Cultures and Cultural Production

“Renaissance of Coptic Literature and the entourage of Patriarch Damian (578-605): Τhe Formation of the Coptic Identity”

Kouremenos Nikos

Research ProposalConferenceResearch ResultsShort BioPublications

Summary of the Research Proposal

The present proposal aims to expose the actual interest of the author on the development of a post doctoral project in the area of Coptic Studies, specifically in Coptic Literature, with the main objective being the demonstration of the particular and individual character of Coptic literature during the period of patriarch Damian (578-605) and its contribution to the formation of an independent and indigenous Coptic identity. For this purpose the author intends to examine the efforts connected with the reorganization and consolidation of the Coptic Church under the leadership of Patriarch Damian as well as the literal production in the Coptic language of the same period, an indigenous literature intending to serve the purposes of an independent Egyptian Church, distinctive from the imperial Chalcedonian one. Apart from the writings of Damian himself, there was a group of authors during that period, mainly in the region of Upper Egypt, who contributed to the so-called Renaissance of Coptic Literature. Authors such as Constantine of Siout, Rufus of Shotep or Pisentius of Keft revealed through their writings a dynamic will to construct a proper identity for the Coptic Literature regarding not only the formal aspects but also the selection of subjects. The project approach, therefore, is characterized by a combination of historic reality and literary criticism in order to interpret the phenomenon of polyphony within Late Antique Christianity in the delimited geographical area of Egypt.
As a starting point to this project served the observations of two renowned scholars of Coptic literature, namely Tito Orlandi and Stephen Emmel, who have remarked in their work that the literal production during the period of patriarch Damian constitutes a distinguished part of Coptic literature with its proper characteristics. The author’s aim is to undertake a comprehensive examination of the relevant literal production in order to support and confirm these general and preliminary remarks and to contribute to the further study of the field of Coptic literature. In fact the proposing project is directly connected with the author’s PhD research, a critical edition of a Coptic martyrdom, in which he had the opportunity to be familiarized not only with the Coptic language but also with particular features of Coptic literature of the relevant period.

This research project was funded by the Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH), with the support of the

 

International Symposium

“Christian Egypt and Syria at the dawn of the 7th century: Theological and Cultural Interactions”

Thursday, 23 November 2017 | 18:00-21:00
Historical Archives, University of Athens
Skoufa 45, Athens 10672

The symposium is part of the research project by Dr. Nikos Kouremenos entitled «Towards the Formation of a Coptic Identity: Τhe Renaissance of Coptic Literature and the Entourage of Patriarch Damian (578-605)» funded by The Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH) for the year 2017.

Organizer: Dr. Nikos Kouremenos, nikourem@hotmail.com

 

Program

18:00 Opening – Greetings

 

Introduction

18:20 Damian of Alexandria (578-605) and his Entourage: Coptic Literary Production between Theological Controversies and Cultural Neccesities.

Nikos Kouremenos (Postdoctoral fellow, Research Centre for the Humanities, Athens)

 

Keynote lecture

18:45 New discoveries in Coptic and Copto-Arabic Literature: Rufus of Shotep and Constantine of Assiut: Constantine of Assiut on John of Lycopolis: a Life or an Encomium?

Mark Sheridan (Rector emeritus, Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm, Rome) 

 

Contributions

19:30 The perception of Egypt in Christian Middle East during the 6th and 7th centuries

Dimitrios Moschos (Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, University of Athens)

 

19:50 Christian Nubia and Syria: Τracing the Εvidence

Alexandros Tsakos (Postdoctoral fellow, University of Bergen, Norway)

 

20:15 Discussion


Poster

Program – Participants’ short bios

Research Project: «Renaissance of Coptic Literature and the entourage of Patriarch Damian (578-605): Τhe Formation of the Coptic Identity»

Researcher: Dr. Nikos Kouremenos

The research project ««Renaissance of Coptic Literature and the entourage of Patriarch Damian (578-605): Τhe Formation of the Coptic Identity» was funded by the Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH) for the year 2017, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

