The structural framework and individual themes of the sermons of Christ to his disciples as they are presented in the Arabic Apocryphal Gospel of John emphasize the need to preserve and restore church structures with a focus on the support of the priestly ministry. They also highlight the relevance of rebuilding and protecting Christian social life that appears to be threatened from many sides. The text avails itself of these apocalyptic and eschatological interests in order to support overriding ecclesiological concerns for the survival, recovery, and ultimately for the transformation of the Christian church that is faced with a day-to-day Islamic reality of life that has both hostile and attractive sides.
Elias of Nisibis (d. 1046) was a well-known bishop and theologian of the Church of the East who engaged in several discussions with the local vizier Abū al-Qāsim al-Maghribī (d. 1027). This chapter focuses on their interpretation of monotheism in the Qurʾān, and whether it could be applied to Christianity. Granting authority to the Qurʾān and using Islamic commentaries for his arguments, Elias claimed that the Muslim scripture promised Christians were monotheists and would be granted salvation. The text’s significance lies in its demonstration of the flourishing Islamo-Christian engagement found under eleventh-century Marwānid rule, the Christian use of Islamic sources, the accommodation of medieval Islamic interpretive frameworks to Christian readings of the Qurʾān, and the impact of Arabic-speaking Christianity on Islamic civilization.
This contribution consists of an Arabic edition and facing English translation of the Copto-Arabic text, The Visions of Anba Shenouda. The article provides the first English translation of the text to be published. This text is noteworthy for expanding the legacy of the pre-Islamic Coptic Abbot Shenoute (ca. AD 348–466) in the Arabic-speaking milieu of Egypt under Islamic rule. The text describes Shenoute miraculously participating in a heavenly mass with biblical personalities (such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Peter), and the text includes a long sermon warning Christians to uphold the fasts and commandments, lest they forfeit heavenly rewards.
While Palestinian monasteries are scarcely mentioned in Byzantine hagiography of the period between the middle of the ninth century and the 960s, the constant reference in the lives and writings of several saints from the 11th and 12th centuries presented here demonstrate that the Holy Land once again became an attractive goal for wandering monks. This new interest is without doubt connected to the Byzantine re-conquest of Northern Syria and the subsequent Byzantinization of the Melkite Church, including its monasteries, and has to be understood as an expression of what the Holy Land and especially the famous monasteries of the Judean desert meant for Orthodox monks in Byzantium in that period of a revival of monasticism in Byzantium.
Question-and-answer literature forms a rich source for the social and intellectual life of Arabic-speaking Christians. This chapter deals with what was probably the most popular example of the genre: the “Questions and Answers of Basil and Gregory” and discusses what issues the text raises with regard to the interaction of Christians with members of other faiths, notably Muslims and Jews.
A Copto-Arabic homily for the Third Sunday in Lent (preserved in MS Paris BnF ar. 4761, 17th cent.) is centered on an anecdote about the encounter of Alexander the Great with a prince living among the tombs. While the anecdote is known from the Arabic wisdom collections Ādāb al-falāsifa and Mukhtār al-ḥikam wa-maḥāsin al-kalim, the Coptic preacher expands upon it in such a way that it becomes a kind of interreligious encounter: Alexander preaches something very like a Christian sermon, while the Hermit Prince is portrayed as someone very like a Sufi saint.