Coptic thread

Anthony the Great, Pachomius the Great, Shenoute
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Shenoute
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Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

Once upon a time, my (Sahidic) Coptic reading skills were decent, but they now have somewhat deteriorated. In an attempt to reverse this downward trend, I'll try to read rather extensively over at least the next couple of weeks. This thread will be a place for note-keeping and the like.

I have no definite plans yet, apart from reading more, but depending on how rusty I find myself to be, a quick run through Lambdin's textbook may be in order. As a kind of sub-plot, I would also like to become more familiar with Bohairic, a dialect I've always neglected.

I think I remember some members here have studied Coptic, so this could turn into a Coptic reading group if several people are interested. And since it shouldn't be too difficult to find texts that exists in both Coptic and Greek (and Latin as well), this could even become a multilingual reading group.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

So, no takers for a Coptic(-Greek-Latin) reading group? :)

Yesterday I read the Life of Apa Cyrus, as published Budge's Coptic Martyrdoms (1914). Despite the book's title it is not a martyrdom, nor is it really a life. The text is rather short and allegedly written by Pambo of Scetis.

The texts starts with Pambo being instructed, through a vision, to go into the desert, in search of a very worthy anchorite. Pambo obeys and first meets with Apa Hierax, who has been living in a cave (katagion) in the desert for 18 years, eating only dates from a nearby tree.
Upon learning that there is monk further inside the desert, Pambo leaves and reaches the katagion of Apa Pamoun. He has been living there for 20 years, wearing only a thin garment, which (contrary to what Pambo may think) is enough to keep him warm during winter and cool during summer. He tells Pambo there is someone else living further in the desert.
Pambo finally reaches the dwelling-place of Apa Cyrus, just in time to see him being visited by Jesus and dying the next day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pambo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Karas

I have read the text in a rather intensive manner and the good news is that my reading skills are not as rusty as I thought they'd be. The bad news is that my vocab seems to have atrophied quite a bit.
I ended up taking notes of every word I looked up. Most of these are words I half-remembered but still checked in order to help me remembering them more easily in the near future.

Budge divides Coptic words into very small grammatical units. It makes reading a bit akward at times but nothing too troublesome. It may make things slightly more difficult for a beginner though.

Some extracts in Budge's translation (not always reliable, but I haven't checked it carefully here).
And the blessed elder Apa Pambo rose up and went into the desert, and he came to the cell of a monk, and he stood still and knocked at the door for a considerable space of time, and he cried out three times, according to the rules of the monkish brethren, saying, 'Bless me!' And whilst I, Pambo, was standing at the door, the brother made answer to me inside, saying, 'Hail, Pambo, the elder of the church of Shiet, thou mighty ship that sailest over the desert that is without water. Behold, I have eagerly desired to see thee for a very long time! Behold, God hath fulfilled for me my wish this day! Come in, O blessed man!' And Apa Pambo answered, saying, 'Hail thou, Apa Hierax, who hast become a companion of the angels of God by reason of thy purity.' And Apa Hierax opened the door, and brought in Apa Pambo, and they sat down together.

(…)

And he said, 'Cyrus is my name. I am the brother of the Emperor Theodosius, and I was reared and fed at the same table as Arcadius and Honorius. And, indeed, many, many times hath Honorius said unto me, "Take me with thee into the desert, and I will become a monk"; but I did not wish to take him with me, because he is a son of the Emperor. And when we saw that oppression (or, violence) had multiplied, and that the Emperors were committing' sin, and that the rulers were robbing the poor, and that every one was turning out of the straight road, and making corrupt his path before God, I rose up, and I set out and I came to this desert, and I took up my abode therein because of the multitude of my sins. May God forgive me these!'

(…)

And he also said unto me, 'My beloved brother Pambo, I am sick this day. I beseech thee to do me the favour of praying for me until I journey over the road of fear and terror.' And I said unto him, 'My beloved father, art thou, even thou, afraid, notwithstanding all the multitude of ascetic labours which thou hast performed in this world?' He said unto me, 'I have performed a few of the ascetic labours which God appointed for me, it is true, but how is it possible for us not to be afraid of the things which have been indicated to us by very many witnesses, that is to say, the river of fire, and the appearance before the Judge? And as for that river, every one is bound to pass over it, whether he be a righteous man or whether he be a sinner, and it is right that thou shouldst pray on my behalf until I journey over that terrible road.' And he spake unto me again, saying, ' If a man's life upon this earth were to consist of one day only, he would not be free from sin. And, moreover, all flesh shall be purged by the fire.'

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by seanjonesbw »

Shenoute wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:48 am So, no takers for a Coptic(-Greek-Latin) reading group? :)
I'll be following this thread with interest (who could ignore a guided tour through Coptic literature by a Coptic saint? 😉), but alas have nothing to offer in terms of Coptic reading ability. Barry was working through Lambdin last year I believe but threads can get a bit lost down here so maybe he hasn't noticed. Wishing you the best with this interesting project, Sean.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by mwh »

I’ll be following too, if it gets off the ground, as I hope it will. I left Coptic behind years ago after studying it under the guidance of the lamented Michael Browne. I must admit the writings hold little appeal for me but this could be a chance to refresh my never better than shaky acquaintance with the language. How about old Nubian too?

Weep for Sudan.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

seanjonesbw wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 12:38 pmI'll be following this thread with interest (who could ignore a guided tour through Coptic literature by a Coptic saint? 😉),
Thanks, seanjonesbw. I hope you'll find some of the texts I'll post about interesting enough.

I don't remember why I chose "Shenoute" as my user name. It must have been done in the middle of a Coptic reading frenzy, and also, I'm always at at loss about these things. I kind of regret it now: Shenoute definitely is an interesting personality but he wasn't exactly what I would call a nice person.

mwh wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:46 pmI must admit the writings hold little appeal for me but this could be a chance to refresh my never better than shaky acquaintance with the language. How about old Nubian too?
I can't blame you for that. I like these stories of monks visiting one another and the often rather naive miracle stories but Coptic literature sure could do with a little more variety.

I flirted with Old Nubian at some point but the lack of a Old Nubian in 20 lessons and the small size of the corpus kept me from investing too much time in it. I'd be interested in getting back to it if some guided study takes place here.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

Yesterday I started reading the Life of Saints Eustathius and Theopiste and their two children, also in Budge's Coptic Martyrdoms.

