Coptica—Gnostica—Manichaica: mélanges offerts A Wolf-Peter Funk edited by Louis Painchaud, Paul-Hubert Poirier (Peeters) Summary: Volume is mostly written in French, then English and German. On December 5, 2001, we launched the project of the publication of a “Festschrift” intended to honour our colleague and friendly Wolf-Peter Funk. The publication of this volume was then announced for December 30, 2003, date of the 60e birthday of the dedicatee. But various reasons, the first of which figure the generosity with which one answered our invitation, made that these mixtures appear with two years of delay. But with something misfortune is good: the readers will appreciate the richness, the high scientific behaviour and the diversity of these forty seven contributions which, written in French, English or German by fifty authors coming from thirteen countries, testify eloquently to the regard and of the friendship which Wolf-Peter Funk enjoys. The editors of this volume wanted to open it with the fields to which particularly Wolf-Peter Funk devoted himself: Gnostic philology and linguistics Copts, studies and Manicheans. The contributions which make this homage in addition illustrate rather well what was the scientific and university activity of Wolf-Peter Funk since his arrival at the Laval University at the summer 1986. If it continued the work undertaken in Berlin there, it engaged more and more, as from this moment, in the edition and the interpretation of the texts of Nag Hammadi at the same time as he opened a vast building site Manichean while becoming the editor of the manuscripts Manicheans of the Museums of State of Berlin and while joining the Australian team in charge of the publication of the excavations of the oasis of Dakhleh (Kellis).
Excerpt: Le 5 décembre 2001, nous lancions le projet de la publication d'une Festschrift destinée a honorer notre collegue et ami Wolf-Peter Funk. La parution de ce volume était alors annoncée pour le 30 décembre 2003, date du 60e anniversaire du dédicataire. Mais diverses raisons, au premier rang desquelles figure la générosité avec laquelle on a répondu a notre invitation, ont fait que ces mélanges paraissent avec deux années de retard. Mais a quelque chose maiheur est bon : les lecteurs appré-cieront la richesse, la haute tenue scientifique et la diversité de ces quarante-sept contributions qui, rédigées en français, en anglais ou en allemand par cinquante auteurs provenant de treize pays, témoignent éloqueniment de l'estime et de l'amitié dont jouit Wolf-Peter Funk.
Les éditeurs de ce volume ont voulu l'ouvrir aux domaines auxquels s'est particulièrement consaere Wolf-Peter Funk : la philologie et la linguistique coptes, les etudes gnostiques et manichéennes. Les contributions qui composent cet hommage illustrent par ailleurs assez bien ce qu'a éte l'activite scientifique et universitaire de Wolf-Peter Funk depuis son arrivée a l'Universite Laval a l'ete 1986. S'il y a poursuivi des travaux entrepris a Berlin, il s'est de plus en plus engage, a partir de ce moment, dans l'edition et l'interprétation des textes de Nag Hammadi en meme temps qu'il ouvrait un vaste chantier manichéen en devenant l'editeur des manuscrits manichéens des Musées d'Etat de Berlin et en s'associant a I'equipe australienne chargee de la publication des fouilles de l'oasis de Dakhleh (Kellis).
Des son arrivée a I'Université Laval, Wolf-Peter Funk s'est en outre consacré a l'enseignement du copte, en assurant les cours d'initiation la langue et en créant deux cours avancés de philologie et dialectologie du copte. Tout en poursuivant ses propres travaux philologiques et édi-toriaux, it s'est activement engage dans l'edition de la collection « Bi-bliothéque copte de Nag Hammadi ». Il a apporte une contribution directe a six volumes de la section « Textes » parus depuis 1995, mais on peut affirmer qu'il n'en est aucun de ceux a avoir ete publiés depuis 1986 qui ne porte sa marque. Enfin, les concordances qu'il a produites, que ce soit pour publication ou ad usum privatum, ont complètement transformé notre façon d'éditer et d'interpréter les textes.
