Muslim–Paulician Encounters and Early Islamic Anti-Christian Polemical Writings
Author(s)Tayyara, Abed el-Rahman
divinity of Jesus-Mary
Paul of Samosata
Arts and Humanities
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AbstractThis article investigates the portrayals of the Paulicians in early Islamic sources and specifically analyses the role that Paulician religious views play in Islamic anti-Christian writings. The study also gives insights into the nature of materials that were available to Muslim scholars and the strategies they applied in constructing coherent arguments to refute certain Christian religious beliefs. In doing so, the study touches upon Muslims’ religious needs and scholarly curiosity, which sheds light on their intellectual interactions with non-Islamic religious beliefs and philosophical ideas. The article demonstrates that references to Paulician religious beliefs can be found primarily in early Christian–Islamic polemics. Muslim polemicists, most of whom were Muʿtazilites, attempted to demonstrate the soundness and the coherence of Islamic tenets vis-à-vis inadequacies and contradictions in Christian doctrines. The reliance of Muslim polemicists on heresiographical discourse therefore constituted an important strategy to substantiate their polemical arguments. Two major issues stand out in Islamic portrayals of Paulician doctrines: the centrality of Paul of Samosata in the history of the sect, and his association with the view that Jesus was a human being devoid of divinity.