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Coptic Encomium Attributed to Chrysostom

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  • James Snapp, Jr.
    In 1913, Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge published a collection of Coptic texts: Coptic Apocrypha in the Dialect of Upper Egypt. This book, now available
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 27, 2009
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      In 1913, Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge published a collection of Coptic texts: "Coptic Apocrypha in the Dialect of Upper Egypt." This book, now available online, includes short introductions, descriptions of MS, the Coptic texts themselves, and English translations, along with 58 plates.

      One of the texts presented by Budge is An Encomium on Saint John the Baptist, by Saint John Chrysostom. The MS in which this text is found is British Museum MS. Oriental No. 7024, which is dated in a colophon to the equivalent of A.D. 985. In the course of the composition, the author tells an interesting anecdote about one of his sources. From Fol. 9b-10a ~

      "Moreover, let us return [to our subject] and describe unto you the praises and honours which God most graciously bestowed upon His beloved one John, according to the statements that we have found in the ancient manuscripts which the Apostles wrote and deposited in the library of the Holy City Jerusalem. Now it happened to me to be in Jerusalem, and whilst I was staying in the church, there was an old man there, a God- / loving presbyter, and he had authority therein; and I remained in that place in order that I might assist at the celebration of the festival of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ, and at the festival of the Holy Cross. Now I went through the books, and I had great enjoyment in this, and I found a little old volume [among them] which concerned the Apostles wherein it was written thus:
      And it came to pass that we the Apostles were gathered together to our Saviour upon the Mount of Olives, after that he had made Himself to rise again from the dead. And He spake unto us and commanded us, saying, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach unto the people thereof the Gospel of the kingdom.' And He spake unto us concerning John the Baptist, and the honours which he had bestowed upon him in the heavens."

      And it keeps going. The rest is interesting too, but today I just want to notice two things.

      First, there's a pretty clear usage of Mark 16:15.

      Second, the author's description of "ancient manuscripts which the Apostles wrote and deposited in the library of the Holy City Jerusalem" brings to mind the colophons in manuscripts such as 157, 20, 215, 300, 565, 718, 1071, and Lambda. I also recall the comment in Victor of Antioch's catena/commentary in which he shows that he is familiar with Eusebius of Caesarea's claim that many manuscripts do not contain Mk. 16:9-20, and proceeds to oppose Eusebius by appealing to the Palestinian exemplar.

      It looks like the "Jerusalem Colophon" and the anecdote in the Coptic Encomium on John the Baptist descend from the same tradition, and the Encomium gives us significant details about it, claiming specifically that the ancient manuscripts deposited by the Apostles were accessible at Jerusalem. The Encomium-author also claims that those ancient manuscripts were available to John Chrysostom. (So it is understandable how someone who viewed the MSS at Jerusalem as particularly authoritative – as the very autographs – would favor their testimony above that of Eusebius.)

      Can anyone offer any thoughts as to why we should, or should not, regard this Encomium as a translation of a genuine work of Chrysostom? On one hand, it has some weird syncretistic stuff in it (Budge describes it well in his intro), but it's mostly in the part that the author attributed to the "little old volume" that he found in Jerusalem, and on the other hand, it has some details in it that seem true-to-life (though not necessarily Chrysostom's life). It's already an interesting text, but it would be much more interesting if the part attributed to the little old volume at Jerusalem could be assigned a composition-date prior to 400.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
    • sarban
      ... From: James Snapp, Jr. To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 4:54 PM Subject: [textualcriticism] Coptic Encomium Attributed to
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 27, 2009
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        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 4:54 PM
        Subject: [textualcriticism] Coptic Encomium Attributed to Chrysostom

        In 1913, Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge published a collection of Coptic texts: "Coptic Apocrypha in the Dialect of Upper Egypt." This book, now available online, includes short introductions, descriptions of MS, the Coptic texts themselves, and English translations, along with 58 plates.

        One of the texts presented by Budge is An Encomium on Saint John the Baptist, by Saint John Chrysostom. The MS in which this text is found is British Museum MS. Oriental No. 7024, which is dated in a colophon to the equivalent of A.D. 985. In the course of the composition, the author tells an interesting anecdote about one of his sources. From Fol. 9b-10a ~

        <SNIP>


        Can anyone offer any thoughts as to why we should, or should not, regard this Encomium as a translation of a genuine work of Chrysostom? On one hand, it has some weird syncretistic stuff in it (Budge describes it well in his intro), but it's mostly in the part that the author attributed to the "little old volume" that he found in Jerusalem, and on the other hand, it has some details in it that seem true-to-life (though not necessarily Chrysostom's life). It's already an interesting text, but it would be much more interesting if the part attributed to the little old volume at Jerusalem could be assigned a composition- date prior to 400.

