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THE APOCALYPSE OF SAMUEL OF KALAMOUN – THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION (BY ROGER PEARSE)

August 4, 2012

Editorial note: Although excerpts from the Arabic manuscripts of the Apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun have been translated into English by several scholars, it has never been translated in its entrety. The only complete English version of the Apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun was made by the British blogger Roger Pearse which he published in 1909 at his Tertullian.org under “Early Church Fathers – Additional Texts”. Pearse used the already defective French version, which was translated by J. Ziadeh from the Arabic manuscript in 1917. His English version, consequently, is not very accurate, and needs to be improved. However, Roger Pearse is the first who has published this important Apocalypse in its entirety in English, and for this we must be grateful. I simply reproduce his translation below, and delete only the references which he made within the text to relevant pages and folios of the Arabic and French texts:

 

The Apocalypse of Samuel, the superior of Deir-el-Qalamoun.[1]

English Translation by Roger Pearse

In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God only; glory to Him. Amen. With the help of God, may He be blessed, we will begin to write a discourse of our holy father Anbâ Samuel, superior of Deir-el-Qalamoun. — May his prayer be with us!  — Amen.

He gave in this (discourse) some accounts of the events which will take place in the land of Egypt under the reign of the Arab hegira. Gregorius, bishop of El-Qais, who had come to visit him and obtain the cure of a disease which he had, the bishop himself, assisted in this discourse.  As for Apollo, the disciple of the holy father Anba Samuel, he awaits a great profit from this discourse for he who will read it, will observe it and do what is written there.  When the Arab emigrants had seized Egypt, they were very few: but they multiplied their benefits towards the Christian people.  At this point in time our brothers the monks started to discuss this subject with the father Anbâ Samuel, asking him whether their domination on the land of Egypt would be prolonged for a long time or not.  And the saint, in the presence of the bishop, gave a sigh from the bottom of his heart and said:   “Blessed be God, who has established the eras in fixing a limit for them, who exalts a nation and lowers another, who dethrones and raises kings.  Do not believe, my beloved children, that this nation is agreeable to the eyes of God because He has delivered this land into their hands; because the wisdom of God is unsearchable for humans and there is no-one who can know the works of the Creator nor the end of the times but Him alone. — I tell you, my children, of the many evils that the heretics have committed  against the Orthodox in the time of father Dioscorus[2], and which they still do nowadays, and of those which they did against our father Dioscorus himself:  they exiled him to remote islands.

Irotarius sat down on his [patriarchal] seat while he was living and he did many injustices against the Christians, deporting the bishops, organising to massacre the Orthodox and demolish the monasteries.  “As for Ouquiliânos, the false monk” [lit. whose tonsure is false], I keep silent myself about this, because I cannot report and describe the ill deeds which he did within Jerusalem neither his massacres of the Orthodox, nor to describe either what this harmful man did [lit. this harmful form] whom we should not name, Kabeyros el-Mouqaouqiz, iniquitous in his actions, he, who oppressed the Orthodox, who drove them out from one place to another, putting all his application to pursue the father Benjamin:  he sharpened his teeth against him and said:  “I need to find the man with the big beard so that I can order that he is stoned!” This is why God heard the prayer of his elect who cried to him and sent to them, according to their request, this nation which seeks gold and not the religious profession.

For myself, I prefer silence, my dear children, and I do not want to describe to you what the Christians will suffer from the Arab emigrants during their reign.  May God make it that you do not recall their name in the middle of us today, for this is an arrogant race whom we should not name in the assemblies of the saints.  Ah! this name!  that of the Arabs, and their domination, contrary to our laws! these haughty kings who will reign in their day!  these sorrows which will affect future generations because they will act like them!

In truth, my children, the angel of the Lord has revealed to me hard times and sorrows without number to which this arrogant nation will subject the children of men.

I do not want to speak about these Arabs nor of their reign, hard to bear, nor of the end of time, following what is written, “It is not given to you to know dates and times, because the Father has kept these things in his power alone[3].” But I will tell you some details in the interest of your souls; and what I say to you will infallibly happen in future ages, when the commandments of God are abandoned.  But any man of a vigilant soul will take care not to imitate the conduct of the Arabs and his soul will be saved.

