Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Descendants of Abraham: A Comparative Approach to Jewish and Islamic Rhetorics provides two important correctives to modern scholarship. It emphasizes the importance of Jewish and Islamic rhetorics typically neglected by Western-centric historians of rhetoric, and it showcases the cultural relationship between Jews and Muslims that has been typically occluded by modern scholarship. Focusing on the early Islamic world, I demonstrate instantiations of interconnectivity between Jewish and Islamic rhetoric in Arabic from the 9th-12th centuries CE. Specifically, I look at how judicial rhetoric plays an important role in the adjudication of halakha and sharia, followed by a consideration of theological rhetoric in the literature of Jewish and Muslim kalāmists. Finally, I examine modes of rhetoric in writings by al-Ghazālī and Judah haLevi. Mindful of Chaim Perelman’s dictum that rhetoric comprises “discursive means of obtaining the adherence of minds,” I argue that each of these rhetorical genres reveals moments of discursive exchange too frequently overlooked in assessments of the Judeo-Muslim relationship. Descendants of Abraham is a corrective both to Greco-Roman historiographies of rhetoric and to reductive accounts of the fourteen-century-old relationship between Judaism and Islam.



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Committee Chair

Heifferon, Barbara



Available for download on Friday, February 21, 2025