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The Digital Edition and Critical Evaluation of the Coptic Holy Week Lectionary: 2022 progress report

On 4/11/2022, I reported on the new project dedicated to the Coptic Holy Week Lectionary (HWL), co-led by Diliana Atanassova and Frank Feder. Now, almost one year after its launch, it is time to provide a first progress report with the highlights of the period from April 1 to December 31, 2022.

1. New dedicated Holy Week Lectionary space in the VMR

The VMR now hosts three new dedicated sections for the Holy Week Lectionaries: Holy Week Lectionary Sahidic, Holy Week Lectionary Bohairic, and Holy Week Lectionary Arabic. We have updated the existing stock of digital copies of Holy Week lectionaries in the VMR with further manuscripts listed separately under the respective dedicated sections and henceforth available for transcription.

1.1 Uploading and display

The list in the new Holy Week Lectionary Sahidic section displays the five lectionaries that were already hosted in the Göttingen CoptOT manuscript workspace. These are sa 16L (1), sa 292L (2), sa 298L (3), sa 299L (4), and sa 349L (5) and correspond to more than 270 leaves.

The list in the new Holy Week Lectionary Bohairic section now includes six Holy Week lectionaries and four Ṭuruḥat for the Holy Week codexes, all newly prepared and uploaded. These are bo 3000L (6), bo 3003L (7), bo 3004L (8), bo 3004L (9), bo 3005L (10), bo 3006L (11), and bo 3007L (12), totalling more than 2000 leaves. The Ṭuruḥat are bo 3009L (13), 3010L (14), 3011L (15), and 3013L (16) and total 272 leaves.

The list in the new Holy Week Lectionary Arabic section includes all bilingual Sahidic–Arabic and Bohairic–Arabic Holy Week lectionaries already included in the other two dedicated sections as well as the monolingual Holy Week lectionary ar 1L (17) (185 leaves).

1.2 Indexing and tagging

Indexing in our context means identifying the contents of each page of a manuscript, i.e. biblical passages, liturgical instructions, liturgical rubrics, homilies, hymns, etc. Indexing is an essential work in preparation of the transcription of the texts in the codices. This step was further expanded by the development of a new feature tagging system specific to the Holy Week Lectionary, where the period, the day of the Holy Week and the time of the service are encoded. This can be seen in the following illustration

 

In this case, the relevant pages have been indexed for the biblical passages they contain. The lines in red are the so-called features, which were created specifically for the HWL project. They contain information on the day of the Holy Week, the service at issue (Night or Day) and the hour at which the biblical passage is read. For example, the features for Page ID 10, “P: HolyW WD5 SvcD12” read: Holy Week, Day 5 (i.e. Holy Thursday), 12th Hour of the Day.

 

The three Sahidic–Arabic and one of the two monolingual Sahidic HWLs were fully indexed and tagged (245 leaves) by me. I also set off and progressed on the indexing and feature-tagging of the monolingual Arabic HWL. More than 1100 leaves of the Bohairic HWLs were indexed by Peter Missael.

 

 

 

1.3 Transcription

Of the manuscripts mentioned in section 1.1, I fully transcribed the Sahidic and the Arabic texts of the three Sahidic–Arabic HWL manuscripts sa 16L, sa 292L, and sa 349L as well as of the Sahidic texts of the monolingual sa 298L in the Transcription Editor of the Göttingen VMR in line with the rules worked out by the CoptOT team (250 leaves). The diplomatic editions of the Sahidic texts contained in the above HWLs were part of two critical editions carried out by the CoptOT team: Isaiah 53  and Leviticus.

The Bohairic parts of the bilingual Bohairic–Arabic HWLs are being transcribed. The Bohairic texts already transcribed by Diliana Atanassova and Peter Missael amount to 370 leaves.

My transcription of the Arabic text of the monolingual HWL ar 1L (Paris, BnF, Arab 113) was also set off in 2022.

1.4 Special challenges

During the transcription of the HWL manuscripts, special challenges were met, such as the introduction and adaptation to the LXX versification of a Bohairic biblical base text and of an Arabic biblical base text in the essentially Sahidic environment of the Göttingen CoptOT VMR. Moreover, transcribing Arabic text, which must read from right to left, in an environment where all other transcriptions read from left to right was yet another challenge that had to be tackled.

