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THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN EGYPTIAN NATION

January 9, 2020

 A Coptic nationalist  – that’s a Copt who believes that the Copts constitute a nation – believes that Egypt is not a nation-state (a state whose citizens belong to one nation) but a multinational state, comprised of three nations that are ethnically, historically and culturally distinct even if there are some commonalities between them: Arab, Nuba and Coptic nations. The Egyptian state, which is dominated by the Arabs, denies that Egypt is a multinational state and asserts that Egypt is a nation-state, that all citizens of Egypt constitute one nation. This is of course their attempt to deny their marginalisation and suppression of the other two nations in egypt, the Copts and the Nuba, They keep talking about “national unity”, and use it to threaten all who talk about the existence of other nationalities within Egypt. All this while the Arabs of Egypt, who dominate the state, have insisted on defining Egypt as Arab and Muslim.

It is important when discussing this matter to understand the meanings of terms used in such a discussion and their Arabic equivalent since in Egypt such terms are not well defined and often used interchangeably:

People (شعب): Individuals making up a group, usually linked by some common interest.

Nation ( قوم، أمة): A nation is a group of people who possess all or some of the objective criteria of nationhood, which could include commonality of race, language, religion, culture, history, territorial contiguity, and economic interests, and which help inculcate in the mental constitution of that people a unique situation that creates in them common feelings of belonging and pride, and a will to live together for the future in order to enjoy their special way of life and be able to defend themselves, and their way of life, against threats and aggressive behaviour of outsiders. A nation can be a cultural nation who does not aspire to separate and create a state of its own. When the cultural nation decides to make it its aim the creation of a national state of its own, it becomes a political nation. 

Nationalityلإنتماء القومي للشخص ويعرف بالجنسية): The status of belonging to a particular nation.

Nationalism (قومية): In its core definition, nationalism is the ideology that a group of people constitutes a nation.

Nation-state (دولة أحادية القومية): A state that contains only one nation within its borders. It is rare to find a genuine nation-state though many (multinational states) claim to be uninational.

Multinational state (دولة متعددة القوميات): A state that contains many nations within its borders. Some multinational states acknowledge themselves as multinational; others deny the fact.

Patrie (وطن): A person’s native country.

Patriotism (وطنية): The feeling of love,  devotion, or a sense of attachment by a person to his/her patrie.

The truth is that in Egypt there is no such thing as an Egyptian nation ( x أمة مصرية). It follows from this that there is no such thing as:

  • Egyptian nationality (x إنتماء قومي مصري)
  • Egyptian nationalism (x قومية مصرية)

The Coptic nationalist cannot subscribe to the idea of a Egyptian nationalism because there is no such thing as Egyptian nation. The Coptic nationalist, in asserting that there is no Egyptian nation, however, does not mean that there is no way for the three nations in Egypt to come together in a meaningful and collaborative way. It also does not mean, because there are three nations in Egypt and that there is neither nation-state in Egypt nor Egyptian nationality or Egyptian nationalism, that Egypt must be divided between the three. The solution to the oppression by a dominant nationality of other nationalities within a multinational state is not necessarily secession. We have detailed our proposed solution to the Coptic problem (that’s the problem of the Copts being oppressed by the Arabs of Egypt) elsewhere within this blog, and I would urge the reader to search it under “Coptic nationalism” or “cultural autonomy”.

So, if there is no such thing as a nation that unites all Egyptians, what then can unite all of them? The only thing that unites all Egyptians is not that they constitute one nation but the fact that they all live in one country – that is one patrie. We can all come under one umbrella – Egyptian patriotism (وطنية مصرية), not under the umbrella of an imagined Egyptian nationalism or one Egyptian nation. Those who insist that Egypt is one nation are those who deny the existence of the other nations in Egypt which do not want to be part of the Arab nation. In summary: the call for one Egyptian nation is the call of tyrants and oppressors.

NOTES ON SAINT THEODORE THE EGYPTIAN 5: THE MURAL AT THE MONASTERY OF ST. ANTHONY AT THE RED SEA

July 7, 2020

T1

 Figure 1: SS. Theodore and Sisinnius at the nave of the Church of St. Anthony – the only two saints represented as serpent (dragon)-slayers (From Bolman’s, Monastic Visions)

T2

Figure 2: St. Theodore the Egyptian (Stratelates) mural at the nave of the Church of St. Anthony (From Boleman’s Monastic Visions

 

Probably the most beautiful and artistically executed mural of Theodore the Egyptian is the one in the Church of St. Anthony at the Monastery of St. Anthony at the Red Sea. This is a painting by the great Coptic painter known by the name Theodore who executed in 1232/1233 an extensive artistic programme at the monastery which had always been known to be impressive even though it was covered by the soot of centuries and careless overpainting but its brilliance and beauty was made clear to everyone after the conservation work that was undertaken by the American Research Center in Egypt. In 2002, Elizabeth S. Bolman authored her great book Monastic Visions: Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea that talks in much detail about Theodore’s extensive art. I rely heavily on the painting of St. Theodore the Egyptian (she uses the title ‘Stratelates’ for him) on Bolman’s work.[1] Fig. 1 and 2 I took from Boleman’s work; Fig. 3-7 are from other sources.

 

In the nave of the old Church of St. Anthony, Theodore the Painter painted a band of equestrian martyrs who died before the age of Constantine the Great in different parts of the Roman Empire, some of them were Egyptian but others were non-Egyptian. The conservation effort gave a number to each figure. Moving in a clockwise direction around the western half of the nave, one sees them in the following order: Theodore the Anatolian (N18), Claudius (N19), Victor (N20), Menas (N21), Theodore the Egyptian (N22) [he was the last figure in the western wall], Sisinnius (N23), John of Heraclea (N24), George (N25), and Phoebammon of Ausim (N26). Nine of them.

 

Figure N22, that is Theodore the Egyptian, draws a special attention from Bolman: “The painting to the right of Menas is particularly interesting for the history of art and also for its story.”[2] The mural shows the story of the slaying of the dragon by Theodore the Egyptian at Euchaites in Asia Minor.

