Papyrus Collections

PAPYRUS COLLECTIONS

Since the seventeenth-century scholars and travelers to Egypt have brought manuscripts to Europe. The papyri, whether they came to light in spectacular finds or as individual discoveries, whether they were uncovered in scientific excavations or through the diggings of thieves, went into papyrus collections, either directly or through dealers (see PAPYRUS DISCOVERIES). Not only papyrus but also parchment, limestone, pottery shards (see OSTRACON), and other materials, such as leather and wood, served as writing surfaces.

The sources for the Coptic period are in Greek, Coptic, Arabic, and, to a lesser extent, Latin. They are housed in papyrus collections all over the world. It is the function of these collections not only to restore and preserve the writing materials but also to disclose their contents scientifically. While the conservation of papyri has kept pace with the new finds—thanks to the techniques developed by restorers such as H. Ibscher, R. Ibscher, and A. Fackelmann—the scientific disclosure of most papyrus collections in catalogs and publications is still deficient.

Progress has been greatest on the Greek and Latin papyri because there is a large number of classical philologists trained in papyrology to work on the texts in these languages (for an overview, see Mähler, 1965). Not as much headway has been made on the Arabic papyri. However, because their number is smaller and because of the efforts of A. Grohmann, N. Abbot, G. Frantz- Murphy, and others, their state of publication is relatively good. The least progress has been achieved with the Coptic papyri in the collections. The problem in this area is twofold: (1) there is only a small number of Coptologists with papyrological training; and (2) there is a dearth of posts in papyrus collections for those Coptologists who are capable of editing papyri. Because Greek papyri are the most numerous, the academic staff of most papyrus collections is comprised almost exclusively of Greek papyrologists. Therefore, even catalogs that merely list the Coptic holdings of the papyrus collections are lacking for the most part. Old catalogs, where available, are no longer up to date. The same situation obtains for publications of Coptic papyri.

The publications that appeared prior to the beginning of the twentieth century need to be redone. In many cases they include only a small portion of a collection’s holdings, usually only those pieces best preserved. The biggest task, therefore, is to record the Coptic holdings of the papyrus collections. The International Association for Coptic Studies has set this task for itself. The second priority is to publish the texts.

The Coptic holdings of the collections are divided into literary (see PAPYRI, COPTIC LITERARY) and nonliterary texts. While there is still no list of the published literary texts, A. Schiller (1975) has prepared a checklist of the nonliterary pieces. This list, however, is now in need of supplementation. A preliminary, incomplete list, arranged according to nation, of the collections with Coptic texts, literary and nonliterary, follows below.

  • Austria

Graz, University Library The collection contains some Coptic papyri.

Vienna, Art History Museum The Coptic holdings have been published by H. Satzinger.

Vienna, National Library In addition to tens of thousands of texts in Greek, Latin, Arabic, Syriac, Egyptian, and Hebrew, the library has about 26,000 Coptic objects, the great majority of which are papyri. There are also parchments, paper manuscripts, textiles, 768 ostraca, and a text inscribed on leather. More than 2,300 of the texts have been edited. This is a considerable number, given the fact that many of the pieces are not worthy of publication.

Most of the papyri come from the Fayyum. The group from al- Ashmunayn, though smaller in number, is better preserved and offers a greater percentage of literary texts. There are also some papyri from Akhmim. Most of the parchment texts are from Akhmim, specifically from the White Monastery. Almost all of these texts are literary. The paper manuscripts are from al- Ashmunayn. The collection has texts in the Akhmimic, Subakhmimic, Bohairic, Fayyumic, and Sahidic dialects. The texts in Sahidic and Fayyumic are by far the most numerous. Most of the Coptic texts are nonliterary, and approximately 80 percent of these nonliterary texts are letters. There are also accounts, lists, and legal documents such as tax bills and receipts, ownership transfers, delivery contracts, debt documents, lease and rent agreements, wills, and work contracts.

