Cycle

CYCLE One of a group of works in Coptic literature dealing with episodes in the life of one or more specific characters, mostly saints and martyrs. There are two basic types of cycle: homiletic and hagiographical. The difference lies simply in the different literary forms used, with the homiletic cycles being made up of texts […]

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Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA Founded in 331 b.c. by Alexander the Great at the western end of the Nile Delta. An Egyptian town, Rakote, already existed there on the shore and was a fishermen’s resort. From its very beginning, Alexandria developed rapidly into one of the world’s great cities. The city replaced Memphis as the capital of Egypt […]

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Basilides

BASILIDES A Christian Gnostic teacher who was active in Alexandria in the 130s and probably before that. He is reported by Irenaeus to have brought his heresy from Antioch to Alexandria. An elaborate cosmogonic myth is attributed to him by Irenaeus, and a rather different one by Hippolytus. Irenaeus also attributes to him a doctrine […]

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Coptic Hagiography

COPTIC HAGIOGRAPHY Egypt was influenced by the Greek culture, hence many of the hagiographical texts were written first in this language and translated later into Coptic. It is important to use the classical hagiographical tools such as Bibliotheca Hagiographica Orientalis and the Bibliotheca Sanctorum (16 vols., Rome 1965-1976), in addition to the bibliography in each […]

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Gnosticism In Egypt

GNOSTICISM IN EGYPT The term “Gnosticism” was first coined in the 17th century to refer to an early Christian heresy described by the Church Father Irenaeus of Lyon in his five volumes Against Heresies (ca. 185). Historians of religions use the term to refer to a religion that probably developed around the turn of the […]

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Saints Cosmas And Damian

SAINTS COSMAS AND DAMIAN Two doctors and brothers who suffered martyrdom at the time of the Diocletian persecutions (feast day: 22 Hatur). They were called anargyroi (silverless) because they did not ask money from the sick whom they cured. The Byzantine church, however, gradually came to distinguish three pairs of brothers named Cosmas and Damian, […]

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Eugnostos The Blessed (NHC III, 3; NHC V, 1)

EUGNOSTOS THE BLESSED (NHC III, 3; NHC V, 1) A revelatory Gnostic treatise composed in the form of a letter by “Eugnostos, the Blessed, to those who are his.” The text deals with the heavenly world and its various emanations. It is a non-Christian work, probably of Jewish Gnostic origin. The text of Eugnostos was […]

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Testimony Of Truth (NHC IX, 3)

TESTIMONY OF TRUTH (NHC IX, 3) A Gnostic homiletic tract written by an anonymous author addressed to a group of Christians with spiritual ears. It consists of a series of warnings against the false teachings of opponents clearly identifiable as Orthodox Christians. Advocating a strict encratic ethic, the author does not spare even other Gnostics, […]

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Saint Victor Stratelates, Or Victor The General

SAINT VICTOR STRATELATES, or Victor the General [This son of the Roman governor Romanus miraculously survived death three times before being marytred during the persecution under Diocletian (feast day: 27 Baramudah)] COPTIC TRADITION About Victor Statelates we have four complete accounts and several that are incomplete. The martyrdom itself was published by E. Wallis Budge […]

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