More Fragments From the Catechetical Orations of St. Cyril of Jerusalem in Coptic

In 1974, Tito Orlandi published a volume containing some of the Coptic literary papyri in the collection of the Austrian National Library in Vienna.[1] His publication revealed the existence of several previously unknown Coptic versions of Greek Patristic works. Equally interesting are the fragments K 8502a-i, which had been identified by Prof. Orlandi as coming from the Catechetical Orations of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.[2] Before the discovery of the Vienna material, only one other Coptic fragment from the catecheses of Cyril was known to exist. This fragment, which is kept today in the Heidelberg University Library (P. Heid. inv. kopt. 450), was published by the German papyrologist Friedrich Bilabel but it was identified only later by Carl Schmidt.[3] The Heidelberg papyrus contains a portion of the 6th Catechetical Oration. Here is the photograph of the fragment’s verso:

(source of the photograph)

In his turn, Tito Orlandi published nine fragments (K 8502a-i) from a different papyrus codex, but which all belong to the same catechesis (the sixth).[4]

It appeared to me that there are other fragments of the Catechetical Orations of Cyril of Jerusalem which have remained unidentified until now. They were published by Prof. Orlandi in the same volume, but as appendices to the fragments from the Coptic translation of the Plerophories of John Rufus, the bishop of Maiuma. I have now been able to identify two new fragments, both from the 7th Catechetical Oration, which has previously been unattested in Coptic. Thus, fragment K 2502e belongs to the Oration 7.1-2:[5]

An additional fragment of the same Oration is K 7343 (Catechetical Oration 7.9):[6]

As no pictures of these  fragments have been published, I cannot say for sure if they belong to the same codex as K 8502a-i, although it is likely to be so. A systematic survey of the other papyri in the Vienna collection might bring to light further fragments from Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Orations.

[1] T. Orlandi, Papiri copti di contenuto teologico/Koptische Papyri theologischen Inhalts (Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, 9; Wien: Brüder Hollinek, 1974).

[3] F. Bilabel, Ein koptisches Fragment über die Begründer des Manichäismus (Veröffentlichungen aus den Badischen Papyrus-Sammlungen, Heft 3; Heidelberg, 1922), 8-16; identified in C. Schmidt, review of Bilabel in Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 28 (1925) 378-379. The fragment was reedited in P. Nagel, “Ein koptisches Fragment aus Kyrill von Jerusalem (Cat. VI 22-24) über die Anfänge des Manichäismus (P. Heid.Inv.Kopt. 450),” in Études Coptes IV: Quatr. journée d’études (Cahiers de la bibliothèque copte, 8; Paris – Louvain: Peeters, 1995) 40-52.

[4] Orlandi, Papiri copti, 56-76.

[5] Ibidem, 120.

[6] Ibidem, 118-119.


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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1 Response to More Fragments From the Catechetical Orations of St. Cyril of Jerusalem in Coptic

  1. Pingback: From my diary at Roger Pearse

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