Coptic Acts of Andrew and Paul now online in English

Anthony Alcock has continued his programme of translations with the first English translation of two Coptic fragments from a Vatican manuscript, which have been given the title of the Acts of Andrew and Paul.  The two were printed, with French translation, by X. Jacques, “Les deux fragments conservés des ‘Actes d’André et Paul'”, in Orientalia 38 (1969), p.187-213.

Here is the translation:

In addition I have OCR’d the French introductory material, which is here:

What do we know about this material?  I thought that I would translate some of the introduction into English for those who do not read it.  I’ve included a few (but by no means all) of the bibliographic footnotes.

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The two fragments preserved of the ‘Acts of Andrew and Paul’ (Ms. Vatican Borgia Coptic 109, fascicle. 132)

Fascicle 132 of the manuscript Borg. Copt. 109, in the Vatican, consists of 11 folios.  Zoega, who made them known in 1811, gave them the pagination 115-126, 131-136, 139-142, and labelled them “Fragmenta duo de rebus SS. Andreae et Pauli; duo pariter de rebus S. Bartholomaei” (Two fragments about the doings of St Andrew and St Paul; likewise two about the doings of St. Bartholomew).  He then summarised the first two fragments (115-126, 131-136) and edited the first one (115-126). [1]

In 1835, Dulaurier translated a part of the first fragment into French (end of 117 to start of 123), using Zoega’s text.  He changed Zoega’s vague title, given, he felt, with little thought, into “the Acts of St. Andrew and St Paul.”[2]

Under this title, the text entered the general works devoted to the apocrypha.  Tischendorf transcribed the Latin summary of Zoega and added part of Dulaurier’s translation in a footnote.  Migne published large extracts of the same translation in his Dictionnaire des légendes du christianisme (Dictionary of Christian Legends) in the articles Judas Iscariot and Paul, and mentioned it in his Dictionnaire des Apo­cryphes.[3]  Lipsius mentioned it, in the context of the Acts of Andrew, translated freely the summary of Zoega, and added some reflections on the nature and origin of the text.[4]

In 1887 Guidi edited the second of these “frammenti relativi alla leggenda di s. Paolo e s. Andrea” (131-133 col. 1), and in the following year supplied an Italian translation.  Lipsius signalled it, in his complementary volume, and Schmidt reproduced this information in Harnack’s history of Christian literature.  Hennecke, on the other hand, in the first two editions of his work, made no mention of these fragments.

However, in 1894, Steindorff inserted the fragment published by Zoega in the selection of readings accompanying his grammar, and did the same with some extracts in his abridged grammar.  Guidi followed his example in publishing an extract of the same fragment in his Eléments.  M.R. James summarised the two fragments without translating them.[5]

The first English translation – but only of Steindorff’s extracts, minus the last lines of the second fragment – was offered by Hallock to the readers of the Journal of the Society of Oriental Research, in 1929[6] (J. Worrell, in 1945, citing the apology of Judas as an example of Coptic literature of the 4-5th century, gave a new translation of this fragment, based on Zoega’s Coptic text).[7]

Finally in 1964 Schneemelcher, in redoing the work of Hennecke, introduced a short notice on these two fragments.[8]  Erbetta translated the summary by James.

But the authors of general works were not the only ones interested in these fragments.  By 1890 von Lemm connected three passages of the fragment published by Zoega with other apocrypha, and he gave a German translation of them.  In 1911 Flamion attempted to situate the “Acts of Paul and Andrew” somewhere in his study of the Acts of Andrew.  Haase, with a broader perspective, reproduced the summary of Zoega among the sources of his enquiry, summarised himself the summary of Lipsius in the paragraph devoted to Andrew.  At this point he said nothing of the long narrative about Judas, nor, even more oddly, in the paragraph which he devoted to that apostle.

In the volume of magical texts published by Lexa, three passages of Zoega’s fragment are translated into French.[9]  The author relates to them some other passages in his collection.  …

In a note, published in 1947, Morenz suggests, on very fragile grounds, to see in the person of Andrew, as it appears in these fragments, a new Serapis.[10]  In 1955 an article by J. Zandee, devoted to the descent into Hell among the Copts, was the occasion for him to translate for his readers the extracts published by Steindorff…  In 1957 Godron proposed to place the bird labelled in our text among the Ardeidae.

Peterson, studying the history and legends concerning Andrew, summarised the two fragments.  They are often referred to in the work of Zandee, written in Dutch but published in English in 1960, on  ancient Egyptian ideas about death.[11]  …

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Jacques also states that Zoega’s text departs from the manuscript in 16 places, sometimes affecting the meaning.  But curiously he does not indicate the age of the manuscript, nor of the text.

