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The Theology of ‘Ammār al-Basrī

Commending Christianity within Islamic Culture


ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī (d.c. 850) was the first Christian to write a systematic theology in Arabic, the language of the Muslim rulers of ʿAmmār’s Middle East. This study of his two works that were only discovered in the 1970’s seeks to analyse the way he defends Christian beliefs from criticism by Muslims over the authenticity of the Gospels, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the Incarnation, the death of Christ by crucifixion, the resurrection of Christ, and the nature of the afterlife. ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī wrote his theology in dialogue with Muslim thinkers of his time and his work offers guidance to Christians in today’s world who live in Islamic contexts in how to relate Christian convictions to a Muslim audience.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4361-6
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Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Oct 29,2021
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 314
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4361-6
$114.95

ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī (d.c. 850) was the first Christian to write a systematic theology in Arabic, the language of the Muslim rulers of ʿAmmār’s Middle East. This study of his two works that were only discovered in the 1970’s seeks to analyse the way he defends Christian beliefs from criticism by Muslims over the authenticity of the Gospels, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the Incarnation, the death of Christ by crucifixion, the resurrection of Christ, and the nature of the afterlife. ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī wrote his theology in dialogue with Muslim thinkers of his time and his work offers guidance to Christians in today’s world who live in Islamic contexts in how to relate Christian convictions to a Muslim audience.

ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī (d.c. 850) was the first Christian to write a systematic theology in Arabic, the language of the Muslim rulers of ʿAmmār’s Middle East. This study of his two works that were only discovered in the 1970’s seeks to analyse the way he defends Christian beliefs from criticism by Muslims over the authenticity of the Gospels, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the Incarnation, the death of Christ by crucifixion, the resurrection of Christ, and the nature of the afterlife. ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī wrote his theology in dialogue with Muslim thinkers of his time and his work offers guidance to Christians in today’s world who live in Islamic contexts in how to relate Christian convictions to a Muslim audience.

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ContributorBiography

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a research associate at London School of Theology who has published widely on Christian-Muslim relations both in the early era of Muslim rule and in recent times. His Open University PhD was published in 2005 as Christology in Dialogue with Muslims: A Critical Analysis of Christian Presentations of Christ for Muslims from the Ninth and Twentieth Centuries. In 2018 he edited Arab Christians and the Qurʾan from the Origins of Islam to the Medieval Period.

