Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)Mingana
TitleMingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts
Extent3061 manuscripts; 14 clay tablets, 10 seals, c.70 coins
Datec 2800 BC-20th century
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DescriptionThe Mingana Collection consists mainly of Arabic and Syriac Middle Eastern manuscripts with some Persian, Turkish, Armenian and Greek manuscripts, a very small number of Hebrew/Jewish works, a few coins, seals and a few clay tablets. It has particular strengths in illustrated manuscripts, and early Islamic and Syriac materials, including fragments of one of the oldest Qur'ans in existence.

The manuscripts are mostly on religious subjects, although the Islamic Arabic ones include philology, literature and science. The Islamic manuscripts include fragments of two Hijazi Qur'ans, a Kufic Qur'an, Qur'an commentaries, Hadith, law, and mysticism. The Syriac manuscripts include works on church documents, gospels, works on liturgy, lives of saints and homilies. Among the earliest Syriac items are a number of important fragments originating from St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai. The Arabic Christian ones include a fragment of the oldest known text of the Acta Thomae, and a very early copy of works by St. Ephrem.

The Christian manuscripts are important for Christian Theology, Church History in general, and the history of Eastern Christianity in particular. This collection includes the largest collection of Christian Arabic manuscripts in Europe after the Vatican and the Bibliotheque Nationale. The Islamic collection is the third largest Arabic manuscript collection in the UK. It is included in Brockelmann's Geschichte der Arabischen Literatur (GAL).
ArrangementThe Collection is arranged by language
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers.
Ottoman Turkish
Ancient Greek
Finding AidsPrinted and published catalogues are as available as follows, and copies of each are available for consultation in the searchroom at the Cadbury Research Library:

A. Mingana, Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of Manuscripts:
Vols 1-3 (Cambridge: Heffer and Sons Ltd., 1933), Vol 4, Ed, Derek Hopwood, Inter Documentation Compnay AG ZUG, Switzerland, 1985
Vol. I - Syriac and Garshuni Manuscripts
Vol. II - Christian Arabic and Additional Syriac Manuscripts
Vol. III - Additional Christian Arabic and Syriac Manuscripts
Vol. IV - Islamic Arabic Manuscripts

PDF versions of Vols I-III of A. Mingana's 'Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of Manuscripts' (Woodbrooke's catalogue) are available through the website of The Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (CPART) at Brigham Young University. See web link below, or specifically:
Vol I (Syriac and Garshuni):
Vol II (Christian Arabic):
Vol III (Syriac and Addional Christian):

Vol. IV (Islamic Arabic Manuscripts) can be accessed as a PDF document. Please email to request a copy for personal use. It is a very large document so has to be sent via WeTransfer. Entries from this catalogue are also being added to:

A guide by Lucy-Anne Hunt, 'The Mingana and related collections. A survey of illustrated Arabic, Greek, Eastern Christian, Persian and Turkish Manuscripts in the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham' (Birmingham : Mingana Collection, [1997]) provides more detailed descriptions of selected illustatrated manuscripts

The fragments of eight Georgian manuscripts from Sinai are described by G. Garitte in an article in 'Le Museon', Vol. LXXIII, 1960, pp 239-259 in an article entitled 'Les feuillets georgiens de la Collection Mingana'

Description of Hebrew manuscripts can be found in the Journal of Jewish Studies, vol. 5, issue 4, 1954 pp172-176 in an article by H. M. Gottstein entitled 'Hebrew Fragments in the Mingana Collection'

A project is under way (started February 2014) to make the catalogue of Islamic Arabic manuscripts here available for research online via the Fihrist website: (or as a short version): follow the link in the URL field below to access this website.
('Fihrist' means 'index or 'catalogue' in Arabic. The website is a joint project with the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford with contributions from partner institutions holding major collections of Middle Eastern Manuscripts, including - as well as the University of Birmingham - the British Library, the Wellcome Institute, SOAS, the Royal Asiatic Society, Manchester University and St Andrew's University. For further information, browse the website: via the link in the URL field below.)
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryThe Mingana Collection was founded in Birmingham between 1925 and 1929 by Edward Cadbury, the Chairman of Council of Woodbrooke College and a founding member of the Selly Oak Colleges, who sponsored and financed the Collection, and housed it in the Selly Oak Colleges Library. He named the Collection after its collector, Alphonse Mingana.

