BUTRUS AL-SAYYID

A deacon who may have lived in Ethiopia. His name is connected with the Fetha Nagast, the Ethiopian version of the Nomocanon of al-SAFÎ IBN AL-‘ASSAL.

According to A. Dillmann and I. Guidi, Butrus al- Sayyid translated the text from Arabic into Ge‘ez. ‘Abd al-Sami Muhammad Ahmad (1965), who made a detailed study of the relationship of the Arabic text with the Ge‘ez version, has shown that it is unlikely that Butrus made this translation, because numerous errors appear in the translation. The errors seem to be due to the translator’s inability to read Arabic correctly, as he misplaced diacritical marks, even when the correct reading was evident; nor had he mastered Arabic style as if Arabic were his native language. Furthermore, Ahmad shows that meaning “to copy” or “to translate” is used in the Fetha Nagast in the sense of “to copy.”

Hence, Butrus copied one of the of the Fetha Nagast for the Ethiopian Ibrahim ibn Hanna Natian, which copy was used as a basis for the manuscripts. This at least establishes that he had a good knowledge of Ge‘ez.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Guidi, I. Il “Fetha Nagast” o “Legislazione dei Re,” codice ecclesiastico e civile di Abessinia, Vol. 2, pp. 9-10. Rome, 1899.

KHALIL SAMIR, S.J.