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Sons of IshmaelMuslims through European Eyes in the Middle Ages$

John V. Tolan

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032221

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032221.001.0001

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Peter of Cluny on the “Diabolical Heresy of the Saracens”

Peter of Cluny on the “Diabolical Heresy of the Saracens”

(p.46) 4 Peter of Cluny on the “Diabolical Heresy of the Saracens”
Sons of Ishmael

John V. Tolan

University Press of Florida

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the goal of Peter of Cluny in commissioning these translations and in writing two texts about the “law of Muhammad”. It reveals that Peter's goal was not the dispassionate study of a rival religion, but the refutation of what he qualifies as the “diabolical heresy of the Saracens”. It also hopes to show potential doubters among Peter's Latin readers that Christianity is indeed the superior religion, despite the higher level of learning and wealth of the Muslim world.

Keywords:   Peter of Cluny, translations, texts, law of Muhammad, diabolical heresy, Saracens, Christianity, Muslim, learning, wealth

Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, traveled to Spain in 1142–43. There he assembled a team of translators whom he enticed to produce a full, annotated Latin version of the Qur'ân, along with translations of other Muslim texts and of an Arab-Christian polemical work, the Risâlat al-Kindî. Using this collection of texts, Peter himself composed two anti-Islamic tracts: the first, his Summa totius haeresis Saracenorum, describes and vilifies Islam to a Christian readership, and the second, the Contra sectam siue haeresim Saracenorum, attempts to refute Islam on its own terms and enjoins its Muslim readers to convert to Christianity.1

Why did Peter of Cluny undertake, at great cost and considerable effort, this ambitious venture? James Kritzeck rightly emphasizes the uniqueness of this endeavor and the zeal with which Peter and his associates brought it to completion. Yet if Kritzeck characterizes it as a “project to study, comprehensively and from original sources, the religion of Islam,”2 these are not the terms that Peter of Cluny himself employs. For Peter, the point is not to “study” a “religion” but to refute a particularly vile form of heresy. Previous scholars have shown that Kritzeck's vision of Peter as a tolerant, irenic student of Islam is wide of the mark; yet these same scholars, seeming to accept Peter's own claim that no one before him had refuted the “heretic” Muhammad, ignore Peter's use of earlier anti-Muslim polemic.3

This chapter is an attempt to rectify this picture, to place Peter of Cluny's important initiative in context, or rather in two contexts: first, Peter's selective (p.47) use of an earlier Christian Arabic tradition of anti-Muslim polemic and, second, Peter's own very particular concerns and outlook, which shape his views of Islam. Peter (like other twelfth-century authors on Islam) unde-stood and portrayed this “Saracen heresy” according to the fears and hopes of twelfth-century Europe. Peter uses previous polemical works: the Risâlat al-Kindî (by a ninth- or tenth-century Arab Christian author) and the Dialogi contra Iudeos of Andalusian Petrus Alfonsi. He nevertheless portraysIslam in a very different light, reflecting the preoccupation with heretics close to home, the ambivalence toward philosophical and scientific study, and a need to intellectually justify Christianity in the face of a wave of texts and ideas flowing in from the Arab world. He strove to explain Islam in ways that would account for the erudition and opulence of its adherents while reassuring the Christian reader that he was right to remain true to his ancestral faith.

Peter of Cluny was poised at the confluence of various tides of change surging across Europe: monastic reform, new heretical movements, new applications of logic to theology (including attempts to prove the fundamental doctrines of Christianity by rational arguments). Peter wrote to condemn the heretic Peter of Bruys, he mediated between Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux, welcoming Abelard as one of his monks, he read Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi contra Iudeos, reusing its anti-Talmudic arguments in his own Adversus Iudeorum inveteratam duritiem, and he traveled to Spain where hehired translators—taking them away from their study of philosophy and astronomy—to translate the series of texts on Islam often (and rather mis-leadingly) called the Collectio Toletana, despite the fact that nothing links them with Toledo. Throughout Peter's polemics, we see hopes and worries of the abbot, fighter of heresies, and interested spectator of the new develop-ments in knowledge.

What intellectual baggage did Peter bring along on his encounter with Islam? He did not confront it tabula rasa. How then did his previous experiences and ideas affect the way he read and reacted to the Qur'ân and the other works that had been translated? My aim is not to narrate Peter's biography; that has been amply done.4 Rather, I want to highlight the elements in his life that will shape his understanding of Islam, the intellectual frame of reference that was constructed before he confronted the law of Muhammad and through which he read the Qur'ân and other texts on Islam.

The first and broadest influence is his monastic educatn and his experience as a monk and abbot. As a child oblate virtually weaned on the (p.48) Bible and Church fathers, he was bound to find the Qur'ânic stories of (say) Potiphar's wife and Joseph, or of Abraham and his son Ishmael, to be strange and deviant. Even more shocking, of course, would be the Qur'ânic Jesus: born of the Virgin Mary, yet uncrucified and undivine. Yet this would not have been completely unfamiliar to a reader of the Church Fathers—Augustine and others—who often wielded their pens against deviant Christologies. Peter places himself proudly in their tradition as he writes to combat what he can only see as the latest and most virulent Christological heresy.

As abbot, Peter piloted Cluny through what Lester Little has called “the critical phase of the crisis of monasticism.”5 Cluny found itself under increasing criticism from advocates of reform, notably the Cistercians. Much has been written about the “feud” between Cluny and Cîteaux and about the friendly if at times strained exchanges of letters between Peter and Bernard of Clairvaux.6 At the heart of the issue, perhaps, was the Cistercian accusation that the Cluniacs slavishly followed the letter of the Benedictine Rule, while the Cistercians followed the Rule in spirit. Intentionality, or inward purity, is what matters, according to many twelfth-century thinkers, rather than slavish obedience to ritual; this formed the basis for Abelard's (and Heloise's) critique of monastic formalism.7 It may thus have struck a chord in Peter to read in Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi and in the Risâlat al-Kindî that Muslims clung to formal, ritualistic purity (e.g., in ablution before prayer) rather than true purity (sinlessness and contrition).8

