St. Shenouda Coptic Newsletter

Volume 1, No. 3 April 1995

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Coptic Language / Lives of the Saints (by Peter Mankarious)

Introduction: After finishing his prayer, from the previous excerpt (vol.1, no.1), St. Anoub journeyed southward until he came to Djemnouti (Samanud). There he found the churches destroyed and temples for idol-worshipping erected. He heard people scorning our Lord Jesus and the Christians. He requested the name of the Hegemon of the town and rested until night. When night came, while he was praying to God for help, Archangel Michael appeared to him. He told him how he would be tortured, but not to fear for he would be strengthened in his struggle. He bid the saint peace and went up to the heavens. In the following passage, St. Anoub encounters Lucias the Hegemon and informs him that he will not worship his polluted gods.

Translation: And when the light shined, he rose, namely the venerable Apa Anoub and he went to the location of the hegemon. He found him when he was preparing the tribunal at the door of the temple. And he started to declare in a great voice saying, "O Lucias the hegemon, I am believing in my Lord Jesus Christ, that which pleases you, do it unto me quickly for I will not worship your polluted idols." He stared with astonishment, namely the hegemon, at the young lad. He said to him, "To where do you belong, O young lad who is invisible? or who is (the one) who brought you to this place? For indeed, the light has not yet shined well." He answered namely Saint Apa Anoub (and) he said to the hegemon, "O the mindless and foolish one and your Apollo with you, behold I heard that you scorn my Lord Jesus Christ and you are killing those who worship Him. I came from my land. I came to this place (and) I will be shedding my blood upon the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, the One who has created Heaven. He established the earth. The sea, and that which is in it, He made them. He made the man according to his image and His likeness. The birds and the animals and the reptiles, He created them. But your dumb, blind, spiritless Apollo himself is not able to save himself, therefore, in order that he saves others. That which pleases you do it unto me, for I will not worship your polluted gods."

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An Interesting Variant in the Bohairic Gospel of St. John (by Maged S. Mikhail)

Introduction: The following is a rendition of John 6:66. In the first column we have the Sahidic text and in the third the Bohairic (both from Rev. G. Horner's edition of the Coptic New Testament). In the middle column we have the text of the same verse as it appears in the "Papyrus Bodmer III" (Dr. R. Kasser's CSCO edition), a 4th century codex which represents the earliest extant Bohairic Biblical texts. The italicized words are those which form the variant reading under discussion. Both the Sahidic and Bodmer text state that the disciples "went back" and left Christ, while the Bohairic version states, more dramatically, that they "fled".

For the Coptic Text, see the paper edition of the Newsletter

NOTE: for the remainder of the article it is important to keep in mind that the correct pronunciation of the character 'phi' (transliterated as 'ph') is "ph". It is an aspirated "p" and not a "ph" as in "phone", the same also being true of the character 'theta' (transliterated as 'th') which should be pronounced as "th" and not a "th" as in "thrown". Coptic words are in bold.

Analysis: In the transition between the Sahidic and early Bohairic (Bodmer) version, we notice that the 't' went through the usual morphological change of becoming a 'th'. However the 'p' demonstrates an irregular transformation pattern. In the instance of 'pai' it changed over to a 'ph' however in the case of 'epahou' it retained its morphology and did not change till the latter Bohairic version. We also notice that in the early Bohairic version the Sahidic verb 'bwk', "to go" and the adjective 'hah' "many", were correctly relayed as 'she' and 'maish' , their common Bohairic equivalents, respectively. However in the later version, the verb 'bwk' is not translated as 'she' but is replaced with the verb 'phwt'. It would not be too uncommon for the 'b' to be morphologically rendered as 'ph' (usu. such a change occurs in the sequence b-p-ph). However the change of the 'k' to a 't' cannot be accounted for by the normal morphological change patterns. Thus, we still cannot account for the variant on such grounds.

