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Arabische Handschriften, Teil II.

The present volume forms part of the systematic and detailed description of Arabic manuscripts preserved in German libraries (itself a subdivision of a comprehensive project founded in 1957 that aims at cataloging all oriental manuscripts preserved in Germany) and continues the catalogue of E. Wagner, Arabische Handschriften, Teil I (Wiesbaden, 1976). Schoeler lists 331 entries found in 104 Arabic codices selected from the manuscript holdings of the Staatsbibliothek, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin. None of the described manuscripts is listed in W. Ahlwardt's standard catalogue (Berlin, 1887-99), since almost all of them were acquired by the library in the first half of this century.

In cataloguing the manuscripts Schoeler follows the principles established by Wagner, while in selecting those manuscripts to be catalogued he is guided by his own hunch for texts of scholarly promise. Some readers may evaluate his personal concentration on the numerous works of Sams ad-din Ahmad b. Sulayman b. Kamal Pasa (d. 940/1533), which represent about half of the entries, 161 in all, as a drawback of the volume, while others, among them this reviewer, may see in this focus Schoeler's tenacity for critical and comprehensive detail. The oldest dated manuscript in this catalogue, a fragment of applied jurisprudence, bears the date of 438/1047 (erratum 1067, p. xiii !), while the bulk of the dated manuscripts offers a cross section from the 6th/12th to the 13/19th century.

One precious unicum is the first half of Averroes' great commentary on the Posterior Analytics which includes not only the commentary but also the original Arabic version of the basic text underlying it, previously assumed to be lost (cf. H. Gatje and G. Schoeler, ZDMG 130 |1980~: 557-85). Among the other significant unica are the Riyadat al-mutaallimin of Ibn as-Sunni (d. 364/974), a disciple of an-Nasai; the Akbar Fakk of Ahmad b. Sahl ar-Razi (fl. first half of the 4th/10th century); the astrological work Harmis fi tahwil sini l-mawalid of Umar b. al-Farrukan (d. 200/815) said to have been translated into Arabic from the Pahlavi; a compendium on Arabic grammar composed by Abu l-Hasan Ali b. Said az-Zaydi (wrote before 485/1092) bound together with the al-Luma fi n-nahw of Ibn Jinni (d. 392/1002); the virtually complete diwan of Ibn Babak (d. 410/1019), heretofore known only by a fragment; and the Talqih al-uqul of a certain Muhammad b. Muhammad at-Tamimi (fl. first half of 6th/12th century), a collection of traditions on the appearance, character and miracles of the Prophet.

Other precious manuscripts mentioned in this catalogue are a copy of the Maqamat of al-Hariri (d. 516/1122) with an interlinear Persian translation; a rare and old collective manuscript of mawlid and magazi stories, including a specimen of the Hadit Satih (cf. G. Levi della Vida, El VII: 181-82); an important sibling of al-Kisai's and at-Talabi's Stories of the Prophets, namely the Qisas al-Quran of Abu l-Hasan al-Haysam b. Muhammad |al-Busanji?~ (fl. ca. 400/1009), of which Princeton library (Garrett collection 4391) holds another witness, while its Persian paraphrase, compiled by Muhammad b. Asad b. Abdallah al-Hanafi at-Tustari, was discovered by E. G. Browne (cf. Islamica 2 |1926~: 129-34, and R. A. Nicholson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Oriental Mss. Belonging to the Late E. G. Browne |Cambridge 1932~, 138-40); the collection of poems, al-Amtal as-sadira an buyut assir, of Hamza al-Isfahani (d. before 360/970); the oldest manuscript of the Pharaonic History by al-Wasifi (Ibrahim b. Wasif Sah, first half of 5th/11th century), in the description of which Schoeler enumerates a series of precisions for M. Cook's ground-breaking article (see Studia Islamica 57 |1983~: 67-103); and, for chess fans, one of the rare copies of the book on chess by al-Lajlaj (d. after 360/970).

Schoeler's catalogue is exemplary, providing a wealth of informative and critical detail for each and every entry. The arrangement of the entries according to fields of study, the meticulous indices, the high quality illustrations, as well as the succinct introduction support this judgment, as does the minutely organized description of each entry according to external and internal criteria. The cross references to parallel manuscripts held by other libraries is helpful though, of course, not complete. Major bibliographies such as GAL and GAS as well as recently published manuscript catalogues are also taken into account in these notations. The author's enormous labor over many years (together with collaborators and research assistants), examining and evaluating the manuscripts, has resulted in a truly valuable scholarly volume. Together with Wagner's volume I, it sets a standard of Arabic manuscript description not found in any other sizeable Arabic manuscript catalogue.
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Author:Bowering, Gerhard
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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