"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).

Friday, April 10, 2020

Islamic Prophethood Understood Thomistically?

Christianity has never spoken with one voice on just about anything, including how Muhammad should be regarded. Some dismiss him as a delusional devil; others see him as saying things which Christians should regard as largely unobjectionable, if not conformable to their own tradition; others think he is advancing a species of Christian heresy largely derived from Arianism; and still other voices, ancient and modern, have still different views.

Along comes what seems to be a very careful new book giving painstaking consideration to these questions. Released just last month is Muhammad ReconsideredA Christian Perspective on Islamic Prophecy by Anna Bonta Moreland (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020), 196pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
Scholarly attempts to understand Islam in the West over the past several years have failed to take Islamic theology seriously. This book engages Islam from deep within the Christian tradition by addressing the question of the prophethood of Muhammad. Anna Bonta Moreland calls for a retrieval of Thomistic thought on prophecy to view Muhammad within a Christian theology of revelation, without either appropriating the prophet as an unwitting Christian or reducing both Christianity and Islam to a common denominator. This historical recovery leads to a more sophisticated understanding of Islam, one that honors the integrity of the Catholic tradition and, through that integrity, argues for the possibility in principle of Muhammad as a religious prophet.
Moreland sets the stage for this inquiry through an intertextual reading of the key Vatican II documents on Islam and on Christian revelation. She then uses Aquinas's treatment of prophecy to address the case of whether Muhammad is a prophet in Christian terms. The book examines the work of several Christian theologians, including W. Montgomery Watt, Hans Küng, Kenneth Cragg, David Kerr, and Jacques Jomier, O.P., and then draws upon the practice of analogical reasoning in the theology of religious pluralism to show that a term in one religion—in this case “prophecy”—can have purchase in another religious tradition. Muhammad Reconsidered not only is a constructive contribution to Catholic theology but also has enormous potential to help scholars reframe and comprehend Christian-Muslim relations.

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