24th St. Shenouda-UCLA Conference of Coptic Studies, July 14-15, 2023
Registration Fee (Suggested Contributions):
- Members: $20
- Non-Member : $25
- Students: Free
- UCLA Students/Faculty: Free
Click here for online registration. Registration fees to paid at the door. If you would like to make a contribution to the cost of the conference, click here. UNDER CURRENT HEALTH REGULATIONS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, APPROPRIATE PROTECTIVE MASKS ARE REQUIRED IN THE VENUE
Friday, July 14, 2023 (All Time listed is for Los Angeles Time Zone!)
|10:00-10:05a.m.||Opening Remarks by Prof. Kathlyn Cooney/Hany N. Takla (NELC-UCLA)
|10:05-10:30 a.m.||Hany N. Takla, Society Address|
|10:30-11:00 a.m.||Dr. Saad Michael Saad, The State of the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia|
|11:15-11:45 a.m.||Prof. David Brakke, Soldiers and Monks in Fourth- and Fifth-Century Egypt|
|11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.||Prof. Tim Vivian, So Far Away, Yet Ours, and Us: "Exhortation to the Monks" by Hyperechios|
|12:15-1:15 p.m.||Lunch Recess
|1:15-1:45 p.m.||Mr. John Habib, A Closer Look at an Illuminated "Agbeya" Manuscript by Ibrahim Al-Nasikh|
|1:45-2:15 p.m.||Mr. Kirollos Kilada, The Prophets as Heralds of the Incarnation in Coptic Iconographic Tradition|
|2:15-2:45 p.m.||Ms. Mary Ghattas, Of Catholic Missions and Coptic Reformers: The Patriarchal Career of John XVIII (1769-1796)|
|3:00-3:30 p.m.||Fr. Daniel Habib, Preaching in the Coptic Orthodox Church|
|3:30-4:00 p.m.||Ms. Angela Stiebert, Separation and (Re)union in the Bridal Chamber: Reception of Eve in the Gospel of Philip 70.|
|4:00-4:30 pm||Ms. Maggie A. Tawadros, The Devil in Coptic Art (Tentative)|
Saturday, July 15, 2023
|9:30-10:00 a.m.||Hany N. Takla, Is there a Coptic Bible? Reflections on the Scope of the Surviving Coptic Biblical Texts|
|10:00-10:30 a.m.||Dr. Daniel Girgis, ⲡⲓⲁⲣⲏⲃ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡⲓⲅⲁⲙⲟⲥ: ‧On the Development of the Coptic Rites of Matrimony
|10:30-11:00 am.||Dr. Samuel Kaldas, Partaking of the Divine Nature in Early Modern Coptic Eucharistic Theology, c.1880–1960|
|11:15-11:45 s.m.||Ms. Carol Marcos, Back to the Fathers: Orthodox revival among Coptic Youth in Mississauga|
|11:45 a.m. – 12:15 pm||Dr. Lilian Estafanous, Transnational Diaspora Mobilization: Copts’ Advocacy in North America|
|12:15 noon - 1:00 p.m.||Lunch Recess
|1:00-1:30 p.m.||Dr. Christian Askeland, Early Classical Bohairic Hands|
|1:30-2:00 p.m.||Prof. David Bertaina, Coptic Theology in Medieval Western Europe: Ibn Rajāʾ’s "Truthful Exposer"|
|2:00-2:30 p.m.||Dr. Tamara Siuda, Orange is the New White: The Emerging Iconography of the 21 Martyrs of Libya|
|2:45-3:15 p.m.||Prof. Caroline Schroeder, Learning and Teaching Coptic with Coptic Scriptorium's Resources|
|3:15-3:45 p.m.||Ms. Denisa Hradilová, Late Antique Coptic textiles and their journey to the Central Europe|
|3:45-4:15 p.m.||Dr. Lisa Agaiby, An Update on the Manuscript Project at the Monastery of St Paul the Hermit at the Red Sea, Egypt|
|4:30-5:00 p.m.||Business Meeting of the Members of St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society.|
The Conference will be located on the Campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Royce Hall, Room 314.
