Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On Patricia Crone, again

I received this from a colleague in France:
"I rather agree with your interpretation in general, though not in detail. I was a student of Patricia Crone’s when she was young, though I didn’t follow her career later.

She was a brilliant historian, with all the advantages and disadvantages that that implies. Brilliant interpretation, but a lack of common sense.

A couple of years after the publication of “Hagarism”, she told me that even she didn’t believe it. It was a raspberry blown against traditional interpretations of the origins of Islam. That was characteristic of her work: in “Meccan Trade” she blew a raspberry on Meccan trade under Quraysh, but failed to come up with a characterisation of what it really was.

The other fundamental point is that in the time that I knew her, she had never visited Arab/Muslim countries, only Jerusalem. She may have visited later, but not in the formative years, when I knew her. It was all an intellectual construct.

I should say that in my field, the traditional story of the origins of Islam is not that far from being true. My material doesn’t speak of the origins of Islam, but what happened subsequently is conform with the description."