Among the literary texts are numerous biblical fragments on papyrus and parchment, tales of saints and martyrs, prayers, liturgical texts—some with an Arabic translation— homilies, amulets, magic texts, vocabularies, and writing exercises. Especially worthy of note are 262 pages from a parchment codex of the twelve minor prophets in Akhmimic, eighteen pages of a papyrus codex with a Sahidic Psalter, and eight pages, poorly preserved, of the Manichaean book Kephalaia, the major portion of which is in Berlin.

After the death of Jakob Krall in 1905, the Coptic holdings were largely ignored until Walter Till began his work on the collection in 1930. During the next twenty years Till organized the material in generic groups and keyed the objects in the collection to an inventory list. He produced a catalog of the publications and he published a number of the pieces himself.

  • Belgium

Louvain, University Library The Coptic manuscripts of the University Library were lost to fire in World War II. Therefore their publication by L. T. Lefort is of irreplaceable value.

  • Canada

Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology The Coptic ostraca from the area of Thebes have been published by H. Thompson.

  • Czechoslovakia

Prague, Collection of Professor T. Hopfner The earlier papyrus collection of Carl Wessely contains among its 8,182 pieces—most of which are Greek texts from Soknopaiou Nesos—56 well-preserved Coptic texts and 71 smaller Coptic pieces, as well as a number of fragments.

  • Egypt

Alexandria, Graeco-Roman Museum The collection of the Graeco-Roman Museum contains Coptic papyri and ostraca.

Cairo, Collection of the Society of Coptic Archaeology The collection contains, in addition to papyri from the excavation of the DAYR APA PHOIBAMMON, a number of Coptic documents, which have been published by L. S. B. MacCoull. Among the literary papyri are two codex pages of the Sahidic version of Job, another with the only known Sahidic translation of Ezekiel 45, and yet another with an unusual translation of a portion of Psalms. These texts will be published by Randall Stewart.

Cairo, Egyptian Museum The Egyptian Museum contains one of the largest papyrus collections, and in particular one of the largest collections of Greek manuscripts and papyri, among which are the Byzantine papyri edited by J. MASPERO (bibliography in Preisendanz). Not all of the Coptic papyri were transferred to the COPTIC MUSEUM after its establishment. Some Coptic literary texts and documents (e.g., Koptische Rechtsurkunden 75, 93, 89, and 99) remained in the Egyptian Museum.

Cairo, Institut français d’Archéologie orientale The Institute contains a papyrus collection that includes important Greek and Coptic texts. The catalog of the Coptic manuscripts is the work of R.-G. Coquin, who had already published a series of the texts of this collection.

Cairo, Coptic Museum The Coptic Museum, founded in 1910 by Murqus Simaykah (Pasha), houses a papyrus collection in addition to other artifacts. Murqus Simaykah had collected manuscripts from old churches and monasteries and had described them in a catalog. In the 1940s additional papyri, manuscripts, and ostraca, which W. E. Crum and H. Munier had described, were transferred to the Coptic Museum from the Egyptian Museum. In addition, the codices of gnostic writings found near Nag Hammadi, which an international committee published in facsimile volumes, came to the museum. The holdings continue to grow as a result of new excavation finds, such as the papyri unearthed at Qasr Ibrm and Nakhlah.

Cairo, Coptic Patriarchate In addition to Christian-Arabic manuscripts, the library of the Coptic patriarchate has a number of Coptic-Arabic manuscripts, only a portion of which have been listed in catalogs.

Coptic Churches and Monasteries in Egypt The Coptic, Copto-Arabic, and Christian-Arabic manuscripts housed in Coptic churches and monasteries have only recently begun to be listed in catalogs. This work must be furthered. Worthy of mention are the catalogs being prepared by the Société d’archéologie copte in Cairo, four of which have appeared since 1967, as well as the catalogs of the monasteries of Saint Antony (DAYR ANBA ANTUNIYUS) and Saint Paul (DAYR ANBA BULA) being prepared by R.-G. Coquin and the catalog of the Monastery of Saint Macarius (DAYR ANBA MAQAR).

