From my diary

The transcription of part 2 of al-Makin (from the Erpenius edition of 1625) is going well.  It’s arriving in 10-page chunks, and there are 300 pages in all so that will make 30 chunks.  Chunk 11 arrived today.

I was reflecting at the weekend on our lack of knowledge of Arabic literature, including Arabic Christian literature.  There is no handbook of this in English.

Yet to create one would merely take time, no more.  It could be done.  Even I could do it.  A single volume, using Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur and Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Litteratur as a basis could be compiled relatively easily by any interested amateur, and then brought up to date by a literature search.

And what a difference it would make to our understanding of the subject!  How it would revolutionise our access to this area of knowledge!

I wonder how it might be done …  Perhaps find someone — or better, several someones — with time who knows basic German and has the right mindset.  Just compile a list of authors and works – not very taxing – and then write entries.  Then compile a short bibliography of published editions, translations, and studies in western languages… hmm.  For the latter, one would need to know where bibliographies of Arabic literature may be found.

It could be done.  Whether I can do it, well, I don’t know.  But it could be done.


4 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. “It could be done” – and I would say “It should be done”.

    …For all sorts of reasons.

    Christian Arabs can trace their proud history back to Apostolic and immediately post-Apostolic times.

    They have hung onto this heritage ever since.

    Persecution and hardship are growing throughout the Levant [also known, truthfully, as the Bible Lands] leading to a great wave of emigration.

    The UK under Christian monarchs and Established Churches has stood up for, and recognised, the Arab Christians and their Churches and a lot of refugees will come here and to this and other English-speaking nations and if there is [if the LORD will] to be a religious revival, Arab Christian immigrants may well contribute through their intimacy with the earliest Christians and, also, through the fervency, courage and faithfulness of their age-old keeping of the Faith.

    Also the Levant will be more and more of interest and relevance to us in the West; a bibliography would seem to be highly necessary.

  2. Very much so.

    The Christian arabs are the descendants of the civilised peoples of the east, overrun by the early Islamic invasions.

    I think that better access to the whole of Arabic literature could only benefit everyone.

  3. I have submitted projects in this sense several times and they were systematically rejected by the EU. What is needed are some mini/thematic Google books “clusters” providing paedagogical introductions to help students, and allowing the reader to copy paste sections of the text for his own use.
    Instead of that, Macintosh and Windows are still unable to deal correctly with Arabic (when pasted from an html page)and libraries charge fortunes instead of providing free PDFs of what should be seen as the heritage of humanity, just as world heritage sites.

  4. The EU is a very good thought; and the need is equally there in French. Did you get any useful feedback on *why* the applications were rejected?

    I wish the Vatican had permitted me to translate Graf’s volumes from the GCAL (in the Studi e Testi series). The price to hire a translator was a lot, even for me, but at least something might have been done.

    I agree: Arabic is a pain to deal with in English Windows, in my experience.

    I suspect a lot of books circulate in pirate PDF. But the prices for manuscripts are very, very annoying.

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