Difference between revisions of "Church of Alexandria (Coptic)"

From OrthodoxWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
(OrthodoxWikification, general cleanup, rem. sections on ECs 1-3 (which get their own articles), renamed image)
Line 1: Line 1:
[[Image:ChristCopticArt.jpg|frame|Christ - Coptic Art]]'''Coptic Orthodox Christianity''' is the indigenous form of [[Christianity]] that, according to tradition, the apostle [[St. Mark the Evangelist|Mark]] established in [[Egypt]] in the middle of the [[1st century]] AD (approximately [[60|AD 60]])It is the national church of [[Egypt]] (95% of the Christians of Egypt belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria). The church is one of the [[Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox]] churches. Its leader is the [[Patriarch of Alexandria|Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of the Holy See of Saint Mark]].  The current incumbent is [http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/pope/ Pope Shenouda III].  
+
[[Image:ChristCopticArt.jpg|frame|Coptic icon of Christ]]
 +
The '''Coptic Orthodox Church''' is the portion of the [[Church of Alexandria]] which broke from the Byzantine churches in the wake of the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council]] in Chalcedon in 451Sharing a common heritage before with the Chalcedonian Church of Alexandria, it traces its origins to the [[Apostle Mark]]. The church is one of the [[Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox]] churches. Its leader is the Coptic Pope of Alexandria, currently Pope Shenouda III.  
  
[http://www.coptic.net/articles/MonophysitismReconsidered.txt The Coptic Church has never believed in monophysitism] the way it was portrayed in the Council of Chalcedon! In that Council, monophysitism meant believing in one nature. Copts believe that the Lord is perfect in His divinity, and He is perfect in His humanity, but His divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate word", which was reiterated by Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Copts, thus, believe in two natures "human" and "divine" that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration" (from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy). These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye" (also from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy).  
+
The Coptic Church regards itself as having never believed in [[monophysitism]] the way it was portrayed in the Council of Chalcedon. In that council, monophysitism meant believing in one nature of Jesus Christ. Copts believe that the Lord is perfect in his divinity, and he is perfect in his humanity, but his divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate Word," which was articulated by St. [[Cyril of Alexandria]]. Copts thus believe in two natures "human" and "divine" that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration" (from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy). These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye" (also from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy).  
 
 
 
 
==Highly recommended key Coptic Web links (in English)==
 
* [http://www.zeitun-eg.org Holy Virgin Mary Apparitions over the domes of Her Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitun, Cairo, Egypt, 1968 - seen by millions]
 
* [http://www.zeitun-eg.net/stcyril6/ The late Pope Kyrillos VI (Cyril the Sixth), 116th Pope of Alexandria and See of St. Mark (Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, 1959-1971)]
 
* [http://www.stmina-monastery.org St. Mina (Menas) Coptic Orthodox Monastery in Mariut, near Alexandria, Egypt]
 
* [http://www.coptic.net/EncyclopediaCoptica/ Encyclopedia Coptica: The Christian Coptic Orthodox Church Of Egypt]
 
  
 
==History==
 
==History==
[[Egypt]] is often identified as the place of refuge that the [[Holy Family]] sought in its flight from [[Judea]]: "When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of [[Herod]], that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ''Out of Egypt I called My Son''" ([[Matthew the Evangelist|Matthew]] 2:12-23). The Egyptian Church, which is now more than nineteen centuries old, was the subject of many prophecies in the [[Old Testament]]. [[Isaiah]] the prophet, in Chapter 19, Verse 19 says "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border."
+
Egypt is often identified as the place of refuge that the Holy Family sought in its flight from Judea: "When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ''Out of Egypt I called My Son''" ([[Gospel of Matthew|Matthew]] 2:12-23). The Egyptian Church, which is now more than nineteen centuries old, was the subject of many prophecies in the [[Old Testament]]. [[Isaiah]] the prophet, in Chapter 19, Verse 19 says "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border."
  
The first [[Christian]]s in Egypt were mainly [[Alexandria]]n [[Jew]]s such as [[Theophilus (Biblical)|Theophilus]], whom [[Luke the Evangelist|Saint Luke the Evangelist]] addresses in the introductory chapter of his [[Gospel of Luke|gospel]]. When the church was founded by [[Saint Mark|Mark]] during the reign of the [[Roman Empire|Roman]] [[emperor]] [[Nero]], a great multitude of native Egyptians (as opposed to Greeks or Jews) embraced the Christian faith. [[Christianity]] spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Mark's arrival in Alexandria as is clear from the [[New Testament]] writings found in [[Oxyrhynchus|Bahnasa]], in [[Middle Egypt]], which date around the year 200 AD, and a fragment of the [[Gospel of John|Gospel of Saint John]], written in [[Coptic language|Coptic]], which was found in [[Upper Egypt]] and can be dated to the first half of the second century. In the [[2nd century|second century]] [[Christianity]] began to spread to the rural areas, and scriptures were translated into the local language, namely [[Coptic Language|Coptic]].
+
The first Christians in Egypt were mainly Alexandrian Jews such as Theophilus, whom the [[Apostle Luke]] addresses in the introductory chapter of his [[Gospel of Luke|gospel]]. When the church was founded by [[Apostke Mark|Mark]] during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, a great multitude of native Egyptians (as opposed to Greeks or Jews) embraced the Christian faith. Christianity spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Mark's arrival in Alexandria as is clear from the [[New Testament]] writings found in Bahnasa, in Middle Egypt, which date around the year 200 AD, and a fragment of the [[Gospel of John]], written in Coptic, which was found in Upper Egypt and can be dated to the first half of the second century. In the second century Christianity began to spread to the rural areas, and scriptures were translated into the local language, namely Coptic.
  
