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The Judaeo-Arabic commentary on Jonah by the Karaite Japheth ben Eli : introduction and translation

by Andruss, Jessica Hope

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis presents a translation and analysis of Japheth ben ?Eli the Karaite'stenth-century Judaeo-Arabic commentary on the book of Jonah. As with most Jewish exegetes in the medieval Islamic world, Japheth's approach to the Bible reflects his engagement with Karaite, Rabbinic and Mu'tazilite hermeneutics and theology. In order to understand the background of Japheth's work, this thesis examines his commentary in the context of other medieval Jewish interpretations of Jonah. The commentaries of Daniel al-Qumisi, Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi) and Eliezer of Beaugency, as well as the Jonah narrative from Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, bring the notable features of Japheth's commentary into sharper relief. Japheth's commentary is remarkable on several counts. It is the earliest systematic commentary on Jonah, and it offers a textually and theologically consistent reading of the prophet's adventures. Japheth's familiarity with Arabic theological discourse leads him to interpret the story of Jonah in light of Mu'tazilite doctrines such as ?i?ma (prophetic infallibility). The principle of ?i?ma conflicts with the conventional reading of Jonah's experiences as punishment for the prophet's disobedience. Therefore, Japheth reframes the entire narrative to illustrate the benefits of prophecy and the purposes of prophetic literature in the Bible.
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Advisor:

School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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