St. Shenouda Coptic Newsletter

Volume 3, No. 1 October 1996

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The Sixth International Coptic Congress Münster, July 20-26 (by Hany N. Takla)

Introduction: The long-awaited Coptic Congress was held at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany, between July 20 to July 26, 1996. There, scholars and students of Coptic Studies gathered from all over the globe in this University town. They came to present the work they have been doing during the past four years in the different fields included under the discipline of Coptic Studies. They all shared a common bond, a love for the different aspects of Coptic Egypt. They met at the University that has the best educational institute for Coptic Studies in the world, Institut für Ägyptologie und Koptologie. They witnessed its well-founded reputation as attested in its former graduates and current students. At the conclusion they paid a deserving tribute to the great man responsible for such reputation, the Congress Secretary, Prof. Martin Krause on the occasion of his retirement.

The Attendees: The attendance at this congress was much higher than the last one in Washington DC. They came from 19 different countries spread over four continents. Germany had the most number of attendees, 77. Out of that number were 11 Egyptians who are either living or studying in Germany, including Bishop Demian, the Coptic Bishop of Germany, Fr. Pigol Bassili of Frankfurt, and Fr. Mikhail al-Baramousy of St. Antonious Coptic Monastery in Germany. The next largest group hailed from the US and they were 22 in numbers. Seven of those were Egyptians, including six directly affiliated with our Society. From Poland 16 attended, mostly their work dealt with Nubia and Coptic Art and Archaeology. Our favorite group from the Netherlands had 15 participants, a number that will surely multiply in the 7th Congress in Leiden in the year 2000. The rest of the participants were from Austria 9, France 9 (one Copt), Italy 7, Switzerland 6, Egypt 7 (only 4 were Copts), Canada 5 (4 were Copts), Belgium 4, Great Britain 4 (one Copt), Russia 4, Denmark 2, Israel 2, Portugal 2 (one Copt), Czech Republic 1, Finland 1, and Sweden 1.

There were many notable persons absent this time around for health and schedule conflict reasons among others. Absent among the Egyptians were Bishop Samuel of Shibin Al-Qanater, Dr. Lola Atiya of Utah, Dr. Nosshi Abdel-Shahid, Dr. Kamal F. Ishak of the Cairo Coptic Institute, Mrs. Samiha Abdel-Shahid and Mrs. Fatima Mahmoud of the Cairo Coptic Museum, and Dr. Ashraf Iskander of France. There were also several notable American Scholars absent. This group includes, Prof. Dwight Young of Chicago, Dr. Van Minnen of Duke Univ., Dr. Leslie S. B. MacCoull of Washington DC, Dr. Scott Carroll and Dr. John Sharpe III of the Scriptorium, Dr. Paul Mirecki of Kansas, Dr. Tim Vivian of California, Dr. Terry Wilfong of Michigan, Prof. Wintermute of Duke, Dr. Donald Spanel of the Brooklyn Museum, Mr. Richard Smith of Claremont CA, Ms. Monica Blanchard of the Catholic Univ. of America, Dr. Janet Timbie of Maryland, and Dr. Marianne Robertson-Wilson of Utah. Other notable no-show were Fr. Veilleux of Rome, Fr. Samir Khalil of Lebanon, Dr. Samuel Rubenson of Sweden, Prof. Kuhn of England, Dr. Lucia Papini of Italy, and others.

The Program: The schedule was arranged over a seven-day span. The first day, Saturday, was devoted to Congress registration in the afternoon and a get-acquainted session in the evening. The second day, Sunday, marked the official opening ceremony of the Congress. The participants were welcomed by the Rector of the University, the president of the IACS, Prof. Giverson, and the esteemed Congress Secretary, Prof. Krause. The day concluded with a bus trip to the nearby town of Hamm. There we viewed the beautiful new Coptic Art Exhibit opening at the Town Museum. It was titled "Ägypten - Schätze aus dem Wüstensand. Kunst und Kultur der Christen am Nil". It mainly featured Coptic items from German collections, including textiles, manuscript, and many other art objects. The last five days were devoted to the participants communications (presentations).

The communications presented were arranged in two groups. The first was a group of 5 plenary (hauptvorträge) sessions and the second consisted of eleven specific sections. The plenary sessions contained 15 presentations (one canceled due to illness of presenters). The specific sections contained 116 presentations (al least 12 were canceled due to absence of presenters). Due to the volume of the presentations in the later group, they were arranged in two or three concurrent sessions. This made it very difficult to attend everything that was of interest.

The plenary sessions were arranged in 30-minute format with no follow-up questions. Each essentially dealt with a general survey of the research done since 1992 in each of the fields representing the Coptic Studies Discipline. This included Architecture, Art, Christian Nubia, Linguistics, Literature, Bible, Codicology and Paleography, Liturgy, Church History (canceled), Monasticism in Egypt, Gnosticism in Egypt, Manichianism in Egypt, Papyrology, Christian-Arabic Literature, and the story of the Coptic Museum. Without exception, each presenter ran out of time recounting the accomplishment of his respective field. This should tell us that such gatherings need to be done a lot more often than every four years.

