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The profession of Monotheism by Elias of Nisibis: an edition and translation of the Fifth Session of the Kitāb al-majālis

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Date of creation
  • 2017   Gregorian
      
Preferred title

The profession of Monotheism by Elias of Nisibis: an edition and translation of the Fifth Session of the Kitāb al-majālis   English  

Work type Single work
Non-literary work Historical work
Work manifested Monograph
Work genre Textual work
Summary

The Kitāb al-majālis (‘Book of Sessions’) is a unique document in medieval Christian–Muslim dialogue. It recounts seven exchanges between the Nestorian Metropolitan Elias and the Shiʿite vizier Abū al-Qāsim al-Maghribī. The dialogues, which took place in the city of Nisibis (Upper Mesopotamia) in 417/1026, cover a range of topics both religious (in particular the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation) and profane. In spite of its importance, most of the text has not yet been critically edited. This article, after surveying the manuscript tradition, offers a critical edition and an English translation of the fifth session, which contains the famous profession of monotheistic faith by Elias. The last two paragraphs, which discuss the contents of the text and the influence on it of Muʿtazilī thought, argue for its substantial authenticity and highlight both its value and its limits. While these are bound to Elias’s simplified Christology and his essentially defensive approach, his profession of faith remains a jewel in Arab Christian literature and a brilliant example of the role of mediators played by Christian communities living in Muslim lands.

Diamond   W 221196

Created at 21-09-2017 by Dalal Adib (IDEO)

Updated at 12-12-2017 by Dalal Adib (IDEO)