Severus Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ

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Severus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (in Arabic ساويرس بن المقفع) or Severus of El Ashmunein (in Arabic ساويرس الأشمونين)[1] (died 987) was a Coptic Orthodox Bishop, author and historian. In Arabic, his name is spelled Sawires ساويرس. Severus is sometimes confused with Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa.

He was bishop of Hermopolis Magna (Ashmunein), in Upper Egypt, around the end of the tenth century. In this period, Egypt was ruled by the Fatimid dynasty, an Isma'ili Shi'ite family, which had taken Egypt from the Abbasids in 969 CE. Fatimid rule slowly but surely changed Coptic Christian culture, especially in the realm of language. Complaining that the Coptic Orthodox Christians of Egypt no longer knew the Coptic language (related to late Egyptian), Severus composed a theological text in Arabic—the first Coptic text written in that language.[2]

He is best known as the traditional author of the History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria.


  • Lamp of the Intellect (in Arabic مصباح العقل)
  • History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria (in Arabic تاريخ بطاركة كنيسة الإسكندرية القبطية). This is a compilation begun by Severus Ibn al-Mukaffa[3] and based on earlier biographical sources. 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).
  • Affliction's physic and the cure of sorrow (In Arabic طبّ الغمّ وشفاء الحزن)


  1. ^ [1]; known as Severus of Al-Ushmunain, Severus, Bishop of Al-Ushmunain, Severus of Al'Ashmunein, Severus of Ashmunein, Severus of El-Eschmounein, Severus Ben al-Moqaffa, Severus Aschmoniensis, Sawires Ibn Al-Muqafah, Sawiris etc.
  2. ^ Petry, Carl; Paula A. Sander (1998). "The Fatimid State, 969–1171". The Cambridge History of Egypt. p. 170. 
  3. ^ One scholar, Johannes den Heijer, contests its attribution to Severus ibn al-Mukaffa. Johannes den Heijer, Coptic historiography in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and early Mamluk Periods, Medieval Encounters 2 (1996), pp. 67–98.

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