Coptic author; d. May 10, 1324. His full name was Shams al-Ri’āsa abū ’l-Barakāt ibn Kabar. He seems to have taken the added name of Barsauma on the occasion of his priestly ordination. He was a Coptic priest attached to the church called al-Mu’allaqa in Old Cairo. He held, besides, the post of secretary to the prince and Mameluke officer Ruqn al-Dīn Baibars al-Mansūri and collaborated with him on his history of Islam, which comes up to 1325, the year of Ruqn's death. Other works that he left include: a Coptic-Arabic dictionary; a large number of elegant sermons for feasts and occasions; and his principal work, a theological encyclopedia titled The Lamp of Darkness and the Exposition of the Service.
The Lamp of Darkness presents all that clergy and laity need to know about the doctrines of the faith, the Scriptures, Canon Law, liturgy. The work has a practical teaching purpose and seeks to hand on the genuine religious tradition. Of 24 chapters the first seven deal with doctrine (1–3), items of church history (4), a list of collections of Church law (5), introduction to the Scripture and an account of the liturgical books (6), and an account of Christian literature in Arabic (7). The remaining chapters treat of cult and Church customs and practices.
Bibliography: g. graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur 2:438–445. e. tisserant, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 8.2:2293–96; Revue de l'Orient chrétien 22 (1920–21) 373–394. j. assfalg, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche ² 1:101.
[j. a. devenny]