As with the Life of Apa Cyrus, I'm checking and taking note of every word I don't known or feel even vaguely unsure about. It's time consuming and often not really needed for understanding what I read, but I feel it is a good way to make these half-remembered words stick.
There are some obvious (and not so obvious) typos in Budge's edition. He published a lot, and quickly, so this is not entirely unexpected. Still, I'm grateful he did since the British Museum manuscripts he published have generally not been reedited since, nor have they been scanned yet.

This Life differs slightly from most of the others I have read in that it involves a whole family, children included, and takes place under Trajan. Most martyrdoms I've read in Coptic have Diocletian's Great Persecution as their background. The trauma caused by this event was so important in Egypt that the Coptic Church still numbers the years according the the "Era of the Martyrs", which takes the year 284 AD (the beginning of Diocletian's reign) as its year 0.

I've read about a third of the Life so far. Enough to see pagan-but-kindhearted general Plakêtas become Eustathius through after God showed him a crucifix between the horns of the deer he was chasing.
And when a considerable time had passed, during which Plaketas had been looking at the stag, and marvelling at its great size and very fine appearance, and thinking out the means whereby he might capture it, the Lord gave him the following sign; and He made him able to see it, and it appeared unto him in the following form. There was a figure of a cross between the stag's horns, and it shone more brightly than the sun, and there was, moreover, between his horns a similitude like unto the body wherein God arrayed Himself in the womb of the Virgin; now He clothed Himself in this body for our salvation. And He cried out to Plaketas from the animal with the voice of a man, saying, 'O Plaketas, why dost thou hunt Me? (...)
This reminded me, mutatis mutandis, of the story of Angulimala chasing after the Buddha in a forest to cut his finger, and thus complete his finger-necklace, only to be converted by him.

Image

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I finished reading the Life of Eustathius (and his family).
Shortly after his baptism, God tells him he is going to face hardships ("be a new Job") and that sure happened fast. Eustathius lost his servants/slaves to the plague, his domestic animals died, and he leaves the place with his wife and two children. Upon arriving on the Egyptian coast, the captain of the boat kidnaps his wife and Eustathius is left alone with his two sons. Shortly after, one is taken away by a lion, the other by a wolf. Eustathius ends up doing a menial job in a village.
In the end, the family is reunited through sheer luck (=divine providence), just in time for Eustathius to won a last victory as general of the Roman armies and for the whole family to be sentenced to death by emperor Hadrian as Christians.

I think I'll spend some time, today and tomorrow, quickly rereading these two Lives. Hopefully, that will help in remembering most of the vocab I have jotted down.


Since this is a short post, here is a list of useful lexicographical tools:
- Crum, Coptic Dictionary. Published in 1939 (some complements by Kasser in 1964) and constantly reedited since. Words are listed in alphabetical order according to their consonants first, and vowels second, which is convenient given the nature of Coptic verbs, and the variability of vowels between dialects. Words of Greek origin are not included.
- Lambdin, Introduction to Sahidic Coptic, includes a very useful and user-friendly lexicon (for Sahidic only obviously). Contrary to Crum, words are listed in the way they would be in an English dictionary. This probably makes it easier to handle for a beginner at first but also means it it may be harder to find forms with a different vocalism than the one used as the base form. Lambdin kind of solved the problem by adding a list of non-obvious derived forms at the end of each section of the lexicon. Of course, it cannot (and wasn't intended to) compete with Crum in wide and depth.
- Föster, Wörterbuch der griechischen Wörter in den koptischen dokumentarischen Texten (2002). Often very useful since words of Greek origin are not included in Coptic dictionaries. Comes with many examples. Limited to documentary texts, so you won't always find what you're looking for when reading literary texts
- LSJ and Lampe, Patristic Lexicon. Greek words in Coptic may have seen their meaning evolve slightly at times but Ancient Greek dictionaries remain of course very useful.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by tico »

Hi, Shenoute,

How much time do you think it would take to complete Lambdin's course and how difficult would be to do it alone?
Thanks.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

Hi tico,

I guess a lot would depend on the student's background. Someone who has already learnt another ancient language on his own for instance will be better equiped than someone tackling Coptic as his first linguistic endeavour. And if you already know another stage of Ancient Egyptian, a lot will be familiar. Knowing Greek will also help with the script and vocabulary of course.

Coptic doesn't have the complex verbal and nominal morphology that Latin or Greek have, so that should make it easier overall. The syntax is also less convoluted, most of the time at least.
It will probably feel more foreign at times, though. In my experience, that slows down some people, while others are able to take these things in stride.

Overall, I think the average student should be able to work through Lambdin at the pace of something like, maybe 3-4h per lesson (including reading, taking notes, and doing all the exercices)?

So, yes, a difficult question to answer, but I think that, whatever the time frame, it's definitely doable on your own. Especially since there's a Key to the exercises online and youtube videos of people working through the course. And I'm also always happy to answer questions, to the extent of my ability.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I have finished rereading the Life of Apa Cyrus and the Life of Eustathius. More work would be needed to make all the vocabulary stick but that would kill all the fun. For the moment, I'll trust to seeing the most common of these words again and again in other texts.

I also read the Life of Hilaria over the last two days. The text has been edited and translated in Drescher, Three Coptic Legends (1947), which can be downloaded here. Like the Life of Cyrus, this work is attributed to Pambo of Scetis. Actually the Life of Cyrus takes up things right after Pambo buried Hilaria:
And it came to pass in the time of Apa Pambo, the elder of the church of Scetis, after he had protected (skepaze) the body of the blessed woman Hilaria, the daughter of the Emperor Zeno, that a vision was shown to him, (...)
The story can be summarized as such:
Hilaria, the eldest daughter of emperor Zeno (c. 425-491), wants to become a monk, only she can't do it in Constantinople because no monastery would take her in because of her parents. Like St. Anthony (and others), the watershed moment comes in church, when listening to readings that she feels support her desire. Shen then leaves the palace secretly, disguised as a guard (spatharios) and sails to Alexandria. From there, she reaches Scetis where Pambo tries to dissuade her from joining, since he thinks life there would be too harsh. Despite this, she remains in Scetis and leads a very ascetic life.
Three years later, Pambo is informed through a vision that she is a woman but he keeps this a secret. After nine years, the beardless Hilaria is known to her/his fellow monks as "Hilarion the Eunuch".
One day, a demon enters in her sister, who is sent to Scetis in the hope that the monks there will be able to cure her. Hilaria recognizes her sister and stays with her for a week, praying, kissing her and sharing a bed, after which her sister is cured by the Lord. Back in Constantinople, she tells the whole story to her father, who is intrigued by the fact that a monk would behave in such a way with a woman. He invites Hilarion to Constantinople under the pretense of having him help in another cure. When Zeno questions the monk about his behaviour, Hilarion reveals that (s)he is Hilaria. After three months in Constantinople, she is back in her monastery and dies there twelve years later, without anyone (except Pambo) knowning she is a woman.

