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E03584: Coptic fragments of an Encomion presenting the Life and Miracles of Apa *Moyses/Moses of Abydos (S01478), relating the story of a miraculously born child, promised and donated at the age of five by his grateful parents to their church, raised and educated by the priest of that church, becoming a monastic founder with the gift of prophecy and the ability to provide healing of body and soul, relating healing miracles also taking place at his burial site; written probably in the 6th/7th c.

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posted on 2017-08-21, 00:00 authored by gschenke
The text claims that someone asked for the story of the Life of Apa Moyses, so the author decides to relate it and starts at the very beginning, with his parents.

Till, KHML 2, p. 48, lines 22–23 and p. 49, line 6:

ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲇⲏ ⲁⲧⲉⲧⲛⲙⲛⲧⲙⲁⲓⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲥⲟⲛ ⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲛⲁⲛ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲡⲃⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ … ⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲧⲉⲛⲟⲩ ⲱ ⲛⲉⲥⲛⲏⲩ

‘Since your brotherly piety wrote to us concerning the life of our holy father Apa Moyses,… hear now, brothers.’

The parents of Apa Moyses were very pious Christians, Andreas and Tshinute, who went to church twice a day, gave their first fruits to the church, brought their offerings, and gave alms. They already had three sons (Apa Paul, Apa Joseph, and Apa Elias) and two daughters (Mary and Theodote), when they attended Easter services and were very much impressed by the story of Moses. As a result, his mother vowed that, if God would grant her another son, she would call him Moses and donate him to the church, when he is five years old.

The boy is born and at the age of five, his parents went to their local church and placed the boy as a gift at the altar. They called Theodore the priest and told him that they are donating this boy to God for the rest of his life. They hand over all responsibility for his upbringing to Theodore who tells them that he had been informed about this donation already in a vision at the baptism of the boy. He blesses the parents and assures them that the young boy Moyses is received by God just as once the prophet Samuel had been.

With this comparison the tone is set. Moyses grows up, a healthy, learned young man who could recite all four gospels to perfection. The clerics and the bishop of the city talk about the young man and in a vision, the bishop sees him as a monk gathering many other monks around him and taking care of them.

In a conflict with the pagans who were plotting to kill Apa Moyses and his brothers on the mountain of Ebot (ⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲉⲃⲱⲧ), Moyses has a vision. An angel tells him to pray for the collapse of the temple of Apollo. He does so and the temple collapses along with all the other temples in the area, resulting in confusion, death, and eventually conversion to Christianity.

Moyses is compared to the prophet Apa Shenoute who claimed that the temples of the pagans will be destroyed and that there will be peace. The devil then complains that he has been evicted everywhere, in Panopolis (Akmim/Shmin) Shenoute turned the temples into churches and on the mountain of Ebot Moyses now did the same.

Moyses’ gift of prophecy becomes legendary in the district and throughout Egypt. Clerics, laymen, and officials alike seek his advice. He also settles disputes, evicts demons, and performs healing miracles. Many men and women become monks and nuns under his guidance. Some of them abandon their children who try to follow their parents into the monastery.

When Apa Moyses died on the 15th or 25th of the month Epiph (9 July or 19 July), a sweet smell is noticeable. He is succeeded by Apa Paulos and buried next to Apa Sabinos, as he intended to be. But miracles begin to take place at this burial site.

Till, KHML 2, p. 61, lines 4–17:

[ⲁϩ]ⲁϩ ⲇⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲙ ⲡⲙⲁ ⲛ[ⲧⲁⲩ]ⲕⲱ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲥⲱ[ⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩ]ⲁⲁⲃ ⲛ[ϩⲏⲧϥ · ⲁⲩⲱ/ⲁⲥϣⲱⲡⲉ?] ⲟⲩⲇⲁⲙⲟ[ⲛⲓⲟⲛ . . . 1–2 lines missing]
ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ ⲁϩⲣ[ⲟⲕ] ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲛ · ⲁⲕⲇ[ⲓⲱ]ⲕⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲉⲓ ⲉⲕⲟⲛϩ · ⲕⲛⲁⲇⲓⲱⲕⲉ[ⲓ] ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ⲟⲛ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲧⲣⲉⲕⲙⲟⲩ ·: ⲁⲩⲁⲙⲁϩⲧⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲙⲙⲟϥ
ⲁⲩⲙⲟⲣϥ · ⲁⲩⲛⲟϫϥ ⲉϫⲛ ⲧⲉϥⲃⲏ : ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲁϥⲱϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲇⲁⲙⲟⲛⲟⲛ ⲁϥⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϩⲏⲧϥ · ϩⲛ ⲟⲩϭⲉⲡⲏ · ⲟⲩϭⲁⲗⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲟⲛ
ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲣⲉⲡⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲁⲛⲁⲭⲱⲣⲉ ⲛⲁϥ · ⲁϥⲱϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϫⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ ⲉⲕⲉⲥⲟⲟⲩⲧⲛ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲛⲛⲁⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ
ⲁⲩⲥⲟⲟⲩⲧⲛ ⲛϭⲓ ⲛⲉϥⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ ⲁϥⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲏⲓ ⲉϥϯⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ⲉⲁϥⲕⲱ ⲉϫⲛ ⲧⲃⲏ ⲛⲛϭⲉⲣⲱⲃ ⲉⲧⲉϥⲙⲟⲟϣⲉ ⲛϩⲏⲧⲟⲩ · ⲉϥⲟⲩⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ⲛⲧⲁϥ[…

‘Many healing instances occurred at the spot where his holy body had been placed. [It happened,] a demon [… (saying)]: “Moyses, what do you do with us? You have prosecuted us already, when you were alive. Will you prosecute us further still after you died?” But he (the possessed man) was seized, bound and thrown onto his grave. And at once the demon cried out and came forth from him in a hurry.
When the crowd had withdrawn from him, a lame man cried out: “God of Apa Moyses, will you straighten my legs for me?” And at once his legs were straight. He got up and went home glorifying God, having left the rods on which he had walked on top of the grave, revealing the healing (miracle) which [(had happened to him)].’

The text ends by addressing the brothers to be joyous to have this great presbyter close to the Lord.

(Text: W. C. Till, KHML 2, 46–81; summary and trans. G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Moyses, Apa Moyses, monk and abbot in Upper Egypt : S01478

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ, ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

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

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle after death Miracles causing conversion Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Juridical interventions Miraculous sound, smell, light Exorcism Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Pagans Officials Crowds Angels Demons


The text is preserved in at least two fragmentary parchment codices with pages dispersed over collections in Cairo, Cambridge, London, Naples, Paris, and Vienna. The range of the dates for the manuscripts seems to be the 9th to the 11th century according to layout and script.


The text is delivered much like an encomion, beginning with the saint's parents and closing with posthumous miracles taking place at his burial site. For other fragments of this text see E02450.


Text and German translation: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. Vol. 2 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1936), 46–81.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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