History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria

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History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria
Ta'rikh Batarikat al-Kanisah al-Misriyah
Compiled by e.g. Michael, bishop of Tinnis; Mawhub ibn Mansur ibn Mufarrig; Pope Mark III of Alexandria
Subject Biographies of the Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox patriarchs of Egypt

The History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria[1] is a major historical work of the Coptic Orthodox Church. It is written in Arabic,[2] but draws extensively on Greek and Coptic sources.

The compilation was based on earlier biographical sources. It was begun by Severus ibn al-Mukaffa, One scholar, Johannes den Heijer, contests its attribution to Severus ibn al-Mukaffa.[3] It was continued by others including Michael, bishop of Tinnis (11th century, writing in Coptic, covering 880 to 1046), Mawhub ibn Mansur ibn Mufarrig, deacon of Alexandria, and Pope Mark III of Alexandria (for 1131 to 1167).


The first half of the Arabic text known as the Ta'rikh Batarikat al-Kanisah al-Misriyah (transliterated Arabic) was edited and translated into English by Basil Thomas Alfred Evetts under the title History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria. The remainder was published by O.H.E.Burmester with English translation. This work presents a compilation of the history of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria.

The earlier portions of the text are derived mainly from Eusebius and Coptic tradition. But from the 6th century onwards, the biographies grow longer and often seem to derive from documents written by eyewitnesses of the events recorded. The Muslim conquest of Egypt is recorded,[4] and a vivid eyewitness account included of the overthrow of the last Umayyad Caliph, Marwan II.

Severus also relates the famous miracle of moving the Mokattam Mountain during the ruling of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Muizz around 975 (as an eyewitness of that period). The complete text has since then been expanded with appendices and continuations running up to 1894. Indeed, one unpublished manuscript continues the text until 1923.

Evetts stopped with the 52nd Patriarch, Joseph, who died in 849. Subsequent material was published and translated by various scholars led by O. H. E. Burmester, in Cairo.


In 1713 Eusèbe Renaudot published the Latin translation Historia patriarcharum alexandrinorum jacobitarum. A scholarly Arabic edition was started by Christian Friedrich Seybold (1904).[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Online edition preface
  2. ^ Arabic title Tarikh Batarikat al-Kanisah al-Misriyah
  3. ^ Johannes den Heijer, Coptic historiography in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and early Mamluk Periods, Medieval Encounters 2 (1996), pp. 67-98.
  4. ^ Severus of Al'Ashmunein (Hermopolis), History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic church of Alexandria (1904) Part 2: Peter I - Benjamin I (661 AD). Patrologia Orientalis 1 pp. 383-518 (pp.119-256 of text)
  5. ^ In Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium, reprinted 1962.


  • The History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Orthodox Church to 849 AD
  • Johannes Den Heijer (1989), Mawhub ibn Manṣǖr ibn Mufarrig et l'historiographie copto-arabe

Further reading[edit]

Editions and translations[edit]

  • Heijer, Johannes Den (1989). Mawhüb ibn Manṣǖr ibn Mufarriğ et l'historiographie copto-arabe: Étude sur la composition de l'Histoire des Patriarches d'Alexandrie. Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Subsidia 83. Louvain. 
  • Khater, Antoine; O. H. E. KHS-Burmester, eds. (1974). History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church, Known as the History of the Holy Church According to MS. Arabe 30Z Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Textes et Documents. IV.1-2. Cairo. 
  • Abd al-Masih, Yassa; O. H. E. Burmester; Aziz S. Atiya; Antoine Khater, eds. (1943–1970). History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church, Known as the History of the Holy Church of Sawirus ibn al-Mukaffac, Bishop of al-Asmunin. Textes et Documents. II-III. Cairo. 
  • Evetts, B., ed. (1906–15). History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria I-IV. Patrologia Orientalis, vol. I.2, I.4, V.1 and X.5. Paris.  Parts are available online (see below).

External links[edit]