Ibn Katib Qaysar (?-After 1260)

IBN KATIB QAYSAR (?-after 1260)

A Biblical and Coptic scholar. ‘Alam al-Ri’asa Abu Ishaq Ibrahim, known as Ibn Katib Qaysar (because his grandfather was secretary to the Emir ‘Alam al-Din Qaysar), was a contemporary and colleague of scholars such as al-Mu’taman ibn al-‘Assal. He is remembered in the first place for a Bohairic Coptic grammar entitled al-Tabsira al-mukhtasira (The Concise Instruction).

This is perhaps the first true Coptic grammar; Ibn Katib Qaysar moved beyond the paradigms of Yuhanna, Bishop of Samannud, by making use of Arabic grammatical categories (as had recently been described by the great grammarian Ibn al-Hajib, d. 1249) in order to describe the Coptic language.

The other major work for which Ibn Katib Qaysar is known is a Commentary on the Apocalypse, which is systematic in its treatment of words and categories, attentive to historical context, and ecumenical in its use of sources. It was published in Egypt in 1898 and again in 1939. Ibn Katib Qaysar may also have composed a commentary on the Pauline and Catholic epistles and the Acts of the Apostles.

The theological encyclopedia of al-Mu’taman ibn al-‘Assal quotes from or alludes to yet other works, including epitomes of treatises by Yahya ibn ‘Adi and a contribution to the debate—ongoing in the Coptic Church since the time of Marqus ibn al-Qunbar and Mikha’il of Damietta—about auricular confession to a priest.


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