1st Edition

Arabic Christianity in the Monasteries of Ninth-Century Palestine

By Sidney H. Griffith Copyright 1992
    352 Pages
    by Routledge

    The history of Christian literature took a new turn in the 8th century when monks in the monasteries of Palestine began to write theology and saints’ lives in Arabic; they also instituted a veritable programme for translating the Bible and other Christian texts from Greek (and Syriac) into the language of the Qur’an, the lingua franca of the Islamic caliphate. This is the subject of the present volume. Two key factors leading to this change, as Professor Griffith indicates, were that the confrontation with the developing theology of Islam created a direct need for apologetics to face this new religious challenge in its own language; and, second, simply that as the memory of Byzantine power waned, so too did the knowledge of Greek. Issues of particular interest in this apologetic literature are those of the freedom of the will, a key topic in the controversies between Melkites and Muslims, and of the legitimacy of icon veneration, a subject of great contemporary concern at the time of Iconoclasm in the Byzantine Empire. L’histoire de la littérature chrétienne a pris un nouveau tournant au 8 siécle lorsque les religieux des monastères de Palestine commencèrent à écrire la théologie et la vie des saints en arabe. De même, ils instituèrent un véritable programme de traduction de la Bible et autres textes chrétiens du grec (et du syriaque) en langue corannique, la lingua franca du califat islamique. Tel est l’objet du présent recueil. Deux facteurs determinants ayant conduit à ce changement, comme l’indique le professeur Griffith, étaient, en premier lieu, la confrontation avec une théologie islamique croissante, qui créait un besoin pressant pour les apologétiques de faire face à ce nouveau défi religieux dans la langue propre à celui-ci; en second lieu, au fur et à mesure que s’estompait la mémoire du pourvoir byzantin, il en allait de même pour la connaissance que l’on avait de la langue grecque. Ces textes traitent de q

    Contents: Preface; The prophet Muhammad, his scripture and his message, according to the Christian apologies in Arabic and Syriac from the first Abbasid century; The Gospel in Arabic: an inquiry into its appearance in the first Abbasid century; The monks of Palestine and the growth of Christian literature in Arabic; Eutychius of Alexandria on the emperor Theophilus and Iconoclasm in Byzantium: a 10th-century moment in Christian apologetics in Arabic; Theodore Abu Qurrah's Arabic tract on the Christian practice of venerating images; Free will in Christian kalam: the doctrine of Theodore Abu Qurrah; Stephen of Ramlah and the Christian kerygma in Arabic in 9th- century Palestine; Greek into Arabic: life and letters in the monasteries of Palestine in the 9th century; the example of the Summa Theologiae Arabica; A 9th-century Summa Theologiae Arabica; The Arabic account of ’Abd al-Masih an-Nagrani al-Ghassani; Anthony David of Baghdad, scribe and monk of Mar Sabas: Arabic in the monasteries of Palestine; Additions; Index.


    Sidney H. Griffith

    '...the book is a valuable contribution towards understanding Eastern Christianity in the Arab world.' Muslim World Book Review, No 4