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E05118: Coptic Sermon on the proper way of monastic life (Asketikon) by Apa Ephraim, presumably the ascetic and founder of a monastery at Fargout, mentioning the saints as witnesses on the day of judgement; presumably written in the early 6th century.

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posted on 2018-02-21, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Brit. Mus. Ms. Oriental no. 6783, fol. 45b–63a

The text is introduced as follows:

ⲡⲁⲥⲕⲏϯⲕⲟⲛ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲉⲫⲣⲁⲓⲙ ⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲛ ϥⲑ

‘The ascetic life of Apa Ephraim. Bless us. Amen.’

The homily addresses a monastic congregation and is primarily concerned with the lack of proper behaviour and established norms, the loss of morality and increase of ignorance, laziness and vanity.

The author urges his audience to return to living in the fear of God and his eternal judgement, thus resuming a humble way of life.

Fol. 58b; Budge, p. 172, lines 19–23:

ⲥⲉⲛⲁϫⲡⲓⲟⲛ ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲏⲏⲧⲉ ⲛϩⲉⲛϣⲟ ⲛϣⲟ · ⲙⲛ ϩⲉⲛⲧⲃⲁ ⲛⲧⲃⲁ ⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ϩⲓ ⲁⲣⲭⲏⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲩⲁϩⲉⲣⲁⲧⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲕⲱⲧⲉ ⲙⲏ ⲉⲕⲛⲁϣϫⲓϭⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲧⲙⲙⲁⲩ ·

‘They will blame us in the midst of thousands and ten thousands of angels and archangels with all the saints standing in his vicinity. Will you be able to tell a lie then?’

If the monastic congregation keeps to their intended humble ways, the reward will be worth the endurance.

Fol. 63a; Budge p. 177, lines 33–34:

ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲙⲙⲛⲧϣⲁⲛϩⲧⲏϥ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛϥⲁⲁⲛ ⲛⲙⲡϣⲁ ⲙⲡⲱⲛϩ ϣⲁ ⲉⲛⲉϩ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ

‘… through the benevolence of God, he makes us worthy of eternal life together with the saints.’

(Text: E. A. W. Budge; summary and trans.: G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Saints, unnamed : S00518 Angels, unnamed or name lost : S00723 Archangels, unnamed or name lost : S00191

Type of Evidence

Literary - Colophons, marginalia etc. 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)

Edfu Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



The parchment codex Ms. Oriental no. 6783 is housed at the British Museum. The manuscript was produced by a man name Viktor, deacon of the church of *Merkurios, the General (S01323) at Latopolis/Esna (Upper Egypt) and completed on day 23 of Mesore (16 August) of the year 1003 AD. The expense of copying and producing the manuscript was paid by Zacharias, a deacon and monk at the monastery of Merkurios the General at Apollinopolis/Atbo/Edfu (Upper Egypt), where he donated the manuscript to the saint’s shrine, so that Merkurios as well as all the other saints appearing in this book would intercede on his behalf for the salvation of his soul. The codex includes the following texts: 1. Fol. 1a–22b: Life of Eustathios, the General, and his family (E05115) 2. Fol. 23a–30a: Life of Apa Kyros/Apakyros, the perfect monk (E05116) 3. Fol. 30b–45b: Encomion on Demetrios, archbishop of Alexandria, attributed to Flavianus, bishop of Ephesos (E05117) 4. Fol. 45b–63a: The ascetic life of Apa Ephraim 5. Fol. 63b–67b: An Epistle of Apa Ephraim to a beloved disciple (E05119) 6. Fol. 67b–83a: Life of John the Monk (E05120) 7. Fol. 83a–84a: Colophon and Prayer


Text and translation: Budge, E.A.W., Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (Coptic Texts 4; London: British Museum, 1914), 157–178 (text) and 409–430 (trans.).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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