YUHANNA, BISHOP OF SAMANNUD (?-after 1257)
A Bishop, scholar of Coptic. Yuhanna, who was consecrated Bishop of Samannud by Patriarch Cyril III ibn Laqlaq in 1235, is one of the pioneers of the scientific study of the Coptic language. He wrote a Bohairic-Arabic lexicon known as al-Sullam al-kana’isi (The Ecclesiastical Ladder), consisting of a list of words in the order in which they occur in biblical and other ecclesiastical works but without repetition (even in the event of different morphological cases of a word).
The Sullam is preceded by a Muqaddima (Introduction) “which marks the absolute beginning of the study of Coptic grammar” (Sidarus, “Lexicography,” 128). Yuhanna’s work was soon surpassed, both by more sophisticated grammatical treatises and by more practical reference tools, but all later scholars of the Coptic language stand in his debt.