Dr. Paul Neuenkirchen is postdoctoral fellow at the project "Interactive Histories, Co-Produced Communities: Judaism, Christianity, Islam".
After obtaining a Bachelor’s in Arabic/Middle Eastern civilizations and a Bachelor’s in Urdu/Pakistani civilization from the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, Paul Neuenkirchen enrolled in a Master’s in Islamic Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris), where he wrote a thesis exploring the different ways in which classical Muslim exegetes had understood two related passages of the Qur’an (Q 56:77–79 and Q 85:21–22). In turn, he offered his own interpretation of these passages based on a Biblical intertextual reading. During his years as a Master’s student, he became more and more interested in academic studies that examined the question of the relation between Late antique Syriac Christian writings and the text of the Qur’an. He decided, therefore, to learn Syriac and to devote his Ph.D. dissertation to a related topic. Under the supervision of Professor Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, and still at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Neuenkirchen began writing his doctoral dissertation entitled, “The End of the World in the Qur’an: A Comparative Study of the Qur’anic Eschatological Discourse” in 2013. Through a comparison between a corpus of Syriac eschatological homilies written by Narsai (d. ca. 502 CE) and Jacob of Serugh (d. 521 CE), and the Qur’anic verses related to the End, he tried to show that the latter are better understood as Arabic homilies which are very much akin to their Syriac counterparts in form, content, and objective. Since defending his Ph.D. in December of 2019, his commentaries on 39 of the Qur’an’s 114 surahs have been published in the collective book Le Coran des historiens (eds. M.A. Amir-Moezzi and G. Dye). Neuenkirchen has also been teaching classes in Islamic Studies at various universities in Paris and he has completed two post-doctoral projects with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).