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Sunday, February 28, 2010

An English translation of a small portion of The Qalémentos

Earlier this month I became aware of a document (or collection of documents) called The Qalémentos (or Pseudo-Clement). I have had great difficulty in determining its origin, but from what I can make out, it survives in Ethiopic (or perhaps Coptic) mss. which are in the possession of Ethiopian Orthodox churches. The surviving text is thought to have been translated from Arabic (apparently it was among a large batch of Christian texts translated from Arabic into Ethiopic or Coptic). However, the Arabic may have itself been a translation, perhaps from Greek, Coptic or Latin. Unfortunately, the information I have is very sketchy, and I cannot provide any solid details regarding its earliest origins. Arguably the most important information---the place and date of authorship---remains entirely unknown to me.

What I do know for certain is that at least the first portion of the document was translated from the mss. in Ethiopia into French, in or shortly before 1911, by the French scholar Sylvain Grébaut, and published in volume 16 (1911) of a series of French journals called Revue de l'Orient chrétien. This volume has been generously scanned and uploaded to, and may be downloaded there in full-color pdf format, or a text file which was generated through OCR from that pdf file.

In addition to the raw data from, I hereby offer this zip file, which contains the following additional text files: The file pseudo-clement-french.txt contains the original OCR data from pp72-84 only, since those are the pages which deal with The Qalémentos. In the file pseudo-clement-french-formatted.txt, I corrected as many OCR errors as I could find, including formatting issues. Please note that my corrections are not exhaustive; I'm sure there are many errors I overlooked, especially given that I do not speak or read French. The file pseudo-clement-english.txt is a Google-translated version of the previous file into English.

The Qalémentos appears to be an epistle from Saint Peter to Clement of Rome. Obviously it is spurious, but whether it is an ancient or medieval forgery I cannot say. Consider the following Google-translated remarks by Grébaut:

The Qalémentos, which includes seven books, is divided into two parts... [In part I] Clement tells the creation and birth of the Blessed Virgin with the history of the world to Joram what Christ taught him the secrets of heaven and the future, the creation of heaven and earth, the Trinity, orders of angels, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise, creation of angels, their appearance The fall of Satan, the future of Christianity on earth, he defers to tell what will happen at the resurrection, he lists 70 heresies of Simon Magus to Apollinaire. [In part II it deals] with laws and the order of the Christian Church, St. Peter to St. Clement gave orders that he should send anx metropolitans, bishops, etc.., it outlines the duties of bishops and clergy and dictated a lot of rules and special penitential canons... The Qalêmentos appears as a compilation of ancient documents, such as Recognition, the Cave of Treasures, the Testament of Adam and perhaps V Apocalypse of Peter, which were fused together by an anonymous writer. According to Dillmann, the original Arabic would be the work of a Christian, living and writing in Egypt from 750 to 760. The Ethiopian version was made later directly on the original. ...we know four mss. of this work, namely: three at the British Museum, Or n04 751, 752, 753, and one in Paris, Abbadie No. 78. This latter ms. we translate.

Who exactly Dillmann is, however, I have not been able to ascertain (though admittedly I haven't tried very hard). Perhaps in the future I will track down his work and attempt to decipher it. As for his dating, we should distinguish here I think between the idea of an "original Arabic" and an original composition. In other words, if the Arabic dates from the eighth century, then the Greek, Latin, Coptic, etc., or whatever language in which this document was first written, must date from the eighth century or earlier. Then again, the Arabic may indeed be the original language, in which case, if Dillmann's hypothesis is correct, we are apparently looking at a medieval composition.

With all this in mind, I offer the Google translation of The Qalémentos, verses 1.1.1-1.3.7, as taken from's OCR of the French journal Revue de l'Orient chrétien, Vol. 16 (1911):

1.1.1. After the climb Our sky-Seigîieui 'and Xotre-Sauvenr Jesus Christ, the disciples were separated (from) the ends of the world to preach the new gospel of the Holy convert people to faith and knowledge (of Jesus Chnst), and the baptism of the holy baptism of new birth. Therefore the Apostles wanted to search for them disciples, which went with them into the country. Then (F 1 r0 b) Simon Peter took me and made me his own disciple. Indeed, I believed in him and in him who sent him, and I realized he was the chief apostle, because speech has called our Lord and Savior Jesus Black - Christ in the Gospel: You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it. I'll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. After many days it took two brothers and made his own disciples. Then, when I lived with him twenty years, he took me, took me to my father and (to) my mother called (F. 1 v0 a) Metroryà, and revealed to me the mysteries of Our Lord Jesus Christ had taught on the Mount of Olives.

