A church order preserved in Nubian?

Looking for something else I come across the following from F. Ll. Griffith (ed.) The Nubian texts of the Christian period (Berlin: Verlag der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Commission bei Georg Reimer, 1913), 16-19 (text), 19-23 (translation.)

Griffith opines that these are “not a series of canons but a Sunday homily or exhortation on the offering of oblations and behaviour at the Eucharist.” (23) Perhaps we might see this as a church order. It is of gnomic character, and the title, appearing to enumerate 80 canons, is intriguing.

I provide Griffith’s translation to give a flavour of the work. Griffith supplies a text and some annotation.


These are the canons of the churches which the holy fathers, having assembled (?) in Nicaea, discussed (?), wrote, and established by authority (?), being eighty (?).

Beloved: when a certain man (?) hath spoken a vow (?), (namely) this Holy Feast which remains on the table: it is simply (?) bread and simply (?) wine (?) and comes out from (?) the church(?) by (?) the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in the time of presentation (?) and the arrival of the moment (?).

Verily when a man dedicates an oblation in the church, whether it be wine or whether it be wheat, and the priest docs not give one in return, and he says in his heart I have not eaten with the priest, I have not drunken with the priest, he hath not reward (?) from heaven in Jerusalem. And God, the possessor (?) of life, withdraweth (?) his light, because he hath desired that which is from earth and refused that which is from heaven, namely the mercies (?) which thy (?) God in his fullness (?) hath granted (?).

Verily a donor (?) having pronounced a vow, namely oblations dedicated in the church, the children of the church shall eat them (?), the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost come out from (?) the church.

Verily a man having repented (?) in his heart and dedicated an oblation in the church, whether it be wine or wheat or durra-seed down to green vegetable (?); then he, the Lord, will rejoice (?) in his heart and receive (it) through his holy angel.

Have ye not heard that which is written, …. gift … God, him that giveth cheerfully (?) God loveth (?)? All men who working for the name of God benefit themselves (?), they shall not find benefit (?) through God.

And now therefore (?) man that which ye do for the name of God, do ye cheerfully. And one was written men about to (?) become in that (?) … shall become (?) covetous (?), shall become (?) without …, shall become …, shall become man-hating, shall become . . ., shall become covetous (?) of the priesthood (?). And all this … beloved, enquire ye unwillingly (?); let us have friendship (?), let us seek peace; and when ye sit (?) enquire ye with desire (?), because coveting (?) ye are fearful of death. Without ceasing (?) let us pray to God that lie may give us remission of our sins.

Behold (?) hear ye a witness (?).

Verily a layman having … and eaten the food of the church, he shall … the priest … and shall … And now therefore (?). … enquire ye in … requital (?) … in desire (?) enquire ye.

And when thou hast sat down remain far (?) from the feast. And when thou hast (?) received the feast purify (?) thy heart and voice and come and receive the feast. And verily if not, it is destruction.

Verily if thou comest not at peace with a teaching man (?) thou art a feast-taker (?).

Verily when thou desirest to receive the feast come out first and come in good will (?) ; verily if thou art not in good will (?) remain outside (?) the church: wilt thou … through God be friendly? And if not, thus wilt thou … and … the laws of God?

And when thou hast received the feast, remain in the church till the dismissal. Remember what was done to Judas the betrayer: having taken the feast he went out of the church not having been dismissed (?), and Satan entered (?) into his heart and persuaded him(?) to betray.

In truth thou also, when the church has not been dismissed, art … It is that which God shall take as cause and requite upon thee. Be not condemned for eternity with Judas on account of the short moment after this (?).

I have seen many when they have received the sacrament eat when the church is not open: woe to their hearts! Shall they receive in exchange (?) remission of sin, because they were able (?) to … ?

Verily a donor (?) who has eaten when the church was not open, he hath cause in a great…

Verily a donor (?) who has eaten and received the sacrament loveth (?) light with the eater of the dead (?).

A donor (?) who not hearing the epistle and gospel hath received the sacrament, hath not received.

