on the Border of Civilizations

Towards a Critical Edition of the Metaphysics of Avicenna


Bodleian Pococke Collection

First published: 6 May 2019 - Last update: 21 November 2019


š = Šifāʾ

m = Manṭiq (= logic) of the Šifāʾ.

ṭ = Ṭabīʿiyyāt (= natural philosophy) of the Šifāʾ.

r = Riyāḍiyyāt (= mathematics) of the Šifāʾ.

i = Ilāhiyyāt (= metaphysics) of the Šifāʾ.

part = ǧuzʾ

volume = muǧallada


Within Manṭiq, Ṭabīʿiyyāt, and Riyāḍiyyāt, the sections (funūn) are designed by lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.) written as deponents (ex. gr.: mv = section five of Manṭiq/logic; ṭii-viii = sections ii-viii of Ṭabīʿiyyāt/natural philosophy; ri-ii, iv = sections i, ii, and iv of Riyāḍiyyāt/mathematics).

Within Ilāhiyyāt, Manṭiq, Ṭabīʿiyyāt, and Riyāḍiyyāt, the treatises (maqālāt) and chapters (fuṣūl) are designed respectively by upper-case Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.) and Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) (ex. gr.: Ilāhiyyāt I.1-3 = chapters 1-3 of treatise I of Ilāhiyyāt; ṭi.I.1-2 = chapters 1-2 of treatise I of section i of Ṭabīʿiyyāt/natural philosophy).

Bodleian Pococke Collection

N° Ms. Content Copyist Owner(s) Place Dating Serial nr. in ms.
1 ? mi-ii.II.2          
2 Oxford, Pococke 124 mii.II.3-VI.1 Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn; Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad b. al-Labūdī   10-20 Ramaḍān 601H part 2 of m
part 3 follows
3 Oxford, Pococke 123 mii.VI.2-iii Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan   Ḥalab (Aleppo) 20-30 Šawwāl 601H part 3 of š
4 Oxford, Pococke 122 miv.I-IV Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   14 Ḏū l-ḥiǧǧa 601H part 4 of m
5 ? miv.V-IX.3          
6 Oxford, Pococke 121 miv.IX.4-v.II.9   [no frontispiece, the usual place of ownership notes in the other mss]   28 Raǧab 602H part 6 of m
part 7 follows
7 Oxford, Pococke 120 mv.II.10- vi.I.6   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   23 Ḏū l-ḥiǧǧa 602H part 7 of š
part 8 follows
8 ?            
9 ?            
10 Oxford, Pococke 119 mviii.II.4-ix   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   10-20 Rabīʿ II 603H end of m
11 ? i.I-II.10          
12 Oxford, Pococke 118 i.II.10- IV.7
+ fragment of ṭvi.II.3 (ff. 198r-200v)
  Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   Raǧab 603H part 12 of š
part 13 follows
[colophon ff. 195v-196r]
13 Oxford, Pococke 115 i.IV.10-iii Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan [no frontispiece, where the ownership notes occur in the other mss]   22 Šaʿbān 603H part 14 of š
13 corr. in marg.
14 Oxford, Pococke 116 iv-vi.II.2 Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   10-20 Ramaḍān 603H part 4 of ṭ
part 14 of š
part 15 follows
15 ? vi.II.3-vii          
16 Oxford, Pococke 114 viii.I-VI.2       9 Ḏū l-Qaʿda 603H volume 16 of š
17 Oxford, Pococke 113 viii.VII-XII.15   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn     ---
[no colophon]
18 ? viii.XIII-XIX          
19 İstanbul, Fatih 3211 ri   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn
Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad b. al-Labūdī
  3 Muḥarram 604H part 19 of š
20 Oxford, Pococke 109 rii-iii       11-20 Muḥarram 604H part 20 of š
21 Oxford, Pococke 112 riv.I-IV   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn
Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad b. al-Labūdī
Ḥasan b. ʿAlī al-Mutaṭabbib
  1-10 Ṣafar 604H part 21 of š
22 Oxford, Pococke 111 riv.V-XII   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   1-10 Rabīʿ II 604H ---
23 Oxford, Pococke 117 iI-IV   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   20-30 Rabīʿ I 604H part 23 of š
24 Oxford, Pococke 110 iIV-VIII.6   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   20-30 Ǧumādā I 604H volume 24 of š
25 ? iVIII.7-X          



