|TM ID||TM 129876|
|Findspot (DEChriM ID)||58 (Dayr al-ʿIẓām)||Class||Textual|
Gonis 2008: 83-85, no. 5; P. Misc. inv. II 20 a: Letter to an ecclesiastic (Apa John?).
Lower right-hand part of a letter conveying a request by a plurality of persons to an ecclesiastic. Text written along the fibers. The back is blank.
According to the editor, this letter might be part of Apa John's archive: "There is a reference to the latter’s prayers (l. 11), and the abstract nouns used for him are typical of fourth-century letters addressed to monks and other clergymen, including Apa Ioannes. Apart from the motifs and language, the date and the collection itself suggest that the recipient of the letter was Apa Ioannes. This is the work of an educated writer" (Gonis 2008: 83).
The Apa John of this archive was identified with the famous John of Lykopolis known by literary sources by Zuckerman 1995. Most of the Greek and Coptic letters of this archive are addressed by monks, clerics, soldiers, state officials and individuals to Apa John, so that he would intercede in their favour in dealings with the authorities or pray for them.
|Selection criteria||Mention of Christian cult officials/institutions, Christian terms/formulas/concepts|
Palaeography and archive connection (Gonis 2008: 69-72).
|Absolute/relative date||Relative date|
According to Constantine Zuckerman's reconstruction, the Apa John’s letters were presumably found in September 1897, during the excavations of Farag Ismael and Yassa Tadros on the mountain of Siout (Lykopolis), in the ruins of Dayr al-'Azam, the site of the monastery of John of Lycopolis. Yet they never reached the museum in Gizeh – like the other objects unearthed during these excavations – and must have ended on the market, where they were bought soon after the excavations (Zuckerman 1995: 191-192; Van Minnen 1994: 80-82, Gonis 2008: 69-72). Although not proven, this attractive hypothesis is generally accepted by scholars (see discussion in Van der Vliet 2015: 166-167, and some reservations in Choat 2017: 37-40).
Oxford, Sackler Library, Papyrology Rooms EES P. Misc. inv. II 20 a