Law, Structure, and Meaning in Surat al-Baqarah

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Joseph E. Lowry

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Abstract

This article uses the legal passages in Surat al-Baqarah to index the surah's themes and structure. A consideration of all the surah’s legal passages shows that they contribute to a narrative of covenantal succession that structures Surat al-Baqarah as a whole. The main legal passages in the surah (vv. 178–203, 215–242) form a “Neo-Covenantal Code” to govern the civil and ritual life of the qur'anic community. Other legal passages invoke biblical law (vv. 83–84), distinguish the qur'anic community’s ritual practices from those of pagan and earlier biblical communities (vv. 142–177), and provide specific guidance on matters of charity, finance, and commerce (vv. 261–283). Although Surat al-Baqarah’s narrative arc culminates in readying the qur'anic community, as successors to the Covenant, for military conflict, the placement of passages relating to certain matters of commercial law near the surah's end may indicate a secondary process of composition.


doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.31441/jiqsa.2.2017.a006

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