 
=== The Catechetical School of Alexandria ===
 
=== The Catechetical School of Alexandria ===
The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world. Founded around 190 by the scholar [[Pantanaeus]], the school of Alexandria became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as [[Athenagoras of Athens|Athenagoras]], [[Clement of Alexandria|Clement]], [[Didymus the Blind|Didymus]], and the great [[Origen]], who was considered the father of theology and who was also active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. Origen wrote over 6,000 commentaries of the [[Bible]] in addition to his famous [[Hexapla]]. Many scholars such as [[Saint Jerome]] visited the school of Alexandria to exchange ideas and to communicate directly with its scholars. The scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects; science, mathematics and humanities were also taught there. The question and answer method of commentary began there, and 15 centuries before [[Braille]], wood-carving techniques were in use there by blind scholars to read and write.
+
The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world. Founded around 190 by the scholar Pantanaeus, the school of Alexandria became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as [[Athenagoras of Athens|Athenagoras]], [[Clement of Alexandria|Clement]], [[Didymus the Blind|Didymus]], and the great [[Origen]], who was considered the father of theology and who was also active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. Origen wrote over 6,000 commentaries of the [[Bible]] in addition to his famous ''[[Hexapla]]''. Many scholars such as St. [[Jerome]] visited the school of Alexandria to exchange ideas and to communicate directly with its scholars. The scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects; science, mathematics and humanities were also taught there. The question and answer method of commentary began there, and 15 centuries before Braille, wood-carving techniques were in use there by blind scholars to read and write.
  
The Theological college of the catechetical school of Alexandria was re-established in 1893. The new school currently has campuses in Alexandria, [[Cairo]], [[New Jersey]], and [[Los Angeles]], where Coptic priests-to-be and other qualified men and women are taught among other subjects Christian theology, history, [[Coptic language]] and art - including chanting, music, [[iconography]], and tapestry.
+
The Theological college of the catechetical school of Alexandria was re-established in 1893. The new school currently has campuses in Alexandria, Cairo, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, where Coptic priests-to-be and other qualified men and women are taught among other subjects Christian theology, history, Coptic language and art—including chanting, music, [[iconography]], and tapestry.
  
 
=== Monasticism and missionary work ===
 
=== Monasticism and missionary work ===
In the [[3rd century|third century]], during the persecution of [[Decius]], some Christians fled to the desert, and remained there to pray after the persecutions abated. This was the beginning of the [[Monasticism|monastic movement]], which was reorganized by the saints [[Saint Anthony the Great|Anthony the Great]] and [[Pachomius]] in the [[4th century]]. By the end of the century, there were hundreds of monasteries, and thousands of cells and caves scattered throughout the Egyptian hills. A number of these monasteries are still flourishing and have new vocations till this day.
+
In the third century, during the persecution of Decius, some Christians fled to the desert, and remained there to pray after the persecutions abated. This was the beginning of the [[monasticism|monastic movement]], which was reorganized by the saints [[Anthony the Great]] and [[Pachomius the Great|Pachomius]] in the 4th century. By the end of the century, there were hundreds of monasteries, and thousands of cells and caves scattered throughout the Egyptian hills. A number of these monasteries are still flourishing and have new vocations till this day.
 
 
Egyptian monasticism attracted the attention of Christians in other parts of the world, who visited Egypt, many bringing monastic ideas home with them, and spreading monasticism through the Christian world. [[Saint Basil]], organizer of the monastic movement in [[Asia Minor]] visited Egypt around AD [[357]] and his rule is followed by the eastern Churches; Saint Jerome, en route to [[Jerusalem]], stopped in Egypt and left details of his experiences in his letters; [[Benedict of Nursia|Saint Benedict]] founded monasteries in the [[6th century]] on the model of Pachomius, but in a stricter form.
 
  
=== Council of Nicaea ===
+
Egyptian monasticism attracted the attention of Christians in other parts of the world, who visited Egypt, many bringing monastic ideas home with them, and spreading monasticism through the Christian world. St. [[Basil the Great]], organizer of the monastic movement in Asia Minor visited Egypt around AD 357 and his rule is followed by the eastern churches; St. Jerome, en route to Jerusalem, stopped in Egypt and left details of his experiences in his letters; St. [[Benedict of Nursia]] founded monasteries in the 6th century on the model of Pachomius, but in a stricter form.
In the 4th century, a [[Libya]]n priest called [[Arianism|Arius]] started a theological dispute about the nature of Christ that spread throughout the Christian world. The [[Ecumenical Council of Nicaea]] ([[325]]) was convened by [[Constantine I (emperor)|Constantine]] to resolve the dispute and eventually led to the formulation of the Symbol of Faith, also known as the [[Nicene Creed]]. The Creed, which is now recited throughout the Christian world, was authored by [[Athanasius of Alexandria|Saint Athanasius the Apostolic]], the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria.
 
 
 
=== Council of Constantinople ===
 
In the year [[381]], [[Timothy I of Alexandria]] presided over the second ecumenical council known as the Ecumenical [[First Council of Constantinople|Council of Constantinople]], which completed the [[Nicene Creed]] with this confirmation of the divinity of the [[Holy Spirit]]:
 
 
 
:"We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Life-giver, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified who spoke by the Prophets and in one Holy Universal Apostolic Church. We confess one Baptism for the remission of sins and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the coming age, Amen."
 
