Emmanouel Georgoudakis & Nikos Kouremenos

Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 18:00 to 20:00
Norwegian Institute at Athens, Tsami Karatasou 5
Event Description: 

Invitation to two connected lectures
Emmanouel Georgoudakis (Philatelic and Postal Museum), "A Copto-Arabic Codex at Iviron Monastery: A Trivial Text out of Context"

In the Copto-Arabic Codex of Iviron, a bilingual liturgical book containing the Psalmody of the month Kiakh (the period before the feast of Christmas), the variations of the Arabic text from the standard printed edition of Labib Bey (Cairo, 1908) seem to be more in the direction of the syntactic formulation of the sentences than the use of really different words. This means that a great part of variations comes out of the preference to construct a nominal sentence instead of a sentence with the verb or vice versa, but using the same verb root in both variations. There are, of course, phrases that vary more, but they do not appear so often. Nothing other than usual dialectal peculiarities have been observed; they are few and rather phonological. Moreover, there are parts written only in the Coptic language without Arabic translation.
The Arabic text of the manuscript does not give any real new information if not collated with other manuscripts, but the manuscript itself creates a difficult puzzle, because it belongs to the Library of a Greek Orthodox Monastery and not to a Middle Eastern one. Therefore, the question is how and when did the manuscript land there. The preliminary hypothesis is that it belonged to a prelate or higher dignitary of the Greek Church, who had an interest in the Coptic Church for reasons still unknown to us. Apart from the Coptic Manuscript, there is a copy of Athanasius Kircher Prodromus coptus sive aegyptiacus (1636), so this is a terminus post quem for the acquisition of the manuscript. If these two works came as part of a private library of some Greek dignitary connected with Alexandria and the Monastery of Iviron, then Metrophanes Kritopoulos would be a very suitable candidate, since he was the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and was involved in the printing activity of the Greek Orthodox Church in Moldavia.


Nikos Kouremenos (Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII, Bologna), "Coptic Liturgical books in Bohairic dialect"

According to a standard and defuse definition, the term “Bohairic” designates the Coptic dialect formerly spoken in the northwestern Nile delta region including Alexandria and surviving up to date in liturgical use in the Coptic Church. The liturgical tradition of the Egyptian Church, although born in the Greek language, already during the early period also adopted the Coptic and, later on, the Arabic languages and was named after the metropolitan city of Alexandria as the Alexandrian rite. The Christological controversies of the 5th century resulted in the formation of a local ecclesiastical community, separate from the Byzantine one. During the 6th and 7th centuries, this community preferred the Coptic as its liturgical language. Two main social groups which carried different liturgical tradition should be distinguished, namely the monks and the nuns with the monastic liturgical traditions and the secular Christians in the urban centers with the so-called cathedral liturgical tradition. The formation of the Coptic Liturgy with all its peculiarities and the various offices and books is influenced by the interaction between the monastic and the cathedral liturgical traditions. A brief description of the offices, the books, the manuscript traditions and the first attempts for printed versions with a particular focus on the Psalmody of the month Koiakh would be helpful to outline the rich liturgical heritage of the Coptic Church.