Saturday, May 13, 2017

Peter E. Porman on Classical Scholarship and Arab Modernity

A very interesting chapter in Sarah C. Humphreys and Rudolf G. Wagner's Modernity's Classics (Springer 2013) by Peter E. Porman; Classical Scholarship and Arab Modernity , pp.123-141:

Here is an excerpt from the auther's conclusions

"We find many reflections and refractions of the role of classical studies in
contemporary Arab and Muslim societies. Ahmad ʿEtma¯n’s play The Goats of
Oxyrhynchus, for instance, engages on at least three levels with the classical past:
firstly, it draws on a Greek source; secondly, it considers Egypt’s relation to her
Hellenistic heritage; and thirdly, it comments critically on the place of this heritage
in modern Egypt. The struggle for modernity continues in many countries of the
Middle East. The interpretation of texts takes centre stage in this process. Here
classical studies have contributed significantly to debates about cultural and religious
authority and identity, as we have seen throughout this article. Again and
again, intellectuals who were trained in the methods of classical scholarship have
provoked controversy by offering interesting perspectives on the history of Arabic
and Islamic thought. These debates, to be sure, continue today with even greater
vigour, as Greek and Latin studies are thriving in Egypt."