 
 
=== Council of Ephesus ===
 
[[Image:CopticAltar.jpg|thumb|left|Coptic Altar in Jerusalem]]
 
Another theological dispute in the [[5th century]] occurred over the teachings of [[Nestorius]], a Patriarch of Constantinople who taught that God the Word was not [[hypostatically]] joined with human nature, but rather dwelt in the man Jesus. As a consequence of this, he denied the title "Mother of God" ''([[Theotokos]])'' to the [[Virgin Mary]], declaring her instead to be "Mother of Christ" ''(Christotokos)''. When reports of this reached the Apostolic Throne of [[Mark the Evangelist|Saint Mark]], the incumbent acted quickly to "correct" this breach with orthodoxy, requesting that Nestorius repent.  When he would not, the Synod of Alexandria met in an emergency session and a unanimous agreement was reached. Pope  [[Cyril of Alexandria|Cyril I of Alexandria]], supported by the entire See, sent a letter to Nestorius known as "The Third Epistle of Saint Cyril to Nestorius." This epistle drew heavily on the established Patristic Constitutions and contained the most famous article of Alexandrian Orthodoxy: "The Twelve Anathemas of Saint Cyril." In these [[anathema]]s, Cyril excommunicated anyone who followed the teachings of Nestorius. For example, "Anyone who dares to deny the [[Virgin Mary|Holy Virgin]] the title ''Theotokos'' is Anathema!" Nestorius however, still would not repent and so this led to the convening of the [[First Ecumenical Council of Ephesus]] ([[431]]), over which Cyril presided.
 
 
 
The [[First Ecumenical Council of Ephesus]] confirmed the teachings of [[Athanasius of Alexandria|Saint Athanasius]] and confirmed the title of the Holy Ever-Virgin Mary as "Mother of God". It also clearly stated that anyone who separated [[Christ]] into two hypostases was anathema, as Athanasius  had said that there is "One Nature and One Hypostasis for God the Word Incarnate" (Mia Physis kai Mia Hypostasis tou Theou Logou Sasarkomeni). Also, the introduction to the creed was formulated as follows:
 
 
 
:"We magnify you O Mother of the True Light and we glorify you O saint and Mother of God ''(Theotokos)'' for you have borne unto us the Saviour of the world. Glory to you O our Master and King: Christ, the pride of the Apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the rejoicing of the righteous, firminess of the churches and the forgiveness of sins. We proclaim the Holy Trinity in One Godhead: we worship Him, we glorify Him, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord bless us, Amen."
 
 
 
The Orthodox faith is considered to have prevailed at the council. Unfortunately, Cyril of Alexandria died soon afterwards. [[Dioscorus of Alexandria|Saint Dioscorus]], the archdeacon of Alexandria (considered a saint by the non-Chalcedonians but a heretic by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics) was elected as Cyril's replacement. The Nestorians took the opportunity of Cyril's death to revive their campaign against Cyrillian Christology.
 
  
 
===Council of Chalcedon===
 
===Council of Chalcedon===
 
[[Image:StMarkCathAlex.jpg|thumb|St Mark Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria]]
 
[[Image:StMarkCathAlex.jpg|thumb|St Mark Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria]]
By the time the [[Council of Chalcedon]] was called, politics had already started to intermingle with Church affairs. When the Emperor [[Marcianus]] interfered with matters of faith in the Church, the response of [[Dioscorus of Alexandria|Saint Dioscorus]], the Pope of Alexandria who was later to be exiled, to this interference was clear: "You have nothing to do with the Church." It was at [[Chalcedon]] that the emperor would take his revenge for the Pope's frankness.
+
'''''Note:''' This section represents the view of the Coptic Orthodox Church and not that of the [[Orthodox Church|Chalcedonian Orthodox]], which regards the Council of Chalcedon as the Fourth Ecumenical Council.''
 +
 +
By the time the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Council of Chalcedon]] was called, politics had already started to intermingle with Church affairs. When the Emperor Marcianus interfered with matters of faith in the Church, the response of [[Dioscorus of Alexandria]] (the Pope of Alexandria who was later to be exiled) to this interference was clear: "You have nothing to do with the Church." It was at Chalcedon that the emperor would take his revenge for the Pope's frankness.
  
The [[Council of Chalcedon]] abandoned Cyrillian terminology and declared that Christ was one hypostasis in two natures. However, the Council's finding were rejected by many of the Christians on the fringes of the [[Byzantine Empire]]: Egyptians, [[Syria]]ns, [[Armenia]]ns, and others. From that point onward, Alexandria would have two patriarchs: the "[[Melkite]]" or Imperial Patriarch, now known as the [[List of Orthodox Patriarchs of Alexandria|Eastern Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria]], and the non-Chalcedonian national Egyptian one, now known as the [[List of Coptic Popes|Coptic Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria]]. Almost the entire Egyptian population rejected the terms of the Council of Chalcedon and remained faithful to the national Egyptian Church (now known as the Coptic Church). Those who supported the Chalcedonian definition remained in [[Full communion|communion]] with the other leading churches of [[Rome]] and [[Constantinople]]. The non-Chalcedonian party became what is today called the [[Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox Church]].  
+
The Council of Chalcedon abandoned Cyrillian terminology and declared that Christ was one hypostasis in two natures. However, the Council's finding were rejected by many of the Christians on the fringes of the Byzantine Empire: Egyptians, Syrians, Armenians, and others. From that point onward, Alexandria would have two patriarchs: the "[[Melkite]]" or Imperial Patriarch, now known as the Eastern Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, and the non-Chalcedonian national Egyptian one, now known as the Coptic Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. Almost the entire Egyptian population rejected the terms of the Council of Chalcedon and remained faithful to the national Egyptian Church (now known as the Coptic Church). Those who supported the Chalcedonian definition remained in [[full communion|communion]] with the other leading churches of the Roman Empire. The non-Chalcedonian party became what is today called the [[Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox Church]].  
  
