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Heirs of the Apostles

Studies on Arabic Christianity in Honor of Sidney H. Griffith


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.


Cornelia B. Horn


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.


David Bertaina


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.