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E01149: Coptic fragment from the Acts of *Thomas (the Apostle, S00199), of unknown Egyptian provenance, preserving part of the only post mortem miracle presented in the Acts of Thomas, involving a contact relic of the deceased saint, to be obtained from his grave, to heal the king’s son from a demon; presumably written originally in the early 3rd c. and translated sometime between the 4th and 6th c.

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posted on 25.02.2016, 00:00 by gschenke, dlambert
The parchment fragment I.1.b.666 (4784, Copt.13) of the Pushkin Museum in Moscow preserves the following passage describing events after the saint’s death and burial. King Misdai (here Mistheos), who had been responsible for the saint’s death, expects a miracle through a contact relic:


p. 62, col. 2:

ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲟⲩⲟⲉϣ ⲇⲉ ⲁⲟⲩⲁ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲙⲙⲥⲑⲉⲟⲥ · ϣⲱⲱϭⲉ ϩⲧⲛ ⲟⲩⲇⲉⲙⲱⲛⲟⲛ · ⲙⲡⲉ ⲗⲁⲁⲩ ⲉϣϭⲙϭⲟⲙ ⲉⲧⲁⲗϭⲟϥ ·
ⲛⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲇⲉⲙⲱⲛⲟⲛ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲛⲁϣⲧ ⲉⲙⲁⲧⲉ : 
ⲁϥⲙⲉⲕⲙⲟⲩⲕ[ϥ] ⲇⲉ ⲛϭ ⲡⲣⲣ̣[ⲟ] ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙ̣[ⲙⲟⲥ] ϫⲉ ϯⲛⲁ[ⲟⲩ]ⲱⲛ ⲙⲡ[ⲧⲁ]ⲫⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲁⲡ[ⲟⲥ]ⲧⲟⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ⲧⲁϥ
ⲛⲧⲉϥⲕⲁⲥⲉ ⲧⲁⲙⲟⲣⲥ ⲉⲡⲁϣⲏⲣⲉ · ⲁⲩⲱ ϯⲡⲥⲧⲉⲩⲉ ϫⲉ ϥⲛⲁⲗⲟ : –
ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲇⲉ ⲉϩⲣⲁ ⲛϭ ⲙⲥⲑⲉⲟⲥ ⲉⲉⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲧⲁϥⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲉⲣⲟϥ · ⲡⲁ̣ⲡⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗⲟⲥ ⲇⲉ ⲉⲧ[ⲟ]ⲩ[ⲁⲁⲃ …

‘After some time, one of Mistheos’ sons was afflicted with a demon. No one was able to cure him, because the demon was very powerful.
The king thought to himself, saying: “I will open the tomb of the Apostle of God and take his burial shroud and tie it to my son. I believe he will be healed.” And Mistheos went up to do what he had considered. But the holy Apostle […’


Here the text of this fragment breaks off. But according to the Greek version, the Apostle appeared to the king assuring him that Christ will have mercy on him, even though he did not believe before.

But since the saint’s body had been secretly removed, the king was able only to obtain some of the dust where the body had been. Once, however, the dust was put onto his suffering son, he was healed. The king was thus converted and with this the Acts of Thomas end.

Text and translation: A. I. Elanskaya, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E01149

Saint Name

Thomas, the Apostle : S00199

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

300

Evidence not after

999

Activity not before

72

Activity not after

999

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

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

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Saint denying or suspending miracles

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - cloth

Source

The fragmentary parchment leaf has been dated to the 10th century and is kept at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. For Coptic manuscripts of the Acta Thomae see Elanskaya, 60.

Bibliography

Text and translation: Elanskaya, A.I., The Literary Coptic Manuscripts in the A. S. Pushkin State Fine Arts Museum in Moscow (Leiden, 1994), 60–67.

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