Eutychios of Alexandria
EUTYCHIOS OF ALEXANDRIA
Patriarch of Alexandria, Melchite historian and theologian, whose Arabic name was Sa’īd ibn Batrīq; b. Fosṭāṭ (Cairo), Egypt, Aug. 17, 877; d. Alexandria, May 11, 940. He first dedicated himself to the study of medicine, about which he wrote copiously. On Feb. 7, 933, he was elected patriarch of Alexandria. His literary fame is due mainly to his Annals (Nazm al-Jawhar ). This book, a general history of the world, was begun while he was a layman and was dedicated to his brother, ‘Īsā ibn Batrīq, a practicing physician. In it Eutychios follows the pattern of the Byzantine chronologists in writing, without any systematic plan, a religious and profane history from the beginning of the world to his own time, ending with a.d. 938; it was continued down to a.d. 1027 by a relative of his, Yahyā ibn Sa’īd of Antioch. Chief emphasis is given to the history of the Church and of the Muslim Caliphates. The Nestorian and the Monophysite heresies are discussed and refuted at length. The value of Nazm al-Jawhar varies with the different sources Eutychios uses for his information. As with other Greek and Syrian writers of that period, he did not hesitate to include many popular legends. However, much factual information relating to contemporary practices cannot be found anywhere else. This alone would make the book invaluable. It soon became very popular, circulated widely, and was used as a source by such different historians as the Copt, al Makīn; the Arab, al Maqrīzī; and the Frenchman, William of Tyre. The author's special views on the heterodoxy of the Copts (Jacobites) and on the early Maronites (whom he identifies as Monothelites) earned for him the severe criticism of their historians.
Eutychios is, most probably, the author of the theological Book of Demonstration (Kitāb al-Burhān ), a work usually attributed in the manuscripts to St. Athanasius the Great. In the first part of this work, the author treats of creation, the destiny of man, the perfections of God, and the Incarnation. In the three other parts, he gathers all the Biblical texts relating to the dogmas described and discussed previously. All four parts were written by one author—a member of the Greek Melchite Church—in Arabic, without traces of any translation, except for Biblical citations, some time before 944. All indications tend to prove Eutychios of Alexandria the sole author of Kitāb al-Burhān. Eutychios also wrote Disputation Between a Christian and a Heretic, and a book on the creation of the angels.
Bibliography: eutychios of alexandria, Annales, ed. l. cheikho et al. (Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium 50–51, Scriptores arabici, ser. 3, v.6–7; 1906–09), Arabic text only; Latin tr. e. posock (Oxford 1658), repr. Patrologia Graeca 111:907–1156; The Book of Demonstration (Kitāb al-Burhān ) I–II, ed. p. cachia, Eng. tr. w. m. watt (CSCO 192, 193, 209, 210; Scriptores arabici, v.20–23; 1960–61). g. graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, 5 v. (Vatican City 1944–53) 2:32–38. j. m. neale, A History of the Holy Eastern Church, 2 v. (London 1847) 2:181–183. f. nau, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 1903–50) 5.2: 1609–11.