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Near Eastern Studies Faculty Books

Kalila Wa Dimna: for Students of Arabic

Overview

Kalila wa Dimna is a well-known Arabic literary classic collection of fables about people and animals that has long been enjoyed by Arab children and adults alike. In this illustrated rendition, Younes retells these fables in simplified language for intermediate and advanced students of Arabic. Compact Disks accompany the text to provide three hours of audio.

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Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires

Overview

Based on the archaeology of ancient Persia and the South Caucasus, Imperial Matter advances powerful new analytical approaches to the study of imperialism writ large and should be read by scholars of empire across the humanities and social sciences.

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Shalom: A Comprehensive Course in Modern Hebrew

Overview

There are four volumes to this textbook.

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"As for me, I will dwell at Mizpah..." : The Tell en-Nasbeh Excavations after 85 Years

Overview

Between 1926 and 1935 William F. Bad? excavated Tell en-Nasbeh (biblical Mizpah of Benjamin) and uncovered approximately two-thirds of this eight-acre site, providing an unmatched view of a typical rural Israelite town in the hill country in the Iron Age.

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Zayd

Overview

Although Muhammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity, Islamic sources report that he adopted a man named Zayd shortly before receiving his first revelation. This "son of Muhammad" was the Prophet's heir for the next fifteen or twenty years. He was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muhammad whose name is mentioned in the Qur'an. Eventually, Muhammad would repudiate Zayd as his son, abolish the institution of adoption, and send Zayd to certain death on a battlefield in southern Jordan. Curiously, Zayd has remained a marginal figure in both Islamic and Western scholarship. David S. Powers now attempts to restore Zayd to his rightful position at the center of the narrative of the Prophet Muhammad and the beginnings of Islam. To do so, he mines traces left behind in commentaries on the Qur'an, in biographical dictionaries, and in historical chronicles, reading these sources against analogues in the Hebrew Bible. Powers demonstrates that in the accounts preserved in these sources, Zayd's character is modeled on those of biblical figures such as Isaac, Ishmael, Joseph, and Uriah the Hittite. This modeling process was deployed by early Muslim storytellers to address two key issues, Powers contends: the bitter conflict over succession to Muhammad and the key theological doctrine of the finality of prophecy. Both Zayd's death on a battlefield and Muhammad's repudiation of his adopted son and heir were after-the-fact constructions driven by political and theological imperatives.

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The Integrated Approach to Arabic Instruction

Overview

Leading teacher of Arabic, Munther Younes, explores the realities of teaching Arabic as a foreign language (AFL) and outlines his groundbreaking approach to instruction, tried and tested over many years at Cornell University.

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Jewishness and the Human Dimension

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Jewishness and the Human Dimension is a leading scholar’s progress report on an effort to bring Jewishness broadly construed into dialogue with a wide range of thought in contemporary criticism, while linking those themes in turn to the question of planetary crisis.
 

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The Compunctious Poet: Cultural Ambiguity and Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain

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Brann examines a major theme of Medieval Hebrew poetry: the unease of poets writing secular verse at odds with what they held sacred. He sees this unease as both a key to the literary history of the period and as an emblem of the particular form of cultural ambiguity unique to Andalusian Jewish society.

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Guardians of Letters: Literacy, Power, and the Transmitters of Early Christian Literature

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Who were the scribes that copied early Christian literature during the second and third centuries? What roles did they play in the reproduction and dissemination of these writings? To answer these questions, this study utilizes evidence from early Christian literature and the earliest Christian papyri--including their form, physical features, and textual characteristics.

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The Gendered Palimpsest: Women, Writing, and Representation in Early Christianity

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Books and bodies, women and books, and the malleable word and flesh lie thematically at the center of The Gendered Palimpsest, which explores the roles that women played in the production, reproduction, and dissemination of early Christian books, and how the representation of female characters was contested through the medium of writing and copying. The book is organized in two sections, the first of which treats historical questions: To what extent were women authors, scribes, book-lenders, and patrons of early Christian literature? How should we understand the representation of women readers in ascetic literature? The second section of the book turns to text-critical questions: How and why were stories of women modified in the process of copying? And how did debates about asceticism--and, more specifically, the human body--find their way into the textual transmission of canonical and apocryphal literature?

Throughout the book, Haines-Eitzen uses the notion of a palimpsest in its broadest sense to highlight the problems of representation, layering, erasure, and reinscription. In doing so, she provides a new dimension to the gendered history of early Christianity.

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Muhammad is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet

Overview

The Islamic claim to supersede Judaism and Christianity is embodied in the theological assertion that the office of prophecy is hereditary but that the line of descent ends with Muhammad, who is the seal, or last, of the prophets.

While Muhammad had no natural sons who reached the age of maturity, he is said to have adopted a man named Zayd, and mutual rights of inheritance were created between the two. Zayd b. Muhammad, also known as the Beloved of the Messenger of God, was the first adult male to become a Muslim and the only Muslim apart from Muhammad to be named in the Qur'an. But if prophecy is hereditary and Muhammad has a son, David Powers argues, then he might not be the Last Prophet. Conversely, if he is the Last Prophet, he cannot have a son.

