"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).

Monday, March 21, 2022

Christian Thought in the Medieval Islamic World

In the dozen years this blog has now been active, it has been an especial joy to watch increased scholarly attention to the Syriac tradition, not a few of whose books have been featured on here. 

Set for release early next month will be another welcome volume aiding in our understanding of this tradition and its wider relations: Christian Thought in the Medieval Islamicate World: Abdisho of Nisibis and the Apologetic Tradition by Salam Rassi (Oxford University Press, April 2022), 400pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this: 

Christian Thought in the Medieval Islamicate World is the first monograph-length study and intellectual biography of Abdisho of Nisibis (d. 1318), bishop and polymath of the Church of the East. Focusing on his works of apologetic theology, it examines the intellectual strategies he employs to justify Christianity against Muslim (and to a lesser extent Jewish) criticisms. Better known to scholars of Syriac literature as a poet, jurist, and cataloguer, Abdisho wrote a considerable number of works in the Arabic language, many of which have only recently come to light. He flourished at a time when Syriac Christian writers were becoming increasingly indebted to Islamic models of intellectual production. Yet many of his writings were composed during mounting religious tensions following the official conversion of the Ilkhanate to Islam in 1295. In the midst of these challenges, Abdisho negotiates a centuries-long tradition of Syriac and Arabic apologetics to remind his readers of the verity of the Christian faith. His engagement with this tradition reveals how anti-Muslim apologetics had long shaped the articulation of Christian identity in the Middle East since the emergence of Islam. Through a selective process of encyclopaedism and systematisation, Abdisho navigates a vast corpus of Syriac and Arabic apologetics to create a synthesis and theological canon that remains authoritative to this day.

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