The presentations of the special sections were arranged in 20-minute format with 10-minute question-and-answer session. Due to the special workshops on the Last day and the business meeting of the IACS, held the day before, Monday through Wednesday were arranged in three concurrent sessions. Thursday had two concurrent sessions and Friday had only one. These presentations were arranged in the following sections:

Papers presented by Copts: There were about 11 papers presented by members of the Coptic community in Egypt as well as abroad. They were, arranged in the order of delivery, as follows:

  1. The Architecture Elements newly discovered in the area of John the Little Monastery in Wady Natrun, by bishop Samuel of Egypt and delivered by Dr. P. Grossmann.
  2. Les Rituels de la Reconsecration, by Dr. Youhanna Y. Nessim of Egypt.
  3. The Copts in North America, by Dr. Zachariah Wahba of Maryland USA.
  4. The Orthodox Eschatological and Ontological Metaphysics of Being and Incessant Quest after Supernal Knowability, by Prof. Fayek Ishak of Canada.
  5. Contribution des Scalae Medievales a la Lexicologie Copte. Rapport sur un Project de Recherche, by Prof. Adel Sidarus of Portugal.
  6. Plato at Heliopolis of Egypt. A Critical View at the Relation between Egyptian Philosophy and Alexandrian Theology, by Dr. Rachad M. Shoucri of Canada
  7. The Anti-Chalcedonian Movement in Byzantine Egypt: An Evaluation of Current Interpretation and Past Scholarship, by Mr. Mark Moussa of the St. Shenouda Society.
  8. Projet d'Edition. Le Manuscrit Copte 44 de Paris, by Mr. Fouad Khouzam of France.
  9. The Restoration of Coptic Wall Paintings from the Coptic Museum, by Mr. Ashraf Nageh.
  10. The Thought of St. Shenouda of Atripe, by Mr. Maged S. Mikhail of the St. Shenouda Society.
  11. The 13th Century Coptic Martyrdom of St. John of Phanidjoit, Reconsidered, by Mr. Hany N. Takla of the St. Shenouda Society.

The Role of the Society: There were many objectives for the Society's presence at the congress. Primarily we wanted to establish an acceptable presence in this the most illustrious body of Coptic Scholars. This is essential to our main goal of the Revival and Promotion of the Coptic Heritage. We participated in the form of three papers that were presented by our delegation as well as informal discussions with the notable scholars in the different fields of Coptic Studies. It is premature at this time to say that this primary object has fully been met. However, it is safe to say that great strides has been taken toward achieving it. The impression gotten from the scholars was that the Society's publications and activities has for the most part been well received. They were even acknowledged during one of the presentations. This is a great improvement over what was experienced in 1992 during the previous congress. The road is still long and dues have not been fully paid yet!

The Copts in Germany: This trip allowed us to have a first-hand look at the Coptic community living in Germany. Unlike the main Coptic immigrant communities in the US, Canada, and Australia; this community is highly assimilated in the German Society. Many of its members have been in the country for up to 30 years and most of those have German wives. There is relative concentration in the big cities like Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Berlin; but the numbers are rather small. According to Bishop Demian, the Coptic bishop of Germany, there is about 800 families scattered throughout Germany. They are served by seven churches and a new monastery, but not every church has a resident priest to pray regularly. There is also a good number of students enrolled in German Universities which apart from their excellent academic reputation are tuition-free! There is also two young Copts who will be enrolling at the Coptic Studies Institut in Münster for advanced degrees in the field, a very hopeful sign.

A Last Word about the Host: Only good things can be said about the effort and the accomplishment of the congress organizers. Under the guidance of the Congress Secretary Prof. Martin Krause, everything went or was made to go smoothly. He spared no effort to make everyone, especially us, feel welcomed and at home. My personal apprehensions about how we would be received were not only alleviated but rather replaced with very warm feelings. However a general can not be successful on a difficult mission unless he had an excellent staff. Dr. Sofia Schatten and Dr. Cäcilia Fluck were just the right people for that task. Their tireless efforts prior, during, and even after the congress concluded can only be admired and praised especially in our regards. There were many other students helping and all performed beautifully. On behalf of the Society, THANK YOU, you made this experience memorable!

Conclusion: It was a great experience to put it mildly. It is necessary for our youth to be exposed to such atmosphere to broaden their horizon and such objective was successful with the three youth that were part of the Society's delegation. However, not many are afforded that opportunity. Also it has become obvious that this gathering needs to be more frequently held. For these two reasons the Society will be making an attempt to get the scholarly communities as well as the Coptic Diocese in Los Angeles to arrange for a smaller regional gathering in 1998. More details will be coming on the subject in the next issues of this newsletter. Meanwhile we and more of our Coptic youth should plan for a stronger presence in the 2000 Congress in Leiden. A presence in terms of more Copts and more scholarly-grade papers presented.

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A Forgotten Coptic Martyrdom from the 13th Century St. John of Phanidjoit (2) (by Hany N. Takla)

Martyrdom (continued):

The day of the trial coincided with a major event. It seems that a naval parade was under way. This brought people from nearly every known nation, rank, and profession. The summoned Saint was brought before the king amid the customery noise that one would expect from such a gathering. There, the king made another attempt to dissuade the Saint from his intentions by such lucrative offers as royal gifts, money, and high government appointment. The reponse was made in the same polite way that the Saint has done before. Either to give him back his faith or purify him by the edge of the sword.

The king took the advice of his chief justice and his Elder of Elders, the chief religious cleric. The latter suggested, on religious grounds, the punishment of beheading; and the king agreed. However he drafted the services of a mamluke knight, named Philim, to use undeadly force to persuade the Saint to abandon his firm stand. This Philim, a European Christian that converted to Islam, failed in his mission. He eventually was ordered by the king to carry on the Elder of Elders sentence. The gallantry of the Saint apparently made Philim nervious enough to fail to completey sever the head from the body!