 

The general is shown at a famous moment of his life before his martyrdom. A widow finds him passing by the town of Euchaites. She begs him to deliver her fatherless sons from the hideous fate of being sacrificed to a dragon that the townfolk worship. In the painting we see the two children bound and threatened. Pearson[3] identified traces of inscriptions around their heads as names, which is fortunate, because the textual sources don’t include this information. One name is legible, Peter. With the help of the Archangel Michael, Theodore kills the dragon and saves the boys.[4]

 

Below the 1232/3 layer of painting, an older layer was found: early paintings are visible to the right side of N22 and directly below the bare feet of the petitioning mother. It shows a horse’s hindquarters and tail, suggesting that the earlier programme of painting at the Church of St. Anthony also included equestrian martyrs. It may be that there was an older painting of St. Theodore the Egyptian in this same spot, which the painter Theodore repeated.

It is unlikely that the Tebtunis painting from the 10th century or later that shows the saint in a similar pose, spearing a giant snake,[5] was the prototype of N22, since in it the snakelike dragon rises up to face Theodore unlike in N22. Boleman identifies the 9th or 10th century drawing (the earliest extant drawing of the saint) in Vat.Copt 66 [6]as a likely prototype, particularly as the MS Vat.Copt 66 is thought to have belonged to the Monastery of St. Anthony. Here, as in N22:

The saint faces us from horseback, loosely holding the cross-headed spear that pierces the head of the dragon. The widow appeals to him with her right arm upraised, standing just in front of the horse. The children look at the dragon from their location below the rear of the horse.[7]

Bolman adds:

Although the later painting includes elements missing in the earlier drawing – for example, the hand extending a second crown from heaven, the shield, and the wonderful knot formed by the coils of the beast – the similarities are close enough.[8]

T3Figure 3: Miniature painting from the Psalter of Emperor Basil II at Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, showing Basil II in his triumphal attire

 

The costume of St. Theodore the Egyptian is Byzantine, and Bolman points to the similarity with that of Byzantine emperor, Basil II (976 – 1025), in the painting celebrating his victory over the Bulgars that is kept at the Bilioteca Marciana, Venice.

Both the saint and the emperor wear knee-length tunics, high boots, and military cloaks. Each is armed with a lance and a sword. Over the tunic, each one wears a lamellar cuirass comprising small, rectangular plates laced together by leather thongs. This form of armour was called a kalibanion in Byzantium, a name derived from the Latin clibanarius (a heavily equipped cavalryman).[9]

T4

Figure 4: The Berberini Ivory (dated 6th century) is kept at the Louvre in Paris and shows a Byzantine emperor in triumph (may either be Justinian [527 – 565] or Anastasius [491 – 518])

T5

Figure 5: Justinian Gold Medallion, British Museum

The horse equipment used by St. Theodore in N22 is also Byzantine:

Similar trappings are shown on equestrian portraits of the Emperor Justinian (d. 565), such as the Berberini Ivory in the Louvre and the gold medallion in the British Museum. The saint’s embroidered saddlecloth is small; a tethering rope is wrapped three times around the neck of the horse; and rows of medallions are suspended from the harness. This last feature is one of a number of ways in which the martyr adopts imperial attributes.

Another example is the sash worn by Theodore. It is tied with the knot used by Hercules to secure the paws of a lion’s skin around his chest. The Heraclean knot was thought capable of providing protection from danger in battle, and so Roman emperors and generals wore it as a talisman and an indicator of rank.[10]

Although the saint wears Byzantine costume like a Byzantine emperor, certain elements, particularly in his weaponry, belong to a Turkish tradition prevalent during the Ayyubid Dynasty in Egypt (1171 – 1250) during which time Theodore the Painter executed his artistic programme: the saints bow is composite (a composite bow is considered the Turkish weapon par excellence),[11] his shield is inscribed in Arabic, and his horse’s tail is knotted as the Turks used to do.[12]

The “dragon”. Of all the nine equestrian martyrs painted in the nave of St. Anthony’s Church, only two are shown spearing serpents: SS. Theodore the Egyptian (N22) and Sisinnius (N23)[13]. It is interesting to note that St. George is not depicted as serpent (or dragon) -slayer as Theodore and Sisinnius are.[14] Bolman believes that the imagery of a horseman killing a serpentine advisory was probably first employed as imperial iconography by Emperor Constantine (d. 337) to symbolise his victory over Licinius.

T6

Figure 6: Gold medal of Emperor Constantius II (337 – 361), dated c. 350, on a horseback triumphing over a serpent (kept at Musée de Cabinet des Médailles de la Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris)

This Conastantinian composition was known throughout the late Empire by a coin type depicting an equestrian emperor rearing in triumph over a serpent. The dragon-slaying saints in the Church of St. Antony illustrate the tenacity of this image in Coptic art.[15]

However, in both N22 and N23, one sees an innovation – the serpents are knotted. This Bolman thinks may be the effect of an Islamic influence:

In Islamic astrology of the same time, the knotted dragon represented invisible planets associated with the nodes of the moon’s orbit. It was a symbol of eclipse and evil fortune. Muslim rulers often employed the motif in the thirteenth century as a talisman protecting entrances. The knotted dragons above the main gate of the Ayyubid Citadel of Aleppo (1209) are the most celebrated examples. Theodore [the painter] may have adapted this contemporary symbol of eclipse to the traditional image of the dragon slayer in order to emphasize the powers of the equestrians, painted to frame the entrance to the nave.[16]

T7

Figure 7: Main Gate of Ayyubid Citadel of Aleppo (1209): above it is shown a decoration of two entwined snake (Photo by Michel Benoist [1980])

________________________________

[1] Monastic Visions: Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea, pp. 41-44, 95, 111, 115-117, 125, 225.

[2] 42

[3] Birger A. Pearson, professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the contributors in the conservation project.

[4] Monastic Visions, pp. 42-43.

