Discontinuity or Continuity of Quranic Verses: Richard Bell's Theory

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Saeid Edalat Nejad


Richard Bell (1876-1952), a Scottish Islamic scholar and professor at the University of Edinburgh, was among the rare non-Muslim researchers who extended his studies beyond a purely historical examination of the Quran. He has conducted comprehensive research on the Quran from various literary, content-based, and interpretative perspectives. The more we delve into his accomplishments, the more we are impressed by his immense dedication and remarkable creativity, regardless of whether we agree with his findings or not. In addressing several critical issues in Quranic understanding, including the continuity or discontinuity of verses, he proposed multiple hypotheses and arrived at theories based on his own evidence. This paper delves into the innovative approach of Richard Bell to Quranic studies. It begins by providing a concise overview of his groundbreaking hypotheses and theories regarding the revelation, compilation, and codification of the Holy Quran. Subsequently, the paper examines Bell's methodology for dating Quranic verses. To highlight the significance of Bell's contributions, the paper presents examples of his proposals for establishing meaningful connections between seemingly disjointed verses within the Quranic text. Bell incorporates all his proposed semantic connections between verses in his translation of the Quran. Interested readers can consult his work and compare his suggestions with those offered by Muslim commentators in the margins of these same verses, a tradition as old as Quranic interpretation itself.


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Research Article (Persian)