The execution of the sentence unleashed the mob feelings that was brewing throughout the trial. They directed their actions toward stoning the body of the Saint, which the king ordered it to be hung upon a wood column just north of where the Saint was martyred. Then their anger turned toward any Chrsitian they could find in the area. We are also told of the severe beating that some Non-Coptic Christians were subjected to when they petioned the king for the body of the Saint.

The author recounted some of the wonderous scenes that occured that night. This included viewing of intense light coming from the hung body of the Saint. Such was witnessed by Chrsitians as well as Moslems who actually went to investigate and were shocked by its miraculous origin. One of them even testified to the glorious scene of the ascending to heaven of the Saint's soul.

The Body was hung from Thursday night until early Monday, when the king ordered the discreet disposition of the body. This was accomplished by throwing it, wrapped in a sack filled with the stones that was stoned with, in the Nile. The king rather nervious edict was carried on as a result of the nightmares that he experienced the previous two nights. There the Saint appeared gloriously to king and threateningly ordered him to lower the body from where it was hanged. It is interesting to note that body, according to the author, was never found!

Why was it written in Coptic?

This is the most intriguing question about this text. Early in the 13th century, new compositions in Coptic are almost unheard of except for liturgical hymns. At least in a text designed to be read to the people, a parallel Arabic translation would be included. Of course this is not the case. Narrative are almost an exact rendering from Arabic possibly to distinguish their origin, i.e. they were originally said in Arabic. Also the writer may have been translating from Arabic notes that he gathered during his 11-month investigation. So why is it in Coptic only?

The primary objective for using Coptic instead of Arabic, in my opinion, is to hide it from the Moslems; while still be able to read it publicly. It is very clear that some of the facts and opinions expressed in the text would be of grave consequences for those involved if such is revealed to the Moslems or the Moslem authorities. I base this conclusion on the combination of two sets of data in the text. The first is the marginalia that a scribe or a reader of the manuscript has recorded in the heading of the pages. The second is textual examples that record statements and information that can be understood either as anti-Islamic or anti-government.

The first set is a collections of short headings that seem to me reflective of that person's fear of what may happen if this falls in the wrong hand. No correlation is apparent between these headings and the text included on such page. It seems almost like a Christian magical formula that someone is applying to protect the text. These headings are as follows:

Folio Number Translation
f. 40v, 51v, 54v God save me
f. 41v, 45v, 49v, 53v God have mercy on me
f. 42v, 50v God help me
f. 43v God have mercy on me
f. 44v, 52v God forgive me
f. 46v God hear me

The second set is the reason for writing the first, and it is a collection of citations from the text that would be considered unwise for a Christian to write during Islamic times. In fact it would be suicidal if the text was to be read publicly in churches. Some of these textual examples are as follows:

a. The author exhorts the Christians to resist conversion and uphold the faith:

(f.40r l.21-4) Come you all today O the faithful ones and the sons of the baptism in order that we carry the sweet yoke of our Good Savior

b. Author labels (some?) Moslems as adulterers and sinners:

(f.40v l.20-4) This is the son of disobedience who took the wealth of his father and dispersed it with the adulterers and the sinners.

c. The use of a Biblical quotation by him to label the generation as a sinning adulterous one:

(f.42r l.26-8) He who will be ashamed to reveal me and my words <in this> adulterous sinning <generation>.

d. Describing Salah al-Din, as having a prior faith other than Islam:

(f.43r l.25-6) of the faith of the Agarinneos.

e. Existence of a refuge village in Upper Egypt for Christians who converted to Islam and came back.

(f.44r l.11-20) They went to a village south of them which its name <is> Pepleu because its ruler was loving to Christians ... and especially ... those who has returned to their faith ...

f. Abu Shaker, hinting to the martyr that the Coptic officials sometimes have declared their Islam in appearance only!

(f.45r l.23-7) "It is known to you that the word<s> that you spoke are not blasphemies but as a lie-maker and we tell lies at every time."

g. Abu-Shaker labeling Moslems and probably the Mamlukes as very evil.

(f.45r l.31-2) Do you not know that these nations are very evil.

h. The priest Arous praising the martyr for wanting to be martyred.

(f.46v l.23-7) "Blessed are you O my brother before the Lord. If you do this matter, your name will be famous in all Kemi and its surroundings together."

i. The author using the words of king David to uncomplimentary describe the king's servants who were verbally abusing the martyr while confined in prison.

(f.48v l.25-7) "They gathered around me namely a bunch of dogs and a company of evil chiefs has grabbed me."

j. The king is described as being afraid as a result of the martyr's second appearance to him after his death.

(f.54v l.15-6) He was filled with fear and he hid himself from him

Why is our Saint not included in the Coptic Synaxarium?:

This is another puzzling question about this text. We know that the Synaxarium of the Coptic Church was written around that time period. So why is not there? Fr. Marcos, the priest who recorded this martyrdom, intended it to be used in the celebration of this martyr. From the rather pristine shape of the manuscript, it did not seem to have been ecclesiastically used. The manuscript does not have any mention of being donated to St. Macarius Monastery. So under what circumstances did it arrive there? Are all these things related. In any case the following scenarios are possible:

  1. The manuscript was transported to the monastery to be used by the compilers of the Synaxarium; who, for some reason, did not think it should be included.
  2. The manuscript, judging by its sensitive nature, was smuggled to the monastery and hidden among manuscripts of earlier dates for safe keeping. Thus making it unavailable to the compilers, or rejected by them for its sensitive nature. Or was it the deficiency of miracles that made it unfavorable!

