Eléonore Cellard wins Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize 2019
Posted on February 11, 2019
The International Qurʾanic Studies Association is delighted to announce that the second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize (open to papers delivered by junior scholars at the 2018 annual meeting) has been awarded to Dr. Eléonore Cellard for her paper “From Coptic to Arabic: A new palimpsest for the history of the Qur’ān in Egypt during the first centuries of Islam.” The winner of the Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize receives a cash award. In addition, an expanded and edited version of the winning paper qualifies for publication in the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association.
This award is given in honor of Prof. Andrew Rippin (1950-2016), a leading scholar of the Qurʾān and inaugural president of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (2014). Prof. Rippin is remembered as “an esteemed colleague, revered mentor, and scholarly inspiration to many members of the IQSA community.” An announcement regarding submissions for the second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize will follow the 2019 IQSA annual meeting in San Diego.
An abstract of Eléonore Cellard award winning paper follows:
According to the Islamic tradition, the Qur’ānic text was fixed some years after the conquest of Egypt by ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ. Egypt, however, didn’t received any of the archetypal codices sent by ‘Uṯmān ibn ‘Affān. Without this archetype, how did the Qur’ānic text spread to this region during the first centuries of Islam? Did Egypt play a role in the beginning of the written transmission of the Qur’ān? Unfortunately, the hundreds of early Qur’ānic fragments found in Egypt in the last centuries can’t attest to their Egyptian origin, as they contain no information about their dating or their origins.
A new palimpsest, recently emerged on the antiquities market, could shed some light on these issues. On its scriptio inferior – the original text which has been erased – we could so far decipher fragments of Deuteronomy and Isaiah, probably written in the 6th or 7th century, within a Coptic monastery, located between Cairo and Assiut. The scriptio superior – the upper text which supersedes the Coptic text – is a Qur’ān, sharing similarities with the large copies kept in Fustat (Old-Cairo) and elsewhere, and dating from the middle of the 8th century. The originality of this palimpsest is its lower cost manufacture, reflecting a more modest, and regional context of production in this period, perhaps in Middle-Egypt like the former Coptic manuscript.
Revealing the existence of another way of production of Qur’ān copies as early as the 8th century, this document shows also that the written transmission of the Qur’ān was already well established and under control. Last, but not least, this artifact reminds us of the material proximity of Qur’ānic and Coptic scribal cultures in Egypt. The copyists never ignored each other, but what were exactly their relationships? Studying this palimpsest and the others, we approach the Qur’ān as a tridimensional book, never isolated from the other scriptural cultures, but rather interacting with them, in the multicultural story of Egypt at the end of Late Antiquity.
portrait pro Eleonore-3Dr. Eléonore Cellard is specialist in Qur’ānic manuscripts. She started her research activities in 2008, under the supervision of François Déroche. In 2015, she submitted her dissertation intitled “The written transmission of the Qur’ān. Study of a corpus of manuscripts from the 2nd H./8th CE” (INALCO/EPHE). Until 2018, she carried on her research at the Collège de France, as research assistant and post-doctoral researcher. Involved first in the French-German Coranica project, then in the Paleocoran project, she published Codex Amrensis 1, the first volume of the collection of facsimile and diplomatic editions of the earliest Qur’ans (Brill, 2018).