- Dr. Lisa Agaiby (Sydney, Aus)
- Dr. Christian Askeland (Museum of the Bible, DC)
- Prof. David Bertaina (University of Illinois, Springfield
- Prof. David Brakke (Ohio State University, OH)
- Prof. Kathlyn Cooney (UCLA, CA)
- Ms. Lilian E. Estafanous (Queens University, Canada)
- Ms. Mary Ghattas (CGU)
- Dr. Fr. Daniel Habib (ACTS, CA)
- Mr. John Habib (Queens University, Canada)
- Dr. Daniel Girgis (NY)
- Ms. Denisa Hradilova (Czech Republic)
- Dr. Samuel Kaldas (Fordham University, NY)
- Mr. Kirollos Kilada (University of Tornoto, Canada)
- Ms. Carol Markos (Canada)
- Dr. Saad Michael Saad (SSACS, CGU)
- Prof. Caroline (Carrie) Schroeder (University of Oklahoma)
- Dr. Tamara Siuda
- Ms. Angela Stieber (CGU, CA)
- Hany Takla (SSACS, CGU, ACTS, CA)
- Ms. Maggie Tawadros (CGU, CA)
- Prof. Tim Vivian (CSUB, CA)
Title: An Update on the Manuscript Project at the Monastery of St Paul the Hermit at the Red Sea, Egypt
Presenter: Dr. Lisa Agaiby (St Athanasius College, University of Divinity, AU)
St Paul the Hermit (c. 228-341) has had a compelling lure on the imaginations of Christians from Late Antiquity to the present day. Identified through the centuries as the first Christian hermit, Paul lived most of his long life in a cave in the Egyptian desert near the Red Sea. In time, his hermitage became the core of a monastic settlement that has existed continuously for almost two millennia and bears material witness to sustained devotion to the saint in the form of multiple phases of expansion, wall paintings, liturgical furnishings, and a wealth of precious manuscripts. Since 2018, and in cooperation with the Monastery of St Paul, an Australian team has been working to digitise and document the invaluable manuscript collection. This paper presents the goals and progress of the project to date.
Title: Early Classical Bohairic Hands
Presenter: Dr. Christian Askeland (Museum of the Bible, DC)
With the advent of paper, a novel Coptic became prominent in Bohairic manuscripts. A cluster of dated Nitrian Bohairic manuscripts attest to the end of the Biblical Majuscule script. Although Sahidic manuscripts from the Fayum and southern Egypt suggest that ecclesiastical authorities were shifting to their own regional script (the Alexandrian majuscule), the Bohairic tradition would eventually adopt its own peculiar style which many today assume to be synonymous with Bohairic texts. This paper will explore the tradition, especially considering the social contexts which might have been associated with the evolution of Coptic literary scripts.
Title: Coptic Theology in Medieval Western Europe: Ibn Rajāʾ’s "Truthful Exposer"
Presenter: Prof. David Bertaina (University of Illinois, Springfield, IL)
Būluṣ ibn Rajāʾ (d. after 1012) was born to a Muslim family in Cairo, Egypt around 955. After being miraculously saved in the desert, he converted to the Coptic Church at around 25 years of age. Ibn Rajāʾ became a monk and later priest at the Monastery of Saint Macarius in the Wadi al-Natrun. During his time there, he penned a work titled The Truthful Exposer (Kitāb al-Wāḍiḥ bi-l-ḥaqq) about why he no longer found Islam a convincing religion. This narrative was likely written during the persecutions of the Fatimid Caliph al-Ḥākim (ca. 1012).
The literary afterlife of Ibn Rajāʾ’s Truthful Exposer has a fascinating history in Europe. The Copto-Arabic version was evidently transmitted to Mozarabic Spain but made little impact – the work is only extant in Europe via its Latin translation, known as the Book of Denuding (Liber denudationis). In recent scholarship, it has also been called Contrarietas alfolica (Disagreements of the Jurists). From medieval to modern times, the Latin translation known as the Liber denudationis was only preserved in a single manuscript: MS Paris BNF lat. 3394, a sixteenth-century copy from a thirteenth-century Dominican exemplar.
This presentation surveys the impact of this Coptic theological work on European perceptions of Islam and how translators adapted his message for their own purposes. Overall, Ibn Rajāʾ’s text exerted influence on western Christians indirectly. Several authors reworked its arguments into their own treatises against Islam. This process circulated Ibn Rajāʾ’s ideas across a wider spectrum, making his ideas more accessible to a western Christian audience.
Upon investigation, it appears that the Latin translation of Ibn Rajāʾ’s Truthful Exposer is mostly reliable and does not merely paraphrase his work. But the copyist also admits that he abbreviated the text at a number of points, and there are a number of theological adaptations made by western Europeans to make the Coptic theological ideas more acceptable for a Latin Christian audience. By examining Ibn Rajāʾ’s Arabic text alongside its Latin translation, this presentation traces how his theological ideas shifted across religious, political, and linguistic lines. By surveying what Latin Christians chose to retain, change, or omit in their translation and adaptation of his work, we can understand what was important to medieval European intellectuals and the importance of Coptic theology to medieval western European thought about Islam.
Title: Soldiers and Monks in Fourth- and Fifth-Century Egypt
Presenter: Prof. David Brakke (Ohio State University, OH)
Early Egyptian monasticism developed in a militarized frontier zone of the Roman empire. Proximity to and contact with soldiers posed challenges and provided opportunities to monks who sought lay disciples and practical support. This paper will explore some of the relationships between “soldiers of God” and “soldiers of the world” by focusing on Apa Johannes, Isidore of Pelusium, and Shenoute of Atripe.
