An email last night brought with it a text and English translation of a Coptic text, Abbot Shenoute “I have heard about your wisdom” (the Discourse in the presence of Flavian or Ad Flavianum ducem), made by Dr Anthony Alcock. Alin Suciu has discussed this text somewhat here. The slightly unusual title is in fact the incipit.
The PDF, which I have renamed, is here:
The works of Shenoute seem to have remained determinedly offline, yet this forceful figure of the late 4th-early 5th century is exceedingly important in the history of Coptic Christianity, and the transition from official paganism to official Christianity. It is very good to have at least something online! Thank you.
An item that Anthony Alcock translated some time ago, but did not reach me, is three texts by the 5th century Coptic abbot Shenoute, which are concerned with invasions by “Ethiopians” – presumably Nubians – at that period.
It will be remembered that the temples at Philae, on the southern Egyptian border, remained open for the use of pagans across the frontier, even after all the pagan temples had otherwise been closed. Doubtless this was just a security matter; but it must have been a rather odd situation. How, in an empire in which paganism was illegal, did the temples recruit priests?
But then again the Roman empire was not a modern state with the ability to impose totalitarian control on its people, and no doubt the answer was that matters continued for the most part as they had always done, and the temples were mainly staffed by locals.
Here is Shenoute’s short works on the aftermath of these invasions.
Anthony Alcock continues his programme of translations from Coptic with a couple of short texts, which profess to be the Apocalypse and the Testimony by Shenoute. Whether these are indeed by Shenoute is not clear, but it is very useful to have this material in English!
This afternoon brings another gem from Anthony Alcock: a translation from Coptic of Shenoute’s De eis qui e monasterio discesserunt, his attack on monks who have abandoned their monastery. He explains:
The text translated here makes it clear that some of those who have left blamed Shenoute for his ill-treament, but others simply did not the strength to remain there.
Shenoute himself is a very famous figure in 4th century Egyptian monasticism, and his works have been edited recently (offline!) by Stephen Emmel. He was notorious for using a stick to discipline his monks; and also using them as stormtroopers to demolish pagan temples.
Here is the text, with a learned introduction as ever:
It is very nice to have this material online in English. Shenoute lived at a critical junction between the Roman and Byzantine world, and his works give a clear insight into the period of change.