[draft typescript, ca 1980 (ed RAK December 2011)]

Janet Timbie, Washington, D.C.

     A new version of the Coptic "Homily on the Resurrection
of Lazarus," attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria, has recently been discovered in the collection of the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.1 Previously, this text was known only through a single manuscript, M595 in the Pierpont Morgan collection in New York City, which has been edited and translated by Joseph Bernardin.2 The University Museum version, E16262, was identified by Robert A. Kraft, and my own work on this manuscript -- the editing, trans­lating, and text critical analysis -- has been assisted by Professor Kraft at many points.

1  Acknowledge permission of Museum.

2   Joseph Bernardin, "The Resurrection of Lazarus," American Journal of Semitic Languages 57(1940):262-290.


The exact provenance of the manuscript is unknown. It is part of a miscellaneous collection that was acquired for the University Museum between 1900 and 1910 by William Maxwell Muller, through a dealer in Cairo.3  As the manuscript itself is undated, paleographic analysis is the only available means by which to date the manuscript (see below).

See John R. Abercrombie, "Egyptian Papyri," Expedition 20(1978): 32-33, for a brief description of the circumstances of the acquisition.

The text is written on parchment in brown ink. The Coptic dialect used is Sahidic with a few minor deviations (see below). The manuscript does not contain a complete text of the "Homily" since only three broken leaves, written on both sides, are preserved. The manuscript is a palimpsest: underwriting is legible on all six pages and a text contained therein has been tentatively identified as the "Homily on the Passion," attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem.4  The present article, however, will deal only with the text contained in the overwriting, the "Homily on the Resurrection of Lazarus," and statements about the characteristics of "the manuscript" refer only to that overwriting.

4   The complete text of this homily is also found in the Pierpont Morgan collection -- M610, which is the only previously known manuscript of the text. A complete description of the version contained in the underwriting of the University Museum manuscript will appear separately [see the Appendix below for a preliminary transcription].

Due to the poor condition of the manuscript, it is diffi­cult to determine its exact dimensions but an approximate measurement is possible. The written area measures 12.2 cm (breadth) by 17.2 cm (height); the entire page, insofar as this can be reconstructed, measures 16.5 cm by 20.5 cm. The 4:5 ratio between breadth and height seems to be common in early parchment codices.5



5  Eric G. Turner, The Typology of the Early Codex,

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977, 26-32.


    The manuscript is written in a fairly neat, but not ele­gant, slanting hand with occasional large initial letters in the left margin (ekthesis). It corresponds closely to the thin "bookhand" that Victor Stegemann assigns to the ninth century or later.6 At this point the influence of the documentary style on book-hands, which began in the seventh century, becomes quite important. Characteristics of this ninth cen­tury, thin book-hand include the following: 1) The rounded letters E (epsilon) and C (sigma) are very small; 2) small hooks or eaves appear on the letters G (gamma), T (tau), and Y (upsilon); 3) the diagonal stroke of N (nu) intersects the right vertical in the middle; 4) the horizontal saddle stroke of M (mu) is very low and rests on the line in subscripts to ninth and tenth century manuscripts. According to Stegemann, this type of M appears in the body of manuscripts in the eleventh and twelfth cen­turies.7 All these features are prominent in the manuscript under discussion, E16262. Comparing E16262 to the examples in Maria Cramer's paleographic album gives a similar result. It most closely resembles numbers 25, 30, and 32 in the album -- all ninth and tenth century manuscripts.8 While it is not possible to be very precise, the weight of the paleographic evidence favors a late ninth or tenth century date for the manuscript.

6 Victor Stegemann, Koptische Palaographie, Heidelberg: Bilabel, 1936, 19.

7  Stegemann, 21.

8  Maria Cramer, Koptische Palaographie, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1964. #25-Morgan 603-903 C.E.; #30-BM Or 3367-10th--11th c.; #32-BM Or 1320-1006 C.E.

Four pages of E16262 (pp. 1-4 [folios 1-2] as numbered below) follow folios 115rb - 117ra in the Morgan manuscript (M595) quite closely, though there are many small variants. In several instances, E16262 uses a different verbal form or tense from that used in M595:  a conjunctive continues the I future where M595 uses I perfect (see 1a.15 below); present circumstantial appears instead of future circumstantial (1b.9); present circum­stantial is used instead of I perfect (2a.19-20); etc.9 These verbal variants have little or no effect on the meaning of the text, but neither can they all be discounted as scribal errors introduced in the copying of either E16262 or M595.

9  Other instances of tense variants are 2b.11 (present circumstantial vs. imperfect), 2b.14 (1 present vs. 1 future), and 2b.20 (1 future vs. conjunctive signifying future).

    In many passages within these four pages, E16262 offers a slightly shorter or longer text than M595.  There are more minuses (13) than plusses (9) in E16262 but nearly all are very minor variants involving a single word. A few major variants occur; in all of these cases E16262 has a longer text than M595. For example, where E16262 has eNTAMESTE THUTN eNTAIENE hRAI eNTAORGH MeNPAgWNEAT . . . (la.15-17), M595 has jE AIMESTE THUTN . . .. At other points the longer text of E16262 contains the same kind of redundancy.10 In one instance the longer text seems to derive from an identifiable source: E16262, 2b.14-17 is considerably longer than the parallel passage in M595 and the additional material offers a more complete citation of Lk 22.29.11

10  See la.12-3 and 2a.6-8.
11 The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern  Dialect, vol. 2, The Gospel of St. Luke, ed. G. W. Horner, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911.