Sinai, St. Catherine’s Monastery In addition to the famous CODEX SINAITICUS, which was discovered by K. von TISCHENDORF and made its way via Russia to the British Museum in London, the monastery library possesses other valuable manuscripts, which are listed in catalogs. Additional manuscripts were discovered in the monastery in 1975.

  • France

Paris, National Library The manuscripts that J. M. Vansleb purchased in Egypt for the French Royal Library constitute the foundation of the Coptic holdings of the National Library. After the royal library became the National Library, an additional 1,883 fragments of manuscripts from the library of the White Monastery (DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH) in Suhaj were acquired. Other fragments of these manuscripts have come to the library from Cairo, Leiden, and London. The manuscripts (i.e., the manuscript fragments) run the gamut of Coptic literature: Old Testament, New Testament, lives of monks, councils and church history, acts of martyrs, apocrypha, liturgical manuscripts, large katameros, Shenute, homilies, miscellaneous, unidentified fragments, and medicine and astronomy.

Chabot’s short summary of the library’s holdings was followed by the detailed but incomplete summaries of J. Delaporte and E. Porcher. The most extensive catalog of the Sahidic manuscripts, which lists the publications of the texts, was prepared by E. Lucchesi.

Paris, Louvre Museum Among the nonliterary texts the dialysis document from Djeme (E.5134) and the correspondence of Bishop PISENTIUS OF COPTOS are worthy of mention. The publications of E. Revillout need to be redone. W. E. Crum published some of the documents in 1912 (KRU 40 and 43) and others in 1921.

Strasbourg, University Library Among the copious holdings are some Coptic and Coptic-Arabic texts.

Germany, Federal Republic of Berlin, State Library The manuscript collection contains eighty-four Coptic manuscripts.

Berlin, Egyptian Museum The Egyptian Museum has 2 papyrus, 1 parchment, and 2 paper manuscripts, 220 papyri, innumerable unidentified fragments, and 2 ostraca.

Cologne, Papyrus collection at Institute for Antiquity, University der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Akademie of Cologne The collection has about 100 Coptic papyri.

Cologne, Department of Egyptology, University of Cologne

The department houses Coptic papyri.

Freiburg im Breisgau, University Library The collection contains twenty-five Coptic papyri (some very small) and two Coptic manuscripts: Manuscript 615 (fragment of a Greek-Sahidic text of the Gospels, which is from Manuscript M615 of the Pierpont

Morgan Library, New York) and Manuscript 699 (from Manuscript M587 of the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York).

Giessen, University Library The collection contains about seventy-five Coptic papyri.

Göttingen, State and University Library of Lower Saxony In 1877, the Göttingen University Library acquired thirty-four Coptic manuscripts from H. Brugsch. These texts have been described by F. Wüstenfeld and P. de Lagarde.

Hamburg, State and University Library The collection contains ten Coptic papyri and one Coptic-Greek bilingual papyrus of the Old Testament (see HAMBURG PAPYRUS).

Heidelberg, University Library The collection contains three Coptic manuscripts: Cod. Heid. Or. 63, 97, and 113.

Heidelberg, Institute for Papyrology The Institute has 390 Coptic papyri, 51 parchment manuscripts, 68 paper manuscripts, and 33 ostraca.

Munich, Bavarian State Library The collection contains Coptic and Greek papyri as well as twenty-two Coptic and Greek- Arabic papyri.

Würzburg, University Library The collection has three Coptic papyri.