In the twelfth century, the line was often thin between reform and heresy—or, to use the terminology of Lester Little, between “moderate” and “radical” reform.9 If the role of faith and intentionality in monastic discipline could be a source of friendly debate between Peter and Bernard, it could also be incendiary, as was shown several times during the twelfth century—quite literally so for Peter of Bruys, who, in order to burn crucifixes, built a bonfire at Saint Gilles les Boucheries, only to end up immolated on his own fire by the angry inhabitants. Almost all of what little we know about this heresy comes from the Contra Petrobrusianos, in which Peter of Cluny enumerates five principal heretical doctrines of Peter of Bruys: the heresiarch was against infant baptism, against the building and use of churches (since all places are equally holy to God), against the veneration of crucifixes (which should be destroyed rather than revered), against the sacrament of the Eucharist, and against the prayers and offerings for the souls of the dead. Why write a tract against a man who already has been burned for his errors? Because, Peter says, these errors are now spreading to Gascony: “that stupid (p.49) and impious heresy is killing many, like some pest-ilence.”10 He addresses his tract as a letter to the bishops of Die, Embrun, and Gap, whom he enjoins to extirpate the heresy through preaching, resorting if necessary to the arms of laymen:

Your task is to drive them out of those places, in which their dens are found, by preaching and also—if it should prove necessary, by the armed force of laymen. But because it is a greater service to convert them than to exterminate them, it is proper to employ Christian charity. Let authority be proffered to them and let reason be employed, so that if they wish to remain Christians they may be compelled to desist by authority and if they wish to remain humans, they may be compelled by reason. (Contra Petrobrusianos, 3)

This is the same attitude that he will show toward Islam: it is best to convert the infidels by preaching to them in the spirit of Christian love, but failing that, the force of arms should be used.11 Christians can be brought back to the fold through arguments based on authority (auctoritas); non-Christians, since they are human and ergo rational, can be brought to Christian truth through reason (ratio). This strategy underlies not only his polemics against the Petrobrusians but also those against Judaism and Islam: while he bitterly condemns Jews who refuse to listen to Christian “reason,” he hopes that rational argumentation might convince Muslims to embrace Christianity.

Parallel to his anti-Islamic strategy, too, are the two purposes he ascribes to his Contra Petrobrusianos: first, to try to convince the heretics to abandon their stupidity (stulticia); failing that, he hopes he may at least warn his Christian readers away from the errors of the heretics (Contra Petrobrusianos, 6). Moreover, he says that he should not pass over any heresy in silence, but, in the tradition of the Church fathers, fight them with the twin weapons of reason (ratio) and authority (auctoritas). To this end, he organizes his tract into five parts (one for each of the principal errors of Peter of Bruys); he marshals a large array of scriptural citations to refute each point. While Robert I. Moore is certainly right to characterize the Contra Petrobrusianos as “by far the most powerful and sophisticated rebuttal of popular heresy in this period,” Jean Châtillon has noted the cultural and social gap between such learned, exegetically based polemics and the popular heresy it was meant to combat.12 It is doubtful that this strategy would have had much impact on the practice of heresy, but Peter was writing the kind of polemics he knew how to write, in the tradition of such learned rebuttals of heresy. It (p.50) is the same tradition he will perpetuate in his polemics against Islam, with the same results. Peter was aware that some of Peter of Bruys's errors were shared by Catholics: the questioning of the efficacy of prayers and masses for the dead, for example. Such doubts would have seemed especially troubling to the abbot of Cluny, whose monks continually said masses for the souls of dead lay benefactors: he specifically addresses such “secret thoughts of certain Catholics.”13

The enthusiastic embrace of ratio as a means to spiritual truth characterizes Peter's polemics against Jews, Petrobrusians, and Muslims, and marks him off from contemporaries such as Bernard of Clairvaux. Learned study and speculation, far from leading one into dangerous error, lead toward Christian truth. This attitude may have induced Peter to welcome to Cluny Peter Abelard, recently condemned as a heretic, and to help orchestrate his reconciliation with Bernard, the repeal of his excommunication, and his acceptance as a monk at Cluny. The episode is well known enough to need no retelling here.14

Several scholars have speculated on the influence Abelard may have had on Peter of Cluny's anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic polemics, in particular through his Dialogue between a Philosopher, a Jew, and a Christian.15 While Peter did not directly use Abelard's Dialogue, it, like Peter's own apologetical work, reflects the same spirit of rationalistic debate, the same hope of proving Christian truth to Jews through exegetical argument based on the Old Testament and to “Pagans” (a term which probably embraces both ancient paganism and Islam) using only rational argumentation. It is also clear that Abelard is continuing Anselm's tradition of fides quaerens intellectum: the Christian seeking rational confirmation of his faith. Even if the exercise serves no missionary purpose, it can be useful in dispelling the doubts of the Christian reader.

Peter's own anti-Jewish polemic is a far cry from Abelard's irenic tract. He composed his Against the Inveterate Stubbornness of the Jews in 1144, revising and expanding it in 1146–47.16 The first four chapters of his work include the standard topoi of anti-Jewish polemic since Augustine; they comprise an attack based on a Christian exegesis of the Old Testament. Peter's fifth chapter, however, is a direct assault on the Talmud. Here he makes use of Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi Contra Iudeos and the Alphabet of Ben Sira,17 although claiming that Christ alone gave him knowledge ofthe Talmud.18 But where Petrus Alfonsi's repudiation of Talmudic legends is replete with rational and scientific counterarguments, Peter merely responds (p.51) to these Talmudic legends with this invective addressed, significantly, to his Christian reader:

What do you hope for, reader? What do you expect? Do you think that I will take some action against the Jews about these things? Nay, let me not act against them in these things, let me not respond to impudent dogs and vile pigs as if they were capable of reason and hence show them to be worthy of any response in these matters.19

If Peter needs to refute Judaism, he expresses little hope that his refutation will result in the conversion of Jews. Aware that they have withstood centuries of such argumentation, he prefers to impute this to their lack of human reason, to their “bovine intellect,” than to any lack of rational basis for Christian truth.20 He will approach the Muslims with more confidence that his rationalistic apologetics may win converts.

Peter of Cluny seems to have decided upon his polemical enterprise against Islam during a trip to Castile and León in 1142–43.21 He went to visit Cluniac houses in Spain and to receive a donation from King Alfonso VII. At Nájera he assembled his team of translators, whose efforts were apparently to be coordinated by his personal secretary, Peter of Poitiers.

One of Peter of Cluny's letters has largely escaped the attention of earlier scholars. It is the Letter to Peter of Poitiers against those who claim that Christ never openly called himself God in the Gospels.22 The issue addressed evokesthe Muslim claim that Jesus was a mere human prophet and that the Gospel that he revealed said nothing of his divinity. Yet here Peter is addressing a community of Christians, apparently clerics, for he recalls to Peter of Poitiers that the latter had told him of a conversation with “certain brothers” who asserted that nowhere in the Gospel did the Savior clearly say that he was God. Although Peter of Poitiers had not mentioned the names of these brothers, Peter of Cluny says that he believes he knows who they are and that he believed that their question sprang “not from weakness of faith, but from love and zeal to know things of which they were ignorant before” (PL 189:487). He describes them as learned, erudite, religious men. Peter says that he will respond to them and show them that Christ did indeed claim to be God, lest doubt should rise up in the hearts of such men.

