Friday, March 21, 2014

New Anthology Features English Translations of Arabic Orthodox Literature

This new title holds much promise for traditional Christian apologetics, and for efforts to rally opposition to Muslim persecution of Christians. Arab Christian theological treatises from the 8th century onward directly countered Islam's fierce theological jihad against Christianity, which began in the Quran itself, with such strident passages as these:

Say not “Trinity”: desist: It will be better for you: For God is One God: Glory be to Him: (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. . . . (Sura 4:173)

In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the Son of Mary. (Sura 5:19)

They do blaspheme who say: “God is Christ the son of Mary . . .” They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them (Sura 5:75,78)

Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God doth make His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth! (Sura 5:78)

The Jews call 'Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the Son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. God's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! (Sura 9:30)

In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him — they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. (Sura 4:157)
The Quran's jihad against Christianity is not merely theological. It contains explicit commands for Muslims to wage holy war against the 'People of the Book', subjugate them, force them to pay the jizya, and utterly humiliate them:
Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [i.e. Islam] among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Sura 9:29)
Ultimately, early Christian sources from the first and second waves of Islamic jihad are essential in further establishing the historical, unbroken continuity of Muslim warfare against Christians, Islamic domination of conquered Christian communities through the repressive dhimma contract and the Conditions of Omar, and how the militant, supremacist nature of early Islam is openly being reasserted today in the 21st century jihad.

New Anthology Features English Translations of Arabic Orthodox Literature
Pravmir — March 20, 2014

A recently published anthology, The Orthodox Church in the Arab World 700-1700: An Anthology of Sources, is a comprehensive introduction to the first millennium of Arabic-speaking Orthodoxy accessible to English speakers. Published by the Northern Illinois University Press, the book is the work of two Orthodox scholars, Samuel Noble, a doctoral candidate in religious studies at Yale University, and Alexander Treiger, associate professor in the Department of Classics and Program in Religious Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Noble explains that “…in the Western historiography of Christianity, the Arab Christian Middle East is treated only peripherally, if at all.” A sample of the book’s contents includes: 

  • An 8th century Apology for the Christian Faith
  • a work by Theodore Abu Qurra on discerning the true religion; 
  • a disputation of the monk Abraham of Tiberias with the Muslims;
  • lives of little-known saints and martyrs; 
  • the world history of Agapios;
  • the devotional poetry of Sulayman al-Ghazzi;
  • the mystical treatise the Noetic Paradise;
  • a treatise on the priesthood by Agathon of Homs;
  • the Letter to a Muslim Friend by Paul of Antioch;
  • the unpublished notebook and diplomatic correspondence of the Patriarch Macarius;

and Paul of Aleppo’s travel account that sheds light on the history of the Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, Southeastern Europe, and Russia.