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Sacred Texts and Print Culture
The Case of the Qur’an and the Bible of the Eastern Churches,
18th and 19th Centuries

Edited by
Nadia Al-Bagdadi
, Head of History Department, EC member of the Religious Studies Specialization, and Director of the Religous Studies Program at Central European University, Budapest,
Mushirul Hasan, Director of the Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi

This volume studies the religious history and hermeneutics of Holy Scriptures in a period when book printing started to influence the dissemination of knowledge in the Orthodox-Christian and the Muslim world. The essays show that the printing of religious Muslim and Orthodox texts cannot be considered as mere technical innovation of reproduction. Since printing required special knowledge and allowed a much wider circulation, it triggered a debate among the religious elites and in their societies about fundamental dilemmas. (1) Who is allowed to have access to Holy Scriptures? What does it mean that people not belonging to the (traditional) religious elite will be able to read sacred texts? (2) If a broad circulation is technically feasible, why should not texts in the religious canon be printed in the language of the people? How does the “production of meaning” of a sacred text change if it is circulated by means of print?

The essays see print culture as a central issue characterizing intellectual dynamics in societies of the Modern period. They give insight into changes in religious hermeneutics of Holy Scriptures, the democratization of knowledge, religious elites undergoing changes, and the secularization of religious traditions in Romania, Egypt, Russia, India, Croatia, East and West Bengal, as well as among the Assyrians of the Middle East.

Contents: I.Bookish Traditions, Oral and Written 1) Introduction: Different Imprints – The Authority of Sacred Books and the Emergence of Print Culture. 2) Preface: On the Concept and Functions of Scripture. II. Oral Transmission and Textual Fixation 3) Liturgical Orality or Textualist Oblivion? A Case Study: Printing the Scriptures into Romanian (16 th-18 th century) 4) The Interplay of Technology and Sacredness in Islam: Discussions of Muslim Scholars on Printing the Qur’an 5) Between Leipzig and Cairo. Notes on Qur’an Printing, Technological Change and Philological Continuity III. Printing the Text – Materials, Printers, and Institutions 6) Early Orthodox Printing of the Scriptures 7) A Qur’an for Every Household: Mass Printing and the Commercialization of Islamic Sacred Texts in Nineteenth-Century Lucknow 8) Negotiating Sacred Texts: Printing in the Church of the East in the 19th Century IV. Disseminating Sacred Texts 9) Production, Distribution and the Cultural Impact of the Early Modern Croatian Catechisms supplemented with Primers 10) A Printed Muslim ‘Lighthouse’ in Cairo: Al-Manâr’s Early Years, Religious Aspiration and Reception (1898 – 1903) 11) Bengali Translation of the Qur’an and the Impact of Print Culture on Muslim Society V. Authorizing Texts 12) The Religion of Publicists: The Qur’an, Before and After Printing 13) The Bible in Old and New Church Tradition in Imperial Russia. 14) The Qur’an of Catherine II: Text and Power VI. Aesthetics of the Written Word 15) Missionary Typography in Arabic Religious Texts and its Relationship with Orthodox and Muslim Sacred Printing in the 19 th Century 16) Word and Picture in Late Russian Icons

290 pages, cloth
ISBN: 978-615-5225-31-4 $60.00 / €55.00 / £50.00