1.1.2. At that time, the Apostles and all believers suffered great persecution of the Jews infidels. Indeed, the Jews continued to kill all the faithful that they met. So, the good Peter went and entered a city. Me too, (I left) with him. Here we found a great persecution, (caused) by the quarrels (from) the infidel Jews, and questions about the genealogy of St. Mary, because they said it (F. 1 v0 b) it was no strain of Judah, to ruin the coming of Our Lord and Our Savior Jesus Christ in the world. Indeed, they themselves continued to give much money to bribe the Greeks and Romans, so they aid him for the extermination of the faithful. They prevented the Apostles to read the law, so we did not know the original creation of the world.

1.1.3. When I saw all this persecution, which came at me from the Jewish infidels, I inquired with my Master Simon Peter, and I asked him to let me know and how to expose myself (F. 2 r0 was) had held the original creation of the world. Indeed, he even knew all the mysteries from Jesus Christ our Lord. As for me, I knew the language of the Greeks, their books, all their mysteries and their philosophy.

I told my teacher all the hatred and (all) jealousy, which had come against me. (I told him) that Jews outraged and scolded me about St. Mary, (saying) that I had no knowledge of the Law and the Prophets, and (said) they don ' many had questioned the creation of our father Adam, they had greatly blasphemed against Notre Dame St. Mary, and (F. 2 r0 b) I was pa? found an argument by which their malice and confound their speech impure.

1.1.4. When I told all this to my teacher, he was enormously sad. Zeal entered into him and he told me: Myself, I will reveal to you, O my son, everything that you asked me and I'll make you understand the original creation of the world, and I will demonstrate on Sainte Marie Mother of Light, it is clearly without confusion (possible), the strain of Judah, son of Jacob. In addition, I'll tell you how Satan fell from heaven.

1.2.1. Understand then, O my son Clement, as the Lord originally existed and before the origin (F 2 v0 a) he who has no beginning or end. He was raised well above the (people) high, it is not known by the intelligence nor the understanding that it has no bottom, or inner, or outer . It is the principle of days and times of ancient. 11 is inconceivable and inexpressible. It is above all. There's beauty in his divinity over his creatures. With the creatures in the creature (it still is) the beauty. It creates a bright light, a light which do not approach the darkness, he who goes into the lights, that her eyes are not aware. There was (W 2 v0 b) before the creatures. 11 is the author of everything and the creator of everything, he whose fame comes from himself. He is the creator of everything that is glorified, that the greatness of his majesty and strength of his power is manifested. He is the author of the heavens and the earth.

1.2.2. Here I expose you, O my son Clement, the Most High (created) before (another) creature, his Angels, (divided) into nine families, and it has established for them glorified with songs, rhythms and sweet melodies, each according to its degree. The larger (family) of them approach the throne of the Lord. This family Sâtnâ'êl. This is the first of all (the families) angels. (Angels of the family) make up (F. 3 r0 a) their glory to the Lord, without being silenced.

1.2.3. The first day holy is to say, the beginning days, the firstborn from the day the Lord created the heaven above and earth family of angels above, is to tell the family Sâtnâ'êl of the Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Thrones, Principalities, Ministers: Seraphim e 'the Cherubim; clarity and light, day and night, the winds , water and fire. He accomplished all this on the first day holy by his first words. The day (F. 3 r0 b) God created all this, the Holy Spirit made Vombre Waters. Waters were blessed and sanctified, and they multiplied, through procreation, all (things) with a living soul.

The second day, God created the water below, that man's eyes are clear. The sky was separated from the heavens above. Indeed, above the sky, called Falek, there is another heaven above this heaven there is another heaven called Dortiqon above this (last) there is the flame fire over the fire there is another sky. All the heavens are filled with clarity and (F. 3 v0 a) light that human eyes can not see. In this second day, God created (separation) between water which is above the sky, and water on earth. The rise of the water took place that day in the form of dense clouds. As the waters that remain, they remain in the air forever and will be tossed to and fro.

The third day, God commanded the waters which were under the sky, called Falek, to gather in one place so that the sec appeared. It was. Then (dry) appeared to be mud, (F. 3 v0 b) of the earth and water mixed. Water exists on (land) and under (ground). The winds themselves, rose from the bosom of the earth and breathed with measurement. It is through them that every creature lives on the type of sponge, who lives on the water. On this day, the Lord commanded (to ground) to produce green grass, trees, seeds, medicinal and other plants (plants).

The fourth day, God created the sun, moon and stars, so they fulfill a role (useful) for land. The sun (had the role of dry) the mud and harden the earth.

On the fifth day God commanded the waters to produce (F. 4 r0 a) the family of the various fish species. In addition, he created (birds) flying over water, and those that fly through the air, and the great sea monsters, whose appearance is amazing.

The sixth day, God created all land animals, beasts and worms. In addition, he created Adam our father land, and created our mother Eve of a rib (diAdam).