    There is one other example of a variant derived from a different treatment of a scriptural text. As noted earlier, the entire homily is based on the story of Lazarus in Jn 11.25­ - 12.18. But at the point in the story at which Jesus is anointed by Mary (Jn 12.3) E16262 (2a.14) uses the word ALABASTRON for the ointment -- in agreement with the synoptic account (Mt 26.7, Mk 14.3, Lk 7.37) of the anointing of Jesus -- while M595 has LITRA as in the Gospel of John.

    Finally, a small group of phonetic variants should be noted. E16262 uses B rather than f as in M595 (1a.14, 1a.22); G rather than K (1b.21, twice in Greek loan-words); D rather than T (2b.9 Greek loan-word); and doubles certain vowels (2a.4, 2b.9 NAAU). This is very meager evidence upon which to build a case for separate dialectical affinities in E16262 and M595. Both are essentially Sahidic. The use of G for K and D for T in Greek loan-words is common and is not linked to any one dialect. According to Crum, use of B for f is associated with Fayyumic.12 The doubling of vowels (NAAU) is "Theban," according to Worrell13 and more specifically associated with AA\2 by Kahle.14 The data does not produce any clear picture. If more of the Coptic fragments in the University Museum were edited -- and if they seemed to share dialectical features -- a stronger case might be made and conclusions could perhaps be drawn concerning the provenance of (at least some of) the pieces in the University Museum collection.


12   W. E. Crum, A Coptic Dictionary, 620a.

13    Worrell, Coptic Sounds, 110, 117.

14 Paul E. Kahle, Bala'izah, vol. 1, 233.


The remaining two pages (5-6, or 3a-b) of the six pages in E16262 contain material that does not precisely parallel any part of M595. These two pages continue to discuss the resurrection of Lazarus and there is a vague resemblance between them and a section near the beginning of M595. In M595, folios 113rb - ­114ra, Jesus summons Lazarus from the tomb: "Come forth. Behold, I am standing by you. I am your Lord; you are the work of my hands. Why have you not known me, because in the beginning I formed Adam from the earth and gave him breath. Stand upon your feet and receive strength for yourself; for I am the strength of the whole creation. Stretch out your hands and I will give them strength . . .." The direct address to Lazarus continues in this manner to the end of 113v, then the homily turns to Jesus' statement to the crowd gathered at the tomb: "Loose him and release him, in order that he may go"(114r).

The independent material in E16262 covers essentially the same topics: "He calls to Lazarus: 'Come out: Why are you sleeping? Rise, O Lazarus and listen to God who sum­mons you. Rise and stand . . . . Know the one who created you . . .. Free yourself from the linen garment so that you may wear the garment of spirit'" (pp. 5-6). But there are no verbal parallels with M595; the two versions differ in every detail. For example, in E16262, 3a.5, Jesus orders Lazarus to free himself from his grave clothes; in M595, 114r, this command is directed to the onlookers (as it is in Jn 11.44). Thus these two pages (5-6) in E16262 seem to be an independent composition rather than an expansion or revision of 113r - 114r in M595.

    It must also be noted that it is unclear where pages 5-6 fit thematically in relation to pages 1-4. Given the condition of the manuscript and the usual style of this type of literature, the independent material in E16262 (pp. 5-6) could either precede or follow the parallel section (pp. 1-4) in the hypothetical complete manuscript of this text. [Note also the similar problem with the underwriting.]

    In conclusion, while it is clear that E16262 contains a version of the "Homily on the Resurrection of Lazarus," the relationship between this version and the M595 version cannot be characterized with precision at this time. The variant readings in the parallel passages do not indicate that E16262 was copied from a text of the M595 type, or vice versa. The nature of the variants -- many involve the use of different tenses or syntactical forms -- cannot be explained by any simple or close dependence of one version on the other. The parallel passages could represent independent translations of a Greek prototype, which were then augmented with other homiletic material to form two distinct homilies on the theme of the resurrection of Lazarus.15

15  See Lefort's comments on a similar problem in certain Athanasian texts, in S. Athanase. Lettres festales et pastorales en copte, CSCO 150, ed. L.-Th. Lefort, xxxii.

A transcription and translation of the homily on the resurrection of Lazarus in E16262 follows. In both transcribing and translating I have attempted to reconstruct broken portions of the text by using parallels in M 595 or my own hypotheses. These reconstructed passages are clearly marked. All textual variants in the critical apparatus derive from M595; these are not separately labeled because no other version of the text is available.

  The following textual signs are used:

. A dot under a letter indicates that the letter is visually uncertain.

[ ] Square brackets indicate a lacuna in the manuscript.

An estimate of the number of missing letters is indicated by [±3] or by [. . .] in the translation.

< > Pointed brackets indicate a correction of a scribal omission or error.

l(l) indicates line number(s).

                TRANSLATION                                                                                                                TRANSCRIPTION


folio 1a [page 1]

folio 1a [page 1]
healed. [My] sheep [are scattered Ezek 34.4

because they have [no shepherd. Ezek 34.5

Therefore, o [lawless] shepherds, Ezek 34.9-10

hear the word of the Lord. [This  
is what the Lord says,

"I will seek my sheep

from your hand and [I will take

vengeance on you in wrath [and Jer 23.3-4

anger. And I will bring [the wrath Ezek 34.7 ff
upon you in accordance [with your

lawlessness. And I will bring the curse

upon you and I will withdraw

your blessing and bring your plan

to naught and take my face away
from you and hate you and

bring upon you

my wrath. But I [myself Ezek 34.11,16

will pasture my sheep and I will

seek them and gather them
and they will be one flock.

The scattered, [behold], I will gather

the weak I will strengthen, those

who are sick [I will] heal

those [who have strayed I will] return
to their [group and I will be] to them

folio 1b [page 2]

folio 1b [page 2]
a god and they will be] to me a people.

All [these words] I have spoken

[. . .] because of the high priests

[of the] Jews, since they attempted
to discredit the resurrection of Lazarus

lest the people believe and

be saved. When the crowd

[took] the branches from the date palms

[they came] to Christ as he was going
[up] to the festival. They Jn 12.12-13

all bore [witness] together

that he had called Lazarus

[forth] from the tomb. He raised

[him] from the dead. Because of
this, the crowds came out, since

[they heard] that he did this sign.

For the men came out of the

tomb before they buried him

and closed the mouth of the tomb.
A great wonder took hold of them when

they heard that he was active again; for

indeed this is a great wonder to hear

[about], namely, causing a man to rise

from [the dead. But] the lawless ones
[took counsel] full of

folio 2a [page 3]

folio 2a [page 3]
guile [to kill Jn 12.9-11

Lazarus also, [because a

crowd of the Jews [came on his account

to see him alive, [and they
believed. But Jesus then went Jn 12.1-4

to Bethany, the place where Lazarus

was, the one whom he raised from

the dead. They prepared

a supper for him
in that place and

Martha was serving. Lazarus, however,

was one of those reclining

with him. Mary took an

alabaster jar of ointment of nard Mt 26.7
pure and costly, Mk 14.3

and she poured it down Lk 7.37

on his head as he was reclining.

She anointed

him, wiping his
feet with the hair [of her

head. The whole place [was filled with

the odor of [that] ointment. [You saw

this great privilege, [that

Lazarus was one [of those reclining
with him [......................]

folio 2b [page 4]
folio 2b [page 4]
not only] that he gave him life

again] and took him from the hand of

death, but also that he granted

[him] this great honor of reclining
[at] supper and eating with

him. O this great favor which

God grants to those who love

him and keep his

commandments! You saw the
perfect gift. Lazarus

is reclining and eating with Jesus.

For he urged his disciples to

suffer with mankind when he said,

"I am making a Lk 22.29-30
covenant with you just as

my father established a

kingdom with me, so that you will eat

and drink with me at the

table of my kingdom.
[And] you will sit on

[twelve] thrones and judge

the twelve tribes

[of Israel.]" But Lazarus

[ate] and drank with him
[.......................... ]

folio 3a [page 5]
folio 3a [page 5]
in the world [..............

this and the [ . . . . . . ..      .

But Jesus, this [....... ] he

.] love for these holy men [.
Word, the one who can bind, [who gives

the order that

exists. Then, Christ

calls out to the tomb to bring

Lazarus out of the shadows
of death -- the one who

made all of creation stands,

who gave breath to all creatures through

the power of his [divinity and gave

spirit to them -- he
calls to Lazarus, "Come

out! Why are you sleeping? Rise, O

Lazarus and [listen to God who

summons [you.

Rise and stand [on
your feet. Behold, [. . .

[.] he came to [. . . . . . .

Rise and answer [. . . . . . .

[. . . . .] with you [. . . . . . .

[grant] the body [. . . . . . . . . .
the physician [. . . . . . . . . . .

[. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .]

folio 3b [page 6]
folio 3b [page 6]
[.............. ] which happened

[............. you. Arise; come

out. Know the one who created you

[and let] your eyes look upon
him, the one who created you.

[. .   .] your heart to[..........

this was Christ who [.........

Incline your ears; [listen] to the

voice of your Lord. He calls
to you. Rouse your

senses. Let them know that Heb 5.14

Christ [ . .] stands [.......

before you [and says], 'I, [your] God

speak to you. Free yourself
from the linen garment so that

you] may wear the garment of spirit.

[.    .] free yourself from those

bonds for I already [made

[you] a free man. Strip yourself
so that you may know me.

[............ ] recline at dinner

[. . . . .] with you

[ .............................  ]

[ .............................  ]

APPENDIX: The Underwriting (partly Ps-Cyril)

folio 1a (upside down in relation to the Lazarus text)

folio 1b (upside down in relation to the Lazarus text)

folio 2a
folio 2b
folio 3a
folio 3b