MAWHUB IBN MANSUR IBN MUFARRIJ (ca. 1025-ca. 1100)
A Historian. Mawhub ibn Mansur ibn Mufarrij was a wealthy and well-connected Coptic notable of Alexandria who played a significant role in the life of the Church in his days. His father had once played a heroic role in saving a precious relic, the head of St. Mark, from confiscation; the governor of Alexandria entrusted Mawhub and his uncle with the key to the Church of St. George at a time when all the other churches of Alexandria had been closed; and he made a major contribution to the expenses of the impoverished patriarchate after Pope Christodoulos had been kidnapped, tortured, and held for ransom by the Lawati Berbers.
For Copto-Arabic studies, Mawhub (and not Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, thanks to the research of Johannes den Heijer; see the bibliography) is now recognized as the “general editor” of the Arabic-language History of the Patriarchs, and therefore the first major Arabophone historian of the Coptic Church. Mawhub and his collaborators, primarily the deacon Abu Habib Mikha’il ibn Badir al-Damanhuri, gathered Coptic-language sources for the history of the Egyptian Church, and then translated and edited these materials together as the “Lives” of the first 65 patriarchs. This work, begun in 1088, was completed a few years later.
Mawhub then added original Arabic-language biographies for the two patriarchs of whom he was a contemporary, Christodoulos (66th, 1047-1077) and Cyril II (67th, 1077-1092); these are precious historical sources that reflect a profound awareness of (and involvement in) internal Church politics and the complexities of the Church’s engagement with contested and changing Islamic authority.
Mawhub’s project of creating an Arabic-language history of the Coptic Orthodox Church was roughly contemporary with the creation of other Arabic-language ecclesiastical resources, such as collections of canon law or the Christological compilation known as The Confession of the Fathers. Together, the development of these resources may be seen as a pivotal point in the history of the Coptic Orthodox Church; henceforth, the most important contributions to the literature of the Coptic Church would be in Arabic.