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Muhammad’s Miracles: Science, Faith, and the Prophet’s Tricks in Medieval East Norse Texts
Uppsala universitet, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Språkvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för nordiska språk.ORCID-id: 0000-0003-3890-4630
2017 (engelsk)Konferansepaper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Fagfellevurdert)
Abstract [en]

In this paper, I talk about the lives of the Prophet Muhammad found in vernacular saints’ lives (Old Swedish Legendary), devotional works (Consolation of the Soul), and travel descriptions (John Mandeville) from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Denmark and Sweden. The paper focuses on stories about how Muhammad deceived people into believing that he was a Prophet using tricks, natural phenomena, and his alleged medical condition: trained animals to appear to worship him, used magnets to create a floating coffin, and epilepsy to give the impression of divine ecstasy.

These lives of Muhammad are adaptations of works in Latin and German, while their presentation of Muhammad as a false prophet is traceable to Byzantine polemical authors, such as John of Damascus. The East Norse portrayal of Muhammad as a trickster owes a debt of gratitude to Gautier de Compiègne’s Otia de Machometi (before 1150). However, rather than the East Norse lives of Muhammad being free-standing works, they are found as integrated sections in collections of devotional and didactic works aimed at teaching and nurturing Christian piety in their readers. This is perhaps an unexpected textual context: why, for example, would a false Prophet be found in a collection of Christian saints’ lives? When the Qur’ān attributes no miracles to the Muhammad whatsoever, what is the reason for these Christian writers to do so and then to set about exposing them as false? Hermeneutical argumentation and strawman-polemics are key to understanding the purpose of “Muhammad’s miracles” among a readership that had little, if any, chance of ever coming into contact with Islam.

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
2017.
Emneord [en]
East Norse; Muhammad; miracles; Islamophobia
HSV kategori
Forskningsprogram
Nordiska språk; Idé- och lärdomshistoria; Religionshistoria
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-332099OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-332099DiVA, id: diva2:1151635
Konferanse
The Natural and the Supernatural in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds, University of Western Australia
Forskningsfinansiär
Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, KAW 2011.0248Tilgjengelig fra: 2017-10-24 Laget: 2017-10-24 Sist oppdatert: 2017-10-24

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