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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay provides an overview of Western theological engagements with Islam between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Three main features are highlighted: first, internal divisions within Christianity supported the use of Islam as a pretext for debates among Catholics, Protestants, and other Christian groups; second, the development of extra–European missions supported attempts to find a common ground between Christianity and Islam, developing forms of accommodation; third, the growth of Arabic and Islamic studies in Europe and the invention of the printing press facilitated the circulation of more precise information and substantial progress in the knowledge of Islam. Without completely detaching from the Christian medieval tradition, these new approaches, which culminated in works by Ludovico Marracci and George Sale, opened the door to the possibility for a reconsideration of Islam, a process that was actually accomplished in Western theologies only during the twentieth century.

Keywords: Arabic studies, Islam, Orientalism, religious missions, Ludovico Marracci, George Sale, accommodation, false prophecy

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