Epiphanius

Mysteries Of Greek Letters

MYSTERIES OF GREEK LETTERS A mystic treatise on the symbolical interpretation of the letters of the Greek alphabet possibly written by an Egyptian or Palestinian monk in the fifth or sixth century. The complete title of the work is given in Arabic: Sharh Ihtijaj qalahu al-qass anba Saba al-Sa’ih fi sirr falsafat Allah al-maknun fi …

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John, Saint

JOHN, SAINT Bishop of Armant (feast day: 7 Kiyahk). According to the SYNAXARION of Upper Egypt, John’s parents, who were citizens of the town of Armant (Hermonthis), practiced the trade of carpentry. His elder brother Pisentius withdrew to the monastery of Tud. The excellence of the Christian religion having become clear to him, Pisentius had …

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Eucharist

EUCHARIST One of seven sacraments in the Coptic church. Although all sacraments contain and impart grace, the Eucharist carries the most sublime grace of all. In BAPTISM, for example, water remains water, as does the holy chrism in confirmation, the visible element of the sacrament thus undergoing no change. In the Eucharist, however, the bread …

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Elkasites

ELKASITES A name occurring in variant spellings in several patristic texts and referring either to an allegedly revelatory book or to a religious teacher. Details about a book connected with the name Elchasai or Elxai are found in Hippolytus’ Refutation and in the Panarion of Epiphanius. In Hippolytus, Elchasai is assigned a role in the …

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Elias Of Bishwaw, Saint

ELIAS OF BISHWAW, SAINT A monk who lived with exceptional austerity (feast day: 17 Kiyahk). He is known through the notice in the recension of the SYNAXARION from Upper Egypt. Two Arabic manuscripts also preserve the Life of this saint (Coptic Museum, Hist. 475, fols. 156-57 [Graf, Catalogue no. 718], and National Library, Paris, Arab. …

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Illumination, Coptic

ILLUMINATION, COPTIC. The painted decoration, or illumination, of Coptic books, appears to have had its origin in pharaonic Egypt. Numerous examples from the Eighteenth Dynasty onward grace funerary texts and the papyri that accompanied mummies in their sarcophagi. Though one might think that the tradition would have been prolonged right down to the Coptic period, …

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Inscriptions

INSCRIPTIONS Writing on long-lasting materials. Inscriptions, like texts written on papyrus (see PAPYROLOGY), are important primary sources of information about a society. In Egypt they appear on stone, plaster, clay, wood, metal, and textiles. They may be scratched, carved, engraved, stamped, painted or inked, or woven. Those written on clay sherds or limestone fragments are …

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Didascalia

DIDASCALIA دسقولية The complete title of this third-century work is Didascalia id est doctrina catholica duodecim apostolorum et discipulorum sanctorum Salvatoris nostri (Instructions, That Is, Catholic Doctrine, of the Twelve Apostles and Holy Disciples of Our Savior). Although originally written in Greek, it is currently extant in a Syriac translation and extensive Latin fragments. Portions …

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Diaconia

DIACONIA A term of Greek origin with multiple meanings. The original sense of diaconia in classical and Hellenistic Greek was “service.” In later Greek, diaconia practically always denoted religious service of one kind or another, or bodies that had to do with such services. In later Greek texts from Egypt and in Coptic texts, we …

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