"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Middle Eastern History in the Middle Ages

Oxford University Press has just released what looks to be a fascinating and comprehensive treatment of the history of one of the most consequential periods in one of the most important parts of the world for Muslim-Eastern Christian encounters: James Howard-Johnston, Witnesses to a World Crisis: Historians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century (OUP, 2011), 576pp.

About this book, the publisher tells us the following:
James Howard-Johnston provides a sweeping and highly readable account of probably the most dramatic single episode in world history - the emergence of a new religion (Islam), the destruction of two established great powers (Roman and Iranian), and the creation of a new world empire by the Arabs, all in the space of not much more than a generation (610-52 AD). Warfare looms large, especially where operations can be followed in some detail, as in Iraq 636-40, in Egypt 641-2 and in the long-drawn out battle for the Mediterranean (649-98). As the first history of the formative phase of Islam to be grounded in the important non-Islamic as well as Islamic sources, Witnesses to a World Crisis is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand Islam as a religion and political force, the modern Middle East, and the jihadist impulse, which is as evident today as it was in the seventh century.
We are also given the table of contents:
1. George of Pisidia
2. Two Universal Chronicles
3. Seventh-Century Eastern Sources I: The History of Khosrov
4. Seventh-Century Eastern Sources II: The History to the Year 682 and the Khuzistan Chronicle
5. Supplementary Roman Sources of the Seventh Century I
6. Supplementary Roman Sources of the Seventh Century II
7. Later Historians: The West Syrian Tradition
8. Later Historians: Nicephorus
9. Later Historians: Theophanes
10. Later Historians at Work in Egypt, Iraq, and Iran
11. Early Islamic Historical Writing
12. The Life of the Prophet
13. Historians of the Middle East in the Seventh Century
14. The Middle East in the Seventh Century: The Great Powers, Arabia, and the Prophet
15. The Middle East in the Seventh Century: Arab Conquests
16. The Middle East in the Seventh Century: A New World Order
I look forward to having this expertly reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies.

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