But there is no doubt that when such text would have been OK to include, it was not available to those doing the work. As one can see there is more questions than answers. However, now that it is available again, the Coptic Church should seriously consider its inclusion in the Synaxarium.

(to be continued)

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ST. SHENOUDA'S WRITINGS (6) (by Ashraf Hanna)


This is a text translation from a second Arabic sermon of St. Shenouda read on the 1st Sunday during Lent in the Coptic Church. The text was transcribed from a microfilm copy of Paris Arabe 4761 (CML 1592).


(4v) ... A Second Sermon to be read on the first Sunday of the Holy Fast:

In the name of the living, holy God, Creator of the bodies and the souls, who made thanksgiving due upon us forever. And made us praise and glorify Him for his great mercy and favor for us. For as we fell down, He raises us up, and as we sinned and repented, He forgave us. Behold now He congratulates you O the Christian people, gathered in this holy church, for acceptance of this fast. And makes you from among those who pleased God with their good deeds so God will have compassion and pity upon you.

As it is written in the book of Exodus which (5R) is the second book of the Holy Torah, "I have mercy upon whom I want to have mercy on, and have pity upon whom I want to have pity on, and have compassion upon whom I want to have compassion upon." And Asking and entreating God so as He gives life up to 100 years while you are abiding in the commandments, taking care and forgiven from the sins, and being away from doing the abominable, inappropriate matters. Know you O the blessed brothers that this fast became an obligation and a commitment for us and for all the baptized ones.

And the evidence for that is our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is glory, fasted forty days and forty nights without needing that. Because fasting and prayer were made for forgiveness of the sin, and our Lord Jesus Christ did not commit a sin that necessitate (5v) that. For He, being blessed and exalted, resembled us in every thing except the sin only. He also said in His holy Gospel, "I did not come to abolish what is written but to complete it." So when Moses the prophet and Elijah fasted forty days and forty nights, He himself fasted the fast for the sake of completing the Law. And He obliged us Christians, to (follow) that.

And Our Master, to whom is glory, increased the fast to hide His divinity from the devil, lest He makes it known to him about the great plan (?) that He planned for our salvation. As the apostle Paul said that if through the cross of Christ is salvation, then they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Let us be diligent now, O my blessed brothers, and purify our souls, and do what pleases Him from the fasting and the prayer. So that it (6r) be acceptable before Him.

And we should(?) pray and not be wearied of [incessant(?)] prayer. And He gave us the parable of the unjust judge, not fearing God. So a woman came to him in order that he takes revenge for her upon her adversary. And he did not give her attention. And when she repeated the request, he took revenge for her upon that one. For the prayer is one of the lawful requirements along with the fasting. Because our Lord Jesus Christ said that it casts out the demons. As for him who say that he has no knowledge of prayer, let him hear His saying, "Carry my yoke for it is light." And He, His name be glorified, when His disciples asked Him saying, "Teach us to pray", He said to them, "Say our Father who is in the heavens, hollowed be Your name..." and what follows. He thanked the tax-collector and praised him with one word for he was praying saying, "O God(?) forgive me for I am a sinner". And God accepted (6v) his prayer because of this word for the prayer is not lots of talking but by honesty and [sincerity]. For our Lord, to whom is glory, say in the Gospel of Luke, "Do not increase your talk like the pagans who thinks that they will be heard by the abundance of their talk, and do not resemble them in that. But if you pray then say Our Father who art in the heavens..."

And Master Paul, tongue of the fragrance and teacher of the church, says, "Five words with understanding are better than multitudes of talk." And he also said, "He who talks with tongue, he does not know(?), resembles talking to the air." So now, no one argue and say, "I do not know (how) to pray." For the Law of God commanded that prayers is not by the abundance of talk".....

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Observations of a Young Copt at the Sixth Coptic Congress in Germany (by Joseph Fahim)

My main task, as a representative of the Society in Germany, at the Coptic Congress was to present myself well among the many scholars of Coptic Studies. I had to closely observe how the Coptic heritage is scholarly approached. Also observe how to talk to scholars in such field, in and out of the lecture rooms. In other words we had to learn to speak the language of scholars. When I attended the Congress in July 1996, I also learned some other non-scholarily issues.

First, when I talked to many of these scholars, I found out that not all of them were just mobile banks of knowledge as I imagined. Some of them were simple and would speak about personal experiences without difficulty. This kind of scholars could be easily approached. However, they still were well-disciplined and committed when it came to the issue of Coptic Studies. In many cases, also, and at different levels, they valued their relationship with God. On the other hand, there was that kind of of scholars who valued knowledge more than most other issues. To those, one had to show some level of intelligence to get them interested in carrying on a conversation.