A donor (?) who hath not sung alleluia with the singers insulteth God his Maker. For Alleluia is Thelkath Marimath: and the saying being interpreted is “Let us glorify God who founded all (things), and let us love and worship (?) him.”

Woe be to the man who speaketh in the church at the time (?) of the sacrament! For he that speaketh in the church at the time (?) of the sacrament is negligent (?) more than (?) all the negligent (?) ones. For the man that speaketh in the church is the enemy of God. For these are like the Jews who having hanged the Saviour on the cross mocked him — they who speak when this sacrament is upon the table. He, the Lord it is who hath said “and the Jews alone (?) openly rejected (?) me.” And you who speak in the church at all times, behold (?), hearken ye to the warning (?).

Verily one in(?) dedicating an oblation in the church by means of (?) the act (?) of service of life he shall write his name in Jerusalem. And his reward with the priest here (?) is one loaf one finger (?) of wine: for this is what was taken by God.

Woe be to the priest who sitteth on the Lord’s day amongst …. one by … departing and eating (?) will requite (?) that one’s sin upon the scalp (?) of the head of the priest in the fulness of the ages.

And all persons, either having become a woman being 12 years old shall give (?) or having become a man being 13 years old shall give (?); and … and verily he who hath . . . one of these, is good (?) both in the … of the flesh and the … of the …; and God will trying try his soul in hell.

Therefore (?) praise (?) God: praise (?) be Thine! In the hand of the living God I will overcome and expel!

And the priest each (?) Lord’s day shall cause them to hear this: for (?) it hath been done, that we may (?) attain (?) resurrection and grace (?) with our Lord Jesus Christ; whose be the glory and the power unto ages of ages! Amen.


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A new witness to the Fides patrum

Forthcoming in JTS (and now available as an advance publication on the journal’s website) is Lincoln H. Blumell “P.Mich. Inv. 4461KR: the earliest fragment of the Didascalia CCCXVIII patrum“.

Abstract: This article presents an edition of a previously unpublished literary papyrus in the University of Michigan collection that preserves a section from a text typically known by the designation Didascalia CCCXVIII Patrum Nicaenorum (CPG 2298). The papyrus, which appears to date to the fifth century ad, is important because it is only known ancient Greek witness to this treatise and attests a previously unknown textual variant.

Very exciting!

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Laurence’s name

In response to my recent posting Richard Fellows asks whether Laurentius might be a “leadership name.”

It is possible, but may equally be a (Christian) slave name. Indeed, it dawns on me, slave-naming may be the (contra-cultural) basis for leadership names. According to Varro, slaves sold at the market at Ephesus might be renamed by a trader or buyer after the seller, or the region in which they were purchased, or the city where they were bought (Varro Ling. 8.9.21). Slaves might also undergo a change of name during the period of servitude, when transferred to a new owner: P. Turner 22, a contract for a slave sale from Side in Pamphylia, identifies the “merchandise”, a ten-year-old Galatian, as “the slave girl Abaskantis, or by whatever other name she may be known.”

Thus slave-naming practice provides a cultural context for Fellows’ suggestion of “leadership names” in the Pauline churches.

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On the martyrdom of Laurence

For some time I have been quietly putting together a note on the martyrdom of Laurence in third century Rome. In essence my intent was to defend the fundamental historical core of the legend that has been received against the somewhat reductionist approach of Franchi and Delehaye.

Today I find that somebody had got there first, namely Dom Bernard Green in a conference paper from 2008 entitled “The martyrdom of St Laurence reconsidered” to be found here.

Although this is not exactly the paper I was writing, it is close enough. We agree on the substantive and central points that Laurence, as deacon, had charge of the church’s goods (and charity) and that he died under torture. I do not have the same degree of confidence in the Liber pontificalis as Green, and might point out that the use of hot plates is an attested method of torture, but these are detailed matters. There is no point my producing a paper almost identical in substance and so rest content with this posting.

The one substantive point I would add to Green’s paper, which gives it pertinence to the blog, is that Laurence’s death under torture indicates that he might have been a slave, and not a free citizen as Delehaye seems to assume. This links to the discussion below with Daniel Vaucher about slaves as office-holders. It seems that still, in the third century, it is possible to find an office-holder of servile status in Rome.


