The Development of Exegesis in Early Islam

The Authenticity of Muslim Literature from the Formative Period

By Herbert Berg

© 2000 – Routledge

252 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415554169
pub: 2009-12-17
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780700712243
pub: 2000-07-21
US Dollars$190.00

About the Book

The most important debate in Islamic origins is that of the reliability of the lists of transmitters (isnads) that are said to guarantee the authenticity of the materials to which they are attached. Many scholars have come to the conclusion that most traditions (hadiths), which claim to preserve the words and deeds of Muhammad and early Muslim scholars, are spurious. Other scholars defend hadiths and their isnads, arguing for an early continuous written transmission of these materials. The first purpose of this study is to summarize and critique the major positions on the issue of the authenticity of hadiths in general and exegetical hadiths in particular. The second purpose is to devise a means of evaluating isnads that does not rely on circular arguments and to use it to determine if the hadiths in the Tafsir of al-Tabari, attributed to Ibn 'Abbas, are genuine.


'The Western scholarly exploration of Islamic origins is alive and well. A very useful overview of the state of the field' - The Expository Times

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Qur'an

In its examination of critical issues in the scholarly study of the Qur'an and its commentaries, this series targets the disciplines of archaeology, history, textual history, anthropology, theology and literary criticism. The contemporary relevance of the Qur'an in the Muslim world, its role in politics and in legal debates are also dealt with, as are debates surrounding Quranic studies in the Muslim world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General