Title: Transnational Diaspora Mobilization: Copts’ Advocacy in North America
Presenter: Ms. Lilian E. Estafanous (Queen University, CAN),
Copts capitalized on the political opportunities granted upon their settlement in Canada and the US to pursue activism and establish a plethora of organizations. However, despite all the efforts carried out by diaspora activists, the majority of their initiatives remained relatively negligible, informal, or underground. Therefore, though existing literature suggests that diasporas are well-positioned to mobilize according to political opportunities bestowed by their democratic host countries, these explanations are inadequate for explaining weak and missing cases of transnational mobilization and variation in their collective action dynamics. The following issues were investigated 1) how Copts form their organizations and advocacy groups in Canada and the US to support their compatriots in Egypt and 2) what factors shape the types of their activism and the degree of solidarity and sustainability of their organizations. Understanding the conditions under which diasporas mobilize is critical to understanding their dynamics as they unfold over time. In order to provide a better understanding of Copts as an Indigenous religious diaspora and to address the religion’s significance in forming their advocacy organizations, the history of Copts in Egypt and their inter-communal relations with their Muslim majority citizens were reviewed. The formation of the Coptic diaspora as a transnational community during the several waves of migration was then discussed to explain how Copts immigrants have started globalizing the socio-political grievances of their Copts compatriots in Egypt. In doing this, the research has differentiated between Copts’ human rights associations, charitable and philanthropic organizations, and educational foundations in North America. Finally, the main Copts’ advocacy challenges were investigated in light of the triadic relations between the church, the regime, and the Copts.
Using the different approaches of social movement theory, the author has argued that the dynamics of Copts’ mobilization, the type of diaspora activism, and the level of sustainably of Copts’ advocacy are shaped by a) multi-level and relational factors that are intimately tied to the structure of opportunities and constraints in the homeland and the host land, b) the diaspora’s organizational capacity, and c) group cohesion based on the framing of their traumatic memory and grievances associated with their cultural and ideological roots in the place of origin. The research questions have been examined by analyzing three sets of data. The results indicated that the three facets have impacted Copts’ activism. However, the significance of each aspect varied.
Title: ⲡⲓⲁⲣⲏⲃ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡⲓⲅⲁⲙⲟⲥ: ‧On the Development of the Coptic Rites of Matrimony
Presenter: Dr. Daniel Girgis (St.Vladimir Seminary, NY)
Title: Of Catholic Missions and Coptic Reformers: The Patriarchal Career of John XVIII (1769-1796)
Presenter: Ms. Mary Ghattas (Claremont Graduate University, CA)
Title: Preaching in the Coptic Orthodox Church
Presenter: Fr. Dr. Daniel Habib (ACTS, CA)
Through the practice of delivering the homily during the liturgical assembly in the Coptic Orthodox Church, the clergy have occupied a central role in presenting the Gospel and therefore in the religious education of catechumens and the baptized faithful. Historically, many fathers in the Coptic Orthodox Church have taught on the necessary content of the homily, especially in relation to the Great Fast, and the essential character of the homilist. This paper seeks to explore the writings of the fathers and present important conclusions on the content of the homily and the character of the homilist, within the Coptic Orthodox Church. The paper will rely on a deep study of Scripture, of the writings of Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Shenoute of Atripe, Rufus of Shotep, Constantine of Asyūṭ, Jirjis ibn al-‘Amid al-Makin, Habib Girgis, and of the religious educational writings of Anton Vrame, Harold Horell, Thomas Groome, Gabriel Moran and Maria Harris, among so many other scholars. With keen attention to the past, to the Gospel, to religious educational theory, to their own spiritual lives and to the listeners in their congregation, I conclude that homilists can and should offer evangelization, catechesis, and adult faith formation in the homily to enlighten the hearts and minds of their listeners.
Title: A Closer Look at an Illuminated "Agbeya" Manuscript by Ibrahim Al-Nasikh
Presenter: Mr. John Habib (Queen University, CAN)
Ottoman Cairo was a multicultural hub where different civilizations exchanged traditions, languages, and technology. It provided the environment that sparked a resurgence of Coptic arts using techniques and traditions of other communities in Cairo. A preliminary analysis of an 18th-century Agbeya manuscript at the Coptic Museum of Canada reveals this multicultural reality. The manuscript was written and decorated by Ibrahim al-Nasikh, a scribe and an iconographer whose icons decorate many churches all over Egypt. The Agbeya manuscript has three colourful full-page illuminations and many ornamental headers. This project aims to use analytical techniques to identify the techniques and materials used to produce the illuminations. The manuscript will be analyzed using digital microscopy, x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, external reflectance Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and multispectral imaging. The results of this investigation would provide insight into the Coptic manuscript tradition and how it was influenced by other manuscript traditions in Ottoman Cairo. This project paves the way for further analytical examinations of Coptic manuscripts that can aid in the dating of manuscripts and connecting them to certain libraries or locations.
