The Fides patrum in Ethiopic and the church order tradition

I have just read the Ethiopic version of the Fides patrum from the Ethiopian senodos edited by A. Bausi, “La versione etiopica dealla didascalia dei 318 niceni sulla retta fede e la vita monastica” in Ugo Zanetti and Enzo Lucchesi (edd.) Aegyptus Christiana (Geneva: Patrick Cramer, 2004), 225-248.

Although I have not made a detailed comparison with the Greek text (which I discuss and translate in my On the two ways: life of death, light or darkness (Yonkers NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary, 2011), I observe that the conclusion lacks the instruction to priests found in the Greek, as well as the conclusion found in the Coptic version discussing, chiefly, the reception of offerings from “tainted” sources. However, we may also observe that the conclusion is entirely coherent. We are thus led to suggest that, like the church order material to which the text is closely related (although Bausi describes it as a monastic rule), this document was “living literature” and prone to alteration and expansion in its transmission. I am increasingly convinced that insofar as “church orders” are a coherent genre (possibly they are not… in spite of the name of this blog) then this, as well as other ascetic literature from 4th century Egypt, should be included within it.

The Greek version has clear echoes of the Two ways tradition (though apparently not transmitted through the Didache, as the sectio evangelica is absent), and the Coptic conclusion in discussing the issue of “tainted” offerings picks up a subject discussed in the Didascalia.

At present I am working on the Gnomes of Nicaea, a text transmitted alongside the Fides patrum in the Coptic manuscript tradition as part of a collection of material attributed to the Council of Nicaea, which is equally to be considered a relative of the church order tradition. More will be said on this in due course.

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