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The International Association of Coptic Studies (IACS) Held its fifth international Congress at Washington D.C. during the period of August 12 through August 15, 1992. The Society, a member of the IACS, was officially represented this time by two of its officers. These representatives were Mr. Ramses Wassif, the Secretary, and myself, Hany N. Takla, the Society's President. In the following report I will share with you my observations and impressions of such momentous gathering along with the benefits that the Society has gotten by its attendance.
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The Congress was attended by over a hundred persons from several countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Poland, Egypt, Israel, Great Britain, Portugal, Switzerland, Russia, Greece, Czechoslovakia and of course the United States. The majority of these persons contributed papers during the Congress's sessions. Many of them were professionals in the field of Coptic Studies. However, there were notable names in the field of Coptic Studies that were absent for a variety of reasons.
The Copts in attendance were graced by the presence, participation, and leadership of Bishop Samuel of Shibin Al-Qanater, near Cairo, who, as a layman and later as a monk, gained notoriety through his extensive work on monastic archaeology in Egypt. Other Coptic clergy from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and of course Egypt were notably absent except for Fr. Mattais Wahba of San Francisco, Ca., who is currently preparing his doctoral dissertation on the works of St. Athanasius of Alexandria.
The Coptic Museum was represented by three of its staff who also contributed papers on a variety of subjects. They were Dr. Gawdat Gabra, the Museum's Director, Mrs. Samiha Abd El-Shaheed, Curator of the manuscripts, and Mrs. Fatma M. Mohamed, a staff member and Pottery specialist. Other Copts from Egypt in attendance were Dr. Kamal Farid Ishaq and his wife, Professor of Coptic in the Institute of Coptic Studies, Dr. Nosshi Abdel-Shahid, Director of the new Patristic Center, and Mr. Wassif Ghali, the President of Societe de Archaelogie Copte, all from Cairo. Dr. William Makram Ishak and his wife of Port Said attended and he contributed a paper on Coptic Music.
Copts from Europe were primarily from France and three papers were contributed from this group. These were by Dr. Ashraf A. Sadek, Editor of Le Monde Copte, Prof. Adel Sidarus of Portugal, and Mr. Michael Ghattas, a Patristic doctoral student from Germany. Others in attendance were Mr. A. Fouad Khouzam, a long time supporter of Coptic Studies, and Ms. Miriam Wassif, an Egyptologist from France and a contributor of many papers in the field of Coptic Studies.
The North American Copts came from the U.S. as well as Canada. The Canadian Copts had two attendees who both contributed papers to the Congress in the area of Coptic History. They were Dr. Rachad Shoucri of Kingston, Ontario, and Mr. Nabil A. Malek of Laval, Quebec. Both gentlemen represent a long distinguished tradition of Coptic Studies in Egypt. The American Copts came from just six states, California, New Jersey, Utah, and the Washington D.C. area states of Virginia and Maryland. The most distinguished member was the graceful Mrs. Lola Atiya, wife of the departed great Coptic Scholar Prof. Aziz S. Atiya. She is currently the Editor of the Coptic Encyclopaedia that her distinguished husband labored for many years to accomplish. She contributed a paper during the Congress's sessions, the only one from among the American Copts group. There were two physicians from New Jersey, Dr. Samy Rizk and his wife and Dr. George Bassaly. Miss Nadia Amin of Chicago also attended the Congress along with a sizable group of the Copts from Virginia, Maryland, and the D.C. Area.
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The Congress was structured into two types of divisions in addition to the IACS business meeting. The first division was plenary sessions. These sessions were conducted during the early morning part of the day. The subjects matter presented were in the form of general progress reports of research during the past four years in the different fields of Coptic Studies. The second division were sessions of more specific nature, dealing with the various fields comprising the discipline of Coptic Studies. The Congress concluded with the regular Business meeting of the IACS.
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The first division consisted of four plenary sessions with 17 presentations, mostly lasting approximately 20 minutes each. The subject scope was general in nature and tended to deal primarily with the state of research done since the last congress, four years ago. The contents of the majority of the presentations was mainly an annotated bibliography arranged in a chronological fashion. The plain listing of such bibliographies was handed out during the respective presentation. Other lectures were informational in nature, dealing with specific items that were determined to be of interest to the majority of the congress's attendees. The language of delivery of such presentations were in English (Eng), eleven, French (Fr), three, and German (Ger), three. The following is a short summary of these presentations:
1. Opening Remarks (Eng) by, Prof. Peter Nagel, President of IACS, welcoming the attendees and paying tribute to such departed scholars of Coptic Studies, during the past four years, as Prof. Aziz S. Atiya, Prof. Polotsky, ... etc.
2. Report on Research in Coptic Art (Fr), by Mm. Marguerite Rassart-Debergh. This presentation dealt with some of the discoveries of Coptic Icons and paintings in the Coptic monasteries during the past four years. It included some color slides of such material.
3. Report on Research in Coptic Literature (Eng), by Prof. Tito Orlandi, and delivered on his behalf by Mr. Steven Emmel. This was a bibliographic survey of works on Coptic literature along with current thinking of the systematic development of Coptic Literature. The Golden Age of Coptic literature is currently thought to be during the Patriarchate of Pope Damianus of Alexandria (576-605 A.D.)
4. Les Salles Coptes dans le Futur Grand Louvre (Fr), by Marie-Helene Rutschowscaya. This presentation was a slide tour of the Coptic rooms in the newly renovated Louvre Museum in Paris. The bulk of the Louvre Coptic collection is the Baouit artifacts. The collection includes also Coptic textiles as well as White Monastery manuscript leaves.
5. L'Informatisation des Collections Coptes du Musee du Louvre (Fr), by Jean Luc Bovot. This dealt with the new computerized database being developed for the Coptic materials in the collection of the Louvre Museum. The presenter, with the aid of slides, described the structure of such database and gave some illustrative examples.
6. Report on Research in Coptic Liturgy (Ger), by Prof. Heinzgerd Brakmann. This was a general survey of the literature published in the last four years, dealing with Coptic Liturgical studies.