Who are these learned Christian brothers who voice a very Muslim-sounding objection to one of the most basic principles of Christian biblical exegesis? It is tempting to identify them with some of the translators working in Spain: perhaps the exposure to the Muslim view of Christianity (p.52) led these Christians to question their own exegetical traditions. Perhaps the doubts were in fact those of Peter of Poitiers, who attributed them to nameless “brothers.” Yet these doubts could have been expressed by other philosophically inclined Christians of the twelfth century, and the text is undated. Abelard's Trinitarian speculations got him into trouble without any help from the Muslims; certainly a thoughtful student of the Bible could raise these objections.

If Peter of Cluny does not specifically say that Muslim views inspired these learned brothers, he certainly implies it. He describes how after the Church's victory over paganism, Satan created heretical errors to lead the faithful astray: Manicheism and Arianism both deny the true divinity of Christ. But worse, for Peter, is Satan's deception of the Saracens:

Since Satan has occupied almost half the earth with his Saracens, he teaches them to preach that Christ is better than all men and the best, so that they nevertheless deny he is God. … For there is no doubt that it would not be religious, but rather sacrilegious to place any hope of salvation in him who, not divine, could neither be called savior nor would be able to save anyone. The Corruptor of human nature with this poison tainted and infected those whom I mentioned, the Saracens of modern times. He taught them to preach that Christ was born from the Virgin, and sent by God, and that He is the Word of God and the Spirit of God (as he understood it); but he persuaded them that He was not God and had not died. Thus the infidel notices that it is useless to believe anything, useless to preach anything, since the faith in the divinity and death of Christ is extinguished in human hearts and no salvation survives for humans who can neither be saved by Christ's divinity nor redeemed through his incarnation. (PL 189:489–90)

Peter goes on at some length to show that Jesus did indeed claim to be God, explaining why he usually did so indirectly. He does not lack grist to bring to this mill: he provides abundant scriptural citations to back up his quite standard exegesis. What is interesting in this text for our purposes is that he has clearly defined Islam as a heresy devised by Satan, a heresy centered on the denial of Christ's divinity. Moreover, this heretical “poison” can apparently corrupt the mind of learned Christians and perhaps not only the “brothers” mentioned in Peter of Poitiers's letter. Peter may have in mind philosophically inclined theologians or perhaps translators of Arabic texts into Latin, who would be more directly exposed to this Muslim source of (p.53) “infection”; indeed, the two groups overlapped. His little tract makes no pretensions of trying to convince Muslims or other unbelievers of the divinity of Christ; he merely hopes to prevent the same error from taking root in the hearts of good Christians.

This fear of contamination of learned Christians imbued a sense of urgency to his translation project; he needed to make Muslim texts available to learned Christians and needed to show them the errors of their “perverse heresy.” If the Arabic studies of such scholars were dangerous, the way to combat the danger was through more study. Full knowledge of the “Saracen errors,” he thought, would encourage the Christian to remain steadfast in his faith. This sense of purpose pervades not only the two polemical tracts of Peter of Cluny but also the work of the translators of the collection.

The translation of the Qur'ân was the centerpiece of the collection, and Peter is quite aware of its importance. Robert of Ketton produced not a literal rendering of the Muslim sacred text but a Latin adaptation in which difficult and obscure passages are explained; it is generally impossible for the reader to distinguish between the actual text of the Qur'ân and the explicative material inserted by Robert. While scholars have long criticized Robert for this, current scholarship on medieval translation has shown that this was a common practice. Moreover, as Thomas Burman has recently shown, Robert scrupulously studied Muslim Qur'ânic commentaries in order to understand the standard Muslim interpretations of difficult and important passages; indeed, much of his interpolated material is adapted from such Muslim commentaries.23 Robert has gone to great lengths to provide an accurate and comprehensible Latin version of the Qur'ân.

Yet Peter of Cluny's copy of Robert's translation was heavily annotated, and these annotations certainly guided Peter's reading of the text.24 Much has been written about these annotations, which seem to date from the twelfth century and to have been made soon after the different works in the codex were bound together. They appear in different parts of the codex, and the reader is at times referred to another work in the collection.25 It is unclear who wrote these annotations, although nominees include Robert himself, Peter of Toledo, and Peter of Poitiers. The annotations seem in fact to have been the result of at least two people: some of them show a basic ignorance of key Muslim beliefs and practices while others show good knowledge of Islam.26

Whoever and however many their authors, the annotations clearly show the polemical intent of the translation. They guide the reader of the “diabolical (p.54) Qur'ân” (83r) by pointing out (through innumerable “Nota”) passages that would seem particularly shocking to the Christian (and especially monastic) reader. The reader is constantly told to note the “insanity,” “impiety,” “ridiculousness,” “stupidity,” “superstition,” “lying,” and “blasphemy” of what he is reading. The very rubrics added at the opening of many Suras make this clear: “A stupid, vain, and impious Sura” (119v); “Sura of stupidity and lies, like the previous ones” (128v); “Vain and impious Sura” (128v); “Diabolical Sura, like the previous ones” (129r); “Repeating the habitual ditties endlessly and ineptly” (72r).

Wherever Qur'ânic stories differ from their biblical counterparts, the annotator brands them as heretical or ridiculous: the Qur'ânic version of the Cain and Abel story is a “stupid fable” (46r); the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife he calls “insane lies and lying insanity” (69v). When the Qur'ân describes prophets not mentioned in the Bible, the comments of the annotator are no less caustic: “Note the unheard of names of prophets. Who ever heard of such prophets other than this diabolical one [meaning Muhammad]. … I think that these were not men but demons: they possessed this Satan, and in this way he concocted his ravings [presumably the Qur'ân]” (67v).

Especially ridiculed is Muslim Christology, dubbed “stupid and heretical sayings about Christ” (32v). The annotations qualify Muslim traditions on Jesus and the Virgin as “monstrous and unheard-of fables” (33v). The origins of this Christology are diabolical: “Note how inconsistent! how changeable! What vain and contradictory things are brought together in this diabolical spirit!” (32v). “Note how he everywhere says that Christ is the son of Mary, but against the Christians and the faith says that the son of Mary is not the son of God—which is the sum of all this diabolical heresy” (35r).