[5] See: Dioscorus Boles, Notes on Saint Theodore the Egyptian 4: Saint Theodore the Egyptian Painting from the Monastery of the Martyrs at Esna (July 2, 2020).

[6] See: Dioscorus Boles, Notes on Saint Theodore the Egyptian 3: The Oldest Extant Depiction of the Saint in Coptic Art (July 2, 2020).

[7] Monastic Visions, p. 44.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, p. 111.

[10] Ibid, pp. 111, 113.

[11] Bolman says, “Nine pieces of wood, reinforced by horn, formed the body. The alternating stiff and flexible elements used in the bow’s construction added considerably to its power. The composite bow was the most effective weapon developed before the invention of firearms. It had a range of five hundred meters and could penetrate body armor at short distances.” Ibid, pp. 113, 115,

[12] Ibid, p. 116.

[13] Unfortunately, more than half of the painting of Sisinnius was destroyed later as the low door below the painting was enlarged.

[14] The iconography of St. George slaying a dragon, and this time it is real dragon, is not known in earlier Coptic art, and I think it is borrowing from later influences from outside.

[15] Monastic Visions, p. 117.

[16] Ibid, p. 117.

THE MORGAN COPTIC MANUSCRIPTS ONLINE

July 4, 2020

Morgan

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, U.S.

The Morgan Library & Museum in New York, U.S., has digitalised the Coptic manuscripts in its hold. These include all manuscripts MSS M: G.67, 566-617, 633-636, 660-661, 663-670, 910; 951, 988, and 1032. Below, I publish the MSS to which you can have access by clicking, description of the MSS and its date. If you want a fuller description and bibliography, the Morgan Library & Museum provides that: go here.

MS G.67 Acts of the Apostles 5th century
MS M.566 Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.567 Bible 892-893
MS M.568 Isaiah. 822
MS M.569 Bible 822-914
MS M.570 Bible 9th century
MS M.571 Bible ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.572 Catholic Epistles ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.573 Lectionary ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.573, fol. i Hagiography fragments 8th century
MS M.574 Hermeneiai 897 or 898
MS M.575 Antiphonary before Aug. 29, 893
MS M.576 Acts of John ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.577 Miscellany before August 30, 895
MS M.578 Miscellany Apr. 14, 891-Aug. 29, 893
MS M.579 Hagiography before Aug. 30, 823
MS M.579, fol. 1 Homiletic fragment. 641
MS M.580 Hagiography 889-890
MS M.581 Martyrdom of St. Pteleme 9th century-early 10th century
MS M.582 Hagiography ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.582, ff. i, 31, 32 Bible fragment.  
MS M.583 Hagiographic Miscellany Feb. 8, 848
MS M.584 Hagiography ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.585 Hagiography 822-914
MS M.585 Hagiography 822-914
MS M.586 Miscellany Oct. 9, 844
MS M.587 Miscellany 897-901
MS M.588 Hagiography Mar. 8, 842
MS M.589 Miscellany ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.590, ff. i (3 top fragmen Unidentified literary fragments. 892
MS M.590 Miscellany before Aug. 29, 893
MS M.590 Miscellany before Aug. 29, 893
MS M.591 Miscellany Feb. 14, 861
MS M.592 Miscellany ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.593 Miscellany 892-893
MS M.594 Homily II on the Passion ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.595 Miscellany before Apr. 3, 855
MS M.596 Hagiography 871-872
MS M.597 Miscellany 913-914
MS M.598 Hagiographic and homiletic miscellany. 822
MS M.599 Homily on the Holy Cross 854/855
MS M.600 Hagiography 905-906
MS M.601 Epistles fragments  
MS M.601, fol. 1 Unidentified literary fragment.  
MS M.602 Miscellany ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.603 Homily 902-903
MS M.604 Homily on Gilead ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.605 The questions of Theodore ca. 903/904
MS M.606 Encomium on Peter and Paul. 9th century
     
MS M.607 Encomium on St. Michael Archangel before Aug. 30, 895
MS M.608 Encomium on St. Theodore Stratelates Feb. 5, 995-Jan. 2, 996
MS M.609 Hagiographic Miscellany ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.610 Homily 822-914
MS M.611 Homiletic Miscellany 891-893
MS M.612 Encomium 892-893
MS M.613 Martyrologies after Dec. 31, 867
MS M.614 Investiture of St. Michael Archangel ca. 822/23-913/14
MS M.615 Bilingual Gospel lectionary 7th century
MS M.616 Gospels of Matthew and Mark. 1100
MS M.616 Gospels of Matthew and Mark 12th century?
MS M.617 Luke and John 12th century
MS M.633 Hagiographic Miscellany before Aug. 29, 994
MS M.634 Life of the Virgin Mary.  
MS M.635 Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles 10th century
MS M.636 Hermeneiai and documentary texts. 848
MS M.660 Pauline epistles fragments 8th century
MS M.661 Catholic epistles.  
MS M.663.1 Life of St. Pachomius.  
MS M.664 Unidentified literary fragments.  
MS M.665.1 Homiletic fragment.  
MS M.666 Pauline epistles fragments 9th century
MS M.667 Palimpsest of an unidentified literary fragment  
MS M.668.1 Investiture of St. Gabriel Archangel fragments  
MS M.669 Lectionary fragments.  
MS M.670.1 Psalm Lectionary fragments for Holy Week.  
MS M.671.1 Fragmentary prayers 14th century
MS M.706a Single leaf, Acts of John  
MS M.706b Homilectic fragment 11th century
MS M.706c Bilingual Psalter fragment  
MS M.910 Acts of the Apostles.  
MS M.951 Lectionary fragment 15th or 16th century
MS M.988 Pauline epistle fragment 9th century
MS M.1032.1-5 Five wax tablets 6th century

 

THE GREAT WORK ACTA MARTYRUM EDITED AND TRANSLATED BY BALESTRI AND HYVERNAT

July 3, 2020

AM3

In 1907, a great work for the Coptologists and Copts was published and printed in Paris under the title Acta Martyrum, edited and translated (in part) by Giuseppe Balestri (1866 – 1939) and Henri Hyvernat (Henri 1858 – 1941). It is composed of two tomes, and includes works in Bohairic Coptic: 17 martyrdoms, 2 orations and 2 sets of miracles. Tome I included the Coptic texts and a Latin translation; Tome II has no accompanying translation.

