Guest Post: Anthony Alcock – Shenoute, De bonis et malis operibus

Download the document HERE.

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Coptic Faces

Over at Manuscripts and Microfilm blog, I’ve read a nice post about a Greek manuscript in Istanbul (Patriarchate Library, Panagia Kamariotissa, ms. 5 – 10th century; contains homilies of John Chrysostom), in which the blogger “found a delightful illustrated note left by a monk called Ignatios from the early 17th century.”

Then follows the photos of the illustrated note. The author remarks:

“The best thing about Ignatios’ note is probably the accompanying portrait in which a bearded man (a monk, likely) stretches out his left hand at the text. Ignatios (or perhaps someone else) did two little test drawings of a face and a hand. I think it’s not unfair to say that the faces turned out a little better than the hands. :)

You should definitely check out the portrait made by this 17th century Greek maestro. It’s truly a masterpiece. But other grandi maestri preceded Ignatios by many hundreds of years (600 or 700). Below are only two examples which I found in Coptic (Sahidic) manuscripts. I admit, the choices are purely personal.

f7.highresI read on the web many conspiratorial theories according to which Coptic manuscripts speak about the existence of UFOs. Above is the evidence that these theories are correct.

I.1.b.655 verso Lantschoot no. LVIII

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Radiocarbon Dating of Codex Glazier

During a recent meeting, Stephen Emmel drew my attention to an article published by John Lawrence Sharpe in the proceedings of the International Conference on Conservation and Restoration of Archive and Library Materials, Erice, April 22nd-29th 1996.[1]


In his paper, Sharpe studied the binding of certain Coptic codices. However, what is interesting is that he managed to convince William M. Voelkle, curator and head of the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, to accept the radiocarbon testing of a piece from the binding of the Glazier Codex (Acts 1:1-15:3 in the Middle-Egyptian dialect of Coptic). As far as I am aware, the results of the testing have passed unnoticed by Coptologists and scholars interested in biblical manuscripts. Here is the passage in which Sharpe explains the experiment:

“In consultation with W. Voelkle of the Pierpont Morgan Library, a piece of the wrapping band of Morgan G.67 approximately 17mm.2 and .25mm thick was selected for analysis. A piece of the wrapping band was chosen because of all the possible replacements, the most likely would have been the leather of the bands – those elements which would be represented by those pieces which are least likely to have been replaced. So the terminus post quam for the latest binding would be represented by those pieces which are least likely to have survived and most likely to have been replaced. So on the 18th of April 1994, a piece of the leather wrapping band was sent to the Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule in Zürich (Institute of Partial Physics) for analysis for the AMS 14C dating. On the 19th of May 1994, the report for the piece of leather was returned from Dr. Georges Bonani with the following report: from Lab. No. ETH-12270, a sample of leather produced the AMS 14C Age [y BP] of 1’565 ± 45 with the results of δ13C[o/oo] of – 23.6 ± 1.1 with the calibrated Age [BC/AD] of AD 420-598 […]” (p. 383 n. 13)

Of course, all one can sensibly say after the radiocarbon testing is that the latest possible date for codex Glazier’s binding is 598 CE. However, as the manuscript is in a very good state of preservation, I find unlikely that the binding has ever needed to be replaced. Being the case that Codex Glazier is similar, especially in terms of format, to certain manuscripts from the Monastery of Apa Jeremias at Saqqara (which can be dated ca. 600 CE), I would opt for a late 6th century dating.

[1] J.L. Sharpe, “The Earliest Bindings with Wooden Board Covers: The Coptic Contribution to Binding Construction.” In: Erice 96, International Conference on Conservation and Restoration of Archive and Library Materials, Erice (Italy), CCSEM, 22nd-29th April 1996: Pre-prints, edited by Piero Colaizzi and Daniela Costanini, 2:381-400. 2 vols. Rome: Istituto centrale per la patologia del libro 1996.

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“Apocryphization”: Theological Debates in Biblical Disguise. 8 May, 2014, King’s College London

On May 8, 2014, I will attend a workshop organized by Peter Toth and Ioannis Papadogiannakis at King’s College, London. Here is the announcement.