There is apparently no Greek version of the Life of Hilaria and some have proposed that it originated in the Ancient Egyptian story known through the Bentresh stela. Having read both, I must say the parallels between the two stories looks rather weak to me and only of a very general nature (basically, somebody cures someone). No need to postulate any kind of filiation there.

The text reads fairly well. It seems I jotted down less words than I did for the two previous ones. Maybe I'm getting less rusty, or maybe the text was less vocab rich. There are a few non-standard Sahidic features here and there (which is to be expected since the manuscript comes from 9th c. Fayum), but nothing crazy.

If you want to read more about Hilaria, you can check the entry devoted to her in the Coptic Encyclopedia (the CE is a good starting point for all your Coptic-related questions).

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I'm about a third of the way through an encomium about Macarius of Tkow, an Egyptian bishop who died in the middle of the 5th c. for opposing the council of Chalcedon. The encomium is attributed to Dioscorus I, patriarch of Alexandria, who was banished by the emperor for opposing the council of Chalcedon.

According to the text, Dioscorus receives the news of Macarius' death while in exile in Patmos/Gangra (manuscripts vary) and that's what prompts him to reminisce about the man.

After praising Macarius' virtues, Dioscorus remembers how Macarius boarded the same ship as himself, in Alexandria, with the goal of going to Constantinople and attending the council of Chalcedon. Probably sensing that things weren't going to turn well for the Egyptian church, all the other Egyptian bishops bribed the emperor's chamberlain (koubouklarios < Lat. cubicularius) in order to avoid having to go. As a result, Macarius alone goes with Disocorus.

Dioscorus then tells some of the deeds performed by Macarius on the boat, and some he was told by Macarius' companion. The most striking of these is probably the story of Macarius bringing destruction on a pagan temple, staffed by pagans who murder Christian children in order to use their blood for libations, their intestines as harp strings, and their ashes as a device for treasure hunting:
There was a village on the west side of the river in which they worship an idol called Kothos which is mounted in the niches of their house. And when they go inside their doors, they are accustomed to bow down their head and worship him. (Circumstances) being thus then, the [Christian] priests of the village came and told my father [=Macarius] everything the pagans were doing, how they were seizing the children of the Christians and slaying them for their idol, Kothos. (...)
They seized some of them and handed them to the tribunal. They interrogated them and they revealed (the truth) without torture, saying: "We call out to the children of the Christians and deceive them and give them morsels of bread and little things to eat in order to shut them in hidden places so that no one outside would hear their voices. And in this way, we slay them and pour their blood upon the altar and take out their intestines and stretch them (to make) strings for our harps and we sing to our god on them. We also burn the rest of their bodies and reduce them to ashes. And everywhere we know there is treasure, we take a small quantity of their ashes and cast them upon it. And we sing on the harps with the little children's intestines for strings. The treasure comes to light at once and we take what we want."
(trad. Johnson)
You'd think that after being on the receiving end of such accusations for a couple of centuries, Christians would have learnt something about the credibility of such rumors...

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I have finished reading the second third of the Panegyric on Macarius of Tkow (edited by D. W. Johnson, CSCO, Scriptores Coptici, 1980).

Contrary to the first part, these sections were mostly filled with Dioscorus narrating the bad deeds performed by Juvenal, the Chalcedonian bishop of Jerusalem after the council had ended. Juvenal is denied access to city by the inhabitants because of his Chalcedonian positions. He complains to the emperor who gives him a few hundreds soldiers. Juvenal soon puts them to good use by orchestrating a mass killing of anti-Chalcedonian Christians inside a church of the city.

He then sends the soldiers to every monastery, with orders to get all of them on board with the Tome of Leo. If not, they are to be put to death. Some of the soldiers reach the monastery of Apa Longinus in Lycia (Cod. Ham. B has the monastery in Enaton, near Alexandria, thus providing a more familiar, Egyptian, background to the story). Apa Longinus comes out with all his monks and agrees that he will subscribe to the Tome only if the elders of the monastery will. By "elders" he means the bones of the monks buried inside the monastery. They, of course, speak against accepting the Tome.
Early the next day, the holy man, Father Longinus, said to the soldiers: "How long will you persist in keeping us? Arise and let us ask the elder brothers who are in the monastery whether they will subscribe, and we too will subscribe. If they do not subscribe, we also will not subscribe. (...)" The decurion said: "The speech you have uttered is good. Let us go and ask them in accord with your proposal". And the decurion followed him, and twenty soldiers also (went) with him. But the brothers kept entreating their father, saying: "Our father, is there another brother in this monastery besides us? Do not lie to the soldiers lest they become angry and kill us". But the holy elder, this man the strands of the hair of whose head are like the trees of paradise, said to the brothers: "Be silent and go. It is possible for God to perform many wonders." But many of the brothers found fault with the elder, saying: "The mind of this elder has been disturbed". But he knew what he was doing. (...)

And the holy man, Father Longinus, took [the Tome] from [the decurion's] hand and shoved it inside the tomb, saying: "My God-loving fathers who have already died in the orthodox Faith, do you command me to subscribe to this foolish Tome? If it is taken from me, you subscribe first and take the guilt from us. And do not say: 'We have died and gone to our repose' Believe me, if your bones do not answer us, yes or no, you will bear our condemnation and we will raise your bones and cast them out in desert places. Do you wish, then, to remain in your places? Tell us the truth quickly".

And thus, as from as single mouth, the bones answered, since they heard everything, saying: "Anathema to the synod of Chalcedon. Anathema to the one who would say 'Hail' to them. Anathema to the one who would be in communion with them. Anathema to the one who would divide Emmanuel into two natures. Anathema to all God-less heretics. Anathema to those who would say that Mary is not a God-Bearer! Let everyone who does not understand the holy Faith be in the abyss at the last. The pit of the abyss will inherit those who will accept the faith of Chalcedon. O Longinus, throw away this document in your hand. Do not be defiled. Take it away from us also, lest we be defiled".

