An imaginary figure invented by the Coptic authors of the period of the CYCLES. Various are attributed to him. Information on his fictional personality can be drawn only from the content of his homilies, and his mention in the Coptic- SYNAXARION on 22 also derives from one of these. He is said to have been bishop of Neapolis (it is not specified which, but probably Nablus of Palestine was intended), the successor of a certain Nikolaus; he traveled in the Holy Land and built a church in his town dedicated to the Archangel GABRIEL.

We possess a complete homily attributed to him and a fragment of another (not published; Paris, National Library, Copte 131.1.28) that is an exegesis of a moral character of certain passages of Isaiah (in particular Is. 5:22).

The complete homily, In Honor of the Archangel Gabriel, exists in Sahidic (New York, Library M 583.1-16, unpublished; fragments of a codex of DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH, or the White Monastery) and in Bohairic (Rome, Vatican Library, Coptic 59.30-49, ed. Vis, 1929, pp. 246-91, fragments of another codex of Saint Macarius). The redactions are in substantial agreement with each other.

In order to celebrate Gabriel, Archelaus gives an account of a pilgrimage he made to the Holy Land, especially to the monastery of Saint Romanus. In the library of this monastery he found an old book narrating Jesus’ revelations to the apostles concerning Saint Gabriel. When, with the help of Bishop Nikolaus, he returned to Neapolis, Archelaus had a church built in honor of the archangel. The rest of the homily consists of an account of the Gabriel worked to help in the building of the church and then to establish its authority.

The elements of this homily are traditional. The journey to the Holy Land and the discovery of an old book with revelations of Jesus are found in many Coptic texts of the same period. For during the building of a church, see the text attributed to ACACIUS OF CAESAREA in honor of Saint MERCURIUS.

  • Vis, H. de, ed. and trans. Homélies coptes de la Vaticane. 1, 5. Copenhagen, 1922, 1929.