Il serait téméraire de vouloir rendre compte dans ces quelques lignes des qualites personnelles et scientifiques de notre collégue et ami. Mais il en est une qui mérite d'être soulignée. Philologue et linguiste rigoureux, Wolf-Peter Funk est en même temps un éditeur, un traducteur et un commentateur de textes coptes. Aussi peut-il comprendre les diffi-cultés et les dilemmes auxquels sont confrontés ceux et celles qui entreprennent de rendre compte dans leur ensemble de textes dont la langue ou l'etat de preservation constituent de redoutables dais. Dénonçant les solutions de facilité et se meant des fausses clartés, it sait toujours proposer des solutions qui permettent de tirer tout ce qui peut l'être – mais pas plus – de textes parfois désespérants. Et tout cela dans une rare atmosphere de cordialité et de convivialité, comme en témoignent les nombreuses seances de travail que plusieurs d'entre nous ont eues avec Wolf-Peter a son appartement, en partageant café et pâtisseries, et même, A l'occasion, un petit cigare.
Ancient Coptic Churches Of Egypt 2 volumes Volume One, Volume Two by Alfred. J. Butler, Karel Innemée (Introduction) (Gorgias Press) (Paperback 2 volumes) This two-volume work is the result of a seven-month field work in Egypt, during which Alfred Butler was a private tutor to Prince Tawfik from 1880 to 1881. Butler visited most of the old churches and monasteries in and around Cairo and traveled to the Wadi al-Natrun, the monasteries of the Red Sea and a number of churches in Upper Egypt. His descriptions are invaluable and sometimes are the only record of what we know about a certain object or church.
"It is an important document for its time and an early and influential example of unprejudiced scholarly interest for the culture of the Coptic Church."
Excerpt: Introduction To The Reprint by Karel Innemée: Alfred Butler's The Ancient Coptic Church of Egypt appeared in 1884 for the first time and was reprinted in 1970. It seems justified to wonder why a second reprint of a publication of more than 120 years old is useful, except for reasons of sentiment.
Alfred Joshua Butler was born at Loughborough, Leicestershire, on September 21, 1850. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford where he took his B.A. in 1874. He was elected fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1877, and was appointed bursar four years later. After being assistant master at Winchester from 1874 to 1879, was private tutor to Prince Tawfik in 1880-81. During a seven-month period in this time, he did the field-work and collected the information the he used to write his book on the Coptic Church. He visited most of the old churches and monasteries in and around Cairo and traveled to the Wadi al-Natrun, the monasteries of the Red Sea and a number of churches in Upper Egypt. This has apparently been his only visit to Egypt. After his return to England it took him three years to turn his documentation material into the book that was published in 1884. He has kept an interest for Egypt till the end of his life. This is also evident from the books he published afterwards: The Arab Conquest of Egypt and Court Life in Egypt (London, 1887) is partly based on his own experiences. Together with B.T.A. Evetts he published The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and some neighbouring Countries attributed to Abu Salih, the Armenian (1895, Gorgias Press reprint 2001). In 1902 he published The Arab Conquest of Egypt.
The last decades of the 19th century was a period of reform for the Coptic Church. For a long time the level of education of its clergy had gradually declined. The French, when they occupied Egypt in 1898, had deliberately chosen not to make the Egyptian
Christians their allies, since they were hated by the Muslim majority and were not interesting as potential partners. The British, when they occupied Egypt in 1882, the year after Butler had returned to England, took a more or less comparable position. The Coptic Church was in an isolated position and was considered as backward by many Europeans. Protestant missionaries, especially those of the English Church Missionary Society tried to `modernize' Christianity in Egypt by converting Coptic Orthodox to a Coptic version of Protestantism. These efforts were justified by portraying the Copts as underdeveloped and superstitious and had little interest for their material and immaterial cultural heritage. When in the second half of the 19th century a reform and urge for modernisation started from within the Coptic Church, it was for a large part at the initiative of laymen. These circumstances were certainly not favourable for the preservation of Coptic material culture and we should appreciate Butler's positive attitude. He never writes in a condescending or negative way about the Copts and their traditions, on the contrary. His attitude is that of the historian who describes and documents without judging. Meanwhile he occasionally warns for the loss of precious objects or simply witnesses their poor state of preservation.
