Professor of Religion
Chair of Religion Department
Kanbar Hall - 111
Investigates astral religion and its relationship to astrological forecasting. Begins with a study of early astronomy, ancient Near Eastern omen texts, and the role of celestial bodies in ancient Near Eastern religion. Moves to classical expositions of astrology such as the Tetrabiblos and critics of astrological forecasting such as Cicero. Concludes with the reception of astrology in Islamic civilization and the role of astral causation in Islamic thought.
With an emphasis on primary sources, pursues major themes in Islamic civilization from the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad until the present. From philosophy to political Islam, and from mysticism to Muslims in America, explores the diversity of a rapidly growing religious tradition.
Robert Morrison came to Bowdoin college in August, 2008. His courses lie in the academic study of both Islam and Judaism, but address, in addition, comparative topics. His research has focused on the role of science in Islamic and Jewish texts, as well as in the history of Islamic science. Robert has contributed the chapters on Islamic astronomy to the New Cambridge History of Islam and the Cambridge History of Science. He was previously a faculty member at Whitman College (in Walla Walla, WA) from 2001-8.
The Intellectual Career of Niẓām al-Dīn al-Nīsābūrī (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2007); 301 + viii pp. Awarded the 2009 World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Islamic studies.
Astronomy in al-Andalus: Joseph Ibn Naḥmias’ The Light of the World. University of California Press, 2016.
“Quṭb al-Dīn al-Shīrāzī’s Hypotheses for Celestial Motions,” in Journal for the History of Arabic Science XIII (2005): 21-140
Texts in Transit in the Medieval Mediterranean
"Conceptions of the Soul in Abraham Ibn Ezra's Poetry"
Edebiyat XI (2000): 239-59
"The Portrayal of Nature in a Medieval Qur’an Commentary"
Studia Islamica XCIV (2002): 115-38
"The Response of Ottoman Religious Scholars to European Science"
Archivum Ottomanicum XXI (2003): 187-95
"The Role of Portrayals of Nature in Medieval Qur'an Commentaries”
Arabica LII (2005): 182-203
“The Solar Theory of Joseph Ibn Nahmias”
Arabic Sciences and Philosophy XV (2005): 75-108
“Science and Theodicy in Q 2:6/7,” in Jitse M. van der Meer and Scott Mandelbrote (eds.): Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2008)
“Discussions of Astrology in Early Tafsīr,” Journal of Qur’ānic Studies XI (2009): 49-71
“Islamic Astronomy and Astrology,” in Robert Irwin (ed.) New Cambridge History of Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2010), vol. 4: pp. 589-613
“Islamic Astronomy and Cosmology,” in David Lindberg and Michael Shank (eds.): Cambridge History of Science, vol. 5 (Cambridge University Press, 2011): 109-138
“An Astronomical Treatise by Mūsā Jālīnūs alias Moses Galeano,” Aleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism X/2 (2011): 315-53
“Natural Theology and the Qur’ān,” Journal of Qur’ānic Studies XV (2013): pp. 1-22
“What Was the Purpose of Astronomy in Ījī’s Kitāb al-Mawāqif fī ‘ilm al-kalām?” in Judith Pfeiffer (ed.): Tabriz after the Mongol Conquest (Brill, 2013): pp. 201-29
“A Scholarly Intermediary Between the Ottoman Empire and Renaissance Europe,” Isis (3/2014): 32-57
ISIS and Islam: A Conversation with Bowdoin’s Elias and Morrison (VIDEO) (December 16, 2015)
“Uncomfortable Voices,” 2015 Convocation Address (September 3, 2015)
Bowdoin Islamicist Wins Top Iranian Book Prize (February 19, 2009)
New Faculty Scholar Deepens Study of Islam, Judaism (August 29, 2008)
Wiegand Memorial Lecture at University of Toronto, 2011
Big Ideas: Robert Morrison on Islam and Science
Comparative Theology lecture at Harvard Divinity School on Islam and science, 2013
What Can the Christian Category of Natural Theology Tell Us About Islam?