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Title: Prinzipien der Entschlüsseling von Pachoms 'Geheimschrift'
Author(s): JOEST, Christoph
Journal: Journal of Coptic Studies
Volume: 24    Date: 2022   
Pages: 181-201
DOI: 10.2143/JCS.24.0.3290756

Abstract :
Some years ago, Professor Joel Kalvesmaki had challenged my endeavour to unravel the cryptic use of letter codes in the writings of St. Pachomius. In a series of various articles, I described the method and the results of this enterprise. My synthesis was published in the CSCO-Subsidia series one year after Kalvesmaki’s critique, so he knew only some of my earlier writings. His objections, however, gave me the opportunity to set out the principles of the decoding in a more clear and straightforward manner. The first principle is that of concordance, which means that each letter code symbolizes the same word cluster at each place where it occurs. This working hypothesis had to be proved by scrutinizing every single occurrence. The results were satisfying. Secondly, there is the principle of contraction, that is to say: when the codes adopt grammatical functions, then a whole phrase or a part of it is contracted in the cryptic letter. So we need to understand not only what the letter as such means, but also which function is ascribed to it. Finally, there is the principle of coherence: Whatever the letter codes might mean, it cannot be totally different from what Pachom taught elsewhere and what he stood for with his whole life. While Kalvesmaki seems more interested in the 'how' and the 'why' of meaning, I am concerned with the 'what' of meaning. It is true, this is a precarious undertaking given the age of the texts and the differences of cultures, but the results are at least plausible.

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