on the Border of Civilizations

Towards a Critical Edition of the Metaphysics of Avicenna


Bodleian Pococke Collection

First published: 6 May 2019 - Last update: 20 March 2022


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.1          
2 Oxford, Pococke 124 mii.II.2-VI.1 Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn; Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad b. al-Labūdī   11-20 Ramaḍān 601H 2nd part of m
3rd part follows
3 Oxford, Pococke 123 mii.VI.2-iii Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan   Ḥalab (Aleppo) 21-29 Šawwāl 601H 3rd part of š
4 Oxford, Pococke 122 miv.I-IV Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   14 Ḏū l-ḥiǧǧa 601H 4th part of m
5 ? miv.V-IX.3          
6 Oxford, Pococke 121 miv.IX.4-v.II.9   [no frontispiece, usual place of ownership notes in the other mss]   28 Raǧab 602H 6th part of m
7th part follows
7 Oxford, Pococke 120 mv.II.10-vi.I.6   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   23 Ḏū l-ḥiǧǧa 602H 7th part of š
8th part follows
8 ? mvi.I.7-???          
9 ? ???-mviii.II.3          
10 Oxford, Pococke 119 mviii.II.4-ix   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   11-20 Rabīʿ II 603H end of m
11 ? i.I-II.9          
12 Oxford, Pococke 118 i.II.10- IV.7
+ fragments of ṭvi.II.3 [ed. Cairo, pp. 61.10-62.18] (ff. 198r-199v) and of ṭviii.XII.15 [ed. Cairo, p. 269.4-18] (ff. 200r-v)
  Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   Raǧab 603H 12th part of š
2nd part of ṭ
13th part follows
[colophon ff. 195v-196r]
13 Oxford, Pococke 115 i.IV.8-iii [acephalous: it starts from ṭi.IV.10, ed. Cairo, p. 302.5] Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan [no frontispiece, usual place of ownership notes in the other mss]   22 Šaʿbān 603H 14th part (13th corr. in mg. a. m.) of š
14 Oxford, Pococke 116 iv-vi.II.2 Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   11-20 Ramaḍān 603H 4th part of ṭ
14th part of š
15th part follows
15 ? vi.II.3-vii          
16 Oxford, Pococke 114 viii.I-VI       9 Ḏū l-Qaʿda 603H 16th volume of š
17 Oxford, Pococke 113 viii.VII-XII.15 [mutilous at the end: of ṭviii.XII.15 it contains only ed. Cairo, pp. 266.1-269.4]   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 19th part of š
20 Oxford, Pococke 109 rii-iii   [no frontispiece, usual place of ownership notes in the other mss]   11-20 Muḥarram 604H 20th part 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 21st part of š
22 Oxford, Pococke 111 riv.V-XII   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   1-10 Rabīʿ II [= Rabīʿ I ?] 604H 22nd volume of š
23 Oxford, Pococke 117 iI-IV   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   21-30 Rabīʿ I [= 21-29 Rabīʿ II ?] 604H 23rd part of š
24 Oxford, Pococke 110 iV-VIII.6   Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn   21-30 Ǧumādā I 604H 24th volume of š
25 ? iVIII.7-X          



Nr. 1: a similar segment of the Šifāʾ can be found in ms. Iran, Tehran, Kitābḫānah-i Millī Malik, 4276 (536H/1141-2), which contains mi-ii.III.

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. 9: a similar segment of the Šifāʾ can be found in ms. Egypt, Cairo, Maktabat Rifāʿa Rāfiʿ al-Ṭahṭāwī, 28 manṭiq (VII/XIII c.), which contains mvi.VI.1-viii.II.2 (p. 73.13 Cairo ed.), and ends with a reference to the completion of the "seventh part" of the Šifāʾ. Info on this manuscript is taken from فهرس مخطوطات مکتبة رفاعة رافع الطهطاوي، تحقیق یوسف زیدان، معهد المخطوطات العربیة Cairo, 1997, vol. II, p. 624.

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-Siwāsī 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).



The Pococke collection was brought to the scholarly attention by A. Nicoll, Bibliotecæ Bodleianæ Codicum Manuscriptorum Orientalium Catalogi Partis Secundæ, Vol. II, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1835, p. 582 (“Id vero praeterea notandum est, ad unum idemque exemplar pertinere codd. Poc. 109—124”).

It was first systematically analyzed by Y. Mahdavī, Fihrist-i nusḫahā-yi muṣannafāt-i Ibn-i Sīnā, Intišārāt-i Dānišgāh-yi Tihrān, Tehran 1333Hš/1954, p. 170, who pointed out its importance as first known complete copy of the Šifāʾ, and rightly took it to consist of 25 items (the card catalogue of the Bodleian Library regards the collection as made of 24 original mss.). 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, for instance, 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); D. C. Reisman, "Mahdavi Supplement. Šifāʾ Manuscripts", Handout of the communication "Scraps and Flotsam: The Cure in Avicenna’s Private Papers" at the International Conference “The Manuscript Tradition of Avicenna’s Kitab al-Shifa’: The Current State of Research and Future Prospects”, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, 22-24 September 2010.

On the formation of the Pococke collection, see C. Wakefield, “Arabic Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library: the Seventeenth-Century Collections”, in The Arabick Interest of the Natural Philosophers in Seventeenth-Century England, ed. G.A. Russell, Brill, Leiden, 1994, pp. 128-46 (pp. 134-135 and n. 124).

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.