Manuscripts of the history of al-Makin

The 13th century Arabic Christian chronicle of George Al-Makin or Ibn Amid has never been published in full, or translated into any other language.  However it contains a version of the so-called Testimonium Flavianum, based on that in Agapius.  Some access to this text is desirable, therefore.  It’s a big text, in two halves.  The first need is to get hold of copies of manuscripts.

This has drawn my attention before.  I ended up ordering copies from a Paris manuscript, which cost a lot and turned out to be wretchedly poor quality; too poor to be usable.  I’ve gone back to them, and we’ll see if they will send me something useful.

In the meantime a scholarly friend has been going through this, listing the sections and how long they are, so that we can get an idea of contents.  The poor state of the Paris microfilm has become very apparent during this process.

According to Georg Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, vol. 2, p. 349, the following manuscripts exist of the first half:

  • Vatican arab. 168 (16th c.).  215 folios.
  • Borg. ar. 232 (in Karshuni, 1659 AD)
  • Paris ar. 294 (14th century) – of which I received so poor a copy at so very high a price
  • Paris ar. 4524 (1672 AD; “sehr fehlerhaft”)
  • Paris ar. 4729 (19th century). 176 folios.
  • Bodleian ar.683 (Pococke 312 = DCLXXXIII).  170 folios.  AD 1591.  Catalogued here.
  • Bodleian ar.773.
  • Bodleian ar.789.
  • Gotha ar. 1557 (karshuni, 1661 AD)
  • Breslau, Stadtbibliothek ar. 18 (ca. 1270 AD) – Graf leaves it unclear whether this is merely extracts of two lives.
  • Munich ar. 376, by the same copyist as the Oxford ms.
  • Vienna or. 884.
  • St. Petersburg or. 112 (1672)
  • Cairo 572 (1685)
  • Coptic patriarchate 1103, 1 (1876)
  • Sarfeh syr. 16/4 (karshuni)
  • Sbath 1938 (13th century) but only pp. 155-168 so is an extract.

Manuscripts exist of the second half, as does a printed text, Thomas Erpenius Historia Saracenica (1625) with Latin translation.

  • Paris ar. 295 (1854) breaks off at 1023 AD – I got a somewhat better microfilm of this.
  • British Library ar. 282, I (17th century)
  • Bodleian ar. (Uri) 715, 735.
  • Leiden or. 758
  • Leipzig university or. 643 (17th century), containing fragments on 1123-1259 AD.
  • Beirut 6 and 7 (18th century)
  • St. Petersburg As. Mus. ar. 161 (but probably copied from Erpenius, as several other copies are)

I need to have another go at getting manuscript copies from the Vatican. Last time my email was ignored.  I don’t know that the Bodleian has changed its policy of charging the customer vast prices for full-colour images, but only supplying him low-grade monochrome derivatives.  Being poor, such a policy amounts to prohibiting access.  But it may be possible to obtain images from some of the other institutions.

Isn’t it odd, what a struggle it is to just obtain access?

UPDATE (16th Dec. 2013).  I have added some notes from Martino Diez, “Les antiquities greco-romaines entre al-Makin ibn al-`Amid et ibn Khaldun”, Studia Graeco-Arabica, 3, (2013) 121-140.


18 thoughts on “Manuscripts of the history of al-Makin

  1. Ali Bakr Hassan, Ph. D. professor at the Ohio state University, edited and annotated the history of al-Makin and published in 2010. I cunsulted three works. 1- Thomas Erpienus 2- Dr. Laud’s copy and 3- Dr. Marsh copy both in Bodleian library at Oxford. the book was published by Dar Elawasim phone +202-27200690. mobile +20111953663.

  2. This is Ali Hassan again. I forgot to enclude the city of publication which is Cairo, Egypt.

  3. That is wonderful news! I presume it is Arabic only?

    Is the book available for order on any online bookseller? If so, a link would be helpful, especially for those of us who don’t know Arabic.

    If not, any idea how we can buy a copy? How much is it? The website listed does not seem to be working (it gives rubbish, as if the domain name is parked).

    I wish I had known of your work. I have a number of images of manuscripts myself, which I would have been glad to send you!

  4. Dear Mr. Pearse,
    Give me ur adress and I will be happy to send u a copy. If u have an access to Interlibrary loan u can get it as well. Yes it is in Arabic with a little introduction in English.
    Ali Hassan

  5. I found the following 2012 notice here:

    Ali Bakr Hassan, Ph. D. Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University edited his work, with rich footnotes and an introduction,and published 2010. Please visit Dar Elwasim, Caior, Egypt to find more. More Libraries now in the west such as Stanford University owns a copy of the edited work. the second volumes which cover from 1118-1256 is forthcoming.

    Ali Bakr Hassan, Ph. D.
    Ohio State University

  6. Have just remembered, with deep embarassment, that I actually have a copy of the book. And that Dr Ali Bakr Hassan gave it to me himself in person.

    I must be getting old.

  7. Hello! Is the edition of Dr Ali conclusive of the two parts or confined to the later half only?

  8. Hello again!
    Since you have got a copy of Dr Bakr’s edition, can you please share it, even if in private only? I have been looking in vain for a copy; apparently it’s sold out.

  9. Please consider scanning it (or at least the introduction and last few pages). That’s what I intend to do once I obtain a copy. You don’t have to submit this msg.

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