Week 1: The Structure of the Quran
Introduction to the shape of the Quran (its chapters or “Suras” and verses, the traditional classification of those chapters as “Meccan” or “Medinan”) and its literary qualities, especially rhyme.
Week 2: Themes of the Quran
Examination of the major elements of the Quranic message: punishment stories, heaven and hell, divine signs in nature, and arguments for its own validity as divine scripture.
Week 3: The God of the Quran
Consideration of the Quran’s insistence on a God who is transcendent and powerful; introduction to the “unforgivable sin” of associating something with God and to the Quran’s accusations against Christians of theological errors.
Week 4: The Context of the Quran’s Origins
Discussion of Islamic traditions of pre-Islamic Arabia and the birth and career of Muhammad; discussion of the ways in which later Muslims constructed his biography with special attention to the story of his night journey to Jerusalem.
Week 5: The Revelation, Proclamation, and Codification of the Quran
Introduction to both traditional Islamic and western academic perspectives on the question of how the Quran became a written text as we know it now.
Week 6: Exegesis of the Quran
Examination of the principal methods of Islamic commentary on the Quran, including the classical period, the modern and contemporary period, and a reflection on the role of the Quran in shaping Islamic law.
Week 7: Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Figures
Consideration of the ways in which the Quran presents characters from the Old Testament including Adam, Noah, and Moses.
Week 8: New Testament and Christianity
Discussion of the Quranic presentation of New Testament figures such as Jesus and the disciples, and of Christians and the Bible more generally.
Week 9: Concluding Lecture and Exam