Coptica Update: New Article on Coptic Manuscript Fragment (H. Förster, ZAC 16 [2013])

The latest issue of the Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum features the article of Dr. Hans Förster (University of Vienna), “‘Siehe, Magier kamen aus dem Osten’: Eine Paraphrase der Magier-Perikope aus dem Matthäusevangelium (Mt 2,1-12).” If your university has a subscription to ZAC, you can read the article here.

Our colleague published a parchment fragment in the National Library in Vienna (call number: K 9118), which he believes to be unidentified.

K 9118v(source of the photo)

The abstract of the article says:

A Coptic paraphrasing of one of the Gospels from the White Monastery contains a narration based on the so-called magi pericope from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 2:1-12). It focuses this story onto the fight between Herod, a worldly King, and Jesus as the “King of Heaven.” This strengthens the parallels between the magi pericope and the Passion. Herod is identified with Pontius Pilate, and the phrase: “King of the Jews” which is focused throughout the Passion is integrated into the magi pericope. Some elements of the text indicate a liturgical usage in Egypt. Palaeographic analysis suggests dating it back to the 9th or 10th century C.E.

Actually, the fragment comes from a sermon on John the Baptist attributed to Theodosius of Alexandria (d. 567) (CPG 7151; clavis coptica 0386). This writing is preserved in several Sahidic codices. The Vienna leaf belongs to a White Monastery manuscript which has the siglum MONB.OY in the Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari database. What is more, the fragment in question was already published, and properly identified, by Karl Heinz Kuhn in A Panegyric on John the Baptist attributed to Theodosius Archbishop of Alexandria (CSCO, 268. Scriptores coptici, 33; Louvain: Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, 1966) 32-34.

Concerning the dating of the manuscript, I think I saw another codex copied in the same scribe’s hand, which is dated sometimes in the second half of the 10th century. This means that the dating proposed by H. Förster is correct. As to its provenance, paleographical features undoubtedly point out that it was produced in the scriptorium of Touton, in the Fayyum (from where it was later transferred to the White Monastery).

I hope this brief note will be useful for those interested in Coptic literature. The study of Coptic manuscript fragments has always been a tricky issue for Coptologists.


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.
This entry was posted in Encomium on John the Baptist, Theodosius of Alexandria and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Coptica Update: New Article on Coptic Manuscript Fragment (H. Förster, ZAC 16 [2013])

  1. Pingback: Tracing the Roots of An Ancient Coptic Hymn – Oran Enshosho – Hymn of John the Baptist | ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN MEETS WORLD

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