Narratives of monastic genealogy in Coptic inscriptions

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Among the many Coptic inscriptions from late antique Egypt which preserve monastic funerary and commemorative texts, a subset present a type of “monastic genealogy”. These emplot the commemorated monk within the wider narrative of monasticism, as part of a lineage stretching from the contemporary community back to God. This paper surveys these texts, noting regional and formulaic variations, and explores the manner in which monastic communities express their collective identity and relationships with other communities though these inscriptions. It examines how these texts act to generate and maintain the collective memory of the community, and compares the traditions which lie behind these texts with the narratives constructed in various literary genres, to see how these parallel expressions of monastic memory illuminate the translocal construction and maintenance of Egyptian monastic identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403–430
Number of pages28
JournalReligion in the Roman Empire
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • monasticism
  • Coptic
  • memory
  • inscriptions
  • late antique Egypt


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