The notes to Lothar Kopf’s translation of Ibn Abi Usaibia

I’ve completed the OCR of a dozen pages of the notes.  It is becoming clear to me that the notes are not by the translator, Lothar Kopf.

There has always been rather a mystery about the history of the typescript manuscript of the translation.  It was completed in 1956 by Lothar Kopf, as it says on the front page, under a US government programme which commissioned the translation from Israeli scholars.  The reason why the US government should do this is nowhere recorded, and it vanished from notice decades ago.

But the US Library of Medicine, where it currently resides, only accessioned it about 15 years later.  So where was it in the meantime?

The notes are typed on a different machine — explaining why Abbyy Finereader is handling them rather differently than all the preceding pages.  They are written by someone who is not very fluent in English.  At points the syntax breaks down altogether.  On the other hand the author displays considerable erudition in Arabic literature and the Western literature about it, mainly that published in German.  At the head of each page is a title in Hebrew.

But I have come across two entries so far, which are conclusive.

On p. 7 of the annotations is this entry:

2) On the medieval translations into European languages of this famous book see F. Rosenthal, Oriens, XIII-XIV, 1961, pp. 132 ff., with a list of the many quotations in our book, pp. 145-147.

While on p.10 we read:

Neither the Arabic text nor any translation was available in Jerusalem.

It would seem that the manuscript was originally completed without any serious annotation, and that someone based in Jerusalem, several years later, began to add his own notes to it.  He broke off after 60 pages, having only annotated a portion of the text.

At least some of the notes are well worth retaining, so I shall plod on with it.


Leave a Reply