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Interview with Chaldean (Neo-Babylonian) Author Khairy Foumia

In May 2018, Shamasha Khairy Mikha Foumia published his seventh book, Catalogue Manuscripts of the Church in Telkeppe (540 pages), written in Aramaic and Arabic, which describes the 240 manuscripts he found in the library of the church of Telkeppe. He started this project nearly 30 years ago, in 1989. Born in Telkeppe, Foumia lived in Baghdad in his later years. Because his parents and other relatives still lived in Telkeppe, he and his family would visit there during the holidays and in the summertime.

During these trips, he went to Sacred Heart Church library which housed ancient manuscripts. It was not open to the public, but Foumia was given access to the library because of his strong relationship with the priests, having himself been a seminarian for seven years. The church had a separate library with thousands of books where people were able to borrow books.


In 1989 I came across a 29 page article, describing the manuscripts at the church of Telkeppe’s library. A month later, I went to visit my parents in Telkeppe, during that visit I went to the library and I found that there were many manuscripts that were not mentioned in that article.

I met the writer of the article and explained to him that he did not catalogue all of the manuscripts and he did not cover all that should be covered. At the end of our discussion, he asked me to re-catalogue them. So I worked on them during my visits to my parents in Telkeppe (because my business was in Baghdad during those years). I did my best to cover everything and give a detailed description of each manuscript, copied all the notes I found, and translated them to Arabic. I also translated all the names of the writers and scribes, as well as various historical notes that I included in the footnotes of the book. That is why the effort of over twenty years, you find a 552 full page 8-1/2 x 11 book, with 32 colored pages picked from a few manuscripts.