In many respects a book like Butler's study on the Arab conquest is a more thorough study than The Ancient Coptic Churches. Apart from this an important difference is the fact the Arab Conquest is a study based on written sources, while much of the information for the Ancient Coptic Churches was collected in the field. A historian by training, Butler was clearly more experienced in doing research in libraries and at his desk. In his Preface to the book he states that he is aware of his limitations and excuses himself in advance for the shortcomings. And we can indeed recognize a number of shortcomings. For instance, at points where he tries to date or interpret his material during his work in the field, he is often wrong or misled. For instance, in the chapter on the monasteries of the Wadi al-Natrun, he mentions the wooden doors in the Church of the Holy Virgin and in spite of the Syriac inscription on the doorframe, dating the doors to 926/27 AD he estimates their date between 700 and 800 AD. Many other conclusions and pieces of information are incorrect or are outdated meanwhile. It would be easy to criticize the book in this way, but in that case we would overlook its main value. Apart from these imperfections the book has had and still has a value for the scholar in the field of Coptic culture.
First of all we should realize that he undertook his fieldwork in a period when the interest for traditional Christian culture in the Near East was still extremely limited and in many respects he has been doing pioneering work. The book has been an important stimulus for others to continue more detailed studies in this field and it figures in numerous bibliographies of publications on Coptic subjects. It was not until several decades after Butler's fieldwork in churches and monasteries that academic expeditions started exploring the Coptic monasteries. In 1910/11 W J. Palmer Jones made a graphic and photographic documentation of the monasteries of the Wadi al-Natrun for the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which was published with the texts of H. Evelyn White, who did his fieldwork in this region in 1920/21. The monasteries near the Red Sea were investigated and documented in a scholarly way not earlier than 1930/31, when T. Whitmore and A. Piankoff worked here for the Byzantine Institute of America. These and other similar projects have been the result of an increased interest in Coptic antiquities, something to which Butler's book has certainly contributed.
The book can also be considered an important document for the condition and situation of Coptic churches and monasteries in its time.
In the first volume of the book Butler describes and discusses a number of churches and monasteries, mainly those of Cairo, its surroundings, and the desert monasteries of Wadi al-Natrun and the Red Sea area. After discussing the churches and monasteries of Cairo, Butler remarks:
"All the ancient churches of the two Cairos have now been passed in review; and if I have lingered too long among them, it is because they are almost daily losing something from willful destruction or destructive renovation. Moreover, even where the churches are spared, they are fast falling out of harmony with their surroundings; as in place of the old Arab houses and gardens vast and unsightly cubes of modern buildings are arising. Hence every detail seems worth recording, in the fear that soon it may have no other record left."
These words were written down more than 120 years ago, but they could have been written yesterday. A quick glance at the churches of Old Cairo and the neighbouring areas shows how much these buildings are still suffering, both from the environment (pollution, both in the air and by a high and polluted ground-water table) and from well-intended but often destructive restoration work.
And indeed, if we compare the situation of the monuments described by Butler in 1880/81 and the present situation, we can only come to the conclusion that he was right. Most of the churches of Old Cairo have been restored is recent years is such a rigorous way that they have become more or less replicas in modem building materials of the buildings they used to be. Liturgical objects and other works of art have been damaged or disappeared altogether. A striking case of the disappearance of an important work of art is the passage in which the author describes his visit to the Hanging Church in Old Cairo, where he inquires after the famous wooden doors with theirs sculptured panels (volume I, p.209). The priest merely answers that the doors were not there and it was only much later that Butler discovered that they had come into the hands of a private collector in Paris and later on in the British Museum. In this case the object is still to be located, but in many other cases works of art have disappeared without a trace.
