history - has failed to bring out these instances of 'inculturation'57 and has overlooked examples of Christian theologians presenting the doctrine of the Trinity according to categories of Muslim thought. The Nestorian 'Abdallah ibn al-TTayyib (fi043)58 explains that, while 'the essence of the Creator (dhat al-bari') is one, His attributes (sifat) are multiple'. It was his opinion that the Christians 'say that this essence is a substance (jawhar) and they term the attributes properties (khawass) . . . they also believe that God in His essence possesses the attribute of knowledge ('ilm), of knowing ('(Him), and of being known (ma'lum) . . . They call the attribute of knowledge paternity, that of knowing filiation and that of being known procession'. He concluded by insisting that God 'is one in respect of His essence, but multiple in respect of His attributes'. It looks as though Christian authors did their best to resist the growing pressures from Islam by defending themselves against the charge of associationism, which left them open to the accusation of unbelief. They did this by demonstrating that the doctrine of the Trinity did not impugn divine unity, while at the same time displaying a degree of discretion in that they avoided any direct attacks on Islam and its prophet.
This was also a period of ambitious legal handbooks. The various churches had preserved their law and their institutions. As a result, the ecclesiastical authorities assumed judicial functions in all areas of private law. The legal compendia included not only the edicts of councils and synods dealing with doctrine, but also regulations concerning ecclesiastical organisation; the status of the clergy, monks and laity; liturgical order; the administration of the sacraments; institutions, such as schools, monasteries and hospitals; and stipulations relating to private and family law covering marriage, descent, adoption, wills, inheritance, property transactions and so on. Among these legal compilations the following stand out: the compendium written in Arabic by Abdallah ibn al-TTayyib in the eleventh century for the Nestorian Church; the decrees of the same church compiled about the same time by Elias of Nisibis, but in Syriac; the two works of Abdisho written in 1318 - a collection of synodal canons and rules of ecclesiastical judgements, which have remained standard works for the Nestorian Church to the present day; and finally, turning to the Coptic Church, two Nomokanones: the first compiled in the twelfth century by Michael, bishop of Damietta, was among the first of these legal handbooks to
57 I prefer the term 'inculturation' (the slow and beneficial assimilation of the religious, ethical, cultural and social assumptions of one culture by another) to 'acculturation' (the adoption by a minority of a dominant culture).
58 G. Troupeau, 'Le traité sur l'ünité et la Trinité de 'Abd Allah ibn al-Tayyib', in Etudes sur le christianisme arabe, vi.
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