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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



Following an undergraduate degree in modern European languages (Durham, 2006), I decided to learn a non-European language and chose Arabic. This led to a master’s in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at SOAS (2009). Once there, it became clear to me that fluency in German was key to undertaking further research in Islamic studies; I also felt that a background in at least two of the three Abrahamic religions would provide me with the best basis from which to do this. I was then awarded a DAAD (German State) scholarship to undertake a master’s in Jewish Studies at the Institute for Jewish Studies, at the University of Heidelberg, Germany and Karl-Franzens University in Graz, Austria, which I completed with distinction in 2011. Having narrowed down the area of focus for my doctoral studies, I then undertook an MPhil in Islamic Studies and History at Oxford (2016), focusing on qur’ānic exegesis and furthering my knowledge of the languages required for research on my chosen subject: Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, Greek and Coptic.

My doctoral thesis will examine how angels are depicted in the Qur’ān and their use in the narrative structure of the stories in which they appear.


Other Interests

In addition to qur’ānic exegesis, I am particularly interested in the transmission history of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical versions of biblical stories in the Late Antique, Near Middle Eastern, religious milieu and their relationship to the Bible, Qur’ān and each other.

Department: Divinity
Supervisor: Dr Holger Zellentin
College: Lucy Cavendish
AHRC subject area: Theology and Religious Studies
Title of thesis: Angels in the Qur’ān: Heavenly Messengers in the light of Late Antique, Near Middle Eastern, Jewish-Christian Beliefs about Angels
 Rachel Claire Dryden