Another thing that grabbed my attention at the Congress was the subject that was being studied; i.e. the Coptic Heritage. There were almost 200 in attendance, most of whom were scholars and students in a field directly or indirectly related to Coptic Studies. Out of the two hundred, only ten or twnety were Copts, include those who live in the lands of immigration like myself. The rest were mainly from Europe and some were from the US. There must be a good reason for this number of highly intellectual people to gather from the most civilized parts of the world to study whatever they are studying. Our forefathers must have possessed some very unique and precious jewels, characters of faith, that these people are trying to uncover. It proved to me what my teacher once said, "Egyptians taught the whole world, not only cicilization, but also religion!" If so, then where are the Copts, whose heritage is being studied? Should we not be doing more than these scholars are doing? Even worse, where is our heritage or the jewels of our Coptic Church? When I think of all of that, I wonder how can someone ask, "Why is it important to keep our Coptic Heritage and why we do not stick to the "American" way of worship?"

We are definitely taking things for granted. We are ignorant about our very own church. We do not know why are so many things done in the liturgy the way they are. Then it becomes easy to deviate because things do not make sense to us. As a result, people when they cannot find logical reasons for such practices, they will abandon the Church. They will leave all together and go somewhere else where people are doing things based on some logical "Biblical Reasons". Or they would just start their own church, that will be based on their own understanding of the Bible. Thus because of our negligence we became a stumbling block for many. Furthermore, if things do not make sense to us, we might even start changing it around so it may make sense. Then we start to lose the main characteristics that were keeping the Church together the way it should be. As a result, the church will become strange-looking and not understood. The only way out of this is to go back to the roots of our Heritage and find out how and why things were done before. That is why, I personally think that I have a lot of studying to do about my Church.

Also I learned more than how to speak the language of scholars and how to present myself to them. I learned to have some confidence about my self-image as a Copt with such a great heritage, in the presence of the many cultures that we have in the US. However my ignorance about my own Church gives me a great deal of humility as well. The last question this congress raised in my mind was about the nature of Coptic Studies itself. How much scholarly can I get in trying to learn about my Coptic Church, and yet keep the great deal of simplicity of faith that I need to get close to God and live in peace without too much doubts in my life.

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The Library of the Monastery of St. John the Little a - Colophon from a Vatican-preserved Coptic Manuscript (by Hany N. Takla)


The successful excavation seasons of the Scriptorium (1995-1996) in ruins of the Monastery of St. John the Little in Egypt's Wadi 'N Natrun sparked widespread interest in the Monastery and its founder. So far, no remains of the Library has not been excavated. There is however at least one Bohairic-Arabic Manuscript in the Vatican that can be traced directly to this ancient library. This is Vatican Copt. 21, a complete codex of the Liturgy of St. Cyril. It is dated 1059 AM (1343 AD). Its transmission history from the monastery to the Vatican is not definitely known. What is known is that it is mentioned among six Coptic Manuscripts inventoried in MS. Vat. Lat. 7136, from the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Pope Julius II, 1503-1513. Keep in mind that the last time the monastery was mentioned to be inhabited was in 1493 AD. There is another Bohairic colophon of a Horologion, published by Dr. Burmester in 1965, that came from that library. Three Arabic Manuscripts is known to have come from the Monastery and are currently preserved in European Libraries.

Below is the Bohairic text (included only in the Winword version) of the colophon of Vatican Copt. 21. The text reflects the old style Djinkim, customary of pre-1400 AD Bohairic manuscripts. Editor's modifications to the text is marked with '[ ]' for lacuna, '{}' for errors by scribe, and '<>' for additions by the editor. Further, an underlined text indicates above line scribal additions, and strikethrough text indicates portions of text crossed out by scribe.


(f66v) "cross" In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the equal Trinity: one divinity, we worship Him, we glorify Him for ever Amen

He made a completion to this blessed labor. Which is the Anaphora of Saint Gregory Cyril. on the 24th of the month of Amshir: From years of the martyrs 1059: and from a year which is (of ) the sons of Hagar 743 in peace of God Amen:

And he who took care of it, the monk father, the holy one, the priest of God and His servant, the presbyter John, the son of the holy church of our hegomen father Abba John (f.67v) in the mountain of Shiet: The wilderness of our Father Abba Makari: He took care of it with his true labor which he meditated in it and it became a memorial for him for ever Amen.

In order that Christ our God shall give him the heavenly things in place of the earthly things: The eternal in place of the temporal in Jerusalem of Heaven Amen let it be: Amen

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A Curious Coptic Manuscript in Münster (by Hany N. Takla)

As part of the program of the Coptic Congress in Münster this year, a tour was set up to view an exhibition of the nearby Bible Museum. There, I saw an impressive display of the history of biblical research, including manuscripts and old editions of the Bible in several formats and languages. There was also a display of some of the Coptic manuscripts owned by the New Testament Research Institute, who operates the Bible Museum. Among these few Coptic manuscripts, I noticed one small-size manuscript opened to a page displaying a Bohairic Coptic text of the Prayer of the Angels. A prayer, used in the Coptic Church in its Agbeyia (or Horologion). The title-card in the display case said it was from the book of the Morning and Evening Prayers. This meant some kind of an abridged edition of the Coptic Horologion. However from earlier studies conducted at the Coptic Center in Los Angeles, I knew that the text of this prayer was included in manuscripts of the Horologion by reference only. Such mention usually occured in the Arabic rubrics (instructions) of the text. In fact the only time that I sited this text in full was in manuscripts of the Coptic Psalmodia. With the prospect of seeing a contradiction to my long established beliefs about the placement this prayer, I found myself constantly going back to that display case.

