St. Shenouda Coptic Newsletter

Volume 2, No. 3 April 1996

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ST. SHENOUDA'S WRITINGS (4) (by Ashraf Hanna)


The following text is a translation from an Arabic sermon read on the 5th Sunday during Lent in the Coptic Church. The text preserves a Coptic tradition of the ancient story of Barlam and Yuwasaf, widely known in the Christian East. The text was transcribed from a microfilm copy of Paris Arabe 4761 (CML 1592). The text is from the beginning of the sermon.


(45R)In the name of God, the merciful, the beneficial. A sermon to be read following the liturgy gospel on the fifth Sunday.

Said, glory be to God who commanded us to be always thankful without annoyance nor negligence. And to exceed in thanking Him for all His multitude of goodness and His abundant graces upon us. And praise Him exaltingly without ceasing with hearts void and whole from (evil) thoughts. And glorify Him for what He granted us undeservingly on our part for our great ignorance and lack of uprightness.

For we start towards Him with the evil doings and many sins and He starts towards us with charity. May He be praised (45V) {may He be praised}, How great He is and (how great is) His wisdom and His design, for He is charitable with the charitable ones and forgives the repenting sinners. Unto Him is glory to the age of the ages amen.

Then it was told about saints in the lands of [ ] an anchorite saint blessed with priesthood (named) Barlam(?). He met with a king's son named Yuwasaf whose father used to worship the idols and for the Christians he was exceedingly hateful. So, God in His power, joined St. [Barlam and](?) Yuwasaf the king's son. and he told him of the folly of the idols and guided him to the law of the Christ the Lord, to Whom glory is due, by the preaching and teaching that are beyond description. And this is found in a book among the Christians, transcribed by a saintly monk from (46R)India and from [ ] St. Barlam mentioned to St. Yuwasaf regarding worldly pride and how man is holding fast to it. He said, "There was a man walking on a road and there came a bad lion that began pursuing that man, desiring to catch him to devour him. So that man ran away lest it destroys him. He found a deep well, so he descended into it to be saved from that lion and be saved from destruction. So he found in that well a tree with two branches hanging out of the trunk(?) of the tree. And he looked down the well (and found) a giant-looking snake with its mouth open looking for (someone ) to swallow. So the man hanged on to the branch fearing lest he falls down the well. And (he looked down) and found a rat [ ] and a black rat biting at the stem of the [tree ] (46V) and after a while [ ] (he) found on the wall of that well a recess. Wanting to lay his feet on it to rest, he found in it four great serpents [ ] colliding with each other. So, great sadness befell him and said as lord David ,who had the trumpet, said, "[ ] death surrounded me and the hardships of hades wounded me, loss and tribulation befell me, so I called upon the name of God"... (to be continued)

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The Horologion (Agbeya) of the Coptic Orthodox Church (4) Prayers of the Eleventh Hour (Vespers) (by John Rizk)


In the prayers of the 11th hour (Vespers), according to the current practice of the Coptic Church, the gospel reading is followed by one set of troparia and a theotokia (Cf. vol. 1, no. 2 of this newsletter). The troparia, in its usual context, addresses the Lord, while confessing and asking for forgiveness. The theotokia is a praise for St. Mary the Theotokos, asking for her intercession on our behalf. However, in the prayers below, taken from a Copto-Arabic manuscript in the Oxford Bodleian Library, Marshall Or. 57 (CML.319A.), the following unique sections are found: First, there is a set of troparia, partly consisting of Psalm 122 (KJV 123), followed by a theotokia. Then, a gospel reading (Lk. 2:29-32) follows. The next section contains three prayer references: 1) Graciously O Lord... ; 2) The Holy Trisagion; and 3) The Lord's Prayer. These are then followed by a second theotokia. Afterwards, there is a troparia addressing St. John the Baptist, and another one addressing a select group of holy monastic fathers; they both ask for intercession! A third theotokia then follows, thus concluding this part of the 11th hour. These readings are very similar, especially in structure, to those found in an 18th century edition of the Coptic Agbeya by R. Tukhi, which was reprinted in Egypt in 1930. Otherwise these prayers are not found in all other manuscripts of this type, preserved in European depositories, that were studied at the Coptic Center.