7. Report on Research in Coptic Literature in Arabic (Eng), by Dr. Gawdat Gabra. This was both a survey of work done as well as a call for more scholarly participation in this rather neglected branch of Coptic Studies.
8. Report on Research in Gnosticism (Eng), by Prof. Birger A. Pearson. The format of this presentation was typical in terms of the survey given of the literature published on the subject during the past four years. It is interesting to note that some of the contributions acknowledged were made by Japanese scholars who did their work in Japan.
9. Report on the Final Phase of the Publication of the Coptic Encyclopaedia (Eng), by Mrs. Lola Atiya. Mrs Atiya recounted in this presentations some of the trials and tribulations that this monumental project faced until it came to fruition last year.
10. Report on Research in Coptic Archaeology (Eng), by Prof. Wlodzimierz Godlewski. The presenter gave a survey of the literary and field accomplishment in this field in which he was a prime participant in both areas. The survey reflected the wide range of excavations projects being conducted on Coptic and Nubian monuments. Credits were given to work that Bishop Samuel participated in as well as the great efforts by the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, led by Dr. Peter Grossmann.
11. Report on Research in Coptic Linguistics (Eng), by Prof. Bently Layton. This annotated bibliography type presentation surveyed the literary accomplishment in the field of Coptic linguistics. The survey showed many monumental works published such as those by the late Prof. Polotsky as well as those by his gifted successor in the Hebrew University at Jerusalem, Prof. Shisha-Halevy.
12. Report on Research in Coptic Monasticism (Eng), by Fr. Armand Veilleux. This literary survey was in the same fashion as the reports described above. The most interesting of these works are those done recently by Rubinsen on the writing of St. Antony. There he presented a very plausible argument not only for the authenticity of the seven letters attributed to him, but that they were composed in Greek by him. This would prompt scholars to reexamine some of the long standing beliefs about early Coptic Egypt.
13. The Project "Catalogue general du Musee Copte": Progress of the Work until 1991 (Eng), by Dr. Gawdat Gabra. Dr. Gabra examined the progress on this monumental and rather overdue project. He expressed his deep disappointment in the declining interest in this work since the last congress. We all hope that this wake-up call will rekindle the scholarly interest in the project that once there.
14. Conservation Problems in Egypt: The Church of the Four Living Creatures in the Monastery of St. Antony (Eng), presented on behalf of Ms. Z. Skalova by Dr. Johannes Den Heijer. This was a rather sad status report on the serious structural problems being experienced by this important christian monument that house some of the most beautiful and rare frescoes that were left to us via our rich Coptic monastic tradition. The report surveyed the problems as well as the steps taken so far to remedy this grave situation.
The work done so far represented a great collaborative effort between the Coptic Church, the Egyptian Government, and the Dutch scholars and Government who provided both funds and expertise in the area. However the bulk of the restorative work is still to be done and the financial resources are unfortunately not available now. I personally asked Ms. Gertrude Von Loon, a participant in this project, to keep apprised of the situation especially when a more firm estimate of the cost has been formulated for this work. When this information becomes available, we will promptly transmit it to our members as well as the Coptic churches in North America. It is interesting to note that the major cause of this catastrophe is leaky plumbing and a chicken farm that were on the other side of the wall that is falling apart. This provided a haven for termites which literally ate the wood fibers present in the mud bricks and virtually depleted whatever little structural strength that such construction ever possessed!
15. Report on Research on Coptic Codicology and Palaeography (Eng), by Mr. Stephen Emmel. This is another of the series of informative survey of literature published in the fields of Coptic Codicology and Paleography. Some mention was made here of the Bodmer collection being possible remanent of a Pachomian monastery library. These fields, unfortunately, have achieved neither the prominence nor the progress that the corresponding Greek fields have enjoyed. There are many benefits that can be reaped from the advancement of such fields, especially in dating of Coptic manuscripts. This would greatly enhance our understanding of the transmission and development history of Coptic literary and non-literary texts. It should be pointed out that the Nag-Hammadi texts has greatly brightened the future of these fields.
- Report on Research in Manchaeism, scheduled to be presented by Prof. Soren Giverson, was cancelled because of the absence of the presenter due to sudden family illness.
16. Report on Research in Coptic Papyrology (Ger), by Prof. Martin Krause. This field, not unlike Codicology and Paleography, has long been neglected. However, the literary survey given by Prof. Krause does give some glimpses of hope of scholarly resurgence.
17. Report on Research in Coptic Church History (Ger), by Prof. C. Detlef G. Muller. An informative survey of works done in the field of Coptic history during the past four years. It is sad to still see the lack of authoritative scholarly works on Coptic history that will give the Copts' contributions their due credit.
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The second division was the sectional sessions. It consisted of 13 technical sessions divided into 15 parts. A total of 61 presentations were delivered. Each presentation lasted approximately 20 minutes, and the rest of the allotted 30 minutes was left for questions, comments, and discussions by people in attendance. Presentations were held in two separate adjoining rooms, and in most cases simultaneously. The language of delivery of such presentations were in English (Eng), 43; French (Fr), 11; and German (Ger), seven. The following is a short summary of these presentations based on our attendance, Mr. Ramses Wassif and myself, as well as the abstracts we received from those that we either could not attend due to time conflict:
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(Presider: Mm. Marguerite Rassart-Debergh):
1. Constitution of an International Work Group about Textiles from Antinoe (Eng), by Loretta del Francia. Excavations in the Antinoe area has yield a great deal of Coptic textiles. Such yield made its way into the collections of many museums around the world. The study of this material under a international collaborative effort is being proposed by the presenter. It is hoped that by such an effort a great deal of information can be gathered about the function of this city as a textile center.
2. Jonasdarstellungen in Koptischen Kunst (Ger), by Cacilia Wietheger. The presenter here comes from the fine tradition of Coptic scholarship that has been streaming from Munster Germany under the able direction of the Prof. Martin Krause. The presentation dealt with the interpretation of scene found in a Coptic Museum textile piece (Inv.-Nr. 1740) as that of Jonah the prophet and the whale.