The Chalcedonians sometimes called the non-Chalcedonians "[[monophysitism|monophysites]]", though the Coptic Church denies that it teaches [[monophysitism]], which it regards as a heresy. They have sometimes called the Chalcedonian group "[[dyophysitism|dyophysites]]".  A term that comes closer to Coptic doctrine is "[[miaphysitism|miaphysite]]", which refers to a conjoined nature for Christ, both human and divine, united indivisibly in the Incarnate Logos. The Coptic Church believes that Christ is perfect in His divinity, and He is perfect in His humanity, but His divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate word", which was reiterated by [[Cyril of Alexandria|Saint Cyril of Alexandria]]. Copts, thus, believe in two natures "human" and "divine" that are united in one ''without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration''. These two natures ''did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye''.
+
The Chalcedonians sometimes called the non-Chalcedonians "[[monophysitism|monophysites]]", though the Coptic Church denies that it teaches monophysitism, which it regards as a [[heresy]]. They in turn have sometimes called the Chalcedonian group "[[dyophysitism|dyophysites]]".  A term that comes closer to Coptic doctrine is "[[miaphysitism|miaphysite]]", which refers to a conjoined nature for Christ, both human and divine, united indivisibly in the incarnate Logos. The Coptic Church believes that Christ is perfect in his divinity, and he is perfect in his humanity, but his divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate word", which was iterated by [[Cyril of Alexandria]]. Copts, thus, believe in two natures, "human" and "divine", that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration". These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye".
  
The Coptic Church was misunderstood at the Council of Chalcedon. Perhaps the Council understood the Church correctly, but wanted to exile the Church, to isolate it and to abolish the Egyptian, independent Pope, who maintained that Church and State should remain separate. Despite all of this, the Coptic Church has remained very strict and steadfast in its faith.
+
The Coptic Church regards itself as having been misunderstood at the Council of Chalcedon.
 
 
===From Chalcedon to the Arab conquest of Egypt===
 
Copts suffered under the rule of the [[Eastern Roman Empire]]. The Melkite Patriarchs, appointed by the emperors as both spiritual leaders and civil governors, massacred the Egyptian population whom they considered heretics. Many Egyptians were tortured and martyred to accept the terms of Chalcedon, but Egyptians remained loyal to the faith of their fathers and to the Cyrilian view of [[Christology]]. One of the most renowned Egyptian saints of that period is [[Saint Samuel the Confessor]].
 
  
 
===The Arab conquest of Egypt===
 
===The Arab conquest of Egypt===
 +
The Arab conquest of Egypt took place in AD 641. Although the Imperial forces resisted the Arab army under Amr ibn al-As, the majority of the civilian population, having suffered persecution for the differing Christian beliefs, were less hostile; in some cases they welcomed their new masters. Considered "People of the Book", Christians were allowed to practice their religion, under the restrictions of the [[Islam]]ic Shari'a law. This protection stemmed in part from a Hadith of Muhammad (whose Egyptian wife had been the only one to bear a male child) that advised "When you conquer Egypt, be kind to the Copts for they are your proteges and kith and kin" and in part from a need to have capable administrators.
  
The [[Arab]] conquest of Egypt took place in AD [[641]]. Although the Imperial forces resisted the Arab army under [[Amr ibn al-As]], the majority of the civilian population, having suffered persecution for the differing Christian beliefs, were less hostile; in some cases they welcomed their new masters. Considered "[[People of the Book]]", Christians were allowed to practice their religion, under the restrictions of the Islamic [[Shari'a]] law. This protection stemmed in part from a [[Hadith]] of [[Muhammad|the Prophet]] (whose [[Muhammad's marriages|Egyptian wife]] had been the only one to bear a male child) that advised "When you conquer Egypt, be kind to the Copts for they are your proteges and kith and kin" and in part from a need to have capable administrators.
+
Despite the political upheaval, Egypt remained a predominently Christian land, although gradual conversions to Islam over the centuries had the effect of changing Egypt from a predominantly Christian to a predominantly Muslim country by the end of the 12th century. This process was sped along by persecutions during and following the reign of the mad Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (reigned AD 996-1021) and the Crusades, and also by the acceptance of Arabic as a liturgical language by the Pope of Alexandria, Gabriel ibn-Turaik.
 
 
Despite the political upheaval, Egypt remained a predominently Christian land, although gradual conversions to Islam over the centuries had the effect of changing Egypt from a predominantly Christian to a predominantly [[Muslim]] country by the end of the [[12th century]]. This process was sped along by persecutions during and following the reign of the mad [[Fatimid]] caliph [[Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah]] (reigned AD 996-1021) and the [[Crusades]], and also by the acceptance of Arabic as a liturgical language by the [[Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria|Pope of Alexandria]] [[Pope Gabriel II of Alexandria|Gabriel ibn-Turaik]].
 
  
 
===From the 19th century to the 1952 revolution===
 
===From the 19th century to the 1952 revolution===
The position of the Copts began to improve early in the 19th century under the stability and tolerance of [[Muhammad Ali of Egypt|Muhammad Ali]]'s dynasty. The Coptic community ceased to be regarded by the state as an administrative unit and, by [[1855]], the main mark of Copts' inferiority, the ''Jizya'' tax, was lifted. Shortly thereafter, Christians started to serve in the Egyptian army. The [[1919 revolution]] in Egypt, the first grassroots display of Egyptian identity in centuries, stands as a witness to the homogeneity of Egypt's modern society with both its Muslim and Christian components.
+
The position of the Copts began to improve early in the 19th century under the stability and tolerance of Muhammad Ali's dynasty. The Coptic community ceased to be regarded by the state as an administrative unit and, by 1855, the main mark of Copts' inferiority, the ''Jizya'' tax, was lifted. Shortly thereafter, Christians started to serve in the Egyptian army. The [[1919 revolution]] in Egypt, the first grassroots display of Egyptian identity in centuries, stands as a witness to the homogeneity of Egypt's modern society with both its Muslim and Christian components.
  
