Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hon.-Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Schüssler, RIP

As mentioned previously, the prominent Coptologist and Bible scholar, Karlheinz Schüssler, passed away in a tragic car accident on October 8, 2013.  He was an honorary Professor at the University of Salzburg, and an official obituary is now available through their website.

Those involved with the various ECM editions will remember Karlheinz Schüssler for his recent contributions to the Birmingham ECM project.  Schüssler, with the assistance of his Doktortochter Christina Kreinecker, started the work on the critical edition of John which is now being completed by Hans Förster (Vienna).  Notably, Schüssler’s labor on John never ceased.  In August, he published the editio princeps of an early Sahidic witness from the Chester Beatty library, which includes extensive discussion of the other continuous manuscripts.

Few scholars appreciate just how young the study of Coptic literature is.  In terms of truly modern critical editions, little of the known corpus has been published, the principle problem being the highly fragmentary nature of the majority of the scattered manuscripts.  Through his Biblia Coptica fascicles, Schüssler has become widely known for his work in cataloging the known witnesses to the Sahidic Coptic biblical tradition.  The series offers copious codicological information, aggressively surveys the background literature and presents photographic examples of scribal hands.  The Biblia Coptica catalog system developed contemporaneously with a similar Münster system, and in recent years the relevant scholars have collaborated extensively.  Notably, Schüssler’s first Coptic Bible publication was his 1991 critical edition of the Catholic Epistles, which originally was his Münster PhD dissertation.  During the era of Kurt Aland, he was a fellow student of Gerd Mink and Franz-Jürgen Schmitz, working in the INTF.

Karlheinz Schüssler was also interested in Sahidic lectionaries, until recently edited the Journal of Coptic Studies, established an institute devoted to Coptology and Egyptology (Salzburg), was the first scholar to apply radiocarbon dating to White Monastery manuscripts and maintained an extensive archive of microfilms and digital images from all the major libraries.  I have glossed over his wider knowledge of and participation in Egyptological and Near Eastern studies, of which one may read more in his official obituary (link above).


  1. He was a very kind and helpful man. It is a great lost by his passing away.God bless him.