The seventh day, as he had done, he rested from all his work, and he called (so far) the Sabbath.

1.3.1. The Lord created Adam our father to three hours on Friday, the sixth day. But at the same time, (F. 4 r0 b) the jealousy pt pride entered Satan. The Lord sent down from heaven to earth. Before (God) create our father Adam, silence fell over all the powers of heaven. The Lord said to his Father Son and Holy Spirit: Come: rhomm.e do to our image and our likeness. When the angels had heard the word of the Lord Almighty, he came upon them a big fright and (much) fear. They conversed among themselves, saying, What is this great wonder, do we learn? How is it that (F. 4 v0 a) the image and likeness of our God and our Creator appear?

Then the angels saw the (main) right of the Lord (who) was extended over the whole earth. The world was in his hand. Here he took the whole ground a little dust, all the water a drop of water, air a bit (of air), the fire burning a little (of fire). All (these) were in his hand. The Lord created Adam our father of four (elements) low (and) without force, so that all creatures obey (to Adam. He created for) land, so that (F 4 \ ° b) any creature (which exists on earth) obey him; (water, so that any creature) generated in water (obeyed); air so he could feel it by lodorat breathe fire, so that his body became strong and heat he found (in it) a strong adjuvant. Thus that the Lord our Father created Adam in His own image and likeness, his holy hands. (11 created him) in his own likeness, so he received wisdom, the language, the ability to feel and all science.

1.3.2. When the angels had seen the majesty, honor and glory that were on Adam, they were afraid and they trembled because of the greatness of his majesty. (The Lord) had crowned. On his face was shining the light of divinity, which (F. 5 r0 a) was brighter and more intense than sunlight. His body shone like the morning star. ^ Hen I (the Lord) had finished cvéev Adam (Adam) was held in the face of any land, raised her feet on Golgotha, and extended his right hand and his left hand at 'where they planted the tree of the cross of our Lord. Then the Lord put on our father Adam a royal robes, put on her head a crown of glory, and (the student) to a great majesty. He put on his head a crown of glory, and instituted, thereby, priest, prophet and king.

1.3.3. The Lord made him sit on a throne of glory. (F. 5 r0 b) All animals, beasts, birds, all (the animated beings), that the Lord had created, assembled from (à'Adam) and stood before him. They bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before Adam. He called them all, each by name. They obeyed Adam and watched his words. So laparole heard the angels of the Lord Almighty, who said: Adam, here I have made you king, priest, prophet, prince and master of all creatures. They obey your word and be on hand for you alone! I give you the power and I'll let you do what you want with respect to all (F. 5 v0 a) creatures. When the angels had heard the word of the Lord Almighty, the majesty Adam was much greater before them.

1.3.4. When Satan had seen the greatness and glory that were given to Adam by the Lord, of jealousy from that hour, and began to think about it, to find against him the opportunity to seduce and was obeyed him. So, Satan became the rebel Lord's grace, which remained in him. At that time, the Lord (him) took off the garment of glory and majesty that was great about him, and he called the name of Satan. (F. 5 v0 b) It had become arrogant to the Lord, did not go in his ways, and had wanted the glory for himself.

1.3.5. While Adam had stood on Golgotha, here all the creatures had gathered around him to hear the word of the Lord, which he had been. Then came a cloud of light. She put Adam and led him into paradise. All the armies of the angels went with Adam, running hymns, songs and sweet melodies. The Cherubim blessed; Seraphim singing: Holy, Holy, Holy, before him. (Angels) led him to paradise. Adam went to heaven to three hours, (F. 6 r0 a) on Friday. The Lord meant all the commandments and commanded him specifically. do not eat (the fruit) of the tree that was in paradise.

1.3.6. Then the Lord Almighty sent sleep upon Adam, (who) slept in the paradise of a dreamland. The Lord took one of his left ribs, and created Eve. When Adam was awakened from his sleep, he saw Eve, welcomed and loved greatly. While they remained in YÉden, the paradise of happiness, the Lord clothed in the glory and majesty, and rejoices (F. 6 r0 b) much of the greatness of the glory that was upon them. The crown for the Lord (their) marriage, e 'are delighted about them (him) and all the angels. There was therefore a great joy, as there had not been since (the original) world, and such that there will not until hearing the word of joy from those who are right. Adam and Eve lived in paradise for three hours.

1.3.7. Paradise was high in the air, land (of paradise) was also heavenly rose fifteen cubits above it high mountains and hills. (The tree of forbidden fruit) was the symbol of the tree of the cross (F 6 v0 a), which (Jesus Christ) extended his hands, the tree of life and hi, ( tree) of the Holy Cross, which was planted in the ground.

1 comment:

Fady said...

I think you've to read the coptic history and when they start to talk Arabic (under the oppression of Arabs)