More on Abu’l Makarim

evettsIt’s been a while since I wrote about the 13th century Arabic Christian history once ascribed to Abu Salih the Armenian and today to Abu’l Makarim.  But a friend has sent me a new article on the subject, by Mouton and Papescu-Belis, in Arabica 53, p. (2006), which discusses the unique manuscript.

B.T.A.Evetts in 1895 published part of this text from Paris Arabe 307 with an English translation.  Coptic monk and bishop Fr. Samuel published the rest in 1984 in four volumes.  His manuscript is now Munich Arabicus 2570, in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.  An English translation of the new material, undertaken by a collaborator, is apparently not that reliable.  But Fr. Samuel’s own corrections are in the main sound.

The combined manuscript was originally 365 folios in length, disposed into 37 quires.  The first 21 quires are in the Munich ms, and the last 16 in the Paris ms.  The two quires 21 and 22, where the manuscript was broken in half, are mostly missing as the leaves became detached.  The manuscript seems to have been written in 1338 AD (explicitly stated in the Paris ms.); the work itself refers to no event later than 1220.  It is possible that later events were written by a continuator.

The Munich ms. contains descriptions of monasteries and churches in the north of Egypt, as far as Cairo; then those of the Near-East.  The Paris ms. contains the same material for Egypt south of Cairo, into Nubia, and the rest of Africa.

The remainder of the article discusses the description of the monastery of Mt. Sinai and its environs at the period of composition.


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