Theophilus

THEOPHILUS

A Saint and patriarch. He was the 23rd Patriarch of Alexandria (385-412). He is commemorated on the 18th of Babeh. He was patriarch from 385 to 412 a.d. and played a significant role in increasing the prestige of the See of Alexandria. He was highly educated and an dean of the of Alexandria. However, when difficulties arose out of what is known as the Origenist controversy, he adopted the literal interpretation (anthropomorphic) rather than support the allegorical interpretation. His name is also linked to the deposition of John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, who is considered a saint. It should be mentioned that most of our knowledge comes mainly from his enemies, especially Palladius. However, some of the Fathers considered him a great saint. He is remembered as an excellent example among the monks. Many Sayings of the Fathers show him as a good pastor. As for his literary works, most of his Greek works perished, with the exception of a few fragments. In the Coptic tradition, many works are attributed to him.

A) Homilies

  • On the Cross and the confession of the thief, which have survived on papyrus and are preserved in the Museum of Turin as well as in the collection of Pierpont Morgan Library.
  • On the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, several copies survived and are kept in the British Library, in the Freer Collection in Chicago, and in the Pierpont Morgan Library.
  • On penance and chastity, which came to our knowledge through a unique in the British Library.
  • On the building of the of John the Baptist, which is known from a from the Monastery of St. Shenute.
  • On the three young men in the fiery furnace, which is included in a from the Monastery of St. Macarius and preserved in the Library.
  • On the Archangel Raphael, which survives in a Coptic from the Monastery of St. Shenute as well as in an Arabic version.
  • On the miracles of St. Menas, which is part of the collection of the Pierpont Morgan Library.

B) Letters

  • A quotation from his festal letter of the year 401.
  • Varia: Some fragments of his works.

C) Dialogue

  • There exists an important dialogue with an anthropomorphetic monk in a in the Library that was originally from the Monastery of St. Macarius.

It is important to mention that the first homily on the visit of the Holy Family to Egypt is attributed to Theophilus. It is amazing that this homily survived in Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic and not a fragment survived in Coptic. There is also a homily on Peter and Paul, which is known only from Arabic versions.

GAWDAT GABRA