Ibn Al-Sa’igh

IBN AL-SA’IGH

A nickname, meaning “son of the goldsmith,” given to two Copts in references of the fourteenth century. They are probably the same person.

In 1325-1326 the monk Tuma ibn al-Sa’igh copied a manuscript of the four Gospels translated from the Greek. This manuscript was in Jerusalem in 1903, at the Copts’ Dayr Mar Jirjis, and was described by Hanna Marta (Meistermann, 1904, p. 125). L. Cheikho (1903) identified it with another Egyptian manuscript dated 1227. But in 1915 when G. Graf cataloged the library, it had disappeared.

In October 1340 the monk Tuma, nicknamed Ibn al-Sa’igh, is mentioned at Damascus. In the company of Anba Butrus, metropolitan of the Copts in Jerusalem and Syria, he was collating a manuscript of the four Gospels that had just been copied by the Coptic priest Jirjis Abu al-Fadl ibn Lutfallah (to be read as: Jirjis ibn Abi al-Mufaddal) from the original manuscript of al-As‘ad ibn al-‘Assal. This is now the famous manuscript in the Coptic Museum, Cairo (Bible 90; Graf, no. 180; Simaykah no. 13).

On 26 November 1347 the monk Tuma ibn al-Sa’igh al- Mutarahhib is again mentioned (Uri, 1787, p. 29, n. a), finishing the transcription of the text of Genesis (see the colophon on fol. 58r in Rhode, p. 81). This manuscript of 235 folia, described by J. Uri as being “splendidissime exaratum” and by J. F. Rhode (1921, p. 80) as “magnificent,” is the Laud. Or. 272 of the Bodleian Library, Oxford (olim Laud. A 182; Uri, 1787, p. 1). It contains an Arabic version of the entire Pentateuch, translated directly from the Greek of the Septuagint (and not from the Hebrew, as Uri states).

It has interlinear and marginal notes written in blue, red, and black ink (Rhode, 1921, p. 80). This manuscript “was used by Holmes and Parsons in their famous edition of the Greek Old Testament” (Rhode, p. 80), where it is cited as Arabic 3. In 1789, H. E. G. Paulus (1789, pp. 69-70) used it in his critical notes and reproduced extracts from it (Gn. 1:1-5; 4:6-8; 49:1-36; and Nm. 24:7-9). Rhode (pp. 18-35) collated this manuscript (code E) in order to edit the text of Genesis 1-6, 18, and 50 (Group 2).

At this date the monk Tuma was a priest. He copied this manuscript on a commission for the shaykh al-Safi Arsani ibn al- Qass Dawud ibn al-Qass al-Amjad Hibatallah (Uri, 1787, p. 29, n. b).

On 14 Ba’unah A.M. 1071 8 June 1355, JIRJIS IBN AL-QASS ABI AL-MUFADDAL completed in Cairo his copy of the large NOMOCANON attributed to Ibn al-‘Assal. In Damascus he had begun the copy from the original manuscript up to folio 238 (Coptic numbering; 233 present numbering). He writes that folios 234-79 in the present numbering were copied from a manuscript copied by Anba Kirillus, bishop of Asyut, nicknamed Ibn al-Sa’igh.

According to a manuscript at Cambridge University (Add. 3283), copied at Mossul by the hieromonk Rabban Ishaq ibn al- Shammas ‘Abd al-Hayy on 21 March 1678, this manuscript of Anba Krillus was copied at the Monastery of Saint John Kama, which was his monastery of origin (cf. fol. 15 two notes). Now it is known that “after the destruction of the Monastery of Saint John Kama between 1330 and 1442, the monks of that monastery migrated to the Syrian Monastery, at the same time transferring the relics of their Patron Saint” (Meinardus, 1965, p. 159; Evelyn-White gives us no further details of this period). This explains how the Syrian Orthodox obtained the manuscript. However, the copyist in Mossul, who did not know Anba Kirillus personally, does not mention his nickname of Ibn al-Sa’igh.

In short, if these persons are one and the same, Tuma known as Ibn al-Sa’igh was a monk of the monastery of Saint John Kama. He was subsequently sent to the dioceses of Jerusalem and all of Syria to help the emigrant Copts. If the destruction of the monastery took place about 1330, this could be the approximate date at which he was sent. He took with him his manuscript of the four Gospels, copied in 1325, and later left it at Jerusalem. In 1340, he was in Damascus.

In 1347, when he was a hieromonk, he copied a very fine manuscript of the Pentateuch for the library of a prominent Copt (Bodleian Library, Oxford. Laud. or. 272). He later became bishop of Asyut and took the name Kirillus. He copied a manuscript of the large Nomocanon, which was used in 1355 by Jirjis ibn Abi al- Mufaddal, who copied it in Cairo (British Library, London, Or. 1331), and it was again used in 1678 by the rabban Ishaq ibn ‘Abd al-Hayy, who copied it in Mossul (now Cambridge Add. 3283).

This also neatly fills a small lacuna in the lists of the episcopal see of Asyut. The last known bishop, Anba Philuthawus, was there in 1330 (Munier, 1943, p. 40, no. 18). There is no further information concerning any other bishop of this see until Anba Yuhanna in 1703 (Munier, 1943, p. 42).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Cheikho, L. “Injil ‘arabi qadim.” Al-Mashriq 6 (1903):238-40. Gabrieli, G. “Varietà poliglotte.” Bessarione, ser. 2, 4, Vol. 13 (1903):272-85, especially 275-76, where he analyzes Cheikho. Graf. G. “Katalog christlich-arabischer Handschriften in Jerusalem, 36. Die Handschriften der Kopten.” Oriens Christianus, n.s. 5, (1915):132-36.
  • . Catalogue de manuscripts arabes chrétiens conservés au Caire, pp. 77-80. Vatican City, 1934.
  • Meinardus, O. F. A. Christian Egypt Ancient and Modern, pp. 159-61. Cairo, 1965.
  • Meistermann, B. La Patrie de Jean-Baptiste, p. 125. Paris, 1904. Munier, H. Recueil des listes épiscopales de l’église copte. Cairo, 1943.
  • Muyser, J. “Contribution à l’étude des listes épiscopales de l’eglise copte.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 10 (1944):115-76.
  • Paulus, H. E. G. Specimina versionum Pentateuchi septem arabicarum nondum editarum e biblioth. Oxon. Bodleiana exhibita. Jena, 1789.
  • Rhode, J. F. The Arabic Versions of the Pentateuch in the Church of Egypt. St. Louis, 1921.
  • Rieu, C. Supplement to the Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the British Museum, p. 18 (no. 23). London, 1894. Photocopy Des Moines, Iowa, 1987.
  • Uri, J. Bibliothecae Bodleianae codicum manuscriptorum orientalium…catalogus,Vol.1, p. 29 (no.1). Oxford, 1787.
  • Wright, W. A Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts Preserved in the Library of the University of Cambridge, pp. 862-84. Cambridge, 1901.

KHALIL SAMIR, S.J.

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