Our special thanks go to our colleagues from the CoptOT team and more specifically to Troy A. Griffitts and Ulrich B. Schmid for their support, understanding and creativity in helping us overcome the above-mentioned challenges and enabling the integration of a new language and new features in the VMR.

2. Talks at Congresses

Diliana Atanassova and Lina Elhage-Mensching were present at two important liturgical events:

  • The Interdisciplinary Symposium “The Liturgy of St James” of the University of Regensburg, 6–10 June 2022, Regensburg, Germany with a joint contribution with the title “The Anaphora of St James in a Sahidic Euchologion”
  • The 8th International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy,13–18 June 2022, Thessaloniki, Greece with a joint contribution with the title “The Digital Edition and Critical Evaluation of the Coptic Holy Week Lectionary”.

Diliana Atanassova, Lina Elhage-Mensching, and Frank Feder attended the 12th International Congress of Coptic Studies of the International Association of Coptic Studies, 11–16 July 2022, Brussels, Belgium.

  • Diliana Atanassova presented the plenary paper on the developments in the research on Coptic Liturgy from 2012 to 2022, and
  • Lina Elhage-Mensching contributed with a talk titled “The Owner Family of sa 16L” 
  • Frank Feder held a talk related to the Digital Edition of the Coptic Old Testament.

3. Blog articles

Elhage-Mensching, Lina, “New DFG Project at the Göttingen Academy: ‘Digital Edition and Critical Evaluation of the Coptic Holy Week Lectionary’ (01.04.2022 – 31.03.2025).” In: Digital Edition of the Coptic Old Testament, https://coptot.manuscriptroom.com/blog/-/blogs/new-dfg-project-at-the-gottingen-academy-digital-edition-and-critical-evaluation-of-the-coptic-holy-week-lectionary-01-04-2022-31-03-2025-, 11 April 2022.

Elhage-Mensching, Lina, “The Arabic Bible in the new DFG project “Digital Edition and Critical Evaluation of the Coptic Holy Week Lectionary.” In: Biblia Arabica, https://biblia-arabica.com/the-arabic-bible-in-the-new-dfg-project-digital-edition-and-critical-evaluation-of-the-coptic-holy-week-lectionary/, 6 June 2022.

4. Publications

Atanassova, Diliana, “Die Predigten Schenutes in den liturgischen Typika des Weißen Klosters,” in: The Rediscovery of ShenouteStudies in Honor of Stephen Emmel, edited by Anne Boud’hors, with the assistance of David Brakke, Andrew Crisip, and Samuel Moawad (OLA 310), Leuven, 2022, 27–75.

––––––, “Coptic Monastic Canons,” in: Coptic Literature. Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium of Coptic Studies by the Saint Mark Foundation. Monastery of St. Bishoi (Wadi al-Natrun), 10–14 February, 2019, edited by Samuel Moawad, Cairo 2022, 75–90.

Feder, Frank, “A New Textual Witness of the Sahidic Version of Jeremiah and Its Text Historical Assessment,” in: Editing the Septuagint: The Unfinished Task, edited by Frank Feder and Felix Albrecht, De Septuaginta Investigationes 16, Göttingen, 2022, 123–28.

––––––, “Eine sahidische Palimpsesthandschrift aus dem Weißen Kloster,” in: Sortieren – Edieren – Kreieren: Zwischen Handschriftenfunden und Universitätsalltag. Stephen L. Emmel zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet, edited by Angelika Lohwasser, Gesa Schenke, and Frank Feder, Aegyptiaca Monasteriensia 8, Aachen, 2022, 233–43.

––––––, “The Complete Reconstruction and Edition of the Coptic Sahidic Old Testament and Its Relevance for the Textual History of the Septuagint,” in: XVII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Aberdeen 2019, edited by G. R. Kotzé, M.N. van der Meer, and Martin Rösel, Septuagint and Cognate Studies 76, Atlanta, 2022, 61–87.

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