The present research in the field of Coptic Studies has the main objective to demonstrate the particular and individual character of Coptic literature during the period of non-Chalecedonian patriarch of Alexandria Damian (578-605) and its contribution to the formation of an independent and indigenous Coptic identity. For this purpose, I examine the efforts connected with the reorganization and consolidation of the Coptic Church under the leadership of patriarch Damian as well as the literal production in the Coptic language of the same period, an indigenous literature intending to serve the purposes of an independent Egyptian Church, distinctive from the imperial Chalcedonian one. Apart from the writings of patriarch Damian himself, there was a group of authors during that period, mainly in the region of Upper Egypt, who contributed to the so-called Renaissance of Coptic Literature. Authors such as Constantine of Siout, Rufus of Shotep or John of Shmoun revealed through their writings a dynamic will to construct a proper identity for the Coptic Literature regarding not only the formal aspects but also the selection of subjects. Through the special emphasis on the distinctly important role of Egypt in the universal history of Christianity and the selective projection of specific personalities in the history of Christian Egypt and their contribution to the general Christian spirituality, a peculiar localism is emerging to be the beginning of the formation of Coptic self-consciousness later on. The research’s approach, therefore, is characterized by a combination of historic reality and literary criticism in order to interpret the phenomenon of polyphony within Late Antique Christianity in the delimited geographical area of Egypt.

Nikos Kouremenos studied Theology at the Department of Theology of the Theological School at the University of Athens (NKUA) and  received his Master’s degree in Church History from the same Department. He then completed his PhD studies at the Pontifical Institute for Oriental Studies (PIO) in Rome, where he specialized in Ancient Oriental Languages, in particular in Coptic Language and Literature. He has also been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) and the Research Center for the Study of Humanities (RCH) in Athens. His research interests focus on the historical course of Christianity in Egypt and the Near East, with particular emphasis on Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. He has participated in numerous conferences both in Greece and abroad, while his studies have been published in various international series and journals. He speaks English, French, Italian and German and knows Coptic and Syriac. He is currently teaching at the Department of Theology at the University of Athens and at the International Hellenic University in Thessaloniki.

 

 

 

 

  • Kouremenos N., «The Account of Seventy Idols in Coptic Hagiographical Tradition»  in Buzi P. – Camplani A. – Contrardi F. (ed.) Coptic Society, Literature and Religion from Late Antiquity to Modern Times: Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies, Rome, September 17th-22nd, 2012, [Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 247], vol. II, Leuven 2016, pp. 1095-1115.
  • Kouremenos N., «L’insegnamento di Matta el Meskin alla luce della spiritualità ortodossa greca», in G. Dotti – M. el Makari (eds.), Matta el Meskin: Un padre del deserto contemporaneo, Bose 2017, pp. 275-281.
  • Kouremenos N., «The Order of Deaconesses in the Liturgical Tradition of Ancient Oriental Churches», in P. Vassiliadis – M. Goutzioudis – E. Amoiridou (eds), Deaconesses, Ordination of Woman and Orthodox Theology: Proceedings of International Scientific Conference, Thessaloniki 2016, pp. 443-454 (in Greek)
  • Κouremenos N., «Between Αllusion and Condemnation: The Criticism of the Early Islamic Rule in Egypt in Coptic Literature» in the Acts of the 11th Congress for Coptic Studies, Claremont, California – USA, 25-30 July 2016. (forthcoming)
  • Kouremenos N., «The Interpretation of the Song of Songs in Shenute’s As I sat on a Mountain: Examining the influence of Origen’s hermeneutic principles on Coptic Literature», in Origeniana Duodecima: Origen’s Legacy in the Holy LandA Tale of Three Cities: Jerusalem, Caesarea and Bethlehem, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 25-29 June 2017 (forthcoming)
  • Kouremenos N., «Some remarks on the reception of the Song of Songs in Coptic literature», in S. Despotis – T. Akridas (eds), The Song of Songs in Jewish and Christian Literature: Symposium in Athens 19.10.2016 (forthcoming)
  • Kouremenos N., «The Garden of Jannes and Jambres: Intertextual Approach between Apocrypha, Hagiography and Monastic Literature», in International Symposium on Ancient Christian Literature and Apocryphal Literature, Thessaloniki. (forthcoming)
  • Kouremenos N., «The Reception of the Ancient Oriental Chruches in the Historiographical Work of Chryssostomos Papadopoulos» in Theological Portraits III: Chryssostomos Papadopoulos Archbishop of Athens: Theology and Ecclesiastical lifc during the Interwar Period, Saturday 2nd April 2016, Accademy of Theological Studies, Volos, Greece (in Greek, forthcoming).