Stephen Sewall delivers lectures on Arabic

Early Harvard and Biblical Studies 1768

Stephen Sewall Delivers Lectures on Arabic

Stephen Sewall, the first Hancock Professor, delivered lectures on Arabic as part of his lecture series on Oriental languages in which he discussed Arabic’s alleged origin at the Tower of Babel, development, characteristics, and importance to the “Mahometans” because of its being the language of the “Alcoran.” Like his predecessors, Sewall viewed Arabic as a tool for Biblical exegesis. “Of the Oriental languages,” he said, “the Arabic, which method requires we should next consider, throws the most light upon the Hebrew. Not because it is the nearest akin, though indeed its relation is very close, but from its being more generally extant, a very great variety of treatises on different subjects being written in that language, which treatises, many of them at least, are handed down to the present day.” Professor Sewall called it a “pity, not to say disgrace,” that Harvard was behind its peer institutions in Europe in the study of Arabic. Sewall himself taught Arabic through private instruction, as was required by the statutes of his professorship.

Read Professor Sewall’s lecture notes

Stephen Sewall lecture notes
Notes from Stephen Sewall's lectures on the Arabic language