BULUS AL-BUSHI (?-ca. 1250)
A Bishop, theologian. Bulus al-Bushi was a skilled theologian who contributed much to the dawning of the 13th-century golden age of Copto-Arabic literature. Little is known of his life before 1216, when after the death of Patriarch John VI the scholarly monk Bulus quickly became one of the two leading candidates for the papacy; the other was his monastic acquaintance and colleague Da’ud ibn Laqlaq al-Fayyumi. Due to political machinations, the election was delayed; Bulus eventually withdrew from the contest.
In 1235, however, after a vacancy of nearly 20 years, Da’ud was finally made pope as Cyril III. Cyril proved so rapacious in his financial dealings that a synod held in 1240 appointed two monks to supervise his activities; one was Bulus, who was consecrated bishop of Misr (Old Cairo).
A number of works by Bulus al-Bushi have been preserved, and they all point to his deep scriptural and patristic knowledge. For example, Kitab al-I‘tiraf (The Book of Confession), which Bulus coauthored with Da’ud ibn Laqlaq and with contributions by al-As‘ad ibn al-‘Assal, defends the practice of auricular confession; it was Bulus who assembled and translated the patristic materials quoted in the work.
Bulus’ collection of eight Sermons for the Feasts of the Lord has been popular into modern times; three of the sermons were incorporated into an Arabic collection of patristic homilies for the Church year, where Bulus appears with the likes of St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory Nazianzen. His Commentary on the Apocalypse may be the first commentary on the Book of Revelation to be composed in Arabic; it was later used by Ibn Katib Qaysar.
His Treatise on the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Truth of Christianity shows us a theologian deeply rooted in the Bible and in the Alexandrian tradition of Saints Athanasius and Cyril, but capable of expressing his faith in the Arabic idiom of his own day.