Alphonse Mingana (1878-1937) was born in the region of Mosul, Iraq, in about 1878. He was educated at the Syro-Chaldean seminary in Mosul, and ordained priest in the Chaldean Church. From 1902-1910 he was Professor of Syriac at Mosul. His wide scholarly output included many editions of hitherto unknown Syriac and Arabic texts. Though his interest was mainly in Eastern Christianity, his considerable knowledge of Islam enabled him to lecture on Islamic history and literature as well. In 1913, on the invitation of J. Rendel Harris (the first Principal of Woodbrooke College, Selly Oak, Birmingham), Mingana came to England and spent two years at Woodbrooke where he met and married his wife, a Norwegian student at the college. In 1915, he was appointed to the John Rylands Library, Manchester as curator of oriental manuscripts, where he stayed until 1932. During these years he came to know Dr Edward Cadbury at whose expense he travelled to the Middle East to purchase manuscripts. In 1924 and 1925 he travelled through the regions of Iraq, Syria and Palestine and in 1929 went to Sinai and Upper Egypt. Many of the manuscripts were bought from monasteries and private libraries in these regions. In 1932, Mingana returned to Birmingham and was appointed curator of the collection named after him. He began the task of cataloguing the manuscripts and also edited and translated some of the more important ones which appeared in the a series Woodbrooke Studies and in various journals. While at Selly Oak, Alphonse Mingana acted as Lecturer and Instructor in Oriental Languages and in Islam. This work continued after his death when a Lectureship in Islamic Studies was set up. One of the holders of this lectureship was James W. Sweetman. Mingana's name has also been enshrined in the title of the Mingana Symposia which has been held every three years since 1990 on the theme of Arab Christianity and Islam.

Reference: Publicity leaflet about the Mingana Collection: text by L-A Hunt, 1997.
Custodial HistorySponsored by Edward Cadbury, the Collection was founded between the years 1924 and 1929 with manuscripts collected by Alphonse Mingana from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Upper Egypt.

Initially housed in the Library of the Selly Oak Colleges, the Collection moved into the Orchard Learning Resources Centre in 1997. In 2000, the custodianship of this collection was transferred to the University of Birmingham. In 2010 the Mingana collection was moved to the newly converted building provided for the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, Edgbaston campus at the University of Birmingham.
CopiesFull digitized selected manuscripts from The Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts available through the 'epapers' webiste (formerly VMR). The VMR was created at the University of Birmingham by the Institute of Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE), with funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee, in partnership with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Munster, Germany. As well as high-resolution images of each page, the 'epapers' site provides descriptions from the printed catalogue and from Special Collections' own records and these are available via the 'epapers' website at Follow the link in the URL field below to access images of selected manuscripts.

The Arabic and Syriac manuscripts are available on microfiche. These can be purchased from IDC Publishers P.O.Box 11205, 2301EE Leiden, The Netherlands. Email: They can also be viewed in the searchroom at the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collection.

The Arabic Manuscripts on Islamic Law Collection is a micropublication by IDC Publishers of almost 650 Arabic Manuscripts dating from the 12th to the 20th century. This collection includes selected manuscripts from the Mingana Collection as well as from collections held by School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and by the Jewish and National University Library of Jerusalem.
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library: Special Collections also holds the annual reports of the curator of the Mingana collection, reference DA62. There are some letters from Mingana in the papers of James Rendel Harris, reference DA21. References: DA66 and DA67 includes papers, photographs and news cuttings of Alphonse Mingana.


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