Title: Late Antique Coptic textiles and their journey to the Central Europe
Presenter: Ms. Denisa Hradilová (Slezské zemské museum, Czech Republic)
The paper deals with main the collections of Late Antique Coptic Textiles in the museums around central Europe (Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Netherlands) and the international relations of collectors and merchants of late Egyptian antiquities. It will present the way of dealing with late antique textiles and their connection through other institutions around the world.
Title: Partaking of the Divine Nature in Early Modern Coptic Eucharistic Theology, c. 1880–1960
Presenter: Dr. Samuel Kaldas (St. Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological School, Syndney, AUS)
In the latter part of the twentieth century, controversy arose within the Coptic Church over the nature of salvation, particularly with regard to how the patristic notion of theosis or deification should be interpreted. Naturally enough, the Eucharist became a key point of contention: if the Eucharist is the truly the Body and Blood of Christ, and Christ is “true God of true God“, then do the faithful really ‘partake’ of the divine nature through their partaking of the Eucharist? If so, what does this mean? While there have already been studies of this controversy as it played out in theological disputes between Pope Shenouda III and Fr Matthew the Poor from the 1990s through to the early 2000s, virtually no attention has been paid to the historical roots of this controversy in the earlier part of the century. Accordingly, this paper considers the theme of ‘partaking of the divine nature’ in Coptic theology roughly from 1880 to 1960, focusing on the Eucharist. In particular, the paper will analyse how influential theologians such as ‘Aryan Muftah, Archdeacon Habib Girgis and Metropolitan Lukas of Manfalut, interpreted the phrase ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (1 Pt 2:4) in relation to Holy Communion. It is argued that analysing the works of earlier 19th and 20th Coptic theologians provides invaluable context for the emergence of later disagreements.
Title: The Prophets as Heralds of the Incarnation in Coptic Iconographic Tradition
Presenter: Mr. Kirollos Kilada (University of Toronto, CAN)
In his monumental work Art and Eloquence in Byzantium, Henry Maguire provides an in-depth liturgical understanding of Byzantine iconography, on the premise that “the sermons and hymns of the Byzantine church influenced the way in which Byzantine artists illustrated narrative texts.” This lens reveals patterns, rather than proposing immediate causality between text and image. Using this approach, the present contribution will seek to uncover recurring patterns between image and text in Coptic depictions of Old Testament prophets. Between the 6th and 13th centuries, there is a clear visual tradition which paints Old Testament prophets as heralds of the incarnation by presenting them as eye witnesses to the kingdom of God, whose texts are read and exegeted in hindsight. This iconography presents frequent themes which have analogous tropes in Coptic hymnography, both Bohairic and Sahidic, where the prophets are spoken of as enthusiastic proclaimers of the gospel, who are as present in the liturgical moment as the worshippers themselves. Examining iconography in light of hymnography thus constitutes a valuable methodology for understanding the sustained visual tradition of the Copts, as pertains to the depiction of particular subjects within churches, across time and space.
Title: Back to the Fathers: Orthodox revival among Coptic Youth in Mississauga
Presenter: Ms. Carol Markos (Carlton University, Ottawa, CAN)
This paper examines a religious revival movement taking place among Coptic Orthodox youth in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Based on six months of ethnographic research, I explore a grassroot, youth-based Coptic Orthodox revival movement that promotes the tenets of authenticity, knowledge, and a return to tradition. I argue that through this movement, youth in the community are bypassing a profoundly unresolved sense of ambivalence about what it means to be Egyptian, Canadian, and Coptic by focusing on their identities as Orthodox Christians and citizens of Heaven. This citizenship is contingent upon an embodied pious praxis rather than race, nation, or culture. This vision is often placed in contrast to the religious expression of their parents’ generation, which they view as a “watered down,” Westernized version of Orthodox Christianity. Their collective construction of diasporic piety aims to “purify” faith from culture and “authenticate” Orthodoxy through the study of patristic texts. The Wednesday night Patristic Book club is a major hub of the revival and exemplifies how youth are working outside of the services that have been set for them by the clerical hierarchy in order to advance their own hopes for Orthodoxy in the diaspora. Finally, this paper briefly considers the implications of this movement for the role of culture within Coptic churches and communities in the diaspora.
