Paschal letter

BKT VI 5 (P. 10677)


“And let us keep the feast on the holy Sunday at dawn, the 21st of the same Egyptian month of Pharmouthi, according to the Romans sixteen days before the Kalends of May, which is April 16.”. (transl. by L. S. B. MacCoull)

With these words Alexander II, patriarch of Alexandria, announces in this festal letter the date of the Easter feast for the year 713 or 719 CE, which coincidentally corresponds to the date of Easter 2017. The letter has been written in eleven columns on a papyrus roll over five meters long (image shows only col. IV). It is addressed to Gennathios, head of the Schenute monastery: probably he was responsible for the diffusion of such information within the Christian environment of Upper Egypt. The announcement is preceded by several theological disquisitions enrooted in the Egyptian Monophysitism. Furthermore this text offers a significant example of the so called “Alexandrian Majuscule”. This handwriting was widely used in the patriarchal chancellery in Alexandria and was adopted also by the Coptic Christian church. The letter dates from the Arabic period and carries on the first sheet of the roll the Muslim profession of faith both in Greek and Arabic.

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