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 (Untitled) apology for the Christian faith

(214 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
A brief apology for Christianity Ibn al-Qusṭāl Date: Uncertain; possibly late 12th century Original Language: Arabic Description MS Paris Ar. 72 preserves a brief apologetic text attributed to Abū Yāsir; it occupies parts of just three folios in this unique copy. Samir’s description of the text (‘Bibliographie’, p. 229) shows a quick succession of topics: a religion is accepted by faith rather than by reason; the inadequacy of Muslim scholars’ claims to ‘know’ the Jewish and Christian sharīʿa; the refutation of qur’anic claims about Christ (in which key texts such as Q 4…

 Title unknown

(1,024 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Source of 'The History of the patriarchs of Alexandria, Lives 56-65' Michael of Damrū Date: Completed 20 May 1051 Original Language: Coptic Description The Coptic text of the Lives of the 56th-65th patriarchs by Michael of Damrū was among the sources found in the late 11th century by the Alexandrian deacon Mawhūb ibn Manṣūr ibn Mufarrij (q.v.) and his collaborators as part of their project of compiling an Arabic-language history of the Coptic Orthodox patriarchs (see den Heijer, Mawhūb); the copy of Bishop Michael’s text was found at the Monastery of St Macarius. No fragm…

 Al-jawhara l-nafīsa fī ʿulūm al-kanīsa

(1,439 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Al-jawhara l-nafīsaThe precious jewel, on the ecclesiastical sciences, The precious jewel Ibn Sabbāʿ Date: Possibly 1340 Original Language: Arabic Description Al-jawhara l-nafīsa is usually described as a theological-liturgical ‘encyclopedia’ because of the range of topics covered in its (originally) 113 chapters, which occupy 386 pages (along with the critical apparatus) in Mistrīḥ’s edition. The work opens with statements about the unity and trinity of God (chs 1-2), and goes on to re-narrate the biblical story (with apocryphal elements, e.g. from The cave of treasures) from…

Marqus ibn Zurʿa

(811 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Marqus (Mark III) ibn Zurʿa Date of Birth: Early 12th century Place of Birth: Unknown; possibly Miṣr (Old Cairo) Date of Death: 1 January 1189 Place of Death: Unknown; presumably Miṣr Biography Abū l-Faraj ibn Abū Asʿad, known as Ibn Zurʿa, was a member of the class of Coptic bureaucratic administrators (he was a kātib or ‘secretary’) and, according to the patriarchal history attributed to Yūsāb of Fuwwa, he served in the Fatimid administration as mustawfī dīwān al-khāṣṣ, chief accountant in the special bureau. We know almost nothing of his early life; while his family w…

The disputation of Jirjī the monk

(265 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Disciple of Jirjī l-rāhib Date of Birth: Unknown; possibly later 12th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown; after 1217 Place of Death: Possibly the Monastery of Mār Simʿān al-Baḥrī, near Antioch Biography A colophon to the debate text treated below states that the one who described the debate was tilmīdh al-rāhib Jirjī, a ‘disciple’ of the monk Jirjī, the hero of the debate. The author was therefore (if this statement is to be believed) a Melkite monk of the Monastery of Mār Simʿān al-Baḥrī, near Antioch, and a disciple of the mon…

Abū l-Faḍl ʿAlī ibn Rabban al-Naṣrānī

(163 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography According to the (now inaccessible) manuscript of his refutation of Islam, Abū l-Faḍl ʿAlī ibn Rabban al-Naṣrānī (‘the Christian’) served as secretary to the great East-Syrian (‘Nestorian’) Catholicos Timothy (q.v.), who was in office from 780 to 823. His name ‘Ibn Rabban’ (‘son of our master’) indicates that his father was a recognized teacher of the community. Landron ( Chrétiens et musulmans en Irak, p. 60) has considered the possibility of identifying him with the well-known convert to Islam and Muslim apologist ʿAlī ibn Rabban al-Ṭabarī (q.v.)…

Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn

(801 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Abū Yaʿqūb Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq al-ʿIbādī Date of Birth: About 830 Place of Birth: Possibly Baghdad Date of Death: 910-11 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn was the son of the great East Syrian (‘Nestorian’) Christian translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (q.v.). He was trained by his father as a physician and translator, and worked with him (and his cousin Ḥubaysh) on translations from Greek into Arabic, especially of medical and philosophical texts. Ibn al-Nadīm considered Isḥāq to be a greater master of Ara…

 Asfār al-asrār; Risālat al-burhān wa-l-irshād ilā l-maḥabba, thamarat al-dīn wa-l-iʿtiqād

(1,432 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
'The books of the secrets; Demonstration and guidance to love, fruit of religion and belief' Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā Date: 1332 Original Language: Arabic Description In response to a request from friends, the priest Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā wrote an epistle ( risāla), which he described as being ‘from the sincere, loving Easterners ( mashāriqa, members of the Church of the East) to their Western brethren’. In it Ṣalībā stresses their fundamental unity in the Christian faith; recounts how the faith of the Church of the East was tested by persecution under th…

 Maqāla/Risāla fī l-ittiḥād

(817 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Treatise on the Union [of divinity and humanity in Christ] Naẓīf ibn Yumn Date: After June 979 Original Language: Arabic Description Naẓīf ibn Yumn was invited to participate in a majlis in the presence of the Melkite patriarch and the emir ʿAḍud al-Dawla (r. 979-83), where he was asked to explain the Christological doctrines of the major Christian communities. Afterwards he wrote an account of his presentation, which al-Muʾtaman ibn al-ʿAssāl (who reproduced an extract from it) referred to simply as Maqāla fī l-ittiḥād, a ‘Treatise on the Union [of divinity and humanity in Ch…

 Sīrat al-qiddīs Anbā Furayj (Ruways)

(1,207 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
'The Life of the saint Anbā Furayj (Ruways)'; 'The Life and miracles of Anbā Ruways (Furayj, Tegi)' The Life and Miracles of Anbā Ruways Date: Soon after 18 October 1404 Original Language: Arabic Description The Life and Miracles of Anbā Ruways is a fairly extensive work (61 folios in Paris Ar. 282) which, like the Lives of Barṣawmā al-ʿUryān (q.v.) and Marqus al-Anṭūnī (q.v.), makes use of the literary form of a Life (= sīra) proper, followed by a collection of miracle stories from the saint’s life. Its full title, as given in the Paris manuscript, is: Sīrat abīnā al-ab al-qiddīs al-ṭūbānī…

 Untitled ḥawāshī (notes) to a copy of Tanqīḥ al-abḥāth li-l-milal al-thalāth by Saʿd ibn Manṣūr ibn Kammūna

(761 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
- Ibn al-Maḥrūma Date: Approximately 1333 Original Language: Arabic Description In the year 1280, the distinguished Jewish philosopher and scientist of Baghdad Saʿd ibn Manṣūr ibn Kammūna wrote a treatise on the three ‘Abrahamic’ faiths entitled Tanqīḥ al-abḥāth li-l-milal al-thalāth, ‘Examination of the inquiries into the three faiths’ (B. Roggema’s translation). The work consists of an introductory essay on prophetology, followed by examinations of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in turn. About half a century later, the Christian scholar and scribe Ibn al-Maḥrū…

Yuḥannis, Yuʾannis, Yūḥannā ‘John the Deacon’ is a convenient appellation

(487 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
John the Deacon Date of Birth: Early 8th c. Place of Birth: Egypt, perhaps in Giza Date of Death: Late 8th c. (after 767) Place of Death: Egypt, precise location unknown Biography The author of the principal source for Lives 43-46 of The History of the patriarchs of Alexandria (covering the years 704-67) was a certain Yuḥannis (= John, in the Arabic text also written Yuʾannis or Yūḥannā), a Coptic Orthodox monk and deacon. He was the spiritual son of Bishop Moses (Muwīsīs) of Wasīm in Giza, and loyal servant and companion of Michael (Khāʾīl) I, the 46th patriarch (743-67). John had the trus…