3. A Vision of Paradise: On the Origin and significance of Textiles with Tree Motifs (Fr), by Dr. Annemarie Stauffer. A study on the oriental use of the tree motifs as symbol of paradise and its origin in Coptic textiles as well as Syrian and other Ancient Middle Eastern art.
4. Die Ikonagraphie der Geburt Christi in der Tekla Haymanot Kapelle der al-Mua`allaqah Kirche in Alt-Kairo (Ger), by Katarzyna Urbaniak-Walczak. A presentation about the iconography of an icon of the Nativity scene found in the chapel of St. Takla Haymanout in the Church of Al-Moallaqah in Old Cairo.
5. The Crucifixtion: A Coptic Textile of the Benaki Museum Collection, by Lila de Chaves. A survey of the Crucifixtion scenes found in a Coptic textile preserved in the Benaki Museum in Athens Greece.
- `Logos Kai Eikwn' im Koptischer Sicht. Zur Frage einer Moglichen Ikonologie der Sogenannten Koptischen Kunst, by Piotr Scholz. Not presented.
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(Presider: Prof. Rodolphe Kasser):
1. L'Evangile de S. Marc en Copte-Sahidique. Essai de Clarification (Fr), by Mm. Anne Boud'Hors. The presenter here discusses the presence of two distinct tradition and their evidences found in the two current edition of the Gospel of St. Mark in Sahidic. These edition were those of Quecke and Aranda of the Barcelona manuscript and the New York Manuscript respectively. Attending this lecture was particularly frustrating for me because of my lack of adequate knowledge of the French language. A feeling that I experienced on many occasions during these sessions.
2. The Coptic Heritage of St. Ephrem the Syrian (Eng), by Ms. Monica Blanchard. Ms Blanchard is the esteemed librarian of the Institute of Christian Oriental Research in the Catholic University of America, the Congress' host. In this presentation she explored the role of the Syrian Monastery in Wadi'n Natrun in transmitting the life and writings of the St. Ephrem the Syrian within Egypt and the Coptic Church. Such transmission was in the form of the impressive amount of his Syriac works found in the monastery as well as translation of some of his writings into Coptic. It is interesting to note here that the writings translated were mainly of ascetic, homiletic, or moralizing themes. Such are common topics of the monastic literature of the Greek-Writing Fathers of the Church.
3. The Descent into Hell in the Bartholomew Apocryphon, (Eng) by Ms. Gonnie van den Berg-Onstwedder. A presentation about the presence of a unique account of the Descent of Christ into Hades after His Crucifixtion. The presenter attempted to express the unique features of the account presented here from the other Coptic, Greek, and Armenian known sources. She concluded that there must have been at least two sources for this account to be found in the Coptic versions. She, however, touched a nerve when in passing she mentioned a possible gnostic parallelism found in this account. Prof. Nagel argued vehemently against such opinion during the presentation as well as outside, though in more tempered way.
- Apocryphal Traditions in the Coptic Homilies Attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem, by Roelof van den Broek. Not presented.
4. Carrying the Burden of Disgrace: A Village Rite in the Life of St. Macarius the Great (Eng), by J. van der Vliet. This was an interesting presentation that gave an analysis of an incident in the life of St. Macarius the Great. The incident was in connection of the village girl that conspired with her friend to accuse St. Macarius of being responsible for her pregnancy. St. Macarius in turn patiently carried the burden of such disgrace and did what was customary in that location, which was to work to more in order to provide support for this new child. He explored some of the village traditions and their symbolism as used in this incident. The subject matter seemed to have been coldly received many of the non-Copt attendees.
5. Die Auffassung der Seele in den Tura-Schriften bei Didymos dem Blinden von Alexandrien (Ger), by Michael Ghattas. This presentation reflected the new movement among Some of our Coptic youth to study the writings of the Church Fathers in institutes of great learning in Europe. The current leader and father of this new movement is the esteemed, yet neglected, Dr. Nosshi Abdel-Shahid, director of the new Patristic Center in Cairo. The presenter is one of Dr. Nosshi's students, who is preparing his doctoral dissertation on Didymos the Blind of Alexandria. His paper dealt primarily with the concept of the soul in the writing of this famous Alexandrian teacher of the 4th century as it appeared in the discovered writings of his in the Tura mountain region outside Cairo. This was by far the most frustrating talk for me and many of the Copts in attendance. The subject matter was very relevant, important, and interesting to us, but being delivered in German, it made it unintelligible for us. It was great for those who understood it, but a rather painful reminder that we need to learn German and French to enjoy the fruit of the work being done in Coptic Studies!!!
6. Shenoute's Literary Corpus: A Codicological Reconstruction (Eng), by Steven Emmel. For people interested in the works of St. Shenouda and have been laden by the fragmentary condition of such literature as whole, this presentation was a most welcome relief. Mr. Emmel discussed his dissertation work on the reconstruction of the codices comprising the great literary Coptic treasure known as (St.) Shenoute's Literary Corpus. This corpus survived in at least 88 fragmentary codices. His investigation has yielded a three-group structure to this corpus and they are Canons (nine volumes), Discourses (eight volumes), and Letters (indeterminate number). The Canons were for the specific use of the monastery, while the discourses seems to be arranged based on some liturgical reading cycle. Such grouping makes it possible to address the eternal problem of attributing works of St. Shenouda without reverting to the complex criterion of literary style. This work, when finished, will greatly enhance our understanding of the literary and theological values of such corpus.
- The Life of Shenoute (Vita Sinuthii) Reconsidered, by Bernd Jorg Diebner. No presentation was given due to absence of the presenter, a major disappointment!
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(Presider: Prof. Heinzgerd Brakmann):
1. The Gulezyan Manuscripts: Possible Remnants of Ancient Coptic Musical Notation? (Eng), by Dr. Marian Robertson-Wilson. This presentation was about some vellum leaves that was once owned by Gulezyan family, and could possibly include ancient Coptic musical notations. Such notations are differentiated by different sizes and colors. The whereabouts of such manuscript are not known at this time. The interpretation given to the musical nature of such notational system is interesting, but further work need to be done. I feel that Dr. Robertson is quite capable to handle such work.