So, how can we start out with 'bwk' and end-up with 'phwt'? Well, we know that the pronunciation of 'b', in time, took on two paths of pronunciation. In some instances it took on the sound of a "ph" in others a heavy "b"; "p." We also know that due to Coptic phonetics the major stress in the word would be placed upon the 'w', with relatively little or no stress on the last letter. Thus the two words in question were pronounced as "pwk" and "pwt." With such a heavy emphasis upon the 'w', the last letter must have been obscured. Under these circumstance 'bwk' probably evolved into 'vwt' through the following digression; 'bwk-pwk-pwt-vwt'. If this is true, it would support the notion that the Bodmer Papyrus is actually an independent translation from the Sahidic version, and not the base text used for the majority of Bohairic manuscripts (otherwise all Bohairic Mss. would have se instead of vwt). Thus we have at least two traditions of Bohairic Biblical Mss., one following the Bodmer version, and the other, which became the norm, that which contains the variant and is commonly believed to be an independent translation from the Greek.

But how can we account for the maintenance of a variant version over the more accurate rendering found in the Bodmer text? For even without actual comparison to the Bodmer text, bwk should have been relayed as se in Bohairic. I believe that the variant remained for the following reasons. First the meaning of the two words (bwk & phwt [pwt] ) as can be observed from Dr. Crum's A Coptic Dictionary, in some instances, is fairly close, thus we have two words which may very well have sounded very much alike and had similar meanings. This leads to the second point, that in the final out-come the verse still retains the overall message; i.e. many disciples left Christ. There is no fundamental change in the meaning of the verse. If anything, the variant made the verse more dramatic, which given its context, does probably aid in depicting the actual events. Thirdly, we must assume that those who knew of the existence of the variant were those familiar with the scriptures in both dialects. Such individuals were undoubtedly few. Most people could not read, and those who could, it is safe to say, did not have access to, nor cared to read and memorize the Scriptures in both dialects. Thus, once overlooked, or allowed to remain by a minority of Copts, the Bohairic speaking majority who used the actual texts were not really aware of the existence of the variant at all.

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The Horologion (Agbeya) of the Coptic Orthodox Church (2) (by John Rizk)

Introduction: The following is a continuation on the subject of the Horologion which appeared in the previous issue (vol.1, no.2). Thus far, three main topics have been discussed: The Seven Canonical Hours, The Prayer of the Veil, and The Structure of the Agbeya. This article deals with the history and original usage of the Horologion, as outlined in Dr. O.H.E. Burmester's, "The Canonical Hours of the Coptic Church". (Orientalia Christiana Periodica, v.2, pp. 78-100.)

The Sahidic Offices: According to St. Pachomius, they consisted of four daily offices:

From the Regula of St. Jerome, it is apparent that monks were in the habit of reassembling before sleeping to recite six prayers; these prayers were probably the origin of the office of Compline. According to Palladius' Historia Lausica, ch. XXXII, Day, Dusk, and Night were each comprised of 12 prayers, while the Third Hour had only three prayers.

The Bohairic Offices: John Cassian wrote that Vespers was the only public office found during the day in the Monasteries of Scete and Nitria, while the prayers of Nocturns were at night. Both of these offices contained 12 psalms followed by two lessons (from the Old and New Testament). On Saturdays, Sundays, and Paschaltide (the period following the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ), both lessons were taken from the New Testament. The first lesson came from either the Apostolos (Pauline epistles) or from the Acts, and the second one was taken from the Gospels.

Each psalm was recited by only one person. The 12 psalms were divided equally among a maximum of four brethren, who recited them separately (and in a loud voice), while the others remained seated and listened. There were never more than four monks participating in the recitation of the psalms. The psalms were not all concluded with Alleluia, but only those that were marked with the inscription of Alleluia in their title.

During the Vespers of Saturday and Sunday, and during Paschaltide, the monks did not kneel. On Saturdays and Sundays they all used to meet at the Third Hour to partake of the Holy Communion.

