>St John of Damascus on Islam

>Kevin P. Edgecomb, at biblicalia, has written a very interesting post that you should read.  The post, “St John of Damascus on Islam,” deals with St. John of Damascus’ view on early Islam.  St. John was born at Damascus in 676 and died around 754.  He was a Christian who was brought up under the Muslim who controlled Damascus during his lifetime.

Kevin provides and interesting introduction to St. John’s writing:

St John of Damascus is a very important witness to early Islam. He was born into a very privileged family in Damascus (his grandfather had been the administrator of the city at the time the Muslims took it) and he grew up and served in the court of the caliph. He was entirely familiar with Islam (a name it did not yet possess, apparently), and thus what he has to say about it, and the context in which he places it, is of great historical importance. For one thing, this is a single chapter in his work On Heresies, part of his larger work, The Fountain of Knowledge. Thus, during his lifetime, St John did not consider Islam to yet be a separate religion, but rather a Christian heresy. In any case, he mentions several suras of the Qur’an by name, and refers most interestingly to one which is no longer extant. St John, in this work, as characteristically, pulls no punches. Enjoy.

St. John of Damascus on Islam:

“And there is also the up until now strong and people-deceiving superstition of the Ishmaelites, being the forerunner of Antichrist. And it is born from Ishmael, who was born from Hagar to Abraham, from which they are called Hagarenes and Ishmaelites. And they call them Saracens, as from Σα??α? ?ε??? (those empty of Sarah), because of what was said by Hagar to the angel: “Sarah has sent me away empty.” So then, these were idolaters and reverenced the morning star and Aphrodite, who they indeed named Khabar in their own language, which means great. Therefore, until the time of Heraclius, they were plainly idolaters. From that time and until now came up among them a false prophet called Mamed, who, having encountered the Old and New Testament, as it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, he put together his own heresy. And under the pretext of seeming pious, attracting (?) people, he reported that a book was sent down to him from heaven by God. Therefore some of the compositions written by him in a book, worthy of laughter, which he handed down to them as an object of reverence.”

I Encourage you to visit Kevin’s blog and read the whole statement by St. John of Damascus on Islam.

Claude F. Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist SeminaryTag:

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2 Responses to >St John of Damascus on Islam

  1. bhagatraj says:

    >This is quite interesting Dr. Mariottini. Having studied early history of Islam, this is quite interesting. Since, most Islamists do not confer with other corroborating texts especially from the Christian perspective, I never encountered this. Let’s say that Islam is a Christian heresy, similar to many other present ones, which the Christians have learned to live with, then perhaps Christians could in some manner learn to live with them and dialogue just like we do with Jehovah’s witnesses or Mormons…Granted dialogue needs both parties willing to talk, which is problem for the both the fundamentalist sides. And presently the fundamental problem is the lack of understanding on the part of both the sides.

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  2. >Raj,As St. John indicates in his writings, Islam began as a Christian heresy but it has developed into a religion that is antagonistic to Christianity. There can be little dialogue with a religion that seeks to destroy and replace Christianity. Moslems may pay lip service to dialogue but in the end their goal is to replace Christianity with Islam.As for the Jehovah Witnesses, they are Arians and the early Church was right in declaring Arianism to be a heresy. The Mormons have several doctrines that are not compatible with historic Christian doctrines. As long as they claim the book of Mormons to be the newer testament of Jesus Christ, dialogue will be limited.Christians believe in the teachings of Christianity that Christ is the full revelation of God and that in Christ God was reconciling the world. For this reason any dialogue with the three groups you mentioned must be focused on what God has revealed through Jesus Christ.Thank you for visiting my blog again. I appreciate your comments.Claude Mariottini

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