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The Apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun, Revue de l'Orient Chrétien 20 (1915-17), pp. 374-407.  Introduction

The Apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun is a very interesting text originally composed in Coptic in the 10th century but now only extant in Arabic.  It bewails the destruction of Coptic culture by Arabic and the Islamization of the Copts.

The text was edited by the Maronite priest J. Ziadeh in 1917, with a French translation.  I have run his translation into English, and corrected the result against three papers (noted at the end of the translation) which include partial translations into English of the text.  In some places these disagree with Ziadeh on matters of interpretation; I have indicated these at the end of the translation, and followed them once or twice.  This is translation from French has no scholarly value, of course, but rather an attempt to make this text much better known in the English-speaking world.  

I attach below translations of the introduction by Ziadeh, and then the opening page of a note by François Nau (the other two pages being inaccessible to me). 


Mr Graffin and the Abbé Nau have had the kindness to place in my hands the Arabic text of the Apocalypse of Samuel, the superior of Deir-El-Qalamoun.  This apocalypse is contained in the Arabic manuscript of Paris, No 150, fol. 20-31, paginated in Coptic numerals, which indicates its Egyptian origin;  it is dated from year 1322 of the Martyrs (1606 of our era).   The same manuscript contains the letter of Pisuntios, published and translated by A. Périer, ROC, XIX (1914), p. 69, and the dormition of the Virgin, translated by Mr. the abbé L. Leroy, ibid., t. XV (1910), p. 162.

Samuel is celebrated by the Copts on the 8 Kihak (December 4).  He was from Tkyllo (Daklouba), in the diocese of Medjel in Egypt, was a monk at Scete and ordained priest of the church of Abou-Macaria, in the 5th century.  When the letter of St. Leo arrived in the desert, Samuel was one of the most ardent to tear it up and hurl an anathema on him;  he became superior of the monastery of El-Qalamoun.  See Patr. or., t. III, p. 405-408. The Ethiopian texts relating to Samuel were studied by Mr. F. M. E. Pereira, Vida do Abba Samuel, Lisbonne, 1894.

The present Apocalypse of Samuel, like the manuscript which contains it, is thus of Egyptian origin, as we can also see by the subject itself, the names of the places and the characters as well as by the details and the circumstances of the account.  {p.375} Moreover, it is of Eutychian inspiration. 

The language in which it is written does not belong to standard Arabic;  it represents a particular dialect in which the rules of agreement are not observed, especially for the relative pronouns, which are not always in harmony with the gender and the number of their antecedents, as they should be. 

In this edition we have tried to reproduce the text such as it is, but restoring however the diacritic points, which are often missing or badly placed, rendering reading the manuscript very difficult. When we met a word which was faded or too incorrect, we have given the exact form of it between brackets. 

In the translation, we have endeavoured to follow the text very closely, while trying sometimes to contribute more clarity and precision.  There can be no question of conciseness, because it seems repugnant to the talent of the author and even the nature of the text.  One must be resigned to here encounter a portions which tediously long and repetitive. 

Where we have deviated from giving a word for word translation, we have noted it in brackets.  As the use of the conjunctive particles @ and @ is sometimes abusive and abnormal, we have allowed ourselves the liberty to follow the idea rather than the letter in certain places. 

These limitations aside, we can say that we have presented to the reader a literal translation, that we have tried to remain clear and correct despite the defects of composition and style.  These defects are such that we have been unable, during this work, to avoid admiring the patience of the listener and the transcriber of similar speeches.  Such as it is, however, this text constitutes no less an extremely interesting document. 

J. Ziadeh.

{p. 405}


(By F. Nau, pp. 405-7)

The work consists of two parts:  a sermon (fol.  20 - 28r) an an apocalypse (fol. 28 to 30).  The purpose of the sermon is to condemn all relationship with the Moslems and especially the use of the Arabic language (fol. 21-23-25, 28r), to give moral regulations (fol. 25r-26) which often begin like those of Ammonas (Patr. or., t. XI, p. 458-471) by the words "Be on guard" (there is however no textual dependence).  Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, in the church of the monastery where she appeared several times to Samuel, is also recommended at length (fol. 27-28).

After that (fol. 28r), Gregory, bishop of El-Qais (or Kais), questions Samuel about the end times. 

So we have a writing composed in Coptic at the monastery of Qalamoun (or Kalamoun).  None who have seen their language supplanted by that of conquerors, and especially the friends of Coptic, will be able to read without emotion the sentences on "the language of the ancestors", "the beautiful Coptic language in which the Holy Spirit was often expressed by the mouth of the Spiritual fathers"; "the disappearance of the biographies of the saints", the abandonment "of the names of the saints to give foreign names to the children", the wronging of "those which are famous for their books, those whose Coptic language placed in their mouth the sweetness of honey and spread around them like the odour of perfumes because of their beautiful pronunciation of the Coptic language, and who gave up their language for Arabic."

