Thursday, 23 May 2019

Ghita Vlad Adrian: Seven Christian Perspectives on Islam

     The Christian accounts of Islam which I shall present in this paper come from seven authors, of which six are Byzantine and the last is Roman-Catholic. These seven are: 1. Saint Anastasios of Sinai (~630-700 AD); 2. Saint John of Damascus (675/676-749); 3. Theodore Abu Qurrah (750-820, Chalcedonian Eastern Orthodox bishop of Harran); 4. Niketas Byzantios (a philosopher from Constantinople in the nineth century AD); 5. Bartholomew of Edessa (13thcentury); 6. John VI Kantakouzenos (Byzantine Emperor between 1347-1354); and 7. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), a Western philosopher who, through the amplitude of his philosophical position, becomes a universal figure in his own right, surpassing the strictly confessional borders of Roman-Catholicism.    The Eastern Orthodox countries are the natural heirs to the Byzantine Empire because, according to Nicolae Iorga's formula ”Byzantium after Byzantium”, they have intercepted the Byzantine heritage. Moreover, the Byzantines and later the Eastern Europeans have had a contact of long standing with Islam. This is why, when I search for the specificity of the medieval Christian perspective on the Islamic faith, it is natural to pick more thinkers from the Eastern part of Europe and only one Western author. The general refutal of Islam which is found in the texts of the Byzantine Church intellectuals is also endorsed by Saint Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) who, at the very beginning of Renaissance in the West, defended the Orthodox Church’s teaching against the rationalist humanism of Western-minded intellectuals like Barlaam of Calabria, being then taken captive by the Turks in Gallipoli.

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