Featuring of Islam in the writings, particularly Old Testament commentaries, of Adrianus Van Selms (1906-1984)


Van Selms
Islam and Christianity in South Africa

How to Cite

Dockrat, M. A. E. (2020). Featuring of Islam in the writings, particularly Old Testament commentaries, of Adrianus Van Selms (1906-1984). Old Testament Essays, 33(1), 60 - 79. Retrieved from https://ote-journal.otwsa-otssa.org.za/index.php/journal/article/view/334


Adrianus van Selms is well known for especially two studies related to Islam, viz.  a Muslim Catechism (1951) and a publication entitled 'Abu Bakr’s Exposition of the Religion’ (1979). Both feature Afrikaans texts, dating from the second half of the 19th century, written in Arabic letters for the benefit of the local population.

Van Selms, furthermore, contributed to an Afrikaans publication with the title In Gesprek met Islam oor die Moslem Belydenis [In Conversation with Islam as regards the Muslim Confession of Faith] (1974), providing an elaborate discussion with respect to Islam against the background of the Old and New Testaments and Church History. Van Selms, inter alia, opined, “For reasons concealed from us, it pleased God to chastise his church with Muslims’ words and conduct.” Similar statements are found in 8th and 9th century Christian polemical texts (cf. Griffiths 2008).

In his books focusing on Jerusalem and Northern Israel, Van Selms (1967) expresses his appreciation for the Muslim material culture, and customs related to those practised in Old and New Testament times.

For the purpose of the present paper, however, attention will specifically be given to the contextualisation of references to Islam in Van Selms’ biblical commentaries, for example the mentioning of a tradition recounted by al-Tabari (839-923 CE) during the exposition of Gen 3:1; a comparison of Muslim and biblical rules of marital conduct (Ex 21:21) that come to the fore in Gen 30:14-6; and finally the parallels drawn between the religious exclusivity evident in Ezra 10:11 and the Muslim concept of ummah.




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