Coptic on the WWW
Coptic studies on the internet - selection of sites
Compiled by Heike Behlmer, November 2004
WARNING: Not everything that is on the web is correct, up to date and/or useful. Texts that are available on the web are very often from text editions in the public domain. Even in a field such as ours, where we count in centuries or millennia, not in years, a text edition 70 years old or older may sometimes be considered in need of revision. Quite often there is a new printed edition of the text available, which for copyright reasons cannot be accessed on the web!
(As a consequence, sites that evaluate other sites need to be developed. A helpful site is Humbul Humanities Hub. It catalogs and, what is more important, evaluates online resources in the humanities. Where Humbul has cataloged a site, the record has been reproduced here. All other descriptions/evaluations of sites are mine).
General and bibliography
The official website of the Coptologists' association provides the following information:
- past and present issues of the newsletter of the Association
- upcoming publications
- addresses of Coptologists around the world
- information about upcoming conferences and exhibitions
- teaching programs in Coptic studies
- communications by members and news
- general information about the Journal of Coptic studies and tables of contents
- Coptic centres outside of Egypt
Maintained by Professor Tito Orlandi, University of Rome
The website contains six sections. In the following I reproduce the descriptions Prof. Orlandi gives on the opening page of his site:
- Clavis Patrum Copticorum: list of the authors and works of the Coptic literature with information on manuscripts, content, and critical problems
- Manuscripts: list (a) of the individual collections, (b) of the Coptic codices either well preserved or reconstructed, e.g. from the Monastery of St. Shenoute, Atripe (White Monastery)
- Texts: electronic edition of Coptic texts with Italian translation. A full edition consists of: reproduction of the manuscripts, diplomatica edition of the manuscripts, critical edition of the text, with translation, index of the words with grammatical explanation, linguistic analysis
- History of literature: chronological description of the development of the Coptic literature in 12 parts. Parts 1, 4, 7 are currently available
- Grammar: a computational grammar of Sahidic with a list of words according to the grammatical categories.
- Bibliography. Electronic bibliography for Coptic studies.
Some of the subjects are complete from the beginning of the studies: Bibbia; Gnosticismo; Apocrypha; Letteratura; Agiografia; Storia; Generalia (partially); Manoscritti (partially). The other subjects (Linguistica; Archeologia, and parts of Generalia, Manoscritti and Storia) start from 1980, and the previous titles will be completed in the future. (Translation of the Italian section titles for the Bibliography [although not difficult to guess:-)]: Bibbia = Bible; Gnosticismo = Gnosticism; Letteratura = Literature; Agiografia = Hagiography; Storia = History; Generalia = General Works; Manoscritti = Manuscripts; Linguistica = Linguistics; Archeologia = Archaeology) (The CMCL is no longer an open access website. Macquarie University has subscribed to this bibliography. Information about accessing the bibliography will be found on the internal pages of the units offered in the Coptic Studies program.)
Eine Datenbank zur Literaturrecherche im Fachgebiet Aegyptologie [Aigyptos. A database of Egyptological scholarly literature]
Aigyptos is a database project which aims to provide rapid access to research bibliographies in Egyptology from the prehistoric to the Graeco-Roman periods and includes materials relevant to Coptic and Nubian studies. The searchable database is in German but the comprehensive introduction with detailed search instructions is also available in English. The project is a collaborative venture between the Instituts für Aegyptologie der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Äegyptologischen (sic) Institut der Universität Heidelberg. The compilation of the databases is an on-going project. Comprehensive bibliographies are available from 1990 with more selective coverage before this date at the time of writing. (Humbul)
Coptic texts on the web
There are two (partial) translations available at The Military Saints:
(E. O. Winstedt, Coptic Texts on St Theodore the Eastern, on Chamoul and Justus, London 1910, 73-91)
(E. A. W. Budge, Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, London 1914, 455-473)
Maintained by Sheila McNally of the University of Minnesota
This website, which is still under construction, was set up in connection with an international project to study the archaeology of the so-called White and Red Monasteries in Upper Egypt.
The White Monastery is the monastery of which the famous Apa Shenoute (after 348 - 465), one of the foremost writers in Coptic, was abbot. The site provides an overview of the history, architecture and archaeology of the monasteries, an introduction to the library of the White Monastery, which is today dispersed in many museums of the world, an introduction to the life of Apa Shenoute and a time-line for Christianity in Egypt.
