Gabriel II Ibn Turayk (1084-1145)


A Patriarch (70th, 1131-1145). Abu al-‘Ala’ Sa‘id ibn Turayk was a learned, generous, and pious layman who served as an administrator in various government bureaus before being chosen, in 1131, to be the 70th patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox under the name Gabriel. During his patriarchate he issued a number of sets of canons (in Arabic) that displayed his administrative skill, his zeal for reform of the and community, and his concern for the religious life of the laity.

For example, in the set of 32 issued shortly after he became patriarch, Gabriel forbids and concubinage and takes steps to ensure that prayers are offered and attended with reverence and in good order. Concern for the laity may be seen in Gabriel’s insistence (Canon 3 of the 32) that bishops teach their people the , the Lord’s Prayer, and the Nicene Creed in Arabic (since many of them no longer understood Coptic), and in his reform of the Holy Week liturgy (The Book of the ), which takes into account the work schedules of Coptic civil servants unable to dedicate the entire week to prayer.

Gabriel’s nomocanon, once considered lost but now available in a critical edition, is important for understanding the history of Copto-Arabic canonical literature. Gabriel identifies his sources, which allows us to see him gathering materials from canonical collections that had already been translated into Arabic by the early 12th century, including the Arabic (al-Disquliyya), the of the Apostles, the of the Kings, the of the Council of Nicaea and regional synods, as well as the collections attributed to Hippolytus, Epiphanius, Basil, and John Chrysostom.