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Heirs of the Apostles

Studies on Arabic Christianity in Honor of Sidney H. Griffith

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Edited by David Bertaina, Sandra Toenies Keating, Mark N. Swanson and Alexander Treiger

Heirs of the Apostles offers a panoramic survey of Arabic-speaking Christians—descendants of the Christian communities established in the Middle East by the apostles—and their history, religion, and culture in the early Islamic and medieval periods. The subjects range from Arabic translations of the Bible, to the status of Christians in the Muslim-governed lands, Muslim-Christian polemic, and Christian-Muslim and Christian-Jewish relations. The volume is offered as a Festschrift to Sidney H. Griffith, the doyen of Christian Arabic Studies in North America, on his eightieth birthday.

Contributors are: David Bertaina, Elie Dannaoui, Stephen Davis, Nathan P. Gibson, Cornelia Horn, Sandra Toenies Keating, Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, Johannes Pahlitzsch, Andrew Platt, Thomas W. Ricks, Barbara Roggema, Harald Suermann, Mark N. Swanson, Shawqi Talia, Jack Tannous, David Thomas, Jennifer Tobkin, Alexander Treiger, Ronny Vollandt, Clare Wilde, and Jason Zaborowski.
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Shay Eshel

In The Concept of the Elect Nation in Byzantium, Shay Eshel shows how the Old Testament model of the ancient Israelites was a prominent factor in the evolution of Roman-Byzantine national awareness between the 7th and 13th centuries. The Byzantines' interpretation of the 7th century epic events as manifestations of God's wrath enabled them to incorporate the events into a paradigm which they now embraced: the Old Testament paradigm of the Israelite Elect Nation's complex relationship with God, a cyclic relation of sin, wrath, punishment, repentance and salvation. The Elect Nation concept enabled the Byzantines to express the shift in their collective identity toward a shrunken, yet more clearly defined, national awareness.
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Nersēs of Lambron: Commentary on the Dormition of Saint John

Armenian Text and Annotated Translation

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Edited by Robert W. Thomson

This is the first translation of the twelfth century Armenian commentary on the death of John the Evangelist as found in the Acts of John. The last section of the apocryphal life of the Evangelist became detached from the whole, and circulated widely in the churches of east and west. The Armenian version was included in service books, Bibles, and collections of saints’ lives. Yet no medieval commentary on that brief text is known in any other language.
Nersēs of Lambron [1153-1198], Archbishop of Tarsus, was a prolific author and an influential player in the ecclesiastical politics of his era. He used this work as a medium for spiritual reflection, and for an exposition of the Armenian tradition as opposed to the theologies of the Greek and Syrian churches.
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Edited by Mark Beaumont and Maha El Kaisy-Friemuth

al-Radd al-jamīl attributed to al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) is the most extensive and detailed refutation of the divinity of Jesus by a Muslim author in the classical period of Islam. Since the discovery of the manuscript in the 1930’s scholars have debated whether the great Muslim theologian al-Ghazālī was really the author.

This is a new critical edition of the Arabic text and the first complete English translation. The introduction situates this work in the history of Muslim anti-Christian polemical writing. Mark Beaumont and Maha El Kaisy-Friemuth argue that this refutation comes from an admirer of al-Ghazālī who sought to advance some of his key ideas for an Egyptian audience.
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Severus of Antioch

His Life and Times

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Edited by Youhanna Youssef and John D'Alton

Severus of Antioch: His Life and Times offers many fresh insights into the life, theology, reception history, exegetical approach, and asceticism of Severus, a key figure in the Oriental Orthodox Church, and central to the current discussions on Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox reunion. It includes articles from established Syriac scholars and theologians including well-known international authors Pauline Allen, Sebastian Brock, Rifaat Ebied and Ken Parry. The topics covered have immense theological and historical significance for the churches of the Middle East and the history of Late Antiquity, and explore new understandings of Severus’ exegetical context, the theological and political impact of his sermons, and his relation to the many ideological currents of his time.
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Ioana Feodorov, Yulia I. Petrova and Virgil Cândea

This is a thoroughly revised and expanded version of the first edition of the Arabic version of Dimitrie Cantemir’s The Divan or the Sage’s Dispute with the World (Ṣalāḥ al-ḥakīm wa-fasād al-ʿālam al-ḏamīm) (Iaşi, 1698), his first printed book, the earliest ethical treatise in Romanian literature and a testimony to his wide knowledge, reading, and proficiency in foreign languages. Completed in 1705 by Athanasius III Dabbās, Patriarch of the Antiochian Church (1684-1694, 1720-1724), the Arabic text is accompanied by the first translation into a modern language, English. Book III contains Cantemir’s version of the Latin work Stimuli virtutum, fraena peccatorum (Amsterdam, 1682) by the Unitarian Andzrej Wiszowaty (Andreas Wissovatius) of Raków (Poland), a chief representative of the Polish Brethren. Thus, in the space of twenty-three years Central-European Protestant ideas reached the Arab Christians of Ottoman Syria, by way of Greek and Arabic.
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The Ethiopian Homily on the Ark of the Covenant

Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of Dǝrsanä Ṣǝyon 

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Amsalu Tefera

In The Ethiopian Homily on the Ark of the Covenant, Amsalu Tefera offers an editio princeps of the Ethiopic text of Dǝrsanä Ṣǝyon together with an annotated English translation. This homily, most likely composed in the fifteenth century, links the term Zion with the Ark of the Covenant and recounts at length its wanderings from Sinai to Ethiopia. As a Christian document, many of the events are interpreted as symbolic of Mary and the heavenly New Jerusalem.

First edited by the author for his 2011 doctoral dissertation, the critical text and apparatus present a complete collation of the ten known witnesses to this homily. Detailed notes are supplied on significant and difficult terms in the translation.
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Isaak von Ninive und seine Kephalaia Gnostika

Die Pneumatologie und ihr Kontext

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Nestor Kavvadas

Isaac of Nineveh (7th century AD), or Isaac the Syrian, was, among all the Syriac writers, the one to exert the greatest influence outside the Syriac-speaking world, becoming a highly venerated Father of Byzantine Orthodox spirituality and theology. In Isaak von Nineve und seine Kephalaia Gnostika, Nestor Kavvadas first draws out the frictions between East Syrian episcopacy and the anchorite mystical movement as represented by Isaac, in search of the historical context of Isaac’s teaching on the working of the Holy Spirit on the monk. Then, he draws out of Isaac’s writings, and especially the Kephalaia Gnostika, the underlying structure of Isaac’s thought on the working of the Holy Spirit, with the tension here between the here and now and the ‘New World’ that can be momentarily anticipated in the present world.

Isaak von Ninive (7. Jh. n.Chr.), oder Isaak der Syrer, war unter allen Syrischen Autoren derjenige, der den größten Einfluss außerhalb der syrischsprachigen Welt ausübte, indem er ein besonders verehrter Vater der byzantinischen orthodoxen Spiritualität und Theologie wurde. In Isaak von Ninive und seine Kephalaia Gnostika zeichnet Nestor Kavvadas zuerst die Reibungen zwischen dem ostsyrischen Episkopat und der v.a. durch Isaak vertretenen, anachoretischen mystischen Strömung nach, auf der Suche nach dem historischen Kontext der Lehre Isaaks vom Wirken des Heiligen Geistes auf den Mönch. Dann rekonstruiert er aus den Schriften Isaaks, insbesondere aus den Kephalaia Gnostika, die Isaaks Denken vom Wirken des Heiligen Geistes zugrundeliegende Struktur; leitend ist hier die Spannung zwischen dem „hier und jetzt“ und der „Neuen Welt“, die in dieser Welt augenblicklich antizipiert werden kann.
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Early Christian-Muslim Debate on the Unity of God

Three Christian Scholars and their Engagement with Islamic Thought (9th Century C.E.)

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Sara Leila Husseini

Early Christian-Muslim Debate on the Unity of God examines the writings of three of the earliest known Christian theologians to write comprehensive theological works in Arabic. Theodore Abū Qurra, Abū Rā’iṭa and ‘Ammār al-Baṣrī provide valuable insight into early Christian-Muslim debate shortly after the rise of the Islamic empire.
Through close examination of their writings on the doctrine of the Trinity, Sara Husseini demonstrates the creativity of these theologians, who make use of language, style and argumentation characteristic of Islamic theological thought (kalām), in order to help articulate their long-established religious truths. Husseini offers close analysis of the authors individually and comparatively, exploring their engagement with Islamic theology and their role in this fascinating period.
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The Tale of the Prophet Isaiah

The Destiny and Meanings of an Apocryphal Text

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Ivan Biliarsky

In The Tale of the Prophet Isaiah. The Destiny and Meanings of an Apocryphal Text Ivan Biliarsky proposes an edition of the original text of the medieval apocryphon, together with images of the single manuscript copy. The author also includes a large commentary on the otherwise quite unclear narrative concerning its origins, its development, a prosopography of the mentioned persons, an interpretation of its meaning and of the stages of its continuous creation. This completely new approach profoundly revises the source with a strong focus on its biblical roots. Ivan Biliarsky abandons the “national” understanding of the apocryphon and introduces evidence about its significance for the enforcement of the Byzantine-Slavic/Bulgarian Commonwealth and solidarity.