Dialectical Encounter: Contemporary Turkish Muslim Thought in Dialogue by Taraneh R. Wilkinson

Oliver Leaman



(First paragraph)

This is a highly intelligent book; it concentrates on two contemporary Turkish theologians (Recep Alpyağıl and Şaban Ali Düzgün) but actually does a lot more than that. It provides an accurate snapshot of the state of the discipline of theology as interpreted by higher education institutions in Turkey in modern times, and given the significant role of religion in the country in recent years under the AKP regime this has wider relevance than merely being academic. Wilkinson carefully delineates what the various concepts and names are used for theology in Turkey, how the profession is organized and most interestingly to me its roots in the Ottoman period. Turkey is an unusual country in that it is very close to Europe and the West in general geographically and culturally and yet persists in often being rather mysterious. Although many of the theologians she mentions in the book were trained at least partially in Western institutions, they often have an agenda and orientation which is quite distinct, as one would expect of any respectable culture with deep historical roots in a period with which many outsiders are entirely unacquainted. Here Wilkinson suggests plausibly that it is the attempt at rediscovery of and renewing the Ottoman roots of contemporary cultural trends along with the application of Western theoretical methodology that is proving to be such an intriguing and profitable enterprise.

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