Unknown series of redactors

(270 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The Arabic Sibylline prophecy Date of Birth: 8th c. Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: 8th-9th c. Place of Death: Unknown Biography Nothing is known of the anonymous redactors of a sequence of 8th- and early 9th-century recensions of an ongoing Arabic Christian apocalyptic tradition, recently entitled The Arabic Sibylline prophecy (Ebied and Young, ‘Newly-discovered version’), other than what can be deduced from the texts themselves and the date and provenance of their manuscript witnesses. The oldest manuscript witnesses are found at the Mo…

Author unknown

(183 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The Arabic letter of Leo III to ʿUmar II Date of Birth: Unknown, perhaps early 8th c. Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown, perhaps late 8th c. Place of Death: Unknown, perhaps Palestine or Sinai Biography Nothing is known of the actual author of an Arabic text purporting to be a letter of the Byzantine Emperor Leo III (r. 717-41) to the Umayyad Caliph ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 717-20), other than what can be gathered from the contents of the text itself and the manuscript in which it is fragmentarily preserved (Sinai ar…

 Sīrat Anbā Abraʾām al-Fānī

(672 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The Life of Abraʾām al-Fānī The Life of the hegumenos Abraʾām al-Fānī Date: Not long after 1396 Original Language: Arabic Description The Life of Abraʾām (Ibrāhīm) al-Fānī, which occupies 28 folios in the copy consulted here, tells the story of a pious monk who lived in troubled times. (Its full title is Sīrat al-ab al-mukarram wa-l-qiddīs al-ʿaẓīm al-kāmil bi-kulli maʿānī wa-l-faḍāʾil al-īghūmānus Anbā Abraʾām al-Fānī, hādhā lladhī akmala jihādahu l-ḥasan wa-ntaqala ilā l-rabb wa-tanayyaḥa fī l-yawm al-tāsiʿ min shahr Hātūr sanat 1113 li-l-shuhadāʾ al-aṭhār, ‘The Life of the …

Ibn al-Ṣuqāʿī

(534 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Al-Muwaffaq Faḍlallāḥ ibn Abī l-Fakhr ibn al-Ṣuqāʿī al-kātib al-Naṣrānī Date of Birth: Shortly after 1228 Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: 1325-26 Place of Death: al-Arza, outside Damascus Biography Al-Muwaffaq Faḍlallāḥ ibn Abī l-Fakhr ibn al-Ṣuqāʿī was a Christian who had a successful career as a financial administrator ( kātib) under the Mamluks. He served in the dīwān al-murtajaʿ  (bureau of reclamation) and in the dīwān al-mawārīth (bureau of inheritances); we know that he occupied the latter post in 1287. In an age when many Christian financial admi…

Kitāb al-īḍāḥ

(204 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Unknown author Date of Birth: Unknown; perhaps early 11th century Place of Birth: Unknown; presumably Egypt Date of Death: Unknown; perhaps late 11th century Place of Death: Unknown; presumably Egypt Biography Kitāb al-īḍāḥ, ‘The elucidation’, is usually attributed to the great 10th-century Coptic Orthodox theologian and apologist Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (q.v.) in the manuscript tradition – at least that of Egyptian provenance.  If, as the present author believes, the attribution to Sāwīrus must be rejected for reasons of style and content, there is little…

 Mujādalat al-rāhib al-qiddīs Ibrāhīm al-Ṭabarānī maʿa l-amīr ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Ṣāliḥ al-Hāshimī

(1,652 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Mujādalat Ibrāhīm al-ṬabarānīThe Disputation of the saintly monk Ibrāhīm al-Ṭabarānī with the emir ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Ṣāliḥ al-Hāshimī, The Disputation of Ibrāhīm al-Ṭabarānī Unknown Date: After c. 820, probably later 9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description The text recounts a religious disputation ( mujādala) that took place in Jerusalem over the course of an unspecified number of days between the monk Ibrāhīm al-Ṭabarānī and a series of interlocutors at the court of the emir ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Ṣāli…

Abū l-Faraj Yaḥyā ibn Saʿīd ibn Yaḥyā

(763 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography This entry introduces the author of three apologetic treatises, as reported in Sbath, Fihris, Supplement, p. 10: Abū l-Faraj Yaḥyā ibn Saʿīd ibn Yaḥyā al-ṭabīb al-Malakī al-Anṭākī, ‘the Melkite physician of Antioch’. This figure has been convincingly identified with the Yaḥyā ibn Saʿīd ibn Yaḥyā to whom Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa devotes an entry ( ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, ed. Müller, i, p. 239): a fine physician of Antioch who the renowned Christian physician Ibn Buṭlān knew personally and about whom he wrote (in 1063) with the greatest respect for his piety and scholarship fī zamāninā, ‘in our…

Uncertain; Yūḥannā (John) ?