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Paul Bradshaw, Ancient church orders

It was a fair while ago that I reviewed Paul Bradshaw, Ancient church orders on this site. I had just received my copy from the publisher through Prof. Bradshaw’s kindness, and had read and reviewed it the same day.

I have noticed that the post is still getting traction, and on re-reading it recollect that, at the time, although the work was in print it was not available. It is, of course, readily available now, and can be obtained from the Alcuin Club at
http://alcuinclub.org.uk/product/ancient-church-orders/ Possibly the best £8 (plus p&p and minus a shilling) you will ever spend.

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Qilada, Kitāb al-Disqūlīyah and Borg. Ar. 22

In my dialogue with Dani Vaucher below  I make reference to Wilyam Sulayman Qilada (ed.), Kitāb al-Disqūlīyah: taʿālīm al-rusul (Cairo : Dār al-Jīl lil-Ṭibāʿah, 1979).

My parishioner Mohammed Basith Awan (remember that in the Church of England even Muslims are parishioners… they just have to live in the parish!), a far better Arabist than I, has had a look at it, and has determined that this is the “lost Coptic Didascalia” (again, see posts below) described by Baumstark and found in Codex Borg. Ar. 22. This ms also contains an Arabic version of the Testamentum Domini.

Specialists in this field (among whom I do not count myself) may learn with interest that the Vatican Library has digitized this codex. It may be read here. Coptic marginal annotations clearly indicate an Egyptian provenance.


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Presbyters in 3rd Corinthians and names in Philippians: insights from Richard Fellows

A communication from Richard Fellows drew my attention to his article on Acts, which is of rather more interest than the title might lead one to think. It can be read here.

In particular, Fellows points out that 3rd Corinthians, in the Acta Pauli, contains a letter sent by Stephanas and his co-presbyters (Daphnus, Eubulus, Theophilus, and Xenos). Fellows points out that the names suggest that these presbyters were hosts/benefactors of the church, and that this tends to support my case in Original bishops.

I agree that this letter to Paul from Corinth bears out my hypothesis at several levels, as this is communication by a gathering of presbyters on behalf of churches within an urban setting, as well as bearing names indicating benefaction. I suppose the failure to note 3 Corinthians must go down as an error of omission, and I am grateful for the correction.

There is more of interest here. Fellows’ overall hypothesis is that, just like Paul himself, many of the co-workers had two names, a phenomenon with which we are particularly familiar in the West Indies. Thus Stephanas, he suggests, is what he terms a “leadership name “ (though I would prefer “associational name”). I will admit that it had always struck me that Stephanas was a name which sort of belonged in associational honorific, and so to see this as a nom de guerre, as it were, is very illuminating.

There is, indeed, more. I argued at several points in the book that the episkopoi and diakonoi are mentioned in Phil. 1:1 because they were the agents of the gifts sent to Paul by the Philippians. And that two of these are mentioned by name, namely Euodia and Syntyche. My discussion of female leadership is brief, but admits that these are likely to have been among the episkopoi, and that female associational leadership is manifest in the first generation but largely in the first generation only. Since then I have read E. Hemelrijk, “Patronesses and ‘mothers’ of Roman collegia” Classical Antiquity 27 (2008), 115-162, which causes me to puzzle further about the disappearance of female ministry within the church in the earliest period. Is it, in some way, related to federation and the eventual development of monepiscopate?

Fellows suggests that Euodia is also a leadership name. Indeed he suggests, convincingly to me, that Paul’s description of the gift as an ὀσμή εὐωδίας at 4:18, is a play on Euodia’s name, linking her in particular to the gift and offering.

In response to a question he states that he has “found little evidence that associations gave leadership names… The phenomenon, however, did have parallels in the ancient world. New names were often given to kings, emperors, and philosophers, as well as to converts to Judaism. Interesting examples among the philosophers are Porphyry and Amelius-Amerius.”

Fellows has opened up a very interesting avenue of discussion. Do check out his link, and indeed his blog, where the link may be found.

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