2. Coptic Music (Eng), by Dr. William Makram Ishak. This presentation is a more Coptic traditional view of the history and development of Coptic Music. It reflects our shallow treatment of the subject which is attributed to chronic lack of resources being used for such work. Its time spot following Dr. Robertson's scholarly presentation unfairly added to its shortcomings.
3. The Symbol of the Haikal in Coptic Churches (Eng), by Gertrud J.M. van Loon. This presentation dealt with the symbolism used in the Coptic Church with regards to the Haikel (Sanctuary). The influence of Jewish tradition was evidenced by such symbolism as the Ark of Covenant and Heavenly Jerusalem, assigned to this part of the Coptic Church. This work was based on an investigation of some Medieval Arabic manuscripts, mainly that of Ibn Saba' "The Precious Stone". More investigation of Coptic and Arabic manuscripts might shed more light about the subject. Much discussion was made about difference in the consecration order of the sanctuary with relation to the rest of the church between the Coptic and the Byzantine Churches. In the Coptic rite, the church is consecrated first then the altar, while the opposite is true for the Byzantine churches.
4. An Easter Calendar on Limestone in the Coptic Museum (Eng), by Prof. S. Kent Brown. This represent work done by the author on a Limestone ostracon in the Coptic Museum in Cairo. Such work pointed the possibility that such texts represent a private calendar for Easter dates celebrated in the Coptic Church in the seventh century. The material is fragmentary, however further study of that ostraca collection may yield more evidence to support the hypothesis presented here.
5. Sharing the Pain: Saint and Sinner in Late Antique Egypt (Eng), by Prof. Anitra Bingham Kolenkow. Prof Kolenkow is a long-time friend of the Coptic Church and its monasteries. She recounted out of her own visual experiences of modern monks in Egypt, the role that monks played in alleviating the sufferings of the christian populace in the late period. This presentation was highly favorable to the role played by monks in the life of the Coptic Church and its members.
6. On the Origin and Development of Lent in Egypt (Eng), by Dr. Alberto Camplani. Dr. Camplani is a representative of the Neo-Italian movement in Coptic Studies that has been sparked by the great efforts of Dr. Tito Orlandi of Rome. The presentation was divided into three parts. The first discussed the modern theories as well as the ancient authorities. The second part described the Egyptian lent at the golden age of Christianity in Egypt, i.e the time of Saints Athanasius, Theophilus, Cyril the Great, and Shenouda the Archimandrite. The third and last part dealt with the festal letters of the late period of St. Benjamin of Alexandria, and the evolution of the lent from six weeks to the current eight-week period of Lent. In conclusion, Dr. Camplani put the date of 334 A.D. as the first official announcement of Lent in Egypt, though St. Athanasius obviously had known about earlier than that. He further concluded that the two-week extension accorded to Lent is datable between the second half of the sixth century and the first part of the seventh century.
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(Presider: Prof. Birger A. Pearson): [Not attended because of schedule conflict].
1. Presentation d'une Concordance du Codex VII de Nag Hammadi (Fr), by Regine Charron. According to the abstracts this presentation dealt with a concordance project of Codex VII of the Nag Hammadi collection. Such concordance is proposed to include a complete index of all the words used as well as their morphological classification and word forms. The work is sponsored by Laval University in Quebec Canada, the publisher of the French edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices.
2. On Exegeting the Gospel of Philip: Commentary and Examples Regarding ## 11a,21 and 26b (Eng), by Prof. Hans-Martin Schenke. No abstracts provided.
3. Dualism and Mythology in the Coptic Gnostic Texts of Nag Hammadi and in the Gospel of John (Eng), by Gerard P. Luttikhuizen. According to the abstracts, this paper discussed the relationship of the mystical vision and thought-pattern between the Gospel of St. John and those of the Gnostic texts of Nag Hammadi. The author is trying to show that there are enough significant differences between them to prevent anyone from assuming that either a development of the other. This despite the clear indications that the gnostic writers were familiar with this Gospel.
4. L'Opposition Grec-Barbares dans un Texte de Nag Hammadi (NHC VI, 2, 16:1-31) (Fr), by Prof. Paul-Hubert Poirier. Short Abstract in French!
5. The Logic of Gnostic Ethics (Eng), by Dr. Karen L. King. According to the abstracts. The popular view of gnostic ethics has long been held as that of and Anti-world attitude. This would translate into an extremely ascetic tendencies or extremely liberal ones. The author expressed reservations about such simplistic conclusion. She, on the basis of select texts, attempted to illustrates the plurality of such ethical behavior and its variance from text to text.
6. Something Rotten in the Kingdom of Sabaoth: Allegorie et Polemique en NH II, 103,32-107,17 (Fr), by Louise Painchaud of Laval University. Short Abstract in French!
7. The Heavenly "Seth." Son of Adam, in a Coptic Magical Text (P.Mich. inv. 593) (Eng), by Dr. Paul Allan Mirecki. According to the Abstracts the presentation dealt with an investigation of a University of Michigan Coptic magical text P.Mich Inv. 593. The author is preparing a critical edition of such text, among others. The text use the name "Seth, Son of Adam". Such usage is compared with passages in other Coptic and Greek magical texts as well as previous research done on the Patriarch Seth by Prof. Pearson.
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1. Essai sur l'Age d'or de la Litterature Copte Arabe (XIII-XIV Siecles) (Fr), by Prof. Adel Sidarus. This presentation was a survey of the golden age of Arabic Christian Literature in Egypt in the 13th and 14th centuries A.D. The language of delivery, French, made it difficult for me to fully understand what was said. I appreciated Prof. Sidarus' offer to give me a copy of the paper to follow during the presentation, but it would not have helped my ignorance.
2. The Quotations from the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria in Abu Salih's/ Abu al-Makarim's History of the Churches and Monasteries of Egypt (Eng), by Dr. Johannes den Heijer. In this presentation the likeable Dr. den Heijer surveyed the quotations from the monumental work "History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria (HP)" as recorded in the Abu al-Makarim's "History of the Churches and Monasteries of Egypt (HCME)". He also poses the question of attribution of such work to Abu al-Makarim because of the differing methods of quotations from HP in HCME. This would lead one to contest a single author assertion for all three volumes of HCME. Further work needs to be done before a more conclusive evidence can found, and we may never know for certain who actually wrote each of these volumes.
