The library of the St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, is one of oldest libraries in constant use. Protected by Justinianic walls, it preserves one of the world’s most significant manuscript collections in Greek and Syriac, but also Arabic. The Arabic collection reflects the role of Melkite communities in Palestine and Sinai in the production of early Arabic texts including Arabic translations of the Bible and liturgical and hagiographic works.
This presentation will survey the history of Arabic books at St. Catherine’s and of the people who produced them. It will also tell the story of how those books became objects of desire for European manuscript hunters. Finally, it will consider this cache as a source for the study of the Arabic book and how it developed from late antique models of book-making.