Translation of Coptic Text

I have sinned toward You O Lord as the son of the recklessness.

But accept me to You O Father, while I am repenting, O God have mercy upon me.

I lifted my eyes upward toward You O Lord, He who dwells in Heaven.

Behold, as servant-eyes in the hands of their masters,

And as maidservant-eyes in the hands of her mistress,

Likewise, our eyes are toward the Lord our God, until He has compassion upon us.

I will cry upward to You O Lord my Savior with the voice of the publican, "God forgive me like him, and have mercy upon me."

Have mercy upon us O Lord, and have mercy upon us, for greatly, we were filled with shame, and abundantly, our soul was filled.

The shame, give it to those who prosper, and the shame, give it to the proud in heart.

The strugglers, those who did not yearn for the joy of the earth, therefore, they became worthy of the joy of the heavens.

And they became friends of the angels; through their intercessions, O Lord save us and have mercy upon us.

Save your flock, O the Birth-giver of God, from the sufferings, for we all have fled unto you after God.

As a fortified wall, become for us (an) intercessor.

Now, My Master, You will release your servant peacefully according to Your word, for my eyes saw Your salvation, that which You have prepared before all of the people.

Light was revealed out of (?) nations, and a glory for (?) Your people Israel.

Hail to the one who has found grace, Saint Mary, the Birth-giver of God. Blessed are you among the women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

For you bore to us the Savior of our souls.

O Baptist of Christ, Saint John, remember our gatherings in order that we be safe from our iniquities, for you were given a frankness to cause you to intercede on our behalf.

Our holy fathers, the great one, Abba {Abba} Antony and the three Abba Makari, and our father Abba John.

And our father Abba Pishoi, and our father Abba Pakhom, and our father Abba Theodoros.

And our righteous father, the great one, Abba Samuel.

Intercede on our behalf in order that we be safe from the distresses and the sufferings.

For we acquired for ourselves an intercessor before Christ.

O the Birth-giver of God, we fled under the protection of your compassion. Do not overlook our beseechings in the distresses.

But save us from the perdition O the one who is alone blessed.

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Coptic Language / Lives of the Saints - From the Martyrdom of St. Anoub (Abanoub) (3) (by Peter Mankarious)


Upon St. Anoub's first encounter with Lucias the Hegemon, see the previous excerpt from vol. 1, no. 3, Lucias was amazed by the great courage of St. Anoub. Lucias was so impressed, that he tried to win over St. Anoub by telling the saint that he will be his son and he will give him a bride if he were to worship Apollo. St. Anoub cursed the Hegemon and Apollo. This upsetted Lucias and caused him to torture St. Anoub. While he was being tortured, St. Anoub recited a short prayer.

In the passage below, following the prayer, Archangel Michael appeared to the saint and comforted him. He also healed the saint from the tortures.

Translation of Coptic Text:

When he finished the Amen, namely the saint Apa Anoub, behold the holy Archangel Michael came from Heaven; while a luminous crown was in his hands. He said to the righteous Apa Anoub, "Be consoled and be victorious, O the beloved one of God, O he who has lifted his cross upon himself (and) walked behind his Lord on his own will. I am Michael the Archangel, he who stands up at the right side of God the Pantocrator. I am the one who strengthens all the martyrs until they receive their crown. I am the one who strengthens all the righteous ones and the anchorites until they finish their virtues. Behold, you see your luminous crown in my hands until I put it upon your holy head." Forthwith, he put his hand upon his whole body, he healed him and he became like(?) as if he was not tortured at all. And he struck his bowls into his belly another time. He went up to the Heavens peacefully.