Do you see, my children, this nation so small in number? They will multiply and become a very great people.  Many other nations will join them, and they will multiply like the sands of the sea and like grasshoppers. Their power will be consolidated and they will extend their domination over several countries, to the East and the West.  They will capture Jerusalem on several occasions.  Many other peoples will mingle with them:  Hebrews, Greeks, Edessans, inhabitants of Jordan, inhabitants of Amid, Chaldeans, Persians, Berbers, those of Sind and India. They will increase their power very much and will be at peace with the Christians with a short time.  After that, the Christians will be jealous of their way of life:  they will eat and drink with them; they will play like them; following their example they will be dissipated and commit adultery.  Like them, they will take concubines and will soil their bodies in contact with the women of the hegira, rebels and impure; they will lie down with males like them: they will steal, swear, and do injustice; they will hate each other and will deliver each other to merciless nations; much vain speech which should not be said will come out of their mouths.  They will represent the image of God, i.e. the man, in several ways: They will call some pigs, [others] dogs, [others] asses.  In the same way also, Christian women will give up the good habits of decent women, to take the dress of blasphemy, to become useless, bad in their conduct, dissolute in their intentions.  They also will say blasphemous words and from their mouths will go forth speech that nobody should utter; because they will blaspheme against God.  They will even end up saying without fear: “I will act against the God who created me[4]…”

Woe! twice woe!  What can I say about these deeds, which will excite the anger of a perfect God?  Without the mercy of God and the forbearance of his spirit, He would grant no more delay to the world.  Truly, in those times, the Christians will be full of iniquity, idle towards the things of God, distracted by their business. In that time they will love to drink and eat; they will be devoted to pleasures more than to the love of God; they will attend the [meeting] places where one drinks and eats more than they will attend the church of God.  They will be sitting in the streets, concerned about the things of the world, in no way concerned with the Church.  It will not come to their minds [in the soul] that the readings are being made without them present:  they will not even hear the Gospel.  It is only at the end of the mass that they will present themselves at church.  Some of them will do what is not allowed in dealing with their business to the point of missing the sermons.  They will present themselves then at the church:  they will take the Evangelary, will get informed about the chapter which was read and get alone into a corner to read it: they will thus make their own law. Woe! twice woe!  What shall I say, my children, about those times and the idleness which will overcome the Christians?  In that time they will deviate much from uprightness and will imitate those of the hegira in their deeds; they will give the names of the latter to their children, leaving aside the names of the Angels, Prophets, of the Apostles and the Martyrs.  They will commit yet another act, at which your hearts would be racked with pain, if I told it to you, knowingly they will give up the beautiful Coptic language in which the Holy Spirit has often spoken by the mouths of our spiritual fathers; they will teach their children, from their youth, to speak the language of the hegira and they will take pride in it.  Even the priests and the monks themselves will also dare to speak Arabic and to take pride in it and that inside the sanctuary.

Woe! twice woe!  my dear children.  What can I say?  In those times the readers in the church will understand neither what they read nor what they say because they will have forgotten their language, and they will truly be unfortunate, deserving of tears, because they will have forgotten their language and will have spoken the language of the hegira.

But woe to any Christian who teaches his son, from his youth, the language of the hegira, so making him forget the language of his ancestors, because he will be responsible for his transgression, as it is written: “parents will be judged for their sons.”  What shall I say about the laxity will say which will conquer the Christians: they will eat and drink inside the temple without fear; they will forget the fear of the sanctuary, it will be no longer respected in their eyes; its doors will be abandoned, and not even half of a clerk will be seen there[5], because they will neglect and will not fulfil the seven rites of the Church: you will see men in this time seeking the ranks of priesthood, whereas they do not deserve yet to be readers to read in front of the people.  Many books will fall into disuse, because there will be among them no-one to deal with the books, their hearts being attracted by the foreign books.  They will forget many of the martyrs because their biographies will disappear and will not be found any longer.  The few biographies which are found, if they are read, many of the faithful will not understand because they will be ignorant of the language.  In that time many churches will fall into ruin; they will be deserted on the eve of the festivals and the eve of Sunday too.  There will be no-one [among the Christians] able to read a book on an ambo, even the holy forty [books] intended for our salvation. You will not find anybody to do the reading to the people, to instruct them, because [the Christians] will have forgotten the language and will no longer understand what they read and will not [even] suspect this. Also the readers will not understand.  In the same way also in Arsinoe, the great city which belongs to the Fayoum, as well as its districts, where the laws of Christ are.  Those who are famous for their books, strong in the knowledge of God, those whose Coptic language was equal in their mouth to the sweetness of honey, and spread around them like the odour of perfumes, because of their beautiful pronunciation of the Coptic language, all, in that time, will give up this language to speak the Arab language and take pride in it, to the point where they will no longer be able to be recognized as Christians; but on the contrary will be taken for Berbers.  Those of the Sa`id (=Upper Egypt) who still know and speak the Coptic language will be scoffed at and insulted by the Christians their brothers who speak the Arabic language.

Woe, twice woe!  How great the misery!  how very grave the acts which will be carried out in those times by the Christians!  In recounting these things to you my heart has truly suffered, my eyes have poured tears and my body has trembled much.  Do you think that there is for the soul a pain greater than to see the Christians giving up their sweet language to take pride in that of the Arabs, as well as in their names? In truth I say to you, my children, that those who will give up the names of the Saints in order to give foreign names to their children, those who will act thus will be excluded from the blessing of the Saints; and whoever will dare to speak inside the sanctuary in the language of the hegira, that one will depart from the ordinances of our holy fathers.

In that time men will commit serious sins and there will be nobody to correct them, to instruct them, and to have pity on them, because they will all sin, their old men as well as their teachers. The father will learn the fault from his son without rebuking him and the woman will find good in her daughter that which is bad.  Far from rebuking, she will fall into the sin with her, because the sin will no longer be a matter of remorse for the Christians, but on the contrary, they will find sweetness there, because they will remain without teachers.  This is why they will add sins upon sins and there will be nobody to instruct them and to rebuke them.  But each will pursue his own interests.  The priest will not rebuke the sinner.  He who is great will not instruct the little and the little one will not obey the great, because they will give up the laws of the Church and the rules of our holy fathers.  They will go as far as suppressing the prescribed and recognized fasts.   Those of them who fast will not complete their fast as they should because of their gluttony; they will encourage others to lunch with them, because each will have chosen a rule for himself according to his desires.  There will be some who, from imitation and respect for men, will break the fast before the time prescribed and before the shadow reaches the measurement which varies according to the month[6].  You will find them at church in a nonchalant and lazy manner of behaviour, discussing the vain things of the inundation, without reflecting, without remembering that the body of God is on the paten, that His blood is in the chalice on the altar.  On the contrary, this terrible mystery will be to them like an amusement.  If any of them is taken with zeal for God and goes as far as saying some word of instruction drawn from the canons, they will take him at once for an enemy and, like lions, they will open their mouths against him.

The women also will deliver themselves over to chatterings in the church, to negligence, without being rebuked by anyone, whereas the holy Apostle Paul said:  “The women must keep silence with the church, and have the head covered.”  The priests themselves will know negligence and distraction; they will not obey wholesome doctrines any more.  If any of them sets himself to pronounce some words of instruction, he will do so with negligence and without taking pity on the people; and in so doing they will excite against them the anger of God, because they will have deviated from the canons of the Church and the teaching of our spiritual fathers.  And [God] will then deliver them to the domination and hatred of the Arab emigrants, who will make them undergo great losses, will crush them with very heavy taxes which they will be unable to endure.  They will be thus reduced to poverty.  The Arabs will spoil also all the works on the land because of the hardness of their yoke.  They will cause the widows and the orphans great injury; they will insult the old men, will pursue the virgins, will attack them in their houses because of the taxes. They will scoff at the Christian religion and will have no regard for the priests nor for the monks; they will eat, drink and play inside the churches; without fear they will sleep with the women in front of the altar.  They will make the churches of God like stables for horses, attaching their horses and their beasts of burden to it.  The powerful spirits which watch over the church will leave and go up from there to heaven when they see the ill deeds which this nation will do in the churches.  They [the Arabs] will destroy many churches by razing them to the ground; they will transport their wood, their bricks, their stones and will build with them palaces and luxury dwellings.  They will pull off the crosses from the churches.  They will transform a great number of them into mosques for their use, because of their pride and their hatred against the Christians. But the holy martyrs who will see these things being carried out in the places of their martyrdom, will bring to God their complaints against this nation while saying:  “Lord, who are the honest judge, judge between us and this nation which carries out similar acts against our churches. Yes, God of kindness, enter into judgement with them and render to them according to their actions.”  At this point in time Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father and his only son will satisfy their hearts and will comfort them while saying: “Have patience, my dear and venerated ones, until their time is filled up.  Their actions, of which you are witnesses, are because of the sins committed by my people, because they have rejected my commands and my ordinances in order to resemble this nation.  This is why it will dominate them until its time is done.” The holy martyrs will cease their supplications then and will have patience until the end of the hegira.

