Has the lost “De baptismo” of Melito of Sardis been rediscovered in Coptic?

Alin Suciu has been undertaking the thankless task of sifting through Coptic patristic papyri.  It looks as if he may have struck gold!  A new second-century patristic text, no less!  From his blog:

At the Coptic congress, which this year will be held in Claremont, California, I will speak about the discovery of Melito of Sardes’ homily on the baptism of Christ in a Sahidic papyrus manuscript. My paper is entitled “Recovering a Hitherto Lost Patristic Text: Greek and Coptic Vestiges of Melito of Sardes’ De Baptismo.”

Here is the abstract:

“In this paper, I will argue that a fragmentary Sahidic papyrus manuscript featuring a homily on the baptism of Christ can be identified as Melito of Sardes’ De Baptismo. This early Christian writing has been considered to be lost with the sole exception of a quotation preserved in a Greek catena collection.

In the first part of the paper, I will show that the only known Greek fragment of Melito’s De Baptismo finds a parallel in a Sahidic papyrus manuscript.

In the second part, I will analyze the Coptic text and I will show that a number of similarities with the other works of Melito strengthen the hypothesis that the fragmentary papyrus actually contains his hitherto lost homily on the baptism of Christ.”

We can only hope that this is indeed the case.  Well done, Dr S.


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