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E04215: Coptic document of unknown Egyptian provenance with an invocation to *Severos (bishop of Antioch, ob. 538, S00262), *Theodore 'Stratelates' (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00136 and S00480), and *Thekla (presumably the follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092, or the virgin and martyr of Assiut, S00777) to help a patient to obtain healing; datable to the 7th/8th century.

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posted on 24.10.2017, 00:00 by Bryan
P.MoscowCopt. 36

The document begins by citing the first verse of each of the four Gospels (Mt. 1:1, Mk. 1:1, Lk. 1:1, and Jn. 1.1), before citing the story of Christ arriving at the house of Peter and finding his mother-in-law struck down with a fever (Mt. 8:14). After Christ touched her hand, she was healed immediately, which then caused many others inflicted with illnesses to be brought to him that evening in the hope of a cure, which Christ provided, healing everyone (Mt. 8:15–16).

Lines 1–2: Matthew 1:1
Lines 3–5: Mark 1:1
Lines 5–8: Luke 1:1
Lines 8–12: John 1:1
Lines 13–24: Matthew 8:14–16

“The book of the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of David (Mt. 1:1). The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God (Mk. 1:1). Since many have undertaken to write accounts concerning the things which their heart desired (Lk. 1:1). In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and their Gods (sic) was the word (Jn. 1:1).
But Jesus, when he came up to the house of Peter, saw his mother-in-law lying down and being feverish. And he touched her hand. The fever left her and she rose and served him. And when it was evening, they brought to him anyone who suffered from different illnesses and those in whom an unclean spirit dwelled, and he healed them (Mt. 8:14–16/Mk. 1:29–34/Lk. 4:38–41).” [Jesus in the house of Simon Peter]

The text then continues invoking the help of Jesus and the intercession of known healing saints for one specific individual. A man named Theona suffering from an illness himself, most likely a fever, invokes Christ directly for help, before invoking the prayers of three saints, Severos, Theodore, and Thekla, in the hope that God will grant him healing.

Lines 25–35 read as follows:

+ ⲓⲥ ⲭⲥ ⲃⲟⲏⲑⲓⲁ ⲉⲡⲉⲕ-
ϩⲙϩⲁⲗ ⲑⲉⲱⲛⲁ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ
ⲛⲑⲁⲡⲗⲟⲩⲥ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ
ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ
+ + + ⲛⲉϣⲗⲏⲗ
ⲙⲡⲡⲁⲧⲣⲓⲁⲣⲭⲏⲥ ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟ(ⲥ)
ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲑⲉⲟⲇⲱⲣⲟⲥ
ⲡⲉⲥⲧⲣⲁⲧⲏⲗⲁⲧⲏⲥ
ⲑⲁⲅⲓⲁ ⲑⲉⲕⲗⲁ ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁ-
ⲗⲓ ⲛⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛϥⲭⲁⲣⲓⲍⲉ
ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ⲛⲑⲉⲟⲛⲁ ⲓⲁ
+ + +

'Jesus Christ, help your servant Theona, the son of Thaplous! Amen. Amen. Amen.
Prayers of the patriarch Severos, saint Theodore Stratelates, (and) saint Thekla, entreat God, and he will grant Theona healing, truly!'


(Text: P. V. Jernstedt, trans.: G. Schenke)

History

Evidence ID

E04215

Saint Name

Severos, bishop of Antioch (465–538) : S00262 Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480 Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092 Thekla, virgin martyr from Assiut : S00777 Theodore 'Stratelates', general and martyr of Am

Saint Name in Source

ⲡⲁⲧⲣⲓⲁⲣⲭⲏⲥ ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟ(ⲥ) ⲑⲉⲟⲇⲱⲣⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲥⲧⲣⲁⲧⲏⲗⲁⲧⲏⲥ ⲑⲁⲅⲓⲁ ⲑⲉⲕⲗⲁ ⲑⲁⲅⲓⲁ ⲑⲉⲕⲗⲁ

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet Liturgical texts - Amulets Liturgical texts - Invocations, prayers and spells

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

600

Evidence not after

799

Activity not before

600

Activity not after

799

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

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Source

The document is housed in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Dated on palaeographical grounds.

Discussion

Thekla is here mentioned among other well-known saints. This raises the question of the sixteen Menas ampullae, known examples showing Menas on one side and Thekla on the other, which S.J. Davis has discussed extensively. He based the connection of these two saints exclusively on one single occurrence of a shrine of Thekla mentioned in the miracles of Apa Mena, assuming that a proximity of cult places lay at the core of the joint decoration of these ampullae. The shrine of Thekla, however, is only mentioned in passing in this miracle, as a location where a pilgrim on her way to the shrine of Apa Mena is being sexually harassed by a soldier. No importance is given to this shrine at all and no help comes from Thekla, but from Apa Mena instead who rushes to the rescue of his pilgrim and the punishing of the attacker (see E07443). The connection of Thekla with Apa Mena on the ampullae seems to have been based instead more likely on the fact that both were known healing saints, in the same way as Thekla is mentioned here together with the bishop Severos and Theodore Stratelates.

Bibliography

Text and Russian translation: Jernstedt, P.V., Koptskie teksty Gosudarstvennogo muzeja izobrazitel’ nykh iskusstv imeni A. S. Puskina (Moscow and Leningrad, 1959), 84–85. See also: Davis, S.J., "Pilgrimage and the Cult of Saint Thecla in Late Antique Egypt," in: D. Frankfurter (ed.), Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt (Leiden, 1998), 303–339. Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte (Paris, 2001), 98–99.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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