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Preserving the Divine: ατο- Prefixed Generative Terms and the Untitled Treatise in the Bruce Codex

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In Greek literature from antiquity, there is a set of terms formed from verbs of origination or generation and prefixed with ατο-, which are represented primarily in three types of literature prior to the fifth century: in the surviving fragments from Numenius, in apologetic histories which incorporate oracular statements about first gods, and in the reports about and examples of Sethian literature. By considering the range of transliterated words in the Coptic Untitled Treatise based upon ατο- prefixed generative terms from Greek, we can discern several of the traditions that underlie this text’s multiple, often competing, narratives about the structure and population of the divine world. Many of those traditions are also recorded in apologetic histories, and comparison with these shows that the Untitled Treatise is an example of a different mode of historical writing, one which is preservationist rather than explicitly persuasive.

Affiliations: 1: University of Michigan 4163 Thayer Academic Building, 202 South Thayer Street Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608 USA, Email:


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