New Publication “John of Damascus and Islam: Christian Heresiology and the Intellectual Background to Earliest Christian-Muslim Relations”

How did Islam come to be considered a Christian heresy? In John of Damascus and Islam, Peter Schadler outlines the intellectual background of the Christian Near East that led John, a Christian serving in the court of the caliph in Damascus, to categorize Islam as a heresy. Schadler shows that different uses of the term heresy persisted among Christians, and then demonstrates that John’s assessment of the beliefs and practices of Muslims has been mistakenly dismissed on assumptions he was highly biased. The practices and beliefs John ascribes to Islam have analogues in the Islamic tradition, proving that John may well represent an accurate picture of Islam as he knew it in the seventh and eighth centuries in Syria and Palestine.


Published by E. J. Brill (December 2017), John of Damascus and Islam can be ordered on the publisher’s website or found at your local library.

Table of contents



1 Heresy and Heresiology in Late Antiquity
Problems in Associating Islam with Heresy
Manichaeism: The Exception that Proves the Rule
Heresy as Opposition to the Church
Other Understandings of Heresy in Late Antiquity
Early Christian Use of Heresiology
The Demonic Nature of Heresy
Heresy as the Result of Philosophical Speculation
Other Typical Traits of Heresiology

2 Aspects of the Intellectual Background
The Encyclopedism of Christian Palestine
Heresiology as History?
The Sociological Imperative to Institution Building as a Force for Islam’s Inclusion
From Heresiology to Panarion and from Panarion to Anacephalaeosis: The Shifting Nature of Heresiology
John of Damascus and non-Christian Philosophy
The Definition of Heresy in John’s Works
Demons and the Heresiology of John

3 The Life of John of Damascus, His Use of the Qurʾan, and the Quality of His Knowledge of Islam
The Life of John of Damascus
John of Damascus and Arabic
The Qurʾan and its Apparent Use Among Christians
John of Damascus and the Qurʾan
Anastasius of Sinai and the Qurʾan
The Alleged Leo-Umar Correspondence
Lives of the Prophets and Other Sources

4 Islamic and Para-Islamic Traditions
Scholarly Accounts of Early Islam
Revisionist Islamic Studies and its Antecedents
Contemporary Islamic Studies
John of Damascus, the Black Stone, and the Ka’ba
The Ka’ba, the Black Stone, and the Maqām Ibrāhīm in the Islamic Tradition
An Untraditional Perspective
The Damascene’s Observations Given the Untraditional Perspective
Rivers in Paradise
The Monk and an-Nasara
Female Circumcision
Pillars of Faith

5 John of Damascus and Theodore Abu Qurrah on Islam
Problems Authenticating Abu Qurrah’s Greek Corpus
Theodore Abu Qurrah on Islam
Theodore, the Qurʾan, and Muhammad
The Arian Monk
Theodore and Heresy
Theodore and John: Some Differences and Conclusions

Appendix 1: Greek Text and English Translation of ‘On Heresies 100’
Appendix 2: Potential Qurʾanic References in ‘On Heresies 100’

Content courtesy of the publisher, E. J. Brill at


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.