Historical and Patristic Citations: In the Vita of Abba John Khame, it is mentioned that he (St. John) set up a place for his monks, where they met in the middle of the night, and sang the psalmody (i.e. psalms) and spiritual songs until dawn. In another place it is written that as he was singing with his brethren at night, Abba Athanasius the Apostolic appeared to him. This segment concludes with a quote from St. Shenouda the Archimandrite, in his monastic writings:

Translation: For the Lord rejoices over those who come early to Him, I am speaking of those who are the first at the church in the morning, in the evening, at noon-time, and at the proper time in every day.

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The Apocalypse of St. Samuel of Kalamoun (by Ashraf W. Hanna w/ Introduction by Hany N. Takla)

Introduction: This is an excerpt from the Arabic version of the Apocalypse of St. Samuel of Kalamoun. The Coptic dialect of the original text, upon which this version is based, is not known. This is due to the existence of no identifiable fragment in any Coptic dialect of such work. The discussion of the authenticity of the text is beyond our scope here. It suffices to say that, according to Prof. Samir Khalil, the renowned Christian Arabic literature scholar, the language quality of this text is coarse enough to suggest a date probably on or before the 9th century AD. After which coarse but still better quality Arabic translations were produced in Egypt. This supposition would bring us close enough to the 7th century time of the repose of St. Samuel to justify not ascribing the term Pseudo to this work.

The Excerpt translated below is included in a manuscript of a mixed collection of hagiographic and literary Arabic texts, dated 1322 AM (1606 AD). This manuscript was brought to France by Vansleb, the famous French traveler and eventually became part of the extensive manuscript collection of the National Library of Paris. The call no. of this manuscript is 'Arabe 150'. It occupies folios 20-30 of this 333-folio paper manuscript.

The intention of publishing this excerpt is to bring to light some of the important arguments for preserving the use of the Coptic language among the Copts.

Translation: (f.22r)... My beloved children, what can I say about these ages and the great laziness that will befall upon the Christians. They will move away from righteousness and will imitate those of the migration in their deeds; name their children after their names; and abandon the names of the angels, prophets, apostles, and martyrs. They will also do another thing. A thing that if I tell you about it, it will make your hearts ache exceedingly. And that is they will abandon the beautiful Coptic Language, the Coptic language with which the Holy Spirit was uttered numerous times from the mouths of our spiritual fathers.

The Christians will teach their children to use the language of the Arabs and take pride in it. Even the priests and the monks will themselves also dare to speak in Arabic and take pride in it. And that (would be) inside the Sanctuary. Woe and woe, my beloved children, what would I say during those times, the readers in the church would not understand what they are reading nor what they are saying because they forgot their language. Those are truly pitiful and deserving of being wept upon, for they have forgotten their language and spoke the language of the migration (or Arabic). But woe to every Christian that teaches his child the language of the migration (or Arabic) from his childhood, and make him forget the language of his ancestors. He will be responsible for his sin as it is written that the fathers will be condemned on behalf of their children. What can I say in regards to the immorality that will be among the Christians. They would eat and drink inside the sanctuary without fear and forget the reverence of the Sanctuary, and the Sanctuary would be as nothing. And the doors of the Sanctuary would be left unattended and not even a subdeacon will be left on it (to guard it) for they (fol. 22v) will be laxed in (performing) the seven [nine?] rites (or sacraments) of the church and would not complete them. You will find the people at that time seeking the ranks of the priesthood and they are not yet worthy to be (even) readers to read to the people. Many books in the church will fall into disuse, for there will be no one left that cares about books. For their hearts would move toward the foreign (or strange) books, and they would forget many of the martyrs at that time because their lives will fall in disuse and would not (even) be found. Those which are found, (which are) very little, if read, you will find many of the people not understanding what is read for they do not know the language ...