Title: The State of the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia
Presenter: Dr. Saad Michael Saad (CGU, CA)
The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia (CCE) knowledge base functions as a primary digital humanities tool for the world to learn more about the Copts: their church, their two millennia of human experience, their achievements and challenges, and their civilization. It is digitally housed at the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL) and the landing page is:
https://ccdl.claremont.edu/digital/collection/cce . This paper summarizes the CCE’s current state, activities, and plans, as well as its important, transdisciplinary mission. Usage statistics for the web-based CCE show the pulse of Coptic Studies, revealing which areas are of past, current, and ongoing interest.
Title: Learning and Teaching Coptic with Coptic Scriptorium's Resources
Presenter: Prof. Caroline T. Schroeder (University of Oklahoma, OK)
This paper will introduce various ways the Coptic Scriptorium project's texts and tools can help Coptic language learners become more proficient in Coptic. Whether you are a student in a course, an instructor, or someone wanting to learn or improve your knowledge of Coptic, there are many resources online to help you. The paper will demonstrate how to use advanced features of the online Dictionary, use basic natural language processing tools to decipher confusing or complicated grammar, and ways to read digitized text to improve reading skills.
Title: Orange is the New White: The Emerging Iconography of the 21 Martyrs of Libya
Presenter: Dr. Tamara L. Siuda (CGU, CA))
On February 15, 2015, 20 Coptic workmen from Egypt and one of their Ghanaian coworkers were beheaded on a beach in Sirte, Libya by their Islamic State/Daesh captors, who had kidnapped them from the city in December. Six days later, Pope Tawadros canonized these men and added them to the Coptic Synaxarium as the 21 Martyrs of Libya. In May 2023, the Catholic Pope Francis in Vatican City announced he would also canonize the 21 Martyrs by adding them into the Roman Catholic martyr calendars - the first addition of Coptic martyrs to the Catholic calendar of saints since the two churches formally separated more than 15 centuries ago.
Formal and informal icons for the 21 Martyrs of Libya have proliferated in Coptic and other Orthodox churches since 2015 and now they will begin to appear in Western martyr art as well. A majority of icons known thus far, particularly those in Coptic style or usage, depict the 21 as they entered their martyrdom: kneeling on a beach, wearing bright orange prison jumpsuits their executioners had chosen as a statement recalling what they understood as the torture and death of Islamic State prisoners held by the United States at its offshore detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Neither the color orange, nor prison clothing, are standard features in Coptic iconography. What does it mean to contemporary Coptic martyrology for these icons to emphasize a color outside standard Coptic iconic repertoire, or for their preserving such nonstandard usage as iconographers translate photorealistic informal icons into traditional ones for devotional use in churches and other more formal settings? This paper will discuss the use of the color orange, intentional and unconscious iconographical symbolism, and the visual aesthetics/symbolic language in icons for the 21 Martyrs of Libya and how they are encountered in the emerging creation of martyrologies for contemporary Coptic martyrs.
Title: Separation and (Re)union in the Bridal Chamber: Reception of Eve in the Gospel of Philip 70.
Presenter: Ms. Angela Stieber (CGU, CA)
The early Christian milieu boasts a rich multivalent and multivocal reception aesthetic for Eve's narrative in Genesis 2–4. The Valentinian reception of Eve presented in the Gospel of Philip provides fertile grounds for a Reception History analysis, as the author of the text posits that the culmination of the Bridal Chamber, the perfect union of the female and male syzygies, leads to a reunion like Eve and Adam's as they return to the Garden of Eden. In order to interrogate the Valentinian reception of Eve, I take up Eve's role in the Bridal Chamber as a reception of Genesis 2–4. Through Reception History hermeneutics and April D. DeConick’s Artifact Migration model, I assert that the Valentinian author’s reception of Eve in the Gospel of Philip 70 is shaped by their familiarity with Genesis 2–4 coupled with their preconstructed knowledge, cognitive framing, social context, and social and historical memory. Examining the Gospel of Philip 70 through Artifact Migration provides a framework to interrogate how the Valentinian author was influenced by their cognitive framing and social and historical contexts in developing their reception. Moreover, I aim to demonstrate how and why the Valentinian author formed their reception and to demonstrate how their reception contributes to the multivalent and multivocal nature of Eve's reception aesthetic in the early Christian milieu.
Title: Is there a Coptic Bible? Reflections on the Scope of the Surviving Coptic Biblical Texts
Presenter: Mr. Hany N. Takla (St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society/ACTS, CA/CGU, CA)
The Bible is the corner stone of the Christianity in general and the Coptic Orthodox in particular. What circulated in Egypt from the earliest times was written in Greek. Manuscript discoveries revealed the existence of a Coptic version in all the major six dialects of Coptic. Even though we have lists of all the Canonical Books of the Bible written in Coptic, no one dialect preserved all of these books. This paper will explore the preservation state of these biblical texts. It will also discuss the arguments for and against the existence of a complete, Old and New Testament, in any one Coptic dialect.
