Immanuel van Dort's Hebrew translation of the Qur'an and its Arabic sources

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Abstract

Immanuel van Dort's Hebrew translation of the Qur'an was not done directly from the Arabic source of the book but is third in the chain: French translation (du Ryer) > Dutch translation (Glasemaker) > Hebrew translation (van Dort). An analysis of this Hebrew translation from the Dutch translation of the Qur'an in comparison with the original Arabic text reveals that the former is in fact a paraphrase containing Arabic Muslim interpretations of the Qur'an; it is these which caused the translation to deviate from the source text. The deviations in question can already be found in du Ryer's French translation, whence they entered Glasemaker's Dutch version and, eventually, van Dort's translation into Hebrew. The translation also contains an introduction on Muslim issues related to Muhammad and his life. This material originates in Muslim sira literature and like the translation is delivered in an informative and neutral manner without any polemical purposes. Moreover, this material is sometimes flatteringly presented to Islam and its prophet. This is not surprising because this translation was done by a converted Jewish scholar, a lecturer in theology at Colombo, Ceylon, far from the lands of Islam who wanted to broaden his horizons and had no motives to argue and quarrel with Islam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-121
Number of pages25
JournalRevue des Etudes Juives
Volume180
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

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