Abraham Hinckelmann, Foreword, in: Al-Coranus S. Lex Islamitica Muhammedis, Filii Abdallae Pseudoprophetae [The Koran, or The Islamic Law of Muhammed, Son of Abdalla the Pseudoprophet], Hamburg 1694, [p. 17-18].

Source Description

This source deals with an excerpt from the foreword of the Hamburg edition of the Koran of 1694, published by Abraham Hinckelmann. Hinckelmann achieved his place in the history books because he published the first surviving printed Arabic edition of the Koran in Europe. This happened directly after the end of the second siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks (1683) and the Habsburg counter-offensive (1686), one result of which was that valuable Ottoman manuscripts reached Europe as war booty – an important impulse that favored the development of Oriental Studies in German-speaking lands. Hinckelmann’s edition of the Koran was a milestone in this respect. In an 80-page foreword Hinckelmann justifies not only his publishing of the Koran in its original language – a much contested initiative at the time – but also offeres a detailed description of “Arabic Studies,” based on his own extensive knowledge, that would be valuable from a scholarly and historical perspective. At the same time, he disputed what in the late 17th century was still the largely unchallenged special status of Hebrew as the lingua sacra, designating instead Arabic as the next closest to the divine language and therefore also relevant for the understanding of the Bible.

This emerging desacralization and symbolic downgrading of the Hebrew language signaled the approaching end of preoccupation with the Jewish theology or the Talmud as well as the decreasing interest in personal exchanges with Jewish scholars (even though for missionary purposes) on the part of “enlightened” Christian-influenced Hebraists of the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Recommended Citation

Abraham Hinckelmann, Foreword, in: Al-Coranus S. Lex Islamitica Muhammedis, Filii Abdallae Pseudoprophetae [The Koran, or The Islamic Law of Muhammed, Son of Abdalla the Pseudoprophet], Hamburg 1694, [p. 17-18]. (translated by Richard S. Levy), edited in: Key Documents of German-Jewish History, <https://dx.doi.org/10.23691/jgo:source-45.en.v1> [November 13, 2018].