Muslims in canon law, 650-1000

Muslims in canon law, 650-1000

By David M. Freidenreich

Christian–Muslim Relations: A Bibliographic History, edited by David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2009)

Introduction: Scholars have devoted considerable attention to the place of Christians and Jews in Islamic law, as well as to the place of Jews in Christian legal literature. References to Muslims in Christian legal sources have not received comparable treatment. The present essay seeks to remedy this situation by surveying all such references dating from the seventh to the tenth centuries. For reasons that will become clear in the paragraphs that follow, however, this essay doubtless falls short of the comprehensive coverage to which it aspires.

Canon law, the religious law of the Church, is an amorphous body of normative literature whose contents and contours difer from one Christian community to the next. Each major branch of Christianity developed its own corpus of canon law literature, in languages as varied as Latin, Greek, Syriac, Armenian, and Coptic. Many Greek texts from the irst Christian millennium entered into Latin and Syriac legal corpora, but for the most part theological and linguistic divides prevented the dissemination of normative texts from one branch of Christianity to another. This essay focuses primarily on legal literature in Latin, Greek, and Syriac, which is to say the canon law of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox (Chalcedonian), Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite), and Church of the East (Nestorian) traditions. The fact that other branches of Christianity receive less attention relects both the author’s linguistic limitations and the emphases of canon law scholarship more broadly.

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