Title: The Serpent, the Dragon, and the Emperor: The Converging Shapes of the Devil
Presenter: Ms. Maggie A. Tawadros (CGU/St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, CA)
Whether he appears as a winged, green humanoid figure, a coiling dragon oozing blood from its scales, or a slithering serpent stepped upon by the righteous, the devil is among the most recognized images written in Coptic iconography. Throughout Coptic tradition, this evil character is illustrated in select icons, ones that have remained familiar to the eyes of the viewer until the subject matter, and the way in which it is presented, attracted a solid cult following. However, in their constant and consistent appearances, these visual images grew different when scrutinized alongside biblical and hagiographic literature, as well as the tradition of the previous religious practices present in the region. The present talk discusses the narratives and representations of said icons, exploring the varying shapes the devil takes when “battling” with the faithful protagonists, and the function of the differing forms he shifts into across similar and distinct subjects. More generally, the following study juxtaposes the Coptic and Western traditions, and their converging presentations of the devil in icons such as those of Archangel Michael and the Equestrian Saints.
Title: So Far Away, Yet Ours, and Us: "Exhortation to the Monks" by Hyperechios
Presenter: Prof. Tim Vivian (California State University Bakersfield, CA)
Most scholars of early monasticism believe that the apophthegmata, the sayings of the desert fathers and mothers, originated in Egypt and found their final form(s) with monks in Palestine in the fifth century. A monk named Hyperechios has eight sayings in the alphabetical collection of the apophthegmata. Probably active in the late-fourth to early- or mid-fifth centuries, perhaps in Palestine, perhaps coastal Sinai, Hyperechios, of whom we know very little, composed Exhortation to the Monks (or: Ascetics), 160 sayings of spiritual counsel and guidance for his community. The Exhortation, unlike the apophthegmatic collections, has no stories, no narratives; also unlike the apophthegmata, in the work no monk comes to an elder and asks how to be saved. Yet, as with the sayings of the fathers and mothers, the main theme is how to be saved—in the present, here and now, a realized soteriology. The verses of the Exhortation read like poetry. More importantly, the sayings deal with many if not most issues that we still face and deal with today: anger, arrogance, inordinate desires, acquisitiveness and greed, and others. Thus the sayings by Hyperechios are in the tradition of the apophthegmata but not entirely of them. Just as they, though, they can still speak to us today
Dr. Lisa Agaiby: is a lecturer in Coptic Studies and Academic Dean at St Athanasius College, University of Divinity in Melbourne Australia. Her latest publication is, with Tim Vivian, Door of the Wilderness: The Greek, Coptic, and Copto-Arabic Sayings of St Antony of Egypt (Brill, 2021). Lisa is currently heading a project to digitise and catalogue the manuscript collection at the Monastery of St Paul at the Red Sea, Egypt. She is honoured to be a fellow member of the St Shenouda Society.
Dr. Christian Askeland: is a New Testament scholar, whose research interests include New Testament textual criticism, Coptic manuscripts, and digital humanities. He has held academic positions at Southern Wesleyan University, the Protestant University Wuppertal, Indiana Wesleyan University, and Museum of the Bible. Over the last 10 years, he has participated in collaborative research projects funded by the Lilly Endowment, the European Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom), the German Research Foundation, and the German Academy. He earned two degrees in Classics from the University of Florida and various degrees in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, University of Aberdeen and the University of Cambridge. He now serves as Senior Researcher at Museum of the Bible.
Prof. David Bertaina: is Professor of History at the University of Illinois Springfield. He researches the history of Christian-Muslim encounters and the relationship between the Bible and Qur’an. His latest publication is Būluṣ ibn Rajāʾ: The Fatimid Egyptian Convert Who Shaped Christian Views of Islam (2022).
Prof. David Brakke: is Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History at the Ohio State University. His most recent book is, with David Gwynn, The Festal Letters on Athanasius of Alexandria, with the Festal Index and the Historia Acephala (Liverpool University Press 2021).
Prof. Kathlyn (Kara Cooney): Is an Associate professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture and Chair of Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. She specializes in craft production, coffin studies, and economies in the ancient world. She received her PhD in Egyptology from Johns Hopkins University. In 2005, she was co-curator of Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She produced a comparative archaeology television series, entitled Out of Egypt, which aired in 2009 on the Discovery Channel and is available online via Netflix and Amazon. The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt, Cooney’s first trade book, was released in 2014 and benefits from her expert perspective on Egypt’s ancient history to craft an illuminating biography of its least well-known female king. As an archaeologist who spent years at various excavations in Egypt, Cooney draws from the latest field research to fill in the gaps in the historical record of Hatshepsut. Cooney’s current research in coffin reuse, primarily focusing on the 19th and 21st Dynasties, is ongoing. Her research investigates the socioeconomic and political turmoil that have plagued the period, ultimately affecting funerary and burial practices in ancient Egypt. This project has taken her around the world over the span of five to six years to study and document nearly 300 coffins in collections, including those in Cairo, London, Paris, Berlin, and Vatican City.
