Joshua A. Sabih (dr.theo/dr.phil), is associate professor in Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Copenhagen. His teaching and research include Arabic, Hebrew, Jewish and Islamic Studies. He has published on subjects covering different fields of inquiry: Literature, Linguistics, Bible, Quran, philosophy, theology, Jewish-Karaite and Samaritan Studies, Jewish-Muslim relations, modern Arab and Jewish critical thought.
Jewish Orientalism: Arabische Literatur der Juden
In the beginning of Jewish ”adab”- Arabic Literature of the Jews - Jews became Arabs or began changing their Hebrew names into Arabic ones! Thus goes the story - as it is told by Moritz Steinschneider in his introduction to the Arabic literature of the Jews (1902) - of how Jews made their entry into the realm of adab of the Arabs and ended up looking, speaking and writing like them, though as a difference. In this process, “ Some Arabs have been considered as Jews because their works have been transcribed into Hebrew characters or have been translated into Hebrew language.” states Steinschneider.
In this paper, I shall re-visit the notion of Adab in its polysemic varieties and its representations in “Judeao-Arabic” literary system, with a especial focus on the early Jewish Orientalist scholarship. This paper shall also turn its critical gaze towards Steinschneider’s perception of Arabische Literatur der Juden, its genealogy and implications in contemporary debate about notions such as “Judaeo-Arabic”, “Arab-Jew”, “Arab-Jewish symbiosis” and adab.