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E00088: Coptic Life of *Onnophrios, the Anchorite (Egyptian anchorite, 4th c., S00055), written probably in the 5th/6th century in the Scetis (Lower Egypt), describes the physical appearance of the saint.

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posted on 21.10.2014, 00:00 by dlambert
Paphnoutios of Sketis, Life of Onnophrios, the Anchorite

ⲉⲣⲉⲡⲉϥϥⲱ ⲡⲟⲣϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉϫⲙ ⲡⲉϥⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲛⲑⲉ ⲙⲡⲁ ⲛⲉⲓⲡⲁⲣⲇⲁⲗⲏⲥ ⲛⲉϥⲕⲏⲕ ⲁϩⲏⲩ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲡⲉ ⲉⲣⲉϩⲉⲛϭⲱⲱⲃⲉ ϩⲱⲃⲥ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲥⲙⲟⲧ ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩⲧ

'His hair was spread out over his body just as one of these panthers, for he was naked with leaves covering his manhood.'

Text: Budge 1914, p. 210, fol. 6b. Translation: Gesa Schenke.

History

Evidence ID

E00088

Saint Name

Onnophrios, Egyptian Anchorite : S00055

Saint Name in Source

ⲟⲛⲛⲟⲫⲣⲓⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus codex Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

320

Evidence not after

999

Activity not before

320

Activity not after

999

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Sketis

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Sketis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Paphnoutios of Sketis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Verbal images of saints

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Source

The Coptic Life of Onnophrios, the Anchorite is known through three complete manuscripts, two in Sahidic: British Library, London, Oriental 7027, fols. 1–21v, from Edfu, with a colophon giving the year 1004/5 (ed. Budge, Coptic Martyrdoms) and Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, M580, fol. 1–36, from Hamuli in the Fayum, dated to the year 889/890 (unpublished), one in Bohairic (Vatican Library, Coptic 65, fols. 99–120v, dated to the year 978/979). There are also codex fragments: a papyrus leaf dated on palaeographical grounds to the 7th century (ed. Lefort, 1945, 97–100), a fragmentary papyrus leaf from the end of the story, dated on palaeographical grounds to the 6th/7th century (ed. Orlandi), and two parchment leaves of a codex from the so called White Monastery (ed. Till). There are therefore good reasons to think that the text is 6th century or earlier.

Discussion

Paphnoutios describes the physical appearance of Onnophrios after sixty years in the remote desert. With this description, a visual image is created, that seems to have been influential on the iconography of Onnophrios.

Bibliography

Editions: Budge, E.A.W., Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (Coptic Texts 4; London: British Museum, 1914), 205–224. Lefort, L.T., “Fragments coptes,” Le Muséon 58 (1945), 97–120. Orlandi, T., Papiri copti di contenuto teologico (Vienna: In Kommission bei Verlag Brüder Hollinek, 1974), 158–161. Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. Vol. 1 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1935), 14–19. Translation Vivian, T., Paphnutius, Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt and the Life of Onnophrius (Cistercian Studies 140; Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1993). [With an introduction and evaluation of the text, as well as an English translation, all three of rather questionable value]. Further reading: Coquin, R.-G., “Onophrius, Saint,” in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia. 8 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1991), vol. 6, 1841–1842. O'Leary, De L., Saints of Egypt (London: SPCK, 1937), 210. Sauget, J.-M., “S. Onofrio anacoreta in Tebaide,” Bibliotheca Sanctorum 9 (1987), 1187–1197. Williams, C.A., Oriental Affinities of the Legend of the Hairy Anchorite. Part II: Christian (University of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature 11/4; Urbana IL: University of Illinois Press, 1926). For a full range of the documentary evidence on Onnophrios: Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides (Paris: CNRS, 2001), 161-162.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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