Academic Programs 

Readings in Yusuf (SC-624)
Fall 2008

The Qur’an is the primary authority in Islam, and Arabic – the language in which Muslims believe the Qur’an to have been revealed by God as God’s eternal word – is the primary language for the religious expression of Islam. It is revered as such by Muslims throughout the world, whatever their vernacular languages may be. Islamic orthodoxy insists that the Qur’an ceases to be the eternal word of God when it is translated into any other language. Translations are paraphrases, and paraphrases are interpretations.

This course is designed to assist participants in their journey of learning to read the Qur’an in Arabic by using Surah 12 in its entirety as the text. The course is not a language course in the common sense of teaching people to read, write, and speak modern Arabic the way it is spoken the Middle East today. Its aim, rather, is both linguistic and theological: to develop linguistic facility in the classical grammar and vocabulary of Arabic in relation to Qur’anic usage; to deepen participants’ appreciation of the aesthetic qualities of the Qur’an in Arabic; and to understand Qur’anic teaching through direct encounter with the text.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:50 p.m., beginning Sept. 11

Steven Blackburn
Faculty Associate in Semitic Scriptures

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9561


Course Syllabus

Assessment of performance will be based upon:

  1. Class participation (25%)
  2. A paper of at least 10 pages based on a topic such as (but not limited to) discussion of a theological controversy over a passage; a linguistic analysis of variant readings; treatment of a Qur’anic personage or theme; the role of a passage in Muslim devotional life and religious practice; the use of the Qur’an in education in the Muslim world; the art of chanting the Qur’an; the relation of Surah 12 to the Story of Joseph in Genesis; implications of Yusuf for inter-religious dialogue; the place of the Prophets in Abrahamic religions; and so on. The topic should be chosen by the time of the mid-term in consultation with the Professor; the paper is due the last day of class (25%)
  3. A mid-term covering vocabulary, syntax, and interpretation (25%)
  4. A final exam, covering an “unseen” portion of the Qur’an (25%)

There are no set textbooks for the course, but students may wish to purchase appropriate dictionaries. The premier volume is Penrice’s Dictionary and Glossary of the Kor-an.

Books dealing with the Qur’an and its interpretation will be put on reserve in the Seminary Library.


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500