 
==Coptic Christianity today==
 
==Coptic Christianity today==
 +
[[Image:Coptic festival.jpg|thumb|450px|left|Coptic Festival in Upper Egypt.]]
 +
The current Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria is Pope Shenouda III.  There is a small [[Coptic Catholic Church]] ([[Eastern Rite Catholic]]) which is headed by a Patriarch of Alexandria. The [[Melkite Greek Catholic Church]] has little presence in Egypt, but is headed by a Patriarch of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.
  
[[Image:Festival_1.jpg|thumb|450px|left|Coptic Festival in Upper Egypt.]]
+
By some accounts there are more than 40 million Coptic Orthodox Christians in the world: they are found primarily in Egypt (roughly 10 million), Ethiopia (roughly 30 million), and Eritrea (roughly 2 million), but there are significant numbers in Sudan and Israel, and in diaspora throughout the world.  However, as applied to the [[Church of Ethiopia|Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia]], which before 1950 was a part of the Coptic Church of Egypt, the word ''Coptic'' can be considered a misnomer because it means ''Egyptian''.  The [[Church of Eritreat|Eritrean Orthodox Church]] similarly became independent of the Tewahedo Church during the 1990s.  These three churches remain in [[full communion]] with each other and with the other [[Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox]] churches.
The current Coptic Orthodox [[Patriarch of Alexandria|Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of the Holy See of Saint Mark]] is [[Pope Shenouda III]] (his title should not be confused with that of the [[Roman Catholic]] [[Pope]]). The most recent Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria is [[Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria|Theodoros II]]. There is a small [[Coptic Catholic Church]] ([[Eastern Rite]] Catholic) which is headed by a Patriarch of Alexandria. The [[Melkite Catholic Church]] ([[Eastern Rite]] Catholic) has little presence in Egypt, but is headed by a Patriarch of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.
 
 
 
By some accounts there are more than 40 million Coptic Orthodox Christians in the world: they are found primarily in [[Egypt]] (roughly 10 million), [[Ethiopia]] (roughly 30 million), and [[Eritrea]] (roughly 2 million), but there are significant numbers in [[Sudan]] and [[Israel]], and in diaspora throughout the world.  However, as applied to the [[Tewahedo Church]] of Ethiopia, which before 1950 was a part of the Coptic Church of Egypt, the word ''Coptic'' can be considered a misnomer because it means ''Egyptian''.  The [[Eritrean Orthodox Church]] similarly became independent of the Tewahedo Church during the 1990s.  These three churches remain in [[full communion]] with each other and with the other [[Oriental Orthodox]] churches.
 
 
 
Since the 1980s theologians from the two groups have been meeting in a bid to resolve the theological differences, and have concluded that many of the differences are caused by the two groups using different terminology to describe the same thing. In 1990, the Coptic and Antiochian Orthodox Churches agreed to mutually recognize baptisms performed in each other's churches, making rebaptisms unnecessary. In the summer of 2001, the Coptic Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox agreed to recognize the sacrament of marriage as celebrated by the other. Previously, if a Coptic and Greek wanted to marry, the marriage had to be performed twice, once in each church, for it to be recognized by both. Now it can be done in only one church and be recognized by both.
 
 
 
In the Coptic Church only men may be ordained, and they must be married before they are ordained, if they wish to be married. In this respect they follow the same practices as does the [[Eastern Orthodox Church]].
 
 
 
Traditionally, the [[Coptic|Coptic language]] was used in church services, and the scriptures were written in the [[Coptic alphabet]].  However, due to the arabisation of Egypt, service in churches started to witness increased use of Arabic, while preaching is done entirely in Arabic. Native languages are used, in conjunction with Coptic, during services outside of Egypt.
 
 
 
Coptic Christians celebrate [[Christmas]] on the 7th of January which, since 2002, is an official national holiday in Egypt.
 
 
 
==Prominent Copts==
 
*'''Saints'''
 
