John and the Emir: Muslim and Christian Dialogue and Debate in the 7th Century



Tuesday, June 16
12:00 pm CST
Zoom (Registration required)


What can we learn about historical attempts of religions to understand one another and to live peacefully? Where have these attempts fallen short?

The Disputation of John and the Emir is a letter that claims to record a conversation between a Syrian Christian leader named John and a nameless Emir (Muslim leader) of the late 7th century. The discussion contains debates over the interpretation of scripture, the role and purpose of prophecy, who and what Jesus of Nazareth was, and the complex relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam given their shared origins in Abraham’s covenant. Even if the conversation was fictional, it reports a meaningful encounter between these three traditions and imagines a peaceful exchange that ends with an exhortation to the Christian readers to pray for the health and wisdom of the Emir.

About Peter Miller
Peter Miller is a PhD candidate at the University of Iowa studying the religions of Byzantine and Early Islamic Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. His dissertation is a study of competing educational models in Christian monasteries and the methods of book production and circulation in the 4th through 8th centuries. Through this study, he argues for the central role of the Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic originating in Edessa but spreading as far as China and India with Christian missionary work, in translation and transmission of both Greek and Arabic ideas for centuries. Peter has received Master of Arts in both Religious Studies and Classical Studies from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University, and participated in archaeological excavations in both Israel and Greece.

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