Abu’l Barakat’s Catalogue of Christian Literature in Arabic now online

Adam McCollum has kindly translated for me Riedel’s text of the catalogue of Arabic Christian literature by Abu’l Barakat.  It’s here:

I’m placing this file and its contents in the public domain.  Please do whatever you like with it, for personal, professional, educational or commercial purposes.  It’s free to use for any purpose.  Adam also invites comments.

I intend to get an HTML version together as well, but this will take a day or so for me to do.  Then I hope to make people in various email lists aware that it exists, and particularly classicists and patristics people, who might be interested to see what has made its way into Arabic.

UPDATE 12 Feb 2024: I’ve retrieved the Word document and uploaded that also.


Last section of Abu’l Barakat

Good news!  An email tells me that another of my projects is coming in.  The catalogue of Arabic Christian books, by the 13th century writer Abu’l Barakat, is progressing nicely.  The whole thing has now been translated into English, in first draft.  The wording will now be revised over the next two weeks, and then comment invited from others.

Once the whole thing is complete, I will post it online and make it public domain.

This is such an important text.  When you come into a literature, all is confusion.  What we need is a map, a list of major writers and what they wrote.  This acts as a skeleton, on which we can hang all the rest of our knowledge.  A modern list would be good, but none exists in English.  This ancient list is also good, as it probably refers to stuff no longer extant and tells us what might be out there.

The translation has been made from the older 1902 edition of Riedel.  But apparently there is somewhere a critical edition made by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ.  I think this was published in Cairo.  The text is so important that I have suggested to the translator that he acquire a copy of Samir’s publication, and do a revised version for formal publication on his own, so that scholars can reference it in their bibliographies.  This will happen, I think.


Abu’l Barakat update

The translation of the 13th century list of books extant in Christian Arabic by Abu’l Barakat is still progressing.  The translator has now sent me a schedule for the remaining half of the work still to translate:

  • pp. 653-659  – Jan 19
  • pp. 660-666 – Jan 26
  • Final revision – Feb 8

This is all good news, and will go online when it is all done.


Abu’l Barakat part 2 has arrived

The second tranche of Abu’l Barakat’s 13th century catalogue of Arabic Christian books has arrived today.  It’s very, very interesting.  The translation is getting better, and the translator is going to cross-reference the authors and works to Quasten’s Patrology and Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur.  I’ll release this into the public domain, with transcription, when it’s done and post it online.


Abu’l Barakat’s catalogue of patristic books is underway!

This evening I received the first chunk of the English translation that I commissioned of the 13th century list of Christian books by the Arabic Christian writer Abu’l Barakat.  It’s all Greek fathers so far, starting with Clement of Rome and winding down to Cyril of Alexandria. 

The lists are fascinating, and cry out for cross-referencing against Quasten’s Patrology and Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, which I think we will do.  This will help everyone work out what exists in Arabic and so is potentially worth investigating for the tradition of the text.

Wonderful news!


Update on Abu’l Barakat

There is a 13th century list of works that exist in Arabic Christian literature by a certain Abu’l Barakat.  It was published long ago by Riedel, with a German translation, but has never found an English translator.

Such a list is a “road-map” of the unexplored land, a guide to the wayfarer as to what might exist.  It includes works translated into Arabic, such a material by the Cappadocian fathers, plus original compositions.  The translations may be interesting — because material does exist in Arabic now lost in Greek and Syriac.  The original compositions should help us to get an idea of what there is in the language.

I commissioned a translation of this back in the summer, which I intend to give away online.  It’s been delayed because the same translator was working for me on the Syriac fragments of Eusebius.  But today I heard back.

Riedel is about 25 pages, so the idea is that we’ll do it in 5-page chunks.  That’s less intimidating for him, and easier on my pocket!


Abu’l Barakat’s catalogue of Arabic Christian literature

Abu’l Barakat was a medieval Arabic Christian.  In one of his works, he devoted a chapter to listing Arabic Christian literature.  Of course this catalogue of what exists or existed is an invaluable guide to someone who is starting to explore patristic material surviving in that language.  Riedel published it long ago, with a German translation * , and a kind friend sent me a copy in PDF form today.  It urgently needs to go online.  If he’s OK with it, I’ll upload the PDF to Archive.org.

But we also need an English translation.  It’s about 154 words per page and 36 pages, in the German translation; if the Arabic is similar, that makes 5,544 words, or about $500 at my usual 10c per word.  I can afford that, I think.  I need to find a translator!

* Wilhelm Riedel, Der Katalog der christlichen Schriften in arabischer Sprache von Abu’l-Barakat, in Nachrichten der K. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Philologisch-Hist. Klasse, 1902 (Heft 5), pp. 636-706.