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The Resurrection (by Emad Georgy)

"Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity." --Milton (1608-1674)

The Resurrection of Christ has long been discussed and various interpretations have been presented. Yet, perhaps the most intriguing interpretations are found in St. John Chrysostom's Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew. Chrysostom is called the "Master of Israel" because of his exegesis dealing with the human heart, its motives, its weakness, or with the grace and love of Jesus Christ (Riddle xxii). He not only proves the Resurrection through Old Testament prophecy fulfillment, but he also sheds a new light upon an otherwise worn subject.

First and foremost, Chrysostom presents the Old Testament prophesies surrounding Christ's Passion and His Resurrection. In Homily XXXVI, he lists various verses from Isaiah and David (His Psalms), such as:

Yet, it is not only foretold that Christ should be crucified, but also with whom also (cf. Isaiah 53.12). In Isaiah 53:8, the prophecy shows how Christ is unjustly condemned. Psalm 2:1-2 describes the various events at the judgment hall in which Christ was sentenced. Psalm 22:16 presents the image of the cross. Psalm 22:18 tells us precisely, the actions of the Roman soldiers during Christ's passion. Finally, in Psalm 69:21, the vinegar is also foretold.

Aside from Old Testament prophesies, the Passion and Resurrection can also be seen, according to Chrysostom, through the New Testament stories and parables. Jesus waited three days before resurrecting Jarius' daughter and before resurrecting Lazarus also, so that the people might truly believe that the two were dead. Likewise, Jesus waited three days in the tomb as did Jonas in the whale, so that their "death" may be believed (270-273). Additionally, the Transfiguration also presented the Resurrection. Jesus showed his living apostles that those who were supposedly dead (i.e., Moses and Elias) were actually living eternally. This was quite significant for the apostles because it showed that Moses (who fought against the Egyptians) and Elias (who fought against Ahab) -- both facing incredible odds -- had overcome death (346). Yet, Jesus' Resurrection is the greatest of all. According to Chrysostom, "For if for Lazarus to rise on the fourth day was a great thing, how much more for all those who had long ago fallen asleep, at once to appear alive, which was a sign of the future resurrection." (Ref. NPNF 1st Series V.10)

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News (by Hany N. Takla)

1. The NKCSC Project: A few years ago, for those of you who still remember, we announced a conceptual project to provide software for Coptic Studies use. The project was named the Nagi Khalil Coptic Software Center (NKCSC), in the memory of our late vice president of the Society, Mr. Nagi F. Khalil. Now we would like to announce the first fruit of this endeavor, an Electronic self-study course in the fundamentals of Bohairic Coptic. This product, as outlined in the attached flyer, will be available in the last week of April 1995. By the time of the Feast of St. Shenouda the Archimandrite, in mid-July, we expect to release the first version of the Bohairic - English Dictionary. By the end of 1995, we expect to make available the entire New Testament in Bohairic and Sahidic Coptic with parallel KJV English translation as well as the Text of the Greek original. Many other projects of general interest as well as scholarly application are also under preparation, and through God's grace will be made available as soon as possible.

Most of the programs that will be offered will run under Microsoft Windows 3.1 environment on 386 IBM-Compatible computers with a minimum of 4 MB of RAM, 8 MB is recommended. They will be distributed in the same format that other windows applications are distributed. They will consist each of an executable program that starts the application, with an application that is programmed to run on either Word for Windows or in a help file format. The intention is not to dazzle the people with our programming skills but rather to facilitate the presentation of the great treasures that we have been compiling on the computer for the past 6 years.

This method of publication will provide us with a way to channel the treasures of our culture to the interested public in a faster and more efficient manner. It would be done without having to carry a large inventory or outlaying a great deal of financial resources. They will be modestly priced to encourage more people to acquire them. The early versions of these works would be distributed in a diskette format. The success of their distribution would justify in the future producing them in a CD-format which is necessary for those programs that have lots of graphics.

