The Doctrine of the Incarnation in Dialogue with Islam: Four Lines of Argumentation

in Heirs of the Apostles

Abstract

During the eighth and ninth centuries, a new genre of theological literature appeared: Christian apologetical treatises, written in Arabic rather than Greek or Syriac, articulating Christian doctrine in conscious dialogue with the claims of Islam. Among the major figures who contributed to this new literature were Theodore Abū Qurra (ca. 750–ca. 830), Ḥabīb ibn Khidma Abū Rāʾiṭa (c. 770–c. 835), and ʿAmmār al-Baṣrī (d. c. 840). In writing in defense of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, these authors argue that the Incarnation brought to completion a pattern of divine action discernable throughout history, that it was consistent with God’s gracious provision of a physical locus of His presence at key moments in His interaction with humanity, that it fittingly made possible human participation in the attainment of salvation, and that it more perfectly accomplished human salvation by making the Agent of salvation manifest, thus inspiring more authentic gratitude on the part of the redeemed.

Heirs of the Apostles

Studies on Arabic Christianity in Honor of Sidney H. Griffith

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