5 Islamic L. & Soc'y 283 (1998)
Normal Calder (1950-1998)

handle is hein.journals/islamls5 and id is 287 raw text is: NORMAN CALDER (1950-1998)

Norman Calder, Senior Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the
University of Manchester, died on February 13, 1998. Though he
accepted the terminal nature of his illness, he never resigned himself to
it. He continued to read, research and write until the week of his death.
His sharp mind and (at times, devastating) wit were not diminished by
the increasing frailty of his frame. He put his affairs in order and
prepared his remaining academic work for publication.
Born in 1950 in Buckie, Scotland, Norman went up to Wadham
College, Oxford, in 1969. He was awarded a first in Arabic and
Persian in 1972, and then spent four years in the Middle East teaching
English. On his return he enrolled as a doctoral student, under the
supervision of John Wansbrough at SOAS. His thesis, The Structure
of Authority in Imami Shi'i Jurisprudence was, and remains, a
remarkable piece of work. It continues to be cited and quoted by
scholars of Shi'ism nearly twenty years after its completion. The thesis,
and the subsequent articles drawn from it, further established the
neglected area of Shii law in the Western academe. His main interest
was the relationship between epistemology and authority: he examined
how Shici jurists developed a legal theory which protected their role as
scholars and their prerogative as interpreters. These themes were
developed and expanded in later articles, focusing on such diverse
figures as Shafi'i, Sabzawari and Khumayni.
In 1980 Norman took up a post in the Department of Middle Eastern
Studies at the University of Manchester. Inspired by conversations and
contact with colleagues, his area of research broadened. He once said
to me that the study of Islamic Law had grown up too quickly-
academics had not developed the close textual skills and sophisticated
methodological procedures which had become indispensable in the
study of Jewish and Christian texts. We were, he said, still working
with limited, and ultimately limiting generalisations. His contribution to
the remedy of this deficiency was a series of densely argued and, at
times, painstaking textual studies of Islamic legal texts. His later
writings were characterised by three connected themes: literary genre,
myth, and redaction criticism. Under the first theme, he wrote a number
of important studies of the tafsir genre. He continued to develop his
view that it is the tradition of scholarship (or the generic constraints) in

Islamic Law and Society 5,3

@ Brill, Leiden, 1998

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