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E04835: Coptic Homily on *Michael the Archangel (S00181), from the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum (Lower Egypt), attributed to Gregory of Nazianzus (the Theologian), asked to discuss status and function of the archangel and his contrast to the devil; allegedly written in 4th century and translated presumably sometime between the 5th and the 9th century.

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posted on 2018-02-01, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Homily on the Archangel Michael, attributed to Gregory of Nazianzus

The text is introduced as follows:

M592, fol. 8r–16v:

ⲟⲩⲗⲟⲅⲟⲥ ⲉⲁϥⲧⲁⲩⲟϥ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲉⲛⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲧⲁⲓⲏⲩ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲥⲙⲟⲧ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲅⲣⲏⲅⲟⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲑⲉⲟⲗⲟⲅⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ
ⲡⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲣⲉϥⲁⲓⲧⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲥⲡⲟⲩⲇⲏ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲑⲉⲟⲥⲉⲃⲏⲥⲧⲁⲧⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ
ⲛⲁⲣⲭⲏⲙⲁⲛⲇⲣⲓⲧⲏⲥ ⲉⲩⲥⲉⲃⲓⲟⲥ ⲡϩⲩⲅⲟⲩⲙⲉⲛⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲁⲣⲁⲣⲁⲧ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲑⲁⲣⲙⲉⲛⲓⲁ ⲡⲙⲁ ⲛⲧⲁ ⲧⲕⲓⲃⲱⲧⲟⲥ ⲛⲛⲱϩⲉ ⲟⲩⲱϩ
ϩⲓϫⲱϥ ⲉⲁϥⲥϩⲁⲓ ϣⲁ ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲅⲣⲏⲅⲟⲣⲓⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲙⲁⲧⲁⲙⲟⲓ ϫⲉ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲟⲩ ⲥⲉϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ
ⲛϭⲓ ⲛⲉⲧⲏⲡ ⲉⲑⲁⲓⲣⲉⲥⲓⲥ ⲙⲙⲁⲛⲏ ϫⲉ ⲁϥⲧⲁϩⲟ ⲉⲣⲁⲧϥ ⲙⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲛⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲡⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲇⲓⲁⲃⲟⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲏ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲇⲓⲁⲃⲟⲗⲟⲥ ⲁϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲱⲗⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ϫⲓⲛⲛ ⲛϣⲟⲣⲡ ϫⲓⲛ ⲙⲡⲉ ϯⲥⲟⲡⲥ ϭⲉ ⲛⲧⲉⲕϩⲁⲅⲓⲱⲥⲩⲛⲏ ⲙⲁⲧⲁⲙⲟⲛ ⲉⲡⲉⲓϩⲱⲃ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲇⲉ
ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲅⲣⲏⲅⲟⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲁϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲛ ϩⲉⲛⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲙⲛ ϩⲉⲛⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲣⲙⲉⲓⲟⲟⲩⲉ ⲉⲛⲁϣⲱⲟⲩ ⲉϥⲧⲱⲃϩ ⲙⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ
ϣⲁⲛⲧⲉϥⲧⲉⲧ ⲡⲉϥϩⲏⲧ ⲕⲁⲗⲱⲥ ⲉϫⲙ ⲡⲉⲓⲙⲩⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ

‘A homily which our holy and in every way glorious father saint Gregory the theologian and holy bishop delivered, when the most pious priest and archimandrite Eusebios, the hegoumenos of Mount Ararat in Armenia, on which Noah’s Ark had rested, asked him with zeal, when writing to saint Gregory with great supplication, “Tell me why those who belong to the heresy of Mani say that he (God) has installed Michael as archangel in the place of the devil. Is he the devil then? Has he been fully (installed) as archangel from the beginning or not? I implore your holiness, tell us about this.” Saint Gregory then remained in long prayers with strong plentiful tears imploring the Lord, until he had satisfied his heart sufficiently over this mystery. In God’s peace. Amen.’

(Text and trans. Depuydt 1993, 231, modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hamouli Constantinople

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

Hamouli Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory Nazianzenus

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



This is the second (ff. 8r–16v) of eight homilies all dedicated to the archangel Michael and all contained in the same parchment codex M592. For the other homilies on Michael in M592, see E04640, E04641, E04642 and E04836, E04837, E04838, and E04839. The production of the codex is datable to the 9th or early 10th century on the basis of securely dated codices (AD 822/3–913/14) found together with it at the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum. Another fragmentary manuscript of the same text is BL Or. 6782, f. 9v, from a parchment codex dated to the year 989/990; see B. Layton, Catalogue of Coptic Literary Manuscripts in the British Library Acquired Since the Year 1906 (London, 1987), No. 151.


For literature and a brief overview of the Christian Egyptian tradition concerning the special sacred status attributed to Michael, see van Esbroeck 1991.


Text and translation: Depuydt, L, Catalogue of Coptic Manuscripts in the Pierpont Morgan Library: Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts (Leuven, 1993), p. 231 Introduction and codicology: Ibid. pp. 230–235. Text, Latin translation and discussion: Lafontaine, G., “Une homélie copte sur le diable et sur Michel, attribuée à Grégoire le Théologien,” Le Muséon 92 (1979), 37–60. Further reading: Esbroeck, M. van, "Michael the Archangel, saint," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 5 (New York, 1991), 1616–1620.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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