The Coptic version of the Canons of Basil

I had decided, on completion of the Gnomai, to gather in a convenient place the extant Coptic fragments of the Canons of Basil, which are otherwise extant solely in Arabic. The usual source for citation is in the (German) translation of a Berlin MS given in Wilhelm Riedel, Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien (repr. of 1900 edition; Aalen: Scientia, 1968), 231-283, though Coptic almost certainly lies behind the Arabic, and Greek, very likely, behind the Coptic.

Some of these Coptic fragments are found among the Turin papyri, in the same collection, transcribed by Rossi in the nineteenth century, which is the principal witness for the Gnomai. So I was interested to learn, from Tito Orlandi, “The Turin Coptic papyri” Augustinianum 53 (2013), 501-530, that there are further fragments there which were not published by Rossi. Rossi, incidentally, had not identified the fragments as from the Canons of Basil as Riedel’s work was not yet published. The identification was subsequently made by W.E. Crum, “The Coptic version of the “Canons of S. Basil”” Proceedings of the Society of biblical archaeology 26 (1904), 57-62, who also provided an English translation of Rossi’s transcription.

However, from the same article I also learned that a complete MS of the Coptic version of the Canons has been discovered and is being edited by Alberto Camplani; as such, to gather the existing fragments would be a waste of time. This does not mean that I won’t do it, but the onset of the cricket season means that I really will have better things to do for the next five months in any event. Nonetheless, we may look forward with eager anticipation to Camplani’s work. There is still a great deal of fundamental work to be undertaken on this outgrowth of the church order tradition.

For the record, Coptic fragments have been published (apart from Rossi’s transcription as translated by Crum) in J. Drescher, “A Coptic lectionary fragment” Annales du service des antiquités de l’Égypte 51 (1951), 247-257 and by Paul E. Kahle in Bala’izah: Coptic texts from Deir el-Bala’izah in upper Egypt I (London: Geoffrey Cumberlege, 1954), 412-416. I am happy to provide scans of this material to anyone interested.

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