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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie
Schenute von Atripe: Contra Orige-nistas. Edition des koptischen Textes mit annotierter Übersetzung und Indizes einschließlich einer Übersetzung des 16. Osterfestbriefs des Theophilus in der Fassung des Hieronymus (ep. 96).
Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2011. VIII, 387 S. m. Abb. 23,0 x 15,4 cm = Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum, 60. Kart. EUR 79,00. ISBN 978-3-16-150598-0.
In this revised and expanded version of his 2010 Bonn doctoral dissertation, Hans-Joachim Cristea makes an outstanding contribution to the study of Shenoute of Atripe (ca. 347–465 C. E.), the Coptic archimandrite, and to the areas of Coptology and patristics. This book presents an edition of the (currently known) surviving fragments of Shenoute’s most important anti-heretical work, I Am Amazed, along with introductory material, indexes, and annotated translations of the work and of Theophilus of Alexandria’s sixteenth Festal Letter, which Shenoute quotes at length and ver-batim. I Am Amazed provides historians with precious evidence for theological disputes in fifth-century Christian Egypt concerning »Origenist« ideas, Christology (including the views of Nestorius), the use of apocryphal books, and other teachings and practices.
Although earlier scholars such as Crum had mentioned this work, it was the pioneering Italian Coptologist Tito Orlandi who in 1985 first published an edition that brought together many of the dispersed fragments and brought it to the attention of the wider scholarly community. Orlandi called the work Contra Origenistas, a title that C. retains here due to its widespread use in scholarship (3). (For ease of reference he also uses the paragraph numbering system that Orlandi devised.) In the decades that followed, Stephen Emmel reconstructed the overall shape of Shenoute’s literary corpus and discovered, among countless other things, that our work was preserved in more than one volume of Shenoute’s Discourses (rather than in his Canons), that at some point it (like most of Shenoute’s works) became known by its incipit (I Am Amazed), and that a large portion of it consisted of a Coptic translation of Theophilus’s Festal Letter 16 of 401, hitherto known only through Jerome’s Latin translation. Emmel is currently leading a team of international scholars (of which I am a member) that will publish a unified critical edition and translation of all of Shenoute’s surviving works, including I Am Amazed. Until that ambitious project comes to fruition – and undoubtedly afterwards as well – C.’s volume will serve as an indispensable resource for scholars interested in Shenoute, Coptic literature, and the history and theology of late ancient Egyptian Christianity.
C. divides his introductory material into three chapters. In the first he provides a history of scholarship on the text and describes the primary manuscripts that fragmentarily preserve it. In the second chapter (»The Work and its Sources«), C. discusses the evidence for »Origenism« and other matters of theological dispute in fifth-century Upper Egypt and then describes the content of the work in detail. He explores the sources both for the ideas that Shenoute attacked and for the resources that Shenoute marshaled in response. The primary issues that troubled Shenoute include the possible existence of multiple worlds, the pre-existence of the soul and its descent into a body, the use of apocryphal literature (especially in support of »heretical« teachings), denial of the divinity and bodily resurrection of Christ (and thus also of the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist), and the Christology of Nestorius. As he addressed these questions, Shenoute drew particularly on the works of Athanasius of Alexandria, and he quoted extensively (and possibly in full) from Theophilus’s Festal Letter. C. examines Shenoute’s use of these texts closely, and a detailed comparison of the Coptic and Latin texts of Theophilus’s Letter suggests to him that Shenoute made the translation from Greek into Coptic himself (108). C. notes that Shenoute’s interest in these theological matters may have been primarily pastoral (arising from concern for the well-being of his monks and of the ordinary lay people who came to hear his sermons), but suggests that I Am Amazed reveals the important role that Shenoute played as a »mediator between Alexandrian theology and Coptic culture« (109). To my mind it also calls into question the very distinction (»Alexandrian« vs. »Coptic«) that Shenoute’s mediating role implies. The third chapter gives a concise and helpful summary of Shenoute’s life and major activities.
The heart of the book is the edition of the Coptic text and translation into German. For the edition C. collated the known fragments either from the manuscripts themselves or from photographs (and some from both and/or from microfilms or reproductions on the internet as well). He has not created a critical edition that, when multiple witnesses survive, presents a single text with variants; instead, he follows one manuscript as the lead manu-script, and when parallels are present, these appear in columns alongside the lead manuscript (which varies depending on which of the primary manuscripts survives at any given point). This method is understandable, for a true critical edition raises questions of standardization in spelling, grammatical forms, and the like that are best considered at a more comprehensive level (as the Emmelled team is now doing). The layout of the text on the page can be confusing at first, but is soon mastered by the user. In any event, C.’s text represents a major advance over all earlier publications. Likewise, the translation is precise and clear; it includes the entirety of Theophilus’s Letter as found in Shenoute and Jerome.
Readers will find wonderful annotations, excurses, tables, plates, and indexes to help them study this fascinating work. C. identifies biblical quotations and allusions, explains problems in the text, and discusses questions of translation. He provides synoptic tables of the manuscript witnesses to the text, the versions of Theophilus’s Letter, and even earlier translations of I Am Amazed into modern languages. He indexes Greek words, Egyptian words, proper names, Coptic grammatical forms, and biblical citations. Plates show representative or significant manuscript pages. C.’s efforts are exhaustive, precise, and of great help.
In short, this is a book of outstanding philology, which scholars of Shenoute, Coptic, and ancient Christian history and thought will deeply appreciate. I recommend it with great enthusiasm.