Sunday, June 2, 2019

Flowering of Coptic Culture in Egypt

Christ and St. Menas
In addition to its important place in Scripture, Egypt was a fertile garden in the early flowering of Christianity. From the first century A.D., as the faith took root and began to grow, Egypt became an important religious center, as theologians and scholars flocked there. Egyptian Christianity developed its own distinctive flavor, shaped by the words, culture, and history of ancient Egypt. This branch of Christianity would become the Coptic Orthodox Church, and its followers would be known as Coptic Christians, or, more simply, as Copts.
The name Copt has had a long journey. It comes from the European pronunciation of the Arabic word qibt, which derives from the Greek name for Egypt, Aigyptos. This in turn is derived from Hwt-ka-ptah, a temple in Memphis dedicated to Ptah. The Coptic language also arose from a blend of cultures, of Egyptian words written in Greek script. Several dialects evolved over the centuries, and many important Christian texts have been discovered written in Coptic. 
Before Christianity became established, the existing religion of Egypt had roots reaching back millennia. After the golden age of Ramses II and his successors ended, Egypt underwent invasions by Libyans, Nubians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Even so, Egypt’s old religion proved remarkably durable, partially due to its ability to absorb other influences. (See also: Rival to Egypt, the Nubian kingdom of Kush exuded power and gold.) 
With few exceptions, invaders either adopted, or adapted, the venerable faith. The Nubians declared their loyalty to the Egyptian god Amun. In their admiration for Egyptian gods, the Ptolemaic dynasty (established by Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy in 305 B.C.) created hybrid Greco-Egyptian gods such as Serapis. (Read more.)

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