A curious-minded vizier who delights in theology, a learned bishop steeped in both Syriac and Arab culture and oceans of time to discuss things together in the Upper Mesopotamia of a thousand years ago. This rare conjunction gave birth to one of the most fascinating works of Christian Arab literature, The Book of Dialogues, by Elias of Nisibis.
The text of the impassioned and no-allowances-made conversation between Abū ’l-Qāsim al-Maghribī and Elias, a monk and bishop of Nisibis, reveals the depth that a dialogue on fundamental theological issues can achieve. And it permits us to understand the precious role played by Christian theologians and philosophers who were able to explain their own faith, also by having recourse to Islam’s categories of thought. A role of mediators that, with the Christians’ exodus from the Middle East, risks being lost forever1.