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Products for grant FEL-257599-18

FEL-257599-18
Psalms of the Muslim Prophet David: Arabic Edition and English Translation
David Vishanoff, University of Oklahoma, Norman

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FEL-257599-18

Between Qur’an and Psalmody: How Medieval Muslim Piety Integrated Two Notions of Scripture (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Between Qur’an and Psalmody: How Medieval Muslim Piety Integrated Two Notions of Scripture
Author: David Vishanoff
Abstract: This paper shows how the authors and redactors of the Islamic psalms reconciled the traditional image of David’s psalmody with a Qur’anic conception of scripture. Only in psalm 1 was the Biblical text preserved. Psalm 2 was modified to preempt Christian interpretations that made it a proclamation of Jesus’ divine sonship, and the beginning of Psalm 3, retained only in the Sufi recension, had to be marked as “the words of David” because the rest of the text is framed as God’s speech, not the psalmist’s. From that point on the Biblical text disappears, but the Qur’an is often quoted or paraphrased, and the coming of Muhammad is duly announced. The Koranic recension ends each psalm with a Qur’anic–sounding phrase such as “I am Mighty and Wise.” Some manuscripts label each psalm a sura, and lay out the text as in a mu??af. Yet the Biblical Psalms are not forgotten. Amid snippets of wisdom, exhortations to prepare for the afterlife, and admonitions about a variety of sins, there appear hymns of praise, human calls for divine assistance, and echoes of the penitential Psalms. David laments his transgressions quite explicitly in some versions, though in others he is shielded from grave sin. In form, style, and content these rewritten psalms are more Qur’anic than Biblical, yet their ethos of piety, penitence, and praise have much in common with the scripture they purport to replace. Indeed, they were not intended as a challenge to the supposedly corrupted Psalms of Jews and Christians. Rather than interreligious polemic, appropriation, or forgery (as Ignaz Goldziher called them), these psalms constitute an intrareligious polemic against worldly fellow Muslims, constructed from a repertoire of motifs, aphorisms, characters, and imagined books that, in the minds of their Muslim authors, were the common property of all scrupulously pious believers.
Date: 11/18/2018
Primary URL: https://david.vishanoff.com/iqsa-between-quran-and-psalmody/
Primary URL Description: Between Qur’an and Psalmody: How Medieval Muslim Piety Integrated Two Notions of Scripture
Conference Name: International Qur’anic Studies Association

Psalms of the Muslim Prophet David: Rewritten Bible in a Qur’anic Idiom (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Psalms of the Muslim Prophet David: Rewritten Bible in a Qur’anic Idiom
Author: David Vishanoff
Abstract: Some Arabic manuscripts of the “Psalms of David” contain not the Biblical Psalms but Muslim compositions that sound more like the Qur’an: not human praises and prayers to God, but God’s admonitions to the prophet David, urging him to flee the pleasures of this world, spend his nights in repentant prayer, and prepare for the Day of Judgment. This new scripture exists in several recensions stemming from a single eighth– or ninth–century collection of one hundred psalms. Only a small fragment of that text has been preserved in its original form, but it was edited, rewritten, rearranged, and expanded by later editors, each of whom sought to align it to his or her own religious vision, resulting in what I call the Koranic, Orthodox, Pious, and Sufi versions. By purporting to present the authentic Psalms of David, these texts appear to embody the common Muslim claim that the Bible is textually corrupt, but in fact they show little concern for textual authenticity. Each editor freely rewrote and improved the text, using the concept of “the Psalms of David” as an opportunity for creative writing in a Qur’anic style. When these psalms were last studied by orientalists over a century ago, they were dismissed as polemical forgeries, but that misses the point. Their interreligious polemic is incidental; their main target is worldly Muslims. In fact, they illustrate vividly how many symbols and values their Muslim authors shared with Jews and Christians: the figure of David, his Psalms and his sins, virtue and repentance, asceticism and spirituality, heaven and hell, and a rich common stock of maxims and metaphors. At a time when both scholars of religion and the American public are probing the boundaries of western and Islamic civilizations, and making crucial decisions about whether to imagine them as distinct or bound together, this curious instance of “rewritten Bible” provides a concrete manifestation of the contested but interwoven moral landscape that they share.
Date: 3/10/2019
Primary URL: https://david.vishanoff.com/psalms-of-the-muslim-prophet-david/
Primary URL Description: Psalms of the Muslim Prophet David: Rewritten Bible in a Qur’anic Idiom
Conference Name: American Academy of Religion, Southwest Region

