The Legend of Sergius Baḥīrā

Eastern Christian Apologetics and Apocalyptic in Response to Islam

Series:

From the eighth century onwards, Christians living under Islam have produced numerous apologetic and polemical works, aimed at proving the continuing validity of Christianity. Among these is the Legend of Sergius Baḥīrā, which survives in two Syriac and two Arabic versions, and appears here in edition and translation. Being a counterhistory of Islam, it reshapes early Muslim traditions about a monk recognizing Muḥammad as the final Prophet by turning this monk into Muhammad’s tutor and co-author of the Qur’an. In response to Muslim triumphalist propaganda, it portrays Islam’s political power as predestined but finite and unrelated to its religious message. This feature sets the legend apart from similar Christian accounts of the origin of Islam, East and West, which are reviewed in this study as well.
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Biographical Note

Barbara Roggema has a Ph.D. in Languages and Cultures of the Middle East (University of Groningen, 2007) and is lecturer in the History of the Islamic World at John Cabot University (Rome).

Review Quotes

“[…] the value of the publication lies in the thoroughness of Roggema’s edition of the Legend of Baḥīrā, which is the outcome of an outstanding scholarly effort.”
Alexandros Tsakos in JOAS 20 (2011), 301-302.

Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

INTRODUCTION

PART I: THE LEGEND OF SERGIUS BAḤĪRĀ IN LIGHT OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS VIS-À-VIS ISLAM

Chapter One: Muslim-Christian Confrontation and Counterhistory

Chapter Two: The Islamic Baḥīrā

Chapter Three: The Apocalypse of Baḥīrā

Chapter Four: Baḥīrā’s Teachings

Breaking Crosses

God’s Word and His Spirit— Baḥīrā’s Christology

Protection and recognition – Baḥīrā and Q 5:82

The Physics of Heaven

Chapter Five: The Qurʾan against Islam

Chapter Six: The legend outside the Legend

Baḥīrā the Source

Baḥīrā the Heretic

Baḥīrā the False Witness

Baḥīrā the Victim

Jewish Traditions about Baḥīrā

Baḥīrā the Forecaster

Chapter Seven: Concluding Discussion

PART II: TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS

Chapter Eight: The Recensions and the Manuscript Tradition

Some Characteristics of the Recensions

Textual Genealogy

Manuscripts

Conspectus Siglorum

Methodological Considerations

Chapter Nine: The East-Syrian Recension

Chapter Ten: The West-Syrian Recension

Chapter Eleven: The Short Arabic Recension

Chapter Twelve: The Long Arabic Recension

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX OF SCRIPTURAL VERSES

GENERAL INDEX

Readership

All those interested in the history of Muslim-Christian interaction, apocalypticism, Christian apologetics, Eastern Christianity, Christian Arabic and Syriac literature, history of Islam , Medieval Europe, Byzantium.

Index Card

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