This sermon is thus old, because Coptic was quickly supplanted. Gregory, bishop of Kais, is mentioned in the history of the Patriarchs of Alexandria under five successive patriarchs who controlled the Jacobite church from 661 to 730, cf.  Patr. or., t. V, p. 9, 20, 22, 42, 49;  the writing is thus placed at the beginning of the 8th century. 

We may note the epithet given to Juvenal (Ioubenalios is written ouquialinos);  Moukaukas, who is Cyrus, the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria (cf. Patr.or., I, 491), here named Kaleyrros:  the name which corresponds to number 666 of Apocalypse, xiii, 18. is here Lasmarisu instead of Mamentios (Mamadanos in Pisentius), cf. R. Griveau, in ROC., t. XIX (1914), p. 442. The apocalypse is related to that of Pisentius and to the source of this one:  pseudo-Methodius;  for example: "the king of the Greeks, in great fury, will come on the coast to block it", fol. 29r Journal asiatique, May-June 1917:  [greek] {p.406}, p.456, 459.  Al-Hefar is perhaps Gephura, ibid., p.459, note 4, at least related to Theoer, derived from Iathreb, ibid., 460, n.1. -- "The town of the Egyptians named Babylon" is Babel (Journal asiatique p. 437), a name given to Cairo -- "The king of Abyssinia shall marry the daughter of the king of the Greeks", fol. 29v; it is the opposite in ps.Methodius, which subordinates all the empires to Abyssinia, p. 447.  The peace and tranquillity shall last for 40 years, in the Arabic (fol. 29v) and 208 years in the Greek, p.437, cf. p.460.  The arrival of the Huns is summarised in 4 lines in the Arabic; they soil the earth for only 5 months; in ps.Methodius (JA, loc.cit., p.438-440), they rule for 2 years and 8 months.  According to the Arabic, the king of the Greeks shall rule at Jerusalem for 1 year and 6 months (fol. 29r) and according to ps.Methodius, for a week and a half (a week of years), p.440, note 6, cf. p. 434. -- The 10 Greek kings who shall march with antiChrist correspond to the 10 horns mentions in Daniel, 7:7, cf. JA, loc. cit., p.461.  See also the letter of Pisuntios, ROC, t. XIX (1914), p.316-323.

The sign according to which children shall speak three months after they are born, fol. 29v, may be found in the Testamentum D.N.J.C.  See our translation in the Octateuque de Clement, Paris, 1913, p.21, line 5.

The author informs us at the end that he did not write the statements which Samuel kept secret with the bishop Anba Gregorius, because he was forbidden to do so.  One may ask whether this refusal was not lifted later, and if this may not be the origin of the small apocalypse named Gorgorios (Gregory), of which M. J. Halevy has edited the Ethiopian version (Les commandements du sabbat, p. 210-219, Paris, 1902, Bibl. de l'Ecole des Hautes-Etudes, fasc. 137), and of which there are still some Arabic manuscripts.

Let us add that the apocalypse of Samuel was announced in his life (Patrologia Orientalis  III, 408) where it is said, "that he will prophesy the coming of the nation of the Arabs"; and that the monastery of Qalamoun (Kalamoun) is described at length by Al-Makrizi, ROC t. XIII (1908), p. 44.  Makrizi made Samuel live before the hegira.

We believe that we have shown, in this short note, that the work of M. Ziadeh is very interesting, first because it is the translation of a coptic document of the 8th century of which some fragments may have been found in the Fayoum, and also because it makes known to us the attitude of the patriotic jacobite copts towards the Arabic language (1);  it is very important as a new link in the tradition of apocrypha belonging to ps. Methodius.  I do not refer to the menial details of history from the jacobite perspective, but many will perhaps find that the most interesting is that of which I have not spoken, i.e. the very vivid image of the vexations of the Moslems (2), of some  {p.407} coptic customs (3), and of some abuses which were introduced among the Jacobites of Egypt.

1.  Fol. 22v: "Do you think that there is for the heart a sadness greater than to see the Christians abandonning their sweet language to glorify that of the Arabs, as well as their names?"

2.  At the beginning of the hegira the Moslems found among the Jacobites precious auxiliaries, determined to revenge themselves upon the Greeks, but their alliance lasted only briefly; just so long as the stronger had need of the weaker.  We have highlighted these episodes in "Un colloque du patriarche jacobite Jean avec l'emir des Agareens" (A dialogue of the Jacobite patriarch John with the emir of the Hagarians), Journal Asiatique, March-April, 1915, p.225-279.

3.  For instance, fol. 21v, those who arrive late for the mass are informed of the chapter read in the evangelary, and read it by themselves; fol. 23v, the end of June marked by the sun; fol. 27, the cult of the Holy Virgin at the monastery of Kalamoun.

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