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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…

 Fī l-tawḥīd

(235 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
On the unicity [of God] Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ Date: Unknown; mid or late 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description MZ no. 1, HP no. 1. This lost work is cited (though whether as a past or a future work is not clear) in the second chapter of Miṣbāḥ al-ʿaql (see below), where the reader is referred to it for quotations from Greek sages (Hermes, Plato, Pythagorus, and others) that bear witness to the Trinity. Without a doubt, Sāwīrus’ treatment of the Christian doctrine of God engaged the debates of Muslim scholars (including the phil…

 Maqāla fī l-tathlīth

(136 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Treatise on the Trinity Abū Nūḥ ʿAbd al-Masīḥ ibn al-Ṣalt al-Anbārī Date: Unknown, late 8th or early 9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description We know nothing about the contents of the work apart from what we might expect from its title: an apology for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and a defense against accusations of tritheism or shirk. Significance This is a very early Arabic Christian apology for the doctrine of the Trinity, and we must hope that a copy can be discovered. Manuscripts MS Cairo, Collection of al-qummuṣ Armāniyūs Ḥabashī (inaccessible MS in private colle…

 Siyar al-bīʿa al-muqaddasa

(790 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biographies of the holy churchThe history of the patriarchs of Alexandria, Lives 68-69 Ibn al-Qulzumī Date: Probably 1127 Original Language: Arabic Description Yūḥannā’s biographies of the Coptic patriarchs Michael IV and Macarius II devote a considerable amount of space to the ecclesiastical politics of their day: first, the attempts of Patriarch Michael to depose Bishop Sanhūt of Miṣr (which came to nothing when the patriarch died of the plague), and then the protracted negotiations with Patriarch Macarius to consecrate a successor to the saintly Bishop Sanhūt after he had died. At…

 Maqāla fī irtifāʿ al-ṣalīb al-karīm wa-intiṣārihi ʿalā l-ʿālam

(113 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
'Treatise on the elevation of the noble Cross and its victory over the world' Kīrillus al-Lādhiqī Date: Possibly 15th century Original Language: Arabic Description The title indicates a work of apologetic, perhaps focusing on miracles performed by the sign of the cross. Significance Since the contents of the work are unknown, we must hope that a copy can be found. Manuscripts According to Sbath, Shukrī Naḥḥās of Aleppo possessed a manuscript dated 1513 containing this work; Sbath, Fihris, supplément, p. 29 (no. 2653). Editions & Translations Studies Keywords Chronological Category:

 Title unknown

(460 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
A Christian Arabic disputation (PSR 438) Unknown author Date: Mid or late 8th c. Original Language: Arabic Description The unique manuscript is dated on paleographical grounds by Graf ( GCAL ii, 26) to the mid or late 8th century (leaving open the possibility that the text was written earlier). Hoyland ( Seeing Islam, p. 504) is inclined, with some evidence, to a late 8th century date of composition. It consists of dozens of papyrus fragments, painstakingly reassembled; much of the text has been lost (including its beginning and end). Enough remains, howeve…

 Kitāb al-hidāya

(141 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Guidance Abū l-Khayr ʿĪsā ibn Hibat Allāh Date: Unknown, mid-/late-9th c.? Original Language: Arabic Description Sbath ( Fihris, Supplément, p. 9) identifies this book as a work of Christian apologetic. It must be a work of some considerable length, as an abridgement of it is also known (see below). Significance We cannot say much about the significance of the work since we do not know its contents. However, its very existence, taken together with other evidence, bears witness to a lively apologetic enterprise among the Arabic-speaking East-Syrian Christian community of Iraq in the 9th …

Simʿān ibn Kalīl

(879 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Simʿān ibn Kalīl ibn Maqāra ibn Abī l-Faraj; al-Shaykh al-Makīn (as a bureaucrat); Simʿān al-ḥabīs (as a monk and recluse) Date of Birth: About 1150 Place of Birth: Bashū or Shū, perhaps in the Nile Delta Date of Death: Towards 1240 Place of Death: Presumably the Monastery of St John the Short, Wādī l-Naṭrūn, Egypt Biography According to his great-nephew, the historian al-Makīn Jirjis al-ʿAmīd (q.v.), Simʿān ibn Kalīl ibn Maqāra was born in a village known as Mīkāʾīl Bashū (or bi-Shū); the name was derived from the village church, that of the Archangel Michael ‘of Bashū’ (or ‘in Shū’). (Timm, D…

 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…

 Tafnīd al-Qurʾān

(163 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Shurrāyā d-QurānRefutation of the Qurʾān Abū Nūḥ ʿAbd al-Masīḥ ibn al-Ṣalt al-Anbārī Date: Unknown, late 8th or early 9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description We know nothing about the contents of this treatise other than what we might expect from its title. While Sbath reports the existence of an Arabic 'Refutation of the Qurʾān', the Catalogue of ʿAbdīshūʿ of Nisibis lists Shurrāyā d-Qurān, 'Refutation of the Qurʾān', without indicating that the work was originally in Arabic. This leaves open the possibility that the work was composed in Syriac and then translated into Arabic. Sig…

