Bacheus

BACHEUS

A fictitious figure in Coptic literature to whom at least two homilies are attributed. He is mentioned in a homily In Praise of the Cross attributed to CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (ed. Campagnano, 1980, pp. 84-100); this seems to be the oldest text in which he is named. According to this text, Bacheus was a presbyter and archimandrite of a small monastery near Aschalon in Palestine. Because he worked a miracle related to the Cross, a Samaritan named Isaac was converted to Christianity. The period in which the episode is supposed to have occurred is that of Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 387).

Thus we can place Bacheus in the fourth century. However, elements gleaned from the homily attributed to Cyril indicate the sixth century, when the construction of the homiletic and hagiographical CYCLES began. It is probable that shortly afterward, the beginning of the seventh century, Bacheus was detached from the cycle of Cyril and a cycle dedicated to him personally was started.

Documentation of this is found in the title of one of the two homilies attributed to him, conserved in an unpublished fragment in very poor condition (University Library, Oslo, 217). Here Bacheus has become of Maiuma (Gaza), a particularly important center in the period of the Chalcedonian controversies, and near to Aschalon. It is also stated specifically that “he converted Isaac the Samaritan. . . .” The homily in question is In Honor of the Twelve Apostles, and at present only eight (unpublished) folios of it are known (National Library, Naples, IB13, 31-8: cat. no. 265). They contain an “autobiographical” passage and a passage that speaks of the apostles as judges in the Valley of Josaphat.

At present, eight folios from the same codex are known of the other homily (National Library, Naples, IB13, 24-30: cat. no. 264; and Coptic Museum, Cairo, cat. 9232); however, they do not contain the beginning nor, therefore, the title. The content, nevertheless, suggests that this is an Encomium of the Three Young Men of Babylon, who are praised and whose history is related. Here, too, Bacheus names himself “autobiographically” and hence the attribution is certain. In this case he states he is the disciple of the famous martyr the Persian or JAMES INTERCISUS, and that he intends going to visit his martyrium in Egypt.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Campagnano, A., ed. Ps. Cirillo di Gerusalemme, Omelie sulla passione, sulla Croce e sulla Vergine. Testi e documenti per lo studio dell’antichità, Serie Copta, Vol. 65. Milan, 1980.
  • Zoega, G. Catalogus Codicum Copticorum Manuscriptorum qui in Adservantur. Roma, 1810; Hildesheim, 1973.

TITO ORLANDI