On May 17-21, 2016, the Coptic research group coordinated by Heike Behlmer (Seminar für Ägyptologie und Koptologie, Universität Göttingen) hosted in Göttingen the international conference “Shenoute and the Bible.” The conference was organized on the occasion of the annual meeting of the team that is producing the first critical edition of the works of Shenoute, which this year took place in Göttingen. This international team of scholars is coordinated by Stephen Emmel (Institut für Ägyptologie und Koptologie, Universität Münster). “Shenoute and the Bible” was sponsored and funded by the DFG-Sonderforschungsbereich 1136 “Bildung und Religion,” one of whose projects examines the re-use of the Bible in the works of Shenoute.
Besides the workshops on the critical editions and the translations of Shenoute’s works, the conference comprised a number of presentations, given by the members of the Shenoute team and of the Coptic projects currently hosted by the Göttingen University and Academy. For a complete list of the papers and speakers, see this post.
I would like to highlight just a few of the most important moments of the conference. On the first day, May 17, took place the public showcase “Window onto Egyptian Monasticism: Shenoute: 4th/5th century abbot and eminent Coptic writer,” during which Stephen Emmel, Bentley Layton (Yale University), Frederik Wisse, and myself spoke about Shenoute and his monastery.
The following day, May 18, Frank Feder (Göttingen Academy) and Ulrich Schmid (Göttingen Academy) introduced our project “Digitale Gesamtedition und Übersetzung des koptisch-sahidischen Alten Testaments,” which is hosted by the Göttingen Academy since January 2015. The evening of the same day, we visited the manuscript collection of the Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, where the director, Johannes Mangei, showed us the Coptic and Copto-Arabic codices brought by Heinrich Brugsch from Wadi Natrun in 1870.
On May 19, Martin Tamcke had a public lecture entitled “Von ‘Wir begannen, die Anachoreten in einem anderen Licht zu sehen’ zu ‘Jedermann braucht etwas Wüste’, Erhart Kästners (1904–1974) Zeltbuch von Tumilat und die Kopten.”
Finally, particularly interesting were the papers delivered by Diliana Atanassova (Göttingen Academy) on the liturgical manuscripts from the White Monastery, and by So Miyagawa (Universität Göttingen) and Kirill Bulert (MPI für Biophysikalische Chemie, Göttingen) on some remarkable results of the use of OCR software for digitizing Coptic (including manuscripts!). We also heard about a new and exciting manuscript discovery: Sebastian Richter (Freie Universität Berlin) spoke about a Sahidic papyrus fragment which seems to contain an early (anti?-)Origenist dialogue, which has surfaced recently in the collection of Leipzig University Library. The fragment has been edited and translated into English by Richter, and will soon be published in a collective volume. We look forward to finding out more about his discovery.