Our guides, Dr. Wolfgang Richter and Dr. Schmitz, were kind enough to take the manuscript out from behing the glass and allow me to examine it. Due to time limitation, I restricted my examination to figuring out the contents of the manuscript. What I found was that it began with the morning doxologies that are usually recited prior to the Coptic Service of the Morning Raising of Incense. It concluded with the prayers just preceding the chanting of the Doxologies during the Coptic Raising of Incense Services. The manuscript apparently was part of the Coptic Psalmodia and its place in the text was between the Theotokias (hymns praising the Virigin) and the Doxologies. Despite lack of page or folio numbers, the manuscript seemed complete. This raised very interesting possibilities on the how the Book of the Psalmodia was structured.

My curiosity about the manuscript was still not fully satisfied. So the next morning when I saw Dr. Schmitz at the Congress, I asked for permission to examine the manuscript more closely. I was given a late-morning appointment on Friday, July 26. There I was given the opportunity not only to examine it but to take a complete set of photographs of this 39-folio, pocket-size manuscript. As I was looking at the contents, I discovered several sections in the Morning Doxologies part being crossed out. This gave an indication that such sections were not to be used in the prayer. Looking closely at these marked sections, I observed the following:

  1. Those sections are not included in the text, currently used in the Coptic Church.
  2. Only the Coptic portion, not the Arabic was marked as deleted.
  3. Some of the deleted texts had mentions of St. Macarius.

My preliminary conclusions about the manuscript is that it belonged to the monastery of St. Macarius in Wadi 'N Natrun originally. It then was transported outside of the Monastery to another monastery or church, where peculiar parts to the originating monastery were crossed out so as not to be recited. As for why only the Coptic text was crossed out, it is a clear indication that only the Coptic was being recited. Arabic was, as it always has been, provided as a reference translation and not for use. This conclusion is further supported by the lack of any marks within the verses in Arabic to divide the text as is customerily done in Coptic. More work need to be done on how this manuscript fits in the Coptic Liturgical system. (to be continued)

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News (by Hany N. Takla)

1. History of the Coptic Orthodox Church: This book by the Rev. T. Hall Partrick, Ph.D. of Greensboro, North Carolina has been a great success. In a matter of six weeks, about 1,500 copies of the book were sold to individuals and churches through out the US and several other countries. This success is a fitting tribute to such a fine accomplishment of a much-needed work. The author, in an excellent and fluent English style, takes the reader on a quick journey beginning with the early roots of the Church in the first century to its present-day revival. He then concluded that the Coptic Church, with its glorious past, has survived the persecutions of many; and is currently growing in a vibrant fashion. It is suitable for general reading as well as a starting point for doing extensive study on a specific period in history.

Keep in mind that this work is a history of the Coptic Church and not a book of the saints. In such context we will encounter painful lessons that God has allowed to happen. To hide or water-down such events we will be doing a disservice to ourselves and the generations that will follow us. History is a collections of lessons learned in the present from events of the past to help us shape our future. This work is a good start toward the writing of a comprehensive history of the Coptic Orthodox Church. A history that would address the ecclesiastical issues as well as those of the forgotten populace.

The retail price for a single copy is $14.95. As a benefit to our dues-paying members, we offer it at $10, limited to a maximum of 5 copies. Others in US Eastern and Midwestern States and Canada should order through our distributor, Dr. George M. Bassaly, Tel/Fax No. (201)229-0412. Members worldwide and others living in Southern and Western US States, should order through the Society. Quantity discounts are available: 10-49 copies for $13.50 each, and 50 or more copies for $12.50. Organizations or individuals, interested in distributing the book in Australia or Europe, should contact the Society. A special discount will be given to such distributors for order of 50 or more copies.

2. The Society on The Internet: We are still at the same address, "". In this next quarter we are planning to expand Coptic Language section that was started by including introductory lesson in Bohairic Coptic. This is made possible by the availability of the Microsoft Word Viewer, distributed free on the internet through Microsoft Corp. This viewer, after installation, can be configured through Netscape Viewer to view any Word documents. You will need first to download and install the Coptic fonts available through our site to be able to see the Coptic characters. Also we are preparing a list of all the available microfiche of Coptic Studies research material. This material can be ordered electronically through our Coptic Store on the web. Further we are working on an on-line summary listing of the microfilm-of-manuscripts holdings of the Society, arranged by subject. Tune in on the web for more developments.

Starting with the last edition of the Newsletter (Vol. 2, No. 3) we made it available to our electronic mailing list. Such edition had the full text of the printed edition except for any Coptic text included. With the introduction of the Word Viewer, mentioned above, any one can view the full text including the Coptic via a Link that we are providing in the HTML version of the Newsletter. We are still 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 ( This will be incorporated as part of our Manual of Coptic Studies Section.

3. The Sixth International Coptic Congress: During the period of July 20-26, the International Association for Coptic Studies held its 6th International Coptic Congress in Münster, Germany. This is held once every four years. More information is included in a separate article in this newsletter. A more expanded version will be available on the internet by October 15, 1996. Its address will be: "".

4. The California Orange County Coptic Regional Center: Since its official opening on July 22, 1995, the center completed two consecutive Introductory Coptic Grammar Class. The instructor is Mr. Joseph Fahim, center's assistant director. A new session started on Fridays, beginning September 13, 1996. For more details about the Regional Center, contact Mr. Fahim at (714) 842-1344 or email to 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.