Mawhūb ibn Manṣūr ibn Mufarrij al-Iskandarānī

(1,038 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography Thanks to the researches of J. den Heijer, we may recognize Mawhūb (and not Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ) as the founder and first ‘general editor’ of the project that resulted in an Arabic-language compilation of materials known as Siyar al-bīʿa al-muqaddasa (‘Biographies of the holy church’), or more commonly as The history of the patriarchs of Alexandria. Here in CMR we have treated this compilation by source: see the entries for George the archdeacon, John the deacon, John the writer, and Michael of Damrū, bishop of Tinnīs. In addition to supervising …

 Thalāth rasāʾil min kalām Mār Isḥāq al-Nīnawī fī l-zuhd wa-l-rahbana mimmā istakhrajahu wa-naqalahu Ḥanūn ibn Yūḥannā ibn al-Ṣalt

(673 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Three treatises from the words of Mār Isaac of Nineveh about asceticism and monasticism, extracted and translated by Ḥanūn ibn Yūḥannā ibn al-Ṣalt Ḥanūn ibn Yūḥannā ibn al-Ṣalt Date: After 900; early 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description The three treatises offer a total of 350 maxims (or short paragraphs) extracted from the Syriac works of Isaac of Nineveh and fashioned in an elegant Arabic. A key to their significance may be provided by an introduction to these maxims in the form of six theological questions, followed by the answer of ‘some people’ ( baʿḍ al-qawm), and then…

Ḥanūn ibn Yūḥannā ibn al-Ṣalt

(762 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography Ḥanūn ibn Yūḥannā ibn al-Ṣalt was an East Syrian (‘Nestorian’) Christian who composed Thalāth rasāʾil (‘Three treatises’), a work of spiritual theology consisting of Arabic reformulations of material from the Syriac writings of the late 7th-century ascetical master of the Church of the East, Mār Isaac of Nineveh (d. c. 700). In his introduction to the first treatise (Sbath, Traités religieux, pp. 10-12), Ḥanūn shares something of his spiritual-intellectual autobiography. From an early age, he was drawn to the study of books and was seeking answe…

The rite of the jar

(163 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
Biography Liturgical texts have complex histories that usually preclude speaking of a particular ‘author’. We know little about the genesis of the Coptic-Arabic ritual for the return of penitent apostates that is known as ‘The rite of the jar’, apart from the fact of its existence in a manuscript dating from 1374. The text can well be explained against the background of rapid conversion to Islam in 14th-century Mamluk Egypt, but it may have come into existence much earlier. It would have developed in monastic or priestly circles in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Primary Sources of Informat…

 Kitāb al-burhān

(153 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The proof Abū l-Faḍl ʿAlī ibn Rabban al-Naṣrānī Date: Unknown, early/mid-9th c.? Original Language: Arabic Description According to Sbath ( Fihrist, i, p. 54), the work is a refutation of Islam in three parts, the first concentrating on the Prophet Muḥammad, the second on the Qurʾān, and the third on the Islamic faith in general. Significance We cannot say much about the significance of the work as long as a copy is not available. On the basis of Sbath's description, however, one is struck by the directness with which ʿAlī goes about his polemical task. Manuscripts MS Aleppo, Rizq Allāh Bā…

 Qawl ʿalā Ṭarābulus ʿalā mā jarā fīhā min al-Islām

(585 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
‘Discourse on Tripoli concerning what was brought about there by Islam’ Sulaymān al-Ashlūḥī Date: After 27 April 1289 Original Language: Arabic Description This relatively short zajaliyya or strophic poem (67 lines in Jabre-Mouawad’s edition) expresses the poet’s sorrow after the fall of the city of Tripoli to the Mamluks in 1289. Its various titles all reflect this: Qawl ʿalā Ṭarābulus ʿalā mā jarā fīhā min al-Islām, ‘Discourse on Tripoli and what was brought about there by Islam’ (Vat Syr. 231); Madīḥat Ṭarābulus, ‘In praise of Tripoli’ (MS Anayssi, Guidi’s edition); Qaṣīda ʿalā kh…

 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…

 Al-maqāla l-Masīḥiyya

(1,348 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The Christological treatise Al-maqāla l-Masīḥiyya Date: 10th c.; perhaps 973-75 Original Language: Arabic Description We do not have a single well-defined text called Al-maqāla l-Masīḥiyya; rather, we have what is described as a faṣl (section or chapter) of the work in Paris Ar. 131, and a parallel text, though lengthier and not identical, preserved in the Maronite compilation called Kitāb al-hudā (on this work, see the entry on Kitāb al-kamāl). Study of these texts is at present hampered by the lack of good editions: Massignon’s transcription of the text in Paris Ar. 131 ( Recueil, pp. …

 Al-balīgh fī l-radd ʿalā l-Yuhūd [wa-l-Muʿtazila]

(114 words)

Author(s): N. Swanson, Mark
The eloquent book, in refutation of the Jews [and the Muʿtazila] Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ Date: Unknown; perhaps before Sāwīrus composed Kitāb miṣbāḥ al-ʿaql (see below) Original Language: Arabic Description MZ no. 4, HP no. 11. See on Al-bāhir fī l-radd ʿalā l-Yuhūd wa-l-Muʿtazila above. Significance See on Al-bāhir fī l-radd ʿalā l-Yuhūd wa-l-Muʿtazila above. Manuscripts - Editions & Translations - Studies Samīr Khalīl [Samīr], Sāwīrus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (al-qarn al-ʿāshir al-mīlādī), introduction, pp. 45-46; text, p. 30 Keywords Chronological Category: 900-1000 Thema…

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-…
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