(490 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
John the Writer Date of Birth: c. 820 Place of Birth: Egypt Date of Death: After 866 Place of Death: Egypt Biography The author of the principal source for Lives 47-55 of The History of the patriarchs of Alexandria (covering the years 767-880) was a Coptic Orthodox monk and a former disciple of the hermit Amūna, who around the year 840 had taught him to write and prophesied that he would be the author of the next section of The History of the patriarchs (Evetts, PO 10, pp. 531-32). A little later, he became spiritual son and scribe to Patriarch Yūsāb I (the 52nd patriarch, 831-49), whom he attend…

Marqus ibn al-Qunbar

(1,111 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Abū l-Fakhr Marqus ibn al-shaykh Abū l-Barakāt Mawhūb, al-maʿrūf bi-Ibn al-Qunbar; Marqus al-Ḍarīr (Mark the Blind) Date of Birth: Unknown; perhaps 1130-40 Place of Birth: Perhaps Sunbāṭ near Zifta, Gharbiyya, in the Nile Delta Date of Death: 18 February 1208 Place of Death: Dayr al-Quṣayr, south of Old Cairo Biography Samir, ‘Vie et œuvre’, has carefully gathered the sources for the life of Marqus ibn al-Qunbar, with the warning that most of these are hostile: they aim to portray Marqus as an insolent, self-willed heretic and breaker of oaths. Marqus, a blind priest and monk (who w…

ʿAbd al-Masīḥ al-Isrāʾīlī al-Raqqī

(289 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography The author’s name indicates that he was a Jew (‘al-Isrāʾīlī’) from al-Raqqa in Syria (‘al-Raqqī’), who converted to Christianity and took the name ʿAbd al-Masīḥ, ‘Servant of Christ’. The extended title of his Kitāb al-istidlāl indicates that the person instrumental in his conversion was the Christian physician [Abū l-Fatḥ] Manṣūr ibn Sahlān [ibn Muqashshir], who served for many years in the Fatimid court in Cairo and died around 1004, while in the service of the Caliph al-Ḥākim (996-1021). Samir inclines to the opinion …

Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā

(469 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā l-Mawṣilī Date of Birth: Unknown; late 13th century Place of Birth: Mosul Date of Death: Unknown; after 1335 Place of Death: Unknown Biography Ṣalībā ibn Yūḥannā is the author of an Arabic compendium to be treated below, but we are also fortunate in the preservation of a codex that probably belonged to him and in which he copied texts that interested him: MS Paris, BNF – Ar. 204, which contains a work of Christian-Jewish controversy, two texts by ʿAbdīshūʿ of Nisibis (q.v.), and a copy of the so-called Letter from Cyprus (q.v.). In a colophon at f. 48v of this codex, th…

Michael of Damietta

(909 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Mīkhāʾīl, muṭrān Dimyāṭ; Michael, metropolitan of Damietta Date of Birth: Unknown; approximately 1130 or 1140 Place of Birth: Unknown; Egypt Date of Death: After 1208 Place of Death: Unknown; possibly Damietta Biography Little is known about the biography of Mīkhāʾīl (Michael), bishop of Damietta and the first Coptic bishop to receive the title muṭrān (metropolitan). He served during the patriarchates of Mark III ibn Zurʿa (the 73rd patriarch, 1166-89) and John VI (the 74th patriarch, 1189-1216). He is remembered for his collection of canon law and for his defense of…

 Waṣf mujādala jarat bayn al-rāhib al-Simʿānī wa-bayn thalātha min fuqahāʾ al-Muslimīn wa-ʿudūlihim ḥaḍrat al-amīr al-mulaqqab bi-l-Mushammar … (title in Bāshā’s edition)

