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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter normative approaches to exegesis from a Twelver Shīʿī perspective are combined with a diachronic historical approach. From the normative perspective, the function of exegesis is to reveal the walāya of the imams and the close complementarity of the Qur’an and the imam is the central concern for the exegete. That process begins with the classical tradition in which the Qur’an is glossed on the basis of the sayings of the imams alone, both through explicit citation and through claims articulated that draw on oral teaching. From a diachronic perspective, one finds that the development of exegesis in the Twelver Shīʿī context follows the wider scholarly engagement in different milieux over roughly three or four stages of development. Hence one finds comprehensive exegeses that examine all aspects of understanding from the language to the law, others that focus on philosophy and theology, and others still that engage in mystical speculation. The traditions of exegesis remain very much alive and flourishing in the present in manners of social engagement as well as a shift towards a more thematic approach to making sense of the Qurʾan in the contemporary world from a Shīʿī perspective.

Keywords: Exegesis, walāya, imam, Twelver Shīʿī, diachronic, theology

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