** [[Abraam Bishop of Fayoum|St. Abraam Bishop of Fayoum]] الأنبا إبرآم أسقف الفيوم
 
** [[Anthony the Great|St. Anthony the Great]] القديس الأنبا أنطونيوس أب الرهبان
 
** [[Athanasius of Alexandria|St. Athanasius the Apostolic]] البابا أثناسيوس الرسولي
 
** [[Cyril of Alexandria|St. Cyril of Alexandria]] القديس البابا كيرلس السكندري عامود الدين
 
** [[Cyril VI|Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria]] قداسة البابا كيرلس السادس
 
** [[Demiana|St. Demiana]] الشهيدة دميانة
 
** [[Didimos|St. Didimos]] القديس ديديموس الضرير
 
** [[Dioscores|St. Dioscores]] البابا ديسقوروس
 
** [[Mary of Egypt|St. Mary of Egypt]] القديسة مريم المصرية
 
** [[Saint Mina|St. Mina]] الشهيد مارمينا العجايبي
 
** [[Saint Maurice|Saint Maurice]] القديس موريس قائد الكتيبة الطيبية
 
**[[Moses the Black|St. Moses the Black]] القديس موسى الأسود
 
** [[Pakhom|St. Pakhom]] القديس باخوم أب الشركة
 
** [[Parsoma|St. Parsoma]] الأنبا برسوم العريان
 
** [[Pavly the Anchorite|St. Pavly the Anchorite]]
 
** [[Samuel the Confessor|St. Samuel the Confessor]]
 
** [[Shenouty the Archmendrite|St. Shenouty the Archmendrite]]
 
** [[Simon the Shoemaker|St. Simon the Shoemaker]]
 
** [[Takla Haymanot|St. Takla Haymanot]] القديس الأنبا تكلا هيمانوت الحبشي القس
 
** [[Tigy|St. Tigy]]
 
** [[Verena|St. Verena]] القديسة فيرينا
 
  
 +
Since the 1980s theologians from the the Oriental Orthodox and Chalcedonian Orthodox churches have been meeting in a bid to resolve the theological differences, and have concluded that many of the differences are caused by the two groups using different terminology to describe the same thing. In 1990, the Coptic and Antiochian Orthodox Churches agreed to mutually recognize baptisms performed in each other's churches, making rebaptisms unnecessary. In the summer of 2001, the Coptic Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox agreed to recognize the sacrament of marriage as celebrated by the other. Previously, if a Coptic and Greek wanted to marry, the marriage had to be performed twice, once in each church, for it to be recognized by both. Now it can be done in only one church and be recognized by both.
  
*'''Clergymen'''
+
In the Coptic Church only men may be ordained, and they must be married before they are ordained, if they wish to be married. In this respect they follow the same practices as does the [[Orthodox Church|Eastern Orthodox Church]].
**[[Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria|HH Pope Shenouty III]], the current Pope of Alexandria قداسة البابا شنوده الثالث
 
  
 +
Traditionally, the Coptic language was used in church services, and the scriptures were written in the Coptic alphabet.  However, due to the Arabisation of Egypt, service in churches started to witness increased use of Arabic, while preaching is done entirely in Arabic. Native languages are used, in conjunction with Coptic, during services outside of Egypt.
  
*'''Politicians'''
+
Following their own church calendar, Coptic Christians celebrate [[Christmas]] on the [[January 7|7th of January]] which, since 2002, is an official national holiday in Egypt.
**[[Boutros Ghali]], Prime Minister of Egypt بطرس غالي
 
**[[Boutros Boutros-Ghali|Boutros Boutros Ghali]], Former [[Secretary General of the United Nations]] بطرس بطرس غالي
 
**[[Makram Ebeid]] مكرم عبيد
 
** [[Kamal Stino]], Former Vice Prime Minister of Egypt كمال ستينو
 
**[[Youssef Boutros Ghali]] يوسف بطرس غالي
 
**[[Dina Habib Powell]] Bush Undersecretary of State for cultural affairs
 
  
 +
==Coptic saints==
 +
'''''Note:''' Some of these are not saints on the Chalcedonian calendar.''
  
*'''20th Century Prominent Copts'''
+
* [[Abraam Bishop of Fayoum]] الأنبا إبرآم أسقف الفيوم
** [[Professor Naguib Pasha Mahfouz]] (1882-1974), Obstetric fistula pioneer and the father of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Egypt
+
* [[Anthony the Great]] القديس الأنبا أنطونيوس أب الرهبان
** [[Sir Magdi Yacoub ]], leading cardiologist in the world مجدي يعقوب
+
* [[Athanasius of Alexandria|Athanasius the Apostolic]] البابا أثناسيوس الرسولي
** [[Isaac Fanous]], the father of modern [[Coptic]] [[iconography]] ايزاك فانوس
+
* [[Cyril of Alexandria]] القديس البابا كيرلس السكندري عامود الدين
**[[Mary Moneib]] ماري منيب
+
* [[Cyril VI of Alexandria]] قداسة البابا كيرلس السادس
**[[Ester Fanous]] إستر فانوس
+
* [[Demiana]] الشهيدة دميانة
**[[Sobhi Gergis]] صبحي جرجس
+
* [[Didymus]] القديس ديديموس الضرير
**[[Margret Nakhla]] مرجريت نخلة
+
* [[Dioscorus]] البابا ديسقوروس
**[[Sandra Nashaat]] ساندرا نشأت
+
* [[Mary of Egypt]] القديسة مريم المصرية
**[[Michel Bakhoom]] ميشيل باخوم
+
* [[Menas|Mina]] الشهيد مارمينا العجايبي
**[[Nabih Youssef]] Leading civil engineer in the U.S.
+
* [[Maurice]] القديس موريس قائد الكتيبة الطيبية
**[[Onsi Sawiris]] Founder of Orascom Corp. and richest man in Egypt
+
*[[Moses the Black]] القديس موسى الأسود
**[[Fayez Sarofim]] Billionaire Houston financier
+
* [[Pachomius the Great|Pakhom]] القديس باخوم أب الشركة
 +
* [[Parsoma]] الأنبا برسوم العريان
 +
* [[Paul the Anchorite]]
 +
*[[Samuel the Confessor]]
 +
*[[Shenouty the Archmendrite]]
 +
*[[Simon the Shoemaker]]
 +
*[[Takla Haymanot]] القديس الأنبا تكلا هيمانوت الحبشي القس
 +
*[[Tigy]]
 +
*[[Verena]] القديسة فيرينا
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
 
*[[List of Coptic Popes]]
 
*[[List of Coptic Popes]]
**[[List of Patriarchs of Alexandria]] – prior to the schism
 
*[[Coptic Catholic Church]]
 
  
 
+
==External links==
*[[Copt|The Copts]]
+
* [http://www.zeitun-eg.org Holy Virgin Mary Apparitions over the domes of Her Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitun, Cairo, Egypt, 1968 - seen by millions]
*[[Coptic Language]]
+
* [http://www.zeitun-eg.net/stcyril6/ The late Pope Kyrillos VI (Cyril the Sixth), 116th Pope of Alexandria and See of St. Mark (Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, 1959-1971)]
*[[Coptic Calendar]]
+
* [http://www.stmina-monastery.org St. Mina (Menas) Coptic Orthodox Monastery in Mariut, near Alexandria, Egypt]
*[[Coptic Alphabet]]
+
* [http://www.coptic.net/EncyclopediaCoptica/ Encyclopedia Coptica: The Christian Coptic Orthodox Church Of Egypt]
*[[Coptic Art]]
 