Schneemelcher (vol. 2, p.450), adds the following:

It was only the contribution of X. Jacques, ‘Les deux fragments conserves des Actes d’Andre et de Paul’ (Orientalia N.S. 38, 1969, 187-213), with a complete and critical edition of the original text and a translation, also in French (reprinted a year later in Recherches de Science Religieuse 58,1970,289-296), bibliography and commentary, that finally replaced the earlier partial editions and translations.

Particular interest was aroused among scholars by the passage in which it is narrated that ‘Andrew with a beaker of sweet water put asunder the salt sea-water and so made it possible for Paul to ascend again from Hell.’ This motif has been associated inter alia with ancient Egyptian magical texts: so for example F. Lexa, La magie dans l’Egypte antique I, Paris 1925, 150-151 and A.M. Kropp, Ausgewahlte koptische Zaubertexte III, Brussels 1930, 61-62. S. Morenz (ThLZ 79, 1947, cols. 295-297) considers such explanations questionable, and suggests comparing the miracle of the dividing of the waters accomplished by Andrew with an act ascribed by Aelius Aristides to the hellenistic-Egyptian god Sarapis, according to which ‘in the midst of the sea he called forth drinkable water’. On this view we should here have before us a syncretistic text in which – in Morenz’ words – the apostle Andrew would appear as νέος Σάραπις. That this conclusion is not valid is already clear from the fact that the alleged parallelism between the two motifs is at least just as imperfect as others which might be drawn from the Egyptian magical texts previously mentioned, or even from biblical sources (e.g. Exod. 15:22ff., the bitter water at Mara). There appears to be a clearer analogy with an episode in the Prochorus Acts (= Zahn 5421569), which speaks of a transformation of sea-water into drinking-water. The motif of the dividing of the waters seems however to be deeply rooted in Egypt, and could – with the inclusion of other circumstances in the tradition – be taken as a sign that our present document originated in Egypt. For other indications in this direction, see Jacques, art. cit. passim.

A striking feature of these ‘Acts’ is the hybrid character of their contents: this is chiefly a matter of an alleged episode of the Acts of Andrew (i.e. the raising-up of a child through the apostle’s intercession, as in the Acta Andreae et Philemonis; see below, 5.5) into which the apocalyptic interlude of Paul’s journey to Hell is interwoven (with great reliance on the known Apocalypse of Paul [BHGII,1460] and the Gospel of Bartholomew [BHG 1,228]). This is without doubt an indication of a late time of origin. For adetailed analysis of the contents cf. Lipsius (Die apokr. Apostelgeschichten 1,616-617; Erganzungsheft 96), James, 472-475 and Moraldi II, 1616-1617.

Which gives us something, if not the data we want.

All the same, the material is now in English!

  1. [1]G. Zoega, Catalogus codicum copticorum manu scriptorum qui in Museo Borgiano Velitris adservantur (Romae 1810) 230-235.
  2. [2]É. Dulaurier, Fragment des Révélations apocryphes de saint Barthé­lemy et de l’Histoire des communautés religieuses fondées par saint Pakhome (Paris 1835) 30-35. The title of this work relates to two unpublished fragments of which the author gives the text and translation.  He added to these the three very short texts already published by Zoega, from cod. Borgia CII, CXXI et CXXXII. Of this last, which is of interest to us, he only published a fragment: 50-144 (these numbers, like those which follow, refer to the lines of our edition).
  3. [3]J. de Douhet, Dictionnaire des légendes du christianisme (Troisième et dernière encyclopédie théologique 14; Petit-Montrouge 1855) col. 720- 722 et 1040-1042. — Migne, Dictionnaire des Apocryphes. I (Paris 1856) col. 1102.
  4. [4]R. A. Lipsius, Die Apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostel­legenden. I (Braunschweig 1883) 616-617.
  5. [5]M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford 1924, reprinted 1926, 1945, 1950) 472-475.
  6. [6]P. H. Hallock, “An Apocalypse of SS. Andrew and Paul”, JSOR 13 (1929) 190-194. He suppressed 144-146.
  7. [7]W. H. Worrell, A Short Account of the Copts (Ann Arbor 1945) 21-22 et 53. Fragment translated: 72-129.
  8. [8]E. Hennecke-W. Schneemelcher, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung3. II (Tübingen 1964) 403. English Trans. (London 1965) 576.
  9. [9]P. Lexa, La magie dans l’Egypte antique, de l’Ancien Empire jusqu’à l’époque copte. II (Paris 1925) 223-225. Passages translated: 50-64; 152-171; 179-205.
  10. [10]S. Morenz, “Der Apostel Andréas als νέος Σάραπις”, TLZ 72 (1947) col. 295-297.
  11. [11]J. Zandee, Death as an Enemy, according to Ancient Egyptian Conceptions (Studies in the History of Religions, Supplements to Numen 5; Leiden 1960).

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