The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque : Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam

Sydney Griffith

$ 28.95


Amid so much twenty-first-century talk of a "Christian-Muslim divide"--and the attendant controversy in some Western countries over policies toward minority Muslim communities--a historical fact has gone unnoticed: for more than four hundred years beginning in the mid-seventh century, some 50 percent of the world's Christians lived and worshipped under Muslim rule. Just who were the Christians in the Arabic-speaking milieu of Mohammed and the Qur'an?

The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque is the first book-length discussion in English of the cultural and intellectual life of such Christians indigenous to the Islamic world. Sidney Griffith offers an engaging overview of their initial reactions to the religious challenges they faced, the development of a new mode of presenting Christian doctrine as liturgical texts in their own languages gave way to Arabic, the Christian role in the philosophical life of early Baghdad, and the maturing of distinctive Oriental Christian denominations in this context.

Offering a fuller understanding of the rise of Islam in its early years from the perspective of contemporary non-Muslims, this book reminds us that there is much to learn from the works of people who seriously engaged Muslims in their own world so long ago.


"The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque makes a contribution to the understanding of relations between Christians and Muslims that is both necessary and enriching. Its author, Sidney Griffith, has almost unparalleled knowledge of his subject, and brings together here the fruit of decades of painstaking work in Syriac and Arabic to piece together a history that gives color to Christian-Muslim relations, and illuminates many of the points of controversy between the faiths by situating them in a historical context."--David Thomas, Middle East Journal

"This splendid book provides a revelatory account of those Christians--and they were legion--who lived under Islamic rule between the time of Mohammed and the Mongol conquests in the Near East during the 13th century....Through a close reading of the texts they produced, Griffith explores the unique theological and ecclesiological visions fashioned by these often unsung Christians."--Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald

"This is a wonderfully written and important book--so much so that immediately after reading it, I started recommending it to students in two courses on 'Eastern Christianity and the Encounter with Islam' that I am teaching currently. From Griffith we should expect nothing less than such a masterful treatment for he has spent the last thirty years researching Muslim-Christian relations, research he displays here with elegance and cogency--and in a thirty-page bibliography, which is most useful."--Adam A. J. DeVille, LOGOS: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies

"Sidney Griffith's work is a milestone in the field of classical Christian-Arabic studies. It provides specialists in the field as well as the general reader with wide-ranging information, precious insights and judicious assessments."--Christian Troll, The Tablet

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