Pentateuch

Description

This manuscript is an Arabic translation of the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch), which is called on the first leaf, “The Holy Torah.” The book contains little information about its production other than a note at the end indicating that it is of Coptic origin. Framed cruciform patterns appear at the top of the first leaf and are the only illustrations in the work. There are chapter and verse headings in red as well as guidewords and occasional directions for recitation during fasts and feasts. At the 25th leaf of Genesis, the script and paper quality deteriorates, the former showing ink smudging and perhaps a different hand, while the latter suffers from staining and imprecise trimming. The front and back covers are contemporary with the manuscript and consist of layers of heavy paper covered in thin red leather. The covers are blind stamped with a rosette pattern commonly used when the book was made, around 1800. By the time of copying, the Coptic language and its dialects used in earlier times had been supplanted, except for liturgical use, by Arabic among Egypt’s native Christians. We do not know from the work itself whether the translation was made from the Greek, from a Coptic-language version, or if it is simply a copy of another Arabic translation. This work is part of the Iryan Moftah Collection of Coptic Books and Manuscripts at the American University in Cairo.

Last updated: July 21, 2014