Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Unpublished Coptic History of the Patriarchs With Previously Unknown Details of the Life of St Mark

An understudied source for Coptic Church history is a work that was published in 1987 in Cairo under the title Tarikh al-aba' al-ba- tarika li-l-Anba Yusab usquf Fuwwah (The History of the Fathers, the Patriarchs, by Anba Yusab, bishop of Fuwwah). Preserved in a single manuscript (and modern copies made from it), this History has entries for the patriarchs of the Coptic Church from St. Mark the Evangelist through John XVI (103rd, 1676–1718). According to Samuel Moawad the work is best considered an anonymous compilation; it is largely but not entirely dependent on the better known History of the Patriarchs, and may have counted a history by Bishop Yusab as one of its sources. Yusab lived in the thirteenth century.

I was alerted to this tradition by a Coptic scholar who specializes in Arabic manuscripts. He told me that there are some interesting statements about St Mark which appear in no other known sources. It would also be interesting to see the entries for Clement, Origen, Arius and the rest of the figures from the second, third and fourth centuries especially because Severus of Al'Ashmunein makes reference to a host of things which are quite unique (for instance his knowledge of a chronology of Popes of Alexandria where Dionysius reigned beyond the period assigned by Eusebius).

The work shows no locality or date of pub. We would says: Cairo, end of the 90’s. We deals with a very bad ed., based on one late ms. in Deir El Suryan (Mayamir 258), from which some extracts (we guess related to the time of the author, died after 1257) were in the possession of G. Graf (cf. GACL II, 370). Another copy is held in the Coptic Museum of Cairo (EG-C Hist. 517), once the property of the scholar Guirguis Filutha’us ‛Awad. About the pseudepigraphical question, see: Samuel Moawad, “Zur Originalität der Yūsāb von Fūwah zugeschriebenen Patriarchengeschichte”, Le Muséon, 119 (2006), 255-70. The vita of St Marc begins the History of the Patriarchs text, without any preliminaries in opposite to the traditional double History of the Patriarchs versions!

Here are the untranslated original pages in Arabic (the title page is upside down).  Any ideas on who might be able to translate them?

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