*[[Coptic Music]]
 
 
 
 
 
*[[Egypt]]
 
 
 
==Further external links==
 
 
* [http://www.CopticPope.org Official Website of HH Pope Shenouda III]
 
* [http://www.CopticPope.org Official Website of HH Pope Shenouda III]
 
* [http://www.zeitun-eg.org Holy Virgin Mary Apparitions over the domes of Her Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitun, Cairo, Egypt, 1968]
 
* [http://www.zeitun-eg.org Holy Virgin Mary Apparitions over the domes of Her Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitun, Cairo, Egypt, 1968]
Line 158: Line 95:
 
* [http://tasbeha.org Ancient Hymns of the Coptic Orthodox Church]
 
* [http://tasbeha.org Ancient Hymns of the Coptic Orthodox Church]
 
* [http://www.coptichymns.net Coptic Hymns]
 
* [http://www.coptichymns.net Coptic Hymns]
 +
* [http://www.coptic.net/articles/MonophysitismReconsidered.txt Monophysitism Reconsidered]
  
[[Category:Ancient Roman Christianity]]
+
[[Category:Oriental Orthodoxy]]
[[Category:Oriental Orthodox churches]]
 
[[Category:Religion in Egypt]]
 
 
 
[[ar:قبط]]
 
[[de:Koptische Kirche]]
 
[[es:Iglesia Copta]]
 
[[he:קופטים]]
 
[[lb:Koptesch Kierch]]
 
[[nl:Koptisch Christendom]]
 
[[no:Den koptiske kirke]]
 
[[ja:コプト正教会]]
 
[[pt:Igreja Copta]]
 
[[ru:Коптская Православная Церковь]]
 
[[sv:Koptisk-ortodoxa kyrkan]]
 

Revision as of 20:46, July 2, 2005

Coptic icon of Christ

The Coptic Orthodox Church is the portion of the Church of Alexandria which broke from the Byzantine churches in the wake of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 451. Sharing a common heritage before with the Chalcedonian Church of Alexandria, it traces its origins to the Apostle Mark. The church is one of the Oriental Orthodox churches. Its leader is the Coptic Pope of Alexandria, currently Pope Shenouda III.

The Coptic Church regards itself as having never believed in monophysitism the way it was portrayed in the Council of Chalcedon. In that council, monophysitism meant believing in one nature of Jesus Christ. Copts believe that the Lord is perfect in his divinity, and he is perfect in his humanity, but his divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate Word," which was articulated by St. Cyril of Alexandria. Copts thus believe in two natures "human" and "divine" that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration" (from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy). These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye" (also from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy).

History

Egypt is often identified as the place of refuge that the Holy Family sought in its flight from Judea: "When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt I called My Son" (Matthew 2:12-23). The Egyptian Church, which is now more than nineteen centuries old, was the subject of many prophecies in the Old Testament. Isaiah the prophet, in Chapter 19, Verse 19 says "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border."

The first Christians in Egypt were mainly Alexandrian Jews such as Theophilus, whom the Apostle Luke addresses in the introductory chapter of his gospel. When the church was founded by Mark during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, a great multitude of native Egyptians (as opposed to Greeks or Jews) embraced the Christian faith. Christianity spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Mark's arrival in Alexandria as is clear from the New Testament writings found in Bahnasa, in Middle Egypt, which date around the year 200 AD, and a fragment of the Gospel of John, written in Coptic, which was found in Upper Egypt and can be dated to the first half of the second century. In the second century Christianity began to spread to the rural areas, and scriptures were translated into the local language, namely Coptic.

The Catechetical School of Alexandria

The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world. Founded around 190 by the scholar Pantanaeus, the school of Alexandria became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as Athenagoras, Clement, Didymus, and the great Origen, who was considered the father of theology and who was also active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. Origen wrote over 6,000 commentaries of the Bible in addition to his famous Hexapla. Many scholars such as St. Jerome visited the school of Alexandria to exchange ideas and to communicate directly with its scholars. The scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects; science, mathematics and humanities were also taught there. The question and answer method of commentary began there, and 15 centuries before Braille, wood-carving techniques were in use there by blind scholars to read and write.

The Theological college of the catechetical school of Alexandria was re-established in 1893. The new school currently has campuses in Alexandria, Cairo, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, where Coptic priests-to-be and other qualified men and women are taught among other subjects Christian theology, history, Coptic language and art—including chanting, music, iconography, and tapestry.

Monasticism and missionary work

In the third century, during the persecution of Decius, some Christians fled to the desert, and remained there to pray after the persecutions abated. This was the beginning of the monastic movement, which was reorganized by the saints Anthony the Great and Pachomius in the 4th century. By the end of the century, there were hundreds of monasteries, and thousands of cells and caves scattered throughout the Egyptian hills. A number of these monasteries are still flourishing and have new vocations till this day.

Egyptian monasticism attracted the attention of Christians in other parts of the world, who visited Egypt, many bringing monastic ideas home with them, and spreading monasticism through the Christian world. St. Basil the Great, organizer of the monastic movement in Asia Minor visited Egypt around AD 357 and his rule is followed by the eastern churches; St. Jerome, en route to Jerusalem, stopped in Egypt and left details of his experiences in his letters; St. Benedict of Nursia founded monasteries in the 6th century on the model of Pachomius, but in a stricter form.

