ABU SA‘ID IBN SAYYID AL-DAR IBN ABI AL-FADL AL-MASIHI
A “Coptic author who lived about 1322” and who might have been the author of the Canons of Ammonius and Eusebius (Sbath, 1938, 1939). But G. Graf did not treat him as an author and, apparently, by merely mentioning the manuscript without referring to the author’s name, indicated that he had only been the copyist of the Canons.
Abu Sa‘id, in fact, did not recopy the Canons of Ammonius, which comprise only a few pages; rather, he composed a true diatessaron based on this work. He confirmed this himself in the colophon of his signed manuscript. “The gathering [jam‘] of the Canons which bring together the four holy Gospels was achieved on Monday, 19th day of the month of Hatur of the year 1039 of the pure Martyrs. This date corresponds to the 4th day of Dhu al-Qa‘dah of the year 722 of the Muslim Hijrah. The humble servant and sinner, Abu Sa‘id ibn Sayyid [or Sid] al-Dar ibn Abu [sic] al-Fadl al-Masihi, gathered them with his own hand for his personal use” (Sbath, 1946). This date corresponds to 15 November A.D. 1322.
Of this diatessaron we possess the signed manuscript (Sbath, no. 1038) and a copy that belonged to a Cairene Orthodox Coptic book dealer, Murqus Jirjis.
Abu Sa‘id did not translate the Gospels anew to compose his diatessaron. He used a translation, then widely accepted in the Coptic church, that is found in other manuscripts (e.g., Vatican Library, Sbath, no. 27 and Sbath, no. 1029, which differ from Sbath, no. 1035 [Sbath, 1928]). This version was the so-called Egyptian Vulgate, which was improved by al-As‘ad Abu al-Faraj ibn al- ‘Assal about 1240. Abu Sa‘id, however, did not use the improved version.
Besides composing his diatessaron, Abu Sa‘id copied at least two manuscripts, one in 1312 and the other in 1330.
A manuscript of the Coptic Patriarchate in Cairo (Theology 152) forms a collection of spiritual and monastic writings containing extracts from John Sabas (named, in Arabic, al-shaykh al-ruhani, the spiritual old man; Graf, 1944, pp. 434-36) as well as the Pinnacles of Knowledge (Ru’us al-Ma‘rifah) by Evagrius Ponticus. These constitute a supplement to Kephalaia Gnostica (Graf, 1944, p. 398, no. 2). This manuscript was transcribed by the priest Sulayman ibn Sa‘d ibn al-Rahibah, minister of the Church of the Virgin of Harit Zuwaylah. It was completed on 5 January 1739 (see fol. 118v) and was copied from a manuscript transcribed by Abu Sa‘id ibn Sayyid al-Dar ibn al-Fadl al-Masihi and dated 1 Misra A.M. 1028/13 July A.D. 1312. This notation in the text seems to apply only to the writings of John Sabas. This manuscript is described by Graf (1934) and by Simaykah (1942).
In October 1330, Abu Sa‘id copied the sermons for the Feast of the Lord, which were composed in 1240 by Bulus al-Bushi, a Coptic priest in Old Cairo. He copied them from a manuscript transcribed by Ibn Sadaqah, who himself had copied them from a manuscript written by CYRIL III Ibn Laqlaq (1235-1243), a contemporary of Bulus al-Bushi, of the Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo (Theology 339) described by Simaykah, 1942; this is not the manuscript described by Graf (Vol. 2).
- Graf, Georg. Catalogue de manuscrits arabes chrétiens conservés au Caire, p. 226, no. 622. Vatican City, 1934.
- Sbath, P. Bibliothéque de manuscrits Paul Sbath, Vol. 1, p. 22; Vol. 2, pp. 141-43, 146-49, no. 1038. Cairo, 1928.
- . Al Fihris (Catalogue de manuscrits arabes), Vol. 1. p. 63, no. 515. Cairo, 1938.
- . “Manuscrits arabes d’auteurs coptes.” Bulletin de la Société d’Archéologie copte (1939):159-73, especially p. 168, no. 63.
- . Choix de livres qui se trouvaient dans les bibliothéques d’Alep, p. 237, no. 1038. Cairo, 1946.
KHALIL SAMIR, S. J.