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Kitab Al-Burhan Fi Tathbeet Al-Iman

(The Book of Evidence on Confirming Faith)

Sophronius Patriarch of Jerusalem

His Life, Works and Omar’s Covenant

Study and Critical Edition by

Dr. Geries S. Khoury

 

In the coming few days, Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land will issue a qualitative book which has a special characteristics entitled “Kitab Al-Burhan Fi Tathbeet Al-Iman” (The Book of Evidence on Confirming Faith) by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Sophronius (+638 A.D.). In it there is new information about his life and his character which has not been known before. The author also discusses the meeting between the Patriarch and Caliph ‘Umar. He presents a new reading and a contemporary analysis of the Caliph Omar’s Covenant indicating the considerations which were given in it and their importance at that time and in our present days in which declaring persons as infidels and savagery dominate. The book contains an accurately and scientifically verified study of a manuscript which is attributed to Sophronius in faith and Christian creed and the challenges which the church faced because of the teachings of the heretics and the intervention of the civil authorities in the life of the church. The book also contains the translation of “The Synodical letter of Sophronius” which he sent to his brothers the Patriarchs after he was appointed as Patriarch of Jerusalem in(634 A.D.), which the author prepared based on an English translation of it, and he compared some of what mentioned in it with its original text in Greek and Latin. In the second appendix of the book, there is the text titeled “News of the Devastation of Jerusalem” by the Persians from an eyewitness in the year 614 A.D.

What distinguishes this academic work is that the author put comprehensive indexes of the book including an index of the texts of the Holy Bible which were mentioned in the text, an index of peoples and sects, another index for places, a fourth index for prominent people, and a fifth index for the most important vocabulary items.

After revising the book by a number of researchers, we here mention what some of them wrote about it and this is for the sake of example and not exclusively. Father Dr. Rafiq Khoury wrote: “In about 500 pages, Dr. Geries Sa’ed Khoury presents for us an integrated and comprehensive picture of Saint Sophronius. He dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s in many aspects of a personality which we had known in a general and superficial way. The author sought the strict scientific method and accuracy in his study. He shed light on the different aspects of this historical and important personality in the history of Christianity in Palestine.”

Prof. Dr. Qustandi Shomali mentioned that “this book deals with an important period in the life of the Holy City, Jerusalem. Its importance comes from its historical, cultural and theological contents, and from its being a sober study of a historical personality which had played an important role in the system of conflict on the city of Jerusalem. The study reveals a unique experience in civilizational interaction and coexistence of the Arab Christians with the Muslim Arabs, and an objective study of the circumstances in which the ‘Omar Covenant was put. The appendixes of the book also reveal two important documents: “The Synodical Letter of Sophronius” for which Dr. Geries Sa’ed Khoury put the first Arabic translation. The second document represents “The News of the Devastation of Jerusalem by the Persians” as told by an eyewitness.

Prof. Dr. Abdul-Rahman ‘Abbad writes that this book is not an ordinary book which you read and take a rest. It is a book which is different from books in the markets. This is because it deals with an issue, rather, a number of issues, which to my knowledge; no one dared to tackle throughout the past ten centuries and also before them. It is characterized by objectivity in research and investigation and isolating the self from joining this party or that party in supporting an opinion or refuting it, except in the limits of the permitted scientific research. He is bold in this domain. He goes beyond the many red lines in dealing with the texts by presenting them in a wide, comprehensive and deep way against previous researches and documented and adopted texts within a neutral methodology which we scarcely find an Arab writer who is characterized by this methodology.

I know the amount of effort which the author exerted, the long time it took him to write this book and the mental toil which he took upon himself. But all of this becomes easy for the sake of coming up with such a valuable and deep research which the Arab library lacks. It fills a real shortage in this connection.

Many of us had heard of ‘Umar Bin Al-Khattab and Sophronius, but most of us did not know the nature of the mental, social and political relationship which connected both of them, and it was reflected as a behavior in their conduct and on the society, whereby this relationship was immortalized in a document called (the ‘Omar Covenant). This book answers many questions which may come to mind and which may not come to mind, through a scientific methodology which is impartial and it does not show courtesy to anyone. I think it is the first book which researches with such a depth a treaty which is still valid and active after more than ten centuries. The researcher Fr. Geries Sa’ed Khoury delves deeply in analyzing this document and lets us know what we did not know. I say this after I had read and scrutinized this research carefully and deliberately over several weeks.

 

These are some links to websites wrote about the new published book title "Kitab Al-Burhan Fi Tathbeet Al-Iman"