2. The California Orange County Mini-Coptic Center: Through the efforts of our members in Orange County, especially Mr. Joseph Fahim, the Society will be able to open a mini Coptic center in Orange County. It will be situated within the confines of the library in the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in Santa Ana, California. It will include a computer with an updated electronic library of the works of the Society. It will also contain a microfiche viewer and a representative sample microfilm library of Coptic research material, including manuscripts, books, and articles.

This mini Coptic center is designed to establish a link between the Coptic community in Orange County and our Main Coptic Center in Los Angeles, approximately 40 miles away. Such link will function as a base to raise the awareness and to spread the benefits of the Coptic Heritage to more people. Hopefully, this will lead to more people getting involved in the work of the Society. This geographical area has lots of youthful potential! The success of this novel idea will lead to the establishment of more of these mini centers in the future.

A formal opening of the new mini center will be held on Saturday, July 22, 1995, as part of our second Coptic day celebration at the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in Santa Ana, California, located at 4330 W. Regent Dr., Santa Ana CA, 92704. More details about this event will be forthcoming.

3. Coptic Studies among the Copts: We have great news to report on with regards to this subject. First, Prof. Loprieno of The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), offered an 8-unit, Sahidic Grammar class in the winter quarter from Jan 95 to March 95. The class was attended by approximately 20 students, half of which were Copts from the different churches around Southern California. There is a possibility for another class to be offered in the fall that will concentrate mostly on translation of text, including Bohairic ones. Also, two of the students enrolled at the class, Ms. Mary Farid & Mr. Hani Abdelsayed, collaborated on a research paper dealing with the tradition of St. Mark in Egypt, a highly contested subject among Christian Historians these days. This paper included translation of Sahidic texts related to St. Mark that were not translated before in English. We hope to include such translation in future issues of this newsletter.

Coptic students at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) are petitioning the University to start a similar Coptic class at their campus.

The more pleasant news is that two of our Coptic youth members have been accepted for Graduate Studies in Coptic and Coptic related Studies. They are the first ones to pursue such a course of study among the Copts outside of Egypt. They are Mr. Maged S. Mikhail going for a Master degree at UCLA, in a specially-tailored interdepartmental Coptic Studies program between the History Department and the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department. This program will be coordinated in part by Prof. Loprieno. Our second youth is Mr. Mark Moussa, who is also going for his Master Degree in Coptic Studies at the Catholic University of America (CUA), in Washington DC. This program is a more direct Coptic Studies one and will be under the direction of Prof. Johnson of CUA, a renowned Coptic Scholar. This bold step taken by those courageous students will, God's willing, facilitate the entry of more and more Copts into the field of Coptic Studies. We wish them the best.

4. The Copts in Australia: We had a cordial communication with Mr. Maged Attia from Sidney Australia. He is working on an organization of Coptic youth throughout the world. He expressed desire for communication and coordination of efforts with the Society. We wish him well on his work and will do all we can to help on this end.

5. Publications by Copts: Mr. Maged Attia of Sydney Australia has authored a book under the title "The Coptic Orthodox Church of Australia (1969-1994)". This 200-page book outlines the history of the Copts in Australia and the establishment of their 21 churches, 2 monasteries, Theological College, primary and secondary schools, and nursing home. Pope Shenouda wrote the introduction to the book. It can be ordered from: Coptic Orthodox Church Publication, P.O. Box B63, Bexely NSW 2207, Australia, the price is $15.00.

The Society has two important publications that it is sponsoring their distribution. The first is a 2-volume set of "Coptic Art". A collection of over 370 beautiful color plates of Coptic Art treasures with a brief caption accompanying each plate. An indispensable set to have by all those interested in the Coptic Heritage. The price is $35.00 for members, and $40.00 for non-members. The second publication is a 2-volume set of analysis of the Coptic and Greek texts of the Liturgy of St. Basil in English. The publication is titled "Analysis of the Liturgy of St. Basil". It does not require extensive knowledge of Coptic and practically no knowledge of Greek to use. It is a must for everyone studying the text of the liturgy for academic or devotional purposes. The price is $24.00 for members and $28.00 for non-members. We recommend both of these publications to anyone interested in the Coptic Heritage. Both of these volumes can be ordered directly from the Society.

