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E02848: A Coptic Discourse of Shenoute (abbot of the White Monastery near Sohag in Upper Egypt) referring to saints and martyrs as role models for Christian leaders; written in the 5th century.

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posted on 2017-05-26, 00:00 authored by gschenke
In his discourse entitled I see your eagerness (discourses 5, work 1), Shenoute addresses religious personnel, i.e. presbyters and deacons, as well as monastic authorities and their congregations, arguing that though living among the sinless saints and speaking about martyrs, they still engage in acts of sinfulness, unable to keep away from it.

‘Lot lived with people who were more evil than anyone, and he became sinless. And yet we dwell with the saints among us and perform things that are abominable to God. For many among all the saints, including Daniel and his companions, were among godless people, and they kept themselves holy and did not sin. And yet we sin among those who love God. Indeed we gather with them, and we all proclaim the name of God and his angels, and we talk about the saints and their works, including those who were martyrs in every place for the name Jesus, and we speak and we hear – and we are the ones who are not worthy.’

Translation: Brakke and Crislip 2017, 92.

A critical edition of the Coptic text is still pending.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Unnamed saints (or name lost) : S00518 Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060

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

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Panopolis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Shenoute of Atripe

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


Shenoute’s entire literary corpus, preserved in medieval manuscripts only, almost exclusively comes from a single find spot, a storeroom of the church at his ‘White’ monastery. A critical edition of this entire corpus of Shenoute's written work is still in preparation by S. Emmel and others.


The mention that they, i.e. the congregation, gathers with saints and martyrs to proclaim the name of God seems to refer to the celebrations of saints’ feast days.


Translation and Discussion: Brakke, D., and Crislip, A., Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great: Community, Theology, and Social Conflict in Late Antique Egypt (Cambridge, 2017), 91–105.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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