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The Koran: A Very Short Introduction (2000)

de Michael Cook

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501436,649 (3.63)8
This Very Short Introduction explores the significance of the Koran both in the modern world and in traditional Muslim culture. Michael Cook provides a lucid and direct account of the Koran as codex, as scripture, as liturgy, and as the embodiment of truth, and examines its means of formation and dissemination. He also discusses issues of interpretation for certain key verses, demonstrating that fecundity of the text for readers throughout the world.… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porbk-grl, DanteAshton, thetuckerfamily, Rae3791, MaxHanson, ebeeb, wpate, episcothought
Bibliotecas HistóricasTim Spalding
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Exibindo 4 de 4
I was initially enthusiastic, but it turns out I was just enthusiastic to be reading something on the topic; a friend and I discussed the book, and he's right, it's just okay. Cook's decision to tell the story backwards is terrible, and makes everything harder to understand. He does deal with a lot of material, and this is probably a solid enough place to start, but most of what I learned was general stuff about Islam, not about the Quran itself. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
A very informative and interesting little book about how Muslims approach the Koran, illustrated with modern and traditional examples. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Jul 18, 2014 |
Cross-posting to goodreads, here, and perhaps my blog:

Cook, M. 2000. The Koran, a very short introduction. Very short introductions 13. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

I ordered this a few weeks back around the time of that idiotic Burn a Koran day. Figuring I needed to know more about the Koran and discovering that Oxford University Press Very Short Introductions were on sale at amazon I ordered myself a copy of this. I must also give a quick shout out to Angel Rivera for helping me realize I need to learn more about the Koran.

For one of my (admittedly minor) connections to the Koran see this blog post: http://marklindner.info/blog/2005/08/08/i-said-burn-that-library-col-johnston/

For a recent short update to this story see: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20100910/NEWS/100909583/1007/news?tc=ar

As for as Very Short Introductions go, and I have read at least a dozen, this one, to me, was probably in the middle. Which is to say, it is fairly good. You will probably learn something from it.

I did find the layout of the book a bit odd, and I found the author's reasoning for it also odd:

"After a couple of introductory chapters (Part One), I have chosen to write history backwards. Thus I deal first with the modern period (Part Two), then with the traditional Muslim world (Part Three), and finally with the formation of the Koran (Part Four). The reason for this choice is straightforward: for any but a specialist, the phenomena of our own times are easier to grasp than those of the past" ([iv]).

As true as that may be, this book is a VSI and there is nothing approaching the "specialist" in it. I personally find that explanation condescending and insulting. And I imagine many others who read VSIs would also.

From there he goes on to explain why he has "stuck to the old Anglicized form 'Koran'" for which I am culturally incompetent to judge whether it is a good reason or not but it sounds more acceptable to me ([iv]).

The author early on discusses 'The idea of scripture' and does a good job throughout relating the Koran to other scriptures; Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Hindu and Buddhist.

Despite the more or less backwards chronology I did learn quite a bit about the Koran. I now look forward to finding an English translation and reading the Koran itself. Well, perhaps not the Koran itself, but that is addressed in the book being reviewed.

The only other remaining gripe I have with the book is that the author frequently referred back to earlier passages but failed to give page references. I am sorry but I am not memorizing the book nor the passages from the Koran. So when he writes "We have already seen this kind of effect on a small scale in the case of the two verses which we alongside …" perhaps we have but I would actually learn far more if I knew where that prior juxtaposition was in the book so I could look for the again within the context of the current discussion (135-36).

In summary, if you have had little exposure to the Koran this can be a valuable book. I found the quirky reverse chronology odd, but livable, and I think the insights of the author could be better showcased and made easier to learn from by the simple addition of self-referential cites.

Preface
Acknowledgements
Contents
List of illustrations
Map of places mentioned in the text
Part One: Introduction
1 Preliminaries
2 The message of the Koran
Part Two: The Koran in the modern world
3 The dissemination of the Koran
4 The interpretation of the Koran
5 The very idea of scripture
Part Three: The Koran in the traditional Muslim world
6 The Koran as codex
7 The Koran as text
8 The Koran as worship
9 The Koran as truth
10 The Koran as an object of dogma
Part Four: The formation of the Koran
11 The collection of the Koran
12 The Koran in the lifetime of the prophet
13 Doubts and puzzles
14 Conclusion
A note on Arabic
Going further
Index of Koranic verses
Index
1 vote mlindner | Oct 24, 2010 |
Michael Cook explains how the history of the Koran makes it different from other works of scripture, with special emphasis on how the idiosyncrasies of written and spoken Arabic have had an effect on the development of the Koran. I also appreciated the comparisons between the way different commentators on the Koran have handled different textual and philosophical issues. Very interesting. ( )
  Katya0133 | Mar 24, 2009 |
Exibindo 4 de 4
For anyone, at almost any level of knowledge, wanting to learn more about the Qur’an, this is a wonderful place to start. Reading Cook does not replace immersion in the Islamic holy book, but it does prepare one for reading it. The miniature format of the Very Short Introduction and its miniature price only make the study more alluring.
adicionado por TomVeal | editarMiddle East Quarterly, Daniel Pipes (Aug 1, 2001)
 

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This Very Short Introduction explores the significance of the Koran both in the modern world and in traditional Muslim culture. Michael Cook provides a lucid and direct account of the Koran as codex, as scripture, as liturgy, and as the embodiment of truth, and examines its means of formation and dissemination. He also discusses issues of interpretation for certain key verses, demonstrating that fecundity of the text for readers throughout the world.

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