Tag Archives: Turin Coptic Papyri

More on the Coptic Canons of Basil

In previous posts I have mentioned the discovery of a Coptic version of the Canons of Basil. This is being edited by Alberto Camplani and Federico Contardi.

The most recent update from the editors is in their essay “Remarks on the textual contribution of the Coptic codices preserving the Canons of Saint Basil with edition of the ordination rite for the bishop (canon 16)” in Francesca P. Barone et al. (ed.), Philologie, herméneutique et histoire des textes entre orient et occident: mélanges en hommage à Sever J. Voicu Turnhout: Brepols, 2017), 139-159.

From this we learn that the Coptic provides a rather more extensive literary frame than the Arabic, and some additional canonical material, though there is also material in the Arabic not found in the new Coptic version. Church order literature continues, it is clear, to be “living literature” in its Nachleben. The authors, moreover, suggest that a Syrian provenance is possible, and a date in the sixth century.

Finally we are provided with a preliminary edition of canon 16, the ordination of a bishop, based on the new manuscript, though with fragments from the Turin papyri now placed in context. The ordination is not without consent of the metropolitan (ⲡⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛ̄ⲧⲙⲏⲉⲧⲣⲟⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ); subsequently in the canon a chief bishop (ⲡⲛⲟϭ ⲛ̄ⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ) appears, though we cannot be entirely assured that these are the same person. Ordination is through the holding of a book of the Gospels over the candidate, with an ordination prayer, followed by a laying on of a hand by the principal bishop, followed by the other bishops, and a greeting and insufflation by the chief bishop, followed by greetings from the other clergy and people.

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Progress report

I have now received a scan of one of the two pages at the end of the Turin codex containing the Gnomai of Nicaea. Although it is largely lacunose and, due to the darkness of the papyrus, even what is extant is largely illegible from a photograph, I can at least rest assured that this is not a missing page of gnomai simply because it is written in two columns, whereas the rest of the gnomai are in one. Unfortunately, due to an error, only one of the two pages was sent; the other page which was sent was a duplicate of one I had already received. I have pointed this out and wait… again!

In the meantime, and more positively, the introduction and main text of my second edition of Traditio apostolica has gone into the editorial process. I need only now to check the appendix (containing the Hippolytean homily on the Psalms, as before) and recast the indices. My aim was to have this done by Pentecost, so I may well be on schedule.

A publication date is in the hands of the Press, but I do not anticipate that it will be long delayed. Unlike the Gnomai…


Filed under Apostolic Tradition, Other church order literature

The Gnomai of Nicaea: progress(?!) report

As reported earlier, the text of my edition of the gnomai of Nicaea went to the publishers. However, there has been something of a glitch. Tito Orlandi, “The Turin Coptic papyri” Augustinianum 53 (2013), 501-530,an article to which reference has already been made, gives a list of the pages in the codex, and includes as part of the gnomai some pages which Rossi had printed as fragments in an appendix, and one unedited leaf. Previously I had regarded the fragments as independent homiletic material and therefore had not included them. On the basis of Orlandi’s claim that these were part of the gnomai I determined that these had to be included, alongside the unedited pages. I had obtained a photograph of the unedited leaf, and translated and transcribed the fragments, when I realized that these probably are not, after all, to be included in the gnomai, not the least because the page numbers, where they are extant, would not add up in that the inclusion of this material would mean that there were more pages than there were numbers. Ergo, I concluded, my initial instinct was correct. However, in the process of counting the pages and considering the correct order of the leaves, I observed that there are two leaves of material which really does not fit; the material shares the mind-set of the gnomologist, but is not in gnomic form, but homiletic. I felt this when I was editing, but now I note that the page numbers of these leaves are lacunose; this material, moreover, comes after the other witnesses break off, so there is no independent check. I therefore suspect that Revillout, in his editio princeps, had included these leaves to make up the numbers, and was followed by Rossi. The upshot is that there may be two missing leaves from the gnomai. However, Orlandi also notes that there are two leaves of unedited and unidentified material which he placed at the end of the codex. Is it possible that this is the missing material? Possible, but probably not, as if they were self-evidently gnomic then surely Revillout would have included them. However, just to make sure, I am in the process of getting hold of scans of these leaves as well. I intend to include transcriptions of all this extraneous material in the edition, in a series of appendices, not least because it may be that Revillout and Rossi were correct in their placement. In the meantime Gorgias is being very patient given that, had it not been for this hiatus, the book would have been out by now. I can only hope that the book will be better as a result, and that I don’t make too much of a pig’s ear of the transcription of the unedited leaves. I would, indeed, be grateful for any offers of assistance.


Filed under Other church order literature