Journal Article

Fear of God (<i>taqwā</i>) in the Qur'ān: Some Notes on Semantic Shift and Thematic Context

Erik S. Ohlander

in Journal of Semitic Studies

Published on behalf of University of Manchester

Volume 50, issue 1, pages 137-152
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 0022-4480
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-8556 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jss/fgi007
Fear of God (taqwā) in the Qur'ān: Some Notes on Semantic Shift and Thematic Context

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One of the most ubiquitous terms in the Qur'ān, taqwā, or ‘fear of God’, serves as a major theme and leitmotif of the wider Quranic vision. This study explores, both lexically and semantically, the way in which this term is situated within the Quranic universe of discourse, proposing that by attending to the broader semantic dynamism of the text itself we are in a better position to understand the range and scope of the vision which shaped the Qur'ān's key thematic structures. Methodologically, the study has made use of a systematic statistical survey of the Quranic lexicon, deriving by way of computeraided analysis a comprehensive inventory of all morphological derivations of radicals connoting the general idea of ‘fear’, a larger semantic grouping to which the term taqwā belongs. Predicated upon the results of this empirical survey, the study takes as its primary analytic framework the Qur'ān's inherent intertextual reflexivity and argues that observable semantic shifts in the rhetoricity of the term taqwā represent circumstantial developments in the text's basic chronology.

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Subjects: Middle Eastern History ; Middle Eastern Languages ; Literary Studies - World ; Biblical Studies

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