oa Proceedings Ekklesiastikos Pharos - Religious literacy in Greek from the Christian monastery at Qasr El-Wizz, Lower Nubia

Volume 2014 Number 1
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The present paper will discuss the role of the Greek language in the multilingual environment of the Christian kingdoms of medieval Nubia in the borderland between today’s northern Sudan and southern Egypt. The case study used to illuminate this role is the corpus of Greek texts discovered at the monastery of Qasr el-Wizz in Lower Nubia. The importance of these texts lies primarily with their very few numbers in comparison with the couple of hundred finds in Coptic from the same site. Moreover, the Greek texts from Qasr el-Wizz appear in the archaeological record in the same period as the equally few texts in Old Nubian. This period is the 10th-11th centuries CE, the prime of the so-called Classic period of the Christian Nubian civilization, when the local element of the society in Makuria, the most renowned Christian Nubian kingdom, gained a leading role in both the secular and the religious spheres of life. A brief presentation of the particular character of the content of the Greek texts from Qasr el-Wizz will allow for a contextualization of this small corpus against the understanding of the genres of literary and subliterary Christian texts in medieval Nubia and a revisit of the dividing line between expressions of public and private piety. Finally, it will be suggested that this division can be apprehended as the outcome of the role that local priestly elites of the Makuritan state played in the way liturgy was conducted in the late Nubian Church.

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