David in the Muslim Tradition: The Bathsheba Affair.

Author:Reeves, John C.
Position:Book review
 
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David in die Muslim Tradition: The Bathsheba Affair. By KHALEEL MOHAMMED. Lanham. MD: LEXINGTON BOOKS. 201.5. Pp. ix + 225. $85, [pounds sterling]51.95.

Exploring the rich treasuries of traditional lore surrounding scriptural characters and prophets is becoming an increasingly popular endeavor. The present volume contributes to the advancement of this important field of study by providing a number of significant textual resources and critical observations that focus on the ways in which the character of the Israelite king and psalmist David, a figure who enjoys varying levels of notoriety in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim literature, has been assessed by Muslim commentators (mufassirun). While the name of David occurs sixteen times in the Quran, the author chooses to focus on one particukir passage (Q 38:21-25). which appears to intersect with the extensive biblical narrative that describes a sordid criminal plot involving David, his involvement in the murder of Uriah the Hittite, his lust for and seduction of Bathsheba, and his eventual condemnation for orchestrating these events by his own court prophet Nathan (2 Sam 11-12). These unseemly behaviors threaten to undermine the pious reputation that David displays in later bibhcal literature such as that produced by the Chronicler Writings found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian New Testament show that David acquired the status of a "prophet" and enjoyed that label's aura of rectitude by the end of the first century C.E. While the names of Uriah, Bathsheba, and Nathan do not figure in this quranic passage, the continuing circulation of biblical and para-biblical sources (Isra[??]iliyyat), which communicated and commented upon "the Bathsheba affair," ensured that this troubling episode could not simply be ignored by later exegetes. commentators, and tale anthologists.

The book consists of seven chapters, the heart of which (chapters two to five) supplies an extensive chronological survey and selected translations of the quranic commentaries (tafasir) that the author has chosen to represent the dominant trends in the interpretation of this quranic pericope. In chapter one the author provides a detailed introduction summarizing previous studies of the figure of David in Islamic literature, giving a valuable overview of the genre of tafsir, or the classical exegetical tradition expounding Quran, and explaining the organizational principles behind his presentation of interpreters in the...

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