When people come to read the Qur’an, there is an interaction between what the words of the Qur’an say and what the person reading the text already thinks and believes before reading it. This lecture marks the launch of The Meaning of the Word: Lexicology and Qur’anic Exegesis (2015) and discusses the ways in which different Muslim scholars have responded to the words of the Qur’an. Chapters from the volume will be used as examples to show how the readings of individual words are influenced by theological, legal and philosophical agendas. The lecture also introduces some aspects of literary theory and philosophy of language that are necessary to gain an understanding of how we read, and why knowing how we read is important in the study of the Qur’an and its interpretation.
Stephen Burge joined the Institute of Ismaili Studies as a Research Associate in 2009, having completed his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh. He has published a monograph on angels in Islam, as well as a number of articles on angels, exegesis and interpretation. He is also co-editing and translating a volume of the Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries Series on the Pillars of Islam, and editing a volume entitled The Meaning of the Word: Lexicology and Qur’anic Exegesis. His main research interests are the works of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, hadith studies, tafsir (Qur'anic Exegesis) and angelology.