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Profiles

Rodolphe Kasser

Philologist and archaeologist Rodolphe Kasser is one of the world's leading Coptologists. Born in Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland on January 14, 1927, Kasser obtained his higher education in theology in Lausanne and Paris from 1946-1950, and a diploma from the École Practique des Hautes Études (equivalent to Ph.D.) in Paris in 1964. He conducted pastoral ministry in Switzerland and France from 1953 to 1959.

From 1963 to 1998 he was on the staff at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Geneva, lecturing in Coptic language and literature, first as professor extraordinary from 1963 to 1976, then as professor from 1976 to 1998. Since 1965 he has been the head of the archaeological excavations of the Swiss Mission of Coptic Archaeology in the Kellia, Lower Egypt.

Since 1963 Kasser has done important research in the field of Coptic philology, including the preparation of a new Coptic dictionary that will be published soon. This work was done in parallel with reforms in Coptic dialectal classification. Kasser's numerous publications, from 1964 to 2005, illustrate this activity of research. He has published several important Greek and Coptic codices of the Bodmeriana Library, most of them biblical.

Involved in the preparation of the publication of the Coptic gnostic texts discovered in Nag Hammadi, Kasser was a member of the editorial board and the four-member technical committee of the facsimile edition. He was involved in the translation of important Coptic gnostic and Coptic Manichaean texts. Since 1976 Kasser has been a member of the committee of the International Association for Coptic Studies, and served as president from 1984 to 1988.

Since 2000 he has been its honorary president. Kasser is also a vice president of the Society of Egyptology of Geneva. From 1980 to 1991 Kasser was the editor in charge of the "Linguistics" section of the Coptic Encyclopaedia. In 1986, he participated in the creation of the international project (Swiss-Danish-German) for the edition of the Coptic Manichaean manuscripts of Medinet-Madi, belonging to the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland.

Since 2001 Kasser has organized the restoration and prepared the edition princeps of Codex Tchacos, containing the Gospel of Judas and three other Coptic gnostic texts.