The Ascetic Piety of the Prophet David in Muslim Rewritings of the Psalms (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Ascetic Piety of the Prophet David in Muslim Rewritings of the Psalms
Author: David Vishanoff
Abstract: Numerous Arabic manuscripts of “the Psalms of David” contain not translations of the Biblical Psalms but original Islamic compositions in which God exhorts David to repent of his sin and pursue a life of otherworldly devotional piety. When several of these manuscripts were studied piecemeal in the early twentieth century they appeared to be unrelated, and were dismissed as so many forgeries. A comparative study of a dozen manuscripts shows that they are all revisions and expansions of a lost source text consisting of one hundred psalms, which newly discovered evidence (described by Ursula Bsees in another paper at this conference) allows us to date to the late eighth or early ninth century. This confirms that the source text was an early literary expression of an ascetical renunciant piety (described by Christopher Melchert and others) that flourished in the seventh, eighth, and early ninth centuries, when similar forms of Christian monastic piety were still regarded positively by some Muslims, and before Islamic asceticism lost ground to more inward and mystical forms of piety. The original text reflected what Nimrod Hurvitz calls mild asceticism, urging disdain for this world and total dependence on God without entirely rejecting private property or marriage. Later recensions of the text, however, softened and modified its ascetical tone in various ways, the Pious recension emphasizing adherence to the letter of the law, and the Sufi recension transforming David’s piety from tearful fear of hell into loving devotion. These recensions reflect divergent strands in the development of Islamic piety, while testifying to David’s continuing appeal as an exemplar of repentance and otherworldliness.
Date: 3/17/2019
Primary URL: https://david.vishanoff.com/the-ascetic-piety/
Primary URL Description: The Ascetic Piety of the Prophet David in Muslim Rewritings of the Psalms
Conference Name: American Oriental Society

Origins and Sources of the Islamic Psalms of David (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Origins and Sources of the Islamic Psalms of David
Author: David Vishanoff
Abstract: Numerous Arabic manuscripts of “the Psalms of David” contain not translations of the Biblical Psalms but original Islamic compositions in which God exhorts David to repent of his sin and pursue a life of ascetic devotional piety. These rewritten psalms exist in several recensions based on one original source text that is now mostly lost. In form and content they are more Qur’anic than Biblical, but they preserve occasional echoes and quotations of Biblical material. Only in the twelfth–century “Sufi” recension is there evidence that the redactor made use of an Arabic translation of the Bible. The other recensions, like the original source text, contain paraphrases of Biblical passages that were learned by early Muslims and then preserved and embellished in historical and pietistic literature. They also contain Qur’anic material and Islamic traditions such as divine sayings, parables, and wise maxims of a distinctly ascetic character. The recent discovery of a fragmentary copy of the original source text, on papyrus, confirms that it originated among early Muslim ascetics (partly inspired by Christian monks) who flourished in the seventh, eighth, and early ninth centuries before losing ground to advocates of more mystical and legal forms of piety.
Date: 4/15/2019
Primary URL: https://david.vishanoff.com/origins-and-sources/
Primary URL Description: Origins and Sources of the Islamic Psalms of David
Conference Name: British Association for Islamic Studies

The ‘Psalms of David’ as reimagined and rewritten by Muslims (Blog Post)
Title: The ‘Psalms of David’ as reimagined and rewritten by Muslims
Author: David Vishanoff
Abstract: The history of the Bible in Arabic includes not only the reception of its textual content, and the reworking of its stories and themes in various forms of “rewritten Bible,” but also the reimagining of the Bible as a concept—in the minds of Muslims as well as Jews and Christians. One particularly curious example of rewritten Bible is an Arabic text purporting to be the “Psalms of David,” written by a Muslim to fit a Qur’anic conception of the Zabur. Rather than human prayers and praises addressed to God, this collection of one hundred “suras” takes the form of a divine revelation spoken by God to the prophet David, full of pious admonitions about the enticements of this world and the terrors of the next. [...]
Date: 5/14/2019
Primary URL: https://biblia-arabica.com/the-psalms-of-david-as-reimagined-and-rewritten-by-muslims/
Primary URL Description: The “Psalms of David” as reimagined and rewritten by Muslims
Secondary URL: https://david.vishanoff.com/reimagined-and-rewritten/
Secondary URL Description: The “Psalms of David” as reimagined and rewritten by Muslims
Blog Title: The “Psalms of David” as reimagined and rewritten by Muslims
Website: Biblia Arabica


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