Below, I list all the Coptic martyrdoms, orations and miracles and make links to aid the researcher and reader. In Tome I, there is a valuable section “Praemonitum” which gives details of the Coptic manuscripts that the authors took the different subjects from.

TOME I:

First part. Latin translation

Preface 1
Praemonitum (details of the MSS) 5
Martyrdom of St. Apa Lacaronis 11
Martyrdom of St. Anatoli 24
Martyrdom of St. Theodorus the Oriental and his associates Pankyris and Leontius 30
Martyrdom of St. Serapion 47
Martyrdom of Apatil 61
Martyrdom of St. Abba Paphnuti 71
Martyrdom of St. Apa Epime 78
Martyrdom of St. Theodore Stratelates 99
Some miracles done by St. Theodore Stratelates  
Martyrdom of St. Apa Noub 123
Martyrdom of St. Apa Apoli 148

 

 Second part. Coptic text (pagination starts from 1)

Martyrdom of St. Apa Lacaronis 1
Martyrdom of St. Anatoli 24
Martyrdom of St. Theodorus the Oriental and his associates, Pankyris and Leontius 34
Martyrdom of St. Serapion 63
Martyrdom of Apatil 89
Martyrdom of St. Abba Paphnuti 110
Martyrdom of St. Apa Epime 120
Martyrdom of St. Theodore Stratelates 157
Some miracles done by St. Theodore Stratelates 182
Martyrdom of St. Apa Noub 200
Martyrdom of St. Apa Apoli 242

 

TOME II (Only Coptic text; no translation)

Martyrdom of St. Luke the Evangelist 1
Martyrdom of Cyriacus of Jerusalem 9
Martyrdom of St. Jacob of Persia 24
Martyrdom of St. Abba Polycarp the Apostolic Disciple 62
Martyrdom of Abba Isaac of Tiphrensis 73
The oration of Theodore, bishop of Antioch, on the praise of Theodore the Oriental and Theodore Stratelates 90
Martyrdom of St. John of Phanijoit 157
Oration of Theodotus of Ancyra in praise of St. George of Diaspolis 183
Martyrdom of St. George 270
Miracles performed by God through St. George 311

 

NOTES ON SAINT THEODORE THE EGYPTIAN 4: SAINT THEODORE THE EGYPTIAN PAINTING FROM THE MONASTERY OF THE MARTYRS AT ESNA

July 2, 2020

Theodore Tebtunis

Theodore the Egyptian mural at Tebtunis, Fayum (Plate XVIII in Walter’s article [see n. 1]

In Part 3, The Oldest Extant Depiction of the Saint in Coptic Art, I spoke about the depiction of St. Theodore the Egyptianin MSS Vat.Copt 66, which is dated to the 9th or 10th century, and in this sense it is the oldest available depiction of the saint we have in Coptic art.

In this article, I reproduce above the painting of St. Theodore the Egyptian which was found on the northern wall of an unidentified building from Tebtunis, in the Fayum region of Egypt. It shows St. Theodore the Egyptian spearing a giant snake. All drawings/paintings of St. Theodore the Egyptian show him in this scene. The finding was made in 1899 by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt who were after papyri and were not interested in Coptic art. The building has now disappeared but thank God that the two, who did not document the finding well, managed to take fifteen photos, of which one is that of St. Theodore Stratelates. This photograph is now kept at The Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. It is dated to the mid-tenth century[1] by C. C. Walters, the Coptologist who wrote “An Elementary Coptic Grammar of the Sahidic Dialect”. It is regarded as the second oldest depiction of St. Theodore the Egyptian extant in Coptic art.

The upper part of the mural was damaged, and so the saint himself except his right arm holding the spear is seen.

Walters writes about this mural:

Though the mounted saint represented here is anonymous there is no doubt about his identity. He is Theodore the Stratelates, and the episode in his life which this scene records is that in which he rescues the two children of a widow-woman from the dragon. The children are here bound beneath the horse’s legs, while their mother stands in front of the animal, her right arm raised in a gesture which might betoken supplication or might be a blessing on their saviour Theodore.

The saint’s elaborate armour and his mount’s caparison closely resemble other representations at Deir el-Shohada (Esna) and St. Anthony’s Monastery. One particular feature shared by the Tebtunis and Esna paintings is the employment of Arabic characters as a decorative device. They appear here on the Saint’s right thigh and both legs. This use of Arabic calligraphy was not uncommon in the Middle Ages.

The popularity of Theodore in Egypt is attested not only by his appearances in mural art and illustrated mss. but also by the number of churches and chaples dedicated to his memory in different parts of the country and the Coptic edition of his life and martyrdom, a version of the Greek original doctored to suit an Egyptian audience. Whenever he appears in art it is almost invariably this episode that is featured, and the elements show little variation. The only significant difference is that the dragon, which is normally being trampled beneath the horse’s feet, here rears up before Theodore, who therefore despatches it with an upward thrust of his lance rather than the customary downward thrust.[2]

I would like to draw the attention of the reader here, although Walters talks about a dragon here, the beast depicted in the mural is actually a snake.

___________________

[1] Walters C.C., Christian Paintings from Tebtunis, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1980, 75, pp. 191-208.

[2] Ibid, p. 194.