Council of Chalcedon

St Mark Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria

Note: This section represents the view of the Coptic Orthodox Church and not that of the Chalcedonian Orthodox, which regards the Council of Chalcedon as the Fourth Ecumenical Council.

By the time the Council of Chalcedon was called, politics had already started to intermingle with Church affairs. When the Emperor Marcianus interfered with matters of faith in the Church, the response of Dioscorus of Alexandria (the Pope of Alexandria who was later to be exiled) to this interference was clear: "You have nothing to do with the Church." It was at Chalcedon that the emperor would take his revenge for the Pope's frankness.

The Council of Chalcedon abandoned Cyrillian terminology and declared that Christ was one hypostasis in two natures. However, the Council's finding were rejected by many of the Christians on the fringes of the Byzantine Empire: Egyptians, Syrians, Armenians, and others. From that point onward, Alexandria would have two patriarchs: the "Melkite" or Imperial Patriarch, now known as the Eastern Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, and the non-Chalcedonian national Egyptian one, now known as the Coptic Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. Almost the entire Egyptian population rejected the terms of the Council of Chalcedon and remained faithful to the national Egyptian Church (now known as the Coptic Church). Those who supported the Chalcedonian definition remained in communion with the other leading churches of the Roman Empire. The non-Chalcedonian party became what is today called the Oriental Orthodox Church.

The Chalcedonians sometimes called the non-Chalcedonians "monophysites", though the Coptic Church denies that it teaches monophysitism, which it regards as a heresy. They in turn have sometimes called the Chalcedonian group "dyophysites". A term that comes closer to Coptic doctrine is "miaphysite", which refers to a conjoined nature for Christ, both human and divine, united indivisibly in the incarnate Logos. The Coptic Church believes that Christ is perfect in his divinity, and he is perfect in his humanity, but his divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate word", which was iterated by Cyril of Alexandria. Copts, thus, believe in two natures, "human" and "divine", that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration". These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye".

The Coptic Church regards itself as having been misunderstood at the Council of Chalcedon.

The Arab conquest of Egypt

The Arab conquest of Egypt took place in AD 641. Although the Imperial forces resisted the Arab army under Amr ibn al-As, the majority of the civilian population, having suffered persecution for the differing Christian beliefs, were less hostile; in some cases they welcomed their new masters. Considered "People of the Book", Christians were allowed to practice their religion, under the restrictions of the Islamic Shari'a law. This protection stemmed in part from a Hadith of Muhammad (whose Egyptian wife had been the only one to bear a male child) that advised "When you conquer Egypt, be kind to the Copts for they are your proteges and kith and kin" and in part from a need to have capable administrators.

Despite the political upheaval, Egypt remained a predominently Christian land, although gradual conversions to Islam over the centuries had the effect of changing Egypt from a predominantly Christian to a predominantly Muslim country by the end of the 12th century. This process was sped along by persecutions during and following the reign of the mad Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (reigned AD 996-1021) and the Crusades, and also by the acceptance of Arabic as a liturgical language by the Pope of Alexandria, Gabriel ibn-Turaik.

From the 19th century to the 1952 revolution

The position of the Copts began to improve early in the 19th century under the stability and tolerance of Muhammad Ali's dynasty. The Coptic community ceased to be regarded by the state as an administrative unit and, by 1855, the main mark of Copts' inferiority, the Jizya tax, was lifted. Shortly thereafter, Christians started to serve in the Egyptian army. The 1919 revolution in Egypt, the first grassroots display of Egyptian identity in centuries, stands as a witness to the homogeneity of Egypt's modern society with both its Muslim and Christian components.

Coptic Christianity today

Coptic Festival in Upper Egypt.

The current Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria is Pope Shenouda III. There is a small Coptic Catholic Church (Eastern Rite Catholic) which is headed by a Patriarch of Alexandria. The Melkite Greek Catholic Church has little presence in Egypt, but is headed by a Patriarch of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

By some accounts there are more than 40 million Coptic Orthodox Christians in the world: they are found primarily in Egypt (roughly 10 million), Ethiopia (roughly 30 million), and Eritrea (roughly 2 million), but there are significant numbers in Sudan and Israel, and in diaspora throughout the world. However, as applied to the Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia, which before 1950 was a part of the Coptic Church of Egypt, the word Coptic can be considered a misnomer because it means Egyptian. The Eritrean Orthodox Church similarly became independent of the Tewahedo Church during the 1990s. These three churches remain in full communion with each other and with the other Oriental Orthodox churches.

Since the 1980s theologians from the the Oriental Orthodox and Chalcedonian Orthodox churches have been meeting in a bid to resolve the theological differences, and have concluded that many of the differences are caused by the two groups using different terminology to describe the same thing. In 1990, the Coptic and Antiochian Orthodox Churches agreed to mutually recognize baptisms performed in each other's churches, making rebaptisms unnecessary. In the summer of 2001, the Coptic Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox agreed to recognize the sacrament of marriage as celebrated by the other. Previously, if a Coptic and Greek wanted to marry, the marriage had to be performed twice, once in each church, for it to be recognized by both. Now it can be done in only one church and be recognized by both.

In the Coptic Church only men may be ordained, and they must be married before they are ordained, if they wish to be married. In this respect they follow the same practices as does the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Traditionally, the Coptic language was used in church services, and the scriptures were written in the Coptic alphabet. However, due to the Arabisation of Egypt, service in churches started to witness increased use of Arabic, while preaching is done entirely in Arabic. Native languages are used, in conjunction with Coptic, during services outside of Egypt.

Following their own church calendar, Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January which, since 2002, is an official national holiday in Egypt.

Coptic saints

Note: Some of these are not saints on the Chalcedonian calendar.

See also

External links