Arabic gospel manuscripts

There is a two volume thesis by Hikmat Kashouh, The Arabic version of the gospel: the manuscripts and their families, accessible online at EthOS here (you have to create an account and do a rather silly ‘order’ but the PDF download is free, and the PDF is searchable).  This thesis was done in 2008 at the University of Birmingham; nice to see the Mingana collection getting some contemporary scholarly use!

The work looks like the starting point for some serious study of the Arabic translation of the gospels.  Interestingly it was sponsored by Christian groups the Langham Partnership International and St. John’s Church in Harbourne.

The thesis has developed into a book, being published by De Gruyter for a modest $377.  Details are here:

This book is concerned with the Arabic versions of the Gospels. It is an attempt to examine a substantial number of Arabic manuscripts which contain the continuous text of the canonical Gospels copied between the eighth and the nineteenth centuries and found in twenty-one different library collections in Europe and the Orient.

Following the introduction, Chapter Two presents the state of research from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present time. Chapter Three introduces and reflects on the two hundred plus manuscripts examined in this work. Chapters Four to Eight concentrate on grouping these manuscripts into twenty-four families and examining their Vorlagen (Greek, Syriac, Coptic and Latin). In order to examine the relationship between the families, phylogenetic software is used. Consequently, the manuscripts are grouped into seven different mega clusters or tribes. Finally the date of the first translation of the Gospels into Arabic is addressed and (a) provisional date(s) suggested based on the textual and linguistic analyses of the manuscripts.

The conclusion in Chapter Ten gives the overall contribution made by this thesis and also future avenues for the study of the Arabic versions of the Gospels.

6 Responses to “Arabic gospel manuscripts”


  1. Dioscorus Boles

    This is exceedingly good news.

    Coptologists woill find that it is of extreme importance in studying the language shift from Coptic to Arabic in the Middle Period.

    Dioscorus Boles

  2. Roger Pearse

    Not just Coptologists. The Arabic version must have connections with the Syriac version also, and indeed the Greek. It’s very good news that this study is being undertaken. From what I could see in the thesis, it is being done to a very high standard indeed.

  3. Raúl M. Cruz-Mireles

    The EthOS system does not recognize any of these words: “Hikmat Kashouh Arabic version of the gospel manuscripts and their families” ¿How can we access the thesis? Thanks for the post, very useful, as always.

  4. Roger Pearse

    Try searching for “Arabic version of the gospel”

  5. Raúl M. Cruz-Mireles

    Thanks, go on with your great work!!

  6. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for your kind words!