5. Coptic Word Games Handbook: Vol. 1 of the Coptic Word Games Handbook is in distribution. Only a few hundred copies of the original 2,000 copies printed are left. 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 Regional Center. It is an excellent tool to pleasantly introduce our younger and even older generations to the language of our fathers. We are hoping to include this in the Coptic Language curriculum that the Los Angeles Diocese is planning. The nominal price charged is $2.00 for members and $3.00 for non-members.

6. The Scriptorium in Egypt: We received information that the Scriptorium's 1997 Excavation season in the St. John the Little Monastery in Egypt was suspended. We hope this suspension is limited to this upcoming season only. The very significant yield from that site last year shows how important that site is to piece together Coptic monastic history. May the Lord direct all such work for the Glory of His Holy Name. For more information on the activities as well as the educational programs of the Scriptorium, please contact Prof. Jerry Pattengale at (800) 333-8373.

7. Research Projects: We reported last time on three important projects that were being worked on by our staff at the center. The first draft of the encyclopedia entry on the Copts, in Macmillan upcoming Encyclopedia of Immigrant America, was utilized to a great extent by Dr. Zakariah Wahba in his paper that he submitted to the Coptic Congress in July. The transcription of Coptic glosses of the famous Hibat Alllah ibn Al-Assal's 13th century critical Arabic translation of the Coptic Gospels, is about 85% complete. In early August we were honored by a visit of Dr. Staal to the Center, where he met with our students working on this project. The Life of St. John Kolobos (the Little) project is progressing. During the Coptic Congress, we were able to discuss with Prof. Horn of Göttingen, Germany, the possibility of obtaining a copy of the Arabic Life of the Saint which is preserved in the Göttingen University Library. We will be sending an order a microfilm copy soon through Prof. Horn.

Mr. Ashraf Hanna, of our Center's staff is currently working on collation of the different manuscripts of the Coptic (Arabic) Synaxarium. Similarly, Mr. Sherief Sorial is working on the Coptic Psalmodia, Mr. Emad N. Georgy is working on the Coptic Horologion, and Mr. Peter Mankarious will be starting on Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil. All of these projects are designed to trace the development history of these important books in the Coptic Church. The extensive manuscript-on-microfilm holdings of the Society is what made these projects a reality. Through the assistance of Dr. Gawdat Gabra of the Cairo Coptic Museum (who visited the Center in mid August), Mr. Mark Moussa will be doing a textual study of the Life of St. John Kame, a famous 9th century Coptic monk.

8. Coptic Book Library: Several more volumes were added to our Coptic library. A list of the more significant items is included in the separate Progress Report accompanying to this newsletter.

9. Coptic Classes: A new Intermediate Bohairic Coptic Class began on August 17 at the Center. This class will deal with the translation of smaller, simpler Bohairic texts. The class meets on Saturdays from 6-7:30 p.m. Also at the Center, we have the Advanced Coptic Seminar. This is held on Sundays from 6-7:30 p.m. It is divided up into two sessions, one translating more advanced Bohairic literary texts, and the second dealing with Sahidic monastic texts. The Intermediate Coptic class at the Coptic Theological Seminary in Los Angeles started on September 12. This course will be 8, 3-hour sessions and will deal with translation of short Bohairic texts, introduction to Sahidic as compared to Bohairic, and principles of reading Coptic manuscripts. All the above classes are taught by Mr. Hany N. Takla, the Society's president.

Prof. Loprieno of UCLA will be offering either a 4- or 8-unit Coptic Sahidic class in the Winter Quarter, (January 97). We are hopeful that this upcoming class will be as popular among the Coptic students there as the first one was in 1995.

10. Analysis of the Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil: Mr. Monir B. Raphael of Chicago IL has enriched Copts and Coptic liturgical studies alike with a most important publication. It is designed to aid in the comprehension of the Coptic Liturgy. The book is titled The Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil - Coptic Language Analysis. This 3-vol. set publishes the text of the Liturgy of St. Basil in 3 columns, Arabic, Coptic, and English. 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-copy discount is available. Vol. 2 requires vol. 1, and vol. 3 requires vol. 1&2. This set is an enlarged as well as an enhanced edition of what the author has produced in Egypt nearly 30 years ago in Coptic and Arabic only.

11. Lay Coptic Organizations and Activities: Several Lay Copts have formed organizations and/or publications, dealing with religious and cultural projects in the US, Canada, Europe, and Egypt. Unfortunately the independance of such people from the authority of the church has caused them to go unknown among Copts especially in North America. It is our sincere hope that our Coptic community will lend a hand of support to such organizations before they fade away and we all get deprived from their benefits. The following is a list of such organizations or publications, excluding those of strictly charitable activities:

A. In English:

i. The American Association of Coptic Studies: This organization was formed recently in Portland, Oregon to promote on a scholarly basis the study of the Coptic Culture. A function that will greatly complement the work of the Society in the Academic community. Its organizing members are Scholars from among the Copts, headed by the esteemed professor, Sami Hanna of Portland, Oregon. It is a membership organization with one of its major objectives, is the publication a scholarly journal of Coptic Studies with emphasis on the more Modern history. The Society, through its affiliation with this organization, will contribute works on the more ancient times. More information and membership applications can be obtained by writing to the Society's address. Annual subscription rate is $25 (not including subscription to the Journal). This year is the first membership year for the Association.