“Apocryphization”: Theological Debates in Biblical Disguise

8 May, 2014, King’s College London 

This workshop focuses on a hitherto under-studied form of Christian erotapokritic literature which, keeping the format of alternating questions and answers, shifts the scene from the context of a historical event or a school discussion into a biblical scenario with biblical discussants. We aim to explore the origins and techniques of this literary phenomenon by analyzing the doctrinal stance of the various pseudo-biblical scenes in order to understand why and how they expand the original narratives and create new, “apocryphal” scenes and motifs. It is the purpose of the workshop to get closer not only to outlining the rationale in the background of these dialogues, but also to understand the origin of the very concept of “apocryphicity” too.

Confirmed Speakers 

Sebastian Brock (University of Oxford) Averil Cameron (University of Oxford) Carmen Cardelle de Hartmann (University of Zürich) Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe (King’s College, London) Yannis Papadogiannakis (King’s College, London) Alin Suciu (University of Hamburg) Peter Toth (King’s College, London)

Organisers: Peter Toth ( and Ioannis Papadogiannakis (
The workshop is free and open to all. However, due to a limited number of places, registration is required. register by sending an email to Peter Toth: For more information on the programme and the practicalities, visit our website.
Download the flyer of the workshop HERE.
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Guest Post: Anthony Alcock – Letters of Shenoute

The following is a translation of letters 1-13 in J.Leipoldt (ed.) Sinuthii archimandritae vita et opera omnia CSCO 2nd series IV (1931). A Latin translation was made by Hans Wiesmann in the same series and also published in 1931. A notice about Leipoldt’s publication of Shenoute texts can now be found in S. Emmel Shenoute’s Literary Corpus (2004) pp. 914-923 (abbreviated here to SLC). Like many of the texts edited by Leipoldt the Coptic text has no title, and this has been supplied by the editor. I have left the terms hêgemôn, dux, comes (leading civil and/or military officials) and scholastici (bureaucrats) untranslated. The several people mentioned in the texts bearing these titles seem to be unknown from sources other than Shenoute’s texts.



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Conference on the Bodmer Papyri

Alberto Camplani just sent me the announcement concerning this importance conference on the Bodmer Papyri, “I Papiri Bodmer. Biblioteche, comunità di asceti e cultura letteraria in greco e copto nell’Egitto tardoantico.” The conference will take place February 3, 2014 at the Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Sapienza Università di Roma.

Pages from programma convegno BodmerAbstracts

→Jean-Luc Fournet, Anatomie d’une bibliothèque de l’Antiquité tardive

Cette communication se propose de faire une présentation synthétique de la bibliothèque qui est l’objet de ce colloque: recension des ouvrages qui la constituaient ; leurs caractéristiques bibliologiques ; le profil des utilisateurs; la provenance. Concernant ce dernier point, qui a fait l’objet de discussions, seront présentés pour la première fois des documents inédits provenant de la reliure d’un P.Bodmer.

→Paul Schubert, Les papyrus Bodmer : tentative de délimitation

Les papyrus Bodmer constituent un ensemble d’une complexité extrême : si les codex conservés par la Fondation Bodmer à Cologny forment de toute évidence le noyau central, les circonstances d’acquisition des papyrus font que de nombreux éléments du lot ont été dispersés dans d’autres collections ; la Fondation Bodmer s’est aussi séparée de plusieurs pièces. En outre, certains papyrus présentent un profil atypique par rapport à l’ensemble. Par conséquent, toute tentative de délimitation des papyrus Bodmer oscille entre la recherche d’un dénominateur commun et la reconnaissance d’exceptions qui rendent le tout moins homogène qu’on ne voudrait le croire. Les travaux de James Robinson ont apporté un éclairage intéressant sur la question, mais ne permettent pas de résoudre tous les problèmes. Le bref aperçu d’un fragment inédit tiré d’une reliure ouvrira par ailleurs une nouvelle perspective, celle de la nature des papyrus qui ont servi à fabriquer, parfois en second emploi, les codex Bodmer.

→Anne Boud’hors, Cohérence et signification de la composante copte des P. Bodmer

L’hypothèse de Robinson (1990, 2011) que les P. Bodmer (au sens large, c’est-à-dire avec des manuscrits conservés dans d’autres collections) constitueraient les restes d’une bibliothèque pachômienne, continue à buter sur l’absence de certitude concernant leur provenance. Laissant de côté cette discussion, je voudrais réexaminer les données linguistiques (variétés dialectales) fournies par les manuscrits coptes appartenant ou rattachés à cet ensemble, ainsi que leurs caractéristiques textuelles (à la fois la position textuelle des témoins bibliques dans l’histoire des versions coptes et le regroupement de certains textes, bibliques ou non). Cet examen se fera aussi en comparaison avec d’autres manuscrits coptes anciens présentant le même genre de caractéristiques, mais ne se rattachant pas à la même collection.