NOTES ON SAINT THEODORE THE EGYPTIAN 3: THE OLDEST EXTANT DEPICTION OF THE SAINT IN COPTIC ART

July 2, 2020

Theodore Vat Copt 66

Drawing of Saint Theodore the Egyptian in MSS Vat.Copt 66, p. 194r

Saint Theodore the Egyptian was very popular within the Copts from early time. Witnesses to this fact are the number of churches and chapels dedicated to his memory in different parts of Egypt and the Coptic edition of his life, and also his appearance in mural art and illustrated manuscripts.[1]

Old depictions of the saint are to be found in:

  1. MS Copt 66. This seems to be the oldest depiction extant in Coptic art of St. Theodore the Egyptian. This is a drawing rather than a painting, and was made in the 9th or 10th century. I reproduce this interesting depiction of St. Theodore the Egyptian above.
  2. Paintings that once used to decorate a church in Tebtunis, in the Fayum region of Egypt. The building has now disappeared but a photograph of the painting exists and is kept at The Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. This painting dates to the 10thcentury or later.[2]
  3. Painting at the Monastery of the Martyrs (Deir al-Shohada) at Esna. This is dated most probably to 1179/1180.[3]
  4. Painting at the Church of St. Anthony in the Monastery of St. Anthony at the Red Sea made in 1232/1233 by Theodore the Painter.[4]

All these depictions show St. Theodore the Egyptian’s story of rescuing the two children on the Christian widow of Euchaita in Pontus, Asia Minor, from the “dragon”.

In the above earliest extant depiction, the saint, with a halo (nimbus) round his head, is shown as a young man with black hair and beard. He wears a long, long-sleeved tunic (dalmatic).  You can see over his right shoulder, and descending to the upper part of his abdomen, a decorated vertical band (clavus); and her wears a belt round his waist. The saint appears to be bare-footed, and not wearing calcei (boots). He wears a cloak (lacerna) that is fastened round his right shoulder. Lacerne in the Roman empire were word by army generals to differentiate them from other army officers, but only outside the city. Round his neck is a necklace. The saint carries a knobbed sword over his back, suspended from his left shoulder. With his left hand he holds the reins of his horse. He holds a long spear, crossed at the top, and thrusting it, it pierces the head of the snake who protrudes its forked tongue. As he does that, he looks at us not at the snake. His horse has a decorated saddle and decorated bands across his body, with more decorations suspended from them.

The children are bound beneath the horse’s hindlegs, while their mother stands in front of a snake with her right arm raised asking the saint to rescue her children.

As the reader can see, the beast is actually a snake and not anything like the imaginary dragon.

____________________

[1] Walters c.c., Christian Paintings from Tebtunis, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1989, 75, p. 194.

[2] Ibid, Plate XVIII.

[3] Monastic visions, Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Anthony At the Red Sea, ed. Elizabeth S. Bolman (American Research Center in Egypt, 2002), pp. 93, 95, 125.

[4] Ibid, pp. 41-44, 111, 115-117.

NOTES ON SAINT THEODORE THE EGYPTIAN 2: IN THE COPTIC SYNAXARIUM

July 1, 2020

The Copts celebrate the martyrdom of St. Theodore the General on the 20th of Epip, an event which is mentioned in the Coptic synaxarium. No English-speaking scholar has edited the Coptic synaxarium but it was translated into Latin, German and French. The best edition is that of the French Rène Basset which was published in five volumes of Patrologia Orientalis (tomes 1, 3, 11, 16, and 17) from 1907 to 1923, under the title Synaxaire Arabe-Jacobite. The Life of St. Theodore the General is published in P.O. Tome 17 (1923), pp. 666-668: Les mois de Baounah, Abib, Mésoré et jours complémentaires, which the reader can access here.

When one compares this Life with those found in Coptic language manuscripts (which we will talk about later), it is clear that it is a condensed Life, basically a summary of the saint’s life as we find it in the detailed available manuscripts. I will give an English translation here since the online saint’s life which is sponsored by Coptic churches in the west is altered incorporating some elements from other sources. The reader can see an example here, which is in the website of the Coptic Orthodox Church Network. I will do the translation, which I hope to be as faithful to the Arabic text as possible, in short paragraphs, with each one including a separate thought. I will add notes for clarification. This synaxarium version will serve as a starting point of finding more about the Egyptian martyr and saint.

The Twentieth Day of the Month of Epip

On this day the great saint Theodore was martyred.

The name of the father of this saint was Yonis.[1] He was from Shwtp[2] in Upper Egypt.

He was seized with the recruited crowds who were sent to Antioch.[3]

He lived there and got married to a daughter of a patrician who worshipped idols. She did not know whom he worshipped.

And he begot from her this saint Theodore.

And when she wanted to introduce him to the houses of idols and teach him their worship, his father did not allow her.

She was outraged by that and kicked him out.

And as the child stayed with his mother, his father continued to pray to God so that He may lead him to the way of salvation.

And the saint grew up and learned sciences and wisdom.

And Christ lit the eyes of his heart; and he went to a saintly bishop who baptised him. And when his mother heard it, the matter fell badly on her.

And he enquired about his father, asking if he had died. And some boys[4] confided in him his story and that his mother had kicked him out because he was Christian.

And the saint grew and learned the skills of horse riding, and he became a soldier in the service of the king.

Then he became isfahslar[5] of the army.

And when the king went to fight the Persians, he took the saint [with him].

And, together with Theodore the Eastern,[6] he snatched the son of their king.

And there was in the city of Ukhidis[7] a great dragon. And they [the inhabitants of the city] worshiped it, and every year they presented it with somebody to eat. And there was in the city a widow who had two sons. And they [the inhabitants of the city] took them [the two boys] to present to the dragon. And it so happened that the saint came to the city, and the woman stood before him weeping, and told him of her story. And when he knew that she was Christian, he said unto himself, “This woman is a widow and oppressed, and God will avenge her.” He then dismounted his horse and directed his face to the east and prayed. Then he moved towards the dragon while all the inhabitants of the city were watching him from the city walls. And its [the dragon’s] length was twelve cubits. And God gave him strength over it, and he stabbed with his spear and killed it. And he saved the boys of the widow.

And after that he came to Upper Egypt in search of his father, and he enquired about him. And they [the Egyptians of the area] brought him [his father] to him. And he recognised him by the proofs and signs that he had shown him. And he stayed with his father until he [his father] died.