For the annotators, the devil and his follower Muhammad are the authors of this heresy. Numerous annotations accuse Muhammad of being too fond of women and of playing on the Saracens' lust by promising them houris in heaven (33v, 92r, 92v, 110r, 126r, 127v). He threatens his followers with hellfire in order to get them to follow his law and to conquer Christian lands (29v). All of this is in line with earlier heresies: “Note that he everywhere promises such a paradise of carnal delights, as other heresies had done before” (26r).

At several places the annotators reveal a penchant for rationalistic argument against the Qur'ân. One remarks that knowledge of the form of human and animal uteruses may have been given to Muhammad by a physician (112r). Another opposes the Qur'ânic notion of miracle with a twelfth-century Christian definition: if the Qur'ân ascribes to God the “miracle” (p.55) of holding up the birds that fly in the air and the fish that swim in the sea, the annotator retorts that this is not miraculous, but part of the natural order that God instituted at creation. This misunderstanding of natural phenomena shows “the ignorance of an insane man” (77r). Such attacks on the “irrationality” of the Qur'ân are the stock and trade of Spanish Christian polemics against Islam in the twelfth century, seen, for example, in Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi.

When Peter of Cluny opened the Arsenal manuscript of Robert of Ketton's Qur'ân, he found a text whose rubrics and marginal annotations guided his understanding of what he was reading. He was told where to be shocked and what to find ridiculous, irrational, etc. The annotations initiated him into a Mozarabic polemical view of Islam.

Yet while his reading of Risâlat al-Kindî, Petrus Alfonsi, and the annotations will teach him to see Islam through Mozarabic eyes, the polemical strategy that he produces in his two apologetical works is different: it reflects his own peculiar concerns. In his Summa totius haeresis ac diabolicae sectae Saracenorum siue Hismahelitarum, Peter will try to explain Islam tothe readers of his corpus of translations: to Christian readers who wish to understand the nature of the “heresy of the Saracens.” In his Contra sectam siue haeresim Saracenorum, on the other hand, he will try to refute Islam onits own terms, creating his own polemical strategy.

The continuity of Peter's approach with that of Mozarabic Christians and the novelty of Peter's approach become apparent when we compare Peter's two polemical works with two works that he used: the Latin translation of the Risâlat al-Kindî and Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi. His use of the former has already been noted by Kritzeck, whose detailed analysis of the Summa I intend neither to replicate nor to replace.27 Peter addresses his Summa totius haeresis ac diabolicae sectae Saracenorum siue Hismahelitarum to aChristian audience, as a preface to the translations; he probably composed it shortly after his return from Spain. Peter describes the purpose of his brief tract:

It ought to be told what sort of a bird Muhammad was, and what he taught, so that those who will read that book [the Qur'ân] may better understand what they read and know how detestable were his life and his teachings.28

Peter wants to dispel the false opinions that many hold about the Saracens and Muhammad, whom some wrongly identify with the heresiarch (p.56) Nicholas, whose followers are condemned in Revelation (2:6 and 15). The only source of information that he explicitly cites on Muhammad's life is Anastasius Bibliothecarius' Latin translation of Theophanes' Chronographia (of which Cluny possessed a manuscript in the twelfth century).29 That he should use Anastasius (and cite him) is natural: none of the texts translated in this collection provides a straightforward biography of Muhammad for the uninitiated reader. Peter will fill in Anastasius' account with information gleaned from Risâlat al-Kindî and Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi (it is not always clear which, since Petrus Alfonsi himself relies heavilyon the Arabic text of the Risâlat al-Kindî). Peter's account of Muhammad's life and teachings is much briefer than those of either of these sources, but he adds a clear sense of where the prophet and his followers fit in the history of error: the devil works behind and through Muhammad, leading a third of the world's population into error. Historically, Peter places Muhammad in the history of heresy, as a particularly loathsome and dangerous heresiarch.

Peter describes Muhammad as a poor, vile, unlettered Arab who achieved wealth and power through bloodshed, thievery, and intrigue. Finally realizing that a feigned religious vocation would serve his ambitions, he claimed that he was a prophet and usurped the authority of king. Then, at the bidding of Satan, a heretical Nestorian monk named Sergius came and joined Muhammad. Together with several Jews, they forged a new heretical doctrine.

Muhammad, schooled in this way by the finest teachers—Jews and heretics—composed his Qur'ân. He wove together, in his barbarous fashion, nefarious scripture from the fables of the Jews and the ditties of the heretics.

All of this corresponds closely to Petrus Alfonsi's description.30 Peter goes on to describe what the Qur'ân says about Moses and Jesus, about the torments of hell and the carnal pleasures of paradise. This mixture of truth and error inextricably woven together shows Muhammad to be the consummate heresiarch; here Peter compares Muhammad to earlier heresiarchs (not something done by either of his sources):

Vomiting forth almost all of the excrement of the old heresies (which he had drunk up as the devil poured it out), he denies the trinity with Sabellius, with his Nestorius he rejects the divinity of Christ, with (p.57) Mani he disavows the death of the Lord, though he does not deny that He returned to heaven. (Summa, §9)

Peter holds Muhammad's life—in particular his polygamy—up to opprobrium. Mixing good and evil, sublime and ridiculous, Muhammad created a monstrous cult, similar to the animal described by Horace as having a human head, a horse's neck, and feathers.31

The intention of this diabolic heresy, Peter continues, is to present Christ as a holy man, loved by God, a great prophet—but wholly human and in no way son of God.

Indeed [this heresy], long ago conceived by the plotting of the devil, first spread by Arius, then promoted by this Satan, namely Muhammad, will be completed by Antichrist, in complete accordance with the intentions of the devil. (Summa, §13)

Peter sees three great adversaries whom the devil uses to lead Christians astray: Arius, Muhammad, and Antichrist. Each manages to trick his followers into denying Christ's divinity. In order to better elucidate this anti-Christian doctrine, Peter also compares Muhammad to the philosopher Porphyry, who (Peter erroneously claims) was an apostate from Christianity.32 Having asked the oracles of his gods about Christ, Porphyry was told by the demon Hecate that Jesus had been a virtuous man, but that his followers sinned gravely in attributing divinity to him. Porphyry's views are repudiated, Peter tells us, by Augustine. Indeed, in De ciuitate Dei xix.23, Augustine describes an utterance of the oracle Hecate, reported by Porphyry in his εκ λογίων φιλοσοφίαϚ; for Augustine, this shows the clever hostility of the demons, who, wishing to appear objective, praise Jesus at the same time that they condemn the central truth of Christianity. Yet Muhammad is worse than the apostate philosopher, says Peter, for whereas God did not permit Porphyry to seduce Christians with his errors, Muhammad has led countless people into eternal perdition. It is for this reason, Peter tells us, that he composed his Summa and that he had the Qur'ân and other texts translated: “I translated from Arabic into Latin the whole of this sect, along with the execrable life of its evil inventor, and exposed it to the scrutiny of our people, so that it be known what a filthy and frivolous heresy it is” (Summa, §18).

