Al-Shaykh al-Mu’taman Abu al-Makarim Sa‘d-Allah Jirjis ibn Mas‘ud was a priest of the Coptic church with the title of qummus (HEGUMENOS) who lived in the thirteenth century. He is best known as the author of the famous work entitled Tarikh al-Kana’is wa-al-Adyirah (History of Churches and Monasteries), which he is known to have written between the years A.M. 893-920/A.D. 117-1204.
This work was first published by B. 1674. Evetts (1895) and ascribed wrongly to Abu Salih the Armenian, under whose name the anonymous manuscript appeared as owner and not author. This is the manuscript in the National Library, Paris, which was bought for three piasters by J. M. VANSLEB during his journey in Egypt in 1674. The discovery of other manuscripts with the name of the real author rectified the ascription. The same work was edited by the monk Samuel al-Suryani (1984) of DAYR AL-SURYAN in Wadi al-Natrun on the basis of a manuscript supplied to him by Anba Yu‘annis, bishop of the Gharbiyyah province, where the authorship of that work is elucidated beyond all doubt. The new text has appeared in five parts. This new edition is merely a reproduction of the editor’s handwritten text with marginal indications of the original folios.
This work is one of the most important sources of Coptic churches and monasteries as they stood in the thirteenth century. The value of the work extends to the general historical background of these religious institutions and throws a great deal of light on the geography of medieval Egypt. The author enumerates the churches in the property ownership register of Cairo divided into various quarters including HARIT ZUWAYLAH, Harit al-Rum, DAYR AL-KHANDAQ, Shubra, Matariyyah, and other districts. He then devotes whole sections to Lower Egypt, to Alexandria and neighboring regions, and to Upper Egypt, where he groups its provinces in several chapters. He devotes one chapter to the route of the Holy Family in Egypt. The author also supplements the work with a number of chapters on the churches and monasteries of Nubia, Abyssinia, Africa, India, and Yemen. A special part is devoted to the churches and monasteries of Sinai, Jerusalem and Palestine, Mesopotamia, Antioch, Ephesus, Constantinople, Rome, and Corinth. Most of the later sections were omitted from the Paris manuscript. They appear here in a rather repetitious form, which needs organization in a special study.
- Suryanis S. al-, ed. Tarikh al-Kana‘is wa-al-Adyirah fi al-Qarn al Thani ‘Ashar al-Miladi by Abu al-Makarim, 5 pts. Cairo, 1984.