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St. John the Little Monastery Excavation Update. (by Emad N. Georgy)

The Scriptorium's excavation team, working on the Monastery of St. John the Little in Egypt, has experienced vast progress and gained many new discoveries over the past three months of this year. Aside from these discoveries, the excavation team has also had many visits from such prominent people as Pope Shenouda III, Bishop Samuel (a leading expert on Coptic architecture), and Dr. Gawdat Gabra, Director of the Coptic Museum in Cairo. The Society is very proud of our own staff member, Mr. Maged Mikhail, who was not only on the excavation team, but figured prominently in their activities. His expertise in the Coptic language has helped him in conjunction with Dr. Scott Carroll to translate the numerous graffiti and inscriptions that the team has encountered (this also helps in dating certain objects found). In fact, the knowledge of the Coptic language was quite important -- the team discovered many inscriptions that bore the name of "John" in Coptic. This proves to be extremely significant since there was no real proof that the monastery was actually that of St. John the Little. And as we will see later on in this article, they have also discovered what is thought to be the cell of St. John the Little.

As our Lord Jesus told His apostles to cast their nets into the deep, so this team has gone into the depths of Egypt to search out the precious history and heritage of the Coptic Orthodox Church. One of their most important and early discoveries was that of an altar. In fact, the Scriptorium's Internet Excavation Site (you can follow the link from our Internet site at holds a picture of Maged trying out a few verses on an altar that has been unused for many years. The team also discovered many wall paintings, both in the church area and in the area of the kom (found earlier last year). Many of these wall paintings are in pieces and the team has the almost impossible job of putting together a jigsaw puzzle of pieces into a picture which they have no foreknowledge of! One of the most important of these wall paintings was found during the last week of digging -- a cross with the word "Victorious" in Coptic surrounding it, as was pointed out by Maged. Additionally, they found a trench in the middle of the church area. Maged and Dr. Carroll worked on the translation of the inscriptions they found on the east wall of this trench. These inscriptions were the same ones that were referred to above -- they held the name of "John" in Coptic in many places. Also, the pottery found there dated back further than any other pottery found at the site so far. But what would a trench (which they found, led to a room) be doing in the middle of a church area? The popular theory is that the trench leads to the former cell of St. John the Little. Coptic Orthodox Churches were and are known to be built upon sites of great religious significance. Therefore, if the theory is correct, the church in this monastery would have been built atop the cell of St. John the Little -- thus explaining its strange location.

The team has also expressed interest in a nearby Armenian monastery, which also requires excavation. In this project, they have used the help of the German archaeologist and leading specialist in Coptic architecture, Dr. Peter Grossmann. During one of their last weeks, they found mysterious limestone balls with curious holes in them. This mystery was solved by a local monk, who told them it was used in a pulley to hold lamps and similar items. This shows that the team has received help from a wide spectrum of contributors -- monks and scholars alike, Americans and Egyptians -- unified in this one goal.

In addition to the discoveries, the excavation team received many visitors. Aside from tourists, scholars, and monks (one of which was available on the Internet to answer e-mail questions from students across the U.S. in the Scriptorium's Odyssey Program for middle-school children), they were also visited by the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III and Bishop Samuel. In their last week, they were visited by many people from the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE).

Of course, there has been much left behind for the next year excavation season. Many mysteries await their solutions. Truly, the efforts of this team in the excavation are unmatched. The discoveries already have provided important information about the history of the monastery and, subsequently, the history of Coptic Christianity itself.

During their seventh week, the excavation team found a small, simple clay vessel which, to their surprise, contained eight gold coins with Arabic inscriptions. The coins looked quite new. Not only does this discovery help in dating the monastery, but it also provides for us an analogy. For I imagine that the sands of the desert in Egypt can be quite treacherous, and yet, deep within it, lie the treasures (the gold) of the Coptic Orthodox Church. As Dr. Carroll stated when he visited us last year (I paraphrase), Under the hot sands lie cold rivers of water -- we must dig deep to find this pure water -- the treasures of the Coptic Church.

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News (by Hany N. Takla)

1. The NKCSC Project: No new applications have been released during this past quarter. Work is underway on the Pentateuch of the Old Testament in Bohairic with a Septuagint English translation. The Bohairic/English Annual Lectionary, programmed in Word for Windows like NKCSC-CL1, is still under development. We expect to have a new version of the Coptic New Testament Viewer out by July 96. This version will have the Bohairic in parallel with the Sahidic with a word-concordance listing for both versions. The order number for this title will be NKCSC-CB2 (for regular Windows) and NKCSC-CB2M (for Windows 95). Work is also under way on the Coptic Life of St. Shenouda the Archimandrite and the 13th century Coptic Martyrdom of St. John of Phanidjoit in Coptic and English. May God help us in accomplishing these worthwhile efforts.

