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E04640: Coptic Homily on the Archangel *Michael (S00181), from the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum (Lower Egypt), attributed to Basil of Caesarea and said to have been delivered at Michael’s shrine in Lasike (Lasika/Lakiza), laying out the proper conduct for and understanding of the cult of Michael and how to proceed when asking for his intercession; allegedly originally written in the later 4th century, translated presumably sometime between the 5th and 9th century.

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posted on 18.01.2018, 00:00 by gschenke
Homily on the Archangel Michael, attributed to Basil of Caesarea

The text is introduced as follows:

M592, f. 17r a:

ⲡϣⲟⲣⲡ ⲛⲗⲟⲅⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲃⲁⲥⲓⲗⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲕⲁⲓⲥⲁⲣⲓⲁ ⲛⲧⲕⲁⲡⲡⲁⲇⲱⲕⲓⲁ ⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲁⲟⲩⲟϥ ⲇⲉ ϩⲛ ⲗⲁⲥⲓⲕⲏ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ϩⲙ
ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲛⲧⲁⲩⲕⲟⲧϥ ϩⲙ ⲡⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲇⲩⲙⲟⲥ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ⲥⲭⲉⲇⲱⲛ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉⲓⲧⲉ ϩⲟⲟⲩⲧ ⲉⲓⲧⲉ ⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ
ⲉⲩⲥⲟⲟⲩϩ ⲉⲩⲣϣⲁ

‘The first homily by saint Basil, the bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. He delivered it in the city of Lasike at the (martyr) shrine (martyrion) built in the name of the archangel Michael, while the entire community, nearly the whole city, whether man or woman, were gathered for a celebration.’


Visiting martyr shrines and other sanctuaries is described as a strengthening spare time activity, just like soldiers preparing for battle:

§ 2:
ⲧⲁⲓ ϩⲱⲱⲛ ⲧⲉ ⲧⲉⲛϩⲉ ϩⲟⲧⲁⲛ ⲉⲛϣⲁⲛⲥⲉⲣϥⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲛϩⲃⲏⲩⲉ ⲛⲃⲓⲱⲧⲓⲕⲟⲛ ϣⲁⲛϯ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲟⲩⲟⲓ ⲉⲙⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ
ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲙⲙⲁ ⲛⲥⲱⲟⲩϩ ⲛⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲛⲉⲓⲣⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ⲛⲃⲣⲣⲉ ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲛⲉϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲉⲭⲓⲣ<ⲁⲅ>ⲟⲅⲓⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲡⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ

‘This is how we too, when we refrain from our daily affairs and make our way to shrines (martyrion) dedicated to the martyrs and to sanctuaries dedicated to the angels, we shall renew ourselves through prayers and through guidance in the Holy Spirit.’

§ 5:
ⲉⲓⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲡⲉⲧⲙⲡϣⲁ ⲁⲛ ⲉⲥⲱⲟⲩϩ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲩⲣϣⲁ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲟⲥⲧⲁⲧⲏⲥ ⲛⲧⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲓⲕⲏ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲡⲉⲧⲛⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ϫⲉ ϥϩⲏⲛ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲩⲛ ϭⲟⲙ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲉⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲉϫⲱ(ⲛ)

‘Who then is not worthy to gather in this holy place today for a celebration of the archangel and leader of the entire angelic host? For we know that it is Michael who is close to God and able to intercede for us.’


Proper conduct in sanctuaries is stressed:

§ 7:
ⲙⲏ ⲛⲟⲩϣⲓⲡⲉ ⲁⲛ ⲡⲉ ϩⲟⲧⲁⲛ ⲉⲕϣⲁⲛⲥⲱⲟⲩϩ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲟⲩⲱⲙ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲥⲱ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲕⲣ ⲛⲉⲕⲟⲩⲱϣ ϩⲛ ⲛⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲁⲡⲉⲭⲣⲥ ϣⲟⲡⲟⲩ ϩⲓⲧⲙ ⲡⲉϥⲥⲛⲟϥ ⲛⲧⲟⲕ ⲙⲉⲛ ⲕϣⲟⲩϣⲟⲩ ⲙⲙⲟⲕ ϫⲉ ⲁⲕⲥ̣ⲱⲟⲩϩ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲉⲕⲫⲱⲣⲉⲓ
ⲛϩⲉⲛϩⲃⲥⲱ ⲉⲛⲉⲥⲱⲟⲩ ⲉⲕϣⲟⲩϣⲟⲩ ⲙⲙⲟⲕ ⲉϫⲛ ϩⲉⲛ ϭⲓⲛⲟⲩⲟⲟⲙ ⲉⲩⲥⲟⲧⲡ ⲙⲡⲡⲁⲛⲏⲅⲉⲣⲓⲥ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲁⲛ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲁⲓ ⲛⲁⲗⲏⲑⲓⲛⲟⲛ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ϩⲟⲧⲁⲛ
ⲉⲛϣⲁⲛⲗⲉⲩⲕⲟⲫⲱⲣⲉⲓ ϩⲓ ϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲁⲩⲱ ϩⲓ ⲃⲟⲗ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲕⲣ ⲛϩⲏⲕⲉ ⲛⲕⲟⲓⲛⲱⲛⲟⲥ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲕ ⲉⲧⲉⲕⲧⲣⲁⲡⲉⲍⲁ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲕⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲛ ⲕⲛⲁⲟⲩⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲁⲙⲉ ϫⲉ ⲁⲕⲧⲛⲧⲱⲛⲅ ⲉⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲕⲙⲛⲧϣⲁⲛϩⲧⲏϥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁⲕϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲛⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ

‘Is it not a shame when you gather in God’s name eating and drinking, and to fulfil your desires in the sanctuaries which Christ bought with his blood? You are boasting that you have gathered in the name of the archangel Michael, whereas you are wearing beautiful garments and priding yourself in choice foods. Indeed, this is not the true festal assembly. But when we are wearing white robes both inside and outside and you share your table and goods with the poor, then it will appear that you have truly likened yourself to the archangel through your acts of mercy and have become a child of God, the Lord of the angels.’


The proper formula for uttering invocations is laid out:

§ 18:
ⲛϣϣⲉ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲁⲛ ⲉⲧⲣⲉ ⲗⲁⲁⲩ ⲛⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲛⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ ϫⲟⲟⲥ ⲉϥϣⲗⲏⲗ ϫⲉ ⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲕⲉⲭⲱⲣⲏⲅⲉⲓ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲉϥⲉϫⲟⲟⲥ
ⲛⲧⲟϥ ϫⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲉⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲕⲉⲧⲉⲃϩ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉϫⲱⲓ ⲛϥⲕⲱ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲁⲛⲟⲃⲉ ⲕⲁⲓ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ
ⲛⲉⲛϣⲃⲉⲉⲣ ⲛⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲁⲩⲥⲟⲛⲧⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲉⲛϩⲩⲡⲉⲣⲏⲥⲓⲁ

‘Indeed, it is not right to let any Christian say this while praying, “O angel of this sanctuary, may you provide for me.” But he shall say, “O God of the angel of the altar, may you (the angel) entreat the Lord for me and may he forgive me my sins.” For in fact the angels are our friends and it is for our service that they have been created.’


The status of the archangel is defined:

§ 20:
ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲕⲛⲁϫⲟⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲓ ϫⲉ ⲉⲓϣⲁⲛⲣ ⲟⲩⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲛⲛⲟⲃⲉ ⲧⲁϯ ⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ϥⲛⲁⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲉⲩⲉ ϩⲁⲣⲟⲓ ⲛⲛⲁϩⲣⲙ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉⲓϣⲁϫⲉ
ⲡⲁⲓ ⲟⲩⲙⲛⲧⲣⲉϥϯϭⲟⲙ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲃⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ϩⲱ ϯϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲟⲩⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲉⲩⲧⲏⲥ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ

‘But you will ask me, “If I commit many sins and honour the archangel, will he intercede on my behalf before God?” This very enquiry is an act of empowering sin. All I say is that the archangel is an intercessor.’

§ 21:
ⲡⲉⲩⲕⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲙⲉⲛ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲧⲛⲥⲟⲟⲩϩ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ⲧⲉⲛⲟⲩ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ϩⲱⲥ ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁⲛ ⲟⲩⲗⲓⲧⲟⲩⲣⲅⲟⲥ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲡⲉ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲑⲉ ⲛⲧⲁ
ⲡϩⲓⲉⲣⲟⲯⲁⲗⲧⲏⲥ ⲇⲁⲩⲉⲓⲇ ϫⲟⲟⲥ

‘It is the oratory of the archangel at which we are now gathering, but not as if he were a god. For he is a minister, just as the holy psalmist David said.’

§ 26:
ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲡⲉⲧϩⲓϫⲛ ⲟⲩⲉϩⲥⲁϩⲛⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲱⲛ ⲛⲧϭⲟⲙ ⲙⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉϥⲧⲱϣ ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲁ
ⲡⲟⲩⲁ ⲛⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲉϥⲗⲓⲧⲟⲩⲣⲅⲓⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲥⲙⲟⲧ ⲉϣⲁⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲥⲧⲣⲁⲧⲏⲗⲁⲧⲏⲥ ϫⲓ ⲛⲛⲉⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲙⲡⲣⲣⲟ ⲛⲥⲉⲧⲱϣ ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲁ ⲡⲟⲩⲁ ⲉⲧⲉϥⲧⲁⲝⲓⲥ

‘It is the archangel Michael who oversees every command of the Lord. He is the chief of the Lord’s force, since he assigns each angel to his service, as generals receive writings from the king and appoint each man to his company.’

§ 27:
ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲧⲛⲥⲟⲟⲩϩ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲃⲏⲏⲧϥ ⲙⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲉϥⲉϩⲁⲣⲉϩ ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲛ ⲉⲛϭⲟⲣϭⲥ ⲙⲡⲇⲓⲁⲃⲟⲗⲟⲥ ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲛⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲡⲁⲓ ⲉϣⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲡⲙⲧⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲁϫⲛ ⲙⲉⲛⲉⲩⲉ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛϥⲡⲁϩⲧϥ ⲙⲡⲙⲧⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲑⲣⲟⲛⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ

‘God, for whose sake we are gathered here today, will keep you from the snares of the devil through the prayers of the archangel Michael, who enters before the Father without being announced and bows before God’s throne.’


The content of what is referred to as the first homily (following the order within codex M592) has been summarised as follows:

§§ 1–3: Worship compared to preparing for a battle.
§§ 4–5: How good it is to be gathered here. Michael will pray for us.
§§ 6–7: Prefer the spiritual to the corporeal.
§§ 8–13: Parable of the ungrateful wedding guests.
§§ 14–18: Exegesis of Psalm 34 (LXX 33).8: The angel of the Lord saves.
§ 19: Be pure inside for worship.
§§ 20–23: On repentance.
§§ 24–25: Be pure for communion. Repent because God has mercy.
§§ 26–27: Hail Michael, supreme general, compassionate one.
§ 28: Epilogue.


(Summary, text and trans. James Ross Smith, modified)

History

Evidence ID

E04640

Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Saint Name in Source

ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

370

Evidence not after

900

Activity not before

370

Activity not after

379

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hamouli Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

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

Hamouli Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Basil of Caesarea

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Source

This is the third (ff. 17r–22r) of eight homilies all dedicated to the archangel Michael and all contained in the same parchment codex M592, and the first of two homilies attributed to Basil of Caesarea. For the other homily attributed to Basil of Caesarea see E04641. For the other homilies to the archangel Michael from the same codex see E04642, and E04835, $04836, E04837, E04838, E04839. The production of the codex is datable to the 9th or early 10th century on the basis of securely dated codices (AD 822/3–913/14) all found together at the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum.

Discussion

Since Basil had visited the monasteries in Egypt, where his theology was well received, many of his works or works attributed to him are preserved in Coptic translations. But just as in Greek, there is no complete corpus of his works in Coptic. Egyptian translations of his most popular Greek and Syriac homilies most likely underwent a lengthy process of revision and translation. This makes it often difficult to judge which of these homilies attributed to Basil were genuine, particularly as many might stem from Greek originals displaying general Basilian philosophy: see Müller 1991. For literature and a brief overview of the Christian Egyptian tradition concerning the special sacred status attributed to Michael, see van Esbroeck 1991.

Bibliography

Text and translation: Ross Smith, J., "First Homily on St. Michael Archangel Delivered at Lasike attributed to Basil of Caesarea (M592, ff. 17r–22r)," in: L. Depuydt (ed.), Homiletica from the Pierpont Morgan Library: Seven Coptic Homilies Attributed to Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Euodius of Rome, CSCO 524: Copt. 43, pp. 10–16 (text) and CSCO 525: Copt. 44, pp. 10–17 (translation), (Louvain, 1991). Introduction and codicology: Depuydt, L., Catalogue of Coptic Manuscripts in the Pierpont Morgan Library: Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts (Leuven, 1993), 230–235, esp. 231–232. Further reading: Esbroeck, M. van, "Michael the Archangel, saint," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 5 (New York, 1991), 1616–1620. Müller, C.D.G., "Basil the Great," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (New York, 1991), 351–352. Orlandi, T., "Basilio di Cesarea nella letteratura copta," Rivista degli studi orientali 49 (1975), 49–58, esp. 56–58.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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