(1,887 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Muḥāwara jadaliyya fī amr al-dīn jarat bayn al-ab al-jalīl Jirjis al-rāhib min Dayr al-qiddīs Simʿān wa-bayn thalāthat anfār min al-Muslimīn wa-ʿudūlihim, wa-dhālika bi-ḥaḍrat al-amīr al-mukannā bi-l-Malik al-Mushammar … (title in Qarʾalī’s edition)‘A description of the disputation that took place between the monk of [the Monastery of] St Simeon and three Muslim legal scholars and their withdrawal, in the presence of the emir called al-Mushammar…’; ‘A disputation-conversation on the matter of religion that took place between …

Ten questions

(170 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Ten questions that one of the disciples asked of his master Date of Birth: Unknown; perhaps 11th century Place of Birth: Unknown; presumably Egypt Date of Death: Unknown; perhaps 12th century Place of Death: Unknown; presumably Egypt Biography Nothing is known of the author of a brief catechetical text in ten chapters, ʿAshara masāʾil saʾala ʿanhum baʿḍ al-talāmīdh min muʿallimihi, ‘Ten questions that one of the disciples asked of his master’, other than what can be gathered from the text. The author was clearly a Copt, probably a monk and/or a priest. …

 Kitāb al-mithāliyyāt wa-l-rumūz

(154 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The book of likenesses and types Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ Date: Unknown Original Language: Arabic Description MZ no. 25, not in HP. The title suggests that this lost work may have been a catalogue of Old Testament testimonia, that is, passages that were seen to predict or foreshadow the career of Christ, as well as fundamental Christian doctrines and practices. Significance If the attribution of this work to Sāwīrus is correct, it adds a detail to his intellectual and spiritual profile: among the tools he used was the testimonia-catalogue, an ancient apologetic and catechetical gen…

The Life and Miracles of Anbā Ruways

(165 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography We know nothing about the author of the Life of Anbā Ruways apart from what can be gathered from the text itself; however, the second of the ‘miracles’ that follow the Life ‘proper’ in several manuscripts appears to refer to this author. According to this miracle account, Anbā Ruways cured one of his disciples (who is not named) of a very serious illness, and promised him that he would live long, attend Anbā Ruways’s death, and write down an account of his trials. The account goes on to inform us that the disciple di…

Unknown author

(80 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Vienna, Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer – Inv. Ar. Pap. Nr. 10.000 Date of Birth: 8th/9th c. Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Not later than 9th c. Place of Death: Unknown Biography Nothing is known of the author of an extremely fragmentary text known from a single double leaf of papyrus, dated to the first half of the 9th century. Primary Sources of Information Secondary Sources of Information Works on Christian-Muslim Relations Title Unknown Mark N. Swanson

 Al-durr al-thamīn

(379 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The precious pearl Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ Date: Unknown; mid or late 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description Not in MZ or HP. Al-durr al-thamīn is the earliest Arabic-language biblical and patristic florilegium (chain of quotations) produced in Egypt. Apart from an opening and closing chapter on the Trinity, its 15 chapters deal with Christological matters and quote extensively from the great Alexandrian church fathers (especially Athanasius and Cyril) as well as the leading theologian of the one-nature Christology, Patriarch Severus of Antioch. Significance This w…

 Kitāb miṣbāḥ al-ʿaql

(815 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Kitāb al-istibṣārThe lamp of understandingThe book of perspicacity Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ Date: After 955 Original Language: Arabic Description MZ no. 14, HP no. 14. Sāwīrus composed Kitāb miṣbāḥ al-ʿaql in response to a request from a Copt who was unable to find a clear summary of Christian teachings with which to respond to opponents ( al-mukhālifūn li-millatinā). The work, which only occupies 13-14 leaves in the accessible manuscripts, aims for conciseness; Sāwīrus frequently directs the reader to other books he had written for greater detail. Wh…

