Tyrolia recently published “Syrisches Christentum und früher Islam. Theologische Reaktionen in syrisch-sprachigen Texten vom 7. bis 9. Jahrhundert” (Syriac Christianity and Early Islam: Theological Reactions in Syriac Texts from the 7th to 9th Centuries) by Joachim Jakob. Interested readers may purchase the book here.
The emergence and rapid spread of Islam posed a major challenge to Christianity. Syriac Christians were among the first who have been in touch with Muslims. This study examines the earliest theological reactions to Islam written by authors of this Christian tradition. The focus is on texts which were composed in Syriac (the Aramaic dialect of the ancient city Edessa). While the sources handed down from the 7th century can predominantly be assigned to the apocalyptic genre and handle the Arabic expansion in terms of a theology of history, the authors of the 8th and 9th centuries already dealt with the main controversial subjects between Christian and Muslim theology, especially the doctrine of the Trinity and Christology. A comparison with Islamic theology of the period in question shows that some Syriac Christians of the 8th and 9th centuries knew the positions and arguments of the Muslim theologians of their time and used them for their own Christian apologetics. Thus, this study demonstrates by means of concrete examples that there must have been contacts between Muslim and Christian intellectuals.
About the Author
Joachim Jakob is an expert in the historical relations between the three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), especially in the Middle East. His research focuses mainly on Christian textual sources written in Syriac and partly in Arabic during the medieval period. He has also published on the situation of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Joachim studied Catholic theology (Mag.theol., 2011) as well as history (B.A., 2011; M.A., 2013) at the University of Salzburg, Austria. He received awards for academic excellence (“Leistungsstipendien”) for his efforts from the University of Salzburg’s Catholic Theological School (2012) and from its School of Social and Cultural Sciences (2014). Joachim completed his doctoral studies (Dr.theol., 2018) in Salzburg with a thesis entitled “Syriac Christianity and Early Islam: Theological Reactions in Syriac Texts from the 7th to the 9th Centuries” (“Syrisches Christentum und früher Islam. Theologische Reaktionen in syrisch-sprachigen Texten vom 7. bis 9. Jahrhundert”; reviewers: Prof. Dr. Dietmar W. Winkler, Salzburg, and Prof. Dr. Herman Teule, Leuven). In 2019, Joachim received the Karl Rahner Award for Theological Research (funded by the Karl Rahner Foundation, Munich, and granted at the University of Innsbruck) for his doctoral thesis.
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