Content - Whereas the card catalogue of the Bodleian Library regards the collection as made of 24 original mss., Y. Mahdavi takes it to consist of 25 items, since he posits one single manuscript, as item nr. 18, between ms. Oxford, Pococke 113, and ms. İstanbul, Fatih 3211. To assess the actual number of original mss. of this collection, the extent of the gap between the last extant ms. of Natural Philosophy and the fiirst extant item of Mathematics turns out to be crucial: according to Mahdavi, it corresponds to one single missing ms. (item nr. 18 of the overall collection), and the number of "parts" or "volumes" of the collection reported in the extant mss. corroborates his assumption (ms. Oxford, Pococke 114 is volume 16; ms. Oxford, Pococke 113 has no serial number and is presumably part or volume 17; ms. Istanbul, Fatih 3211 is part 19); however, the missing ms. could in principle correspond to two distinct codices (as it is the case with the missing items 8-9 in Logic): of the section on Zoology at stake, the first extant ms. (Oxford, Pococke 114, 128 folios) covers approximately 92 pages of the printed edition (pp. 1-92), whereas the second extant ms. (Oxford, Pococke 113, 209 folios) approximately 176 pages (pp. 93-269); since the remaining missing part of the Zoology covers about 163 pages of the printed edition (pp. 270-433), this gap could be filled either by two mss. comparable in length to Pococke 114, or by one ms. comparable in length to Pococke 113.

nrs. 2, 19, 21: Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad b. al- Labūdī (Damascus, VII c. Hijra) is probably the same Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad b. al-Labūdī active in Damascus that obtained MS Oxford, Bodleian Library, Arch. Seld. A32 in 633H (see D. Raynaud, A Critical Edition of Ibn al-Haytham’s On the Shape of the Eclipse, p. 16)

Nr. 13: A mistake in the numbering of this volume occurred: the colophon numbered it erroneously as fourteenth, then the correct numbering was restored in the margin.

Nr. 19: On ms. Fatih 3211, see K. Hirschler, Medieval Damascus. Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic library. The Ashrafiya library Catalogue, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2016, p. 27.

Nr. 21: Ḥasan b. ʿAlī al-Mutaṭabbib: a Ǧalāl al-Dīn al-Ḥasan b. ʿAlī al-Mutaṭabbib al-Mawlawī al-Siwasī is recorded as the owner of MS Leiden, Or. 606 in 751H (J.J. Witkam, Inventory of the Oriental Manuscripts of the Library of the University of Leiden, vol. 1, pp. 255-256).

State of the Art - The Pococke collection was first analyzed by Y. Mahdavī, Fihrist-i nusḫahā-yi muṣannafāt-i Ibn-i Sīnā, Intišārāt-i Dānišgāh-yi Tihrān, Tehran 1333Hš/1954, p. 170, who points out its importance as first known complete copy of the Šifāʾ. Mahdavi also suggested that ms. Fatih 3211 was part of it (Mahdavi presents this manuscript as containing the Mathematics, without any further specification, but places it correctly at the beginning of the mathematical part as item nr. 19). Mahdavi's account of the issue remains fundamental: see Ibn Sīnā, Al-Šifāʾ, al-Ṭabīʿiyyāt, I: al-Samāʿ al-ṭabīʿī, ed. D. al-Yāsīn, Dār al-Manāhil, Beirut, 1966, p. 24, in which however the name of the copyist (Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan) is confounded with that of one of the owners (Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn). On the Pococke collection as unique instance of “cumulative segmented” copy of the Šifaʾ, see A. Bertolacci, "Avicenna's Kitāb al-Šifāʾ (Book of the Cure/Healing): The Manuscripts Preserved in Turkey and Their Significance", in The Reception of the Classical Arabic Philosophy in the Ottoman Empire. Proceedings of the Workshop of the International Associated Laboratory "Philosophie dans l'aire ottomane", Istanbul, 2-4 November 2015, ed. J. Jabbour, Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph, 67, 2017-2018, pp. 265-304, pp. 281-2. On the division into parts as a codicological feature of Arabic manuscripts of special importance, see G. Humbert, "Le ǧuzʾ dans les manuscrits arabes médiévaux", in Scribes et manuscrits du Moyen-Orient, ed. F. Déroche, F. Richard, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris 1997, pp. 77-86.