2nd Enoch in Coptic discovered
- via Jim Davila:
2 ENOCH IN COPTIC!
The book of 2 Enoch, previously known only in versions in Old Church
Slavonic, has now been partly recovered in an earlier Coptic translation.
The fragments were found nearly four decades ago and the transcriptions and
photos have been sitting unnoticed for many years. Here's the announcement:
2 Enoch attested in Coptic from Nubia
During his work preparing the publication of Coptic manuscripts from Qasr
Ibrim in Egyptian Nubia, Joost Hagen, doctoral student at Leiden University,
The Netherlands, very recently came across some fragments he could identify
as part of the text of the so-called 'Slavonic Enoch' (2 Enoch), the first
time a non-Slavonic manuscript of this intriguing text has been found.
The fragments were discovered at Qasr Ibrim, one of the capital cities of
Christian-period Nubia (southern Egypt, northern Sudan, 5th-15th cent. AD),
during excavations by the British Egypt Exploration Society (EES) which
started in 1963 and have brought to light an astonishing number of finds,
textual and other. Joost Hagen has been entrusted by the EES with the
edition of the manuscript material in Coptic, the language of Christian
Egypt and one of the literary languages used in the Christian kingdoms of
The 'Slavonic Enoch' fragments, found in 1972, are four in number, most
probably remnants of four consecutive leaves of a parchment codex. The
fourth fragment is rather small and not yet placed with certainty, also
because there is as yet no photograph of it available, only the
transcription of its text by one of the excavators. For the other three
fragments, both this transcription and two sets of photographs are
available. The present location of the pieces themselves is not known, but
most probably they are in one of the museums or magazines of the Antiquities
Organization in Egypt.
The fragments contain chapters 36-42 of 2 Enoch, probably one of the most
interesting parts of the work one could wish for, with the transition
between two of its three main parts: Enoch's heavenly tour and his brief
return to earth before the assuming of his task back in heaven. Moreover,
they clearly represent a text of the short recension, with chapter 38 and
some other parts of the long recension 'missing' and chapters 37 and 39 in
the order 39 then 37. On top of that, it contains the 'extra' material at
the end of chapter 36 that is present only in the oldest Slavonic manuscript
of the work, U (15th cent.), and in manuscript A (16th cent.), which is
closely related to U. For most Coptic texts, a translation from a Greek
original is taken for granted and the existence of this Coptic version might
well confirm the idea of an original of the Book of the Secrets of Enoch in
Greek from Egypt, probably Alexandria.
Archeologically it seems likely that the Coptic manuscript is part of the
remains of a church library from before the year 1172, possibly even from
before 969, two important dates in the history of Qasr Ibrim; a tentative
first look at palaeographical criterea seems to suggest a date in the eighth
to ninth, maybe tenth centuries, during Nubia's early medieval period. This
would mean that the fragments predate the accepted date of the translation
of 2 Enoch into Slavonic (11th, 12th cent.) and that they are some several
hunderd years older than the earliest Slavonic witness, a text with extracts
of the ethical passages (14th cent.).
Although this Coptic manuscript is fragmentary, it proved to be possible to
reconstruct part of the missing text using (translations of) the Slavonic
versions, and several theories formulated about the book of 2 Enoch by
Slavists and theologians have already been confirmed or proven wrong.
Recently, the priority of the longer recension has been advocated (again).
But the discovery of this first non-Slavonic witness, at the same time the
oldest manuscript known so far, calls for renewed discussion about this
matter. Unless the two recensions had indeed already split up in Greek, the
short recension, and the oldest Slavonic manuscript U, have to be taken more
seriously from now on.
At the Enoch Seminar in Napels, Joost Hagen hopes to present his recent
discovery in the presence of the very people who can hopefully contribute to
an answer to these questions.
Mr Joost L. Hagen MA (1978) studied Egyptology at Leiden University, the
Netherlands, specializing in Coptic Egypt ...
Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany