ABU NASR IBN HARUN IBN ‘ABD AL-MASIH

A thirteenth-century Coptic copyist whose handwriting was fine, clear, careful, and regular; the texts he copied are pleasantly spaced. Two manuscripts, now united in the Vatican Library (Arabic manuscript 103), provide information about him.

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The first (fol. 1-234/7-240 of the original Coptic numbering) contains the first volume (chapters 1-21a) of the Theologica by Mu‘taman al-Dawlah ibn al-‘Assal, entitled Majmu‘ Usul al-Din wa-Masmu‘ Mahsul al-Yaqin (Graf, 1947, pp. 409-412). A larger volume contains the rest of the work (chapters 21b-70). Indeed, on folio 234v, Abu Nasr wrote, “Yatlu-hu al-juz’ al-thani. Awwaluhu ‘min Dawud Ibn al-Nabi’” (part two follows, beginning “from David son of Jesse, the prophet”). This corresponds, in a manuscript in the National Library, Paris (Arabe 200; sixteenth century), to  folio 155r, line 11. This second volume is now lost.

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The second manuscript is small, being a quinternion (set or of five sheets of paper) contained in folios 235-44 (1-10 of the original Coptic numbering). It contains the little treatise of Mu‘taman al-Dawlah ibn entitled al-Tabsirah al- Mukhtasarah (Brief Instruction). A kind of catechism for children and simple people, it is divided into sixteen chapters in two sections: Unity and Trinity in God, and the Incarnation.

The Brief Instruction was composed in March or April 1260, and the Theologica a few years later (cf. Samir, 1984). Abu Nasr copied his manuscript while Ibn was still alive, as can be seen from the invocation that might prolong the author’s life (cf. fol. 236r and 244v). He must have copied it around 1265-1270, probably for himself.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Samir, K. “Date de composition de la Somme Théologique d’al- Mu’taman b. al-‘Assal.” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 50 (1984):94-106.

KHALIL SAMIR, S. J.