(Translation by Johnson, slightly modified)
The decurion and the soldiers are so impressed by this miracle that they immediately choose to become monks in the monastery.

The text is not always an easy read and I have to look up quite a few words. At the same time, it is a good way for me to become more familiar with the events surrounding the Chalcedonian controversy and how it came to be viewed in the Coptic Church.
Beside the two main Sahidic witnesses (Pierpont Morgan M609 and Cod. Ham. B, both from Hamuli), there is also a Bohairic version of the text (Vat. Copt. 68). Maybe I'll use it later, when devoting some time to become more familiar with this dialect.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by seanjonesbw »

I'm enjoying reading this thread immensely and hope you keep posting. I'm curious about one thing in the post above: is the word translated as "Αnathema" Greek loaned into Coptic or is there a different Coptic word entirely here?

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

Thanks, seanjonesbw! :D

Yes, both Coptic manuscripts use anathema here. I think it's the "normal" word in Coptic in this kind of context.

https://imgur.com/a/rnX5KlF

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by seanjonesbw »

Thank you! How interesting to see that "God-bearer" isn't θεοτόκος (unless that's cut off at the bottom?) so soon after Ephesus.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

True. "Theotokos" is very much in use in Coptic texts but I guess the writer here wanted to emphasize the concrete aspect of things. Together with the indefinite article, it makes it clear that it's not just about denying Mary a title, it's the very fact that she could be ourefjpenoute, a god-begetter (Johnson went for the most widespread English translation but "god-begetter" is closer to the Coptic, and the Greek).

If I remember well, it's Nestorius who opposed the use of Theotokos, on the grounds that Mary could only have given birth to Jesus' human nature, not the divine one. If so, the bones of the elders are firing anathemas right and left, so to speak, at both Chalcedonians and Nestorius.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by seanjonesbw »

Shenoute wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 1:10 pm If so, the bones of the elders are firing anathemas right and left, so to speak
Ha! It's a great little story and I love the slightly schlocky feel to it. Now, like the bones, I will return to watchful silence having made my feelings known.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I finished reading Macarius' Panegyric. The last part also switches back and forth between stories about Macarius himself and stories/miracles without a clear link with him.
Since scholars agree that the work is not Dioscorus' and that it is not from a reliable eyewitness either, maybe the writer wanted to emulate a real discussion, with its constant change of topics. Or he simply put together anecdotes about Macarius and a few other stories that didn't fit elsewhere.

Dioscorus' moment of bravery in front of Marcian and Pulcheria:
Let us return now to the time when we were taken inside to the emperor, Marcian. And it happened (that), when we were taken inside, we sat down. And in there were Mark of Ephesus, Juvenal of Jerusalem, Anatolius of Constantinople, Stephen of Antioch, and the lowliest, I Dioscorus, as well as the emperor and she who is unworthy to be called by her name, Pulcheria. And Father Macarius came in with Pinution, his brother. He sat over apart by himself. But they are near us and the emperor, and what we say, they also hear. The emperor said to us: "Define the Faith for us that you may go to your homes". I, Dioscorus, said to him: "In what is the faith of our fathers lacking that we should add to it in accord with your mind, O emperor?" (...) Flavian, who anticipated the emperor, answered: "Enough of you, O Dioscorus! The ancient ways have passed on. Behold, new people exist." I myself, Dioscorus, answered, saying: "If I were to add to the things which my fathers built up at the synods which they attended, and if I destroyed these things, truly I would set up myself up as a traitor".

Ibas motioned to the emperor to order the Tome of Leo to be read. When he had given the order, the clerck began to read. I, Dioscorus, responded: "What is this scroll which is being unrolled in our mist?" The clerk said: "It is the letter of Leo, the patriarch". Immediately, I leapt up in the court, took the document and threw it away. I said: "Do not proclaim the blasphemous acts of that man in this place, (else) I shall leave the whole city of the [empire] under the interdict and we shall go".

And the empress Pulcheria responded: "What is this delusion of yours which you reveal in the presence of the rulers? My mother brought low the neck of another boaster of your ilk, that is, John, the archbishop of this city, and he died in exile. Am I not able now, or do I not have the authority to treat you just like that man?" I answered and said to her: "See too how God smote you mother. Did not a sore break out on her buttocks and discharge worms? Now but for the fact that she visited the relics of the holy John, the worms would have consumed her entire body. Now if you were not afraid when you saw your mother's humiliation, then do what you wish to me also. (...)"

(translation: Johnson)
Given the contents of the text, there is a generous serving of words coming from Latin, via Greek of course. Mostly court titles and positions but not only:
beretarios < veredarius
dikouriôn < decurio
kômis < comes
koubouklarios < cubicularius
lektikê < lectica
missa < missa?
notarios < notarius
ordinos < ordo
patrikios < patricius
prêmêkurios < primicerius
selentiarios < silentiarius
sekretarios < secretarius
skoubitôr < excubitor
skribôn < scriba?
fiblatôrion < fibulatorium

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

Today I read four short stories, miracles performed by Saint Menas, a popular figure among Coptic saints.

The first story is about an Isaurian being killed for his money; the second about a man being punished for offering the least of two silver plates to Menas' sanctuary; the third about a woman about to be sexually assaulted by a soldier, only to be rescued by the saint; the last one deals with a Christian robbing a Jew from his goods, leading the Jew to appeal to the intercession of the saint.

The version I have read is known to us through the (incomplete) manuscript Ifao Copte Inv. 315-322, edited by Seÿna Bacot in 2011 (article available here, first three miracles) and Paul Devos in the Analecta Bollandiana 78 (1960, using another manuscript for the end of the story which is missing the IFAO manuscript).

You can find another version of three of these miracles in Drescher, Apa Mena (1946), as well as other texts about the saint and a study of his cult, shrine, etc. The texts published in Drescher come from various manuscripts of the Hamouli collection.

Here is my translation of the beginning of the first miracle in Bacot's article (=Drescher p. 13-17 and 112-114):
There was an Isaurian who was very wealthy. This man came to the city of Rakote (=Alexandria) for his affairs. He heard about the honor the holy Saint Apa Menas was held in and about his power. He said: "I wish to go and venerate the body of the holy martyr Apa Mena, and to give some gifts from my merchandise to his sanctuary, so that God straighten the way I walk in." He remembered the words our Saviour said in the Gospel: "Let your charity happen in secret and your Father who looks at you in secret will reward you."

