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March 22, 2016


Solomon Caesar Malan (1812 – 1894)

Solomon Caesar Malan (1812 – 1894) was French by family, Swiss by birth, and British by naturalisation. He was a cleric and Orientalist who knew many languages, including Arabic. He showed special interest in Oriental Churches, particularly the Armenia, Georgian and Coptic. On the Copts and their Coptic Church, Malan published in 1872-1975 five books which he later included in one volume, Original Documents of the Coptic Church.[1]

The volume contains four different important books:

  1. The Divine Liturgy of Saint Mark the Evangelist, translated from an old Coptic manuscript, and compared with the printed copy of that same liturgy as arranged by Saint Cyril.

It appeared in 1872. To my knowledge, this is the first translation into English of the Saint Cyril Liturgy, which is used in the Coptic Church and is thought to go back originally to Saint Mark, the evangelist of Egypt in the first century, and who died a martyr in Alexandria in 68 AD. The manuscript Malan used to translate into English was given to him by a Coptic priest in Jerusalem, and dated to the 13th or 14th centuries. It included the Liturgies of Saint Cyril (Cyril), Basil and Gregory, and was written in Coptic and Arabic.

  1. The Calendar of the Coptic Church.

This appeared in 1873. He translated it from “a manuscript calendar in Arabic which, until quite lately, was used in a Jacobite Church at Cairo.” It was procured to him by one Dr. A. Grant of Cairo. I think Dr. A. Grant which Malan mentions was the Scottish physician and Egyptologist, Dr. James Andrew Sandiland Grant, or Grant Bey, or Grant of Cairo (1840 – 1896).

Malan’s translation does not include the text of the Coptic Synaxarium but a simple list of the feasts of the saints and events celebrated in the Coptic Church, with notes of his.

  1. A Short History of the Copts and Their Church, translated from the Arabic of Taqi-ed-Din El-Maqrizi.

It appeared in 1973.

  1. The Holy Gospel and Versicles, for every Sunday and other feast day in the year; as used in the Coptic Church, translated from a Coptic manuscript.

This part appeared in 1874. Malan tells us that the manuscript was in Coptic and Arabic, and he got it from Rev. B. W. Wright, Vicar of Norton Cuckney, who bought it from Cairo.

  1. The Divine Euchologion, and the Divine Liturgy of Saint Gregory the Theologian; translated from an old Coptic manuscript.

This part appeared in 1875, and it contains the remaining liturgies of the Coptic Church: that of Saint Basil (Euchologion) and that of Saint Gregory.


[1] Solomon Caesar Malan, in Original Documents of the Coptic Church, Vol. 1 (London, D. Nutt, 1872-1875).

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