Coptic Church


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Coptic Church

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

"Copt" comes from the Greek word Aigyptos. This, in turn, comes from Hikaptah, one of the names for Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt.

The Coptic Church traces its roots to Saint Mark, who is said to have brought Christianity to Egypt twelve years after Jesus' ascension. The Copts believe they are the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 19:19: "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."

When Alexandria became a major presence in early Christianity, the Coptic Church was recognized as a center for learning. Much of currently accepted theology was hammered out there in the writings of major, foundation-building church theologians such as Origen and Augustine, the favorite of the Protestant Reformers.

Copts pride themselves as the ones who hosted the Holy Family when they were forced to flee Palestine after the birth of Jesus (see Christ/Jesus of Nazareth). The Nicene Creed, a statement of faith used in many churches to this day, was created under its tutelage. The Catechetical School of Alexandria, probably the oldest such school in the world, was founded there in 190 CE. Monasticism was born in Egypt when the Desert Fathers retreated there to pray, meditate, and contemplate. Saint Anthony, the world's first Christian monk, was a Coptic priest from Upper Egypt.

The prophet Muhammad was said to have had such respect for the Coptic Church that he warned his warriors to tread lightly in Egypt, "for they are your protégés and kith and kin." Because of this, Muslim scholars saved much of what otherwise might have been lost when European Christianity quite literally fanned the flames that led to the burning of the Alexandrian library.

Ever since the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE, the Copts have been independent of European Christianity. At that council, as at other ecumenical councils, Church bishops met to settle matters of doctrine and practice—in this case, to address the heretical notion that Christ had only one nature rather than two. Here there is great disagreement. Church historians tend to argue, as did the fifth-century council, that Copts are monophysites—that is, believing that Christ had only one (divine) nature rather than, as the council determined, two natures, divine and human.

The Coptic Church insists they were misunderstood at that council. Their position is that Christ had two perfect natures, but that those natures were joined in one called "the nature of the incarnate word." They believe their expulsion was due to European bigotry; they claim the Europeans wanted to isolate and finally abolish the Egyptians, who had their own Pope and who were insisting church and state should be separate.

Although centered in Egypt, the Coptic Church has congregations scattered around the world. Some nine million Copts live in Egypt, almost one-fifth of the population. Although they practice many of the same sacraments and feast days of Roman Catholicism, they no doubt hold the record for serious fasting. Out of 365 days in the year, Copts fast for 210 of them, allowing no food or drink to be consumed between sunrise and sunset.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The sit-in was in protest of restoration work that was carried out in Deir as-Sultan, a monastery on the roof of the church, a place claimed to be owned by the Coptic Church.
Despite the Egyptian rejection, the Israeli local municipality of Jerusalem wanted to conduct unauthorised renovation work for the Ethiopian Coptic Church section.
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HRH Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad, who chairs the board of trustees of the Baptism Site, announced during the visit that His Majesty King Abdullah II ordered the allocation of 5,000 square meters of land to expand the construction of an underway Coptic church in the site.
A note on the St Anne's website from vicar Emma Williams said they now hope the Egyptian Coptic Church will take over the St Paul's site.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The Egyptian head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros, made a rare visit to Jerusalem to preside over the funeral on Saturday of a Coptic bishop.
IS released pictures of the men on Friday, saying they had been kidnapped in revenge over the fate of Muslim women "tortured and murdered by the Coptic church of Egypt".
Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins U.) aims to meld an understanding of the history of the Coptic Church of Alexandria, the church of Egypt's large Christian minority, with the overall picture of Egypt's crisis of modernity.