6. The Scriptorium in Egypt: The Center for Christian Antiquity (the Scriptorium), under the direction of Dr. Scott Carroll, concluded its first excavation season in the Western desert of Wadi 'N Natrun, Egypt. Their focus was uncovering the vast number of monastic dwelling around and within the confines of the ancient Coptic monastery of St. John the Little. They, in the short span of three months, accomplished a lot. These exciting results are too numerous to include in this brief report but we will try to mention the most visible ones. A section of the ancient church of the monastery was excavated and that yielded some strange architectural features that will hopefully become more understandable when more of the church is excavated in the next season. A beautiful 4'x5' wall fresco of Christ was found in a collapsed monastic building, estimated date 500-600 AD. Experts in this field are working now on the restoration of the fresco which was not in a rather orderly shape when found, to say the least. Twenty-five inscriptions in Coptic and Arabic on walls and glazed pottery were found. The amount of text in these texts were substantial, several hundred lines in total. Nearly 34,000 pieces of broken pottery from 500-1400 AD were recorded. Approximately 2,000 of them were selected for drawings. About 120 museum pieces were also excavated, like coins, Eucharist bread stamps, crosses, ... etc. All this was done by 3 scholars and 30 workers, helped by the cooperation of the Egyptian Government and the authorities of the Coptic Church.

Dr. Carroll estimates that the entire site, not only the monastery of St. John the Little, would take about 30 years to complete. The Monastery and its dependent settlements would probably take 7-10 years. Detailed annual reports on the excavation will be published in the annual bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), who also sponsored the work. At the conclusion of the project, a large volume or multiple volumes will be published detailing every aspect of the work, transcription of all the found inscriptions or manuscripts (when found), and drawings of a representable sample of the pottery pieces found.

The size of the team projected to work during the next season will be expanded from 3 to ten scholars as well as students. The Scriptorium is also sponsoring a spring semester in Egypt. This will afford students to learn about Coptic monasticism, Language, History, and Art as well as to participate in the excavation under the direction of renowned scholars in each of these respective fields. The study is geared toward undergraduate college students. The program will count for 16 semester units. Copts are especially encouraged to participate. For more information please contact Prof. Jerry Pattengale, at Azuza Pacific University at (818) 9693434. The cost of this, over three-month long, program in Egypt is $7,900 including plane tickets to Egypt from New York and back.

7. Coptic Microfilm Library (CML): During the past period, we received microfilms of 21 codices of Coptic and Arabic manuscripts from the Bodleian Library in Oxford and of 17 manuscripts from the Mingana collection, consisting of three Coptic and 14 Christian Arabic. The microfilms of 7 codices from the Cambridge University Library are being filmed now and we expect to take delivery by the end of April.

8. Coptic Book Library: The volumes of Coptic and Arabic texts and studies from Louvain have arrived along with several other volumes of reference material dealing with Biblical, Hagiographic, and Art subjects. The most notable of the group is a rare volume that deals with the icons of Yuhanna and Ibrahim the Scribe, two famous icongraphers. This work is of great importance to those studying Coptic Iconography.

9. Slides/Photo Collection: The Society has purchased two copies of slides and CDs of Coptic monuments and sites in Egypt. This collection was made available to us through its owner Mr. Paul Kuiper of Hood River, Oregon for archival and research purposes only. The collection, photographed by Mr. Kuiper, contains over 350 slides that were all taken in Egypt in 1971. A large number of these are of the 6th century Coptic monastery of St. Simeon in Aswan. The CD collection can be viewed upon request at our center.

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You are Visitor number to Newsletter V.1-3 page since March 18, 1996

Prepared by Hany N. Takla. Last Update 3/18/96

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