Sa‘Id Ibn Al-Bitriq

SA‘ID IBN AL-BITRIQ

A Melchite patriarch of Alexandria, known in his ecclesiastical capacity as Eutychius. He was born in A.D. 877 in the old capital of Egypt, al-Fustat, was elected to the Melchite patriarchate in 933, and died in 940. His original vocation as a layman was the practice of medicine, in which he, in collaboration with his physician brother ISA IBN AL-BITRIQ, wrote several medical treatises. After his election to the patriarchate, however, he distinguished himself as a historian, and, according to Ibn Abi Usaybiah, his eleventh-century biographer, wrote a voluminous work entitled Nazm al-Jawhar, a universal history from Adam to his own day in the reign of Abbasid Caliph al-Radi (934- 940).

Apart from the detailed annals of the caliphate, he incorporated into his text the story of the Melchite patriarchs and details of their feasts and fasts. His reign was rather turbulent; he also wrote a treatise of disputation between him and his adversaries in an attempt to establish the Melchite over the orthodox rule of the Coptic church.

It was his chronicle, however, that brought him special attention. Its text was first edited with a Latin translation by the famous English Orientalist Edward Pococke in 1654. Since then, the authorized Arabic text of his annals has been compiled from the available manuscripts and edited by L. Cheikho, B. Carra de Vaux, and H. Zayyat under a new title, Kitab al-Tarikh al-Majmu‘ ala al- Tahqiq wa-al-Tasdiq. The work was addressed, or perhaps rather dedicated, by the patriarch to his brother Isa.

It was further continued in a massive supplement by Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Antaki, whose annals cover the period of the late Abbasid caliphs from al-Radi to the accession of the Fatimid dynasty up to the rule of al-Zahir (1020-1035). This supplement appeared in the same series as the original history; its text was compiled by Cheikho and his colleagues from manuscripts in Paris, Saint Petersburg, Damascus, and Beirut. Previously, portions of this work were published with a Russian translation by Baron von Rosen in 1883. The author of the supplement tried to classify his material into secular and religious categories, though in the main he tried to follow the general scheme established by his predecessor, the Melchite patriarch Eutychius.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Cheikho, L.; B. Carra de Vaux; and H. Zayyat. Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales. CSCO, Scriptores Arabici, ser. 3, 6 and 7. Beirut and Paris, 1905-1909.
  • “Christian Historical Works in Arabic” (Al-Tawarikh al- Nasraniyyah fi al-‘Arabiyyah). Al-Mashriq, 12 (1909):488 89.
  • Ibn Usaybi‘ah, Muwaffaq al-Din Abu-al-‘Abbas. Uyun al-Anba f Tabaqat al-Atibba, 2 vols. Cairo, 1882.
  • Pococke, E. Contextio Gemmarum, Vol. 2, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annalium. Oxford, 1654.

AZIZ S. ATIYA

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