The area south of Old Cairo is nowadays a slum like many others at the outskirts of the town. The well-informed and prepared visitor will be able to locate three small monasteries here, hidden between the shabby tenement buildings. At the end of the 19th century they were still lying in the open desert and this is the situation that Butler describes. In the sanctuary of the church of one of them, the monastery of the Virgin al-Darag (at the steps) Butler has seen a number of `fine mural paintings' that he describes (p. 254): The archangels Michael and Gabriel of the northern and eastern walls, Christ between two evangelists in the apse. It seems that Butler has been the first and last one who gives a description of these paintings in a publication. The modem visitor will find only blank walls and there no saying when the paintings have been destroyed. Similarly, in his description of the monasteries of the Wadi al-Natrun, Butler mentions paintings in the refectory of Deir al-Surian (I, p. 325/6). According to him they are rude and in bad condition, which may be the reason why he gives no further details about them. Thirty years later, when Hugh Evelyn White visited the monastery, the paintings had disappeared. We can regret the fact that Butler did not make a more elaborate documentation of these now lost paintings, but on the other hand we should be grateful for the fact that we know at least of their former existence.
In a number of cases, Butler had apparently photographs made of objects and buildings (I, p. 261). None of these photographs occur in the publication; the only illustrations consist of line-drawings and considering the loss of a number of objects and paintings it would be worthwhile to investigate whether any of these photographs have survived.
In the second volume Butler presents an overview of the rituals of the Coptic Church and the objects, furniture and vestments that are essential to them. And also in this part of the book his descriptions and observations are very instructive, while his conclusions can not always be entirely relied upon. Especially the subject of the liturgical costume receives ample attention: two entire chapters are dedicated to this subject. Also here the author does not avoid the risks of venturing into terra incognita : Various writers who have ventured to treat of Coptic ecclesiastical vestments have admitted the difficulty of reaching any conclusion at once lucid and final and have for the most part unconsciously as well as consciously exemplified and intensified the obscurity with which the subject is beclouded (I, p. 97). And in spite of the fact that he does not succeed in clarifying a number of matters, his study has been a stimulus for later authors to continue investigations, for instance into the problem of the Coptic pontifical costume.
Butler must have followed later publications in the field of Coptic studies. In his personal copy of the first edition he has made notes in the margin that have been included as appendices in the 1970 reprint as well as in the 2004 Gorgias Press reprint. In one of them for instance, in the appendix to volume II, he refers to Evelyn White's Monasteries of the Wâdi `n Nairun (vol. II, p. 398, n. 4), where White disagrees with Butler on the subject of the liturgical fans. The volume was published in 1932, showing that Butler kept his interest in the subject until a high age.
The Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt is a book that cannot easily be put into a certain category. It is neither a historical, anthropological nor archaeological survey. The author describes without inhibition or prejudice the monuments, rituals and objects of art that he encounters, in spite of his limited knowledge in the field of philology, art-history and other disciplines that would have been necessary for a more thorough approach. Nevertheless the book should not be underestimated. It is an important document for its time and an early and influential example of unprejudiced scholarly interest for the culture of the Coptic Church.
