Michel Cuypers, “And Yet It Moves: Reflection on an Essay by Nicolai Sinai” in Journal of Qur’anic Studies 22.2 (2020), 86‒104.
Michel Cuypers, A Qurʾānic apocalypse: A reading of the thirty-three last Sūrahs of the Qurʾān, Atlanta: Lockwood Press, 2018, 384 pages (collection “International Qurʾānic Studies Association, Studies in the Qurʾān”, 1).
The present volume closes a trilogy devoted to the exegesis of the Qurʾān analyzed according to the principles of Semitic rhetoric, a method of textual analysis developed in the field of biblical studies. It studies the shortest sūrahs of the Qur’ān, which are traditionally dated to the beginnings of the preaching of Muḥammad in Mecca. The reference to the initial vision of Muḥammad in Sūrah 81, the point of departure for his career as Prophet, provides the starting point of the study of this group of sūrahs. The analysis shows that the redactors who assembled the textual fragments of the Qurʾān into a book were guided by precise intentions. In the end, it is these intentions that the rhetorical analysis of the text enables us to discover and better understand.
Michel Cuypers, The composition of the Qur’an, Rhetorical analysis, Bloomsbury, London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney, 2015 (202 pages).
The text of the Qur’an appears to many to be desperately muddled and lacking any coherence. TheComposition of the Qur’an provides a systematic presentation of the writing processes (or rhetoric) and argues that there is indeed a coherence to the Qur’anic text. Michel Cuypers shows that the ancient Semitic texts, of which the Qur’an is a part, do not obey the Greek rhetoric and that their basic principle is therefore not progressive linearity, but symmetry which can take several forms, following precise rules. He argues that the knowledge of this rhetorical code allows for a radically new analysis of the structure and rhetoric of the Qur’an. Using copious amounts of examples from the text, The Composition of the Qur’an provides a new theoretical synthesis of Qur’anic rhetoric as well as a methodology for their application in further exegesis. A landmark publication in the field of Qur’anic Studies, this volume will be of interest to scholars and researchers in Islamic Studies, Religious Studies and Arabic Studies.
Michel Cuypers, The banquet: A reading of the fifth Sura of the Qur’an, Convivium Press, Miami, 2009 (565 pages).
Cuyper’s work is a ground-breaking contribution to Islamic-Christian studies and is being warmly received by the Islamic academic community. He applies recent methods of rhetorical textual studies to the analysis of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, which previously has been seen by many as a fragmented text with little sense of order. He has achieved a systematic and organised reading of the Qur’an text that is in absolute accordance with the Islamic faith, a task that has never before been accomplished. Both Muslim and Christian theologians around the world recognise his achievement as one of the most important contributions to an understanding of Islam based on Christian scholarship.
Michel Cuypers is from Belgium and lives in Hagaza, a small city near Luxor in Egypt. Born on 1941, he is a member of the Fraternity of the Little Brothers of Jesus (Father de Foucauld).
He lived twelve years in Iran, where he obtained a PhD in Persian literature at the University of Tehran and then worked at the University Press of Iran. He was one of the co-founders of Luqmân, a journal of iranology. Michel Cuypers left Iran in 1986 and, after studying Arabic, he became a researcher at IDEO (Cairo), where he focuses on the rhetoric analysis of the Qur’an.
You can find on this website an example of rhetoric analysis applied to the Fātiḥa, as well as sūrat al-Māʾida (in Arabic). You can also find an article on the comparaison between the Semitic rhetoric in the Qur’an and a Pharaonic papyrus.
In 2007, he published Le Festin. Une lecture de la sourate al-Mâ’ida (Collection «Rhétorique sémitique» n°3), Paris, Lethielleux, 2007, 453 pages. (English translation: The banquet: A reading of the fifth Sura of the Qur’an, Convivium Press, Miami, 2009, 565 pages). In 2009, this book was granted the “World Prize for the Book of the Year”, awarded by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance of the Republic of Iran as “one of the best new works in the field of Islamic studies”.
In March 2012, he published La Composition du Coran. نظم القرآن, Rhétorique sémitique, ed. Gabalda, Paris, 200 pages, a theoretical book in which he explains the application of Semitic rhetoric to the Qur’an. English translation: The composition of the Qur’an, Rhetorical analysis, Bloomsbury, London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney, 2015, 202 pages.
In January 2014, he published Une apocalypse coranique. Une lecture des trente-trois dernières sourates du Coran, éd. Gabalda, Pendé (France), 364 pages, in which he summarizes and develops his previous articles on the latest chapters of the Qur’an.
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