3. Microfilming Coptic and Arabic Manuscripts in Cairo and Jerusalem: A Final Report (Eng), by Prof. S. Kent Brown. This was the most painful and embarrassing presentation I had to sit through. The gentle manner in which it was delivered did not help a bit.
In summary, Prof. Brown headed a project by the Brigham University (BYU) of Utah, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He obtained, what was thought to be, all the necessary permissions to start the work. However, the fact that the Egyptian government had to supervise such work complicated the situation. The Coptic Church as well as other Christian organizations feared that such supervision could lead to forceful appropriation of such manuscripts, an unacceptable risk. To add insult to injury, some lay elements close to Pope Shenouda were able to convince his holiness of the danger in opening the manuscript treasures of the church to foreigners. Such attitude was described by Prof. Brown, as the church not knowing what they have and fearing embarrassment if others see what they have. Such lame behavior stopped the project in its tracks after doing preliminary microfilming of some manuscripts in the Patriarchal Library in Cairo, mostly biblical. Dr. Gabra of the Coptic Museum, who supported the project since its inception, stepped in and gave permission to film the manuscripts of the Coptic Museum that is under the control of the government anyway. Other manuscripts from Jerusalem was also filmed, but no details given here on that.
The collection filmed is housed in the archives of BYU, and is made available to all interested scholars. Also an electronic index of the texts will be made available through RLIN, a research library linkage in the US and Canada.
The fate of the many other collections in Egypt is precarious at best in these recent times. Although trouble-making individuals can be dealt with, the fear of government appropriation of the manuscripts is an insurmountable obstacle at this time. Such obstacle can only be overcome with negotiation with the government to assure that such fear does not come true. It is hoped that something be done soon, for the fate of these literary treasures are doubtful at best. The Society has always believed that the preservation of at least copies of these manuscripts is of vital importance to the growth of the Coptic Church outside of Egypt.
4. Coptic-Arabic Collections of Western Marian Legends: The Reception of a Western Text in the East, a Case of Intercultural Relations in the Late Middle Ages (Eng), by Daniel Baraz. This presentation was based on the author's academic study of Western Civilization in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Such study directed him to investigate the migration of such legends from the West to the East. Seventy-four of these stories were studied. Their source is proposed to a recently-discovered 13th-century collection By the Dominican Brother Bartolomeo da Trento. The translation in Arabic is suggested to be of the late 13th century. The preliminary findings point to eastern editing of such stories to match the different approach that the two cultures have of sin and redemption.
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1. Catalogue des Ceramiques du Musee Copte (Fr), by Mrs. Fatma Mahmoud Mohamed. This presentation dealt with the current work done on cataloging the ceramic collection of the Coptic Museum in Cairo. Slides of some items of the collection was shown. The study of ceramics in particular is an important dating tool for the study of any archaeological site in Egypt, where more explicit dating is generally lacking. The presenter, being an Egyptian Moslem, lends credence to the fact that Coptic Studies is a Study of Egyptian Culture which is important to all Egyptians. I have personally enjoyed conversing with this charming lady on scholarly subjects in relation to the work being done in the Coptic Museum.
2. Recently Discovered Christian Monuments in Egypt (Eng), by Dr. Peter Grossmann. This presentation dealt with the recent archaeological works being done on Christian sites in Egypt. The presenter surveyed such works which spanned from Lower Egypt to Upper Egypt. Many of these excavations were either sponsored by the German Archaeological Mission in Cairo or at least they participated in it. The excavations uncovered new churches and basilicas as well as monastic settlement and buildings. Other excavation were continuation of previous work that have been done. The most notable discovery was that of a huge new basilica in Tall al-Farama in the Suez Canal area. This finding came as a result of digging the new canal that would bring water from the Nile to Israel, named "Peace Canal". Other discoveries, of personal interest, were of monastic buildings in the area of St. Shenouda's Monastery in Sohag.
3. The Eastern Basilica of Pelusium (Eng), delivered by Dr. Peter Grossmann for Dr. Mohamed Abd el-Samie. This presentation was more detailed discussion of the Basilica discovered while digging that canal, as mentioned above.
4. Quelques Pieces Coptes au Musee de Limoges (Fr), by Prof. Ashraf Alexandre Sadek. The presenter changed the topic to one dealing with Coptic Monasticism. I was not able to attend it because of schedule conflict. Prof. Sadek, a very likeable person, is the editor of the periodical "Le Monde Copte". The Society started to take an active role in promoting this excellent work among its members with the understanding that more English language articles were going to be included in the Future in order to broaden the readers' base in the U.S. and Canada. I was particularly impressed by the quality, effort, and subject matters being dealt with in this periodical. The Society wishes him success on his great effort and sacrifices.
5. Zur Bearbeitung der Grabsteine mit Inscriften in Rahmen des Projektes "Catalogue generale du Musee Copte": Die Grabsteine aus Apa Moyses Kloster (Ger), by Ms. Sophia Schaten. This presentation is a fruit of the author's work on the cataloging of the Coptic tombstones in the Coptic Museum. The writings and the artwork inscribed on these stones are very important in studying regional history and dating methods employed by the Copts as well as art history. The Apa Moyses monastery at Abydos has yielded a great deal of such material dated from the 5th and 6th centuries.
6. Recent Excavations at Naqlun (1988-1992) (Eng), by Dr. Wlodzimierz Godlewski. This presentation dealt with the efforts of the Polish teams' archaeological excavations in the Fayyum, and the uncovering of several monastic buildings and rock cells in what is known as Dayr al-Naqlun.
7. Some Remarks on False Coptic Monuments (Eng?), by Alexander Kakovkin. The presentation was not attended due to scheduling conflict.
8. Datierungsvorschlage fur die Grossfigurigen Grabstelen der Spaten Kaiserzeit aus Behnasa (Ger), by Martin von Falck. This presentation, according to the abstracts given, dealt with the dating of some tombstones in the Oxhyrhynchos (El-Bahnasa).
