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Untitled Document


10 September 2003


Fables of the Ancients?
Folklore in the Qur’an
By Alan Dundes

The Koran — or the Qur’an, as most Muslims prefer — is the book upon which Islam is based. While scholars have long agreed that the sacred text existed first as an oral tradition, professor of anthropology and folklore Alan Dundes has examined the Qur’an through a distinctly different lens.

In this long paperback essay, Dundes documents instances of oral formulas, a central component of folklore, in order to confirm the text’s roots in the oral tradition. In addition, he has identified repeated use of folktale themes. Themes or parables are also in the Bible, as Jesus used them to convey his message. While Dundes systematically details each instance of an oral formula or thematic repetition, his novel approach is likely to engender controversy among religious scholars.

Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2003
89 pages