And so, he rose up, took the raktos of gold, went to the lake, boarded a ship, and went down in the harbour of Philoxanita. As the night came while he was walking on the road, he made for a storehouse and said to one of the men in that place: "Brother, will you be kind enough to take me in with you until the morning? Because I am afraid to walk alone in the desert." The man said to him: "Come in here near me. Stay until the morning, because there is one here, but I live here on my own."

The man went in and stayed with him. And he prepared him some bread and made him eat, and he made him drink wine. He prepared a resting place for him.
He saw the gold belonging to the man. And so Satan filled his whole body. [The man] left him until [the Isaurian] fell asleep. He rose above him, killed him, and said to himself: "I will carry his body and throw it into the lake while the people of the harbour sleep. And as he was having these thoughts, behold, a great light spread forth in that place until the light was all over. When the light came out, the man feared that the men were coming in and would find about the envy (ⲫⲑⲟⲛⲟⲥ) he had done.

And so, he rose up, dismembered him, and put it in a jar, saying to himself: "If I get the opportunity, I will carry it and throw it in the water." While he was turning [the Isaurian's] head in order to strike it with the knife, lo! the holy martyr Apa Mena took his spiritual horse, while two angels walked with him, looking like soldiers. They knocked at the door of the storehouse. The man was frightened because the head of the man was in his hand. Quickly, he put it in a leather bag (ⲡⲩⲣⲁ=πήρα?) and hung it in the middle of the house. Immediately after, he made haste and opened the door of the house.

Apa Mena rushed in and took hold of the man, saying: "Make haste and attend to me and my servants". Then the man said to him: "I declare to you, my lord, that there is no one here with me to serve you, Sir (ⲕⲩⲣⲉⲓ ⲙⲁⲅⲓⲥⲧⲱⲣ)". Apa Mena said to him: "Sit and be patient. We will find the one we came for".
The man saw the face of Apa Mena being glorified, and also the angels who walked with him, and he was thinking in himself that the comes had sent after him because of the envy (ⲫⲑⲟⲛⲟⲥ) he had done.

(...)
I don't know what ϩⲣⲁⲕⲧⲟⲥ stands for here. It appears a second time as ϩⲣⲁⲕⲕⲟⲥ. Bacot links it to Greek ῥάκος and translates it as "sac (bag)".
It looks like ⲫⲑⲟⲛⲟⲥ "envy" should be ⲫⲟⲛⲟⲥ "murder" (Bacot: "crime") but both Coptic versions have ⲫⲑⲟⲛⲟⲥ. I guess the text still kind of makes sense as is: "the envy/ill-will I have shown".
I'm not sure about ⲡⲩⲣⲁ=πήρα. The spelling of words of Greek origin in Coptic shows much variation, reflecting (at least partially, I guess) the evolution of pronounciation, with ⲩ and ⲏ for instance often being used interchangeably. Bacot translates it as "panier (basket)" which agrees with Drescher's witness (ⲃⲓⲣ).
Last edited by Shenoute on Tue May 04, 2021 12:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Coptic thread

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@Shenoute, is there anything in this thread that you would have an objection to being moved out of the Academy Google-shielded zone over to the new "Coptic Corner" subforum?
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

Hi joel,

No, no objection at all!
I don't know if there will be enough traffic to justify creating a Coptic subforum though...

Edit. I see it's already there :D

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Well, I hope there is enough traffic. I was busily learning Sahidic from Lambdin (got through chapter 4... :( ) When I decided to back off for health and work reasons. I wouldn't mind starting up again, if we could get a decent group to work through Lambdin?
N.E. Barry Hofstetter

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by tico »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 8:36 pm I wouldn't mind starting up again, if we could get a decent group to work through Lambdin?
I would be glad to join such a group.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

That would be nice. Let me know if I can help in any way!

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Dante »

theres an online Coptic course that uses Lambdin, the videos are posted to youtube:
https://youtu.be/zYCKsnRnnkA

and an associated discord channel that has related discussion

knowing Greek helps to a certain extent because of the alphabet and the many greek loan words.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I read a few more miracle stories about Apa Mena published in Drescher's Apa Mena (1946). Drescher's texts come from three manuscripts from Hamuli:
- M590 (Martyrdom, 17 miracle stories, Encomium)
- M585 (two more miracle stories)
- M575 (one antiphon).

M590 is badly damaged though and Drescher only published the first and last three miracles, so 6 out of 17. This is all the more regrettable since the Greek versions have only 13, at most, of these miracles and the Coptic text would be a valuable addition.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Devos (1960) and Bacot (2011) published another, incomplete, witness from the IFAO collection containing the text of five miracles, two of which are among the 8 published by Drescher (but in a different redaction).

The first miracle in manuscript M585 is the longest one and, because of this, I felt it made for better reading: more dialogues, more color and details. Here is a partial summary, taken from this page:
Among them was a very poor brick-maker from Alexandria who had spent all he had on doctors to overcome an illness. He and his wife with his five children were starving. The money he had received from the archbishop to make bricks for the shrine was not enough and his wife was worried concerning the life of their children. In his despair over whether to leave his job at the shrine, because it did not earn enough money, or to stay, Apa Mena appeared to him in the disguise of a soldier and convinced him to remain at work, promising him extra wages. When the saint returned to the brick-maker the next day, he took one of his bricks and then gave it to the brick-maker as his wages. The brick-maker felt cheated and decided to leave the building site at the shrine, but the saint urged him to take the brick on his journey home to Alexandria. The worker did so, and once he reached his family home in Alexandria the brick had turned to gold.
The poor brick-maker ends up going to Rome, in order to show the miraculous brick to the emperor.

Although it is not mentioned by Drescher (or, if it is, I missed it), I wonder if there isn't a pun at work here since the Coptic word for "brick" and "repayement, reward" is the same: ⲧⲱⲱⲃⲉ.
That's the kind of things I have seen mentioned about other texts as supporting a Coptic original, rather than a Greek one. Maybe that could be the case here too.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I've finished reading the Acts of Pilate, an apocryphal text describing the trial of Jesus before Pilate and the subsequent actions by the Sanhedrin to cover up his resurrection.

