Item description for Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451 Ce (Brill's Scholars' List) by C. Wilfred Griggs...
In this well-documented and clear study, the history of Christianity in Egypt is discussed. It critically and attractively focuses on early Egyptian Christianity, from its earliest recorded origins to the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE. That was the moment, after the separation from the Catholic University, when the Egyptian Coptic Church became the national religion. During this period, we observe the development of features unique to Egyptian Christianity, such as the imposition of Catholic ecclesiasticism in Alexandria and southward, and the presence of forces that would lead to the establishment of a national religion. This study will greatly contribute to an increased understanding of early Egyptian Christian history and the manner in which that religion was dispersed in other countries. It also adds to the understanding of the general history of early Christianity.
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Reuven Amitai-Preiss, Ph.D. (1990) in Middle Eastern History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is Senior Lecturer in medieval Islamic history at the Hebrew University, and author of "Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War" ("Cambridge," 1995). David Orrin Morgan, Ph.D. (1977) in History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, is Reader in the History of the Middle East at the University of London. He has written "The Mongols" ("London," 1986) and "Medieval Persia" ("London," 1988), and is editor of the "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society."
Reviews - What do customers think about Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451 Ce (Brill's Scholars' List)?
Authoritative and scholarly Sep 4, 2007
I wanted to read a very detailed account of 1st and 2nd century Egyptian Christianity, and this book did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the early history of Egyptian Christianity is extremely obscure, but the author gives us the best possible picture based on the extant manuscripts and archaeological evidence. However, because the full picture of early Egyptian Christianity encompassed so many diverse and heterodox sects and beliefs, the author posits that the form of Christianity we know as Catholic/Orthodox may never have existed until the late 100s or even that the so-called heretical (he dislikes the word as biased) sects may have represented the original form of Jesus' religion. Leaving aside the author's naturalistic speculations, this is certainly an excellent source for the early history of the Faith in Egypt.
An Amazing Account of the Development of Christianity in Egypt Apr 7, 2007
"The obscurity that veils the early history of the Church in Egypt and that does not lift until the beginning of the third century constitutes a conspicious challenge to the historian of primitive Christianity." Prominent Papyrologist: Colin Roberts, Early Christian Egypt (Schweich Lectures, British Academy,1977)
Early Christianity in Egypt: The history of early Christianity, being their own confessed belief, should be of continuing significance or at least of some personal interest to Christians, a sizable portion of the world's population. Since Egyptians have played an important role in the early development of Christian life, Egyptian Christianity has been linked closely with Ancient Christian Orthodoxy. Nothing is more likely than Alexandrian Christianity gained adherents among the Therapeutae, Jewish Coenobetics, and that their institutions were adapted to the new religion, just as Jews seem to have been influenced by Egyptian Wisdom. Many of the oldest surviving texts of the New Testament, as Rylands P52, a scrap of papyrus dating to Ca 125 AD, roughly the size of a business card, was discovered in Egypt in 1920, bears parts of John 18:31-33 on one side and John 18:37-38 on the other. Other texts dating from early third century, have been preserved in its dry sands, as texts of apocryphal and Gnostic codices.
Struggling Egyptian Christianity: Christianity in Egypt is described as, "was locked in an often deadly struggle against the Pagan religions of the Greco-Roman culture as well as the Gnostic movement that peaked in Alexandria spreading to other large cities." To counter Hellenistic philosophy that often criticized the young religion, Christian leaders in Egypt established a catechetical school in Alexandria, the Didascalia, founded in the late second century AD. This school became the mind of Christian philosophy, and great teachers and orators such as Clement and Origen were able to battle the Hellenistic philosophers on their own ground and advocate Christianity in an orderly and intellectual manner. It was also in this great university of Christian learning that Christianity first underwent rigorous studies that created its first theology and doctrines, making the new faith accessible to the elite as well as the publicans. Pantaenus, the founder and first dean of the Didascalia, helped the Alexandrines to bridge the gap between Dynastic Egypt and the new era by promoting the use of the Greek alphabet instead of the Demotic in the translations of the Bible as well as the writing of Christian apolgetics and letters. The Catechetical school instructed everyone, availing to as many people as possible instruction in Christian faith in one to three years. The advanced Didascalia taught also in Greek helping to advance the faith in elite Egyptian and Hellenistic spheres.
Alexandrine Orthodoxy: For more than four centuries, Alexandria has been the intellectual center of the Roman Empire, and later the Pharos of Oriental Christianity. Its Bishop Athanasius played a vigorous part in defining basic Christian belief, while Cyril was the bench mark of Orthodox Christology. One of the most remarkable mystical traditions of early Christianity, monastic life, began in Egypt in the third and into the fourth centuries. For the first six centuries, until the advent of Islam, Alexandria was the leader in Christian thought, theological doctrine, and liturgical innovation. In mid fifth century, after the schismatic council of chalcedon, became then partially isolated by Byzantine- Roman church politics, even before the Arab conquest. The Christian Church in Egypt has preserved many early features down to the present day Coptic Orthodox Church.
Griggs Milestone Study: This study, published in the prestigeous series, Coptic Studies, edited by the towering scholar M. Krause (with A. Guillaumont, R. Kassar, Pahor Labib, et. al.) has contributed in the last few decades to an increased understanding of the early history of Egyptian Christian, and the manner in which that nascent faith developed and overflew into other ancient Mediterranean countries, as well as to the general history of Paleo-Christianity. This compelling study, thorough and captivating, focuses on the history of Christianity in Egypt from its earliest recorded conception to the second half of the sixth century, in the aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon, when the Egyptian Church due to its separation from the Catholic University, became the only national (Coptic) religious institution. Within this time period, eminent researchers observe the development of features unique to Egyptian Christianity, imposition of ecclesiastical orthodoxy of Alexandria and its dominance southward, and the surge of monastic forces, which Chalcedon tried to curtail, leading to the establishment of the Coptic-Jacobite national churches in Egypt and Syria, in communion with the unbending Orthodox Armenian Church.
Outstanding Author: Prof. C. Wilfred Griggs is professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University, Utah. He directed the Brigham Young University excavations at the Coptic cemetery at Seila, in the Fayum. Educated in BYU, Stanford, UC Berkeley, he authored various publications and acquired honors, his areas of expertise & research are in: Ancient history, religion, and languages.