Materials for the history of the text of the Qur'an: the old codices
Materials for the history of the text of the Qur'an: the old codices | edited by Arthur JeffreyConcluding essay on materials for the history of the text of the Qur'an by Arthur Jeffery.To sum up, the significance of the new material is in its illustration of Goldziher's contention that in the case of no other canonical Scripture do we have such a picture of confusion in the earliest stages of the text as we have in the case of the Qur'an. Bergsträsser's great hope was to bring some order into that confusion, and now at last, unless we are totally self-deceived we begin to see some semblance of order emerging. By attacking the problem of the Old Codices and assembling what has survived to us of the textual variants from this earliest stage, we are able to sketch an outline of the development of the text, and see -1) that there was no official first Recension under Abü Bakr.2) that the first official Recension was that made by 'Uthman and his commission.3) that 'Uthman's Recension was made on a first hand collection of material from the sources. It is not unlikely that the material collected by Abü Bakr and left in Hafsa's possession was one of these sources. If the new theory that the TR is based on material assembled by the Prophet himself is correct, this material may have been the basis of 'Uthman's collection, and many of the odd pieces, awkward duplicates, etc., which Dr. Bell finds difficult to fit in, may on this theory have been pieces that came to 'Uthman's commission from other sources, and had to be pieced in some. where as they came in.4) that there were several earlier collections of revelation material made by members of the community, some of which cane to have the authority of Metropolitan Codices in the various centres of the expanding empire of Islam. Only in the case of the Codices of Ubai and Ibn Mas'ud do we have a sufficient number of variants to see clearly the independence of their text tradition, but in the other cases the little evidence in our hands in most cases points in that direction, so that we can definitely speak of the stage of the Old Codices.5) that even after the promulgation of the official 'Uthmanic text there continued in use subsidiary Codices, some of which carried on the tradition of the Metropolitan Codices, particularly that of Ibn Mas'ud, and some of which were Codices presenting a mixed text.6) that al-Hajjaj b.Yusuf attempted to do away with these subsidiary Codices, and to fix more definitely the Madinan text tradition as canonized in the 'Uthmanic text.7) that the variants from the Old Codices may in general be confidently used for purposes of textual criticism of the Qur'an, since they are on the whole very much the types of variants we find associated with the text of the Scriptures of other faiths, and it is by no means true that in a majority of cases they must be explained as attempts to improve on the canonical text.8) that though our information as to the text of these Old Codices is very meagre, each new accession of material has progressively made clearer the independence and significance of their text tradition. Our information is still too slender to support a judgment as to the character of the text in these Old Codices such as we give with regard to the Neutral, or the Caesarean or the Western text of the Gospels, but that in a goodly proportion of the readings quoted from them, we find them setting down a text which to them was still a living thing, seems established.9) that the next step in our study of the text of the Qur'an is still the same step to which Bergsträsser pointed when he dropped his own work on the history of the Qur'ánic text, namely, the systematic search for more material. Orthodox Islam has been indifferent to the study of the text, being largely content with accepting TR as the very word of Allah. We know that a great many works on the Codices and the early qira'at were once in existence. Bergsträsser's own efforts brought to light the works of Ibn Khalawaih and Ibn Jinni. Since then we have luckily recovered Ibn Abi Dawud, al-'Ukbari, al-Marandi and al-Kirmani. These must be edited and published, and the plans for this are already laid. There is no doubt that diligent search would bring to light other lost works on the text. The reason so much in this Critical Essay is indefinite is that on the scraps of information available one hesitates to give a judgement. We are able to see things now much more clearly than Bergsträsser could in 1926, and with further accessions of material there is no doubt but that we could further clarify the picture, and perhaps reach the place where we could give an accurate account of the earliest stage in the development of the text of the Qur'an.