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E01463: Discourse Ad philosophum gentilem written in Coptic by Shenoute, abbot of the White Monastery at Sohag, ob. 465 (Upper Egypt), addressing a pagan philosopher, possibly Gesios of Panopolis, on his second visit to the monastery, discussing proper and improper religious behaviour and belief, stating that a Christian is not only to please God and Christ, but to also satisfy the saints in heaven.

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posted on 2016-06-07, 00:00 authored by gschenke
The introduction of the text states that this discourse was given by Shenoute in public, when he was visited by a pagan philosopher for the second time. This was possibly Gesios from Panopolis, known from the so-called Life of Shenoute (see $E1093).

Ed. Leipoldt–Crum Sinuthii archimandritae opera omnia et vita (Paris, 1908) p. 46:
ⲕⲁⲗⲱⲥ ϭⲉ ⲉⲩⲟⲩⲉϣ ⲡⲁϥⲉⲛⲉⲃⲓⲱ · ⲥⲉϯ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲛⲛⲉϥϩⲓⲥⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲣⲱⲟⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲩⲙⲧⲟⲛ
ⲕⲁⲗⲱⲥ ⲇⲉ ⲉⲩⲙⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲭⲣⲓⲥⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ · ϥⲉⲩⲫⲣⲁⲛⲉ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉϥⲭⲣⲥ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉϥϩⲃⲏⲩⲉ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲛⲇⲓⲕⲁⲓⲟⲥⲩⲛⲉ ·
ϥϯⲙⲧⲟⲛ ⲇⲉ ⲟⲛ ⲛⲛⲉⲥⲡⲗⲁⲭⲛⲟⲛ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ϩⲛ ⲙⲡⲏⲩⲉ

'Deservedly the bee is loved. The fruits of its labours are given to kings and people for comfort. Deservedly the Christian is loved, for he pleases God and his Christ through all his righteous deeds. And he also comforts the
hearts (σπλάγχνον) of all the saints in heaven.'

Translation: A. Alcock, slightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Anonymous saints : S00518

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Panopolis Sohag

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Panopolis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Sohag Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Shenoute of Atripe

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Pagans Ecclesiastics - abbots


The text is partly preserved in four manuscripts (Codices A, B, C and D), two of which (B and C) may be part of the same book.


The pagan philosopher Gesios living in Panopolis, across the river from the White Monastery at Sohag, is mentioned in the Life of Shenoute where the story is related that Shenoute stole idolatrous property from the house of Gesios secretly at night, cf. ed. Leipoldt–Crum Vita Sinuthii, 1906, p.57. Whether Shenoute is here actively thinking of or even promoting the cult of saints as a Christian way to ensure personal protection by gaining their affections (σπλάγχνον), is a matter of speculation. He may just have intended to style the saints as a third moral authority.


Edition: Leipoldt, J., and Crum, W.E., Sinuthii archimandritae opera omnia et vita (Paris, 1908) pp. 44–62. Translation: English translation by Anthony Alcock, Shenoute, Ad philosophum gentilem, published online at:

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