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1. A Linguistic Classification of the "Sahidic" Nag Hammadi Texts (Eng), by Prof. Wolf-Peter Funk. This presentation was designed to lay the foundation work for a more detailed linguistic examination of the Nag Hammadi texts. The texts display a wide variety of Sahidic types ranging from the distinctly northern to the distinctively southern varieties of Sahidic. The presentation dealt with establishing criteria for grouping such texts and what conclusions can be drawn from characteristics of such grouping.
- The Egyptian (Coptic) Language Is not a Dead Language, by Mr. Ibrahim Fahmy Helal. This paper was scheduled to be presented by Mr. Nabil Malek on Mr. Helal's behalf, but the text was never received in time, and all were deprived of listening to this important paper.
2. Particles in Old Testament Scriptural Bohairic: Descriptive Notes (Eng), by Prof. Ariel Shisha-Halevy. This presentation was the most difficult English one for me to understand. It dealt with the usage of some Bohairic particles in the Old Testament, in particular the Pentateuch. The presenter interestingly reverted to original manuscripts in his investigation (Paris Copte 1) instead of the new critical edition of Dr. Melvin Peters. Inaccuracies were primary reasons given for not using this edition, which I have personally observed during the course of transcribing such texts on the computer. The difficulties encountered in fully understanding the lecture as well as the abstracts points to how far we in the Coptic Church are removed from the intricate work being done on Coptic Grammar these days. It should be pointed out that Prof. Shisha-Halevy is one of the most distinguished Coptic grammarians of our time. He was a disciple of the great Prof. Polotsky's in the Hebrew University at Jerusalem, and probably his obvious successor.
3. Djinkim sur tel Grapheme Voyelle de la Langue Copte Bohairique (Fr), by Prof. Rodolphe Kasser. This presentation was about the usage of the Djinkim as a vowel in classic Bohairic of the 10th through the 14th centuries. This work has appeared in part in the Coptic Encyclopaedia. The result of the current investigation is to applied to the editing of the future edition of the "Dictionnaire Copte de Geneve".
4. Subject Position in Bohairic Narrative (Eng), by Dr. Ewa D. Zakrzewska. Bohairic has three methods of expressing the nominal form of the subject in the narrative. The difference among these methods is the position accorded to the subject in the sentence structure. Such positioning has been investigated in a quantitative as well as functional analytical methods. The text presented as example was the martyrdom of St. Mercurius. I feel that more texts, older as well as later, need to be investigated before general conclusion can be drawn about this usage. In particular is such positioning a matter of style or emphasis or is it based on a firm grammatical rules. I suggested to Dr. Zakrzewska looking at the 13th century martyrdom of St. John of Phanidjoit to see if her statistical observations can be confirmed.
5. Attempts to Revive the Coptic Language in Egypt: Relevant Problems (Eng), by Dr. Kamal Farid Ishaq. This presentation dealt with the efforts made in Egypt to revive the use of Coptic language among the Egyptians, Christians and Moslem alike. The bulk of the presentation was directed to the methods that the author has attempted to standardize the use of modern Coptic. The proposals are specific but controversial and need more discussions. At the end of the presentation Dr. Ishaq appealed to the Coptic linguists in attendance for assistance in further developing these proposals. The ensuing discussions brought forth some important things that need consideration. The most important of these is the establishing of single governing body that would control such work and for the Copts to be ready to make great sacrifices if such attempts are to be successful. Personally, the Copts in America are the only one capable of succeeding in this endeavor if a central authoritative body can be established.
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1. Some Old Monastic Buildings in the Desert around the Monasteries of Wadi 'n Natrun (Eng), by Bishop Samuel. This presentation dealt with Bishop Samuel excavation of ancient monastic settlements near St. Bishoi monastery in Wadi 'n Natrun. These settlements comprised a series of rooms that are designed for the most part to house two monks, an older monk and his disciple. The arrangement, within each settlement, of these rooms indicates that each monk had two rooms. The bigger room was for work and praying during work while the smaller one was for praying and sleeping. Other rooms in the settlement included a kitchen and others used for storage. In some settlements bigger as well as more rooms were found depending on the number of disciples living there. Construction material used was mostly local unfired bricks or sometimes local stone rubles. These monastic compounds helped to shed some light on similar ones found in nearby Kellia.
The significance of this presentation was not the significance of the discoveries but rather how they were interpreted. Here archaeology was utilized not only to uncover buried history of the region but to interpret how Coptic monks lived in the old days. Such information can be used to revive the old traditions that made Egyptian monasticism in the past the greatest that ever was.
Bishop Samuel, God's willing, is planning to continue these excavations and possible rebuilding of such buildings in an effort to revive the way of fathers. A full-scale model of such reconstruction can be seen by visitors of the St. Bishoi Monastery area. We only hope that more of our Coptic youth will get involve in such important work.
2. Archives de Jean Cledat Donnees au Louvre (Fr), by Dominique Benazeth and M.-H. Rutschowscaya. Jean Cledat was a renowned Coptic archaeologist. His greatest contribution in the field was his excavations at the Monastery of Baouit in 1900. A discovery that greatly enhanced the value of Coptic Art and Archaeology. His daughter in 1986 donated the archives of her father to the Louvre for the purpose of research. The presentation dealt with the contents of such important archives. They included many photographs and documents, many unpublished, about his numerous excavations, Coptic as well as Pharaonic, in Aswan, Sohag, and the Suez Canal area.
3. Valley of the Queens in the Christian Period (Fr), by Guy Lecuyot. This presentation dealt with the presence of a Coptic monastic community in the valley of the Queens region in Upper Egypt. It shows how monks reused some of the ancient pharaonic tombs in this famous necropolis to establish their community. Other small constructions and cells of these monks were found in the area and in side valleys. The pottery fragments and inscriptions found helped to shed more light on the lifestyle of such monastic groups. It is interesting to point out that in ancient times Coptic monks has traditionally seeked settlements in ancient graveyards as well as old Egyptian temples. This practice, when fully investigated, would yield a great deal of information about the Copts' views of their ancestors.