        Yours in Christ,

        James Snapp, Jr.

        Hi James

        The passage at the beginning

        <QUOTE>And moreover,
        our holy fathers, the God-bearing (i. e. inspired) Bishops who
        have lived before our time, that is to say Athanasius, and
        Theophilus, and Cyril, and Innocent, have declared many
        of thine exalted words, O John the Baptist, O thou than
        whom among those born of women, none hath arisen who
        is greater.</QUOTE>

        Seems to point to an author subsequent to John Chrysostom.

        This would be certain if the Cyril mentioned is Cyril of Alexandria, but it is possible though unlikely that Cyril of Jerusalem is meant. In any case it seems unlikely that Chrysostom would refer to Theophilus, his opponent, in such flattering terms, or refer to Innocent, (presumably of Rome appointed 401) as a Bishop who lived before his time.

         

        Andrew Criddle

         

         

         

        .

      • James Snapp, Jr.
        Andrew, Thanks. Is there anything else in the text that indicates non-Chrysostomness? The time in Before our time might be intended to mean nothing more
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 1 11:15 PM
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          Andrew,

          Thanks. Is there anything else in the text that indicates non-Chrysostomness? The "time" in "Before our time" might be intended to mean nothing more than a particular time when the text was preached.

          As you say, the Cyril could be Cyril of Jerusalem. Chrysostom could express respect for Theophilus out of respect for the office, and there's no reason to suppose that Innocent only began to write when he began his bishopric.

          Could the phrase "That is to say, Athanasius, and Theophilus, and Cyril, and Innocent,"" be a (slightly) later insertion?

          If this text is not the work of Chrysostom, by whom and where is it supposed to have been composed?

          Yours in Christ,

          James Snapp, Jr.

          >>> A.C.: The passage at the beginning
          <QUOTE>And moreover, our holy fathers, the God-bearing (i. e. inspired) Bishops who have lived before our time, that is to say Athanasius, and Theophilus, and Cyril, and Innocent, have declared many of thine exalted words, O John the Baptist, O thou than
          whom among those born of women, none hath arisen who
          is greater.</QUOTE>
          Seems to point to an author subsequent to John Chrysostom.

          This would be certain if the Cyril mentioned is Cyril of Alexandria, but it is possible though unlikely that Cyril of Jerusalem is meant. In any case it seems unlikely that Chrysostom would refer to Theophilus, his opponent, in such flattering terms, or refer to Innocent, (presumably of Rome appointed 401) as a Bishop who lived before his time.

          Andrew Criddle <<<
        • andrewcriddle
          ... Hi James There is an online article about the Coptic works attributed to Chrysostom at http://www.dacb.org/stories/non%20africans/john_chrysostom.html
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 4 6:43 AM
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            --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "James Snapp, Jr." <voxverax@...> wrote:
            >
            > Andrew,
            >
            > Thanks. Is there anything else in the text that indicates non-Chrysostomness? The "time" in "Before our time" might be intended to mean nothing more than a particular time when the text was preached.
            >
            > As you say, the Cyril could be Cyril of Jerusalem. Chrysostom could express respect for Theophilus out of respect for the office, and there's no reason to suppose that Innocent only began to write when he began his bishopric.
            >
            > Could the phrase "That is to say, Athanasius, and Theophilus, and Cyril, and Innocent,"" be a (slightly) later insertion?
            >
            > If this text is not the work of Chrysostom, by whom and where is it supposed to have been composed?
            >
            > Yours in Christ,
            >
            > James Snapp, Jr.
            >
            Hi James

            There is an online article about the Coptic works attributed to Chrysostom at
            http://www.dacb.org/stories/non%20africans/john_chrysostom.html
            (taken from the Coptic Encyclopedia.)

            It classes the enconium on John the Baptist among works that are
            <QUOTE>certainly spurious but were also most probably composed directly in Coptic no earlier than the mid-sixth century.</QUOTE>

            Andrew Criddle
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