While Peter uses the works of earlier anti-Islamic polemicists, he clearly felt that they were inadequate. He sets aside much of their material, apparently (p.58) deeming it useless: for example, the names of Muhammad's associates or the polemical descriptions of ʿAli's teachings and the birth of Shiʿism (Peter did not know enough about Islam to appreciate the importance of the latter). On the other hand, Peter finds that these earlier polemics lack a proper taxonomy of error, a lack of the sense of Islam's place in the divine plan. The devil inspired heresiarchs to lead the faithful into error; only through careful comparison with the teachings of other heresiarchs and the perusal of antiheretical works of the Church fathers could this new and dangerous heresy be combated.33

Peter is aware that his Summa is merely an introduction to the “Saracen heresy” for the Christian reader, not a refutation of it. The man whom he deemed most appropriate to refute Islam was Bernard of Clairvaux, to whom he sent a letter along with the Latin translation of the Risâlat al-Kindî in 1144. He tells Bernard that he is aware that the Risâla has notproved useful to the Saracens in their own language and will not become more useful to them by virtue of being translated into Latin. “Yet perhaps it will be useful to some Latins, to whom it will teach things of which they were ignorant and will show what a damnable heresy it is. It will show them that they must defend themselves against it and attack it, should they ever come across it.”34 Indeed, this description of the defensive purpose of the translation of the Risâlat al-Kindî could characterize the whole of the translation enterprise, including Peter's own Summa. For an offensive tract against Islam, a real rational refutation of the Saracen heresy, the Risâlat al-Kindî apparently would not do. Who better to compose such arefutation than Bernard: theologian, fighter of heresies, and preacher of crusade?

Bernard, however, failed to respond to that summons, and Peter himself undertook the task of refuting Islam, probably in 1155–56.35 The work as it survives is composed of a long prologue and two books; it may be that Peter wrote more that was subsequently lost or that he left it incomplete at his death on Christmas Day in 1156.36

Both the structure and the strategy of the Contra sectam siue haeresim Saracenorum are quite different from those of the Summa. In the Summa he lambasted Muhammad from a Christian perspective; in the Contra sectam (after a prologue in which he justifies his polemics to Christianreaders) he (in book one) enjoins his Muslim readers to listen impartially to his arguments and tries to convince them that according to the Qur'ân they should accept Christian scripture. In book two, he tries to prove that (p.59) Muhammad is not a prophet by contrasting his life with those of Old Testament prophets.

In the long prologue to the Contra sectam, Peter justifies his enterprise by placing himself in the company of the church fathers who refuted earlier heretical doctrines, following the rule that “every error should be refuted.”37 He lists the names of ancient heresiarchs, “names monstrous to Christians,” and then those of the holy men who rebutted their heresies. The need to refute Muhammad's sect is particularly urgent; its acolytes are the “worst adversaries” of the Church (§1), for they dominate Asia and Africa and are present even in Europe (in Spain).

Peter then gives a rhetorical objection to this line of argument: one could say that the Saracens were pagans (ethnici or pagani) rather than heretics. Didn't John define the “many Antichrists” (which, for Peter, means heresiarchs) as those who “went out from us, but they were not of us” (I John 2:19), in other words, as those who had been part of the Church and had broken away from it? Peter notes that, like heretics, the followers of Muhammad adopt parts of the Christian faith and reject other parts, while they also follow some rites that seem to Peter “pagan.” Like certain heretics, Peter says, Muhammad “wrote in his impious Qur'ân” that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, lived without sin, and performed miracles; like the Manicheans, the Saracens deny His death. Like the pagans, on the other hand, they reject baptism, the mass, and the other sacraments. Heretics or pagans, “choose whichever you like” (Contra sectam, §14). He asserts that pagans should also be opposed by written polemic; here, too, he lists the names of illustrious church fathers who attacked paganism in their writings. Peter himself generally prefers to view the “Mahometan error” as a heresy.

Peter addresses one final rhetorical objection to his tract: why compose for Muhammad's followers a treatise in Latin, a language they do not understand? Here Peter has two responses. First of all, he hopes that someone may undertake to translate his tract into Arabic; after all, the fathers frequently translated works useful to the church from Hebrew to Greek, Greek to Latin, Latin to Greek, etc. Second, Peter says that his tract may prove useful to Christian readers, even if it stays untranslated (which it did). If there are any Christians who have the slightest tendency to respect or admire Islam, Peter hopes his work will quickly dissuade them.

Perhaps this tract will cure the hidden cogitations of some of our people, thoughts by which they could be led into evil if they think that (p.60) there is some piety in those impious people and think that some truth is to be found with the ministers of lies. (Contra sectam, §20)

Who are these Latin Christians who in their “hidden cogitations” might think that the Saracens were pious? Peter does not say, but certainly the most likely candidates were the translators and students of Arabic science and philosophy. One such scholar, Adelard of Bath, proclaimed, “I learnt from my masters, the Arabs, to follow the light of reason, while you are led by the bridle of authority; for what other word than bridle can I use to describe authority?”38 Might such preference for “Arabic reason” over “Latin Authority” lead such Christian scholars into doubt, even apostasy? As he had shown in his Epistola ad Petrum Ioannem and his Contra Petrobrusianos, Peter is concerned about the doubts that the devil might sow in the minds of Christians in order to lead them into heretical error. In this light his polemics look more like a defense of Christianity than an offensive missionary effort.

