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The Scriptures and their origins: believing views and critical perspectives

by claire - published on


Le Coran des historiens
Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi and Guillaume Dye (dir.),
Paris, Éd. du Cerf, 2019.

One of the main interests of this research group is the study of religious corpora, their sources, their redaction and their process of canonization, as well as the edition of some special corpora. Christian apocryphal literature, the Manichean writings, the Gnostic and Hermetic corpuses, the texts of Qumran, the Qur’an and the Sunni and Shi’i hadith as well are approached in their continuity and mutual influences. A clear distinction is made between, on the one hand, the believers’ conceptions of the nature and origin of their sacred texts and, on the other hand, the results of scientific research on the sources and the history of the writing of these texts.


Jean-Daniel Dubois is currently working on a critical edition of the apocryphal text commonly known today as the Acta Pilati or the Gospel of Nicodemus. This edition will be published in the “Corpus Christianorum” series at Brepols. A second volume will be dedicated to Latin manuscripts. A first volume will be based on all the extent Greek manuscripts grouped according to their respective families (Georgian, Syriac, Palestinian and Coptic manuscripts).


| On Manichaeism

Jean-Daniel Dubois continues his work on Manichean writings and anti-Manichean polemics, in particular on the complexion of a translation with commentary of St. Augustine’s Contra Faustum (t. 2 and 3) and of a publication of Manichean hymns on the figure of Jesus. He deepens his research on the Basilidian Gnostic texts and contributes his expertise in the publication of Plotinus’ anti-gnostic treatises, a project led by Luciana Soarès Santoprete of Cluster 3.
Anna Van den Kerchove is currently working on a commented translation of the Coptic Manichean Kephalaia preserved in Berlin.



Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi was carrying out in 2018-2019 a major international project (with an international team of about 40 researchers), co-directed with Guillaume Dye (Free University of Brussels), entitled Le Coran des historiens. The aim is to produce a synthesis in three large volumes for a wide audience of all the scientific studies made on the Qur’an from the 19th century to the present day. The first volume contains "A monumental introduction to the world that saw the birth of the Qur’an" : its historical, religious, linguistic, legal, economic and geographical context, which makes it a "Crossroads of traditions and the meeting point of several religions of late antiquity" (Judaism, Christianity, but also Judaeo-Christianity, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism …), which raises the problems of the elaboration, writing and handwritten transmission of the Qur’an.
The other volumes contains commentaries of surah and groups of verses, using the glass of the historico-critical and philological approach.
"One of the surest means – but probably the slowest, alas – to appease the spirits (…) is to introduce history and geography into the examination of things of faith ".

Postscript :


Writing History in Syriac, Hellenism and Islam (in french)


On eating Manichean’s manias (french)