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Oxyrynchus



Titular archdiocese of Heptanomos in Egypt. It was the capital of the district of its name, the nineteenth of Upper Egypt, whose god was Sit, incarnated in a sacred fish of the Nile, the Mormyrus. Thence comes its Greek name, for in Egyptian it is called Pemdje. It has been mentioned by Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, etc. Its inhabitants early embraced Christianity, and at the end of the fourth century ("Vitæ Patrum" of Rufinus of Aquileia) it possessed neither pagan nor heretic. It had then twelve churches, and its monastic huts exceeded in number its ordinary dwellings. Surrounding the city were many convents to which reference is made in Palladius, the "Apophthegmata Patrum", Johannes Moschus, etc. In 1897, in 1903, and the years following, Grenfel and Hunt found papyri containing fourteen sentences or fragments of sentences (logia) attributed to Jesus and which seem to belong to the first half of the second century, also fragments of Gospels, now lost, besides Christian documents of the third century, etc. A letter, recently discovered, written by Peter the martyr, Bishop of Alexandria, in 312, gives an interesting picture of this church at that time. Le Quien (Oriens christianus, II, 577-590) mentions seven metropolitans of this city, nearly all Meletians or monophysistes. In the middle ages under the dynasty of the Mamelukes, it was the leading city of the province. To-day under the name of Behneseh, it is entirely dismantled. Mounds of débris alone make it possible to recognize its circuit.

GRENFEL and HUNT, The Oxyrynchus Papyri, in the publications of the EGYPT EXPLORATION FUND (London); WESSELY, Les plus anciens monuments du christianisme écrits sur papyrus (Paris, 1906); SCHMIDT, Fragmente einer Schrift des Martyerbischofs Petrus von Alexandrien (Leipzig, 1901).

S. VAILHÉ








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