While the prologue to the Contra sectam is a defense of his tract to possible Christian detractors, the text itself is addressed to “the Arabs, sons of Ishmael, who serve the law of him who is called Muhammad” (Contra sectam, §23). He tells his readers that it is love that bids him write to them, love that Christian law enjoins on him. “I love you; loving you, I write to you; writing, I invite you to salvation” (Contra sectam, §26). Peter realizes, he says, that the first reaction of his Arab readers will be that they would never abandon the law given them by their prophet. He also is aware that the Qur'ân enjoins death on those who dispute the Muslim law.39 This, he says, astounds him because his Arab readers are “not only rational [rationales] by nature, but logical in temperament and training [ingenio et arte rationabiles]”; they are, moreover “learned in worldly knowledge [scientiam secularem]” (Contra sectam, §30). The injunction against debating religionflies in the face of the Arabs' propensity for learning: no rational man should accept something as true without first verifying its truth for himself.

These Arab philosophers use their reason to comprehend nature. Do they not know that this nature, the highest object of the search for truth, the uncreated creator, the ultimate substance or essence, is God?40 Should they not use their reason to investigate the truth concerning God? The law prohibiting religious dispute is an “infernal counsel,” a law fit for irrational sheep, not rational men. Instead of reaching for your swords or stones when a Christian comes to preach the gospel, Peter says, follow rather the example of Christians who dispute with Jews, listening patiently to their arguments (p.61) and responding wisely. (This hardly characterizes the rancor of Peter's own anti-Jewish tract.) Or follow the example of King Ethelbert of Kent, who received Christian missionaries with honor and heard them out.

Peter has emphasized the rationality and learning of his Muslim audience. This is all the more striking when contrasted with his descriptions of the enemies of his Aduersus Iudaeorum inveteratam duritiem, whom he brands as beasts without reason. There he contents himself with lambasting irrational Jewish beliefs for a Christian audience, showing no hope of converting Jews. Here, on the contrary, he pleads with his learned Muslim readers to hear him out, invoking the pagan king Ethelbert. Muslims, it seems, should be predisposed to recognize Christian reason; in order to prevent this, Muhammad had forbidden them under pain of death to debate matters of the faith.

Having crossed this first theoretical hurdle to gain a hearing from his rational, philosophical Muslim readership, his first and fundamental argument in favor of Christianity is not rationalistic or scientific but scriptural. While earlier polemics (including both the Risâlat al-Kindî and Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi) often tried to prove the Trinity using various triads of philosophical concepts, Peter makes no such attempt.41 Such argumentation is foreign to him. Since exegetical argumentation is his forte, his most pressing need is to establish the validity of the Bible to his Muslim audience so he can then comfortably deploy the scriptural weapons he handles so well.

In order to prove the validity of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, Peter starts from the normal Christian viewpoint that Qur'ânic stories of, say, Abraham or Noah are corrupted versions of their biblical counterparts. We have seen that the marginal notations in Robert's translation of the Qur'ân reflected this notion. Peter says that he was amazed to find that Muhammad, in the Qur'ân, had mixed elements from Christian and Jewish scriptures and moreover had praised those scriptures. Assuming, rather than arguing for, the primacy of Judeo-Christian scripture, he argues that if these scriptures are divine, they should be accepted wholly, not in part; if they are not divine, they should be rejected wholly, not in part (Contra sectam, §57).

He knows that the Muslim objection to this argument will be the charge that the God-given scriptures of Jews and Christians have been corrupted and that only the Qur'ân represents the uncorrupted word of God. Here he refers to Muslim stories, gleaned from a marginal annotation to the Qur'ân,42 according to which the Jews lost the Torah on their way back to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. Here Peter is quite capable of ridiculing this story (p.62) using his scriptural arsenal. In particular, he employs the logical arguments gleaned from the Risâlat al-Kindî showing how difficult it would be for Jews and Christians, dispersed over half the world, to connive together to corrupt the Torah.43 He argues similarly against charges that Christians have corrupted the Gospel. He then concludes book one with the assertion that he has proved that the Bible is divine, that it is superior to the Qur'ân, and that its authority should be accepted by all Muslims (Contra sectam,§88).

In book two, Peter attempts to prove that Muhammad is not a prophet, for a prophet by definition foresees the future, whereas Muhammad did not. Here Peter is unaware that the Muslim concept of rasul is quite different from the Christian notion of propheta. In showing that Muhammad does not correspond to Peter's notion of prophethood, he is scoring a point that would carry little weight with a Muslim audience.44 Peter uses material from the Risâlat al-Kindî, reshaping it to fit into his more coherent, theologically based structure. Peter narrates only the details of Muhammad's life that are necessary to show that he is not a prophet, especially his inability to foresee his military defeats and his failure to produce miracles.45

Peter asserts that the last of the prophets was John the Baptist. Yet Paul foretold of the errors of false prophets: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine … and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”46 Just so, says Peter, were the Saracens converted to the fables of Muhammad and Jews to the fables of the Talmud. He describes the prophecies and virtuous lives of various Hebrew prophets and challenges his readers to produce anything analogous in order to prove that Muhammad is a prophet. This brings him back to his initial argument on the Qur'ân: the Saracens should accept Christian scripture, reject Muhammad, and convert to Christianity (Contra sectam, §147–54).

Whether Peter considered his polemical work complete or whether he intended to write further, his polemical strategy, while indebted to that of his Arab and Spanish predecessors, is clearly distinct from it. While effusively expressing his admiration and respect for philosophy and ratio, Peter is clearly not adept in the scientific-rational forms of argumentation common in the Risâlat al-Kindî, Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogi, and other such works. He is much more at home when he can marshal his formidable knowledge of scripture to refute Saracen errors.

This difference is clearly seen in the organization of the Contra sectam. The Risâlat al-Kindî opens with a defense of the Trinity based on a triad (p.63) of divine attributes, an argument which apparently failed to impress Peter, since he does not reproduce it. Petrus Alfonsi opens his attack on Islam by attacking Muhammad. Because his anti-Islamic chapter is part of a debate between a Christian and a Jew, this is an understandable ploy to discredit Islam in the eyes of his Jewish interlocutor (indeed, this is the same strategy that Peter adapts in his Summa). Peter realized that to open the Contra sectam by directly attacking Muhammad would only provoke the hostilityof his Muslim audience. Instead, Peter uses a few well chosen Qur'ânic citations to try to prove that Muslims should accept Christian scriptures. Once he has done that, he can return to the exegetically based polemical method that he had employed in the Contra Petrobrusianos and the Aduersus Iudaeorum inveteratam duritiem.

In this enterprise, as we have seen, Peter saw himself as continuing the tradition of the Church fathers, of scripturally based explication and refutation of heresy, just as he saw his De miraculis as a continuation of the traditions embodied in the writings of Gregory the Great.47 His dissatisfaction with the earlier works of polemic that he used seems to stem from the fact that they do not resemble the works of the fathers with which Peter was so familiar. This, perhaps, explained why these had failed to convert the Muslims: they were not proper theological tracts.

