PATRISTICS/ Theodore Abu Qurrah
Theodore Abu-Qurrah was a 9th century Christian Arab theologian who lived in the early Islamic period.
He was born around 750 A.D. in the city of Edessa, in northern Mesopotamia, and was for the Chalcedonian or Melkite bishop of the nearby city of Harran between 795 and 812. He was removed from his see by the Melkite bishop of Antioch, Theodoret (795-812), for reasons which remain unclear, and between his deposition and death he travelled widely, taking part in theological debates and polemics. He died between 820 and 825.
Abu-Qurrah was one of the first Christian authors to use Arabic. Some few of his works were translated into Greek, and so circulated in Byzantium, but he was mainly known only to Arabic-speaking Christians. He also claimed to have written thirty treatises in Syriac, but none of these have yet been identified. His writings provide an important witness to Christian thought in the early Islamic world. A number of them were edited with German translations by Georg Graf and have now been translated into English by John C. Lamoreaux.
Abu-Qurrah argued for the rightness of his faith against the habitual challenges of Islam, Judaism and those Christians who did not accept the doctrinal formulations of the Council of Chalcedon, and in doing so re-articulated traditional Christian teachings at times using the language and concepts of Islamic theologians: he has been described by Sydney H. Griffith as a Christian mutakallim. He attracted the attention of at least one Muslim Mu'tazilite mutakallim, 'Isa ibn Sabih al Murdar (d. 840), who is recorded (by the biobibliographical writer, Ibn al Nadim, who died in 995 A.D.) as having written a refutation of Abu- Qurrah. The subjects covered were, in the main, the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Sacraments, as well as the practices of facing east in prayer (rather than towards Jerusalem or Mecca), and the veneration of the cross and other images.
In his On the Existence of God and the True Religion, he used a thought experiment in which he imagined himself having grown up away from civilization (on a mountain) and descending to 'the cities' to inquire after the truth of religion: an attempt to provide a philosophical argument in support of Chalcedonian Christianity from first principles.
Theodore also translated the pseudo-Aristotelian De virtutibus animae into Arabic from Greek for Tahir ibn Husayn.
He has traditionally been thought to have been a monk at the monastery of Mar Sabas (the monastery where, earlier, John of Damascus had lived), but this has been shown to be due to a confusion with Theodore of Edessa.
Photo above is of Mor Gabriel Monastery, Mardin, Turkey - Founded in 359 AD