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Dialogue of Scriptures

The Tatar Tefsir in the Context of Biblical and Qur’anic Interpretations


Joanna Kulwicka-Kaminska

This book focuses on Muslim–Christian cultural relations across a number of centuries. As for the methodology, the book represents an intersection of religious studies, linguistics and translations studies. The bases of research are a Tatar tefsir and 19th- and 20th-century printed translations of the Qur’an into Polish. In the period of the Reformation, the Tatar adherents of Sunni Islam conducted the dialogue with Christianity. They translated the Qur’an into Polish already in the second half of the 16th century. They used the Arabic alphabet to record the translation and conferred the form of a tefsir to it. Who were the Tatar translators? Did they break the ban on the translation of the Holy Book of Islam? What sources did they use? How did they translate the Muslim religious terminology? Why is their translation of the Qur’an not familiar to researchers? These are only a few questions which are explored in this work.

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1 The problems of the translation of the Bible and the Qur’an


1The problems of the translation of the Bible and the Qur’an

1.1 Extra-linguistic factors – the role of the Reformation

The second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century is the golden age of Polish culture and language.

The Reformation is undoubtedly one of the most important extra-linguistic factors having an impact on the emergence of European literature, based on national languages, including Polish, and not on Latin, which was a commonly used language until that time. Translations of the Scripture into vernacular languages contributed to the emergence in the late Middle Ages of literature in national languages, and the language of the Bible, especially its vocabulary and phraseology, played a significant role in the development of various European languages292.

One of the main reasons for the emergence of the Reformation movement is the belief that the Scripture is the only source of the true faith revealed to man by God. Therefore, it was a turning to the Bible as the sole authority in matters of faith. The starting point of theology – of whatever denomination – became the doctrinal principle of sola Scriptura, which was a consequence of the philological humanist maxim ad fontes, i.e. the recognition of the Scripture as the primary and the only source of knowledge of God. In practice, it adopted the form of recommendation that every Christian should read the Bible every day by oneself, which was made possible mostly due to the...

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