  • German Democratic Republic

Berlin, State Museums of Berlin The holdings of the papyrus collection, built up over a period of more than 150 years, exceed 20,000 in number, of which about 2,500 are Coptic texts. Of these Coptic pieces about 681 are papyri, 153 are parchment, 69 are paper, and 1,549 are ostraca. As part of a research effort of the Oriental and Ancient Studies Section of Martin Luther University in Halle- Wittenberg, W. Beltz has divided the Coptic texts into the following eleven groups: (a) letters; (b) documents, contracts, lists, accounts; (c) natural science and medicine; (d) magic texts; (e) literary texts; (f) biblical texts; (g) homiletic texts; (h) apocrypha; (j) Gnostic texts; (k) school exercises and analecta. Among the best-known texts are the Gnostic manuscript P. 8502, which contains texts parallel to those in the Nag Hammadi Library, and the papyrus (P. 15, 926) of the Acts of the Apostles. At the beginning of the twentieth century, A. Erman, J. Leipoldt, and others started to publish the Coptic documents. After a fifty-year interlude, F. Hintze has taken up the task of publishing these documents.

Berlin, German State Library As a result of the division of the holdings for protective storage during World War II, some of the Coptic manuscripts and papyri from this collection are still in West Berlin at the State Library of Prussian Art. Among the Coptic texts in East Berlin is an important Akhmimic manuscript of Proverbs (MS Or. 987).

Jena, Friedrich Schiller University The collection contains a number of Coptic papyri and ostraca.

Leipzig, Library of Karl Marx University The collection contains Coptic papyri and ostraca, including Bohairic manuscripts and manuscript fragments from Wadi al-Natrun. The fragments, which were brought to Leipzig by K. von Tischendorf, belong to manuscripts now preserved in the Vatican Library and in the Coptic Museum, Cairo.

  • Great Britain

Cambridge, Cambridge University, Gonville and Caius College The college houses fragments of Bohairic Coptic liturgical manuscripts.

Cheltenham, Philipps Library Among the holdings is a sixth- or seventh-century papyrus codex published by W. E. Crum.

London, British Library The British Museum houses one of the largest and most important collections of papyri and Coptic texts. Inasmuch as W. E. Crum’s catalog edits and describes only those texts acquired prior to the turn of the century and B. Layton’s catalog is limited to literary texts, there is need for a new, comprehensive catalog of the documents. In addition to the documents from Djeme published by Crum, there are large holdings from Hermopolis that have not yet been published.

London, British Museum, Egyptian Department Among the many texts housed in the Egyptian department of the British Museum is a large collection of Coptic ostraca from the excavations of the Egypt Exploration Society. W. E. Crum has published the majority of the texts from the area of Thebes (Djeme), but many of these texts, especially those in Coptic Ostraca, must be edited anew.

London, University College The collection contains, among other texts, some Coptic ostraca, most of which have been published by W. E. Crum.

Manchester, John Rylands Library The texts purchased by the earl of Crowford in 1901 form the basis of the collection. Other purchases, such as those of H. Tattam, R. Lieder, and J. Lee, as well as those made from dealers in Giza, have enhanced the holdings. Some of the Sahidic texts come from the White Monastery (DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH). Many of the Bohairic texts on parchment and paper are from the monasteries of Nitria. The collection, 467 pieces in all, encompasses biblical manuscripts, lectionaries, liturgical texts, homilies, acts of martyrs, lives of saints, magic and medical texts, grammars, scales, letters, and a large number of documents. The holdings have been well cataloged by W. E. Crum and W. C. Till.

Oxford, Bodleian Library The first Coptic texts acquired by the Bodleian Library were purchased by Huntington. Later, pages of manuscripts from the White Monastery, purchased by C. G. Woide, were added to the collection. Among the significant nonliterary texts are the sales documents (MS Copt. e, 8P) published by W. E. Crum in 1912, the ostraca and papyri published by Crum in 1921 and 1939, and the documents from Bala’izah published by P. E. Kahle.