So know, my children, that this nation will commit a great number of iniquities and injustices on the land of Egypt:  its domination will be greatly consolidated, its yoke will press like iron and its people will multiply like grasshoppers;  it will seize several countries which will undergo its domination, and its injustice will increase greatly in Egypt, so much so that the land will be ruined by it;  they will eat, drink, amuse themselves;  they will dress like husbands;  they will praise themselves much while saying: “No nation will ever dominate us.”  They will subject the ground to the land register and hit it with taxes; from this will result a huge cost to live on the land; a great number will perish of hunger and will remain on the ground without anyone to give them the last burial.   [It will also happen] that those who will lie down for the night in their own houses, will each find, on awaking in the morning, three ushers at their door, each of them claiming some kind of tax. At this point in time a great number of important cities, regions, hamlets and ports will be destroyed, and this land of Egypt, rich in trees and in gardens, will become a salted land, wooded and sterile, because of the multiplicity of the taxes levied on the country by the Arabs; because they form an arrogant nation, little inclined to mercy.  Their yoke will weigh like iron.  They will molest their subjects in their greed for gold: they will make a census of the citizens, great and small, they will inscribe their names on the registers and will claim the capitation tax from them.  The inhabitants will then sell their clothing and their effects to discharge the taxes, [and their masters] will lay hands on all their possessions for reasons which they will invent, and by which they will oppress them.  The population transport themselves from one city and country to another, seeking peace without finding it.  While they are at the mercy of all these difficulties, they will remain in the blindness of their heart, without understanding the correction of the Lord, without repenting and seeking the teaching of the Church.  But on the contrary, they will add to the number of their sins, because the pride of the Christians will increase much in those times. They will push themselves up, some above the others, they will complain about each other; they will mock the words of the Holy Books, which are from the Spirit of God.  Even the priests, the monks and the ministers of the holy altar will do similar things; they will praise themselves for it while saying:  “We have more merit than our fathers.”  They will forget what is written, that pride in a man is an abomination before the Lord.  When they fulfil these acts, even then they will be dominated by this nation, which will make them suffer much, following what is written:  “If they scorn my laws, and do not observe my commandments, I will correct their fault with the stick and with the rod their idleness.” So pray, my children, that what is thus written in the Psalms may not be fulfilled against us;  let us beg the Lord that he will not abandon the his people in the end, but may He convert his anger into mercy and His indignation into benevolence, that in that time He will turn his regard towards His Christian people, that He will remember His bride the Church, that He will send his celestial assistance to them, that He will not deal with them according to their sins and that He will not treat them according to their iniquities.  And now I recommend to you, my dear children, and I humbly beg you to recommend those who will come after you until the end of the ages, to take perfect care of their souls and not to let a Christian speak the Arabic language in these places, because this there is material for a great judgement:  many indeed will dare to speak the language of the hegira at the altar.  Woe, twice woe to these!  as I heard myself from an old man dedicated to the service of God, clothed with the Spirit, accomplished in holiness.  He answered me when I questioned him about the kings of the hegira: “Look, my son Samuel, and understand what I say to you:  At the time when the Christians will dare to speak the language of the hegira near the altar, by which they will blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity, in that time woe to the Christians, woe and seven times woe!”

If I set myself, my children, to tell you the words of this holy old man, my discourse would be prolonged too much; but I won’t, because what we have said is sufficient.  Understand, he who has a heart able to understand! He who keeps himself from the works of the Arabs and does not imitate them will be able to save his soul.”

