Yuhanna

YUHANNA

The bishop of Samannud (c. 1240), one of the first four bishops consecrated on 29 July 1235 by the patriarch Cyril (1235-1243) in the CHURCH OF ABU SAYFAYN in Old Cairo. As bishop, he signed a new judicial code (3 September 1238) and was first signatory of a protocol on the ranking of bishops (28 June 1240) and on the closing of a meeting in the Cairo citadel (8 September 1240). He worked along with the monk Yusab for the reconciliation of the resisting monks of DAYR ANBA MAQAR with the patriarch, and after the death of Cyril, he and Yusab, by then bishop of Fuwwah, took a decisive part in the disputed choice of the new patriarch, Athanasius ibn Kalil.

He was still alive in 1257, and in the introduction to his dictionary Abu al-MUTAMAN Ibn al-‘Assal mentioned him with high praise. Yuhanna was mostly occupied with the composition of aids to the understanding of the Coptic language. The list of the extant transmitted material is long.

Yuhanna’s works include a grammar, Muqaddimat al-Sullam (Introduction to the Ladder), which presents an inventory of the elementary components of the Coptic language, chiefly the Bohairic dialect. The articles, suffixes for nouns and verbs, prepositional and adverbial particles, and elements of conjugation are explained. An elaboration with similar treatment of the Sahidic dialect is more likely the supplementary work of a later writer. The introduction was translated into Latin and Italian in the early seventeenth century by Thomas Obicini (A. van Lantschoot, 1948; Latin trans. Kircher, 1643).

AlSullam al-Kana’isi (The Ecclesiastical Ladder), the vocabulary for which the Muqaddimat is the grammatical introduction, takes the most important words from the books in use in the church and translates them into a sort of glossary, following the order of the texts themselves: New Testament, with John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Epistles, and Revelation; Old Testament, with Psalms and extracts from Sirach and the other Wisdom books.

A separate history (Akhbar) of the martyrs who were killed in the city of Samannud appears under the name of the same Yuhanna.

A translation of a theological compendium from an undetermined Greek original is attributed to Yuhanna. It is in the popular form of questions from a student and answers from a teacher.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Lantschoot, A. van. Un précurseur d’Athanase Kircher, Thomas Obicini et la Scala. Vatican Copte 71. Bibliothèque du Muséon 22. Louvain, 1948.
  • Simaykah, M., and Y. ‘Abd al-Masih. Catalogue of the Coptic and Arabic Manuscripts in the Coptic Museum, the Patriarchate, the Principal Churches of Cairo and the Monasteries of Egypt, Vol.2. Cairo, 1942.

VINCENT FREDERICK

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