The lives of the Coptic Patriarch Isaac

An interesting email arrived today.

I am writing to you hoping that The Life of Isaac, Patriarch of Alexandria (686-689 AD) would see the light in English translation through you.

Patriarch Isaac’s Life in the History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church, which was complied by Severus of Ashmunin, is available in both Arabic and English translation, but it is a very short biography.

A longer Life is available in Coptic, and has been translated twice into French. To my knowledge it is not available in Arabic.

The two French translations, which are available on the net, and can be got at, are:

1. Amelineau, E., Histoire du Patriarche Copte Isaac. Paris, 1890.
2. E. Porcher, Vie D’Isaac. P.O. V. II. Paris, 1915.

I have always felt that the shorter Life of Isaac which is part of Severus of Ashmunin’s book is deliberately made short. His period was turbulent, and witnessed serious conflicts with the Muslim Ummayad ruler, Abdel Aziz ibn Marwan (685-705 AD). Copts were exposed to severe persecution during his rule, and it seems that there were contacts between Isaac and the Ethiopians and also the Nubians, which angered the Muslim ruler.

My current circumstances mean that I cannot take on any new projects, and I am trying to reduce my work load.  But I think the longer life of this period could not fail to be of considerable interest.  Google translate does a very reasonable job of French these days which would help anyone who took it on.


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