Philip Wood - The Imam of the Christians: The World of Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, C. 750–850https://books.google.nl/books?id=9_oPEAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
The Imam of the Christians examines how Christian leaders adopted and adapted the political practices and ideas of their Muslim rulers between 750 and 850 in the Abbasid caliphate in the Jazira (modern eastern Turkey and northern Syria). Focusing on the writings of Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, the patriarch of the Jacobite church, Philip Wood describes how this encounter produced an Islamicate Christianity that differed from the Christianities of Byzantium and western Europe in far more than just theology. In doing so, Wood opens a new window on the world of early Islam and Muslims’ interactions with other religious communities.
Wood shows how Dionysius and other Christian clerics, by forging close ties with Muslim elites, were able to command greater power over their coreligionists, such as the right to issue canons regulating the lives of lay people, gather tithes, and use state troops to arrest opponents. In his writings, Dionysius advertises his ease in the courts of ʿAbd Allah ibn Tahir in Raqqa and the caliph al-Ma’mun in Baghdad, presenting himself as an effective advocate for the interests of his fellow Christians because of his knowledge of Arabic and his ability to redeploy Islamic ideas to his own advantage. Strikingly, Dionysius even claims that, like al-Ma’mun, he is an imam since he leads his people in prayer and rules them by popular consent.
A wide-ranging examination of Middle Eastern Christian life during a critical period in the development of Islam, The Imam of the Christians is also a case study of the surprising workings of cultural and religious adaptation.
“The debate about how Jews and Christians parted ways is here extended to Christians and Muslims. By introducing us to Dionysius of Tel-Mahre and his dealings with the early Abbasid elite, Philip Wood describes how Christian hierarchs and intellectuals subtly adapted early Islamic norms of language and conduct. This is an intriguing and readable account, nourished by deep erudition, of a Middle Eastern world in which Muslims and Christians were still capable of learning from each other.”—Garth Fowden, University of Cambridgehttps://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691212791/the-imam-of-the-christians
“This is an excellent book that will cement Philip Wood’s reputation as one of the leading commentators on the Christian churches of the early caliphate. Using Dionysius of Tel-Mahre as a guiding thread, the book provides a new history of the Jacobite Church and opens up a much wider vista on Muslim-dhimmī relations in the transition from the ancient to the medieval Middle East.”—Phil Booth, University of Oxford
“In this well-researched and thoughtful book, Wood reveals to us some neglected aspects of the Islamic Empire at its height through the eyes of the little-known figure of Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, head of the Jacobite Christians of Syria and Iraq in the early ninth century, who successfully held his own as a Christian leader in an increasingly Muslim-dominated world.”—Robert G. Hoyland, New York University
“The relationship between Christian communities and the Muslims and their caliphs in the early Islamic period has inspired a new wave of innovative scholarship in recent years. Wood has been at the forefront of this and in his latest book he develops a fascinating account of the great ninth-century patriarch, Dionysius, and his relationship with the caliph al-Ma’mun. Firmly based in the Arabic and Syriac sources, this book is a major contribution to the study of confessional and cultural interactions between Christians and Muslims in this formative period.”—Hugh N. Kennedy, SOAS University of London