In a dialogue between the West and Islam, Orthodox Christians can play a crucial role. Unlike Catholics and Protestants, Orthodox Christians have lived in Muslim societies in numbers for centuries. They suffer discrimination and sometimes outright persecution, but they still comprise the largest Christian communions in the Middle East today. Orthodox Christians thus occupy a unique position that allows them to help interpret Islam for the West and the West for Islam. Andrew Sharp (Virginia Commonwealth University) has written a new book on the subject, Orthodox Christians in the Postmodern Age (Brill 2012), the latest in Brill’s ongoing series on Christian-Muslim relations. The publisher’s description follows.
The patristic, ecclesiological, and liturgical revival in the Orthodox Church has had a profound impact on world Orthodoxy and the ecumenical movement. Orthodox leaders have also contributed to the movement’s efforts in inter-religious dialogue, especially with Muslims. Yet this book is the first comprehensive attempt to assess an Orthodox ‘position’ on Islam. It explains why, despite being neighbors for centuries, relations between Orthodox Christians and Muslims have become increasingly complex as internal and external forces challenge their ability to understand each other and live in peace. It demonstrates how a growing number of Orthodox scholars and leaders have reframed the discussion on Islam, while endorsing and participating in dialogue with Muslims. It shows how a positive relationship with Muslims (and Islam in a general sense) is an essential aspect of Orthodox Christians’ historical past, present identity, and future aspirations.