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The Orthodox Church in the Arab World, 700 - 1700: An Anthology of Sources (Orthodox Christian) Paperback – March 15, 2014
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—Catholic Historical Review
"The Orthodox Church in the Arab World 700–1700 presents an excellent introduction to an unknown field of Christian literature."
—Journal of the American Oriental Society
“All of the texts chosen for this volume are interesting in their own right, but the collection of these sources into a single volume, with helpful introductions and bibliographies, makes this book an invaluable resource for the study of Arabic Christianity and, indeed, the history of Christianity more broadly.”
—Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies
“This volume reveals a strain of Christianity that has been scarcely known for far too long. It is also timely, in that it opens up a world that, once simply forgotten, is now under threat of extinction as never before.”
—Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations
“This book is impressive in both content and presentation. The editors have marshaled a team of leading scholars in the field to produce a series of translations of significant Christian Arabic works, and have added an introduction that forms a comprehensive history of Christians within the Muslim world. They have produced a book that will be of immense help to the further understanding of Eastern Christianity and the history of relations between Christians and Muslims.”
—David Thomas, University of Birmingham
Stephen J. Shoemaker, University of Oregon
About the Author
AlexanderTreiger is associate professor in the Department of Classics and Program in Religious Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Top customer reviews
Chapter 1 contains a translation of 'An Apology for the Christian Faith'. This is the earliest text presented. It appears to have been written in the 8th century. Even though the treatise is addressing Muslims it is free from polemic.
Chapter 4 contains the passion of Saint Anthony Rawh. Rawh was an Abbasid prince who converted to Christianity and adopted the name Anthony. There is lots of information on how Rawh was disrespectful and dissolute prior to his conversion. Eventually he was executed on Christmas Day, 799. A truly fascinating story and fairly brief (pages 117-123). A second hagiographic text concerns Abd al-Masih, a Christian Arab who fell into the company of ghazi raiders and adopted Islam. Eventually he regretted his decision and retired to Mt Sinai as a monk. On a trip to Ramla he was spotted and denounced as a Muslim apostate and executed. Sorry to say there aren't a lot of happy endings in Muslim conversion stories but their examples survive to inspire us today.
Chapter 5 is an extract from the Chronicle of Agapius of Manbij from the 10th century. The extract covers pre- Christian history. It gives an account of Ptolemy's translation of the Old Testament into Greek and discusses the authenticity of Scripture.
Chapter 7 has some works by Abdallah ibn al-Fadl al-Antaki who was active in the 11th century around Antioch. He was completely unknown to me but the introduction says he wrote extensively. I can only hope future scholars will take up the task and do more on this figure.
Chapter 10 has a full translation of Paul of Sidon's 'Letter to a Muslim Friend' from the 12th century. In this subversive text Paul tries to show that Muslim's have misunderstood the Qur'an and that it is pro-Christian. This letter scandalised Muslims. I have read about letter before and I was really happy to finally have a translation to read for myself. The notorious Ibn Taymiyya (died 1328) felt compelled to write a massive refutation of Paul's letter.
Chapter 12 has a translation of extracts of Paul of Aleppo's travels to Russia and Eastern Europe in the 17th century in the retinue of the Patriarch of Antioch. The only problem I have is that I wished I could read more.
Other readers might find other texts in this volume equally interesting. Scholarly translations from Arabic tend to be very expensive so I was pleasantly surprised about the fair price. I even bought an extra copy for an Antiochian Orthodox friend of mine.
First, because this subject-matter, while seemingly remote in time and distance, is actually very pertinent to our times. In these very lands Christians are continuing to struggle to maintain their faith and identity in the very same -- if more overtly hostile -- environment which this anthology depicts.
Second, this is pertinent for another reason. Many of us in "the west" are waking up to realize that we, too, are an embattled minority in a land that we once thought "ours." Christians in the West can learn a lot from our coreligionists from the East.
Third, because of the changing situation in the West, I found this spiritually enriching.
I found the editor's notes very helpful and the material accessible.
The maintenance of faith and love by Christians in the region during this time is inspiring. Learning more about the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition is illuminating for Western readers, especially. Although the editors may have intended the book for academic use in religious studies courses, it is both a readable and valuable book for the general public who desires to know more about the history of the Orthodox Christian Church and its civilizing contributions in a region that continues to be in turmoil.