Cyril Of Jerusalem

Bishop of Jerusalem (c. 350-387) due to the efforts of the Arianite faction. However, because his doctrine was substantially anti-Arian, he was repeatedly exiled by the Constantius (357-362) and Valens (367-378).

The Egyptian tradition recognized him as and regarded his character and work with favor. Consequently, the Copts accorded him a prominent position both as historic and as a literary figure. In Coptic history, the episode involving the appearance of the shining cross upon Golgotha has become especially well known. This story appears in Greek in a letter attributed to Cyril (PG 33, cols. 1165-76), and in various ecclesiastical histories (Socrates 2.28; Sozomen 4.5; Philostorgius 3.26). In Coptic, we find this event recorded in the HISTORIA ECCLESIASTICA, with a mention of the letter cited above, and in a homily, De cruce, likewise attributed to Cyril (ed. Compagnano, 1980, par. 106). Further, on 12 Bashans, the Copto-Arabic SYNAXARION celebrates this appearance of the cross (ed. Forget, 1954, Vol. 2, p. 116), in which both the letter of Cyril and the section from the Historia ecclesiastica are cited. Therefore, it is quite probable that such a letter might have existed in Coptic.

In Coptic literature, a translation of his Catecheses (cf. Orlandi, 1974, pp. 56-76) was adopted at a very early date. However, since only a few fragments taken from Book 6—polemic, Gnostic, and/or Manichaean—remain, we are not certain if the translation is complete. There is certainly enough for us to assume that his Mystagogical Catecheses never existed in Coptic.

Later, a series of homilies was attributed to Cyril. These are of diverse character, but some of them may be classified together as one of the literary CYCLES typical of the late period of Coptic literature. As such, they are spurious. The others, which stand isolated, are probably spurious as well, but a few might be traced to Greek originals of the fourth and fifth centuries.

The “isolated” pseudo-Cyrillian homilies are as follows:

  1. De passione I and II. These two homilies form one unit, which is an exegesis of the Passion as narrated in John 13-20. These homilies have been transmitted to us in numerous codices, of which the principal ones are in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (M594 and M595); there are also four fragmentary codices from the White Monastery that are as yet unedited.
  1. De Passione.ThislateapocryphalworkonthePassionis attributed to the apostles. Under the guise of a homily, it presents a story about the discovery of an ancient manuscript long forgotten in a building of Jerusalem. It is transmitted in a manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library (M610); this text also remains unedited.

Homilies that refer to one another in some way to form the “Cyrillian Cycle” are as follows:

  1. De passione (a and b, ed. Campagnano, 1980) is, in fact, two homilies, the contents of which—like the homilies De passione—form one unit. Here the exegesis of the Passion is based on no particular gospel but contains citations taken from all four.
  2. De cruce (ed. Campagnano, 1980). This text incorporates into one unit several episodes derived from earlier manuscripts, such as the miracle of the Samaritan and the cross; the miracle of Cleophas and Rufas (relatives of the Virgin Mary); the recovery of the cross through the efforts of Helena and the story of Eusignius; and the episode of the shining cross.
  3. In Mariam Virginem (ed. Campagnano, 1980). This work is built around the well-knownapocryphalworkoftheDormitio Virginis, but in a version somewhat different from the version, for example, in pseudo-Evodius of Rome. The work also includes a section directed against heretics of Gnostic tendencies.


  • Campagnano, A. Ps. Cirillo di Gerusaleme, Omelie copte sulla passione, sulla Croce e sulla Vergine. Testi e documenti per lo studio dell’antichità, Serie Copta 65. Milan, 1980.
  • Orlandi, T. “Cirillo di Gerusalemme nella letteratura copta.” Vetera Christianorum 9 (1972):93-100.
  • . Koptische Papyri theologischen Inhalts (Papiri copti di contenuto teologica). Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, n.s. 9, pp. 56-79. Vienna, 1974.