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E00663: Coptic fragmentary parchment sheet of the 9th/10th c., of unknown provenance, preserving parts of the ninth and tenth miracles of *George (soldier and martyr, S00259) in the dialect of the Hermopolite nome (Middle Egypt); written most likely not before the 7th c.

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posted on 19.08.2015, 00:00 by dlambert
Institut für Afrikanistik und Ägyptologie der Universität zu Köln, inv. 10.263

Summary:

The ninth miracle takes place during the reign of Diocletian who sends his general Euchios to Egypt to destroy churches and build temples to the imperial gods instead, to arrange for governors to be installed in every city, and to round up Christians to torture and decapitate them. But God remembered all these evil deeds Diocletian ordered, and so his end was near. Diocletian then ordered general Euchios to go to Palestine in the province of Syria and to enter the shrine of George to destroy it completely, for he could not bear to hear about its miracles and magic (μάγος). Afterwards he was to destroy all churches and force their clerics to sacrifice to the imperial gods. That enterprise goes horribly wrong for both of them, resulting in the death of Euchios and in Diocletian’s blindness. The throne on which he was sitting was turned upside down by the powers of George and Michael the Archangel, so that the golden pomegranates which adorned it hit his eyes. Diocletian immediately recognises the power of George and begs the saint’s forgiveness, but Michael condemns him to eternal darkness and hell. In his place Constantine is put on the throne.

The tenth miracle then takes place, in the time of the new emperor Constantine, and is concerned with a presbyter within the saint’s shrine who felt no empathy or pity for the weak and the hopeful who came to the shrine. He would steal golden objects for himself and store them in his private house. But Eudoxia, the pious sister of Constantine, brings about his eventual punishment, the details of which are not preserved.

Text: Schenke 2008. Summary: Gesa Schenke.

History

Evidence ID

E00663

Saint Name

George, martyr in Nicomedia or Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259 Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Saint Name in Source

ⲅⲉⲱⲣⲅⲓⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

800

Evidence not after

999

Activity not before

800

Activity not after

999

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hermopolis

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

Hermopolis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Punishing miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Soldiers Officials Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Source

The Cologne Coptic parchment bifolio inv. 10.263 is housed at the Institut für Afrikanistik und Ägyptologie der Universität zu Köln. It preserves four pages of text with two columns per page, none of them complete. The handwriting and layout of the manuscript can be dated to the 9th/10th century, though versions of the text it records existed much earlier.

Discussion

It is impossible to date the origin of the two miracle stories recorded here, though the confused chronology (with Constantine directly succeeding Diocletian) suggests a late date; perhaps from the 6th century onwards. This fragmentary text attests to a Coptic collection of the miracles of George that included at least ten miracles. The earliest Coptic collections of George’s miracles, those in the Sahidic dialect, are only preserved in fragments, but none of these include the beginning of miracle ten presented here, while a complete collection of Coptic miracles in the Bohairic dialect, known through a paper codex of the second half of the 14th century in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, presents just nine complete miracles. All of the known Coptic miracle collections record posthumous miracles connected to the saint’s shrine in Lydda (Diospolis, Palestine) where George was buried. The first of the nine known Bohairic miracles deals with the construction of this shrine, the last (which is also ‘the ninth miracle’ here) with its attempted destruction under Diocletian at the hands of his general Euchios. Both are punished severely for this, Euchios dies a painful death, Diocletian goes blind and is replaced by Constantine. These punishments are instigated through the saint, accompanied by Michael the archangel. The miracles presented in between these two (construction of shrine and attempted destruction) are of the usual range: miracles 2, 4, and 6 are healing miracles, miracles 3 and 7 are punishing miracles, and miracles 5 and 8 are miracles rescuing people out of dangerous situations. Unlike the accounts of the martyrdom of George, which appear to have circulated in broadly similar form throughout the Christian world, very different collections of the posthumous miracles of George seem to have existed. For instance, the ten known miracles recorded in Coptic differ completely from the thirteen miracles known thus far in Greek, which in their present form appear to be of a much later compositional date (not before the 9th/10th century) and exist only in manuscripts of the 11th to 18th centuries. The most numerous collections of George’s miracles are those known from later Ethiopic manuscripts, which include 12, 42, 79 and 80 individual miracles.

Bibliography

Edition, German translation and commentary: Schenke, G., "Ein Kölner Fragment aus den Miracula des Heiligen Georg," Analecta Bollandiana 126 (2008), 93–118.

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