Eric Ormsby

Found in Translation

The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the ‘People of the Book' in the Language of Islam


Princeton University Press 255pp £19.95 order from our bookshop

The biblical figures who throng the pages of the Koran appear at once long-familiar and oddly alien. Abraham, Moses and Pharaoh, Joseph and Jacob, Jesus and Mary have all taken on the aspect of expatriates, friends whom we once knew well but who have now come home indefinably transformed; they have picked up new accents and exotic mannerisms; they make puzzling pronouncements not heard before. True, Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) is still the ‘friend of God’, as in Jewish and Christian tradition, but Jesus is regularly described as the ‘son of Mary’, in tacit refutation of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, for, as an early Koranic verse has it, God ‘neither begets nor is begotten’. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,
    • 'I did occasionally wonder whether Rupert Murdoch ... might have instructed his editors at William Collins to produ… ,