Then he returned to Antioch, and he found that the king had become unbeliever and persecuted those who believed in Christ.

And he went to him and acknowledged the name of Christ.

The priests of the idols denunciated him, and the people of Ukhidis petitioned the king and informed him that he was the one who had killed the dragon which they worshipped.

So [the king] commanded that he be burned. So, he was thrown into fire, and he completed his martyrdom.

And a faithful woman took his body after she had exchanged it for money and hid it with her until the end of the time of persecution. And she built a beautiful church for him. And it has been said that this woman was his mother.

May his prayer be with us. Amen.

__________________________

 [1] This is the Arabic rendering of the Coptic name Yuhannis (in Sahidic Coptic), Yu’annis (in Bohairic Coptic) – the Coptic name equivalent to John. Since the father of the saint was from Upper Egypt, his name was most probably pronounced and spelled Yuhannis.

[2] Shwtp is a town a little bit south of Asyut in Upper Egypt, on the eastern bank of the Nile. E. Amelineau, la géographie de l egypte à l époque copte. Arabic influenced the pronunciation of the word, and it is now pronounced as Shob (شُطْب) or Shab (شَطْب).

[3] Antioch of Pisidia or Antiochia in Phrygia. It was formerly on the border between the two. It now lies about 1km northeast of Yalvaç, the modern town of Isparta Province in south =western Turkey. The reader must not confuse Antioch of Pisidia with Antioch in Syria.

[4] Probably fellow pupils at the school. They were either taunting him for his Egyptian origin or Christian boys telling him of the reason behind his mother’s story with his father.

[5] Isfahlar (إسفهسلار) is Arabic for the Persian Ispahsalar, meaning army commander, or general officer rank. The term was introduced into use in Egypt during the Fatimid (969 – 1171) and Ayyubid periods (1171 – 1250) and was commonly used in the latter. This is when the Coptic synaxarium was translated into Arabic.

[6] Another martyr but of Roman or Greek origin. Also called Theodore the Oriental, Theodore the Eastern, Theodore the Anatolian. He was contemporaneous with Theodore the Egyptian.

[7] This is the Arabic rendering of the Roman-Byzantine town called in Greek Εὐχάιτα (Euchaita in English), a town in the region of Pontus, in the northern part of Asia Minor, on the southern coast of the Black Sea. Now it is in Turkey, where on its ruins stand the Turkish village Mecitözü, in what is called the Çorum, province in Anatolia.

NOTES ON SAINT THEODORE THE EGYPTIAN 1: INTRODUCTION

July 1, 2020

This series will focus on Theodore the General, the saint who was martyred during the Diocletian persecutions. He is also known as Theodore Stratelates, Theodore the Isfahsalar and Theodore of Shwtp. I, however, prefer to call him Theodore the Egyptian.

He earns the title “The Egyptian” from the fact that his father was an Egyptian from the town of Shwtp in Upper Egypt, near Asyut. His mother was Roman though. In this capacity, Theodore represented a double identity, uniting the Egyptians and the Romans in himself, but there is no doubt that he, and others, saw him as fundamentally Egyptian.

As Egyptian and Roman, he united the two races, and this is perhaps why he was so popular in Egypt while under the Byzantine rule. He continues to be popular with the Copts even today.

Despite many scholars consider him a factionary personality and deny his existence, I do believe he was a real figure. We shall go throughout all that and discuss everything to do with this great man and saint in a series of notes.

 

ANTHONY ALCOCK AND HIS HUGE CONTRIBUTION TO COPTOLOGY AND EGYPTOLOGY

June 30, 2020

Alcock

Anthony Alcock

Humility is not always a virtue that scholars ascribe to, but Anthony Alcock has plenty of it. Alcock has huge interests, but he seems to be particularly interested in Coptology and Egyptology. He has published huge amounts of papers and translated a great deal of Coptic manuscripts.

Here is some of his work. I will add more later.

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Wicked foxes and bath demons
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: GM
Vol. and/or year: 53
Journals/series compl.: Göttinger Miszellen. Beiträge zur ägyptologischen Diskussion
Year: 1982
Keywords: KOPTISCH, GRIECHISCH, FUCHS, DÄMON, METHAPHER, SEXUALITÄT

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: The Thunder: Perfect Mind
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: GM
Vol. and/or year: 59
Journals/series compl.: Göttinger Miszellen. Beiträge zur ägyptologischen Diskussion
Year: 1982
Keywords: KOPTISCH, PHILOLOGIE, ZWEITES_TEMPUS, NHC_VI

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Persecution under Septimius Severus
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: Enchoria
Vol. and/or year: 11
Journals/series compl.: Enchoria, Zeitschrift für Demotistik und Koptologie
Year: 1982
Keywords: SEPTIMIUS_SEVERUS, RÖMISCHE_ZEIT, VERFOLGUNG

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony (Hg)
Title: The Life of Samuel of Kalamun by Isaac the Presbyter
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.:
Vol. and/or year:
Journals/series compl.:
Year: 1983
Keywords: nachtragen KOPT

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Notes on a Coptic Letter from Antinoe
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: JEA
Vol. and/or year: 73
Journals/series compl.: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
Year: 1987
Keywords: BRIEF, KOPTISCH, ANTINOE

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Coptic words for ‘priest’
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: ZÄS
Vol. and/or year: 114
Journals/series compl.: Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde
Year: 1987
Keywords: KOPTISCH, PROSOPOGRAPHIE, PRIESTER

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: The Ox and the Donkey
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: JEA
Vol. and/or year: 76
Journals/series compl.: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
Year: 1990
Keywords: LITERATUR, SPRICHWORT, MÄRCHEN

 

Author: Gabra, Gawdat; Alcock, Anthony
Title: Cairo the Coptic Museum and Old Churches
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.:
Vol. and/or year:
Journals/series compl.:
Year: 1993
Keywords: KOPTOLOGIE, KOPTISCHES_MUSEUM, KUNST, KAIRO

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: A note on the Historical Works of Naguib Mahfouz
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 33
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 1995
Keywords: LITERATUR, NEUZEIT, MAHFOUZ, N.

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Two notes on the Greek papyri from Kellis (Dakhleh Oasis)
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 36
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 1996
Keywords: KELLIS, GRIECHISCHE_PAPYRUS

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: The Arabic Life of Anba Samaw’il of Qalamun
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: Muséon
Vol. and/or year: 109,3-4
Journals/series compl.: Le Muséon. Revue d’études orientales / Revue internationale
Year: 1996
Keywords: ARABISCH, BIOGRAPHIE

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Coptic terms for containers and measures
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: Enchoria
Vol. and/or year: 23
Journals/series compl.: Enchoria, Zeitschrift für Demotistik und Koptologie
Year: 1996
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Behlmer, Heike; Alcock, Anthony
Title: A Piece of Shenoutiana from the Department of Egyptian Antiquities (EA 71005)
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: BMOP
Vol. and/or year: 119
Journals/series compl.: British Museum Occasional Paper
Year: 1996
Keywords: SCHENUTE, HANDSCHRIFT

 

Author: Mirecki, Paul; Gardner, Iain; Alcock, Anthony
Title: Magical Spell, Manichaean Letter
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: NHMS
Vol. and/or year: 43
Journals/series compl.: Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies
Year: 1997
Keywords: MANICHÄISMUS, MAGIE

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: The Arabic Life of Anba Samaw’il of Qalamun: II
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: Muséon
Vol. and/or year: 111,3-4
Journals/series compl.: Le Muséon. Revue d’études orientales / Revue internationale
Year: 1998
Keywords: MÖNCHTUM, ARABISCH

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Brief encounter on the 15.45 from Suez to Cairo
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 41
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 1998
Keywords: KOPTISCHE_ZEIT, BRIEF, VIERTES_JHDT.N.CHR.

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Hin in Coptic Texts
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: AfP
Vol. and/or year: 45
Journals/series compl.: Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete
Year: 1999
Keywords: WORTDISKUSSION, KOPTISCH, BIBEL

 

Author: Gardner, Iain (Hg); Alcock, Anthony (Hg); Funk, Wolf-Peter (Hg)
Title: Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis: 1
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.:
Vol. and/or year: 9
Journals/series compl.: Dakhleh Oasis Project, Monograph
Year: 1999
Keywords: KELLIS, TEXTEDITION, PAPYRUS, PAPYROLOGIE

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Women Cobblers in a 4th Cent. Egyptian Oasis?
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: AfP
Vol. and/or year: 46.1
Journals/series compl.: Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete
Year: 2000
Keywords: nachtragen KOPT

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony; Sijpesteijn, P.J.
Title: Early 7th cent. Coptic Contract from Aphrodito (P.Mich Inv. 6898)
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: Enchoria
Vol. and/or year: 26
Journals/series compl.: Enchoria, Zeitschrift für Demotistik und Koptologie
Year: 2000
Keywords: TEXTEDITION, VERTRAG, APHRODITO

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Pacifying/Enlivening the Heart
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 53
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2002
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Coptic texts on the Internet: the CMCL Project
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 53
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2002
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Pickling
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 57
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2003
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Lentils and Weaving
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 57
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2003
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Egyptology and the General Theory of Culture
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 56
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2003
Keywords: nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Comparisons between Egyptian and modern European languages
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 56
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2003
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Wörterbuch der griechischen Wörter in den koptischen dokumentarischen Texten
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 60
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2004
Keywords: KOPTISCH, WORTDISKUSSION

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: P.Oxy. XLIII 3150 Revisited
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: AfP
Vol. and/or year: 50.2
Journals/series compl.: Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete
Year: 2004
Keywords: nachtragen KOPT

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Note on the status of women in P. Ani B 19, 14-15
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 60
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2004
Keywords: FRAU, ANI

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Isis, Athena and the Peplos
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 60
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2004
Keywords: ISIS, PLUTARCH

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Did Coptic Martyrs have Lawyers?
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 58
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2004
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Callimachus, Theocritus and the Ptolemies
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 59
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2004
Keywords: PTOLEMÄISCHE_ZEIT, GRIECHISCHE_SCHRIFTSTELLER

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Abracadabra and Pamour: suggested etymologies
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 58
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2004
Keywords: Nachtragen

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Proposed Etymology
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 63
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2005
Keywords: OSTRAKON, GRIECHISCH, ETYMOLOGIE, DACHLA

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Ostracon 97.288 from the Theban Tomb of Sennefer (TT 99). A note
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 63
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2005
Keywords: THEBEN, TT_099, KOPTISCHE_TEXTE, OSTRAKON

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: Nefertiti
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: DE
Vol. and/or year: 63
Journals/series compl.: Discussions in Egyptology
Year: 2005
Keywords: NOFRETETE, WISSENSCHAFTSGESCHICHTE

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony
Title: The sounds of ‘ain in Egyptian, Greek, Coptic, and Arabic
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.: JEA
Vol. and/or year: 94
Journals/series compl.: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
Year: 2008
Keywords: LAUTWERT, ÄGYPTISCH, GRIECHISCH, KOPTISCH, ARABISCH, KELLIS, BRIEF

 

Author: Alcock, Anthony; Funk, Wolf-Peter; Gardner, Iain
Title: Coptic Documentary Texts From Kellis Volume 2: P. Kellis VII
Subtitle:
Journals/series abbr.:
Vol. and/or year: 16
Journals/series compl.: Dakhleh Oasis Project, Monograph
Year: 2014
Keywords: nachtragen KOPT

 

TOWARDS A CRITICAL EDITION OF THE ETHIOPIC VERSION OF THE TEXTUAL TRADITION OF THE CHRONICLE OF JOHN OF NIKIU: A PhD DESSERTATION BY DARIA ELAGINA

June 30, 2020

Elagina

Dr Daria Elagina

Dr. Daria Elagina is a research fellow at Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies, Universität Hamburg, Germany. On 29July 2019 she successfully defended her PhD dissertation in Ethiopian Studies: The Textual Tradition of the Chronicle of John of Nikiu: Towards the Critical Edition of the Ethiopian Version.

The full dissertation is not available online, although I am sure it will be available at Universität Hamburg; however, Elagina has published a dissertation abstract in Aethiopica 22 (2019), The International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies, pp. 313-315.

We have been looking with much suspense and hope for Elagina’s PhD thesis. The Chronicle of John of Nikiu, written in the seventh century by a Coptic bishop around the time of the Arab invasion and occupation of Egypt assumes a great importance to Copts, Coptologists and historians in general, particularly in relation to the Muslim Conquest of Egypt as described by an eye witness. The Chronicle was written in either Coptic or Greek. In the 12th or 13th century it was translated into Arabic. Both Coptic/Greek and Arabic texts of the Chronicle were lost. Fortunately, before the Arabic version disappeared, a Copt in Ethiopia translated it into Ethiopic in 1601 AD. At the very end of the 19th century, from the Ethiopic version it was translated into Amharic.

Today, there are seven manuscripts of the Chronicle that are scattered all over: five of them are Ethiopic and two Amharic. The reader can read more about them in my article: The Seven Manuscripts of the Chronicle of John of Nikiu (29 May 2019).

Elagina depends on the five Ethiopic witnesses. These are:

No. Manuscript Date of MS Date of MS first appearance

 

1. BnF Éth. 123

(No. 146 in Zotenberg’s Catalogue) at Bibliothèque Nationale de France

17th century ?1883
2. Orient 818 at British Library (Previously, British Museum) 1st half of 18th century ?1883
3. BnF d’Abbadie 31 at Bibliothèque Nationale de France 1677 1902
4. ANL Conti Rossini 27 at Accademia Nazionale dei Linceti, Biblioteca dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Linceti e Corsiniana 20th century 1903
5. EMML 7919 at Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library Early 18th century 2017/8

 

The first two manuscripts are properly studied since on these two Herman n Zotenberhg and Robert H. Charles depended on their translations into French and English respectively (in 1833 and 1916 respectively). The translations however were not entirely accurate. The rest were unstudied or inadequately studied. The last (EMML 7919) came to attention only in 2017/8.

Elagina studied all the Ethiopic manuscripts and recognised that there are many differences in them. She devoted her dissertation to the preparation of a new text-critical edition of the Chronicle.

Her dissertation is divided into the following:

Introduction.

  • The Chronicle as a historical source;
  • History of the Chronicle;
  • The importance of her new text-critical edition.

Chapter 1.

  • The author John of Nikiu;
  • Possible sources at John’s disposal;
  • Original language of the Chronicle;
  • The Chronicle’s transmission history, especially the Amharic version.

Chapter 2.

  • Description of textual witnesses used in the research;
  • Two possible hypotheses for a stemma codicum;
  • Reflections on the problems of text reconstruction and on some emendations and interpretations.

Chapter 3.

  • Short introduction to the text-critical edition
  • List of bibliographical references
  • The text-critical edition of a portion of the Chronicle itself, including its Introduction, Table of Contents, and the first eighty chapters of the Chronicle (out of the 122 chapters), with a number of critical apparatuses and a parallel translation into English.

The English translation is accompanied by commentaries on various aspects, including comparison with other texts, which might have served as a source for the Chronicle, explanations of various conjunctures, historical and linguistic commentaries including notes on an extensive comparison of the actual content of chapters with their short descriptions in the Table of Contents.

The English translation is enhanced by a transliteration of proper names and ambiguous lexical items, which, hopefully, will provide for a better understanding and analysis of the content of the Chronicle of John of Nikiu.

Divider

I have not read the PhD dissertation as I don’t have access to it. One hopes that it would be made available online soon. There is no doubt as to its importance. We have been waiting for something like this for quite a long time.

However, we are disappointed as Elagina’s text-critical edition is limited to the first eighty chapters. WE particularly lament that she has not included the twelve chapters (110-121) at the end of The Chronicle. These are the most important chapters: they are basically history written by an eye-witness of the Arab invasion of Egypt. How can we convince Elagina to extend her text-criticism to involve these chapters?

DATE AND CONTENT OF THE BOHAIRIC COPTIC MANUSCRIPT VAT.COPT 65

June 28, 2020

In a previous article, I put up the Coptic manuscripts in the Vatican Library that have been so far digitalised. There are sixteen of them. I will try to list the content of each Vat.Copt manuscript one by one.

I will start by Vat.Copt 65. The reader can access it here.

This is a Boairic Coptic manuscript.

It was made, obviously from earlier copies, by a Coptic deacon called Gabriel Menas from the village/town of Nimanthoams near the town of Thmuis (Coptic, Thmoui, now the Arab town تمي الإمديد) east of the Damietta branch of the Nile in Lower Egypt. Thmuis was a seat of a Coptic bishopric, and was origin of many saints and martyrs. In 725 AD (107 AH) and 831 AD (216 AH) the town’s Copts participated in the Coptic revolts against the Islamic rule that involved many other towns in Egypt.

It is dated 695 AM which is equivalent to 979 AD. Many Coptic manuscripts exist from the tenth century, in both Bohairic and Sahidic, which tells us that the Coptic language was still alive and healthy.

Vit.Copt 65 is composed of 120 vellum leaves, and contain three works:

  1. 1v-29v: Homily of Mark, the 49th patriarch of Antioch, on the burial of our Lord, etc.
  2. 30-98v: Encomium on St. Theodore the General and St. Theodore the Eastern by Theodore, bishop of Antioch (750 – 773).
  3. 99-120: Life of Onuphrius the Anchorite by Paphnutius the Anchorite.

The second work on the two Theodores was translated into English and edited, with the Coptic text, in 1910 by E. O. Winstedt in his Coptic Texts on Saint Theodore the General, St. Theodore the Eastern, Chamoul and Justus.

 

 

 

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