The Qur'anic Mary in the Light of Rabbinic Texts

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This article deals with the identity of the figure of Maryam, who is mentioned numerous times in the Qur'an. Maryam is called in the holy book of Islam the ‘sister of Aaron’ and ‘the daughter of ʿImrān’, and is also described as the mother of Jesus. This seeming contradiction regarding Maryam's identity has occupied classical Qur’an commentators as well as modern researchers. This article tracks the changes in Western research on the Qur'an regarding this issue to show how the trend in research has changed from a general position in which most researchers argued that the issue arises from a Muslim confusion to an approach that parallels to a greater extent the approach of Islamic exegesis, according to which all the qur’anic references to Maryam are to the same woman, who is the mother of Jesus. This article supports the earlier position that two separate Maryams — the sister of Moses and the mother of Jesus — have overlapped in the figures described in the relevant scriptural passages. My thesis differs, however, in positing that this simultaneity is ‘deliberate’, and reflects certain Pentateuchal and Rabbinic literary practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-158
Number of pages30
JournalIslam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Judeo-Christian chronology in the Qur'an
  • Mary
  • Maryam
  • Miriam
  • biblical literature


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