Carl Schmidt (Coptologist)

Carl Schmidt (Hagenow, 26 August 1868 – Cairo, 17 April 1938) was a German Coptologist. He made editions of various Coptic texts, and was active in Egypt in purchasing papyri for German universities.[1] He also assisted Sir Chester Beatty in his papyri purchases.[2]

In 1887 Carl Schmidt studied classical philology, Hebrew and comparative linguistics in Leipzig. After just one year he moved to the University of Berlin. Adolf Harnack introduced him to patristics and to the history of old Christian literature. The Egyptologists Adolf Erman and Georg Steindorff also had an impact. Steindorff taught him the Coptic language. His doctorate was on Codex Brucianus. Harnack recognised the special abilities of Schmidt and supported his pupil as much as he could, however Schmidt's career was uncertain for a long time. In 1899 he attained the habilitation in history of Christianity with "Plotins Stellung zum Gnostizismus und kirchlichen Christentum".[3]

With the support of Harnack in 1900 he became "wissenschaftlicher Beamter der Kirchenväterkommission", an official, which secured his income. Harnack himself was part of the Kirchenväterkommission.[4] The Kirchenväterkommission entrusted Schmidt with the publishing of Codex Brucianus and Pistis Sophia (Codex Askewianus). For the publishing of the meanwhile mutilated and partly destroyed Codex Brucianus, Schmidt was able to use the copies and notes of Karl Gottfried Woide and Moritz Gotthilf Schwartze, which were made, when the manuscript still was in better condition. He published the Acts of Peter and the Acts of Paul. In 1909, he became an Extraordinary Professor, in 1921 was made Honorary Professor and in 1928 Ordinary Professor of History of Christianity and for Coptic Language and Literature. Together with Harnack he was editor of Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur. Carl Schmidt also was occupied with Manichaean manuscripts and played an important role in purchasing Coptic manuscripts for the Berliner Papyrussammlung. Schmidt was a member of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft and of the Gesellschaft für Kirchengeschichte. He died in 1938 in Cairo.

Important works



  1. The Herakleopolite Nome: a catalogue of the toponyms - Page 31 Maria Rosaria Falivene - 1998 "In the 1920s and 1930s, the coptologist Carl Schmidt was very active as a purveyor of papyri to German universities4: through him were acquired P.Giss. Univ. 19 5 and the papyri now in the collection of Erlangen University (including P.Erl.58, ..."
  2. Christianity and monasticism in the Fayoum oasis: essays from the ... - Page 72 Martin Krause, Gawdat Gabra, Saint Mark Foundation - 2005 "In the following year the Coptologist Carl Schmidt and the Irish magnate Sir Chester Beatty bought several piles of papyri from an antique dealer in Cairo. Later investigations revealed that the manuscripts had been found in a dwelling in .."
  3. Stefan Rebenich: Theodor Mommsen und Adolf Harnack: Wissenschaft und Politik im Berlin des ausgehenden 19. Jahrhunderts. p. 211.
  4. Stefan Rebenich: Theodor Mommsen und Adolf Harnack: Wissenschaft und Politik im Berlin des ausgehenden 19. Jahrhunderts. p. 219.
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