Historical Books of the Old Testament


This Biblical manuscript contains portions of the Old Testament historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. The volume is incomplete at the beginning and end. The scribe, whose name might have appeared in the missing colophon, is unknown. The copying was done in 1748 (Joshua) and 1749 (Second Kings). There are guide words but no page numbers. Chapters are inconsistently marked. The work is carefully written but appears to have received little use, as indicated by the lack of the fore-edge smudging observed in some other manuscripts in the Iryan Moftah Collection of Coptic Books and Manuscripts at the American University in Cairo. The binding is especially elaborate. It features fore-edge and envelope flaps, traditional for the region and era. The front and back leather covers bear blind-stamped medallions with pendants and corners with gilding that shows significant damage. Arabic translations of the Old and New Testaments available to Copts of the 18th and 19th centuries were based on several traditions, including early Coptic, Syriac, Greek, and even Latin. Scribes did not usually indicate the sources of their Arabic renderings, and scholars have not yet taken a critical look at the Biblical texts used by Egyptian Christians during the period immediately preceding Egypt’s opening to Europe.

Last updated: July 21, 2014