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Translations and Original Texts
Manuscripts of the history of al-Makin

The 13th century Arabic Christian chronicle of George Al-Makin or Ibn Amid has never been published in full, or translated into any other language.  However it contains a version of the so-called Testimonium Flavianum, based on that in Agapius.  Some access to this text is desirable, therefore.  It’s a big text, in two halves.  The first need is to get hold of copies of manuscripts.

This has drawn my attention before.  I ended up ordering copies from a Paris manuscript, which cost a lot and turned out to be wretchedly poor quality; too poor to be usable.  I’ve gone back to them, and we’ll see if they will send me something useful.

In the meantime a scholarly friend has been going through this, listing the sections and how long they are, so that we can get an idea of contents.  The poor state of the Paris microfilm has become very apparent during this process.

According to Georg Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, vol. 2, p. 349, the following manuscripts exist of the first half:

  • Vatican arab. 168 (16th c.).  215 folios.
  • Borg. ar. 232 (in Karshuni, 1659 AD)
  • Paris ar. 294 (14th century) – of which I received so poor a copy at so very high a price
  • Paris ar. 4524 (1672 AD; “sehr fehlerhaft”)
  • Paris ar. 4729 (19th century). 176 folios.
  • Bodleian ar.683 (Pococke 312 = DCLXXXIII).  170 folios.  AD 1591.  Catalogued here.
  • Bodleian ar.773.
  • Bodleian ar.789.
  • Gotha ar. 1557 (karshuni, 1661 AD)
  • Breslau, Stadtbibliothek ar. 18 (ca. 1270 AD) – Graf leaves it unclear whether this is merely extracts of two lives.
  • Munich ar. 376, by the same copyist as the Oxford ms.
  • Vienna or. 884.
  • St. Petersburg or. 112 (1672)
  • Cairo 572 (1685)
  • Coptic patriarchate 1103, 1 (1876)
  • Sarfeh syr. 16/4 (karshuni)
  • Sbath 1938 (13th century) but only pp. 155-168 so is an extract.

Manuscripts exist of the second half, as does a printed text, Thomas Erpenius Historia Saracenica (1625) with Latin translation.

  • Paris ar. 295 (1854) breaks off at 1023 AD – I got a somewhat better microfilm of this.
  • British Library ar. 282, I (17th century)
  • Bodleian ar. (Uri) 715, 735.
  • Leiden or. 758
  • Leipzig university or. 643 (17th century), containing fragments on 1123-1259 AD.
  • Beirut 6 and 7 (18th century)
  • St. Petersburg As. Mus. ar. 161 (but probably copied from Erpenius, as several other copies are)

I need to have another go at getting manuscript copies from the Vatican. Last time my email was ignored.  I don’t know that the Bodleian has changed its policy of charging the customer vast prices for full-colour images, but only supplying him low-grade monochrome derivatives.  Being poor, such a policy amounts to prohibiting access.  But it may be possible to obtain images from some of the other institutions.

Isn’t it odd, what a struggle it is to just obtain access?

UPDATE (16th Dec. 2013).  I have added some notes from Martino Diez, “Les antiquities greco-romaines entre al-Makin ibn al-`Amid et ibn Khaldun”, Studia Graeco-Arabica, 3, (2013) 121-140.

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