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Christian and Muslim Dialogues


The Religious Uses of a Literary Form in the Early Islamic Middle East


Linked by a common geography and claim to the true religion, Christians and Muslims had a long history of interreligious discourse up to the Crusades. These faith communities composed texts in the form of dialogues in light of their encounters with one another. This book surveys the development of the genre and how dialogues determined he patterns of conversation. Each chapter highlights a thematic feature of the literary form, demonstrating that Christian and Muslim authors did not part ways in the first century of Islamic rule, but rather continued a dialogue commending God’s faithful believers.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61143-920-5
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jan 10,2011
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 297
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-61143-920-5
$188.00
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Christian and Muslim Dialogues examines the history of interreligious discourse between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East from the pre-Islamic period until the eve of the Crusades. Linked by a common geography and claim to the true religion, Eastern Christians and Muslims composed texts in the form of dialogues in light of their encounters with one another. This book surveys the development of the literary genre and how dialogues came to determine the patterns of conversation. Each chapter highlights a thematic feature of the literary form, demonstrating that Christian and Muslim authors did not part ways in the first century of Islamic rule, but rather continued a dialogue commending God’s faithful believers.

This book will help readers to better understand historical approaches to Christian-Muslim encounters, the conditions for dialogue, the literary form and its content, and several significant dialogues of the period. It reveals how dialogues were used for Christological debate, divine exegesis, conquest and conversion, competing historiographies, theological education and dialectic, hagiography, and scriptural reinterpretation. Using dialogue literature as a guide, the book argues that Christians and Muslims integrated into the dominant Islamic culture in a symbiotic fashion by articulating an explicit identity while simultaneously incorporating the realities of religious pluralism into their communities.

Christian and Muslim Dialogues examines the history of interreligious discourse between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East from the pre-Islamic period until the eve of the Crusades. Linked by a common geography and claim to the true religion, Eastern Christians and Muslims composed texts in the form of dialogues in light of their encounters with one another. This book surveys the development of the literary genre and how dialogues came to determine the patterns of conversation. Each chapter highlights a thematic feature of the literary form, demonstrating that Christian and Muslim authors did not part ways in the first century of Islamic rule, but rather continued a dialogue commending God’s faithful believers.

This book will help readers to better understand historical approaches to Christian-Muslim encounters, the conditions for dialogue, the literary form and its content, and several significant dialogues of the period. It reveals how dialogues were used for Christological debate, divine exegesis, conquest and conversion, competing historiographies, theological education and dialectic, hagiography, and scriptural reinterpretation. Using dialogue literature as a guide, the book argues that Christians and Muslims integrated into the dominant Islamic culture in a symbiotic fashion by articulating an explicit identity while simultaneously incorporating the realities of religious pluralism into their communities.

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Contributor Biography

David Bertaina

David Bertaina is Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion in the History Department at the University of Illinois Springfield. He holds an M.T.S. from Duke University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Semitic Languages and Literature from The Catholic University of America.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • list of illustrations (page 7)
  • Preface (page 9)
  • Acknowledgments (page 11)
  • Introduction (page 13)
    • Theoretical Problems and Definitions of Dialogue (page 13)
    • The Historiographical Problem and the Lived Experience of Dialogue (page 17)
    • The Literary Form (page 20)
    • Book Structure (page 24)
  • 1 Dialogue as Christological Debate (page 31)
    • Origins (page 31)
    • Dialogue and Christology in the Bible (page 35)
    • The Melkites, Jacobites, and Church of the East (page 42)
    • Dialogue and Christology in Late Antiquity (page 48)
    • Conclusion (page 53)
  • 2 Dialogue as Divine Exegesis: The Case of the Quran (page 57)
    • Reading the Quran as Dialogue (page 57)
    • The Qurans Use of Dialogue (page 63)
    • The Qurans Christian Audience (page 65)
    • Dialogues With Christians in the Quran (page 73)
    • Conclusion (page 81)
  • 3 Dialogue as Conquest and Conversion (page 85)
    • Conditions for Christian Dialogue in the Aftermath of the Islamic Conquest (page 86)
    • Conditions for Early Muslim Dialogue with Christians (page 95)
    • John of Sedra and the Muslim Emir (page 99)
    • Ali and the Byzantine Monk (page 106)
    • Ali and the Patriarch (page 111)
    • Ali and the Bishop of Najran (page 116)
    • Conclusion (page 118)
  • 4 Dialogue as Competing Historiographies (page 121)
    • Muhammad and the Christians of Najran (page 127)
    • The Islamic Bahira and Muhammad (page 132)
    • The Christian Sergius-Bahira and Muhammad (page 136)
    • Conclusion (page 142)
  • 5 Dialogue as Theological Education and Dialectic (page 145)
    • A Christian Monk of Bet Hale and an Arab Notable (page 150)
    • Patriarch Timothy and Caliph al-Mahdi (page 157)
    • Imam al-Rida and the Arab Christians (page 171)
    • Conclusion (page 177)
  • 6 Dialogue as Hagiography (page 179)
    • Wasil of Damascus and the Byzantine Leaders (page 181)
    • Hisham Ibn a-Hakam and the Patriarch Bariha (page 187)
    • Imam Musa al-Kazim and the Monk and Nun Ofnajran (page 191)
    • Theodore Abu Qurra Against the Outsiders (page 194)
    • Conclusion (page 202)
  • 7 Dialogue as Scriptural Reinterpretation (page 205)
    • Imam al-Rida and the Patriarch (page 207)
    • Abraham of Tiberias and Abd al-Rahman al-Hashimi (page 211)
    • Theodore Abu Qurra and Caliph al-Mamun (page 224)
    • Conclusion (page 240)
  • 8 The End of Dialogue? (page 243)
    • Elias of Nisibis and George the Monk (page 243)
    • Significant Themes of Christian Dialogues (page 248)
    • Significant Themes of Muslim Dialogues (page 253)
    • From Creation to Collation (page 257)
  • Bibliography (page 261)
  • Index (page 288)