No country has affected the development of the Christian religion more profoundly than has Egypt, or rather--to speak more exactly--no city has affected the development of the Christian religion more profoundly than has Alexandria, the Greek-speaking capital of Egypt. Native Coptic-speaking Egypt did indeed itself come to play no small part in later Christian history, for at a very early date Coptic Christianity produced pioneers in the ascetic life whose influence was felt throughout the Church as Christian monasticism established itself. This contribution of native Christian Egypt will be dealt with in this book by another hand. Then again the later development of the Monophysite Coptic Church and the story of its chequered relations with the Imperial Church and the Patriarchal See of Constantinople constitute a significant chapter in the history of the Church in the Nearer East. But though the part which Egypt played through each of these movements is noteworthy in a high degree, in neither case would it justify the claim which I have advanced for Egyptian influence in Christian history. The outstanding legacy of Egypt to the Church, the legacy which has coloured all later history, has been the scientific Platonizing theology which the catechetical school of Alexandria was beginning to fashion at the close of the second Christian century and which the comprehensive genius of Origen carried to a successful issue in the first half of the third century.
Let it be said at once that Origen's bold speculative system of Christian doctrine has never commanded the allegiance of the Church at large. In his lifetime he appears to have incurred no