If Peter thought that his polemics would be more likely to convert Muslims, he was badly mistaken. Peter had only a superficial bookish knowledge of Islam, nothing to compare with the more direct knowledge of Petrus Alfonsi or (especially) of the author of the Risâlat al-Kindî. We might offer Peter's anti-Muslim polemics the same reproach that Châtillon leveled against his Contra Petrobrusianos: Peter's elaborate, scripturally based arguments seem ill-equipped to convert his readers.

Yet in both works, Peter attempted to offer a defensive campaign against diabolical error: such polemics could quash the doubts of catholic readers. Torrell and Bouthillier have shown how, for Peter, Cluny was God's citadel constantly besieged by demons.48 As Cluny's spiritual head, Peter was particularly well placed to repulse demonic incursions through pastoral care of his monks, through doctrinal works such as his De miraculis, and through his trilogy of theological polemics against Jews, Petrobrusians, and Saracens. If Muslims, Jews, and heretics could not be brought into the fold, at least their satanically inspired errors could be dispelled from the minds of Christians.49 (p.64) (p.65)

Peter of Cluny on the “Diabolical Heresy of the Saracens”

The baptism of Corbaran from the Chrétienté Corbaran (Paris, Bibliothèque de ľArsenal, MS 3139, f 235r). Reproduced with permission of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.


(1.) For the edition of Peter's Latin texts with German translation, see Peter of Cluny [Petrus Venerabilis], Schriften zum Islam. On Peter the Venerable and his polemics against Islam, see Pierre Abélard, Pierre le Vénérable; Constable and Kritzeck, eds., Petrus Venerabilis;Alverny, “Deux traductions latines du Coran au Moyen-Age”; Alverny, “Pierre le Venerable et la légende de Mahomet”; Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam; Kritzeck, “De ľinfluence de Pierre Abélard sur Pierre le Vénérable dans ses oeuvres sur ľIslam”; Torrell, “La notion de prophétie et la méthode apologétique dans le Contra Saracenos de Pierre le Vénérable”; Lemay, “Ľapologétique contre ľIslam chez Pierre leVénérable et Dante”; Jolivet, “ĽIslam et la raison, ďaprès quelques auteurs latins des IXe [sic: should be XIe] et XIIe siècles”; Iogna-Prat, Ordonner et exclure; Martínez Gázquez, “Finalidad de la primera traducción latina del Corán.”

(2.) Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam, 15.

(3.) For criticisms of this image of Peter as a tolerant student of Islam, see Brolis, “La crociata di Pietro il Venerabile”; Kedar, Crusade and Mission, 101. Indeed, in order to form this image of a tolerant Peter opposed to crusading, Kritzeck had to willfully over-look the evidence amassed by Berry, “Peter the Venerable and the Crusades.” See also two reviews of Kritzeck's book: Richard Lemay in Middle East Forum 41 (1965): 41–44, and S. M. Stern in Medium Aevum 35 (1966): 248–52. Kritzeck has also been criticized for errors in his editing and translating of Peter's Latin texts.

(4.) Jean Leclercq, Pierre le Vénérable; Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 3–104.

(5.) Little, “Intellectual Training,” 236.

(6.) Bredero, “The Controversy between Peter the Venerable and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux”; Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 92–101 (who give full bibliographical references to other studies on the subject).

(7.) Heloise, Epistola 1, in Peter Abelard, Historia calamitatum, appendix, p. 116; Little, “Intellectual Training,” 238.

(8.) Petrus Alfonsi, Diálogi contra Iudeos, 98; Petrus Alfonsi, Dialogue against the Jews, 156; Risâlat al-Kindî [Latin translation], 80–81.

See bibliography for references to the Arabic text of the Risâlat al-Kindî and a modern French translation. On the Risâlat al-Kindî and its importance to later works of medieval anti-Islamic polemic, see Abel, “ĽApologie ďAl-Kindi”; van Koningsveld, “La Apología de Al-Kindî en la España.” On Petrus Alfonsi's Diálogi, see Tolan, Petrus Alfonsi and His Medieval Readers.

(9.) Little, “Intellectual Training.”

(10.) Peter of Cluny, Contra Petrobrusianos hereticos, 3.

(11.) Peter of Cluny, Contra sectam, in Schriften zum Islam, 232; on Kritzeck's (mis)interpretation of this passage, see Brolis, “La crociata di Pietro il Venerabile,” and Kedar, Crusade and Mission. On this text, see Iogna-Prat, Ordonner et exclure, chs. 3–8.

(12.) Moore, The Origins of European Dissent, 102; Châtillon, “Pierre le Vénérable et (p.171) les Pétrobrusiens”; see also Fearns, “Peter von Bruis”; Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 162–71; Moore, “Building Ramparts.

(13.) Petrus Venerabilis, Contra Petrobrusianos hereticos, 4, 165; Torrell and Bouthillier note that the same purpose underlies many of the stories in Peter's De Miraculis of visits from ghosts of those who have benefited from the prayers of Cluny's monks. Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 170–71.

(14.) Peter of Cluny, Letters of Peter the Venerable, §98 (258–59), §115 (303–8), §167 (400–401), §168 (401–2); Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 89–92; Zerbi, “San Bernardo di Chiaravalle e il concilio de Sens”; Zerbi, “Remarques sur ľEpistola 98 de Pierre le Vénérable”; Thomas, “Die Persönlichkeit Peter Abaelards.”

(15.) Kritzeck, “De ľinfluence de Pierre Abélard sur Pierre le Vénérable”; Jolivet, “ĽIslam et la raison”; Peter Abelard, Dialogus inter philosophum iudaeum et christianum. On this text, see Von Moos, “Les collations ďAbélard.”

(16.) For the dates of composition, see Friedman's introduction to her edition of Peter of Cluny, Adversus Iudeorum inveteratam duritiem, lvii-lxx; Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 172–74; Kniewasser, “Die antijüdische Polemik des Petrus Alphonsi,” 59.

(17.) See Tolan, Petrus Alfonsi, 116–17; Friedman's introduction to Peter's Adversus Iudeorum inveteratam duritiem, xvii-xviii; Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam, 27n83; Dahan, Les Intellectuels chrétiens et les Juifs au moyen âge, 458–59.

(18.) Adversus Iudeorum inveteratam duritiem, v, 126.

(19.) Ibid., v, 151.

