Muhammad and the Golden Bough

Muhammad and the Golden Bough : Reconstructing Arabian Myth

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Now in Paperback!Muhammad and the Golden BoughReconstructing Arabic MythJaroslav StetkevychConnects pre-Islamic Arabian myth to world mythic traditions.A Choice Outstanding Academic Book""Stetkevych succeeds brilliantly in reconstructing the myth of the destruction of the Thamud, an ancient people of north Arabia.... This book will add a new dimension to the study of Near Eastern and Mediterranean myth and legend."" -- Choice""Stetkevych's critical and wide-ranging perspective reveals a wealth of insights. This book is must reading for everyone in the field of religion and one of the most important works in recent years."" -- Religious Studies Review""The graceful writing, interdisciplinary scope, and hermeneutical depth should make it compelling reading for those interested in the mythos of Arabia before and at the birth of Islam and in comparable myths in neighboring civilizations."" -- MESA Bulletin""It opens up new dimensions of how to think about, how to study, how to see interrelationships in the ancient Arabian world and their connections with the Mediterranean world in general.... a stunning piece of work."" -- Chronicle of Higher EducationThrough its development of a methodology for analyzing the mythic and folkloric traditions of pre-Islamic Arabia and the process of their incorporation into Islamic myth and Qur'anic texts, Muhammad and the Golden Bough offers compelling insights for students of Islam, comparative religion, and cultural anthropology. By linking Arabic myth with a broad range of ancient and classical texts -- including Gilgamesh, Homer, and the Hebrew Bible -- the book makes a provocative contribution to biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies, classics, and comparative literature.Jaroslav Stetkevych is Professor Emeritus of Arabic Literature at the University of Chicago. He is author of The Modern Arabic Literary Language: Lexical and Stylistic Developments and The Zephyrs of Najd: The Poetics of Nostalgia in the Classical Arabic Nasib. His articles on classical and modern Arabic literature have appeared in Spanish, English, Arabic, and Ukrainian.ContentsIntroduction: Reclaiming Arabian MythThe Textual PuzzleThe Thamudic Backdrop to the PuzzleThe First Answer to the Puzzle: The Raid on TabukThe Totem and the TabooPoeticizing the ThamudDemythologizing the ThamudThe ScreamThe Arabian Golden Bough and Kindred Branches: Frazer, Vergil, Homer, and GilgameshConclusionshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 184 pages
  • 137.16 x 208.28 x 15.24mm | 226.8g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0253214130
  • 9780253214133
  • 1,049,138

Review quote

Until now Arabian myth has been ignored at the same time that other ancient Near Eastern myths have been studied at length. Stetkevych (Univ. of Chicago) succeeds brilliantly in reconstructing the myth of the destruction of the Thamud, an ancient people of north Arabia. His key to this myth is a canonical story of the discovery by the prophet Muhammad of a golden bough at the very site where the Thamud are thought to have been destroyed by a scourge from God. Through careful philological, historical, and literary analysis he sets the story of this golden bough in an ever-widening context of myth and legend, reaching back to Gilgamesh, the Bible, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid. James Frazer's The Golden Bough (1890, 1915) is examined and reevaluated in the light of the other golden bough myths. Stetkevych's argument for the existence of an autochthonous Arabian myth is entirely convincing, and this book will add a new dimension to the study of Near Eastern and Mediterranean myth and legend. Highly recommended for collections in folklore and mythology, ancient Near Eastern studies, and Islam.W. L. Hanaway, emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, 1997apr CHOICE.show more

Back cover copy

The richness of myth in Arab-Islamic culture has long been ignored or even denied. In Muhammad and the Golden Bough Jaroslav Stetkevych demonstrates the existence of a coherent pre-Islamic Arabian myth that was subsequently incorporated into Islamic poetic tradition and the Dur'an. The book dissects the intriguing Arab-Islamic myth built around Muhammad's unearthing of a "golden bough" from the grave of the last survivor of an ancient Arab people, the Thamud, who, according to the myth, were destroyed by a divine scourge for their iniquity. In the myth the episode of the slaying of the she-camel of the prophet Salih, which precipitates the downfall of the Thamud, is symbolically linked with Muhammad, the discoverer of the golden bough. Through its development of a methodology for analyzing the mythic and folkloric material of pre-Islamic Arabia and the process of its incorporation into Islamic myth and Qur'anic exegesis, Muhammad and the Golden Bough offers compelling insights for students of Islam, comparative religion, and anthropology.show more

Table of contents

Introduction: Reclaiming Arabian Myth 1. The Textual Puzzle 2. The Thamudic Backdrop to the Puzzle 3. The First Answer to the Puzzle: The Raid on Tabuk 4. The Totem and the Taboo 5. Poeticizing the Thamud 6. Demythologizing the Thamud 7. The Scream 8. The Arabian Golden Bough and Kindred Branches: Frazer, Vergil, Homer, and Gilgamesh Conclusionshow more

Rating details

32 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 19% (6)
4 44% (14)
3 25% (8)
2 9% (3)
1 3% (1)
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