Also when ordering any title from the NKCSC software, address all order and payments in the Society name and its mailing address. The NKCSC designation is for identification purposes only.

2. The Society on The Internet: Since the last time we communicated to you, our internet site moved to yet another location with an official domain name this time. The new address is: The site was officially opened on December 4, 1995. Its size has also expanded to contain 20 html documents as well as an extensive graphical representation of the niche decorations of the monastery of St. Shenouda in Sohag, Upper Egypt (over 50 html documents and graphics). The New titles include a report on the 1992 Coptic Congress ( and the 1994 Great Britain's visit to sites holding Coptic Manuscripts and artifacts, including news of the Mingana Symposium ( Other documents include an overview of the work of the Society; articles on life and times of St. Shenouda, his monastery, and his disciple St. Besa (under construction still); the Center's newsletters, including a downloadable version in word for windows format; the history of the Coptic language and its value; and other miscellaneous documents. The link page was greatly expanded to include sites of interest to Coptic Studies and the Coptic Church. You can gain access to our site through search engines like Yahoo or Webcrawler, CoptNet, as well as many other search engines. This site will always be expanded God's willing, so stay tuned.

This move came about as a result of renting a larger and more reliable web space of 20MB on a server located in the Southern California area. This new space came with a support to register a Domain name for the Society as well as mail boxes at the new domain name such as It also comes with software support for counter programs to measure activities of the site, map, random graphics, animation, forms, and database support. Currently the Society is spending a minimum of $95 per month for internet services that include internet access and a total of 45MB web space.

Starting with this edition of the Newsletter we will make it available to our electronic mailing list. It will have the text of the news in full with a digest of the articles included. A Word for Windows version of the complete Newsletter will be attached to the e-mail message. We are also working on a directory listing of persons with a particular expertise in the different disciplines related to Coptic Studies. The idea was submitted by Mr. Shenouda Mamdouh of Cairo Egypt (

3. The California Orange County Coptic Regional Center: Since its official opening on July 22, 1995, the center completed the first Introductory Coptic Grammar Class and a new one started in late January. Currently Mr. Joseph Fahim, center's assistant director, is conducting the new session and is being assisted by Mr. Daniel El-Boghdadi. For more details contact Mr. Fahim at (714) 842-1344 or e-mail on If you are in the Orange County area, be sure to visit the Regional Center, located within the confines of Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church at 4405 Edinger Blvd., Santa Ana CA 92704.

4. Coptic Word Games Handbook: Volume 1 of the Coptic Word Games Handbook is in distribution. More than 1100 copies have been distributed to churches and individuals this year. The reaction was very favorable to this publication, a truly proud fruit of the effort of 18 predominantly college-age Coptic students in our Orange County Center. It provides an excellent text book to pleasantly introduce our younger and even older generations to the language of our fathers. It also will give hours of enjoyment to those of us that already have knowledge of Coptic regardless of age. The price will be $2.00 for members and $3.00 for non members. Slightly lower prices will be given to churches for large orders (50+). We made the prices for the first volume real low to promote its use, its value is priceless!

5. The Scriptorium in Egypt: The second excavation season for the Scriptorium, under the direction of Prof. Scott Carroll, in the Western desert of Wadi 'N Natrun, Egypt is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month. More details on their accomplishments is included in a separate article in this newsletter. This season featured the first edition of their "Spring Semester in Egypt." This 16 semester-units curriculum afforded the participants the chance 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. Included among the students is our very own staff member, Maged S. Mikhail, who will give us a first hand report on the accomplishments of this season in the next edition of the Society's annual bulletin. For more information on this program or the great summer educational activities of the Scriptorium, please contact Profs. Scott Carroll or Jerry Pattengale at (800) 333-8373.

