In 1992, Alif, the journal of comparative poetics based in Cairo, published an extensive dialogue with Father Matta El-Meskeen, the renowned Coptic Orthodox monk, theologian, and scholar of patristic literature, celebrating the publication of his seminal work in theology, Commentary on the Gospel of John (1990), in three volumes. Three distinguished intellectual figures partook in the dialogue with Fr. Matta including Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid, Islamic thinker, and scholar of the Quran; Gaber Asfour, the renowned literary critic; and lastly, Hoda Wasfy, renowned theater critic and a professor of French literature at Cairo University. In his talk, Fouad Halbouni will focus on two interlocutors in conversation, Fr. Matta El-Meskeen and Nasr Abu Zeid respectively, in their different approaches to the hermeneutic traditions of exegesis and allegorical interpretation between orthodox Christianity and Islam by seeking to address the following set of questions: How do the two interlocutors explain the relation between holy scripture, exegete, and revelation in the context of their conversation and within the larger framework of their respective works? How do their own vocations as forms of life, as monk and scholar of Islam respectively, reflect their own understanding of interpretation of holy scripture and their approach to language and interpretation?
Coptic-Muslim Hermeneutics: A Conversation between Matta El-Meskeen and Nasr Abu Zeid
Fouad Halbouni (EUME Fellow 2021-23), Chair: Islam Dayeh (Freie Universität Berlin)
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin
Fouad Halbouni is a Postdoctoral Fellow at EUME for the academic year 2022/23. He received his PhD in cultural anthropology from Johns Hopkins University in 2019. Alongside art critic Ismail Fayed, he has co-founded the History and Cultural Memory Forum, a periodical cultural forum that explores interrelated themes in Arab cultural history in the form of public seminars, workshops and lectures. The forum has produced specialized booklets on the themes discussed in the seminars such as the legacy of Walter Benjamin in Arab thought, Reading the Book of Job in time of the Arab Revolutions and the history of Egyptian avant-garde movements.
Islam Dayeh is an Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. He is the director of the research program Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship (2010-) at Forum Transregionale Studien, and the founding editor of the journal and monograph series Philological Encounters (2016-). His recent publications include: “From Taṣḥīḥ to Taḥqīq: Toward a History of the Arabic Critical Edition” (2019); Reading Wittgenstein in Arabic (2021, as editor), and “Philology and Microhistory: A Conversation with Carlo Ginzburg” (2022). He was recently awarded a European Research Council Consolidator Grant for his project “Polymathy and Interdisciplinarity in Premodern Islamic Epistemic Cultures”.