New Writings Attributed to John Chrysostom in Coptic

In an article which will be published soon, Sever Voicu identified the first Sahidic fragments from the pseudo-Chrysostomic piece In Psalmum 50, hom. 2 (CPG 4545; Clavis coptica 0486; Greek text in PG 55, coll. 575-588). Voicu found a cluster of six folios containing this homily, which are kept in the National Library in Paris (BnF Copte 1314, ff. 133-138).

His identification is brilliant given that it was based only on the laconic description of these fragments by the Abbot E. Porcher.[1] In a forthcoming article from Orientalia Christiana Periodica, I indicated that another Parisian fragment should be added to the same text and codex, namely BnF Copte 1305, f. 126. All these leaves came from a parchment codex which survived only fragmentarily and dismembered. The manuscript originally belonged to the White Monastery, situated near Sohag, and its remnants are scattered today among several collections.

Many new fragments have surfaced during my attempt to reconstruct the codex. On the basis of the new material, it became apparent that In Psalmum 50, hom. 2 was immediately followed in the same manuscript by Si qua in Christo nova creatura (CPG 4701; Clavis coptica 0482; Greek text in PG 64, coll. 25-34). This is another Chrysostomic spuria, based on 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (KJV). At least three leaves containing this sermon have survived. One of them arrived in the National Library of Austria, in Vienna (inventory number K 9805).

The Vienna fragment preceded in the manuscript two folios in Michigan University Library (Michigan University 158.31).

An unpublished checklist of the Coptic manuscripts in the Michigan University Library, compiled by an unknown person, describes the last two items in the following way:

2 vellum leaves, one 33.5 × 24.8, the other 32.8 × 25.5 cm. Homily. The leaves have been numbered as though they belonged to the same MS., but the hand does not appear to be the same. The second leaf has the page numbers 134 on the verso, and has a note by Crum affixed: “homily, some of it in Bodleian.” MS. hand is Paris 1305, f. 126 etc. (?) 2 columns, 31 lines to the page.

However, this description is not accurate because both fragments belonged in fact to the same manuscript of pseudo-Chrysostom’s Si qua in Christo nova creatura (the second fragment parallels Migne’s PG 64, col. 30, while the first parallels PG 64, col. 31).

On the other hand, the unknown author of the checklist (could it be William Worrell or one of his disciples?) was right in noting that Paris BnF 1305, f. 126 belonged to the same codex. As I said above, this fragment contains o portion from pseudo-Chrysostom’s second homily on Psalm 50. As regards an additional part of the same manuscript in the Bodleian Library, I was not able to find it, despite my efforts.

The Importance of the New Textual Witnesses

Although both homilies are attested in Bohairic, the present codex represents their only Sahidic witness presently known. During the collation of the texts, I observed marked differences between the Sahidic translation of Si qua in Christo and its Greek original. These variae lectiones are important since the Greek manuscript base of the homily in question is so limited.[2]

More (Pseudo-)Chrysostomica?

Finally, the same scribe copied a dozen of other fragments, which I have not managed to identify yet. They probably belong to other writings attributed to John Chrysostom, possibly lost in Greek. For example, several fragments in Naples contain a long exhortation against false oaths, which the author considers incompatible with the Christian behavior. The Coptic text resembles several passages in the genuine and spurious Chrysostomic works, although it does not match exactly to any of them.[3]


ps.-Chrysostom, In Ps. 50, hom. 2

Paris BN 1314, f. 133 (p. <71>-72) = PG 55, col. 576

Paris BN 1314, f. 134 (p. <73>-74) = PG 55, col. 577

Paris BN 1314, f. 135 (p. <75>-76) = PG 55, coll. 577-578

Paris BN 1314, f. 136 (p. <79>-80) = PG 55, col. 578

Paris BN 1314, f. 137 (p. <81>-82) = PG 55, coll. 578-579

Paris BN 1314, f. 138 (p. <83>-84) = PG 55, col. 579

Paris BN 1305, f. 126 (p. xxx-xxx) = PG 55, col. 588

ps.-Chrysostom, Si qua in Christo                         

Vienna K 9805 (p. xxx-xxx) = PG 64, coll. 28-29

Michigan 158.31c-d (p. <133>-134) = PG 64, col. 30

Michigan 158.31a-b (p. xxx-xxx) = PG 64, col. 31

Unidentified fragments  

Paris BN 1316, f. 5 (p. <163>-164)

Paris BN 1316, f. 6 (p. <169>-170)

London BL Or. 3581A, f. 157 + Cairo IFAO 244 (p. <171>-172)

Paris BN 1324, f. 321 (p. <197>-198)

Naples IB.16, f. 11 (p. xxx-xxx)

Naples IB.16, ff. 8-10 (p. <231>-236)

Paris BN 1316, f. 118 (p. xxx-xxx)

Paris BN 1317, f. 43 (p. xxx-xxx)

London BL Or. 3581A, f. 158 (p. xxx-xxx)[4]

Oslo no. 197 (p. xxx-xxx)

[1] E. Porcher, “Analyse des manuscrits coptes 1311-8 de la Bibliothèque nationale, avec indication des textes bibliques,” Revue d’égyptologie 1 (1933) 236 [62].

[2] K.-H. Uthemann, ”Die pseudo-chrysostomische Predigt CPG 4701. Kritische Edition mit Einleitung,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 59 (1993) 5-62; Idem, “Der Codex Parisinus gr. 700 und die pseudo-chrysostomische Predigt CPG 4701,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 61 (1995) 223-234.

[3] See, for example, the references given in Jean Chrysostome, Trois catéchèses baptismales (ed. A. Piédagnel & L. Doutreleau. Sources Chrétiennes, 366; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1990) 173ff.

[4] For the description of London BL Or. 3581A, ff. 157-158, cf. W.E. Crum, Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1905) 112 (= no. 252).

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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2 Responses to New Writings Attributed to John Chrysostom in Coptic

  1. Pingback: From my diary at Roger Pearse

  2. Pingback: John Chrysostom « EARLY CHURCH FATHERS

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