LETTERS OF SYNODS

By this name, two types of documents are generally described.

  1. The letters addressed either to other bishops or to some other contemporary personage, preserved in Greek or Coptic. These have been conveniently indexed by M. Geerard in his Clavis Patrum Graecorum (CPG). They derive from the synods held in the ancient period at Alexandria, which was the seat of the Coptic patriarchate down to the tenth century. These synods, with their letters, are:
  • of A.D. 320: CPG 2000 and 2002
  • of 338: CPG 2123, sec. 1
  • of 362: CPG 2134
  • of 363: CPG 2135
  • of 400: CPG 2595 and 2596
  1. The letters called “synodical letters” designating the letters which the patriarchs of Alexandria exchanged with those of the see of Antioch after their election; they thus bore witness to their community in faith. The majority are preserved in Arabic in the dogmatic florilegium entitled Confession of the Fathers (I‘tiraf al- Aba’). This work, important for the history of the patriarchate of Alexandria, has been analyzed and almost all the pieces in it identified by G. Graf (1937, pp. 345-402). There are some data in this article that Graf did not include in his treatment of the text in Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur (Vol. 2, pp. 321-23). We may add here and to the pages of Graf’s Geschichte the notes by Khalil Samir (1979, pp. 64-67).

Graf in his Geschichte (Vol. 1, pp. 443-44) gives in detail the synodical letters, the Arabic translation of which is found in the work entitled Al-Kharidah al-Nafisah fi Tarikh al-Kanisah (ed. ‘Ata Allah Arsaniyus, Cairo, 1924); they stretch from the eighth to the eleventh century. Graf also indicates the letters that are preserved in the Orientalis of J. S. Assemani or in the Nomocanon of Mikha’il of Damietta.

The letters mentioned above were addressed by the to the patriarchs of Alexandria. The letters of the patriarchs of Alexandria—at least what has been preserved of them—are noted by G. Graf (1944-1953, Vol. 1, pp. 480-81), who indicates their locations.

  • Graf, G. “Zwei dogmatischen Florilegien der Kopten.” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 3 (1937):345-402.
  • Riedel, W. Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien. Leipzig, 1900; repr. Aalen, 1968.
  • Samir, K. “Le Kitab I‘tiraf al-Aba’ [inv. 10781].” Bulletin d’Arabe chrétien 3 (1979):64-67.

RENÉ-GEORGES COQUIN