Ms. Lilian E. Estafanous: is a senior Ph.D. candidate and a Teacher fellow at Queen’s University. Her doctoral research focuses on diaspora studies, the political mobilization of ethnic and religious minorities, and social movements studies. Lilian’s current research seeks to explain the political mobilization of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Community in Canada and the United States. She is a recipient of several academic fellowships and awards, including the Robert Sutherland Fellowship, Senator Frank Carrel Fellowship, Queen’s Graduate Award, and Ontario Graduate Scholarship. As a Teaching Assistant/Fellow, Lilian has taught a wide range of classes, including, Politics and Government, Governing Difference, Contemporary Regimes, Seminar in Comparative Politics, and Diaspora and Transnationalism at Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada.
Dr. Daniel Girgis: is an ordained Sub Deacon under the name of Augustine. He received his Master of Arts in Theology degree from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2021. He has also received his PharmD degree from the SUNY University at Buffalo in 2019. His research focuses on preserving Coptic tradition through the combination and reconciliation of both the oral transmission of Coptic chant and the analysis of liturgical manuscripts; using these two factors to identify and restore authentic and proper ritual practice in the Coptic Rite.
Ms. Mary Ghattas is a PhD Candidate at Claremont Graduate University, working on a dissertation about the Oriental Communion in Modern Egypt. She currently teaches Church History II: The Oriental Communion from 641 CE- Present at Agora University.
Fr. Dr. Daniel Habib: Fr. Daniel was born in New York and raised in New Jersey. He went to NYU for undergrad (majored in Philosophy), American University for law school, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology for his Masters in Theological Studies, and Fordham University for his PhD. I completed his doctoral dissertation in Religious Education focusing on the content of the Homily during the Divine Liturgy. The title of his PhD is “‘In Your Light, We See Light’ Religious Education through the Homily in the Coptic Orthodox Church.”
Mr. John Habib: is pursuing a Masers of Art Conservation program at Queen’s University where he specializes in the treatment of books and works on paper with an emphasis on manuscripts from the Middle East. He was awarded the Federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Scholarship in support of his research project involving an 18th century illuminated Coptic manuscript. Prior to enrolling in the program, he graduated from Queen’s University in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with Honors. John has held various positions at organizations involved with cultural heritage such as the St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, the Coptic Museum of Canada, the Bradley Museum in Mississauga, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. He is currently working as an intern in the Restoration and Conservation Laboratory at the National Gallery of Canada, treating their collection of prints and drawings.
Ms. Denisa Hradilova: is a native of the Czech Republic. She received her Bacholar of Art and Master’s degree from the Palacký University in Olomouc. Her MA thesis was titled “Plasterer Giacomo Antonio Corbellini and his artworks in the Czech Republic. She is currently a PhD student at the same university. Her proposed doctrol thesis is titled: “Coptic textiles in the Collection of Fine Arts of the Silesian Museum in Opava,”
Dr. Samuel Kaldas: is a Lecturer in Philosophy and Theology at St Cyril’s Coptic Orthodox Theological College (Sydney, Australia), and has published articles on early modern philosophy of religion, patristics and contemporary Orthodox theology. In 2022, he was a Coptic Fellow of Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center, writing on the development of Coptic eucharistic theology in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Mr. Kirollos Kilada: is an icon painter in the Coptic Orthodox Church and has been painting icons for both church and private use in Canada, the United States and Australia since 2017. Kirollos received his Bachelor of Design (BDes) in Illustration from OCAD University (Ontario College of Art and Design) in 2021 and is currently pursuing a Master of Theological studies (MTS) in Orthodox Christian Studies at Trinity College, University of Toronto. Kirollos’ ongoing research seeks to build a theological understanding of Beauty, Sacred Space and Iconography in Coptic tradition, in order to enhance the contemporary Coptic sacred arts.
Ms. Carol Marcos is currently a graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada where she is completing her MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies. Her research focuses on notions of identity and belonging among Coptic youth in the diaspora. In the coming years she hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in socio-cultural anthropology.
- Michael Saad: is the Managing Editor of the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia and host of Coptic Civilization, a LogosTV program in English and in Arabic via satellite, YouTube, FaceBook, and at logoschannel.com. He has published three book chapters and about 200 writings on modern Coptic history, culture, diaspora, and microwave engineering. He is a Fellow of IEEE and holds eight patents in the United States. These publications are gradually posted at: https://chicago.academia.edu/MichaelSaad. He serves as Chair of the Coptic Studies Council at Claremont Graduate University and Trustee at St Athanasius & St Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological School (ACTS) in Los Angeles (actslibrary.org). He is a Founding Board Member of the Institute for Signifying Scriptures. He was a Senior Editor of Watani International(2001-2014) and Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1985-1996). He received an MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1987 after a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of London in 1974. Fellow Member of the St. Shenouda Society.
