History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria
The History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria is a historical account of the patriarchs of the Coptic church. The first half of the Arabic text is known as the Ta'rikh Batarikat al-Kanisah al-Misriyah (transliterated Arabic) and was edited and translated into English by B. Evetts.
The work is originally a compilation by Severus (Sawirus) ibn al-Mukaffa`, who was Bishop of al-Ashmunein in upper Egypt, between al-Minya and Assiut, around the end of the tenth century. Early 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 Islamic conquest of Egypt is recorded (see Part 2: Benjamin I below), and a vivid eyewitness account included of the overthrow of the last Ummayad Caliph, Marwan II (744–750 A.D.). Sawirus also relates the famous miracle of moving the Mokattam Mountain during the ruling of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Muizz around 975 A.D. (as an eyewitness of that period). The complete text has since been expanded with appendices and continuations running up to the end of the 19th century, but Evetts stopped with the 52nd Patriarch, Joseph, who died in 849 A.D.
Further volumes containing the text and translation of the remainder by Yassa `Abd al-Masih and O.H.E. Burmester appeared over the years 1943-1974. The late Dr. O.H.E. Khs-Burmester, who departed on November 22, 1977, was a former professor at Cambridge University, of British nationality, and a follower of the Greek Orthodox Church. As he was married to a German woman, he was forced to leave England during the Second World War. He came to Egypt and worked first as teacher at 'El-eeman' school at Shoubrah, Cairo, then in various places, and finally as teacher of Greek and Coptic languages at the clerical college (Coptic seminary) and as librarian of the 'Societe d'Archeologie Copte', which is adjacent to 'El-botrossiah' (St Peter's) Coptic Orthodox Church at 222 Ramses Street, Cairo. He wrote many books on Coptology.
Evetts' text is freely available online from The Tertullian Project:
- Preface to the online edition
- Translator's Introduction
- Part 1 -- St. Mark to Theonas (300 A.D.)
- Part 2 -- Peter I to Benjamin I (661 A.D.)
- Part 3 -- Agathon to Michael I (766 A.D.)
- Part 4 -- Mennas I to Joseph (849 A.D.)
- Part 5 -- Khael II - Shenouti I (880)
- Part 6 -- Khael III - Shenouti II (1066)
- Part 7 -- Christodoulous - Michael IV (1102)
- Part 8 -- Macarius II - John V (1167)
- Part 11 -- Cyril Ibn Laklak, part 1