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The Martyr as Witness Coptic and Copto-Arabic Hagiographies as Mediators of Religious Memory1

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This article argues for a novel reading of Coptic and Copto-Arabic hagiographies. Relying on the analysis of Coptic and Copto-Arabic traditions belonging to the Passion of Victor son of Romanos, also known as Victor the General, the author investigates issues concerning the transmission of texts, intertextuality, the dialectics between history and memory and their implications in the articulation of Coptic religious memory. In the present article the body of the martyr is viewed as a text and the memory of bodily experiences transmitted through texts as pertaining to religious memory. The author posits that far from negating his body, the martyr made it the chart of his belief and placed it in the foreground for everybody to see, to hear about and to remember. She explicates that the practices to which the martyr subordinated his body and the experience of martyrdom placed him in a state of liminality.

Affiliations: 1: School of Cultural and Social Studies Dept. of History of Religions University of Oslo Postboks 1010, Blindern N-0315 Oslo, Norway


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