Introduction ............................................................................. ix
Chapter One. The Background for ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī’s Theology
in the Church of the East ........................................................... 1
ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī as a Church of the East theologian ........... 1
The Church of the East ...................................................... 3
The Church of the East in Basra ......................................... 9
Basra under Islamic rule .................................................. 10
East Syrian Christian reactions to Muslim rule ................. 12
The Church of the East as a Millet in the Islamic
Empire ..................................................................... 18
Conclusion ...................................................................... 21
Chapter Two. Arguing for One Creator ................................... 23
Zoroastrian belief in two creators .................................... 24
Proving the existence of one Creator from Greek
philosophy in the Book of Questions and Answers ..... 26
Proving the existence of one Creator from Greek
philosophy in The Book of the Proof concerning
the Course of the Divine Economy ........................... 28
Proving the existence of one Creator against
Zoroastrian belief in two creators in the Book of
Questions and Answers ............................................ 30
Dualist beliefs refuted in The Book of the Proof
concerning the Course of the Divine Economy ......... 33
The One Creator and the problem of evil in the Book
of Questions and Answers ........................................ 34
The problem of evil in The Book of the Proof
concerning the Course of the Divine Economy ......... 38
Evaluation ....................................................................... 40
Chapter Three. Humans are free to choose good or evil .......... 47
Muslim discussion of free will ......................................... 48
Ḥasan al-Baṣrī’s letter supporting human free will ........... 49
Muslim advocacy of determinism .................................... 50
Christian belief in free will .............................................. 51
ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī’s defense of free will .............................. 52
ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī on the necessity for human beings
freely to choose good or evil in the Book of
Questions and Answers ............................................ 54
ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī on the necessity for human beings
freely to choose good or evil in the Book of the
Proof concerning the Course of the Divine
Economy .................................................................. 61
Theodore Abū Qurra on free will ..................................... 63
Evaluation ....................................................................... 65
Chapter Four. Defending the authenticity of the Gospels ......... 73
Muslim accusation of alteration of the gospels ................. 74
ʿAmmār’s defense of the authenticity of the gospels in
The Book of Questions and Answers......................... 76
ʿAmmār’s defence of the authenticity of the gospels in
the Book of the Proof concerning the Course of
the Divine Economy ................................................. 85
Theodore Abū Qurra on the authenticity of the
apostolic messengers of the gospel ........................... 90
Ḥabīb ibn Khidma Abū Rāʾiṭā on the authenticity of
the apostolic messengers of the gospel ..................... 95
Evaluation ....................................................................... 96
Chapter Five. Defending the Trinity ...................................... 101
Muslim belief in the oneness of God and rejection of
the Trinity ............................................................. 102
John of Damascus defending the Trinity ........................ 104
An Eighth century Anonymous Apology for the Trinity
and Incarnation ..................................................... 106
ʿAmmār’s defense of the Trinity in the Book of
Questions and Answers .......................................... 108
ʿAmmār’s defense of the Trinity in The Book of the
Proof concerning the Course of the Divine
Economy ................................................................ 121
Timothy’s defense of the Trinity .................................... 128
Abū Qurra’s Treatise on the Trinity ............................... 130
Abū Rāʾiṭa’s Letter on the Trinity................................... 133
Evaluation ..................................................................... 138
The Refutation of the Christians by Al-Qāsim ibn
Ibrāhīm .................................................................. 138
The Refutation of the Trinity by Abū ʿĪsā al-Warrāq ...... 140
Chapter Six. On the Uniting of the divine and human
natures of Jesus ............................................................. 145
Muslim insistence that Jesus is only human and not
divine .................................................................... 146
ʿAmmār on the uniting of divinity and humanity in
Jesus from The Book of Questions and Answers ..... 148
ʿAmmār on the uniting of divinity and humanity in
Jesus from The Book of the Proof concerning the
Course of the Divine Economy ............................... 156
Abū Qurra’s treatise God has a Son who is His Equal
in Nature and who Exists Forever with Him ........... 162
Abū Rāʾiṭa’s Letter on the Incarnation ........................... 163
Evaluation ..................................................................... 165
Chapter Seven. Defending the Incarnation ............................ 173
Muslim insistence on the transcendence of God ............. 173
ʿAmmār on the incarnation from The Book of Questions
and Answers ............................................................174
ʿAmmār on the incarnation from The Book of the Proof
concerning the Course of the Divine Economy ..........180
Abū Qurra’s treatise A Reply to the One who Refuses
to Attribute the Incarnation to God ........................ 187
Abū Rāʾiṭa’s Letter on the Incarnation ........................... 189
Evaluation ..................................................................... 192
Chapter Eight. Debating the suffering of God in the death
of Jesus ......................................................................... 199
Muslim rejection of the death of Jesus by crucifixion ...... 199
ʿAmmār on the suffering and death of Jesus in The
Book of Questions and Answers ............................. 202
ʿAmmār on the suffering and death of Jesus in The
Book of the Proof concerning the Course of the
Divine Economy..................................................... 215
Abū Qurra’s treatise There is no Forgiveness for Sin
without the Suffering of the Messiah on behalf of
Humanity .............................................................. 220
Abū Rāʾiṭa’s Letter on the Incarnation ........................... 221
Evaluation ..................................................................... 225
Chapter Nine. Explaining Baptism, the Eucharist and the
Veneration of the Cross ................................................. 233
ʿAmmār on Baptism in The Book of the Proof
concerning the Course of the Divine Economy ....... 233
Abū Qurra on Baptism ................................................... 237
Evaluation ..................................................................... 238
ʿAmmār on the Eucharist in The Book of the Proof
concerning the Course of the Divine Economy ....... 238
Abū Qurra on the Eucharist ........................................... 243
Evaluation ..................................................................... 246
ʿAmmār on the veneration of the cross in The Book of
the Proof of the Course of the Divine Economy ...... 249
Evaluation ..................................................................... 252
Chapter Ten. Debate about the nature of the afterlife ............ 255
Debate about eating and drinking in the afterlife in
The Book of the Proof concerning the Course of
the Divine Economy ............................................... 255
Theodore Abu Qurra on the afterlife from his Treatise
on the existence of the Creator and of the true
religion .................................................................. 258
Evaluation ..................................................................... 260
The Afterlife as the goal of Creation in the theology of
ʿAmmār ................................................................. 261
The afterlife in The Book of Questions and Answers ...... 270
Conclusion ............................................................................ 275
Bibliography ......................................................................... 281
Index .................................................................................... 291

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