It relies heavily on the canonical Gospels and many of the sentences are quite short. There is also a lot of repetition. All of this makes me think that it can be a useful tool to those looking for Coptic texts to read after completing a textbook and having done some Bible reading. There is also a small number of non-standards forms here and there (as well as some copist mistakes), which can also serve as a good introduction to what actually exists out there, besides textbook/grammar Sahidic.

The text is preserved in a Turin manuscript and has been edited twice, by Rossi (1884) and Révillout (1913). As is the case with Amélineau or Budge, everybody likes to criticize Révillout's editions and agrees that they should be redone, but rarely has anybody in the past century thought it would be worth his/her time.

One part made me chuckle. After Joseph of Arimathea had been arrested by the Jewish authorities for burying Jesus, he ended up vanishing from the house he was kept in. Later on, the guards responsible for "losing" Jesus' body put Joseph's disparition to good use in order to absolve themselves from any blame.
While everybody was still in the synagogue, wondering about Joseph that he had not been found, some of the guard came, whom the Jews had asked for to watch over Jesus' grave lest His disciples come and remove him surreptitiously. They told the high priests and the priests and the Levites about the movement of the earth that happened at the time of the vigil: "[the guards tell them about an angel clad in white rolling the stone in front of the tomb and speaking to the women]"

The Jews said: "Who are the women the angel spoke to ?" The guards said: "We do not know who they are." The Jews said: "What time was it ?" The guards said: "Midnight." The Jews said: "Why did you not seize the women ?" The guards said: "We were mortified with fear and we did not think we would see the light of day. How then were we supposed to detain them ?" The Jews said to the guards: "We do not believe you." The guards said: "You have seen all these signs from that man. You do not believe Him. Will you believe us ? We have heard another extraordinary thing: the one who asked for His body, Joseph of Arimathea, you locked him in a dark place and shut the door on him and sealed it. Then you opened the door and did not find him. Give us Joseph and we will give you Jesus."

Translation: Alcock (2016)

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

The last couple of days have been rather quiet on the Coptic front but I managed to do some Old Testament reading, namely Jonah, Ruth, and Lamentations.

The last one reminded of how much I like reading this type of texts. In comparison, I can see that I never really warmed to Classical Latin poetry, despite its verbal artistry. I guess one of the reasons is my relative lack of interest in Greek history and mythology, while, on the contrary, Latin poets seem to delight in dropping as many Greek names and allusions to Greek myths as they can. Very roughly, I find Ovid more interesting in the Tristia or the Pontics than in the Metamorphoses.
Classical Latin poetry also gives me a feeling of...preciosity (for lack of a better term) and...unsincerity (again, not the best choice of word). Roughly again, I'm not really able to weep or rejoice with Catullus, while I find sharing the pains and concerns of the Psalmist much more natural (and that's outside of any religious consideration).
Now, of course, this is more a general tendency and I'm glad that it is not a matter of either-or.

Back to the Coptic Old Testament. If you want to read the Bible in Coptic, you're probably in for a nasty surprise: there is no complete Coptic Bible available anywhere, either in print or online. That's simply because we don't have a complete Coptic Bible, no matter the dialect. In the case of Sahidic, this is probably due to the passing of time and the demise of this dialect in favour of Bohairic around the 11th c. This led to Sahidic manuscripts being left to rot for centuries, and their remnants being sold leaf by leaf to various antiquity dealers in the 19th and 20th c. Consequently, it is not uncommon for a Sahidic codex to be spread over 3 or 4 libraries, each one of these owning a few leaves of what was left of the manuscript at the time it was sold.

The good news is that we still have the complete New Testament in Sahidic, as well as large parts of the Old. Reading the NT in Sahidic is easy, just download Horner's bilingual edition and you're good to go. Individual witnesses of the Gospels have been edited since (Perez 1984, Quecke 1972, 1977 and 1984), and it seems to me that scholars now prefer referring to these editions rather than to Horner's composite text. But that doesn't matter a lot for casual reading.

Because of the fragmentary nature of the corpus, things get more complex if you want to read something from the Sahidic OT and you may have to jump between various publications to get a more or less complete text. Things got better in the recent years due to some new online platforms and tools.

Using publications available online, you can check the links at https://coptica.ch/textes. As a rough guide, here is a list, probably not exhaustive, of OT books which can be read in their entirety without too much trouble, as well as the publication enabling you to do so (see coptica.ch for the links). Texts in Thompson 1908 and 1911 may be more patchy but I still included them:
Spoiler
Show
Leviticus: M566, unpublished
Numbers: M566, unpublished
Deuteronomy: Budge (1912); M566, unpublished
Joshua: Thompson (1911)
Judges: Thompson (1911)
Ruth: Thompson (1911)
1 Samuel: Drescher (1970)
2 Samuel: Drescher (1970)
Judith: Thompson (1911)
Esther: Thompson (1911)
Job: Amélineau (1893)
Psalms: Budge (1898); Worrell (1916)
Proverbs: Thompson (1908); Worrell (1931)
Ecclesiastes: Ciasca (1889), pp. 195-214
Song of Songs: Thompson (1908)
Wisdom: Thompson (1908)
Ecclesiasticus/Sirach: Thompson (1908)
Isaiah: M568 (1-39 published in Bąk 2020)
Jeremiah: Feder (2002)
Lamentations: Feder (2002)
Baruch: Feder (2002)
Jonah: Budge (1912)

M566 and M568 refer to manuscripts from Hamuli. Images can be accessed here.

Other than that, you can also use the online texts at Scriptorium. Not everything we have seems to be there yet though, and the text may not be the most correct one (for instance, Jonah has apparently been copied straight from Budge 1912 without making use of the numerous corrections published by Thompson 1913).

Scriptorium gets many of its texts from the Digital Edition of the Coptic Old Testament. Using the "Full Search" function in the Workspace enables you to search for a specific Bible verse, returning a list of the relevant manuscripts (if any). Sometimes pictures of the manuscript are available too, which is of course very useful.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I read a short text from the Nag Hammadi collection, the Act of Peter.
In it a crowd asks Peter why he heals others but not his own crippled daughter. To show that he could do so, Peter heals her, before asking for her to become a cripple again. He then explains to the bemused crowd that a man named Ptolemy once saw the girl bathing and wanted her for his wife. There is a lacuna at this point, but when the text resumes Ptolemy's servants are bringing the girl, now a crippled, back to Peter's house. Ptolemy later becomes blind, receives a vision, is healed by Peter, and acknowledges the error of his ways before dying, leaving a piece of land to Peter's daughter.