(20.) “Bouinus intellectus” (Peter, Adversus Iudeorum inveteratam duritiem, 43). Yvonne Friedman, in her introduction, cites eleven places where Peter refers to the Jews as animals (viii, note 5).

(21.) On this trip, see Bishko, “Peter the Venerable's Journey to Spain”; Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 59–67; Kniewasser, “Die antijü-dische Polemik des Petrus Alphonsi”; Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam, 3–14.

(22.) Peter of Cluny, Epistola ad Petrum de Joanne contra eos qui dicunt Christum nunquam se in Evangeliis aperte Deum dixisse, PL 189:487–508. Constable (2:331–43) shows that Petrus de Joanne and Peter of Poitiers are indeed one and the same: Peter the Venerable himself in De Miraculis describes how he met the other Peter at the monastery of St. Jean ďAnselmy (hence the de Joanne); Peter of Cluny, De Miraculis §I:4.

(23.) Burman, “Tafsîr and Translation.”

(24.) The original manuscript of the collected translations, used by Peter the Venerable as he composed his own anti-Islamic works is conserved in the Bibliothèque de ľArsenal (MS nº 1162); see Alverny, “Deux traductions.”

(25.) See, for example, 57r, in the Koran translation, the reader is referred to the translation of the Risâlat al-Kindî (“bonus et doctus Christianus cuius liber in isto codice continetur”).

(26.) For the debate on the identity of the annotator and examples of the variety of the annotations, see Burman, Religious Polemic, 85–89. An example of a basic misunderstanding of Muslim practice is one annotator's assertion that Muhammad was buried in Mecca (MS A, 21v).

(27.) Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam, 115–52.

(28.) Peter of Cluny, Summa totius haeresis Saracenorum, in Schriften zum Islam, §3.

(29.) Kedar, Crusade and Mission, 90n.

(30.) Petrus Alfonsi, Diálogi §V, 94–95; Dialogue, 151–52. The same material is in the Latin translation of the Risâlat al-Kindî. Peter seems to be following Alfonsi's narration of these events rather than that of the Risâlat, although he does correct Alfonsi, who identified Sergius as a Jacobite monk (Dialogi, 95). Peter (following the Risâlat [Exposición y refutación del Islam, 100]) identifies Sergius as a Nestorian (Peter the Venerable, Summa, 206).

(32.) The idea that Porphyry was an apostate Christian has been common in Christian texts since the fifth century. See R. Grant, “Porphyry among the Early Christians”; ƠMeara, Porphyry's Philosophy, esp. 52ff. Thanks to Bernard McGinn for bringing these works to my attention.

(33.) One can only be dismayed by Kritzeck's assertion that one of Peter's great achievements was “the dissociation of Mohammed from other heresiarchs” (Peter the Venerable and Islam, 27–30); clearly, he is doing precisely the opposite.

(34.) Peter the Venerable, Letters of Peter the Venerable, ed. Constable, §111, p. 295. Another version of this letter is edited by Kritzeck (Peter the Venerable and Islam, 212–14); the latter version does not contain Peter's criticisms of the Risâlat al-Kindî. Several passages of the text are also common to the Summa. For the relationship between these three texts, see Letters of Peter the Venerable, ed. Constable, 2:275–84; Alverny, “Deux traductions,” 72–76; Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam, 27–30.

(35.) Peter of Poitiers wrote a letter to Peter the Venerable in summer or autumn of 1155 in which he refers to Peter's polemics against Jews and Petrobrusians and rejoices at the fact that he will now undertake to refute the errors of the Saracens. On Peter of Poitiers, see Letters of Peter the Venerable, ed. Constable, 2:331–43; Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 180–83. Torrell and Bouthillier have misunderstood the relationship between the Summa and the Contra sectam; they refer to the Summa as “placée en Préface du Contra Sarracenos” (336). In fact, the two texts are completely independent.

(36.) For Kritzeck, the text is complete as is (Peter the Venerable and Islam, 155–56). Torrell and Bouthillier think that he had planned on writing more (Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 182).

(37.) Contra sectam in Schriften zum Islam, here §9.

(38.) Adelard, Questiones naturales, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 31, pt. 2, 11. See Burnett, “Adelard of Bath and the Arabs.”

(39.) Peter of Cluny, Contra sectam, §29; he quotes the Koranic injunctions at §35. On this, see Kedar, Crusade and Mission, 99–104.

(40.) “Quae uero est natura haec, que substantia, uel essentia? None illa, quae communi uniuersarum gentium more, iuxta proprietatem uniuscuiusque linguae Deus creditur, Deus dicitur? Est igitur natura illa, Deus ille, qui solus increatus est, qui solus creator est.” Contra sectam, §32. Peter may have taken the identification of substantia with God the creator from Petrus Alfonsi, who identifies the creator God the Father and (p.173) with substantia. Petrus Alfonsi, Diálogi contra Iudeos §6, 104–5; Dialogue, 165–66; see Tolan, Petrus Alfonsi, 36–37.

(41.) Risâlat al-Kindî, Tartar trans., 125–27; Latin trans, 38–39; Petrus Alfonsi, Diálogi contra Iudeos §VI, 105–6; Dialogue, 166; see Tolan, Petrus Alfonsi, 36–39. For other examples of this common ploy, see Burman, Religious Polemic, 72–73, 81–82, 163ff; Daniel, Islam and the West, 200–209.

(42.) MS A, 28v; Peter of Cluny, Contra sectam, §64–65; see Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam, 177–78.

(43.) Peter of Cluny, Contra sectam, §66–67; Risâlat al-Kindî, Tartar trans., 251–53.

(44.) Peter of Cluny, Contra sectam, §97–154; a similar argument is found in the 45. Risâlat al-Kindî, Tartar trans., 137–73

(45.) Risâlat al-Kindî, Tartar trans., 137–53; Peter of Cluny, Contra sectam, §117, 119.

(46.) Peter of Cluny, Contra sectam, §138; II Timothy 4:3–4.

(47.) Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde (see index, p. 441, “Grégoire le Grand”).

(48.) Torrell and Bouthillier, Pierre le Vénérable et sa vision du monde, 308–14.

(49.) An earlier version of this essay was presented to the seminar “Savoirs et Pouvoirs: Histoire Culturelle de ľEspagne Médiévale,” at the Collège ďEspagne in Paris, February, 1997. Thanks to the participants of that seminar for their helpful comments, in particular to the organizer, Adeline Rucquoi, and to Gabriel Martinez-Gros. Thanks also to Robert Bartlett and Thomas Burman for their comments and corrections, and to Bernard McGinn for bibliographical advice.