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The Greek Translation of the Qur’an (8/9th century CE) and its Use by Nicetas of Byzantium for his «Ἀνατροπὴ τοῦ Κορανίου» (‘Refutation of the Qur’an’, 9th century CE) – a Heresiological Approach

Subproject by Manolis Ulbricht

This sub-project aims to examine one oft the first translations of the Qur’an, which is a Greek translation from the 8/9th century CE (terminus ante quem), and to compare it with ‘the Arabic text’. The translation by an anonymous author, while generally very accurate, contains some textually subtle, but theologically highly important differences with respect to the Arabic text. It seems to be the result of a Christian hermeneutical reading of the Qur’an.

This translation was used in a Byzantine polemic against Islam, the so-called “Refutation of the Qur’an” (Anatropē) by Nicetas of Byzantium (9th century CE). Additionally, and beyond the comparison, the project shall analyse the use of the Greek translation in Nicetas’ Anatropē, which is its main source (Vat. gr. 681). In a final section, the Anatropē will be contextualised with Nicetas’ other apologetic works against the Latins and the Armenians.

This project is related to Qur’anic studies and it characterises one of the most important, albeit little known Byzantine polemicists. Nicetas is one of the first who uses the Qur’an itself for the refutation of the Islamic faith. His attempt had a vast influence on later Byzantine and even mediaeval European apologetic writing against Islam. Nicetas lived during the ‘Macedonian Renaissance’ in Constantinople in a period of thriving military and intellectual activities and a climate of intercultural exchange with the Muslim ʿAbbāsid caliphate. This research will help to shed light on the ‘Macedonian Renaissance’, its intellectual life and external relations with the Arab neighbours.