An early Christmas present – Anthony Alcock has translated the Coptic text of the Martyrdom of James the Persian into English for us all. This is here:
- James the Persian (PDF)
This martyr was put to death by having 28 bits of him cut off with a saw. I was tempted to head this post “James the Hacked-off”!
So who was he? Well, luckily, Tito Orlandi did an article in the Coptic Encyclopedia on him, and this is online here. James was a Persian martyr of the late 4th century. The account of his martyrdom – which is probably as historically reliable as most such texts, i.e. not at all – seems to exist in a number of versions; this translation is from the Bohairic Coptic text, published in the CSCO from a manuscript of the 10th century. Apparently a discussion of the various texts can be found in P. Devos, “Le dossier hagiographique de S. Jacques l’Intercis.”
Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953):157-210; but this I have not seen.
The end of the text, tho, is more interesting historically. It contains a description of how the remains of St James the Persian arrived in Egypt. Orlandi describes this as composed in the 5th century.
Many thanks to Dr Alcock for his generosity!