Coptic Studies on the Threshold of a New Millennium: Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Coptic Studies. Leiden, August 27 - September 2, 2000 Two Volumes edited by M. Immerzeel , J. van der Vliet, M. Kersten, C. van Zoest (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 133: Peeters)
The congresses is organized every four years under the auspices of the International Association for Coptic Studies (IACS) are the main forum for scholars of Egyptian Christian life and culture through the ages. The proceedings of the seventh congress, which was held in Leiden in 2000, comprise ninety-nine papers, reflecting the growth and diversification of Coptic studies worldwide. They include valuable and sometimes groundbreaking essays in topics of, for example, Coptic language, literature, monasticism and archaeology. A particularly noteworthy and important feature of the present proceedings are the state-of-the-art reviews of current trends and achievements in the main fields of the discipline, written by invited experts and accompanied by extensive bibliographies. These review articles cover aspects of Coptic studies as diverse as papyrology, gnosticism, liturgy, Copto-Arabic and art history. They turn these two volumes into real reference books, indispensable for every scholar of early Church history, late antiquity and Near Eastern Christianity
Copts and the West, 1439-1822: The European Discovery of the Egyptian Church
by Alastair Hamilton (Oxford-Warburg Studies: Oxford University Press) In
seventeenth-century Europe the Copts, or the Egyptian members of the Church of
Alexandria, were widely believed to hold the key to an ancient wisdom and an
ancient theology. Their language, a late form of the language of the Pharaohs,
had in fact gradually been replaced by Arabic, but it was thought to lead to the
deciphering of the hieroglyphs. At the same time the Coptic Church was held to
retain traces of early Christian practices as well as early Egyptian customs.
Starting with the decision to invite the Copts to the Council of Florence in
1439, this book, the first full-length study of the subject, discusses the
attempts of Catholic missionaries to force the
The book ends with a survey of the study of the Coptic language from Athanasius Kircher to Jean-Francois Champollion, of how Coptic manuscripts were collected in the early modern period, and of the uses to which Coptic was put by Biblical scholars, antiquarians, theologians and Egyptologists.
Excerpt: The Copts once formed a vast Christian community
which stretched up the Nile deep into
From the Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century
By the sixteenth century, as the Ottoman Empire became more accessible,
Stories about the country were circulated in the reports of pilgrims and
traders, and were read avidly in the West. Where the early reports were
disappointing, however, was in their description of the Egyptians, and most
particularly of the Copts. Western travellers were understandably bewildered by
the number of
My starting point is 1439, when the decision was taken at the Council of
Florence, held between 1438 and 1445, to invite the first official Coptic
Nevertheless, in the 1820s the European discovery of the Copts entered a new phase.
In the early modern period the European encounter with different cultures
tended to be accompanied by a degree of intellectual violence. Inclined to fall
back on familiar patterns, the Europeans frequently forced what they did not
understand into categories which they knew. Language is an example. Convinced
that all tongues descended from Hebrew, students sought Hebrew etymologies.
Accustomed to Latin and Greek grammars, they thrust different grammatical
structures into the familiar paradigms studied in European schools. Different
religions suffered a similar fate. Ancient catalogues of heresies would be
revived and non-Christian faiths were treated as though they had points of
community with beliefs which had once been condemned in
The European discovery of the Copts tells us much more about the Europeans
than about the Copts, and my book is fundamentally Eurocentric. Nevertheless, in
the first part, on the Copts in
My second part is on the Roman Catholic missionaries, from the Council of
Florence to the Napoleonic invasion of
The third part is about the gradual accumulation of knowledge about the Copts
In the last part I discuss the discovery of the Coptic language, the early
quest for the language of the ancient Egyptians, the dangers of underestimating
its evolution and changes over the centuries, and the gradual awareness, which
accelerated as new texts entered
One of the chief problems in a study of this sort is to know by what criteria the scholars under scrutiny should be judged. Nowadays our knowledge of the beliefs, the customs, and the early language of the Copts is far superior to what it was in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century. We can now marvel at those travellers who believed that the
Copts were baptized by branding and those scholars who thought there was a single Coptic dialect. I have consequently tried to quote contemporary judgements of their achievements. These were sometimes affected by confessional allegiance, personal jealousy, and other emotions, but they do, I believe, help us to reach some conclusion about the importance of the various contributions to what, at the time, was an altogether novel field of investigation.Hardly anything has been written about the European discovery of the Copts as a whole. Quatremère, Schwartze, and others have studied the discovery of the Coptic language. The Catholic missionaries to the
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