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Although they failed to provide full coverage of papal-Muslim relations, Arabic- Islamic scholars of the late Middle Ages, certainly from the Middle East, clearly understood what the papacy represented. Judging from the few extant references to the papacy in the works of Ibn al-Khatib and the correspondence of various popes with North African rulers, this also applies to the Muslim West with some reservations. The use of certain titles but also full-fledged definitions of the papacy show how its role within the Christian world was understood. [1]

The Roman Patriarch of Late Antiquity

In the late ninth and the early tenth centuries, al-Ya'qubi and al-Mas'udl still defined the pope as one of four patriarchs who held a position of spiritual authority within the late antique Roman Empire. ^ Later Arabic-Islamic historiographers who wrote on the period of Late Antiquity also used the title ‘patriarch’ (batrak, batrakh, batrik). Al-Bakri (d. 487/1094) proffers two versions of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity—one describing a divine vision in the context of a battle, the other crediting the bishop of Rome with having healed Constantine of leprosy.[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] He may have taken this information, already mentioned by al-Mas'udl (d. 345/956), from the kitab Hurushiyush, which deals with this topic in more detail.161

A group of historiographers active in Mamluk Egypt of the late fourteenth and the early fifteenth centuries displayed renewed interest in the late antique history of the papacy. They deal with topics already addressed by al-Mas'udl, but provide more and different information that seems to have been drawn from local Egyptian tradition. Ibn Khaldun’s (d. 808/1406) explanation of the title ‘pope’ is based on the Arabic-Christian chronicle written by the Coptic historiographer Ibn al-'Amid (d. 672/1273).i62 Certain passages in the works of al-Qalqashandi (d. 821/1418) and al-Maqrizi (d. 845/1442) bear great resemblance to corresponding passages in Ibn Khaldun, suggesting that they were copied. In other cases, they seem to have used independent sources that also draw on local Egyptian traditions.

In the tenth century, al-Mas'udl had already drawn a connection between the apostle Peter and the Roman patriarchate and had pointed to Rome’s pre-eminent position as the earliest and most important among the four patriarchates, an assertion repeated by Ibn Khaldun, al-Qalqashandi, and al-Maqrizi.163 Ibn Khaldun and al-Maqrizi add that the apostle Peter convoked a meeting of Jesus’ disciples in Rome where they defined the canonical scriptures of Christianity with the help of Peter’s pupil ‘Aqllmanrns’ or ‘Qalimus’ (Clemens?).^4 Peter was then succeeded by Aryus’ (Linus?) who, al-Maqrizi explains, was the first patriarch of Rome and held the office for twelve years. From this time on, the patriarchal seat was occupied continuously.165

The late medieval scholars also proffer alternative information on the period of ecumenical councils. According to al-Mas'udI, the Roman patriarch who attended the council of Nicaea was called ‘Bulyus’.[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] Ibn Khaldun and al-MaqrIzI claim that his name was ‘Salnis’ and that he had not participated personally, but had sent two priests who, together with the other patriarchs and bishops, condemned Arius in his name.167 In connection with the ruling period of the emperor Valens (Walls), al-MaqrIzI relates that the bishop of Rome offered asylum to the patriarch of Alexandria, ‘Butt us’ (Petrus II, sed. 373-80), who fled jail after having been deposed during strife about the doctrines of Arius.16® Al-Mas'udI’s report on Nestorius’ condemnation at the hands of the Alexandrian patriarch ‘Qurillus’ (Cyrilus I, sed. 412-44) and the Roman patriarch Thalisms’ (Coelestin I, sed. 422-32)169 is enlarged by Ibn Khaldun and al-MaqrIzI who explain that the patriarch of Alexandria, ‘Karilus’/‘Kurillus’, had received a treatise written by Nestorius and had demanded the latter to recant. When Nestorius failed to react, the Alexandrian patriarch wrote to his Roman colleague ‘Ikllmus’ and the other patriarchs. Together they called upon Nestorius to recant, and convoked the council of Ephesos when he refused.170