Muṣṭafā l-Mulk Abū Yūsuf

(262 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography Nothing is known about the author of a brief extract in ch. 19 of al-Muʾtaman ibn al-ʿAssāl’s famous theological compendium Majmūʿ uṣūl al-dīn apart from what can be gathered there. His honorific ( laqab) Muṣṭafā l-Mulk (‘the chosen of the reign’) is typical of Copts of the secretarial class. Al-Muʾtaman speaks highly of him, giving him the title shaykh and commenting that he had quoted this brilliantly fine passage ( lumʿa laṭīfa) in order ‘to renew his memory’ and ‘that he might be shown mercy’. We are thus led to think of a highly-educated Copt who had …

 Title unknown. The extract is described as being about amthila tūjib al-waṣf li-shayʾ wāḥid bi-ʿiddat awṣāf

(452 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Examples that require the description of one thing with multiple descriptions Yūḥannā al-Anṭākī Date: Second half of 11th century Original Language: Arabic Description While the title of a work of which only a brief extract has been preserved is unknown, the extract is described as being about amthila tūjib al-waṣf li-shayʾ wāḥid bi-ʿiddat awṣāf, ‘Examples that require the description of one thing with multiple descriptions’. The aim of the preserved paragraphs is to show, beginning from nature and ordinary human endeavor, that unity and multiplic…

Abū l-Faraj Saʿīd ibn ʿAlī l-Anbārī

(158 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Abū l-Faraj Saʿīd ibn ʿAlīl-Anbārī Date of Birth: Unknown, early/mid 9th c.? Place of Birth: Probably in or near the town of al-Anbār Date of Death: Unknown, late 9th c.? Place of Death: Unknown, perhaps in or near the town of al-Anbār Biography Virtually nothing is known of this author. According to Sbath ( Fihris, Supplément, p. 10), he was a scholar who belonged to the East-Syrian community and who lived in the 9th century. His nisba, al-Anbārī, suggests both a place of origin (the town of al-Anbār) as well as a possible connection with the al-Anbārī family of schola…

Sulaymān al-Ashlūḥī

(234 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography Little is known about Sulaymān al-Ashlūḥī, the author of a poem in Lebanese Arabic dialect about the fall of Tripoli to the Mamluks (under Sultan Qalāwūn, on 27 April 1289) beyond what can be deduced from the poem itself. R. Jabre-Mouawad, who has recently provided a critical edition, translation, and study of the poem (‘Un témoin melkite’), convincingly argues that Sulaymān was a Melkite ( pace Nasrallah, HMLEM iii.2, p. 95). He hailed from the village of Ashlūḥ near Tripoli, no longer in existence today. His rich evocation of ceremonial in the Melkit…

 Kitāb uṣūl al-dīn wa-shifāʾ qulūb al-muʾminīn; Kitāb uṣūl al-dīn; Mukhtaṣar fī uṣūl al-dīn al-Naṣrāniyya

(787 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The fundamentals of religion and cure for believers’ hearts; The fundamentals of religion; Epitome of the fundamentals of the Christian religion Dāniyāl al-Suryānī l-Mārdīnī; (= Daniel ibn al-Khaṭṭāb?) Date: Shortly before 1382 Original Language: Arabic Description Kitāb uṣūl al-dīn is a work of some length, occupying 112 folios in the Bodleian manuscript, the oldest complete text available. It is divided into two (or more) parts. Part 1 is well-defined in the manuscript tradition and is normally divided into 14 chapters that deal w…

Unknown author

(135 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Fī tathlīth Allāh al-wāḥid Date of Birth: 8th c. Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: 8th/9th c. Place of Death: Unknown, possibly one of the monasteries of Palestine or Sinai Biography The unnamed 8th-century Melkite author is known to us only through his Arabic apology for the Christian faith, preserved in a single manuscript. The depth of biblical and theological knowledge displayed in this apology suggests that its author was a priest and/or monk; its preservation at the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mt Sinai suggests a co…

Abū Nūḥ ʿAbd al-Masīḥ ibn al-Ṣalt al-Anbārī

(635 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Abū Nūḥ al-Anbārī Date of Birth: c. 730 Place of Birth: Probably in or near al-Anbār Date of Death: Unknown; he was active in the 780s Place of Death: Unknown, perhaps in or near al-Anbār or Baghdad Biography As Cabrol has pointed out in her excellent summary of what is known about Abū Nūḥ al-Anbārī (‘Une famille’, pp. 297-302), his biography is closely interwoven with that of his fellow student and friend who later became the Catholicos Timothy I (q.v.) (728-823, catholicos from 780). They were schooled together in ecclesiastical s…