Prof. Carolyn Schroeder: is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma, where she is also a member of the College of Arts and Sciences’ interdisciplinary Data Scholarship Program, Affiliate faculty in History and Religious Studies, and a Fellow at the Data Institute for Societal Challenges. Previously she was Professor of Religious Studies at the University of the Pacific (2007-2019) and served as Director of the Humanities Center there from 2012-2014. She received her Ph.D. from Duke University in 2002 under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth A. Clark. She is an author and/or coeditor of multiple monographs and publications in Coptology and digital humanities. She is also co-founded and is a Principal Investigator of the interdisciplinary online research platform Coptic Scriptorium (copticscriptorium.org), which produces digital editions, natural language processing tools, and other digital resources for the study of Coptic literature and the Coptic language A Fellow Member of the Society.
Dr. Tamara L. Siuda: is an associate managing editor of the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia (CCE) and is continuing to research various topics in Coptic martyrology and martyr’s icons as she continues to revise her dissertation on Coptic martyrology for publication.
Ms. Angela E. Stieber: is a PhD student in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. My research centers around receptions of Eve in Genesis 2–4 and is grounded in Feminist Biblical Studies and Reception History. My areas of interest also include Intersectional Women and Gender Studies, Gnosticism, Coptic, and diversity in early Christianity. Most recently, I completed an MA in Religion and a Certificate in Gnosticism, Esotericism, and Mysticism at Rice University in May 2022. My Master's Thesis, titled "Who is the Woman in the Garden? Reception of Eve in Genesis 2–4," is best described as "a reception history analysis of Eve's narrative in Genesis 2–4 in four case studies.
Hany N. Takla: President of St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society and Director of the Coptic Center in Los Angeles. Obtained his MA in Coptic Studies from Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. Part-time Lecturer at the UCLA Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department, University of Notre Dame, and other theological institutions. Fellow Member of the Society.
Ms. Maggie A. Tawadros: received her BA in Art History and Psychology from UCLA in 2017, and her MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago in 2019. Currently, she is a PhD Student of Religion at Claremont Graduate University. She volunteers as a Research Assistant at the St. Shenouda Center for Coptic Studies as well as being an Assistant Curator at the St. Shenouda Cultural Museum.
Prof. Tim Vivian: is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies (retired) at CSU Bakersfield and a retired priest in the Episcopal Church. His field of research is early Christian monasticism, especially in Egypt. His most recent publications have been The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, volumes 1 (2021) and 2 (forthcoming, 2023); with Lisa Agaiby, Door of the Wilderness: The Greek, Coptic, and Copto-Arabic Sayings of St. Antony of Egypt (2022) and The Lives of Paul of Thebes (forthcoming, 2023); “The Origins of Monasticism” in the T&T Clark Handbook of the Early Church (2022); and Hyperechios: Exhortation to the Monks (forthcoming, 2024).
Friday, July 14, 2023:
Hany N. Takla, Introduction and Society Address
Dr. Saad Michael Saad, The State of the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia
David Brakke, Soldiers and Monks in Fourth- and Fifth-Century Egypt
Tim Vivian, So Far Away, Yet Ours, and Us: "Exhortation to the Monks" by Hyperechios
John Habib, A Closer Look at an Illuminated "Agbeya" Manuscript by Ibrahim Al-Nasikh
Kirollos Kilada, The Prophets as Heralds of the Incarnation in Coptic Iconographic Tradition
Mary Ghattas, Of Catholic Missions and Coptic Reformers: The Patriarchal Career of John XVIII (1769-1796)
Fr. Daniel Habib, Preaching in the Coptic Orthodox Church
Maggie A. Tawadros, The Serpent, the Dragon, and the Emperor: The Converging Shapes of the Devil
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Hany N. Takla, Is there a Coptic Bible? Reflections on the Scope of the Surviving Coptic Biblical Texts
Daniel Girgis, ⲡⲓⲁⲣⲏⲃ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡⲓⲅⲁⲙⲟⲥ: ‧On the Development of the Coptic Rites of Matrimony
Carol Marcos, Back to the Fathers: Orthodox revival among Coptic Youth in Mississauga
Lilian E. Estafanous, Transnational Diaspora Mobilization: Copts’ Advocacy in North America
David Bertaina, Coptic Theology in Medieval Western Europe: Ibn Rajāʾ’s "Truthful Exposer"
Christian Askeland, Early Classical Bohairic Hands
Caroline Schroeder, Learning and Teaching Coptic with Coptic Scriptorium's Resources
Denisa Hradilová, Late Antique Coptic textiles and their journey to the Central Europe