The Engagement of Nineteenth-Century Scholars with Jirmānūs Farḥāt’s Baḥth al-Maṭālib: An Early Modern Textbook for Ottoman Schools

In: Philological Encounters
Rossella De Luca Seminar für Semitistik und Arabistik, Freie Universität Berlin Berlin Germany

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This article focuses on the engagement of three scholars of the nineteenth century, later to be called scholars of the nahḍa, with an Arabic grammar manual titled Baḥth al-maṭālib wa-ḥathth al-ṭālib (“The Pursuit of the Questions and the Encouragement of the Student”), supposedly written in 1705 by the Maronite monk Jibrīl (later Jirmānūs) Farḥāt (1670–1732). The scholars considered in this contribution are Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq (d. 1887), Buṭrus al-Bustānī (d. 1883), and Saʿīd al-Khūrī al-Shartūnī (d. 1912). They engaged with this text by editing and printing it, and by making it available for use in Ottoman public schools. Through a close reading of representative excerpts from their printed editions, this article explores the three scholars’ philological engagement with Baḥth al-maṭālib and its multiple uses in nineteenth-century schools. The ways in which they worked on the text, it is argued, illustrate their different pedagogical approaches towards the teaching of the Arabic language.

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