In the 3rd/4th - 8th centuries, Coptic texts exists contemporaneously with a large number of Greek texts - actually, in many cases Coptic and Greek manuscripts have come from the same archaeological finds or ancient libraries. Therefore, webpages directed primarily to Greek papyrologists, often offer easy access to the study of Graeco-Roman Egypt and access to Coptic texts. In fact, the Greek papyrologist can be safely considered the natural ally of any Coptologist. The most useful - in my view - are (All of the pages also have collections of useful links to other papyrological sites on the web):
"APIS links together in a single environment various sources of information about texts written on papyrus and the society that produced them."
A bibliography of all monographs publishing documentary texts on papyrus, parchment, ostraca or wooden tablets.
Here you will find "A select bibliography on papyrology", which, because grouped thematically, is really a good general bibliography on Late Antique and Byzantine Egypt. You will also find online exhibitions (e. g. on papyrus making, Late Antique magic, or writing in Graeco-Roman Egypt) and other useful links.
Other than giving the possibility to browse through images and description of papyri according to thematic groups, there are also short introductory essays (under the heading "Information about papyri") about papyri in general, the study of papyri, writing in Egypt under Greek and Roman rule and Late Antique Egypt. There is also a general bibliography and a bibliography on Greek literary papyri.
The Arabic Papyrology web site explains the manufacture of papyrus, and provides access to the catalogues of several universities with significant papyrus holdings. Despite its name, the site deals with papyri bearing texts in Greek, Coptic, and Syriac, as well as Arabic. A "languages" section includes links to web sites covering various aspects of these languages, including fonts and learning courses as well as material specifically relating to papyri. A "map" section provides a map of Egypt. (Humbul)
The Fayum Project aims to reconstruct the settlement history and social and religious life of an Egyptian nome (administrative district) in northern Egypt during the Greek and Roman period based on evidence from papyri, inscriptions and archaeological artefacts. The project brings together data from a number of databases developed at the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven : the Leuven Homepage of Papyrus Collections (LHPC); Leuven Database of Ancient Books (LDAB); and the Prosopographia Ptolemaica Online. The core of the resource is a series of detailed, hyper-texted entries on each of the villages within the Fayum arranged as a gazetteer. The entries contain a wealth of historical, prosopographical and geographical material, including maps and further bibliographical references. The material can be browsed in other ways, mainly through the other Leuven database links mentioned above, though some knowledge of the overall structure of the databases (and indeed some knowledge of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt) is assumed. (Humbul)
Late antiquity in general
A very well-made collection of links is also provided by this research institution in Bonn dedicated to the study of Late Antiquity, which produces the monumental "Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum" (a little German is helpful, but it is possible just to try out the links and see what happens:-) - many of the links lead to English-language websites).
The collection of links is organized as follows: Ancient Texts, Bibliographies, Disciplines concerned with Late Antiquity, Institutions, Lexica and other study aids, Museums, and Journals. Under "Ancient Texts" you will find an extensive lists of writers and texts with all the biographical information, text editions, translations, and bibliography available on the web.
Since Coptic Egypt shares not only the territory, but also the language and many other traits with Ancient Egypt, Egyptology websites may come in useful. Information on Egypt and Egyptology is best accessed through:
Maintained by Nigel Strudwick
For Ptolemaic and Early Roman Egypt the following sites may also be of interest:
Cleopatra on the Web
A comprehensive resource guide to some 470 websites featuring Cleopatra VII of Egypt, one of the most famous queens of the ancient world whose life and image have fascinated playwrights, artists, composers and film-makers for 2000 years, in many ways to the misrepresentation of the historical figure. This semi-commercial resource, part of the Isidore-of-Seville parent site, lists hundreds of websites providing biographical material, bibliographies, online papers and discussions as well as background material on later Ptolemaic Egypt, the Hellenistic period generally, and the advent of the Romans. In addition are many links to sites on the representation of Cleopatra in subsequent artistic media, including contemporary exhibitions, films and even in popular songs by the Rolling Stones, the Smiths and Neil Young. The editor has attempted to comment on the content and quality of many links, which is variable, but potential users of this site, especially school and undergraduate students of classics and ancient history, will need to exercise their judgement (Humbul)
The House of Ptolemy is a resource guide, intended as a study aid and to provide bibliographical material for students of Greco-Roman Egypt. The main focus of the site, as its name suggests, is the period of the Ptolemaic kings (331 - 30BC), descendants of Macedonian Greeks, for which some 275 links have been compiled. There are also compendious sections on Roman, Byzantine and modern Egypt (c. 80 links each).Within these periods, links are arranged by theme into sets and subsets, in a fashion that is generally clear and efficient. (Humbul)
Websites provided by the Coptic church and Coptic laypersons
This is just a small selection of the numerous websites provided by Coptic churches and institutions around the world:
Text and Audio resources. Weekly lectures by H.H.Pope Shenouda III are available for download.
This website maintains an exemplary website directed both at the local communities and interested outsiders which contains numerous links to other sites of interest:
Maintained by Hany Takla, President of the Society (now includes the scholarly journal "Coptologia"). The website of the Los Angeles based Society, which also hosts thematic conferences contains a number of useful tools and links. Inexpensive publications and Coptic language study aids can also be ordered from them.
The Christian Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt , maintained by Azer Bestavros, Computer Science Department, Boston University
This websites provides general information about the study of saints and their lives and cults (with numerous links to hagiographical bibliographies, editions, organizations and homepages of individual saints). The Belgium-based Bollandists, named after the Jesuit scholar Jean Bolland, have been studying hagiography for more than 350 years.
There are an infinite number of sites with bibliographies, study aids, links and other resources relating to Biblical Studies. Here I shall just mention a few which I have tried myself and found useful. Failure to mention a site does not constitute a negative judgment on its quality by itself.
Compiled by Torrey Seland (Volda College). The site is divided in four main pages: Biblical texts, translations and related texts (including Apocrypha, Church Fathers, Papyrological resources and others), Biblical Studies electronically published, Aspects of the Mediterranean Social World, and, as a special interest topic, The Philo of Alexandria Page. The first three pages are immensely useful in locating resources on the New Testament and the Early Church and its socio-cultural environment on the web.
Full texts on the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries (including the Acts of the Councils of Ephesos and Chalcedon and related texts, such as Cyril's letters to Nestorius or the Letter of Leo to Flavian, the so-called "Tome of Leo") at monachos.net. There are also some essays, e. g. "What was at stake at Chalcedon" by M. C. Steenberg, who maintains the site. The council is generally discussed from a pro-Chalcedonian viewpoint.
Maintained by the Faculté de thologie et de sciences religieuses, Université Laval. This website provides general information about the Nag Hammadi Library and critical editions of the texts together with translations into French.
The Gnostic Society Library: The Nag Hammadi Library
The English translation of the Nag Hammadi texts, appeared in print in the series Nag Hammadi Library. (Please note that this website is provided by the Ecclesia Gnostica, a modern Gnostic church based in Los Angeles. Therefore not all of the material on the site relates to ancient Gnostic writings)
Compiled by Anne McGuire, Dept. of Religion, Haverford College
The 'Bibel der Haeretiker' contains the German translation of all of the thirteen codices found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. These works were written in Coptic and contain a number of religious texts, the majority of which is gnostic. This site is the electronic version of a monograph, published in 1997. It is not very user-friendly, as it consists of one long browse list of texts, but its completeness and quality of bibliography and annotations make it a valuable resource. (Humbul).
(Users also need to take into account that the translation put on the web on this site has also appeared in book form and has not found an unanimously positive reception among Coptic scholars. The translation has been found wanting in accuracy in several instances.)
The entry on Gnosticism discusses the origins, philosophy, principal representatives of both Gnosticism and Manichaeism and is useful for a short overview of the doctrines.
Maps of Egypt in the first millennium CE on the web
The maps are not very detailed, but accurate and very well made. They give the physical geography, the major cities, and the borders of the administrative units (provinces). The following maps are of particular interest:
- Ancient Egypt 3rd Century B.C. to 7th Century A.D.
- Ptolemaic Egypt
- Roman Egypt and Surrounding Provinces at the Death of Trajan (117 A.D.)
- Early Byzantine Egypt
- Late Roman Egypt and Surrounding Provinces
There are also maps of the Roman Empire available which include Egypt, such as:
This site provides a number of maps of the Roman Empire in one hundred year intervals.