Alphonse Mingana

  • Written by:

Prof. Fouad Y. Kazanghi
Alphonse Mingana was born in 1878 ,North of Iraq in the village of Shranish of the city of Zakho. He was of Kaldian Catholic Community. His real name is Hormuzd. His father was a priest as he was the older boy, his father taught him Arabic and Syriac languages in addition of some religious matters including The Holy Book. When Hormuzd became 13th years old in 1891, he advises him to join (The institute of Yohanes the Beloved ) in the city of Mosul which was really a Christian Catholic Seminary teaching theology ,for learnt students who wished to become priest . He studied for about ten years . When he became a priests .He chose the name Alphonse as usual when one moves to the religious life as a priest . Alphonse had been a brilliant student , as he learnt the French language beside the Syriac, Arabic, Turkish, and Kurdish languages ,he was chosen to teach Syriac Language when the teacher had left the Siminary. He taught for few years and during this period he could gather all poetic homilies of Dean of the great Christian School in Nessibis: Professer Narsai who was one of the known theologians during the Persian-Christian Era in Iraq between 224-732 A.D. The book was published in 1905.(1)
Alphonse could buy a copy of an old manuscript of (The Cronicle of Arbela: Mshiha-Zkha ) which was related to the first church in Arbela or rather Hidyab (Adiabene). He translated it into the French Language, and published it in a German Periodical .He then accused of forgering the Manuscript which resulted of dismissing him from the Seminary,though it was not true. (2) He then left Iraq in 1913 and went to visit Persia and Turkey. He met priests of Protestant Missionary. They advised him to write to Rendel Harris istitute in Birmingham in England . When he wrote to them,they welcommed him .
He then lived in Selly Oak which is a Qaker Study Centre . He began to learn the English Language . In July 1913, he wrote a long research study about Odes of Solomon in French Language of about 44 pages and published it also in a German Periodical . He published a new edition the Odes in collaboration with Prof. Rendel Harris in English Language. Then he wrohght in collaboration with Prof. David Margoliouth a book entitled ,The Early Development of Mohammedanism . Then he wrot many other articls in the Exposition Times , under the name of (Woodbrocke . Scientific Publications ) .
In1915, he married Emma a college student from Denmark and they had two children: a son John and a daughter Marie .

He spent 17 years in Manchister . It is there that he wrote major part of his achievment and from there he made three expeditions in near east in search for Syriac manuscripts of early Syriac Culture particularly in the Era between the second and the seventh century A.D.

In 1920 he optained the British Citizinship . Mingana Known as a famous theologian and orientalist in his original country (Iraq),the east and somwhat in England and Europe . He was called Professor of Oriental Languages and Curator of the Mingana Collection of Mss. (about 400 Mss.) .
In 1925 Mingana published a document concerning the conversation of a Tukish Tribe in the time of the East Syriac Patriarch Acacious 485-495 A.D. which attributed to Philox of Mabugent addressed to Abu-Afr the Governor of Hira or Hirat.
Alphonse and Rendel Haris together study a manuscript about Syriac Text of the Bible .Then Alphonso wrote 2 articles in (Expositary Times) on Judges and again on the Syriac Gospels . He wrot also large study on Early Church : Clement of Rome , then on Christian Monasticim. He also wrote several articles among them:
1- Le Koran . Caverne des Tresors .
2- A Study about ,Book of Treasurs by Job of Edessa.
3-Manual of the Aramic Language of the Palestinian Talmud .

He died in 1937, and his daughter dedicated herself to the life of purity and became a nun.


1- Alphonse Mingana 1878-937 by Samir Khalil Samir . Prof. at University of St. Joseph. Beirut, Lebanon . (Sally Oak College, Birmingham, 1990 .)
2-The Historian Ruth A. Stell studied the manuscript of Msiha Zka and found it is correct but the date of the writing is quastionable.