The History of the Roman Provinces of the Near East


This Arabic manuscript is a history of the Roman provinces of the Near East, with special reference to King Herod the Great and the dynasty he founded. The manuscript lacks numerous pages at the beginning and end. The remaining portion contains the history of Roman Palestine during the first century BC until the destruction of the temple by Roman emperor Titus in 70 AD. The author, title, and date of copying are unknown. The work has been tentatively ascribed to the 17th century. The text is unadorned except for marking of phrases in red and a few marginal notes, which are not contemporary with the manuscript. The volume is unbound. The work is a political and military history with no reference to Biblical events or to the life and times of Jesus Christ. In this sense it is a rare Coptic composition. The source of the text is uncertain, but the author relies on the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. Herod the Great, son of Antipater, became king of the Roman province of Judea in 37 BC and reigned until his death in 4 BC. During his tumultuous reign, Herod combined political acumen, great energy in building public works, and ruthless cruelty in service of his ambition. The dynasty he founded ruled portions of Palestine and surrounding territories until the late first century AD. The manuscript has never received scholarly attention and there is no critical edition. This work is part of the Iryan Moftah Collection of Coptic Books and Manuscripts at the American University in Cairo.

Last updated: May 24, 2017