When the holy old man had explained these discourses, he turned to Anba Apollo and all the brothers, saying to us:  “You have just heard with your ears something of the trial which will fall on future generations who will dare to modify the holy canons and the wholesome doctrines of our fathers:  I have made known to you the trial that they will undergo.  You also, my dear children, be on guard and be vigilant, because happiness and blessings are for he who is on guard and takes care.  Now, my dear children, be on guard and take care, because happiness and the blessings are with those which act according to the apostolic regulations.  At every moment let us apply ourselves, my dear children, to flee the suggestions of the demon and to not follow the inclinations of our hearts and our bodies, because the demon misleads the heart and throws into it its ideas and its inclinations.  So let us flee our inclinations and Christ will fill us with the blessings of His eternal kingdom.  — Note:  Be on guard, my dear children, against negligence, because it is the root of all troubles and it sprouts a very bad crop.  Be on guard, my children, and flee concupiscence, because it darkens the intelligence, prevents a man from understanding the commands of God, makes him foreign to the Holy Spirit and prevents him from waking up to the knowledge of God.

Be on guard, my dear children, against worrying too much, because it makes a man foreign to the blessings of Paradise; be on guard against impurity, because it irritates God and his angels; be guard against pride, because it is the source of all evils and it is this which moves a man away from God; be on guard against vanity and seeking after authority, because these two failings spoil all the effort of a man and make him lose it in the eyes of God.  Be on guard, my dear children, and do not be pusillanimous in the practice of virtue, because he who is pusillanimous, who has a weak heart [who does not have courage], who instead gives way to idleness, fills himself with every sin and all.  If you are pusillanimous, if you strive with little courage, you will neglect your rule and you will become lazy when it is a matter of prayers and work…

But be like lions [lit. be like the hearts of lions], reject every thought which opposes you and flee from any idleness of the body, because idleness grows like ryegrass.  Abstain from adultery, because it has made victims and precipitated them very low and those which it threw into hell will never return. Be on guard, my dear children, do not show affection for a child nor a baby and do not enter where there is a woman, because the flint by contacting the lighter makes fire spout out and burns many fields. Be on guard, my dear children, and flee all the ill deeds which precipitate a man into hell and deliver him to suffering;  but do good works which lead to the kingdom of heaven:  these are: purity, humility, prayer, fasting, ascetic works, patience, endurance, forbearance, charity, benevolence, sweetness, fraternity, acceptance of sorrow, humiliation, humility.  Throw far from you any idleness, any anger and any weakness, because it is only at the price of great humiliations that our fathers finished their race, suffering hunger, thirst, absolutely abstaining from drinking any kind of wine, because the disorders of concupiscence are born in the members of a man from the excessive use of wine: wine excites concupiscence while making it improper and it is that which damages the flesh of the body.  And in general the excessive use of wine saddens the Holy Spirit and our fathers knew the number of griefs caused by wine since the beginning.  So abstain.  But in small quantity, it can be employed in the diseases of the body; because if the great ascetic Timothy was authorized to take a little wine because of his stomach and his many infirmities, so will I do then for those who are in the effervescence of youth and who are often prone to great sufferings.  In truth, my children, it is wise to be reserved in all things and humiliation is a great profit;  because he who humiliates his heart saves it, makes it come to the port of salvation and will be satisfied with the blessings of the Heavenly Jerusalem.  And now, I exhort you with much care and authority to embrace and put into practice all the counsels that I gave you and all the rules which were transmitted to you.  Recommend your children to prescribe to those who will come after them until the end of future centuries, that they take care, and that they follow jealously the works suitable for the monastic vocation, so that they can deserve the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. Because there will come a time when many monks will be dissipated and amusing themselves, and because of them the world will blaspheme against the monastic state; they will throw far from them the canons and the regulations…. By those who are clothed with the Holy Spirit, in the name of the great Antony, in the name of Apa Macarius, Anba Pacomius, and Apa Shenute, they whose prayers make the land of Egypt thrive, they who established the canons and made them compulsory in the monastic state.  As for us, we have continued their good works, and we have heard and preserved their holy teachings.  As for you, my dear children, observe all that I have just told you as well as the fundamental monastic rule that your spiritual fathers established for you.  Recommend to those who come after you until the century of future centuries to observe all that I have said to you today, according to the word of the holy Apostle Paul: “Conform yourself to me as I am conformed to Christ.”  So you, my dear children, you conform to me and follow my tracks, as I have followed the tracks of my holy fathers.  If you observe what I have just said to you, then the Mother of God will intercede for you with her Son (because you live in a land which belongs to her), as I have often noted myself.  I have seen this with my own eyes in this church, I have heard it with my own ears, saying: “This here is my residence, and because I liked it, I remain there with my servant Samuel and all his children who will come after him and will attach themselves to his counsels.”

