The Figure of Joseph in Coptic Literature

This paper will examine the way in which Joseph is depicted in Coptic literature. Emphasis will be placed on the History of Joseph the Carpenter, an apocryphal writing extant in Coptic (Sahidic and Bohairic dialects) and Arabic. The text allegedly contains Jesus’ report concerning the death of Joseph, which was written down by the apostles and deposited in the library of Jerusalem. I will also explore a series of Coptic patristic texts about Joseph, which seem to ultimately depend on the Protoevangelium of James. As I will show, the cult of Joseph was developed in Coptic Egypt as a consequence of the Christological debates of the 5th century CE.