Based on local Egyptian tradition recorded by the Coptic historiographer Ibn al-'AmId, Ibn Khaldun, copied by al-Qalqashandl and al-MaqrIzI, explains how the title ‘pope’ came into being.m Peter’s disciple, the evangelist Mark, established the first Christian community in Alexandria. A certain ‘Hanaya’ or Anyanu (Anianus, sed. 61-82) became the first patriarch of the city. He surrounded himself with twelve priests, who appointed a new patriarch from among their midst at the death of each patriarch. Until the times of the patriarchs ‘Dlmitriyus’ (Demetrius, sed. 189-232) and his successor ‘Hiraql’ (Heraclas, sed. 232-48) no bishops were appointed. When this was eventually done, confusion reigned with regard to the correct title to be used vis-a-vis one’s ecclesiastical superior, because both the priests and the bishops now called their next superior ‘father’ (ab). To distinguish between the different offices within the ecclesiastical hierarchy, they decided to use the title ‘pope’ (al-baba), that is ‘father of fathers’ (ab al-aba), for the patriarch. This title was then transferred to the patriarch of Rome when it became clear that he was entitled to the higher rank. Rome ranked higher than Alexandria, al-Qalqashandl explains, because the apostle Peter founded the Roman patriarchate whereas the Alexandrian patriarchate had only been founded by Peter’s disciple Mark. 172 Unfortunately, none of the authors specifies when this transfer took place.

It is probably no coincidence that scholars active in Mamluk Egypt displayed this strong interest in papal history. In Egypt, with its important role for late antique Christianity, the history of the late antique patriarchs was of higher relevance to the collective memory of Christians than in other parts, especially the west of the Islamic world.

  • [1] Lupprian, Beziehungen (1981), pp. 106—7. 152 Ibid., p. 117. 153 Ibid., p. 129. 154 Ibid., pp. 139—40. 155 Ibid., pp. 176—8. 156 Ibid., pp. 179—81. 157 Tisserant and Wiet, ‘Lettre’, pp. 27—53; El-Bondack, Marge (1951); Lupprian, Beziehungen(1981), pp. 199-203. 158 Ibid., pp. 204-5.
  • [2] al-Ya'qubi, tankh, ed. al-Muhanna, vol. 1, pp. 195, 198; al-Masudi, al-tanbih, ed. de Goeje,p. 138.
  • [3] al-Bakri, al-masalik, ed. van Leeuwen and Ferre, § 498, p. 312. Al-Ya'qubi, tarikh, vol. 1, p. 194, only mentions Constantine’s vision of a cross before a battle.
  • [4] al-Bakri, al-masalik, ed. van Leeuwen and Ferre, § 498, p. 312; cf. al-Mas'udi, al-tanbih, ed. deGoeje, pp. 137—8; kitab Hurushiyush, ed. Penelas, § 214, pp. 369—70. Al-Bakri repeatedly cites thelatter work, cf. Badawi, Urusyus (1982), pp. 23^; kitab Hurushiyush, ed. Penelas, pp. 73^.
  • [5] 162 Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 1, p. 291; cf. Issawi, ‘Ibn Khaldun’ (1998),p. 64.
  • [6] al-Mas'udl, al-tanbih, ed. de Goeje, p. 146; cf. al-Mas'udl, muruj, ed./trans. Pellat, § 1291,p. 339 (AR), pp. 492—3 (FR); Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 1, pp. 290—1; vol.2, p. 175; al-Qalqashandi, subh al-aesha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 472; al-Maqrizi, al-mawa'z, ed.Sayyid, vol. IV,2, p. 975.
  • [7] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 1, p. 290; vol. 2, p. 174; al-Maqrizi,al-mawa4z, ed. Sayyid, vol. IV,2, p. 974; al-Mas'udi, al-tanbih, ed. de Goeje, p. 160.
  • [8] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 1, p. 291; vol. 2, p. 175; al-Maqrizi,al-mawa4z, ed. Sayyid, vol. IV,2, p. 974.
  • [9] al-Mas'udI, al-tanblh, ed. de Goeje, p. 143.
  • [10] Ibn Khaldun, tarlkh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 2, p. 177; al-MaqrIzI, al-mawalz, ed.Sayyid, vol. IV,2, p. 982.
  • [11] 168 al-MaqrIzI, al-mawa4z, ed. Sayyid, vol. IV,2, p. 985.
  • [12] al-Mas'udI, al-tanblh, ed. de Goeje, p. 138.
  • [13] Ibn Khaldun, tarlkh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 2, p. 179; al-MaqrIzI, al-mawalz, ed.Sayyid, vol. IV,2, p. 987.
  • [14] Ibn Khaldun, tarlkh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 1, p. 291: ‘wa-zahara hadha al-ism awwalzuhurihi bi-Misr ' ala ma za' ama JurjIs b. al-'AmId’. 172 Ibn Khaldun, tarlkh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 1, pp. 289—91; vol. 2, pp. 174—5;al-QalqashandI, subh al-asha, ed. IbrahIm, vol. 5, p. 472; al-MaqrIzI, al-mawai'z, ed. Sayyid, vol. IV,2,p. 975; cf. Beihammer, ‘Kirche’ (2013), p. 282. The higher rank of the Roman patriarch is alreadymentioned by al-Mas udI, al-tanblh, ed. de Goeje, p. 146.
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