 Kitāb al-istidlāl

(560 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Inductive reasoning ʿAbd al-Masīḥ al-Isrāʾīlī al-Raqqī Date: Unknown; probably late 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description Kitāb al-istidlāl is only known through an epitome ( mukhtaṣar) preserved in a single Vatican manuscript; S.K. Samir has provided an extensive description of this epitome (Samir, ‘ʿAbd al-Masīḥ’), which is the basis for what follows. After a philosophical introduction, the book is divided into five parts: 1. proofs of the coming of Christ (i.e., Old Testament testimonia); 2. a discussion of what Christians mean when they use the word jawhar, ‘subs…

 Risāla fī l-tathlīth wa-l-ittiḥād

(146 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Treatise on the Trinity [of God] and the Union [of divinity and humanity in Christ] ʿAfīf ibn al-Makīn ibn Muʾammal Date: Possibly 11th century Original Language: Arabic Description The title of this currently inaccessible treatise suggests a work of apologetic theology defending the core Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Significance This work may be added to a long list of works with similar titles, which together bear witness to the energy Christians invested in explaining fundamental Christian doctrines in the Arabic language and within the Islamic milieu. M…

Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ

(1,466 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Sāwīrus, bishop of al-Ashmūnayn Date of Birth: Uncertain; about 910 or 915 Place of Birth: Probably Miṣr (Old Cairo) Date of Death: After 987 Place of Death: Unknown; possibly al-Ashmūnayn or Miṣr Biography Sāwīrus (or Sawīrus, = Severus), bishop of al-Ashmūnayn, known as Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, was the first major Coptic Orthodox theologian (or at least the first known to us) to write in the Arabic language. Hailing from Miṣr (Old Cairo), he was a government bureaucrat ( kātib) known as Abū Bishr ibn al-Muqaffaʿ before becoming first a monk and later a bishop. Four points in Sāwīrus’ life are…

Maḥbūb ibn Qusṭanṭīn al-Manbijī

(387 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Agapius, Agapios, (Aghābiyūs) of Manbij (Mabbūg, Hieropolis) Date of Birth: Last quarter of the 9th c. Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: After 942 Place of Death: Presumbly Manbij Biography We know very little about the author of an early Christian Arabic universal history that is usually (but rather oddly) known as Kitāb al-ʿunwān, ‘The Book of the title’. The author’s name is given in the manuscripts Sinai Ar. 456 and 580 as Maḥbūb ibn Qusṭanṭīn al-Rūmī al-Manbijī, that is, the ‘Byzantine’ from Manbij (Mabbūg or Hierapolis, northeast of Aleppo in Syria); the title-…

 Fī l-ittiḥād

(153 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
On the Union [of divinity and humanity in Christ] Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ Date: Unknown; mid or late 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description MZ no. 2, HP no. 2. This work is lost. While the title may refer especially to a topic of Christian intra-confessional disagreement, it is unlikely that Sāwīrus would have ignored Islamic critiques of Christian doctrines about Christ. It is not impossible that this title is a doublet, and that it and Īḍāḥ al-itthād (see below) refer to one and the same (lost) work. Significance The proper description of Christ’s simultaneous divinit…

 Majmūʿ li-l-sana kullihā tadhkūr fīhi akhbār al-qiddīsīn …

(2,105 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Compilation for the entire year mentioning the lives of the saints (and similar titles); known collectively as the Melkite synaxaria Synaxarion of the Greek Church Date: Originates in second half of 11th c.; later additions Original Language: Arabic Description The present entry is a postscript to B. Flusin’s entry on the ‘Synaxarion of the Great Church’ (q.v.), that is, the Greek Synaxarion of Constantinople; Flusin’s entry has already mentioned the existence of an 11th-century Arabic translation of the work.  What follows is wholly dependent upon J.-M. Sauget, Premières recherch…

