Georgetown University Backdrop

Theology in Arabic

The Berkley Center and Georgetown’s Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies partnered during the 2021-2022 academic year to offer a series of seminars on theology in Arabic.

We are delighted to continue our seminars during the 2022-2023 academic year, inviting internal and external scholars and doctoral students to share their work with us via Arabic theological texts in translation. These recurring seminars are intended to foster a deeper understanding of theology directly from works in Classical Arabic.

Georgetown students and faculty are invited to participate in reading Arabic theological texts in translation through these seminars, which will function as reading groups with an emphasis on exposure to theological reasoning and the personal voice of the authors from original Arabic texts. As familiarity with key topics develops, so too will familiarity with Arabic in its shared theological vernaculars across world religions: i.e., on the basis of terminology and overarching themes, and as a vehicle of personal expression.

Call for Proposals

We invite faculty and graduate students from any institution to apply to present during the 2022-2023 academic year. Seminars will take place at Georgetown University and are geared towards fostering intellectual community in the broader DC area. We cannot provide travel or accommodations at this time. 

The spring deadline is January 1. 

2022-2023 Seminars

  • ​October 28, 2022 | A Ninth-Century Muslim Theologian on Maintaining God-Consciousness
  • November 18, 2022 | Al-Jahiz on Divine Adoption in Jewish and Christian Scripture
  • March 31, 2023 | Yaḥyā ibn Jarīr on Jesus' Perfecting of the Law of Moses

Dr. Rodrigo Adem, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies
Friday, October 28, 2022, 2:00 p.m.
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Conference Room
RSVP Required

Al-Ḥārith al-Muḥāsibī (781-857 CE) was an early systematizer of Islamic theology, ethics, and spirituality. This seminar will present selections and translations from his original writings in Arabic dedicated to the various steps and obstacles in the path of maintaining God-consciousness.

Dr. Nathan Gibson, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten
Friday, November 18, 2022, 12:00 p.m. EST
Zoom only
RSVP Required

Arabic readers remember the ninth-century prose master Abū ʿUthmān ʿAmr b. Baḥr al-Jāḥiẓ (776–868/869 CE) primarily for two things: his delightful cultural insights and his adroit, idiosyncratic argumentation. In his risāla or “epistle” called The Refutation of Christians (Al-Radd ʿalā al-Naṣārā), he brings the two together in a cultural and theological critique of Christians in Abbasid Iraq. This lecture will include Arabic readings and translations from a portion of al-Jāḥiẓ’s Refutation featuring early translations of biblical verses in Arabic and dealing with the question of whether God can adopt a human son.

Dr. Diego Sarrió Cucarella, Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica (PISAI)
Friday, March 31, 2023, 2:00 PM EST
Zoom only
RSVP Required

A native of Takrīt, the West Syrian physician and scholar Yaḥyā ibn Jarīr (d. after 1079) wrote a number of books on different areas, including sexual health, astrology, mathematics and history. This lecture will present readings and translations of his Kitāb al-murshid (The Guidebook), a voluminous theological compendium dealing with doctrinal issues and with matters of sacramental and ecclesial practice. Yaḥyā devotes several chapters of this work to discussing the relationship between the Law of Christ and the Law of Moses. The discussion is set against the backdrop of the Islamic claim that Muḥammad’s religion had nullified and replaced the prior dispensations.

Past Seminars

  • October 2021| Bishop Thawdūrus (Theodore) Abū Qurra on Free Will 
  • November 2021 | Free Will in the Theology of Ibn Rushd (Averroes)
  • March 2022 | Free Will in the Theology of Maimonides (Rabbi Mūsā b. Maymūn) 
  • April 2022 | On The Triune Nature of God

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