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August 30, 2017

We have seen in a previous article that certain people in Alexandria believed a heresy that arose from Arabia and spread to it that the soul died with the body but that they both would be raised and united to each other at resurrection. That heresy was refuted by the Coptic church at a synod that was held in Alexandria in the second year of the patriarchate of Dionysius of Alexandria, Now, I shall talk about the existence in Egypt of some people who believed that both body and soul would extinguish at death, and that there would be no resurrection of body or soul. The story occurs at the times of St. Macarius the Great (300 – 390), who is known as Father of the Monks, for his role in establishing monasticism in Scetis,[1] in Egypt. The story is of a hermit, called Nofe,[2] who lived in the area of Ausim[3] and taught that there was no resurrection; and, thus, he misled many in the area, something which prompted the bishop to approach St. Macarius to help him in putting an end to the new teaching. It seems that the hermit did not believe in the possibility of the dead being resurrected. How he came to this conclusion, no one knows. And he challenges St. Macarius to raise anybody from its grave; and St. Macarius obliged: he raises an ancient Egyptian from the dead. This convinced the hermit of the possibility of the resurrection of the dead at the end of times.

The story comes in the Coptic Synaxarium under the date 27 Baramhat:

There was in the works of Ausim a solitary hermit who misled people by telling them that there will be no resurrection from the dead; and they listened to him. And the bishop of Ausim went to the saint [St. Macarius the Great], and complained to him about the situation of the people with the hermit; and he pleaded with him for help.

When [St. Macarius] went with him to the hermit, the [saint] saw an unclean spirit, Satan, dwelling in him. And when he conversed with him about the matter, the hermit said to him: “I do not believe the dead will rise; and I desire that you raise a man for me from the graveyard.” And the saint prayed and beseeched with the Lord; and, lo, a man from the infidels of the olden days, rose up from the dead. And the hermit believed.

As for the man who had been raised by the saint, he requested that the saint baptised him; and the saint baptised him. And he remained with the saint for six years before he died in peace.[4]


[1] Now, Wadi el Natrun.

[2] The name is mentioned in the Synaxaire Arabe-Jacobite by Basset. See n. 3.

[3] The old Letopolis, and now in the Governorate of Giza, on the western bank of the Nile, opposite Cairo.

[4] Réne Basset. Synaxaire Arabe-Jacobite: Les mois de Baramhat, Barmoudah et Bacans (Paris, Patrologia Orientalis, Tome 16, 1922); pp. 261-2.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. George Isaac permalink
    August 31, 2017 1:45 am

    I read the Coptic Synaxarium under the date 27 Baramhat. There was no mention of a dead man resurrected by St. Macarius. Do you happen to have another reference that matches that part of the story or I, probably, misunderstood the event by taking it literally.

    Here’s what’s written about it in the Synaxarium;
    ” There was an erring monk who strayed many by his saying that there was no resurrection of the dead. The bishop of the city of Osseem went to St. Macarius and told him about that monk. Abba Macarius went to that monk and stayed with him until the monk believed and returned from his error.”

    Thank you,

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      August 31, 2017 6:13 am

      The section under 27th of Baramhat that speaks about St. Macarius the Great, and which is published by various Coptic organisations on the internet in English does not include the full story. The full story is to be found in the Coptic Sybaxarium published by Patrologia Orientalis with the Arabic text and French translation by Basset. It was published under the title “The Jacobite Arab Synaxarium”.

      To access the four parts in which the full synaxarium were published, search for “Basset” in On Coptic Nationalism.

      With kind regards.

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