  • Ireland

Dublin, Chester Beatty Library This collection, which next to the BODMER PAPYRI is the largest and most important private collection with Greek biblical texts (see CHESTER BEATTY BIBLICAL PAPYRI), also contains significant Coptic texts (see CHESTER BEATTY COPTIC PAPYRI). Among these Coptic texts are the Manichaean papyri, which were discovered in 1930 and divided between Dublin and Berlin. The publication of these texts has been taken up anew by S. Giversen and others after an interruption of several decades.

Among the Old Testament texts the Joshua manuscript is worthy of mention. The second part of this text is in the Bodmer collection (P. Bodmer XXI). In 1984, H. Quecke noted in his edition of the Gospel of John the variant readings of manuscripts 813 and 814, which contain the gospel. Manuscript 815, which contains the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew as well as Psalms, has not yet been published. Also unpublished are twelve pages of a Subakhmimic manuscript of the Gospel of John. An unpublished parchment manuscript in fragmentary condition contains various patristic works. Other important texts include a Greek manuscript of the letters of Pachomius and a Coptic parchment and papyrus rolls with the letters of Pachomius, Theodorus, and Horsiesios. Quecke has edited the Greek and Coptic letters of Pachomius. T. Orlandi is preparing an edition of the letters of Theodorus and Horsiesios.

  • Italy

Many of the Coptic manuscripts in various Italian collections are listed by G. Gabrieli in an appendix.

Florence, Papyrus Institute of the University and Biblioteca Medicea Laurentiana These collections have a number of Coptic pieces among their rich papyrological holdings. In 1984, G. M. Browne edited portions of a collection of documents and letters purchased by G. Vitelli in 1904.

Naples, National Library The Coptic manuscripts in the collection of Cardinal Borgia (described in Zoëga’s catalog) were divided into two parts after his death in 1804. One eventually was acquired by the Vatican Library in 1902. The other went to the Bibliotheca Reale Borbonica, now known as the Naples National Library. We are indebted to J.-M. Sauget for an important catalog that gives the current location of the manuscripts as well as a bibliography extending to the 1970s.

Pisa, National Museum The National Museum collection contains, among other things, fragments of a Copto-Arabic manuscript, which has been published by S. Pernigotti and D. Amaldi.

Turin, Egyptian Museum, Papyrus Collection The papyrus collection contains fragments of seventeen papyrus codices in a good state of preservation and some individual manuscript pages. These texts were acquired by the museum in 1820 along with other antiquities that B. Drovetti had purchased. F. Rossi has published the majority of the texts, but these works must be edited anew. The codices contain primarily apocryphal texts, acts of martyrs, lives of saints, and homilies, but they also preserve the Canons of Basil and fragments of the book of Job (for a detailed list, see Orlandi, 1974, pp. 120-27).

Turin, University Library A fire destroyed the Coptic manuscripts and papyri in this collection on 25-26 January 1904.

Vatican City, Vatican Library The Coptic manuscripts were purchased from Pietro della Valle and the Assemani, who had traveled and acquired antiquities in Egypt. A portion of the collection of the Assemani came directly to the Vatican Library. The other part went to the private library of Cardinal Borgia, who in large part had financed the Assemani’s journeys. In 1805, one year after the death of Cardinal Borgia, his Coptic manuscripts were divided between the Collegium de Propaganda Fide and the Bibliotheca Reale Borbonica (today the National Library) in Naples. After Cardinal Ciasca’s death in 1902, the manuscripts in the Collegium de Propaganda Fide were transferred to the Vatican Library. The manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments; of the apocrypha; of patristic, hagiographic, and liturgical texts; as well as those of grammars and scales have been described in the detailed catalogs of A. Hebbelynck and A. van Lantschoot. The library also has a collection of nonliterary papyri, which were acquired from J. Doresse in 1961.

Venice, National Marcan Library This library houses Sahidic manuscripts that had passed through the hands of various dealers. Some of the texts are from the White Monastery (Dayr Anba Shinudah). A. Mingarelli has cataloged the collection.

