Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451 Ce

Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451 Ce

Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451 Ce

Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451 Ce

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Discoveries of manuscripts in Egypt during the past century, especially those directly related to the establishment and development of the Christian religion in that country, coupled with the continual advance of archaeological discoveries, necessitate an evaluation of Early Egyptian Christianity. the evidence now available to the investigator not only suggests the time and manner by which Christianity was introduced along the Nile, but also indicates that early Egyptian Christians were not bound by a centralized ecclesiastical organization nor did they have a stringent and well-defined doctrinal tradition.

Biblical and non-biblical manuscripts signify an early arrival of Christians in Egypt, perhaps as early as the middle of the first century. Traditional Christian historical sources, beginning with Eusebius, are shown to describe the introduction of nascent Catholic Christianity into Egypt near the end of the second century, which resulted in an increasingly tense struggle between the two types of Christianity during the succeeding centuries. Part of the tension was overcome by the gradual absorption of local Christian groups and institutions into the Catholic organization in the third and early fourth centuries. Although monasticism arose as a fresh expression of Egyptian Christianity during the third century, the effort of strong Catholic bishops in Alexandria resulted in keeping monasticism from becoming entirely separated from Catholic Ecclesiasticism. Athanasius, Theophilus, and Cyril are especially noteworthy as examples of those who struggled to maintain an alliance between the monks and the bishops. the emergence of strong personalities both in the bishops of Alexandria and the monastic leaders during the fourth and fifth centuries led to an alliance of those two organizations, and this unity provided a strong organizational base upon which a national Christian church could be built.

The fourth century not only marked the generally successful efforts of the Alexandrian bishops to bring all Egyptian Christianity effectively, not just theoretically, under their control, but also signalled the growing influence of the see of Constantinople, the new Eastern capital city of the Empire, at the expense of the prestige which Alexandria customarily enjoyed in the East. the competition between the two cities over leadership of the Eastern Christian churches was exacerbated by Canon iii of the Council of . . .

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