Butrus Ibn Al-Khabbaz

BUTRUS IBN AL-KHABBAZ

A thirteenth-century metropolitan of Ethiopia and copyist of biblical texts. This priest is known from notes found in four Arabic manuscripts of Coptic origin.

  1. A fourteenth-century manuscript in the Coptic Patriarchate in Cairo (Theology 220) contains ten monastic texts (Graf, 1934), or seventeen according to Simaykah and Yassa ‘Abd al-Masih (1942), which are found on 170 leaves. On fol. 113a-18a appears a Collection of Pronouncements of the Fathers comprising, among other texts, extracts of the twenty-third chapter of the book of Saint Gregory the theologian; extracts from the Wisdom of Solomon; and extracts of the thirtieth treatise of Kitab al-Hawi (The Comprehensive Book), an abbreviated work (ikhtasarahu) by the Mutran Anba Butrus, known by the name Ibn al-Khabbaz.

This text is cited twice by G. Graf (1944, p. 387, concerning the Apophthegmata; 1947, p. 453, concerning Kitab al-Hawi) who mistakenly named this bishop Butrus al-Khabbaz. In addition, Graf considered the bishop to be the author of this work, which is now apparently lost, when in fact he was only its compiler. The reference could be to the Pandects composed by Antiochus of Palestine, a monk from the monastery of Saint Sabas who lived at the beginning of the seventh century (PG 89, cols. 1421-1849), whose work was known in Arabic by the title Kitab al-Hawi (Graf, 1944, p. 412). This composition consists of 130 homilies (actually, moral sentences drawn from the scriptures and early writers), an analysis of which appears in Ahlwardt (1897).

  1. A thirteenth-century manuscript in the Ambrosian Library, Milan (C 47 Inf.) provides an Arabic translation of the four Gospels, plus a general introduction and four individual introductions, done by Al-As‘ad Abu al-Faraj Hibatallah ibn al-‘Assal from Greek, Coptic, and Syriac (Graf, 1944, pp. 162-63; 1947, pp. 407 and 484).

The manuscript was copied at the monastery of Saint Antony by Ishaq ibn Farajallah ibn Abi al-Fadail ibn Hibatallah ibn Abi al- Barakat, known also as Ibn Qarurah. He finished his work on 6 Tut A.M. 997/6 Jumada I A.H. 679/3 or 4 September A.D. 1280. The colophon published by Guidi (1888) indicates that the manuscript was copied from a model transcribed by Anba Butrus, known as Ibn al-Khabbaz, who had copied it in turn from the autographed translation itself of Al-As‘ad ibn al-‘Assal. Since the translation of Ibn al-‘Assal was completed in 1252-1253, the bishop must have transcribed his copy between that date and 1280 (see Löfgren and Traini, 1975).

  1. A small manuscript of fifty-six folios in the Vatican Library (Arabic 459) contains an anonymous commentary on the book of Revelation, which, in fact, is that of BULUS AL-BUSHI, Coptic bishop of Cairo who was invested in 1240 (Graf, 1947, pp. 358-59).

It was copied by the monk Ishaq ibn al-Najib at the Monastery of Saint Antony for al-Shaykh al-Ra’is al-Thiqah, son of al-Shaykh al-Ra’is al-Sani (or al-Sana’, for Sana’ al-Dawlah), which he completed on 28 Baramhat A.M. 1014/24 March 1298. Graf dated the manuscript to 1294 (1944, p. 183; 1947, p. 359, l. 9).

The colophon was published by Graf (1929), who stated that this manuscript was copied from a text written by Anba Butrus ibn al- Khabbaz, the metropolitan of Ethiopia.

  1. A manuscript in the Vatican (Arabic 43) containing the Introduction to the Commentary on Paul seems to be the only manuscript to have preserved the commentary that IBN KATIB QAYSAR made on the New Testament (minus the Gospels), even though the author’s name does not appear here. In the introduction (fols. 1b-22a), Ibn Katib Qaysar noted that he had used the Coptic version of the Pauline corpus based on a manuscript written by the priest Ya‘qub, nephew of Mutran Butrus ibn al-Khabbaz, which itself went back to a copy preserved at the Monastery of Saint Antony (Graf, 1947, p. 385, par. 2; observe, however, that fn. 2 has nothing to do with the priest Ya‘qub).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Ahlwardt, W. Verzeichnis der arabischen Handschriften der königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, Vol. 9, pp. 552-54, no. 10185. Berlin, 1897.
  • Graf, G. “Arabische Übersetzungen der Apokalypse.” Biblica 10 (1929):170-94, especially p. 179.
  •  . Catalogue de manuscrits arabes chrétiens conservés au Caire, pp. 197-98, no. 524. Vatican City, 1934.
  • Guidi, I. “Le traduzioni degli evangelii in arabo e in etiopico.” Memorie della Reale Accademia dei Lincei 285 (1888):4-37, especially pp. 19-21.
  • Löfgren, O., and R. Traini. Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana; Antico Fondo and Medio Fondo, Vol. 1, pp. 6-7, no. 6. Vicenza, 1975.

KHALIL SAMIR, S.J.

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