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E02438: Coptic letter, from the monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes (Upper Egypt), mentioning an oath sworn to *John (presumably either the Baptist, S00020, or the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042), datable to the end of the 6th/beginning of the 7th century.

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posted on 2017-03-03, 00:00 authored by Bryan
P.Mon.Epiph. 162

In this letter from an archdeacon named Joseph to Apa Epiphanius, 'the prophet and anchorite', Joseph explains that he cannot come to visit, because he is terribly ill and bedridden. He hopes that Apa Epiphanius, his addressee, will pray for him.

Lines 13 reads as follows:

ⲉⲁⲓⲱⲣⲕ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲱϩⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ϫⲉ ⲙⲁⲃⲱⲕ ⲉⲡϣⲙⲙⲟ

'I was swearing by saint John, that I am unable to go abroad.'

(Text and trans. W. E. Crum, slightly modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 John, Apostle and Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source

ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲱϩⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲱϩⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Letter Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Thebes Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



This papyrus was found in a rubbish hole at the monastery of Epiphanius and is now housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, MMA 12.180.270. The text has been dated on palaeographical grounds.


Text and Translation: Crum, W.E., and Evelyn White, H.G., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part II (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition; New York, 1926), p. 45 (text), p. 194–195 (trans.).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity