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‘Abdallāh Zāḫir

ABDALLĀH ZĀIR

Goldsmith, printer, lecturer, polemicist, deacon; b. Aleppo, Syria, 1680; d. monastery of Mar Hannā, Shuwair, Lebanon, Aug. 20, 1748. He was well educated in classical Arabic, philosophy, theology, and church history. Persecuted in Aleppo, he finally settled in the monastery of Mar Hannā (St. John) where he spent the rest of his life as a lay deacon, refusing priesthood out of humility. His greatest achievement was the construction of one of the very first printing presses for the Arabic language in the Orient, between 1723 and 1726. The first publication, however, dates from 1734. The purpose was to provide apologetic, instructional, and liturgical literature for Eastern Christians. He took an active part in the composition of the religious constitutions of the Basilian Shuwairite Order, vigorously opposed attempts by Patriarch Cyril Tānās to merge the Shuwairite monks and the

Salvatorian missionaries into one order, and courageously denounced the efforts of Jesuit missionaries to Latinize the Melchite Church. The literary works of Abdallāh contain dissertations in reply to attacks of non-Catholic writers, an incomplete introduction to philosophy, a short manual of theology, several sermons, and a number of interesting letters. Also, many books on spiritual matters, edited and printed by him, bear the stamp of his character and zeal. He was buried in the church at St. John's Monastery, Shuwair.

Bibliography: g. graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur 3:191201, contains good bibliog.

[l. malouf]

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