Thanks to Augustine (Contra Adimantum, XVII), we (think we) know what happens in the lacuna: Peter prays for his daughter to become a crippled, rather than be defiled by Ptolemy (et ipsius Petri filiam paralyticam factam precibus patris).
The text's goal is indeed to exalt the preservation of virginity and has been linked by its first editor to the Encratites, " an ascetic 2nd-century sect of Christians who forbade marriage and counselled abstinence from meat."

I am not a big fan of the Nag Hammadi texts in general. I remember painfully reading the Gospel of Truth a few years ago and being puzzled by Gnostic cosmology, aeons and the like. To be fair, my Coptic was also probably not up to the task, which may explain why I found reading the Gospel of Truth so painful and had stayed away from Nag Hammadi texts since.

If you want to read the Nag Hammadi texts in Coptic, the easiest way to do so is through the massive bilingual 5-volume Coptic Gnostic Library.
Also, images of all the Nag Hammadi codices can be seen online here.

I also finished reading a text about how Eudoxia, Constantine's fictitious sister, ended up discovering the Holy Sepulchre. I'll try and post more about it later.

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

A few words about Eudoxia and her discovery of the Holy Sepulchre.

I think this text could make for good, easy-ish reading. The vocabulary seems to be made mostly of common words and the story, while not fascinating, is interesting enough (if you're into that sort of things, that is). The only inconvenience is that bits of the first few pages are missing, but not a whole lot.

The first part is about Constantine becoming emperor after Diocletian is sent packing by the archangel Michael. Diocletian then becomes a beggar at Antioch's gate and dies miserably after seven years.
Next is an account of Constantine's war against the Persians, featuring a miracle rescue and the Persian kings eventually making peace with him.
The last part is about a luminous being sending Eudoxia, Constantine's sister, on a mission to find the Holy Sepulchre. Once in Jerusalem, she has thousands of Jews arrested and tortured in order to have them reveal the location of Jesus' burial place (the idea being that the Jews know the place but have kept this information hidden from Christians for centuries). In the end, a scribe tells her that Jacob, a 115-year old Christian priest of the city (and kinsman of Jesus), knows the location of the tomb. Eudoxia goes on finding the tomb and calls for Constantine to come. The tomb is then opened and celebration ensues.

While fiction, the part about Eudoxia casually rounding up and torturing the Jews of Jerusalem is telling us something about the author's viewpoint on Jewish-Christian relations.
The bit about Jacob being a Christian priest doesn't seem to make much sense: why would a Christian priest not reveal that he knows the place where Christ was buried? Was he instructed (by God?) to remain silent until someone would come and ask for it? Nothing is said about this. Maybe some explanation is given in the lengthy commentary published together with the text and its translation but I haven't read it yet.
I guess a comparison with the story of St Helena discovering the Cross would probably raise a few interesting points.

The text has been edited by Rossi (1883) and Orlandi (1980, translation by Pearson, study by Drake). The 1980 edition can be downloaded here, together with quite a few other text publications by Orlandi and others.

The moment of the discovery features what seems to be a rather gratuitous detail: Theophilus, archbishop of Caeserea, going first into the tomb, finding that it was made for three bodies (thus doubting it could be Jesus' tomb) and mistaking the spike for a human bone. It made me smile, so maybe it was included for comic relief but I kind of doubt it.
(...) the king said to Abba Theophilus, "Go now into the tomb". And he went into the tomb and said, "Behold there is room for three men in this place. Perhaps it is a tomb for the body of a prophet". The king said, "Do not fear, but observe well!" He looked and it was a place for three men.
He went into the middle and said to the king, "Behold, a man's bone just jabbed my leg!" The king said again, "Observe well!" While he was twisting his head down to see the human bone, he found that is was the spike for the inscription that had been nailed to the cross. He cried out with a loud, fearful voice, "Behold the spike for the inscription of Christ!"
The king immediately looked and saw the inscription which Pilate had written and fastened to the cross of Jesus, "This is Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews", written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. And he fell right on his face. When he brought it out of the tomb he placed it on the stone upon which the angel had sat, that all might see it. Everyone who saw it bowed down to it, and did obeisance to it, crying for about three hours.

(transl. Pearson)

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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

I have finished reading an encomium on Saint Coluthus edited and translated by Stephen E. Thompson in Encomiastica from the Pierpont Morgan Library (CSCO, Scriptores Coptici 47-48, 1993).

According to the encomium (attributed to Isaac, bishop of Antinoe), Coluthus was born in Antinoe to wealthy, noble (his father is the governor of the region), and devout Christian parents. Coluthus received a good education, prayed a lot, and adopted some ascetic practices. He also gave alms to those in need. At some point, God performed a miracle through him, much to Coluthus' dismay. Later, his parents want to marry him but he refuses, threatening to disappear in the desert if they coerce him.
After the death of his parents, Coluthus gets closer to the bishop. He becomes a deacon, and then a priest, while working as a physician. In the end, Coluthus falls victim of the persecution launched by Diocletian, being held in prison for three years and burnt after refusing to sacrifice.

The second half of the encomium narrates four posthumous miracles that took place at Coluthus' shrine:
1) a man leading a rather dissolute life breaks his foot/leg and gangrene sets in. He is healed after Coluthus appears to him and touches his foot/leg
2) a cripple goes to the shrine and spends a month there without being healed. He readies himself to go home and accuses Coluthus of playing favorites, healing some and letting others down. Coluthus comes to him, rebukes him ("How can you compare your month of waiting to my three years in prison and being burnt alive?"), but still grants him healing
3) a deacon of the shrine, skilled at reciting and singing, is falsely accused by his colleagues of having an affair with a woman of the city. He is demoted by the bishop but after a year Coluthus intervenes to have him proved innocent
4) an Isaurian merchant living in Antinoe lends money to an associate. Said associate later destroys the contract and denies having ever received anything. The two men fight and end up going the Coluthus' shrine. Just as the liar finishes swearing he never received the money, he falls to the ground and later dies.

The encomium deals with Coluthus' trial and death only very briefly, probably because the topic is the subject of another Coptic text preserved in the same manuscript (M591 from Hamuli). It has been edited by Reymond & Barns, Four Coptic Martyrdoms (1973).
Parts of other Coptic texts about Coluthus are known to us:
- Giorgi, De Miraculis Sancti Coluthi (1793)
- Till, Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrerlegenden (1935), fragments of an homily (cum miracles) on Coluthus by Phoibamon
- Devos (1980) and (1981), six more leaves coming from the codex published by Giorgi
- Zanetti (1996) lists the Coptic and Arabic Passions and biographical compositions
- Zanetti (2004) does the same for the the miracles, while also editing and translating a manuscript containing the Arabic text of fifteen miracles.

