Newby, Gordon D(arnell) 1939-

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NEWBY, Gordon D(arnell) 1939-


Born December 16, 1939, in Salt Lake City, UT; married, 1992; children: four. Education: University of Utah, B.A., 1962; Brandeis University, M.A., 1964, Ph.D., 1966.


Home—P.O. Box 537, Kilgo Cir., Atlanta, GA 30322. Office—Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322. E-mail—[email protected].


Washington State University, Pullman, WA, assistant professor of history, 1966-67; Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, assistant professor of Mediterranean Studies, 1967-76, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, associate professor, 1976-89, professor of history, 1989-93, professor and associate member of Department of Philosophy and Religion, 1989-93, assistant department head, 1980-82; Emory University, Atlanta, GA, professor of Middle Eastern Studies and department chairman, 1993—, executive director, Institute for Comparative International Studies, chair, Graduate Program in West and South Asian Religions. Research affiliate, Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 1974-76. Phillips Research Fellow in Jewish Studies, St. John's University, 1991-92. Member of board of directors, Consultation on Biblical Ethics and Exegesis of the Society of Biblical Literature.


American Academy of Religion (member of History of Judaism Steering Committee, 1988-91, member of Islam Steering Committee, 1988-95, chair of Judaism-Islam committee), American Society for the Study of Religion, American Oriental Society (chair of Islamic Studies Section, 1989-93), Middle East Studies Association, Medieval Academy of America.


National Defense fellowship, 1962-66; National Humanities Center fellowship, 1990-91; Fulbright fellowship, 1995.


A History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to Their Eclipse under Islam, University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC), 1988.

The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad, University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC), 1989.

A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Oneworld (Oxford, England), 2002.

Founding editor, Medieval Encounters, 1994—. Contributor of scholarly articles to periodicals and symposia.


Gordon D. Newby is a historian and scholar of religious studies who is particularly interested in the beginnings of Islam and the interaction between Islam and Judaism. In the late 1980s Newby published two scholarly texts, A History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to Their Eclipse under Islam and The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad. In his piece on the works for the Religious Studies Review, William M. Brinner noted: "In spite of all criticisms, quibbles, and disagreements we may have with his work, we are indeed indebted to Gordon Newby.… He has raised anew and with excellent examples some very basic issues that lie behind a great deal of contemporary research and writing in … Near Eastern studies." In the same issue of the Religious Studies Review, Reuven Firestone wrote: "I would like first of all to commend Gordon Newby for the very important contributions he has made with his two studies.… One particularly striking and important aspect of his scholarship lies in his thorough intellectual self-consciousness communicated through both works."

A History of the Jews of Arabia sheds light on the Jewish communities of Arabia in the century prior to the birth of Muhammad, tracing their antecedents back even further in time. Newby uses literary texts as well as religious writings from Islamic and Judaic sources to piece together a description of the intellectual traditions of Arabian Jews. Brinner observed: "The History of the Jews of Arabia is particularly valuable in bringing together so many scattered, unknown, or overlooked data about the Jews of Arabia from earliest times. Most significant, however, is the importance given—at least in the Afterword—to recent Western 'revisionist' historiography in dealing with the origins and earliest period of Islamic history, and within this, the life of the prophet Muhammad." Ronald C. Kiener in the Religious Studies Review maintained that Newby's work is "all the more admirable, for he is able to reconstruct a reasonably whole and comprehensive portrayal of Arabia Jewry."

The Making of the Last Prophet once again draws from multiple sources to recreate a long lost document, the Kitab al-Mubtada, or "Book of Beginnings." Although the book does not exist in its original form, it is quoted and named in many other sources, and it is these that Newby explored in an effort to piece together as much as possible of the original text. In the Middle East Journal, W. Montgomery Watt declared: "This is a work of great importance.… This reconstruction should encourage scholars to look again in detail at the early development of Muslim attitudes to the older religions."

Newby is also author of A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, an entry in the Oneworld series of reference texts on world religions. The book covers many topics pertaining to Islam, including people, countries with Muslim populations or laws, events of importance to Islam, and the religion's evolving place in world affairs. William P. Collins in Library Journal praised the work as "concise" and "helpful." A Publishers Weekly reviewer found the book to be "an excellent resource … full of data."



Library Journal, September 15, 2002, William P. Collins, review of A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 56.

Middle East Journal, winter, 1990, W. Montgomery Watt, review of The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad, p. 150.

Publishers Weekly, September 9, 2002, "Primers on the World's Religions," p. 64.

Religious Studies Review, July, 1992, William M. Brinner, Ronald C. Kiener, and Reuven Firestone, reviews of A History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to Their Eclipse under Islam and The Making of the Last Prophet. *

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Newby, Gordon D(arnell) 1939-

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