So you must, my dear children, perfectly fulfil all the ordinances, such as the whole monastic constitution.  If you do this, you will deserve to see the Virgin Mother of God, Our lady Mary, as I have seen myself, and heard her promise many privileges to those who will live in this desert, who will visit it and come there to seek blessing and forgiveness of sins.

Blessed are you, my children, since you have merited to live in the land of the most pure Virgin Our Lady Mary, to sing and bless God in this church which the Mother of God herself chose to serve as her residence.  — Blessed is he who takes steps to come to this church with faith:  I say to you, my dear children, that the Mother of God Our Lady Mary will ask her Son to approve his repentance and to remit all his sins.  Blessed those who offer a sacrifice in this holy church; because I say to you that the Mother of God will intercede for him with God, so that He receives his sacrifice in the Heavenly Jerusalem.  He who binds himself by a vow towards this sanctuary, if he hastens to discharge it, I say to you that Our Lady the Virgin Mary will accept his vow and will quickly listen favourably to his request.  Also he who writes out this holy discourse, who places it in the church, he who reads it for the profit of the souls of those which listen to it, preserves it and conforms their conduct to what is written there, escaping from the way of error, and thus saving their souls, I say to you that Our Lady the Virgin Mary will ask her beloved Son to tear up the book of his sins and to register his name in the book of life. — So now, my dear children, if you observe well what I have recommended to you, the Virgin Mary will intercede for you to her beloved Son and He will put your enemies under your feet and you will tread on the head of the monster (Satan) and you will shatter all the power of the enemy. If you observe well what I have advised you, kings and the governors will offer presents to you, the archontes will render honours to you and the Berbers will be subjected to you.  Apply yourself with all your power, my dear children, to do with courage and at their hours, the prayers which are prescribed to you for the day, and to be faithful at the meeting for night prayer. Guard yourselves from modifying the constitution which I have established for you, in order not to expose yourselves to a terrible judgement.  Observe and observe again, my dear children, all that I have prescribed you in order to be children of the kingdom of heaven.

Guard yourselves from talking during the mass, because then it is a great fault.   In spite of the chants carried out in the church, and the reading made for the salvation of souls, some talk together, but know that he who talks in the church will be rejected by God and his Angels; the mother of God will be irritated against him;  his prayer will be improper, and he will be held to answer for his disobedience.  — May nobody do things in the church if he is not [one of those who are consecrated for it].  Prescribe to your children to recommend to those who will come after them until the end of future ages, that nobody should speak inside the choir [lit.  altar] the language of the hegira;  because he who acts thus will deserve the curse.  — See, my dear children, that which I spoke to you; he who listens and observes will be saved.”