  • The Netherlands

Leiden, National Antiquities Museum An impressive collection of Coptic literary and nonliterary papyri and ostraca is preserved in this museum. In addition to the catalog of W. Pleyte and P. A. A. Boeser, the publication by M. Green of a private archive dated to the eleventh century from the region of Hermonthis, which also contains an Arabic letter, is worthy of mention.

  • Soviet Union

Leningrad, Hermitage The Coptic papyri and ostraca of this collection have been reedited by P. V. Jernstedt.

Moscow, Pushkin Museum The Coptic papyri and ostraca of this collection have been reedited by P. V. Jernstedt.

  • Spain

Barcelona, Palau-Ribes Collection Through its purchase of early Coptic manuscripts of the New Testament (Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John), which have been published by H. Quecke, this collection, which also contains other Coptic papyri and ostraca, has moved into the ranks of important Coptic manuscript collections.

  • Switzerland

Geneva, Bodmer Collection  See the separate entry on BODMER PAPYRI in the Appendix.

  • United States

Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Library After B. P. Grenfell and F. W. Kelsey bought the first papyri for this collection in 1920, W. H. Worrell purchased in the following years (until 1935) other pieces, among which were a number of well-preserved documents and letters. The Coptic collection, which consists almost entirely of pieces bought from antiquities dealers, had in 1942 about 750 pieces cataloged under 460 inventory numbers. In addition to 150 literary texts (not including some 200 fragments), there are 400 documents and letters. Among the literary texts are manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments in several dialects, apocryphal writings, liturgical works, homilies, and accounts of martyrs. The documents come in part from Hermopolis, Thebes, and the Fayyum. A portion of the collection has been published.

Durham, Duke University Collection L. S. B. MacCoull has published three Coptic papyri from the holdings of Duke University.

New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library Among the holdings of the Beinecke Library are Coptic documents and letters. A. E. Samuel has described these texts, and L. S. B. MacCoull has published many of the documents.

New York, Brooklyn Museum, Department of Egyptian and Classical Art Since 1937 the collection of the New-York Historical Society has been in the Brooklyn Museum. Among the papyrus holdings are thirty-six Coptic ostraca, three inscribed wood tablets, one parchment, and twenty-two papyri. With the exception of nine texts (W. M. Muller and A. A. Schiller) the holdings are unpublished.

New York, Columbia University The collection (Schiller, 1959, pp. 21-23) was significantly enlarged in 1959-1960 by the purchase of some 3,500 Coptic ostraca from the Metropolitan Museum. Most of these ostraca, which are mainly from the Metropolitan Museum’s excavations in the region of Djeme, are unpublished.

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art The Metropolitan Museum’s large collection of Coptic papyri and ostraca was reduced by the sale of approximately 3,500 ostraca to Columbia University. Worthy of mention are the Coptic ostraca and papyrus documents from the area of Djeme that have been published by W. E. Crum and A. A. Schiller.

New York, Pierpont Morgan Library The acquisition of the manuscripts of a monastery library in the Fayyum has made the Pierpont Morgan Library the holder of one of the most important collections of Coptic manuscripts. These texts have been made accessible through facsimile editions. Many of them have also been edited and published. In addition to these manuscripts, the collection contains Coptic documents that were purchased in 1920 from the dealer M. Nahman in Cairo. In 1982 L. S. B. MacCoull published some 147 of these documents.

Washington, D.C., Freer Collection The Freer Collection contains a number of early Greek and Coptic manuscripts of Old and New Testament books. H. A. Sanders and W. H. Worrell have published these texts (bibliography in Preisendanz). The nonliterary texts (Greek and Coptic) were published in 1973 by L. S. B. MacCoull.

Washington, D.C., Library of the Institute of Christian Oriental Research The Institute of Christian Oriental Research, which was founded by H. Hyvernat, houses a number of Coptic papyri. L. S. B. MacCoull has published fifty-seven fragments of these texts dating for the most part from the sixth or seventh century.

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H. LOEBENSTEIN MARTIN KRAUSE

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