At SBL last year, I attended a review session of Lincoln Blumell and Thomas Wayment’s helpful book, Christian Oxyrhynchus (Waco, Baylor University Press, 2015). During the discussion, someone mentioned that it was the first time The Life of Apa Aphou, Bishop of Pemje (= Oxyrhynchus) had ever been translated into English (they mention this on p. 641 as well).
I had read The Life of Apa Aphou a couple months before and came across an interesting story about scribal error and heresy:
Aphou was only a monk in Oxyrhynchus in 399 when Theophilus of Alexandria issued a festal letter that year. The letter no longer survives, but we do know that it was not received well by a number of monks due to the statement, “This image that we bear is not the image of God” (Blumell-Wayment, pp. 644–645).
In a vision, Aphou was commanded by an angel to travel to Alexandria to confront Theophilus about the statement. There, Aphou said to Theophilus,
Let my lord Bishop command that the [original] copy of the sermon (ᵉmphison ᵉmptašeoeiš) be read to me in this place, because I heard an expression that was not in harmony with the Scriptures inspired by God. I did not believe that it had come from you, but I wondered if the scribes made a mistake (ᵉnta ᵉnsungrapheus šōfᵉt) when they wrote this thing on account of which a number of pious people have taken offense so that they are very troubled. (Blumell-Wayment, pp. 644–645)
Two interesting things to note here:
The story continues with the dispute between Aphou and Theophilus after it was clear that the controversial statement was not the result of scribal error. In the end, Theophilus admitted his error, reconciled with Aphou and sent a letter of retraction “throughout all the country” (p. 649). When the bishop of Oxyrhynchus died three years later, Theophilus himself insisted that the monk Aphou be ordained as the new bishop.