When he had said these things, we wanted to speak to our holy father Anba Samuel, while the assistants were listening to him; our father the bishop,  Anba Gregorius, burst into bitter tears, to the point of wetting his clothing with his tears, because of the events which were to take place.  Then the Father Anba Samuel answered him:  “This is only one small punishment by which God will punish the generation of those times.  But if His vengeance on the sins which they will have committed came on them, who could remain before [God]?  According to what is written:  “If you are on guard against iniquity, Lord, Lord, who will be able to remain before you?” As it is also written:  “It is good for me that you humiliated me, so that I can observe your commandments.” and again:  “the Lord punished me very severely, but He did not deliver me to death.”  So he who accepts the correction of the Lord with thanks and embarrassment then, who acknowledges his sins and does not return there a second time, he will be saved:  he who accepts the correction of the Lord with thanks and patience, when it happens to him because of Christ, will be saved according to the word of the holy Gospel:  “He who perseveres until the end will be saved.”  As for he who is impatient and doubts, woe to him forever. Indeed, many of the Christians in that time will disavow Christ because of the short time [of trial] which will pass away.  Some will disavow Him because of the difficulties which they will have and because they will not find anybody to instruct them nor to comfort them in their sorrows:  they will be deprived of the help of instruction, many others will fall because of the preponderance of fashionable things to which their spirits will stick, without anybody opposing them;  these will fall.  Others, merely because of the pleasure of eating and of drinking will fall; others, because of idleness of the body and because of the error of sin.  — Then, their brothers and their parents will not weep for them and will not sadden themselves on their fate, but on the contrary, they will find in them an object for their vanity:  they will eat and drink with them:  and after that, they will envy them, will imitate them, and like them they will disavow Christ.  Woe to those which are thus, because their residence in hell will be in a deep pit forever.”  Below: “My holy father,” said Anba Gregorius to him, “do you believe that the event seems to be delayed? and until when will this trial last and the domination of this race over the land of Egypt?” — The holy Anba Samuel answered him:  My father Anba Gregorius, nobody knows the disposition of dates nor their vicissitudes, except the Creator alone, but if the Christians repent and give up their ill deeds, fulfil the canons of the church and maintain them with vigilance and uprightness before God, then God will spare them these sorrows:  but if they do not repent, these (troubles) will remain on the land until the end of the domination of the hegira, until the last of the kings of the hegira.  The last of the kings of the hegira will bear the name of LASMARINI [or LASMARISU]; his name in numbers gives six hundred and sixty six; let him understand who is able to understand [lit. he who has a heart].  He will issue from two nations. During his reign the land will be troubled: his clothing will have the colour of gold; he will have a fierce soul and will deliver a man to death for one dinar:  in his time there will be no peace; in his face there will be not a trace of life;  he will forget the fear of God, of which he will have not even a memory.  He will not follow the ordinances of his father, because he will be an Ishmaelite, nor the profession of his mother, because she will be a Frank[7]:  he will love drunkenness, he will be bloodthirsty:  under his rule men will undergo many sorrows:  he will massacre a great number of them by surprise; men will have a great difficulty in those times, and will be awaiting the divine mercy in the middle of the many tribulations which will be frequently inflicted on them by the sons of Ishmael.  After this trial, God will remember his so greatly humiliated people and will send against them [the Arabs] the king of the Greeks, in great fury, on the coast, because the archangel Michael will appear to him in a vision and will say to him: “Arise and plunder in your turn, because the Lord has given you all the land,” and so he will rule over all the land, it will also happen that the king of Abyssinia will achieve great devastations in the domain of their ancestors on the East coast.  Those of the hegira will flee to the deserts where they were before; they will flee from the East before the king of the Abyssinians and the king of the Greeks will strike at the sons of Ishmael and will encircle them in the valley of al-Hefar, the place of their ancestors; he will make them perish from the West and will make them drown.  Terror and great fear will seize the sons of Ishmael and all their followers.  God will deliver them to the king of the Greeks, who will make them pass to the edge of the sword and will despoil them, because they oppressed the land.  This is why, by a just decree, God will deliver them to the king of the Greeks who will make them undergo trials, in truth hundred times greater than those which they caused.  They will be in poverty, misery, sorrow, in embarrassment, [they will be subjected] to the sword.  The king of the Greeks will enter the land of Egypt, will set fire to the city of the Egyptians, named Babloun, because it is there that the sons of Ishmael carried out their abominations;  he will destroy the land of al-Djonf and will subject the sons of Ishmael to the sorrow of slavery and all kinds of sufferings.

Those of them who survive will flee to the deserts of their fathers.  — The king of Abyssinia will marry the daughter of the king of the Greeks and there will be such a pacification, such a peace and such a harmony on all the face of the land for forty years that nothing similar will ever have been seen on the land. There will be great joy for the Christians who will publicly open the doors of their churches, will build houses, will plant vines, will raise high palaces and will be delighted in the Lord their God. Woe to those who, in that time, will bear the name of the hegira.”

After the forty years, here are the signs which concern the wicked king:  The sources of water and the rivers will be transformed into blood, and will remain so for an hour, their water will be undrinkable. The second sign:  babies will speak at the age of three months after their birth. The third sign: when you make the harvest of the fields, blood will spout out of the ground.  At this point in time the wise will flee to the mountains; because after that, the race contained beyond the sea on the coast of the Arabs will appear, they are Hagog and Magog.

The earth will tremble before them and the men will flee into the mountains, into caves, into cemeteries and they will die of hunger and thirst.  This race will soil the ground for five months; and after that the Lord will send his angel who will exterminate them in one hour. The king of the Greeks will dominate over the land one year and six months: he will make Jerusalem his residence.  After that, God will put an end to his reign over the land and then the hideous one will appear, who is the false Messiah, doing many signs and wonders with vain ostentation.  He will even go, if he can, so far as misleading the elect, according to what is written.  Ten of the Greek kings will take service with him and will be with him in the same council, they will confirm his domination.  Blessed is he who will fight against him and will overcome him, because he will reign eternally with Christ in the future age.”

