Arabic Christian manuscripts at the BNF

I have been reading through the catalogue of Arabic Christian manuscripts from the French National Library, to get an idea of the contents. Curiously this was published without an index of authors, which makes it hard to gain such an overview. This is what I found.

The majority of the collection contains saints’ lives and homilies. None of the lives seem likely to be of interest, but include a life of Alexander the Great, and, interestingly, a version of the “Dialogues” of Gregory the Great (11th century, ms. 276). The sermons are clearly translated from coptic, and include sermons by John Chrysostom (in great quantity), Ephrem Syrus, Jacob of Serugh, Isaac the Syrian, John Climacus, John Saba and Severus of Antioch.

There are various works by Severus of al’Ashmuneim (=Hermopolis, a.k.a. Severus Ibn al’Muqaffa), who is also represented by a copy of his monster “History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria” (ms. 301), almost the only historical text included.

A couple of bestiaries (“physiologus”) are present, and a couple of texts by Ps.Aristotle. The life and questions of Secundus the Philosopher is present at least twice. There are seven copies of the “Barlaam and Joasaph” romance, sometimes attributed to John Damascene (mss. 268-274), who is also present in a few sermons.

There is a manuscript of the “Protevangelium of James” (ms. 147, #16). There did not seem to be other apocrypha. There were various apologetical dialogues with Moslems and Jews. There are also some texts translated in modern times from French or Italian literature.

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