Dr Martin Whittingham
M.A. (Cantab), B.A. (London School of Theology/CNAA), M.A. (London School of Theology/Brunel), Ph.D. (Edinburgh)
I am director of CMCS, and also an associate member of the Theology and Religion faculty of Oxford University and a Research Fellow at Regent’s Park College Oxford.
Following degrees in English Literature, Christian Theology, and a doctorate in Islamic Studies, I currently work on Muslim perceptions of the Bible and Christianity. I also have strong interests in the history of Muslim-Christian relations more widely, and am always eager to persuade people that in the field of Muslim-Christian relations, we really do need to understand the past in order to engage properly with the present.
I teach undergraduates and supervise postgraduates both within Oxford University and for other institutions.
A History of Muslim Views of the Bible. Volume 1: The Bible and Muslim Identity Formation – manuscript submitted to De Gruyter, Berlin
This work, the first of a two volume project, examines Muslim responses to the Bible from the rise of Islam to 1064CE, the death of the famous polemicist Ibn Hazm. It looks at Muslim criticisms and also uses of the Bible, exploring issues of continuity and change, identifying key figures and the origins of controlling ideas. It thereby seeks to shed light on the foundations of Muslim views, and how they have been adopted and adapted up to the present. A second volume will cover the period following Ibn Hazm up to the modern day.
Al-Ghazālī and the Qur’ān: One Book, Many Meanings (London: Routledge, 2007 (Hardback), 2011 (Paperback)).
This work is a study of what Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d.505/1111) – perhaps the most famous theologian and thinker of the classical Islamic period – said about interpreting the Qur’an. First, it examines his theories of Qur’an interpretation, and then explores his actual interpretive practice, opening up some of the main categories of Qur’an interpretation in Muslim thought.
Persian translation of Chapter 5, ‘Syllogisms as the Steps to Heaven: Al-Qisṭas al-Mustaqīm, trans. Ali Aghaei, in: Ghazālī Pazhoohī [Studies on Ghazālī] , ed. S. Hedayat Jalili (Tehran, 2010): 401-28.
Book contributions and edited works
‘Muslims and the Bible’ in The Routledge Handbook of Christian-Muslim Relations (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 269-278.
This chapter gives an overview of Muslim responses to the Bible since around 900CE, exploring both criticism and use of the Bible by Muslims.
‘Al-Ghazali on Syllogistic Logic as a Source of Certainty About the Qur’an’, in 900 Jahre al-Ġazali im Spiegel der islamischen Wissenschaften (Osnabrück: V&R Academic, 2015) pp. 127-38.
This paper explores how al-Ghazali thought certainty about the truthfulness of the Qur’an can be obtained. It looks in particular at the question of mutawātir (recurrent) transmission and how it provides certainty by impressing the conviction of the Qur’an’s truthfulness on the mind of the believer.
‘Christian-Muslim Relations in Britain in Historical Context’, in S. Bell and C. Chapman (eds.), Between Naivety and Hostility: uncovering the best Christian responses to Islam in Britain (Milton Keynes: Authentic, 2011), pp. 64-77.
An overview of some key points in the history of Muslim-Christian relations and the lessons that might be learned from them.
‘Al-Ghazālī on Jews and Christians’, in B. Roggema, M. Poorthuis and P. Valkenberg (eds.), The Three Rings. Textual studies in the historical trialogue of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Leuven: Peeters, 2005), pp. 203-216.
How al-Ghazālī wrote about Christians and Jews, including the prospects for their salvation, and why Christians are mistaken about the crucifixion. The chapter consists of short translations of selected passages, with commentary on them.
Academic and Reference Articles
‘Ibn Khaldūn’, in D. Thomas and A. Mallett (eds.), Christian-Muslim Relations: a Bibliographical History, Vol. 5 (1350-1500) (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 300-308.
A treatment of the views on Christianity and the Bible by one of the most famous Muslim thinkers of all time.
‘Ezra as the Corrupter of the Torah? Re-assessing Ibn Ḥazm’s role in the long history of an idea’, Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 1 (2013), pp. 253-271.
This article scrutinises the place of Ibn Hazm, probably the most bitter critic of the Bible, in promoting the idea that Ezra re-wrote the Torah. It suggests that Ibn Hazm’s supposed role in influencing critical Biblical scholarship on this point is unlikely to be as significant as sometimes thought.
‘The Value of Taḥrīf Ma‘nawī (Corrupt Interpretation) as a Category for Analysing Muslim Views of the Bible: Evidence from al-Radd al-jamīl and Ibn Khaldūn’, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 22:2 (2011), pp. 209-222.
The category of ‘corrupt interpretation’ is commonly used by Muslims to explain the nature of Biblical corruption, alongside [or in contrast to] the category of corruption of the actual biblical text. This paper suggests that the category is not a particularly helpful analytical tool, since many Muslims who use it nevertheless reject central biblical texts about Jesus, his death and resurrection, bringing them close to the same position as those who claim textual corruption.
‘How Could So Many Christians be Wrong? The Role of Tawātur (Recurrent Transmission of Reports) in Understanding Muslim Views of the Crucifixion’, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 19:2 (2008), pp. 167-178.
The lack of mutawātir (recurrent) transmission is a common Muslim criticism of the biblical text. This paper examines how it frames Muslim denials of an otherwise widely accepted event, the crucifixion of Jesus.
‘Inspiration’ and ‘Prophecy’ in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Islamic Civilisation and Religion, ed. I.R. Netton (London: Routledge, 2008).
‘Cross’ and ‘Crucifixion’, in the Encyclopaedia of the Bible and its Reception vol. 5 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012)
‘Al-Ghazali’, in the Encyclopaedia of the Bible and its Reception vol. 9 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2014)
‘Al-Ghazali’s Philosophical Theology’ by Frank Griffel (Oxford: OUP, 2009) American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 27:4 (2010), pp. 111-114.
‘Islam in Conflict’ by Peter G. Riddell and Peter Cotterell (Leicester: 2003) European Journal of Theology 14:1 (2005), pp. 66-67.
‘Al-Ghazali and the Ismailis’ by Farouk Mitha (London, 2001) Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 66:1 (2003), pp. 86-87.
‘Understanding Muslim Teachings and Traditions’ by Phil Parshall (Baker: 2002) Themelios 29:1 (2003), pp. 123-124.
‘Faith to Faith’ by Chawkat Moucarry (Leicester, 2001) Themelios 28:2 (2003), pp. 119-120.
‘Responses to 101 Questions on Islam’ by John Renard (New York, 1998) Themelios 25:2 (2000), pp. 127-128.
‘Partners or Prisoners? Christians thinking about Women and Islam’ by Ida Glaser and Napoleon John (Carlisle, 1998) Themelios 25:1 (1999), pp. 153-154.
‘Islam and the West: Conflict, Co-existence or Conversion?’ by Colin Chapman (Carlisle, 1998) Themelios 25:1 (1999), pp. 154-155.
‘“Deciding by the Gospel”: Some Protestant Christian Responses to the Qur’an since the Nineteenth Century’, delivered at Campion Hall Seminar Papers on “Christian Theological Engagement with Islam” (2012), part of the Georgetown-Campion Hall Partnership.