Sir Thomas Adams Professor of Arabic
Fellow of Trinity Hall
J.E. Montgomery is Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic. He studied Arabic and Ancient Greek at Glasgow University (1980-1984), spent two years on an unfinished DPhil at Oxford (1984-1986), where he was a Snell Exhibitioner at Balliol College before taking up a lectureship at Glasgow (1986-1992), where he decided to do a different PhD which he submitted just before the birth of his daughter Natasha in 1990. Senior Letcureships at Oslo and Leeds preceded his move to Cambridge in 1997.
Subject groups/Research projects
My long-term project is to explore the third/ninth century through the writings of ʿAmr ibn Baḥr al-Jāḥiẓ (d. 255/868-9). This is complemented by a project to edit and translate the early tenth century historiographical masterpiece by al-Ashʿarī, The Doctrines of the Islamicists.
My other major interest revolves around literary translation and the translation of classical Arabic poetry in particular. A two volume edition and translation of the hunting poems of Abū Nuwās and Ibn al-Muʿtazz is in preparation, and my edition of al-Shantamarī's recension of al-Aṣmāʿī's collection of the poetry of ʿAntarah ibn Shaddād al-ʿAbsī is due to appear next year. This will accompany a collaborative translation of the poems by the Editors of the Library of Arabic Literature and will be published by New York University Press as part of the Library of Arabic Literature.
The Vagaries of the Qaṣīdah. On the Tradition and Practice of Early Arabic Poetry, Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1997.
Al-Jāḥiẓ: In Praise of Books, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013.
Ibn Faḍlān, Mission to the Volga, in: Two Arabic Travel Books, New York: New York University Press, 2014.
Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ, On Geography, An Arabic Edition and English Translation of Epistle 4, by Ignacio Sánchez and J.E. Montgomery, OUP/Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2014.
(As Editor) 'Abbasid Studies, Occasional Papers of the School of 'Abbasid Studies, Cambridge 6-10 July 2002, Leuven: Peeters, 2004.
(As Editor): Arabic Theology, Arabic Philosophy. From the Many to the One: Essays in Celebration of Richard M. Frank, Leuven: Peeters, 2006.
(As Editor): Gregor Schoeler, The Writen and the Oral in Early Islam, London: Routledge, 2006.
(As Editor, with A.Akasoy and P.Pormann), Islamic Crosspollinations: Interactions in the Medieval Middle East, Oxford: Gibb, 2007.
(As Editor): Gregor Schoeler, The Biography of Muhammad, London: Routledge, 2010.
(As Editor): 'Abbasid Studies III. Occasional Papers of the School of 'Abbasid Studies, St Andrews 2006 and Cambridge 2010 (=a special number of Oriens 38 (2010).
Select Articles since 2005
Serendipity, Resistance and Multivalency: Ibn Khurradadhbih and his Kitab al-Masalik wa-l-Mamalik, in P.F. Kennedy, On Fiction and Adab in Medieval Arabic Literature, Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden, 2005, 177-230.
Jahiz’s Kitab al-Bayan wa-l-Tabyin, in: Julia Bray (ed.), Writing and Representation: Muslim Horizons, London, 2006, 91-152.
Editor’s Introduction, in: Gregor Schoeler, The Written and the Oral in Early Islam, ed. J.E. Montgomery, London, 2006, 1-27.
Beeston and the Singing-girls, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 36 (2006), 17-24.
The Empty Hijaz, in: J.E. Montgomery (ed.), Arabic Theology, Arabic Philosophy. From the Many to the One: Essays in Celebration of Richard M. Frank, Leuven, 2006, 37-97.
Editor’s Introduction, in: J.E. Montgomery (ed.), Arabic Theology, Arabic Philosophy. From the Many to the One: Essays in Celebration of Richard M. Frank, Leuven, 2006, 1-4.
Spectral Armies, Snakes, and a Giant from Gog and Magog: Ibn Fadlan as Eyewitness among the Volga Bulghars, The Medieval History Journal 9 (2006), 63-87.
Al-Jahiz and Hellenizing Philosophy, in C. D’Ancona (ed.), The Libraries of the Neoplatonists, Leiden, 2007, 443-456.
Islamic Crosspollinations, in A. Akasoy, P. Pormann and J.E. Montgomery (edd.), Islamic Crosspollinations, Oxford, 2007, 148-193.
Preface, A. Akasoy, P. Pormann and J.E. Montgomery (edd.), Islamic Crosspollinations, Oxford 2007, v-ix.
The Vikings in Arabic Sources, in: S. Brink and N. Price (edd.), The Viking World, Oxford and New York: Routledge 2008, pp. 550-561.
Convention as Cognition; On the Cultivation of Emotion, in: M. Hammond and G. van Gelder (edd.), Takhyīl: The Imaginary in Classical Arabic Poetics. Oxford: Gibb, 2008, pp. 147-178.
Speech and Nature: Jāḥiẓ, Bayān 2.175-207
Part 1 in: Middle Eastern Literatures 11/2 (2008), pp. 169-191.
Part 2 in: Middle Eastern Literatures 12/1 (2009), pp. 1-25.
Part 3 in: Middle Eastern Literatures 12/2 (2009), pp. 107-125.
Part 4 in: Middle Eastern Literatures 12/4 (2009), pp. 213-232.
Jahiz on Jest and Earnest, in: G. Tamer (ed.), Humor in der arabischen Kultur, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009, pp. 209-239.
Vikings and Rus in Arabic Sources, in Living Islamic History, ed. Yasir Suleiman (Edinburgh: EUP, 2010), pp. 151-165.
Editor’s Introduction in: ‘Abbasid Studies III. Occasional Papers of the School of ‘Abbasid Studies, St Andrews 2006 and Cambridge 2010 (= a special number of Oriens 38 (2010), pp. i-xv.
Abū Nuwās, the Justified Sinner? in: Oriens 39 (2011), pp. 75-164.
Professor Montgomery is an occasional contributor to BBC Radio 3 and 4 and has appeared on Radio 4's In Our Time