 Bayān ṣiḥḥat al-diyāna l-masīḥiyya

(83 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Exposition of the soundness of the Christian religion Yūsāb, bishop of Akhmīm Date: Unknown; mid- to late 13th century Original Language: Arabic Description This was an apologetic text of the True Religion genre. Significance Nothing can be said about the significance of this work. Manuscripts Inaccessible MS once in the possession of al-qummuṣ ʿAbd al-Masīḥ Ṣalīb al-Baramūsī l-Masʿūdī, according to Sbath, Fihris i, p. 74 (no. 601) Editions & Translations Studies Keywords Chronological Category: 1250-1300 Mark N. Swanson

 Kitāb al-tārīkh

(1,240 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Kitāb al-ʿunwānThe book of history, The book of the titleHistoire universelle, Historia universalis Maḥbūb ibn Qusṭanṭīn al-Manbijī Date: 942 or shortly thereafter Original Language: Arabic Description The odd title by which Maḥbūb’s universal history is usually known, Kitāb al-ʿunwān, ‘The book of the title’, requires comment. Recent students of the work (Breydy, Hoyland, Samir) all point out that the actual title of the work, preserved in Sinai Ar. 580 (and also in Sinai Ar. 456), is simply Kitāb al-tārīkh, ‘The book of history’. Breydy (‘Richtigstellungen’, pp. 92-93) …

 Maqāla fī l-tawḥīd wa-l-tathlīth

(214 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Treatise on the Unity and Trinity (of God) ʿAbdīshūʿ ibn Bahrīz = Ḥabīb ibn Bahrīz Date: Unknown, early 9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description We know nothing about the work other than what the title tells us. It is probably a work of apologetic, justifying Christian worship of a triune God and attempting to demonstrate that this is not tantamount to tritheism. It may have drawn on earlier apologies circulating within the community, e.g. the discussion between the Catholicos Timothy I (in office 780-823) and the Caliph al-Mahdī (see the entry on Timothy I). Significance The greates…

 Nawādir al-mufassirīn wa-taḥrīf al-mukhālifīn

(155 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The choice passages of the exegetes and the corruption of the opponents Būluṣ ibn Rajāʾ Date: Possibly late 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description P. Sbath ( Fihris i, p. 11, no. 45) describes this work as a refutation of Islam. In both this work and the previous one, according to Mīkhāʾīl al-Damrāwī, the author ‘defeated [the opponents] from their [own] religion’ (Atiya et al., History, p. 110, lines 5-7). Significance This work could be quite interesting if it mines Islamic tafsīr works available to al-Wāḍiḥ, as its title suggests.  We must hope that a copy can be found. Manuscr…

ʿAbdīshūʿ ibn Bahrīz = Ḥabīb ibn Bahrīz

(550 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
ʿAbdīshūʿ ibn Bahrīz Date of Birth: Unknown, mid/later 8th c.? Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown, perhaps shortly before 827 Place of Death: Unknown, perhaps in or near Mosul, where he was metropolitan Biography Abdīshūʿ ibn Bahrīz was an eminent bishop and scholar of the Church of the East, who flourished around the time of the Caliph al-Maʾmūn (r. 813-33) and his Christian physician Jibrīl ibn Bukhtīshūʿ (d. 827). His father’s name (Bahrīz) indicates his Persian ancestry; perhaps Ḥabīb was his given name, and ʿAbdīshūʿ, ‘servant of Jesus’, his name as a cleric. Ibn Bahrīz …

 Maqāla fī ḥaqīqat al-diyāna

(109 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Treatise on the truth of the [Christian] religion Abū l-Faraj Yaḥyā ibn Saʿīd ibn Yaḥyā Date: 11th century Original Language: Arabic Description To judge from the title, this is an apology of the ‘true religion’ genre. Significance In order to be able to judge the significance of this work, we must hope that a copy of this treatise can be found. Manuscripts MS Aleppo, Nīqūlāʾus Naḥḥās Collection (13th century; inaccessible MS in private collection; see Sbath, Fihris, Supplement, p. 10, no. 2527) Editions & Translations - Studies - Keywords Chronological Category: 1000-1100 Genr…
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