Reviews

“In the debate about early Orientalism, the primary focus has been on France and Britain for the obvious reason that they had a long history of contact with and occupation of the Orient. Mehmet Karabela’s publication brings to our attention a much-neglected area of research, namely the response of Lutheran theologians to Islam and, in particular, to the teachings of the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet. For Lutherans, Islam provided them with a critique of Catholicism and, given the split between Sunni and Shi’a, an insight into the divisions in Christianity. Mehmet Karabela’s Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes is a model of painstaking scholarship.”

Bryan S. Turner

Australian Catholic University

“In an extraordinary feat of interpretive erudition, Mehmet Karabela brings to light a little known yet startlingly important history. His excavation of the 17th and 18th century interpretations of Islam by Protestant scholars exposes an intellectually rich archive at once of Lutheran anti-Catholicism and of Western Islamophobia. With a captivating lucidity free of all polemical gestures, Karabela demonstrates the multi-faceted uses of Islam in the construction of the political theology of Protestantism.”

Catherine Keller

George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology at Drew University, Author of Political Theology of the Earth

“This richly researched and fascinating book explores a significant lacuna in our understanding of European history—the impact of Islam on post-Reformation Protestant thinking in the 17th and 18th centuries. Through a careful study of original Latin sources, it builds a convincing case for the mutual influences of Islam and Protestantism on each other. It provides an important contribution to both Islamic studies and European history, and is a milestone in the global history of religions.”

Mark Juergensmeyer

 University of California 

  Editor of The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes

Mehmet Karabela’s fascinating book is about the complicated part played by conceptions of Islam in the evolution of Protestant thought and identity during and after the Reformation. It helps to question the tendency among most historians of early modernity to treat European and Middle Eastern intellectual worlds as entirely separate. This is a valuable and learned work that deserves to be widely read.

Talal Asad

Author of Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity

“The modern study of religion owes much to Post-Reformation scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the category of religion itself. Among the many products of their polemics and their research are the foundations of European scholarly thought about Islam, foundations that still shape present prejudice and present knowledge. In this learned and illuminating book of scholarly archaeology, Mehmet Karabela lays bare many of those foundations, helping us to understand not only early modern European ideas about Islam, but also our own.”

David Nirenberg

University of Chicago 

Author of Anti-Judaism:

The Western Tradition

“Introducing a rich set of largely unknown sources, Mehmet Karabela shows how intensely German Protestant theologians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries immersed themselves into Islamic thought, religion, and philosophy. Engaging with the life of Muhammad, the Qur’an, the Sunni-Shi’a split, and much more, one overriding concern was to come to terms with differences internal to Protestantism, and to Christianity. An important contribution to the transnational study of religion – and fascinating reading!”

Sebastian Conrad 

Freie Universität Berlin

Author of What is Global History?

“An invaluable scholarly resource gathering seventeen texts by German Lutheran theologians on Islamic religion, philosophy, politics, and the Sunni/Shi’a division. Whether orthodox or pietist, these theologians share a view of Islam as derivative and sensual, Mohammad as a fraud, and the Qur’an as a purely human text. Christian confessional divisions provide the lens for understanding Islam’s diversity, and Enlightenment rationalism is the standard for dismissing it as superstitious and uncurious. These texts born in Lutheran scholasticism mix rigour, fascination, and contempt, and give the clearest theological expression of Orientalism."

Nicholas Terpstra 

University of Toronto

Editor of Global Reformations