Additional Fragments from the Coptic Version of Ephrem Graecus

In a recent article, I presented two new Coptic fragments from pseudo-Ephrem.[1] They contain portions from the ascetical sermon De perfectione monachi (CPG 3971; Clavis coptica 0860). Some modern authors have mistakenly attributed this writing to Maximus the Confessor, but Peter van Deun rightly argues it as belonging in fact to pseudo-Ephrem.[2]

The new Coptic fragments come from a White Monastery codex which has not yet received the attention it deserves. This valuable manuscript contains the Sahidic version of the ascetic writings which are transmitted in Greek under the name of Ephrem the Syrian.[3] Enzo Lucchesi has found among the pseudo-Ephremian pieces a short work by Evagrius, On the Monastic Life (Rerum monachalium rationes = CPG 2441).[4] It is, however, very likely that this writing has been transmitted in Coptic under the name of Ephrem, since we have reasons to believe that codex was exclusively dedicated to him.

Unfortunately, the manuscript can be recovered only in part, from various dismembered fragments scattered all over the world. Rich inventories of fragments were already traced by Delio Vania Proverbio[5] and Enzo Lucchesi.[6] To these, I added two new testimonies from Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris: BnF Copte 1315, f. 90 and 1315, f. 147. They parallel the Greek text of De perfectione monachi, published by the Maronite Joseph Simon Assemani in 1743.[7]

One of the new fragments (BnF Copte 1315, f. 147) is damaged and preserves only the bottom part of a leaf. However, the missing part is not actually lost, but is recoverable out of two additional fragments. One of these is in Bibliothèque Nationale (BnF Copte 1317, f. 75), while the other belonged to the Coptic collection of Archduke Rainer and is kept today in the National Library in Vienna (call number K 9789). Both of them were identified before by Enzo Lucchesi.[8]

I have reconstructed the verso of the original leaf with the help of Adobe Photoshop and here is the result:

[2] P. van Deun, “Deux textes attribués à tort à Maxime le Confesseur,” Scriptorium 66 (1992) 87.

[3] On the history of the editions of Ephrem’s works (both genuine and pseudonymous), see E. Lash, “The Greek Writings Attributed to Saint Ephrem the Syrian,” in J. Behr, A. Louth & D. Conomos (eds.), Abba: The Tradition of Orthodoxy in the West. Festschrift for Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003) 81-98. On Ephrem Graecus, see esp. D. Hemmerdinger-Iliadou, “Ephrem, Les versions, I, Ephrem Grec,” in Dictionnaire de spiritualité vol. 4 (Paris: Beauchesne, 1960-61) coll. 788-800. The whole article about Ephrem published in DSp (authors S. Beck, D. Hemmerdinger-Iliadou & J. Kirchmeyer) can be downloaded here.

[4] E. Lucchesi, “Evagrius copticus,” Analecta Bollandiana 117 (1999) 284.

[5] D. V. Proverbio, “Auctarium au dossier copte de l’Éphrem grec,” Orientalia 66 (1997) 78-85.

[6] E. Lucchesi, “Un corpus éphrémien en copte,” Analecta Bollandiana 116 (1998) 107-114.

[7] J. S. Assemani, Sancti Patris Nostri Ephraem Syri opera omnia quæ exstant Ser. 1/Graece et latine 2 (Rome 1743) p. 412E-414A.  This editions is available on the internet at the Syriac Studies Reference Library. Assemani’s edition was taken over by K. G. Phrantzoles, Hosiou Ephraim tou Syrou erga vol. 3 (Thessaloniki 1990) 378-381.

[8] Lucchesi, “Un corpus éphrémien.”


About Alin Suciu

I am a researcher at the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities. I write mostly on Coptic literature, Patristics, and apocryphal texts.
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3 Responses to Additional Fragments from the Coptic Version of Ephrem Graecus

  1. Sever says:

    If it is Sahidic, that means that the translation is ancient (before yr 500?). Therefore also the original and the attribution to Ps.-Ephrem. That should be a help for dating it.

  2. Alin Suciu says:

    Thank you very much for the useful insight. I agree that the Sahidic translation must be ancient.

  3. Pingback: Two Joint Fragments from the Proverbs of Solomon in Coptic and the Extinction of the White Monastery Library | Alin Suciu

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