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1. Report on Theodore Petersen's Catalogue of the Bindings in the Pierpont Morgan Library (Eng), by John L. Sharpe III. Not attended because of schedule conflict. I would like to add that the Society has a complete set of microfilm of the Coptic manuscripts house in the above mentioned library.
2. Manichaeism in the Light of the Science of Religion (Eng), by Dr. Wolf Oerter. Not attended because of schedule conflict.
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1. The relation of the Folio 9099 in the Austrian National Library to other Fragments (Eng), by Prof. Dwight W. Young. Prof. Young has been working for many years on the writings of St. Shenouda. He published many of the fragments of his work scattered throughout the work. He is currently working on editing all fragments of St. Shenouda's writing preserved in the Austrian National Library. His presentation is in relation to one such fragment namely K9099 and other fragments that he found to be of the same script. Specifically he displayed his own reconstruction of these fragments and others and their parallels in Leipoldt's edition of St. Shenouda works. The works included here are parts of injunctions regarding monastic conduct.
2. P.Berol. 20915 (Eng), by Dr. Gesine Robinson. The presentation deals with the author preliminary work on a previously unidentified Sahidic codex of the 5th or the 4th century. The codex is conserved in 70 plates in the Papyrus Collection of the Egyptian Museum in former East Berlin. The work is not in standard Sahidic. Because photographs of the codex were late in coming, the information given is rather scanty. There are indications of either gnostic or antignostic subject along with some biblical names and quotations. One interesting aspect of this presentation was an apparent dispute going on with a certain East German scholar, in particular Dr. Beltz. He has done some preliminary work on the codex in the course of his cataloging of the collection, but is slow in releasing copies of the original codex for others to study it!
3. The Michaelides Collection in the Cambridge University and the British Libraries (Eng), by Sarah Clackson. The presenter here gave a general survey of the Michaelides collection acquired for the most part by Cambridge University. The survey included a history of the collection and description of the contents. There are literary as well as non-literary texts in Coptic and other languages. Some of the texts have mention of important historical sites such as the monasteries of Apa Apollo. Cataloging the collection is still on-going and such cataloging will be published as soon as the work is finished.
4. Coptic Texts in the Oriental Museum (Chicago): A Preliminary Survey (Eng), by Terry Wilfong. The Oriental Museum of the University of Chicago has always been synonymous with Egyptian Studies and artifacts. However, many Coptic material have made its way to the coffers of the museum over the years. The presenter here attempted to describe this collection, mysterious to many Coptologists. It include about 330 Coptic texts, mostly ostraca (stone tablets). The most famous of these texts is the 7th century codex of the Proverbs in Sahidic, edited by Prof. Worrell of Michigan. There some bohairic manuscripts from St. Macarius monastery. We await publishing a catalog as well as gaining microfilm access to such collection that we have tried in vain to have in the past.
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[Not attended because of schedule conflict].
1. Manichaische Hymnen in Christlichen Gewande (Gr), by Siegfried Richter.
2. Iranian Elements in the Coptic Manichaean Corpus (Eng), by Alois van Tongerloo.
3. Das Bemafest der Agyptischen Manichaer (Ger), by Gregor Wurst.
4. The Facsimile Edition of the Manichaean Codices of Medinat Madi in Berlin (Eng), by Prof. James M. Robinson.
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1. Coptology and Papyrology (Eng), by Dr. Peter van Minnen. The presenter, being a papyrolgist, attempted to demonstrate the value of papyrology, study of texts on papyrus, for Coptic studies. The study of Greek papyri has been very important in gaining insight into the period between A.D. 200 and 400 when Christianity became so prominent. The use of Coptic in papyrus documents spread from the fifth century to after the Arab conquest. This made the scope of the Greek documents of that period have a restricted view of the Society. So the study of the Coptic papyri should hold the key to complete understanding of the Egyptian Society of that period. Also he alluded to the Greek-Coptic documents of the fourth century that need to be studied to better understand this century that became the decisive era in the history of Egyptian Christianity.
The major obstacles to pursuing such field of study has always been the difficulty in deciphering the script of such documents. The script can best be described as a doctor prescription-writing, very cursive. Also complete edition of such collections is rare at best which does not help promoting its among students these days. But we are hopeful that there are some that we like to take this challenge, especially among the Coptic youth in America and pursue such work for the ultimate benefit of the Church.
2. The Epact Numbers (Eng), Mrs. Samiha Abd El-Shaheed. This presentation was a fascinating one. It dealt with a subject matter that was not treated in the Coptic Encyclopaedia, namely how the Coptic Number system after the Arab invasion. The Copts, in addition to their Coptic Numerals, has adopted another numbering system that shows a mixture of Coptic, Greek, and Arabic. This system is called the Epact Numbers and is particularly useful in determining dates written in the manuscripts written by Copts. Mrs Samiha was kind enough to give a simplified version of the presentation on Sunday August 16, 1992 for the benefit of the Washington D.C. Coptic Community, gathered at their church.
3. BKU IV: A Preview (Eng), by Dr. Paul Allan Mirecki. This presentation was a description of an upcoming publication by the presenter. This publication is a continuation of series of catalog volumes of the Coptic collection in the Koniglichen Museen zu Berlin. The edition, the 4th volume in this series, will contain edition of texts from about 100 Coptic texts preserved in papyrus, vellum, and paper manuscripts. The collection was mainly relegated to a storage box and preserved in the most horrible shape, as described by Dr. Mirecki. It includes New and Old Testament texts on papyrus and vellum, letters and legal texts on papyrus, magical texts on papyrus, vellum, and paper, and few unidentified literary fragments on papyrus and vellum. The language of these texts is predominantly Sahidic Coptic. Dr. Mirecki presented some sample view-graphs of the contents, and concluded by inviting any interested scholar to join him in the work.