→Paola Buzi, Qualche riflessione sugli aspetti codicologici e titologici dei papiri Bodmer

Tra i molti aspetti che rendono il fondo dei papiri Bodmer di estremo interesse e, al contempo, di estrema complessità vi sono senza dubbio quelli codicologici. Il fondo, che verosimilmente rappresenta una raccolta libraria cresciuta nel tempo, comprende infatti codici papiracei e pergamenacei, fascicoli sciolti, rotoli e – se si accetta l’identificazione “ampia” dei manoscritti riferibili al fondo ad opera di Robinson – persino rotuli, questi ultimi sia papiracei che pergamenacei. Una siffatta varietà di formati e di supporti scrittorî ha, inevitabilmente, una ricaduta sulla struttura dei testi e sulla loro articolazione per mezzo dei titoli.

La biblioteca Bodmer offre dunque una rara opportunità di analisi di prassi scrittorie e librarie in evoluzione, sui cui aspetti più notevoli, soprattutto relativamente ai codici copti, questa comunicazione tenterà di soffermarsi.

→Pasquale Orsini, Note paleografiche sulle scritture dei papiri Bodmer

Da un punto di vista paleografico le scritture (greche e copte) utilizzate nei papiri Bodmer offrono un campo di indagine di grande rilievo sia per la loro collocazione cronologica (III – V secolo d.C.) sia per le diverse tipologie (formali ed informali) documentate. Tuttavia, negli studi dedicati a questi manoscritti (a partire dalle edizioni che si sono susseguite dal 1956) l’approccio paleografico si può definire marginale o accessorio, quasi esclusivamente funzionale alla datazione relativa dei singoli pezzi. Pertanto, in questa relazione – sulla scia di ricerche pubblicate nell’ultimo decennio – si vogliono considerare le manifestazioni grafiche dei papiri Bodmer nel contesto più ampio della storia della scrittura greca (e copta) e della produzione libraria tardoantica.


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Ps.-Theophilus of Alexandria, Sermon on the Cross and the Good Thief (CPG 2622; clavis coptica 0395)

This translation of Ps.-Theophilus of Alexandria’s sermon on the Cross and the Good Thief (CPG 2622; clavis coptica 0395), which is preserved only in the Sahidic dialect of Coptic, appeared in A. Suciu, “Ps.-Theophili Alexandrini Sermo de Cruce et Latrone (CPG 2622): Edition of M595 with Parallels and Translation,” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum – Journal of Ancient Christianity 16 (2012) 181-225. For details concerning the text, please refer to this article.

The homily attributed to Theophilus of Alexandria contains a long hymn of the Cross (cf. par. XV) which is derived from the pseudo-chrysostomic work In venerabilem crucem sermo (CPG 4525).

 Codex B-Turin Egyptian Museum cat. 63000 cod. 2 (title page of Ps-Theophilus-De Cruce

An exegesis of Apa Theophilus, the archbishop of Alexandria, which he pronounced concerning the Cross and the thief. In the peace of God, Amen!

I. Proemium: Christological hymn

The sun of righteousness has appeared from out of the Eastern places,

Lightening those who are in the darkness and the shadow of death.

The king of justice has borne the crown of the kingdom

(And) all his enemies have been vanquished under his feet.

The good odor has spread out on the altar of salvation

(And) has dissipated the stench with the perfume of its ointment.

The powerful lion has risen from the forests

(And) the beasts have hidden in their dark lair.

The holy physician has come to us with his medicines of life

(And) everyone who is afflicted has received the cure for free.

The joy of the whole creation was revealed:

They rejoice with him!

II. The Parable of the two kings

For, just as if a hostile king encircles a city and besieges it, then all those who are inside it are in subjugation, tormented, grieving (and) groaning. But when the king that has authority over it hears about the great effrontery, just as he ventures to kill his troops, then he gathers his entire host and their war equipment. Continue reading

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