Middle Eastern Texts Initiative moving to Brill

12.29.2017 | The Maxwell Institute

For two decades now, the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative has been engaged in the editing, translation, and publication of important texts from the golden age of the Islamic world, including mystical, theological, philosophical, and medical works by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. Working with high-caliber scholars from around the world, we have published a total of over thirty-five volumes in four different series: the Islamic Translation Series, Eastern Christian Texts, the Library of Judeo-Arabic Literature, and the Medical Works of Moses Maimonides. These texts represent some of the most important intellectual contributions of their time and continue to be in demand, year after year, as the classics that they are. Also as intended, they have helped to build bridges of friendship and mutual understanding between diverse cultures and faith communities at a time in history when the need was greater than ever. Myriad are the stories of how relationships have been forged and strengthened at both personal and institutional levels through the publications of these series. As the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship continues to grow and evolve under the inspired guidance of our director, our advisory board, and the administration of Brigham Young University, we’ve begun to focus our efforts less on publication and more on the gathering and nurturing of disciple scholars—women and men with important academic projects to pursue in the field of religion who desire to undertake their work within the BYU and Maxwell Institute environment; a place where faith and intellect are nurtured in tandem. Within this recalibrated environment where resources are finite, the question of how to continue the production of the valuable, ambitious, and demanding projects of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative has been an important consideration to which we have given diligent attention. In addition, we’ve recognized for some time the desirability of making METI titles available digitally as this is a cost effective way to share knowledge around the globe with individuals and institutions that might not have the space or the means to acquire and preserve physical books.

Left to right: Brill representatives Joed Elich and Loes Schouten; Maxwell Institute representatives Morgan Davis and Spencer Fluhman

Today I’m very pleased to announce that as we conclude our twentieth year in production, we now have an arrangement in place that will allow the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative to continue its important work indefinitely into the future. We have signed an agreement with Brill, one of the oldest academic publishers in the world, based in Leiden with offices in Boston, that will transfer the editorial and production oversight of METI as a whole to their care. The agreement was signed this November at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston. Brill’s interest in METI is a testament to the vision of its founders and the quality of work completed by editors, translators, designers, and everyone else who has contributed in ways large and small to its ongoing success. METI will continue to be produced as a conceptually coherent family of series with the same high-caliber scholarship, editing, and design that have been its hallmarks from the beginning. Additionally, all future titles will be available both as printed volumes and as e-books, available through Brill’s world-class online portal. Two final volumes are in production at BYU for our Eastern Christian Texts series: The Patriarch and the Caliph (ed. and trans. Wafik Nasry and Samir Khalil Samir, at press) and Stephen J. Shoemaker’s edition and translation of Songs of the Ancient Jerusalem Church, due in October 2018. All other future METI titles will now appear with the Brill imprint. All titles produced by BYU will continue to be available online and through retail outlets through our distribution agreement with the University of Chicago Press. All future volumes will be similarly marketed by Brill. I am thankful beyond my power to express for the many, many dedicated scholars, artists, editors, typesetters, and marketers who have helped the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative grow to become the significant academic and cultural contribution that it is. And I am equally thankful to our new colleagues at Brill who will carry on this great work in a way befitting its bright legacy. There are already a number of very significant projects in the works—some of the largest we have ever undertaken—for the next generation of METI, and I cannot wait to see the beautiful results.


Davis-Morgan-staffD. Morgan Davis has been affiliated with the Maxwell Institute’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative since its launch in 1993 and became the project’s director in 2010. He holds a BA in Near Eastern Studies from Brigham Young University, an MA in history from the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD (2005) in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Utah. As a Maxwell Institute research scholar, Davis now turns his attention fully to comparative explorations of Mormonism and Islam. He is also the new co-editor, alongside Tona Hangen, of the Institute’s Living Faith book series.