The Arabic Christian historians are largely unknown. Starting in the 9th century, the main ones are Agapius, Eutychius, al-Makin, Bar Hebraeus, and one whom I always forget.
Al-Makin wrote in the 13th century, and contains a version of the Testimonium Flavianum of Josephus, which appears in Shlomo Pines’ much-read but much-misunderstood paper on the subject. But anyone wishing to consult the text of al-Makin, in Arabic, must find a manuscript; no printed edition exists. I did attempt to do something about this, a few years ago, but in vain.
Al-Makin, like other Arabic texts, was translated into Ethiopian. A correspondent writes to tell me about some sources for the Ethiopian version.
Firstly, an article on translation technique from Arabic to Ethiopic, “Arabisch-äthiopische Übersetzungstechnik am Beispiel der Zena Ayhud (Yosippon) und des Tarika Walda-‘Amid” (i.e. “Arabic-Ethiopian translation techniques using the example of Zena Ayhud (Yosippon) and Tarika Walda-Amid”) by Manfred Kropp, with al-Makin as one of the examples, in the ZDMG, is now online in high resolution here. In Ethiopian chronicles Al-Makin is known as Giyorgis Walda-Amid (George, son of Amid) while Tarika Walda-Amid (Chronicle of Walda-Amid) is the title given to his “Blessed Collection”.
Kropp has also published a book, Zekra Nagar – Die universalhistorische Einleitung nach Giyorgis Wala-Amid in der Chronikensammlung des Haylu aka (The preface to the Universal History of Giyorgis Walda-Amid in the Chronicle Collection of Haylu” – Haylu was an 18th c. Ethiopian prince). There is a Google Books preview here.
Modern Ethiopians speak Amharic, not Classical Ethiopic or Ge’ez. I learn that Prof. Sirgiw Gelaw from Addis Ababa University has prepared a translation of the Ge’ez version of Al-Makin into Amharic. The manuscript is 560 pages long and is still waiting publication.
A manuscript copy of the Ethiopian version of the first part of Al-Makin – he divides his work into two parts, pre-Islam and post – is actually online at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, here. The catalogue entry is here.
My thanks to Ezio for all this material!
6 thoughts on “Materials for the study of the Ethiopian version of the history of al-Makin”
Is it Yahya of Antioch the one you have forgotten?
If I’m not mistaken Shlomo Pines discussed the Arabic Testimonium Flavianum in Agapius not Al-Makim.
Pines professes to discuss Agapius; but in fact the sole manuscript of that part of Agapius doesn’t contain those passages. These are culled from Al-Makin.
Pines mistakenly believed he was translating Agapius but the Arabic text is from the history of Al-Makin. The Testimonium Flavianum is present in both authors but considering Al-Makin uses Agapius as a source, his version is an expansion of the former.
The reason Pines did this is that the edition that he used printed the Al-Makin sections as an appendix, on the basis that Al-Makin “must” have copied them from a now lost manuscript of Agapius. But expansion is the rule in Arabic chronicles, and Al-Makin probably did it himself.
” Starting in the 9th century, the main ones are Agapius, Eutychius, al-Makin, Bar Hebraeus, and one whom I always forget”
For that last one you might be thinking “Severus“, based on a website edited by some guy called Roger Pearse :^) His history was (finally) compiled and copied in Arabic but most believe it was compiled from Coptic sources, since almost all those Patriarchs were Copts by ethnicity.
No, Severus I recall. 🙂