Coluthus' education (all translations are Johnson's):
The young boy grew pleasing and his parents raised him in all dignity and educated him well in the fear of God and in the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. When the young boy was seven years old, his parents sent him to school to be instructed in the revered writings in accordance with the greatness of his descent and the splendor of his parents.
When they had place him in school, three servants walked with him and remained with him. His parents loved him very much because he was their only son. The little boy thoroughly mastered all fields of knowledge. He simply laded himself with all wisdom, so that everyone marveled at him. Indeed, he loved humility from his childhood, as there was no impudence in his entire life. Rather he was always reading the Holy Scriptures and repeating from memory the New Testament and the Old Testament, since he was eleven.
I wondered about the "revered writings" which are mentioned here. It seems this could refer to the Bible but the fact that Coluthus goes to school to be instructed in them and that they seem to be pertaining to "the greatness of his descent and the splendor of his parents" makes me wonder if this is not rather a reference to secular education, literature, rhetoric and the like.
This is maybe borne out by the fact that, later in the text, Coluthus quotes Plato when his parents blame him for not being dressed well enough according to their social status, as well as for not eating and drinking enough:
(...) However, I wish to live in chastity when it is time to fast, because the fast is the bridle of the body.
And further, you are saying to me, 'You are walking in humility'. I fear the Lord's verdict, lest it should befall me. It is also said in Plato's polluted teaching, 'Arrogance is the mother of the citizens.' But every kind of evil happens through the Greeks. As for me, O my parents, I will do everything that you command me. Only, do not grieve me. Let me do my wish.
Interesting to see the ever present tension in early Christianity between accepting the authority of pagan authors, while at the same time putting them down.

I find the translation a bit lacking here on several points (or maybe I'm just way off):
- I'm not sure Johnson's translation of the Greco-Coptic ⲓⲇⲓⲱⲧⲏⲥ by "citizens" makes sense. Wouldn't something like "Arrogance is the mother of ignorants" be more fitting here?
- translating ϩⲉⲗⲗⲏⲛ by "Greeks" instead of "pagans" kind of weakens the point made by Coluthus.
- there seems to be some kind of ellipse before "But every kind of evil happens through the Greeks"
- the Coptic has a past second tense in this last clause.

Consequently, I'd translate
ϣⲁⲩϫⲟⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉⲥⲃⲱ ⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟϥ ⲙⲡⲗⲁⲧⲟⲛ ϫⲉ ⲧⲙⲛⲧϫⲁⲥⲓϩⲏⲧ ⲧⲙⲁⲁⲩ ⲧⲉ ⲛⲛϩⲓⲇⲓⲱⲧⲏⲥ
ⲕⲁⲓⲡⲉⲣ ⲛⲧⲁ ⲡⲟⲛⲏⲣⲓⲁ ⲛⲓⲙ ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧⲟⲩ ⲛⲛϩⲉⲗⲗⲏⲛ

It is also said in Plato's polluted teaching, 'Arrogance is the mother of the ignorants.'
[And I say this/And I quote Plato/And this is true/And Plato is right,] although it is through the pagans that every kind of evil happened.

The beginning of the first posthumous miracle:
There was a man in the city and he was eating and drinking his entire lifetime, giving advice, always being drunk. He did not remember the wise words of Solomon, "If you lay your eyes on bowls and cups, you will walk being naked like a pestle". Furthermore God wished him to become pious because he had never gone to Church and listened to the word of God, but he was occupied with eating and drinking only all of his time.
It happened one day that his friends invited him. He ate and drank and when evening arrived, the man arose and went home and went up to the roff, wishing to go to sleep because of the great amount of wine. His roof was high, and there was no battlement on (the roof of) his house. The man fell off headlong and broke the bone of his right foot and split it in two.
The man cried out and his wife came and found him prostrate. He was raised up and taken into his house with great crying and weeping. A magician was brought to him and he bound his foot. A multitude of doctors were brought but they were not able to heal him. The pain consumed the man and he was crying out day and night, being unable to sleep. (...) Then, through the great pain which was in him, his foot became affected by gangrene. The pain prevailed over it, so that his foot burst and the doctors gave up and spoke with him (saying), 'Unless you amputate it, you will not rest". The man said, "Truly, even if I die, I will not amputate my foot." The doctors left and he continued suffering while his fellows were in great distress and tears, crying out night and day.
While he was in this situation, behold a deacon who belonged to the martyr saint Coluthus came to visit him, for they probably grew up in school together. (...)
I found interesting that the author would hypothesize that the two may have been old schoolmates. Was he concerned about his audience being puzzled as to why a deacon would be on friendly terms wich such an impious man?

I have a few minor quibbles about Johnson's translation but the part about the man "eating and drinking his entire lifetime, giving advice" just doesn't seem to make sense. Since the text has ϯⲥⲩⲙⲃⲟⲩⲗⲏ, Johnson's "giving advice" (συμβουλή) is justified, but it seems to me better to take ⲥⲩⲙⲃⲟⲩⲗⲏ as συμβολή, meaning that the man was "giving his contribution to common meals", or maybe even "giving (i.e. organising) picnics". What do you think?

Shenoute
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Re: Coptic thread

Post by Shenoute »

It has been just over a month since I started this thread. Over this period of time, I think I've managed to read something like 250/300 pages, which is not exactly impressive but it's still a lot more Coptic than I had read in the previous couple of years.
My reading speed and comprehension have increased, although they probably are still below what they used to be. So far, I have mainly read simple narratives, and there is still a long way to go before I can read more complex stuff with ease. Vocabulary is of course the main stumbling block, there is just no shortcut there. While reading, I have gathered a list of common(ish) words that I saw a couple of times. Some of these have stuck without me doing anything special, others keep sending me to the dictionary despite me encountering them every other day. Nothing new here, I remember the same thing happening with Latin. Maybe I'll try some dedicated study to finally nail these words, or maybe I'll get lazy and will leave them be :D

From now on, and since there is a Coptic forum now, I think I'll post things in separate threads. This will probably make discussion and finding information easier.

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