Bible and Quran



The Bible and the Quran are two of the most widely read books in history. Both have played key roles in the shaping of worldwide cultural systems. Ideals, taboos, collective imaginations – they are all traced, whether appropriate or not, to these texts. This religious and moral authority, real or alleged, has ensured that the Bible and Quran are often read from an orthodox perspective. In the course ‘Bible and Quran’ however, we will gain surprising insights by using historical-critical methods and approaches from the field of literary studies.

The Bible section of the course offers an introduction to the Bible as the Hebrew constitution-cum-library, which has served as a source for Western culture for centuries. But where exactly lie the Bible’s literary qualities? In the lectures we will investigate the origin and nature of the Biblical canon, its literary genres and narrative techniques, and we will discover the Bible’s impact on various Western cultural works.

The Quran section of the course introduces the student to a text that – at first glance – appears complicated and arduous to understand. After discussing various theories on the Quran’s genesis, we will shift our focus to the literary particularities of the text. In order to do so, we will look into the Arabian context of the seventh century. Moreover, we will discover that the Quran contains many elements that we recognise from elsewhere: Abraham, Joseph, Jesus and Mary figure in the Quran, as well as Alexander the Great. The way in which they and their stories appear tells us something about the life of texts and the religious convictions of the first Muslims. Lastly, we will look into modern interpretations of the Quran, from the late-nineteenth century to the present day.

Date, time, location and price

  • Date: 1 November - 15 December 2017 
  • Time: Wednesdays, 09:00 - 11.00 and Fridays, 13:00 - 15:00
  • Number of courses: 14
  • Location: Oudemanhuispoort, D0.09 (Wed) and D1.09 (Fri)
  • Price: 180 / 162 (discount price for AUV-members)

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Study material

  • W. M. Watt, (Bells) Introduction to the Qur’an (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995) € 30,- OR de Nederlandse vertaling: Inleiding tot de Koran (Utrecht: De Ploeg, s.a.) €15,-
  • Quran: The Qur’ān. A New Annotated Translation, tr. A.J. Droge (Sheffield: Equinox, 2014) € 35 OR in Dutch: Naar keus, één van de volgende twee Koranedities: De Koran, vert. J.H. Kramers (bew. Jaber/Jansen) Pocketeditie: €9,90, of De Koran, vert. Fred Leemhuis (Houten: Unieboek 1987) €39,-. 
    Arabisten hebben geen keus, zij moeten de Leemhuis-editie aanschaffen.
  • Bible: Adele Berlin, The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) (or later editions) €30 OR Dutch: De Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling (2003 of later) €35
  • A reader will be provided via the Blackboard page. 

Important information

Course type Open UvA-Course
Education Lectures
Semester/block Semester 1, block 2
Language English
Other You may only attend the lectures, not the seminars or other extras. It is not possible to partake in exams or obtain credits.  
Deadline registration 23 Oktober 2017 (subject to availability)


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After registration

Directly after signing up for a course you receive confirmation of your registration by e-mail. 


The tuition fee will be automatically deducted from your bank account. Registration for an Open UvA-Course for UvA employees is free. 


Blackboard is the digital learning environment of the University of Amsterdam and is used by all teachers and (regular) students of the UvA. Illustere School students may also use Blackboard. Your personal codes will be send to you by email.  


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