MISBAH AL-ZULMAH WA-IDAH AL-KHIDMAH (The Luminary of Church Services)

Theological encyclopedia that is the principal written work of IBN KABAR. Its aim was to transmit to future generations the knowledge of the doctrine proclaimed by the first and their successors, to pass on the practices of public worship, and to protect church doctrine from deviations and distortions. It does this by treating the whole range of ecclesiastical and theological subjects in essays and in reviews and summaries of the contents of other works. The listing of the sources reviewed and summarized makes this work especially valuable for the history of Christian written in Arabic.

According to G. Graf (1947), the dogma of the oneness and threeness of God and the incarnation of the Logos is given first, with the deviating doctrine of the Melchites and Nestorians outlined and a list of seventeen older heresies also given. Then there is biographical information on the first and the seventy disciples, along with a list of the Alexandrian patriarchs. A list with a description of the contents of the compendiums of ecclesiastical law follows.

An introduction to the Scriptures, with a presentation of the biblical canon and pedagogical notes on the individual books, is next. Chapter 7 has a valuable catalog of Christian writers and works in Arabic, giving the sources of church tradition. The remainder treats rites and ritual, church and furnishings, consecrations, life, baptism, weddings, burial, prayer, holy days, and the ecclesiastical calendar.

It is most easily accessible in Villecourt’s translation (1928).