In Muhammad Is Not the Father of Any of Your Men, Powers contends that a series of radical moves were made in the first two centuries of Islamic history to ensure Muhammad's position as the Last Prophet. He focuses on narrative accounts of Muhammad's repudiation of Zayd, of his marriage to Zayd's former wife, and of Zayd's martyrdom in battle against the Byzantines. Powers argues that theological imperatives drove changes in the historical record and led to the abolition or reform of key legal institutions. In what is likely to be the most controversial aspect of his book, he offers compelling physical evidence that the text of the Qur'an itself was altered.

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Scales of Fate: Trade, Tradition, and Transformation in the Eastern Mediterranean ca. 1350–1175 BCE

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The aim is to clarify and problematize the socioeconomic roles of entrepreneurs (including merchants, traders, creditors, and financiers) in Late Bronze Age societies of the Eastern Mediterranean world. The region is bounded by kingdoms of the 14th to early 12th century BCE as represented in archives of clay tablets written in cuneiform and linear scripts. This encompasses an area stretching from the Aegean to Assyria and from Hatti to Egypt at a time of unprecedented sophistication in international relations. Monroe focuses on long-distance commerce in particular because it was, where trade is documented, the most lucrative and arguably most socioeconomically influential, form of exchange. By closely examining the practices and organization of entrepreneurs and their role in social and economic relationships, Monroe empirically and theoretically orients the analysis toward exchange relations. In broadest terms, this analysis reveals that professional traders constituted a highly dynamic, even destabilizing, force in society that was checked by more traditional institutions. Even as traditionalism balanced the entrepreneurial elements of society, trade activities brought about material and ideological changes that transformed culture and the lives of those living within it.

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Law, Society, and Culture in the Maghrib, 1300-1500

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David Powers analyzes the application of Islamic law through six cases which took place during the period 1300 to 1500 in the Maghrib. The source for these disputes are fatwas issued by the muftis, which Powers uses to situate each case in its historical context and to interpret the principles of law. He demonstrates that, contrary to popular stereotypes, muftis were dedicated to reasoned argument. The book represents a ground-breaking approach to a complex subject area for students and scholars.

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Dispensing Justice in Islam

Overview

Dispensing Justice is designed to serve as a sourcebook of Islamic legal practice and qadi court records from the rise of Islam to modern times, drawing upon court records and qadi judgments, in addition to literary sources. In the first chapter, we survey the state of the field, sketching the history, structure, and modern transformation of the qadiship. The twenty chapters that follow are grouped thematically in four sections: (1) the nature and functions of the judgeship and its development over time; (2) the structure of the judicial apparatus; (3) the application of juristic thought and reasoning to specific cases in selected areas of the law; and (4) judicial procedure and the different forms of evidence. The volume fills a large gap in Islamic legal history.

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Renewing the Past, Reconfiguring Jewish Culture: From al-Andalus to the Haskalah

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In a penetrating exploration of the various ways memories and representations of the Jewish past have been reconfigured in new historical circumstances, Renewing the Past, Reconfiguring Jewish Culture focuses on two key eras of encounter between Jews and non-Jews: the golden age of Sephardic culture in Islamic al-Andalus, on the one hand, and on the other, the period of the European Enlightenment and the Jewish Enlightenment, or Haskalah, which it inspired. The writings assembled here engage with key issues to understand how in both epochs the cultural orientation of Jewish society was profoundly reassessed and transformed by new influences filtering in from outside.

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Josiah's Reform and the Dynamics of Defilement

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Josiah, who systematically destroyed the cult places and installations where his own people worshipped in order to purify Israelite religion and consolidate religious authority in the hands of the Jerusalem temple priests. This violent assertion of Israelite identity is portrayed as a pivotal moment in the development of monotheistic Judaism.

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Ordinary Egyptians

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This book examines how, from the 1870s until the eve of the 1919 revolution, popular media and culture provided ordinary Egyptians with a framework to construct and negotiate a modern national identity.

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Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff

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Mongrels or Marvels offers Kahanoff's most influential and engaging writings, selected from essays and works of fiction that anticipate contemporary concerns about cultural integration in immigrant societies.

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Life at the Bottom of Babylonian Society

Overview

This monograph uses traditional philological analysis of cuneiform records and the application of quantitative studies and historical-ethnographic comparisons to achieve a better understanding of the social and economic forces that affected the servile population of Kassite Babylonia.

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The Development of Islamic Law and Society in the Maghrib: Qudis, Muftis, and Family Law

Overview

The eleven essays in this collection treat the application of Islamic law in the Maghrib in the period between 1100 and 1500. The essays examine family law cases involving legal minority, guardianship, divorce, inheritance, bequests and endowments. Cumulatively, the cases bear witness to the effectiveness and efficiency of the Islamic legal system in this period.

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Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture and Empire

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This book examines contemporary literary and film representations of Egypt's colonial cosmopolitan era. Taking a theoretical, literary and historical approach, the author argues that the notion of the cosmopolitan is inseparable from, and indebted to, its foundation in empire.

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Power in the Portrayal: Representations of Jews and Muslims in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain

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Power in the Portrayal unveils a fresh and vital perspective on power relations in eleventh- and twelfth-century Muslim Spain as reflected in historical and literary texts of the period.

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