i. Coptic Church Review: A publication edited by Dr. Rodolphe Yanni of Pennsylvania, a noted Coptic scholar in the fields of Liturgy and Patristics. It is published quarterly since 1980. It covers many topics related to the Coptic Heritage and addressing an audience of intellectuals who are interested in the Coptic Church, whether Copts or others. Many notable personalities publish their works in this publication. Its business address is: Society of Coptic Church Studies, P.O. Box 714, E. Brunswick, NJ 08816 USA. Its Annual subscription rate is $8. Back Issues are also available.

ii. Coptologia: A publication edited by Prof. Fayek Ishak of Ontario, Canada. Since 1980, such publication brought out many important articles dealing with our Coptic Heritage and written by prominent scholars, Copts and others. Its audience are the educated Copts and other educated Americans interested in the Coptic Heritage. Their business address is: Coptologia Publications, P.O. Box 235, Don Mills, ON, Canada M3C 2S2. It is published once a-year, and its subscription rate is $8. Back Issues are also available.

B. In Arabic:

i. Mari Mina Society: A society formed in the 40's by the best minds that the Church had from among its lay population. It included the likes of Dr. Georgy Sobhy, Dr. Pahor Labib, Dr. Monir Shoucri, and Mr. Yassa Abdel-Massih. Its current president is Prof. Mina Abdel-Malek, a Professor of Mathematics in the University of Alexandria. In the last two decades it published many important works in Coptic History by the late Dr. Monir Shoucri, a noted Coptic Historian and member of our Society. Its most recent publication is an Arabic Dictionary of Who's Who among the Copts in Egypt during Modern times. Inquiries can be directed to our Address.

ii. Sunday School Magazine: A monthly magazine that was founded by His Holiness Pope Shenouda in his layman years. Now it is a forum for many of the intellectual Copts to contribute toward many subjects related to the Church from a layman perspective. Business Address: Sunday School Magazine, P.O. Box 17 Hadaik Shubra, Cairo, Egypt. Its subscription rate is $20.

iii. St. Antonious Patristic Center: A center, founded by Dr. Nosshi Abdel-Shahid in Cairo. It promote the Study of the writings of the Fathers in the Church (Patristics), the essence of our orthodoxy. It has sponsored several students studying in this field in European Universities. The center has an extensive library in such field of study. It also hosts a monthly lecture series on the topic given by prominent scholars in the field. A monthly publication with topics related to patristics is published by the center in Arabic. The Subscription mailing address is: Mr. Onsy Asham Pilatos. P.O. Box 9 Al-Fagalla, Cairo, Egypt. The Annual subscription rate is $15.

C. In French:

i. Le Monde Copte: A semi-annual publication in French, that deals with many aspects of Coptic Culture, Ancient and Modern. It is very professionally done and suitable for an educated audience. Every Article is followed by a summary, written in English and in Arabic. It is published by the tireless Dr. Ashraf Sadek in France and many notable writers participate in it. Its subscription rate is $80 for 2 years, or 400 French Francs. The Society is the US Correspondent of this publication.

D. In German:

i. Kemet: A quarterly publication in German, dealing with cultural topics related to the Ancient Egyptian culture as well as the Coptic Culture. Many of the prominent names in both of these fields contribute their writings to it. This is a tribute to the hard-working efforts of its publisher, Mr. Adel Kamel of Berlin, Germany. The mailing address is: A. Kamel, Koptischstr. 1, 10965 Berlin Germany. The Annual subscription rate is 32 DM in Germany, 40 DM in Europe, and 50 DM outside of Europe

12. Work by Egyptians in the Field of Coptic Studies: It is important to acquaint our readers with work that Copts and other Egyptians are doing in the different fields of Coptic Studies. The following is a partial list of such projects:

13. The NKCSC Project: No new applications have been released during this past quarter. Work is under way 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 scheduled to be released by November 1, 1996. The order number will be NKCSC-CG1. This will include all daily, non-seasonal, readings in the Coptic Church, arranged in Coptic with a parallel KJV English version. The Sundays readings will be included in a separate release in the future. The work on the new version of the Coptic New Testament Viewer has been delayed due to the many projects that the Society is involved in this year. We are hopeful for a release date by January 1997. 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.

14. Coptic Multimedia: Photographs of Coptic Sites in Egypt become more and more important with age. This is due to the unstable atmosphere that the Copts live in these days. We were fortunate over a year ago to be able to secure a slides copy of a collection of such photographs made but a professional photographer, Mr. Paul Kuiper, back in 1971. The time has come for the Copts to try to bring these treasures to the our youths in an appropriate format they would be familiar with. This would be a multi-media CD (Computer) production. The material available can yield several of these CD's. We sincerely hope someone will step in with the knowledge and/or the resources for such an endeavor. In such case, the Society will try to arrange an acceptable agreement with all the parties involved. We sincerely hope that the Los Angeles Coptic Diocese will undertake this great task.

15. The First St. Shenouda Coptic Symposium: The Society has tentatively planned a new annual Symposium of Coptic Studies. The first one will be devoted to Coptic Liturgy and Church History. It will be a one-day event, tentatively scheduled on the last Saturday of June 1997. More details will be forthcoming in future editions of this Newsletter. The objective of this symposium is to allow Copts to participate in a scholarly atmosphere and present their research in areas more applicable and practical to the Coptic Church. This will act also as the professional training grounds for better participation by the Copts in the Leiden Congress in 2000. We encourage all Copts, not only in Southern California, to attend and/or participate.

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Prepared by Hany N. Takla. Last Update 10/3/96

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