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Valentina A. Grasso

Valentina A. Grasso

Department: Faculty of Divinity

Supervisor: Professor Garth Fowden

College: St Edmund’s College

AHRC subject area: Theology, Divinity and Religion

Title of thesis: Pagan and Scripturalist Antecedents of Islam in Arabia


Biography:

After Classical Studies in high school, I obtained a bachelor degree in 2015 at the University of Catania in Semitic Philology. At Catania I mainly studied Imperial Aramaic and Classical Arabic. My thesis was focused on the Philistines and the early alphabets of the Mediterranean.
During the same year, I enrolled for the Master's degree in “Oriental Languages and Cultures” at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. I continued to study both Classical Arabic and Biblical Hebrew, after having attended a Biblical Hebrew course at the University of Oxford. I spent my last M.A. year in England, as an Erasmus student at SOAS, University of London, where I have also studied Persian.
I am interested in Late Antiquity, the early Islamic world, and the first millennium CE in more general terms, with special reference to the development of rabbinic Judaism, patristic Christianity and early Islam. I am fascinated by interfaith dialogue and the Qurʾān in its Judeo-Christian and Arabic context. My Ph.D. will be the natural continuation of my M.A. dissertation in Islamic Studies, entitled “The Pre-Islamic Milieu of Arabia. An Inquiry into the Jāhiliya and the Rise of the Latest Abrahamic Religion”. It will emphasise the contextualisation of early Islamic developments in a composite late antique milieu, and attempt to construct a coherent historical narrative out of our fragmentary sources.

 

Other academic interests:

Archaeology of the Middle East, Roman Near East, History of Iran in the first millennium C.E., Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism.