TWO LETTERS BY ST. PISENTIOS, BISHOP OF COPTOS (خطابان للأنبا بسنتي، أسقف كوبتوس (قفط
Roger Pearse wrote in his blog (9 April, 2011) pointing to two important letters by Bishop Pisentios of Coptos (Qift) which he found while looking at the online volumes of the Revue de l’Orient Chretien.
Roger Pearce’s post is to be found here:
Roger Pearce is interested in Patristics and Antiquity, and he often talks about Coptic manuscripts and Coptology in general.
The two letters of St. Pisentios are extremely important. Here is what I wrote at the heel of Roger’s post:
Dear Roger Pearse,
That is why I think your blog is one of the best of its kind! I had no idea of the existence of these two letters of St. Pisentios of Coptos. They are both extremely important, and I think researchers and historians will use them to study the Coptic history and mood in the Ayyubid Period (1171-1250) and during the Crusades. I do think they were written in the beginning of the 13th Century; the first letter certainly, in my opinion, after Patriarch Gabriel, the 70th Coptic Patriarch (1131-1145 AD).
St. Pisentios has a biography written by his disciple John, and is available in Coptic, Arabic and Ethiopic. E. A Wallis Budge in his Coptic Apocrypha in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, published the Coptic and Ethiopic lives of Pisentios. The Arabic life of Pisentios was published by O’Leary in P.O. 22.
Bishop Pisentios as you know lived in the 7th Century and witnessed the invasions of the Persians (618-628) and, most probably, the Arabs (640 AD). In his Biography he says, “Because of our sins God has abandoned us; he has delivered us to the nations without mercy.” And his biographer writes that Pisentios was “praying night and day that God would save the people from bondage to those cruel nations.” Alfred Buttler in his The Arab Conquest talks about Bishop Pisentios and his autobiography in his chapter: The Persian Conquest of Egypt.
I am not surprised that Copts in later ages found in this bishop’s biography and letters what reflected some of their nationalistic and religious hopes of their liberation from Arab rule.
I will try to expand on this in the future.