Tag Archives: Canons of Basil

The Coptic version of the Canons of Basil: a progress report

cansbasbit
Way back in 2014 I reported on the discovery of a Coptic codex of the Canons of Basil. Alberto Camplani had confirmed to me that a codex had been discovered, and that a progress report was forthcoming. This report has now been published: Alberto Camplani and Federico Contardi, “The Canons Attributed to Basil of Caesarea: A New Coptic Codex” in Paola Buzi, Alberto Camplani, Federico Contardi (ed.), Coptic Society, Literature and Religion from Late Antiquity to Modern Times: Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies, Rome, September 17th-22nd, 2012, and Plenary Reports of the Ninth International Congress of Coptic Studies, Cairo, September 15th-19th, 2008 Vol. 2 (Leuven: Peeters, 2016), 979-992. Federico Contardi has kindly sent me a copy of this report.
Camplani and Contardi report that the codex was discovered in Sheikh Abd el-Gurna by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology under the direction of Tomasz Górecki, on a rubbish dump outside tomb 1152 (dating from the Middle Kingdom) which was reused in the Coptic Period as a hermitage. The codex is preserved in the National Museum of Alexandria, identified as Coptic Ms. 1. It is almost complete.
What is particularly interesting about this Coptic version, by distinction to the published Arabic, is the presence of much more apparatus of pseudonymy, some of which is described in the report. This links with that described by Alin Suciu in Coptic apocrypha, and discussed briefly below, and lends support to the suggestion of Camplani that the Canons should be given an Egyptian and sixth century provenance.
We look forward to the forthcoming preliminary edition by Contardi and Camplani, to be followed by an editio maior containing Arabic and Coptic.
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Again, the Coptic Canons of Basil

Alberto Camplani has confirmed to me there is indeed a new, and complete, Coptic manuscript of the Canons of Basil, discovered by the Polish Archaeological mission in Thebaid. He is working on this, and a report of progress, together with an assessment of the manuscript tradition, will appear in the Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies, (Rome 2012.) He will, of course, take note of the other material previously observed.

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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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More on the Two ways

I have already alluded to my collection of the Two Ways material.
I may now observe an omission, namely the Canons of Basil. This collection, again with clear links to the church order tradition, includes a version of the two ways as canon 2, albeit one which is very remote from the literary tradition

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