6. History of the Coptic Orthodox Church: The Society has sponsored the publication of a new excellently-written book on the History of the Coptic Orthodox Church. This is the fruit of nearly a decade long research project of the Rev. T. Hall Partrick of Greensboro North Carolina. In it he surveyed the history of Christianity in Egypt from its Marcian origins to the present time. His conclusion was that this traditional ancient church, in spite of the hardships it had to endure for many centuries, is still a vibrant, growing church in the present time. The style of writing is suitable to the educated classes including our Coptic youth. This makes this book an invaluable resource (though concise) for our Coptic community in the Diaspora. The book will be in paperback format and will retail for $14.95. Because of the sponsorship of the Society, we will be able to furnish that indispensable book at substantial savings for volume purchases. Individual copies will be made available at $10 for members and $13.50 for non-members. The book will be released in early June, God's willing. Reserve your copy now either through your local church or directly through the Society.

7. The Sixth International Coptic Congress: During the period of July 20-26, the International Association for Coptic Studies will be holding its 6th International Coptic Congress in Münster, Germany. This Congress is held once every four years. The Society will be represented by a 4-member delegation. Three of the four will be presenting papers. As of the publishing date of this newsletter, we have not received confirmation on the Congress registration, accommodation, or paper acceptance.

8. Coptic Book Library: More volumes related to the different branches of Coptic Studies were added to our Coptic library. Most notable is a beautiful gift volume about the Coptic Textiles in The Brooklyn Museum, given by Dr. Donald Spanel on his visit to the Center in January of this year. We also received kind gifts of about 70 off-prints of articles dealing with Coptic Studies from scholars in the US, Canada, Switzerland, and Greece. More volumes are planned for the next quarter.

9. Coptic Classes: A new session for the Introductory Bohairic Coptic Class has began in January of this year at the Center. The Advanced Coptic Seminar is holding two sessions on Sundays, one translating Bohairic literary texts, and the other translating Sahidic monastic texts. Prof. Loprieno of UCLA will be offering a 4-unit Coptic dialect translation class in the Spring Quarter, (April 1, 96) for those that attended the 8-unit Sahidic Class last year.

10. Analysis of the Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil: Mr. Monir B. Raphael of Chicago IL has authored a most important publication to aid in the comprehension of the Coptic Liturgy, the most visible text in use by the Copts today. The book is titled The Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil - Coptic Language Analysis. The first volume was published in 1994 with volumes 2 and 3 coming approximately one year apart. It publishes the text of the Liturgy of St. Basil in 3 columns, the middle one in Coptic with the Arabic text on the left and the English translation on the right. The Coptic text is coded with numbers that one can use to look up the meaning as well as the grammatical analysis of the word on the opposing page or in the footnote section. There are also detailed appendices on the Coptic as well as the Greek grammar used in the liturgy. It is a must-reference to any Copt or any person interested in learning the proper meaning of the Coptic Liturgy. The price for members is $32.00 for all three volumes (vol. 1 $17, vol. 2 $7, vol. 3 $8) and for non-members $38.00 (vol. 1 $20, vol. 2 $8, vol. 3 $10). Multiple copies discount is available. Note that volume 2 requires volume 1, and volume 3 requires volumes 1 & 2. This set is an enlarged as well as an enhanced edition that the author has produced in Egypt nearly 30 years ago in Coptic and Arabic only.

11. Publications by Copts: We would like to alert our readers to the admirable publication that Prof. Ishak of Toronto, Canada publishes in English annually, under the name of Coptologia. Since 1980, this publication brought out many important articles dealing with our Coptic Heritage and written by prominent scholars, Copts and others. Their business address is: Coptologia Publications, P.O. Box 235, Don Mills, ON, Canada M3C 2S2.

Mr. Maged Attia of Sydney Australia (now of Wadi N' Natroun!) 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 several important Coptic Art publications that it sponsors 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 single volume of Coptic Icons by the same author, containing nearly 100 color plates of Coptic Icons. The price is $8.00 for members and $10.00 for non-members. Also we have brief pictorial guides to the Coptic Monasteries of St. Antony and St. Paul in Egypt. The price is $1.25 each. The Society also received an important publication by Dr. Gawdat Gabra, Director of the Cairo Coptic Museum, titled "Cairo - The Coptic Museum & Old Churches". The price is $12.00 for members and $15.00 for non-members.

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