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Online publication date:
June 2023
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Book description

This innovative study compares nineteenth-century Arabic translations of the Bible to determine how it emerged as a foundational text of Arab modernity. Bible translation gained global traction through the work of Anglophone Christian missionaries, who made an attempt at synchronising translated Bibles in world languages by laying down strict guidelines and supervising the processes of translation and dissemination. By engaging with the intellectual beginnings of two local translators, Butrus al-Bustani (1819-1883) and Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1804-1887), as well as their subsequent contributions to Arabic language and literature, this book questions to what extent they complied with the missionaries' strategy in practice. Based on documents from the archives of Bible societies that tell the story of two key nahda versions of the text, we come to understand how colonial pressure was secondary to the process of incorporating the Bible into the nahda project of rethinking Arabic.

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