Al-Alam Salib Al-Ibnasi


Shaykh al-‘Alam is known from two colophons of Coptic Arabic manuscripts that are kept at the and London. They describe him as a deacon and archon (prominent citizen) who was very generous and devout, practicing hospitality to strangers, and educating orphans. He was the son of the deacon and archon al-MAKIN JIRJIS. As the titles al-‘Alam and al-Makin show, this was a family of prominent citizens, who were high-ranking state officials from Ibnas but settled in Cairo. Al- ‘Alam lived there from 1585 to 1587.

This information is found in the long of the manuscript (fol. 351b), published and translated by A. Hebbelynck and A. van Lantschoot (Vol. 1, pp. 22-23). Several corrections to their translation have to be made, of which three are essential: (1) al- ‘Alam is a title (laqab) given to certain prominent citizens. This was not grasped by Hebbelynek and Lantschoot, who read al-shaykh al- mu‘allim, which they translated as “magister doctus”; (2) the word najl (son), which appears twice, was read as JL and translated “gloria”; and (3) the title al-makin was also interpreted as an adjective and translated “gloria . . . magistri constantis” (najl . . . al- shaykh al-Makin).

The London manuscript (British Library, Or. 1326) was written between 12 Baramhat A.M. 1301/8 March 1585 and 13 Tut A.M. 1303/10 September 1586. It comprises 326 folios, containing the second volume of the from Ezekiel to Revelation, copied by the priest Fadlallah in his house in Harit Zuwaylah, on commission from al-‘Alam. This manuscript was used as the basis for the edition of the Arabic text of the Polyglot Bible of London.

The manuscript (Vatican Library, Coptic 8), dated 28 Bashans 1303/2 June 1587, comprises 353 folios (33 24 cm), containing the four Gospels in and Arabic; the version is the Egyptian Vulgate, copied by Arghadiyus or Arcadius ibn Yuhanna, on commission from al-‘Alam.


  • Hebbelynck, A., and A. van Lantschoot. Codices Coptici Vaticani Barberiniani Borgiani Rossiani, Vol. 1. Codices Coptici Vaticani, pp. 19-23. City, 1937.
  • Rieu, C. Supplement to the Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the , pp. 1-4. London, 1894.