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Coptic Church

(derived from Gk. Aigyptos, “Egypt”). 1. Mark, Barnabas, and Peter are associated in various traditions with the founding of the ch. in Egypt. Tradition also names Anianus (Annianus; d. ca. 84; bp. Alexandria ca. 61–ca. 84) as the first bp. of Alexandria. The break with Rome carne at the Council of Chalcedon 451. The Copts denied the 2 natures of Christ, “the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Substance” (see Chalcedon, Council of), and maintained Monophysitism.* Dioscorus* (d. 454) was deposed at Chalcedon. He retained many followers, but the others of his people elected Proterius patriarch. The latter was murdered because of his harshness and replaced 457 by Timothy, also called Ailuros (Gk. “the Cat”; d. 477). In 567 two lines of patriarchs were est.: the orthodox Cath., whose following consisted of a for. minority, and the Egyptian Monophysites, or the Coptic Ch. The seat of the patriarch was moved to Cairo by Christodulos, patriarch 1047–77.

2. The Coptic Ch. as such never reunited with Rome. It was reduced by internal troubles, persecution, and the Persian invasion (ca. 618–627). It saw relief from Byzantine persecution in the Arab conquests ca. 640. In the Muslim massacre of 832 many Copts were slain. For several cents. thereafter, Egypt was ruled alternately by Arabs, Turks, and Syrians. Saladin, a Kurd of Armenia, became sultan of Egypt 1174; he moderated opposition to Christians, but during the Crusades the Copts were persecuted by Muslim.* The Turks regained power over Egypt 1517 and remained until overcome by Napoleon I. After the Eng. defeated the Fr. in Egypt 1801, Mehemet (or Mohammed) Ali (1769–1849; viceroy of Egypt 1805–48) became ruler; under his reign the Copts attained peace. In 1741 the Coptic bp. of Jerusalem joined the RC Ch., giving rise to the Uniate Coptic Ch. See also Africa, A 2, E 7; Ethiopic Church: Uniates. ECZ

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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