Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
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Jonathan Brockopp

Jonathan Brockopp

Professor of History, Religious Studies, and Philosophy

406 Weaver Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 863-1338

Curriculum Vitae:

Education:

PhD, Yale University, 1995
MPhil, Yale University, 1992
BA, Valparaiso University, 1984
Jonathan Brockopp Headshot

Biography:

 

My primary research focus is on the literary remains of early Islamic cultures, including the Qur’an, hadith, legal and theological texts. I am particularly interested in the rise of a professional scholarly community in Egypt and North Africa, using early Arabic manuscripts to trace arguments and lines of influence. Recently, I have focused on the question of how these early scholars construct their notion of religious authority in my book, Muhammad’s Heirs: the Rise of Muslim Scholarly Communities (Cambridge, 2017). This work has led me to formulate a new theory of charismatic authority, one that attempts to account for the dynamic roles of text, community and history in constructing the charismatic leader. I plan on devoting my next book to fleshing out some of the implications of this theory. Arguably, Islamic law is as much a set of ethical guidelines as it is law. It thereby forms an essential backdrop to modern discussions of war, bioethics, economic justice, etc. I have pursued an active interest in these contemporary issues including the impact of climate change on Muslim communities.

Recent Publications:

“Constructing Muslim Charisma”  the Routledge International Handbook of Charisma, edited J.P. Zuquete, (New York: Routledge), 2021, 163-174.

“MS Chester Beatty 3001 and the apotheosis of Malik b. Anas (d. 179/795)” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 49 (2020), 249-275.

“The Rise of Islam in a Judaeo-Christian Context” in Light upon Light: Essays in Islamic Thought and History in Honor of Gerhard Bowering, edited by Jamal Elias and Bilal Orfali. Studies in Islamic History and Civilization (Leiden: E.J. Brill), 2019, 24-44.

Muhammad’s Heirs: The Rise of Muslim Scholarly Communities, 622-950. (Cambridge, 2017)

“Islamic Origins and Incidental Normativity” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 84.1 (2016).

“The promise and the challenge of interfaith work” in Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World, ed. Carol Lahurd (Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press), 2016.

“Interpreting Material Evidence: Religion at the ‘Origins of Islam’” History of Religions55 (2015), 121-147.

“Muhammad the peacemaker; Muhammad the warrior. Contested Images of Islam’s Prophet after 9/11” in Muhammad in the Digital Age, ed. Ruqayya Khan (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015), 35-56.

Awards and Service:

Team leader, Religious Studies Re-organization (2020-present)

Schreyer Honors College Ethics Curriculum, Coordinator (2020-present)

Kairouan Manuscript Project, Board member since 2017; Director, 2017-2020

Petra Kappert Fellow, Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg University (2020)

Editorial Board, Comparative Islamic StudiesJournal of Islamic Ethics

Recent Courses:

HIST 108 – The Crusades
RLST107 – Introduction to Islam
ARAB/RLST 164 – Muhammad and the Qur’an
HIST/RLST 471Y – Islamic Civilization

 

Areas of Specialization: