ABRAHAM OF HERMONTHIS (late sixth century)
Abraham is presented on a diptych (Crum, 1908) as the fourteenth bishop of Hermonthis. There is no mention of him in the SYNAXARION of the Coptic church. There are indeed no dates on the diptych, but we know that he was a contemporary of archbishop Damian of Alexandria (569-605). On the evidence of his portrait, painted on his accession to office, he was already old when he was consecrated bishop.
On the evidence of his Greek testament (P. Lond. I 77) his father was called Sabinus, his mother Rebecca. We do not know when he became a monk, nor when he became abbot of Dayr Apa Phoibammon. While abbot of this monastery, excavated in 1948- 1949 by the Société d’Archéologie copte, he was consecrated bishop of Hermonthis. Because of the remote situation of this monastery, 5 miles (8 km) from the Nile bank between Hermonthis and Madinat Habu, he built another monastery before 590, at the instance of archbishop Damian, on the ground ceded by the town of Djeme in the former temple of Hatschepsut, the Dayr al-Bahri, also dedicated to Phoibammon.
From this monastery, he officiated as bishop. He sent numerous communications to the Christians, both clerical and lay, of his diocese, and also received letters from the faithful under his charge. This correspondence shows us the duties and the activity of an Upper Egyptian bishop around 600, in a way not otherwise known to us to this extent. In the leadership of the Phoibammon monastery, he was supported by his pupil, the priest Apa Victor, who became his successor as abbot. His successor as bishop was Moses.
- Crum, W. E. Coptic Ostraca from the Collections of the Egypt Exploration Fund, the Cairo Museum and Others. London, 1902.
- “A Greek Diptych of the 7th Century.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 30 (1908):255-65; 30
- Krause, M. Apa Abraham von Hermonthis. Ein oberägyptischer Bischof um 600, 2 vols. Doctoral diss., Berlin, 1956.
- “Die Beziehungen zwischen den beiden Phoibammon- Klöstern auf dem thebanischen Westufer.” Bulletin de la Société d’Archéologie copte 27 (1985):31-44.
- “Die Testamente der Äbte des Phoibammon-Klösters in Theben.” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Kairo 25 (1969):57-67.