يوسف‎ and Joseph

While at the most fundamental level, the stories of يوسف‎ and Joseph are identical, there are many similarities and differences in the ways they are presented to the reader.

Straight off the bat, the story of يوسف‎  has a different formal structure than Joseph. يوسف‎  opens with the words “In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy.” This has an unexpected “Once Upon a Time” feel that was entirely missing in my reading of this section of the Bible.

Another huge difference between يوسف‎ and Joseph is their use of names. The story of Joseph gives nearly every character that makes it onto the page a name. This leads the reader to have to create complex, intense geologies and socioeconomic hierarchies of people within their head in order to understand the text. With that being said, I feel like it also gives the reader the ability to remember characters from the book other than Joseph by differentiating them, while يوسف‎  is much more general with its use of names, which gives the reader no choice but to be invested in يوسف‎ .

There are many little details that differ between the texts of يوسف‎ and Joseph. For example, in the Bible Joseph is described as “handsome” and “good looking” when the Egyptian’s wife tries to seduce him while in يوسف‎ he is said to have reached “maturity.” This change in language greatly alters my reading of the text and how I feel about the egyptian’s wifes act.

Additionally, both stories have interesting holes, twist, and turns. For example: in the Bible, the order in which Joseph was sold to the Midianites and Ishmaelites is very unclear, while this is bypassed in the Qur’an by naming the people who pull يوسف‎ from the well travelers who sold يوسف‎ straight to the Egyptian.

The last difference I want to illuminate between يوسف‎ and Joseph is the style of narration. In the Bible, the book is written in 3rdperson ( by someone not involved in the story). On the other hand, the narrator of the Qur’an is God. This creates the sense of an active God present through the entire text, while in the Bible, God who is sparsely mentioned seems far more removed from most of the action of this story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *