Spiritual Grammar identifies a genre of religious literature that until now has not been recognized as such. In this surprising and theoretically nuanced study, F. Dominic Longo reveals how grammatical structures of language addressed in two medieval texts published nearly four centuries apart, from distinct religious traditions, offer a metaphor for how the self is embedded in spiritual reality. Reading The Grammar of Hearts (Nahw al-qulūb) by the great Sufi shaykh and Islamic scholar ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Qushayrī (d. 1074) and Moralized Grammar (Donatus moralizatus) by Christian theologian Jean Gerson (d. 1429), Longo reveals how both authors use the rules of language and syntax to advance their pastoral goals. Indeed, grammar provides the two masters with a fresh way of explaining spiritual reality to their pupils and to discipline the souls of their readers in the hopes that their writings would make others adept in the grammar of the heart.
List of Abbreviations | xi
Preface | xiii
Introduction. Genre Trouble: Queering Grammar for Spiritual Purposes | 1
1 Arabic, Latin, and the Discipline of Grammar in the Worlds of Qushayrī and Gerson | 27
2 Genres and Genders of Gerson | 53
3 Gerson’s “Moralized” Primer of Spiritual Grammar | 81
4 From the Names of God to the Grammar of Hearts | 117
5 Forming Spiritual Fuṣaḥāʾ: Qushayrī’s Advanced Grammar of Hearts | 150
6 The Fruits of Comparison: Constructing a Theology of Grammar | 186
Appendix. Translation of Jean Gerson’s Moralized Grammar | 217
Notes | 233
Index | 269
Longo engages in an intriguing comparative inquiry into spiritual grammar in medieval Arabic and Latin treatises.Delineating and crossing boundaries and genres, he explores a new confusing yet delightful subfield in the genre of comparative theological Islamo-Christian studies.
The Catholic University of America
Dominic Longo helps us to understand Islam and Christianity in deeper ways through the genre of 'spiritual grammar'. This is an extraordinary book that will benefit scholars of Islam, Christianity, and Comparative Theology.
Loyola Marymount University