As the official Vatican custodians of the Holy Places in Palestine, the Franciscans are the oldest Catholic order with an uninterrupted presence in the Arab world. The Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, originally located on Mount Zion before finding its current home in the Monastery of the Redeemer in the Christian quarter of the Holy City, houses an immensely rich collection of books, manuscripts and archival material.
The lecture by Dr Carsten Walbiner will be devoted to the Arabic manuscripts kept in Saint Salvator. The central question will be to what extent these documents bear witness to an interest and deeper understanding on the part of the Franciscans towards the Arab society in whose midst they lived. Did they develop a similar interest in the intellectual and literary achievements of Islam that can be gleaned from the collections of the Melkite monastic congregations of Lebanon? Did the traditions of the many local Christian communities find consideration? Special attention will be paid to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Are there traces of the well-known Arabic Nahḍa in the library's manuscript holdings? To what extent are the massive political changes that took place in the late Ottoman and early Mandate periods reflected in the manuscripts? Did the Franciscans in Jerusalem themselves emerge as authors, and if so, what topics were covered? The analysis will be based on the published catalogue by Vincent Mistrih (2000), which includes 65 manuscripts, as well as on the author's examination between 2013 and 2020 of 65 additional manuscripts not previously catalogued. In a small digression, the early prints of the Franciscan press are also subjected to consideration. Even though the sphere of learning and scholarship in the 19th century was still dominated by handwritten manuscripts, the situation changed in the second half of the century and the Franciscans, with their Tipografia Franciscana, were among the pioneers of a print culture in Palestine.
Dr Carsten Walbiner, currently working for the DAAD in Beirut/Lebanon, is a specialist on Arab Christianity in the Ottoman period. He is a member of the Research Centre Christian Orient at the University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and section editor for Christian Arabic texts in the major international project "Christian Muslim relations, a bibliographical history (CMR)" (Birmingham/Leiden). His scholarly work is based to a large extent on manuscript materials. He is currently working on the cataloguing of the Rehm Collection (Andechs Monastery) as well as the Arabic manuscripts of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem which have not yet been recorded.
The event can be accessed via the following link: https://uni-erfurt.webex.com/meet/veranstaltungen.fb.