John Wansbrough was born in Illinois. He studied languages at Harvard, and spent his entire academic career teaching at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. He hypothesised, in the 1970's, that the Qur'an was compiled over a much longer period than had previously been thought, and that it was put together from various sources - and heavily influenced by Christianity and Judaism - some 200 years after the Muhammad's death.

The Qur'an was not revealed to just one man, but was a compilation of later redactions (or editions) formulated by a group of men, over the course of a few hundred years. In other words, the Qur'an which we have today is not that which was in existence in the seventh century, but was more than likely a product of the ninth and tenth centuries. His books included Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation (Oxford University Press, Oxford 1977), and The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition Of Islamic Salvation History (Oxford University Press, Oxford 1978).

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