4. Coptic Documentary Papyri in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich (Eng), by Dr. Leslie S. B. MacCoull. This presentation dealt with the Coptic manuscripts preserved in Munich in general and with the Coptic documentary papyri in particular. The collection consists of 15 texts in Coptic, two bilingual texts in Coptic and Greek, and one Greek-Arabic text. The last one is of particular importance in the study of the Egyptian society after the Arab invasion of Egypt. Translation and commentaries on some of these texts were given here, but no slides shown because of late anticipated arrival. I would like to add here that Dr. MacCoull is one of the leading scholars working on Coptic documentary texts. In spite of her overt despise for Copts, her contributions to this neglected field can only be admired.
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1. The Coptic Texts Relating to the Council of Nicea, Revisited (Eng), by Dr. Jurgen Horn. This presentation dealt with the reexamination of the Sahidic texts related to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. The texts has come down to us through the monumental library of the Monastery of St. Shenouda at Sohag, Egypt. They were previously edited by Prof. E. Revillout in the first part of this century.
2. Ephesus II and Chalcedon from a Coptic Perspective (Eng), by Dr. Rachid M. Shoucri. This presentation gave a very passionate defence of the Copts' view of these council that caused great sufferings within the Coptic Church. The perspective given is that Ephesus is considered by the Copts as the legitimate council while that of Chalcedon is the Robbers' council. This is a diametrically opposed view that popularly held by scholars and non-Copts alike. The airing of such views brought a heated response from one of the listeners who considered it to be an anti-ecumenical view. Much work need to be done before such defence would be properly received by the scholarly community. The main problem is the availability of historical evidences to substantiate such view. We can only hope that Dr. Shoucri's zeal would ultimately lead to this desired end.
3. The Copts: From an Ethnic Majority to a Religious Minority (Eng), by Mr. Nabil A. Malek. This presentation tried to explain in part the perplexing question of how an ethnic majority be relegated to a religious minority many centuries after. The causes of such transformation were discussed. A transformation that began with a tolerable attitude shortly after the Arab invasion and then turned in the popular intolerant attitude that the Copts of Egypt have been suffering from for a long time. The development of this intolerable attitude is suggested to be formulated during the eighth and ninth centuries. Such attitude prohibit Christian from building new or repairing their existing churches as well as publicly manifesting their religion, preaching it to moslems, or preventing any of their ranks to adopt Islam if he so wishes. Many questions are still unanswered in regards to this period of Coptic history, but diligent and scholarly research can only lead to solutions if pursued.
- Koptischer Agypten und Irland: Frage nach des eventuellen Verbindungen, by Piotr Scholz. Not Presented.
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At the conclusion of every congress the IACS conducts a business meeting open to the members only to discuss the matters of importance to the members. The following items were discussed and/or acted upon during this one-hour session:
1. Tribute: A moment of silence was observed for departed members Prof. A. S. Atiya, Fr. Du Bourguet, Mr. Merrit B. Ghali, Dr. Sobhi Labib, and Prof. H. Polotsky.
2. Directory of Coptic Collections: Mr. Emmel published a summary list of all the known collection of Coptic material through out Europe and North America.
3. Journal of Coptic Studies: The 2nd volume is in press.
4. Acts of Fourth Congress: The first volume of the Acts of the Fourth Congress is in print, very expensive!
5. New Members: 37 members and 3 institutions were added to the membership list.
6. Changes to By-Laws.
7. Annual Financial Report: the report was delivered by Mr. Steven Emmel on behalf of Prof. Orlandi, the IACS Treasurer.
8. New agreement with the Societe d'Archaeologie Copte (SAC): On Wednesday August 12, 1992, a meeting between the IACS board and Mr. W. B. Ghali, President of SAC, was held. This resulted in a new agreement between the two sister organizations. The agreement, as ratified by the membership in attendance, provided for granting IACS members a 25% discount when purchasing the SAC annual bulletin. The IACS in return will grant the SAC an amount equivalent to 10% of the membership fees paid by IACS members.
9. Membership Fees: The members ratified a hike of 25% in the membership fee to $25 for regular members and $15 for students. Some members suggested a renewal notice to sent every year with the newsletter.
10. Publication of the Congress Proceedings: Fr. David Johnson, the Congress Secretary announced that the publication of the proceeding of this congress will be done by each presenter sending a camera-ready copy of his/her paper to him by January 1993. He will be responsible for sending the formatting instructions to such persons. This is done to combat the high price of professional publishing as well the long time that such publications have taken in the past. Some of the members were not receptive to the idea because of the unprofessional look that publication of similar design has been in the past. However, the IACS is will publishing the proceedings in this manner.
11. The 6th International Congress of Coptic Studies: The members in attendance have ratified the location of the 6th congress to be at Munster, Germany in 1996. More details will be forthcoming.
12. Ratification of New Board.
13. Letters to Egypt: As has been customary at the end of each congress, the board is sending three letters to Egypt requesting the establishment of a Coptic Studies Department in a major university in Egypt. The first letter is addressed to Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt, and the others are addressed to the directors of the Cairo University and The American University in Cairo.
14. Library of Alexandria Project: Dr. Pearson brought the issue of rebuilding the Library of Alexandria on an important, unexcavated site in Alexandria. His aim was to galvanize support for delaying construction until the site has been archaeologically excavated and documented. Such efforts in the past has been unsuccessful even when requested by Egyptian Universities. Opinions on this topic varied. The discussions finally resulted in electing the IACS Dr. Grossmann, the IACS's Director of the Cairo Center, to meet with the Egyptian authorities and a response subsequently will be sent to all groups involved in this project including the UNESCO. This diluted resolution is useless, but what else can be done!
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From the point of view of the Society we can boast of many accomplishment as a result of attending the congress. These can be summarized as follows:
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In conclusion I would like to express my deep appreciation for the courtesy extended to Mr. Wassif and myself by Fr. Johnson and the Catholic University of America's staff, during our congress' stay. Also the hospitality of the Virginian Copts was greatly appreciated, especially the relatives of Mr. Wassif and Mr. Atef Jacoub. Our objective now is to prepare for the sixth congress to be held in Germany in 1996. We are hopeful, God's willing, that we will have many Copts in attendance and several scholarly papers presented from among such group.
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You are Visitor number to this page since March 4, 1996
Prepared by Hany N. Takla. Last Update 3/4/96
For more information contact HTakla@stshenouda.com