Shenoute as Reflected in the Vita and the Difnar

Gawdat Gabra and Hany N. Takla

in Christianity and Monasticism in Upper Egypt

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9789774161223
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970450 | DOI:
Shenoute as Reflected in the Vita and the Difnar

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Everyone who is familiar with Coptic history and culture will have various associations with the name Shenoute. It is not surprising that this multilayered 4th-century personality has stayed alive through literary means, not only by his own writings, but also in works that want to be reminded of him. This chapter compares two of them in their statements about Shenoute: the Difnar and Shenoute's Vita, which had originally been composed in Sahidic by Shenoute's successor, Besa. It discusses the conceptions and expectations that are found in a text like the Difnar, pursues its literary tradition, and also portrays a possible source of the Difnar. This investigation is divided into three sections. After a short introduction to the Difnar the passages in the text are discussed, which are reproduced in the Vita and in the Difnar literally, or almost literally. In doing so, certain epithets have to be taken into consideration which are attributed to Shenoute. Subsequently, epithets and passages are compared which, although not literally identical, are of equal content, but which are still comprehensible on their own in the Difnar. Finally, allusions in the Difnar that presuppose knowledge of the Vita are referred to.

Keywords: Shenoute; Vita; Difnar; Coptic history; Besa

Chapter.  2794 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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