Scribe, take down an apocalypse

Intrigued by some notes in the edition of the apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun.  It says that bits seem copied from older apocalypses, such as those of Pisentius or Ps.Methodius, although not verbatim.

Are we dealing with a genre here? — A way to describe the failings of events up to your own time, ascribe them as a prophecy to some long-dead person, and then end with a conventional set of statements about the return of Christ (or something of the kind) as a coda.  If so, the history of the genre would be interesting to read, and it would allow us to make use of them as historical documents.

Maybe it was a way to blow off steam, more edifying, perhaps, than diatribes against bankers.

The apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun is a very moving document, probably from ca. 1000 AD (because of the description of the Caliph el-Hakim).  The author is grief-stricken at the destruction of coptic culture, at the loss of “our beautiful coptic language, which is like honey in the mouth”.  He tells how the lives of the saints are no longer read, because people can’t understand them.  Many of the books are simply lost.

This may explain the find of Coptic books at Qurna near Luxor a couple of years ago by the Polish Mission in the ruins of a monastery.  I recall that one of them was a life of St. Pisentius.  If you had a bunch of books that you couldn’t read but were fairly sure were ‘holy’, you might bury them.  Probably there are treasure troves of Coptic patristic literature to be found near many old monasteries in Egypt.  Indeed it makes you wonder a little about when the Nag Hammadi books were buried.  Could it have been much later than we usually suppose?


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