grounded the Muslim prophetic narrative about Jesus primarily in the Qurʾān, they disputed about the clarity or ambiguity of the qurʾānic passages about Mary’s conception of Jesus, the singularity or multiplicity of meanings embedded in the qurʾānic text regarding Jesus, and rational and figurative explanations at the expense of miraculous and literal ones concerning the qurʾānic Jesus narrative. While the unconventional ideas of Ömer Rıza and M. İsmail Hakkı (for instance the view that Mary conceived Jesus through sexual intercourse) did not become popular, their views disclose the intellectual interactions between Muslim intellectuals across different lands and the role of publications in proliferating them. This Ottoman newspaper disputation on Jesus also reveals the crucial role played by the modern state in regulating and drawing the limits of public religious ideas and debates, which fell under the strong purview of both the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic.
    This is a stable archival PDF of an open-access, peer-reviewed journal article originally published at www.mizanproject.org/journal/.
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    2 years ago


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