All these things, I heard them from the mouth of the holy Anba Samuel, I, Apollo his disciple, and I reported them to you, my brothers. As for what he said in secrecy to the bishop Anba Gregorius, I did not write it, because our Father Anba Samuel commanded me not to write it.  This discourse and the present narratives, I did not want to write them for the brothers who know them to have heard them from the mouth of our Father Anba Samuel:  but it is for future generations that I write them, according to the command of our Father Anba Samuel.  So he who listens to them and puts them into practice will be saved; he on the contrary who disobeys will have the reward which he deserves, he will be treated according to his disobedience.

And now, my brothers, let us do what is appropriate for repentance, in order to find mercy and a good reception at the day of the equitable judgement, where every man will find a reward in harmony with his works, whether good or bad.  And the most clement Lord will make us worthy to find grace, and remission for our sins, by the prayers of our holy father Anba Samuel and by the intercession of the Mother of God, ever-virgin! — Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and in the ages of ages.  — Amen. Amen.

End of the holy discourse in the peace of the Lord. Amen. Amen[8].


[1] Deir; convent, monastery.

[2] Dioscorus, patriarch of Alexandria, d. 454, successor of saint Cyril in 444, adopted the heresies of Eutyches and caused a schism to which the council of Chalcedon [ 451 ] put an end by deposing him.  He was exiled to Gouges.

[3] Acts, 1: 7.

[4] The Arab verb forms here an abusive phrase, difficult to render:  I will do all against God.

[5] A phrase of vernacular Arabic for saying that there will be nobody.

[6] An allusion to the old way of distinguishing the various moments of the day based on the variation of the shadow from the sun.

[7] Frank, designating all that is not Eastern.

[8] We have also examined the mss. 1785 (fol. 75-97) and 6147 (fol. 20-38).  According to this, the last king who will reign over the hegira will bear the name of their prophet and the figure of his name is 666. His Arab name is Mohammed [cf. ROC, t. XIX, 1914, p. 1121.

Additional notes on the text.

  • Arietta Papaconstantinou, “They shall speak the Arabic language and take pride in it”: reconsidering the fate of Coptic after the Arab conquest, Museon (2007) p. 273-299.
  • A new study is Jos van Lent, Coptic apocalyptic texts from the Islamic period, (PhD thesis), Leiden: 2007. (from p.273 n.1)
  • There are at least 15 manuscripts of the work extant today.  One of these is in Karshuni (Mingana syr. 232, ca. 1550 AD), which Jos van Lent believes may originally come from Deir al-Suryan.  In his thesis, van Lent gives an annotated translation based on Vat. ar. 158, the oldest securely dated manuscript (1356 AD). (from p. 274, n. 4)
  • The Arabic word usually vocalised as hegira can also be vocalised as hajara, i.e. “Hagarenes”. (from p. 274, n. 8)
  • An ambon is a pulpit. (p. 276)
  • van Lent understands the reference to seven rites as seven ‘ranks’ (from p. 275, n.10)
  • The “forty holy” is the days of Lent, as van Lent says, not some forty holy books as Ziadeh surmised. (from p. 276, n. 12)
  • Berbers may also be read as barbarians.  The Life of Samuel contains many references to raids by the former, but the latter may fit the sense better. (from p. 276, n. 13)
  • The text was written in Coptic in the 10th century as a reaction against the move of the Coptic Patriarchate to Cairo and the episcopal clergy at the Caliphal court, and against the rise in literature in Arabic, such as that by Severus ibn Muqaffa, which the need to engage with the ruling class consequently entailed. (p. 298-9)
  • John Iskander, Islamization in Medieval Egypt: the Copto-Arabic “Apocalypse of Samuel” as a source for the social and religious history of the medieval Copts,  Medieval Encounters 4 (1998) p. 219-227.
  • The word given as ‘Greeks’ by Ziadeh is ‘Rum’ or Romans. (p. 221)
  • J. R. Zaborowski, Medieval Encounters 14 (2008) 15-40.
  • The transliteration of the names should be Antony, Apa Makarius, Anba Pachomius and Apa Shenute (p. 24-25, n. 34)
  • The ‘forty’ may be the Forty Virgins martyred with St. Damiana.  The Arabic is very poor here and open to other interpretations, such as “There will be no-one among them who reads a book on the ambo, not even the holy Forty.” (p. 31 n. 62)
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