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In: Missions and Preaching


Literary dialogues between Christians and Muslims can be traced back to the first centuries of Islam. Although the practice of disputation in the majlis (assembly) was no longer present in the Ottoman Empire, Catholic missionaries in the Middle East continued to write fictional dialogues in the seventeenth century. The authors we discuss here were convinced that it was possible to debate with Muslims, provided that the right type of interlocutor was chosen from among distinguished and educated men, with whom they shared a code of conduct and certain religious and intellectual concerns. This attitude may be the result of the typical Jesuit method of accommodatio and of their fieldwork experience in the Orient. Nevertheless, this positive approach was impeded by the impossibility that a Catholic priest could escape the culture of disputation and consider Islam as an ordinary subject of study.

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient