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An unforgettable conference in the Wadi El Natrun valley (near Cairo, Egypt)


From 28 January to 2 February, Frank Feder, Chrysi Kotsifou and I attended the 10th Symposium of the Saint Mark Foundation for Coptic Heritage. This meeting's topic was "The Coptic Bible". Scholars from Egypt, the United States, and eight European countries gathered to address issues such as the transmission of the Coptic Bible in various dialects, its usage in education and in liturgy, and its role in inspiring Coptic monks and artists. Some of the speakers offered philological/linguistic papers relying upon biblical books in Coptic.

As far as the Göttingen Academy is concerned, the conference featured representatives of both the Coptic Old Testament project (our "big project") and the Pauline epistles project. Frank Feder gave an overview of the CoptOT project, in which he also detailed the historical attempts to edit and translate books of the Sahidic Old Testament. Chrysi Kotsifou's topic was: "Editing the Sahidic Book of Psalms".

Katharina Sandmeier's talk was focused on the history of research on the Coptic New Testament at the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF). My own presentation outlined Göttingen and Münster's work on the Pauline epistles in Coptic. It is my impression that our two speeches usefully complemented each other.

Unlike the regular conferences of, say, the IACS or the AFC, the Saint Mark Foundation's events are aimed at both Coptologists and members of the Coptic community in general. The presentations were abundantly recorded and photographed. Katharina Sandmeier and I volunteered to be interviewed by the COC Channel.

Our stay allowed us to catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues as well. On a personal note, I was especially delighted to meet Professor Lilian Larsen, a specialist of monastic education in Late Antiquity. I heartfully thank the Saint Mark Foundation and especially Hany Takla and Akhnoukh Fanous for their invitation and their wonderful hospitality.

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