Philip Jenkins argues in Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses that, though “a few passages in the Hadith are venomously anti-Jewish,” none in the Qur’an are. And the anti-Jewish statements in the Qur’an derive, he suggests, from Jewish sources:

“Historians have long known that Islam emerged within Jewish and Christian cultural environments, and scholars increasingly see the breach between the different traditions - and the emergence of Islam as a separate faith - as a lengthy and uneven process spread over several decades.”

This history is traceable within the Qur’an itself: “While faithful Muslims recoil from any suggestion that the Qur’an draws on earthly influences, many modern scholars believe that both Jewish and Christian texts and traditions underlie portions of the eventual scripture. Among those were rabbinic commentaries that, among other things, recounted stories of Moses and his battles with the faithless Hebrews of his time, backsliders whom he variously denounced and cursed. Some of the Qur’an’s most hair-raising condemnations of Jewish sinners probably come from this exact stratum of tales, in which Jewish writers recorded prophetic condemnations of fellow Jews” (86-7).

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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