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July 4-15, 2005


Bookish Traditions: Authority and the Book in Scripturalist Religions


Director of the course:
Aziz Al-Azmeh (CEU ) & Nadia Al-Bagdadi (CEU)

Director e-mail:

Csilla Dobos

Coordinator(s) e-mail:



As a follow-up to our Summer School 2004 “Reconsidering Islamic Reformism in Comparative Perspective”, and in anticipation of the possibility of nursing the growth of comparative religion at the CEU, we are shifting the focus for 2005 to reflect both the outcome of the 2004 Summer School and the need to work more strongly in comparative terms with other religious traditions.
For Latin Christianity religious Reform could not exist without a reconsideration of Scripture in terms of the technical and conceptual means that became to a large extent central as they crystallized with the advent of print culture and the rise of humanistic philology correlative with it. Both generated a notion of textual and interpretative definitiveness, facilitated by the techniques adumbrated by humanist antiquarianism and energized by the Reformation slogan ad fontes. The subsequent rise of positivism in historical study in the nineteenth century completed this movement. A broadly parallel, but by no means identical, development holds true for Islam or Orthodox Christianity. In both, manuscript culture and traditional philology lasted long into the nineteenth century before developments took place that laid the grounds for Muslim reform (but paradoxically not for reform in Orthodox Christianity) as well as reformed and modernized forms of Hinduism and Buddhism. Scripture acquired a very new conception in terms of this process, and the proposal below seeks to describe, analyze and take stock of this shift in terms both of notions of scripture antedating it, and of its outcomes for major world religions.

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