Coptic Christians, with pope, and very long history?


#1

The Coptic Christians are in the news these days, in Egypt, with their “pope” who just died.

I did a little research on them, and they trace their roots back to the early first or second century founded by Mark the Evangelist.

That makes them almost as old as the Catholic Church? I didn’t realize that, as they are never mentioned as one of the original churches.


#2

These Copts are Oriental Orthodox, or “non-Chalcedonian”, and began as a part of the early Christian Church, which was also the beginning of the Catholic Church. Our origins are the same. The Oriental Orthodox broke communion in AD 451 when they rejected the Council of Chalcedon based on different formulations of Christology. Previously known as “monophysite” they are now known as “miaphysite”, and have recognized that their Christology has always been entirely similar to that of the rest of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, and issued a joint declaration on this in 1988 with the Catholic Church.

I am curious, why do you put the word pope in quotes? The Coptic Orthodox bishops and patriarch are valid bishops, recognized by the Catholic Church as having valid sacraments.

Also, there is a corresponding Coptic Catholic Church in communion with Rome, with a patriarch in Cairo.


#3

Coptic Orthodox on CNEWA site:

cnewa.org/default.aspx?ID=6&pagetypeID=9&sitecode=HQ&pageno=1


#4

Be nice, Pope Shenouda’s title is not “Pope” Shenouda III, it is simply Pope Shenouda III without the scare quotes.

In all honesty, the Church of Alexandria is likely older than the Church of Rome, considering its physical proximity to Jerusalem and its incredibly large Jewish community in the first century. It would have been a prime target for evangelization.

Interestingly, it was the Archbishop of Alexandria who was the first to be given the title pope, some time in the third century. It was only in the sixth century that the bishops of Rome stated to be called pope.


#5

Here is a brief history of schisms throughout the first four ecumenical councils and later the Great Schism from a Catholic perspective. But first, the legend.


LEGEND FOR COLOUR SCHEME
Green - the Roman Catholic Church
Orange - the Eastern Orthodox Church
Red - the Oriental Orthodox Church
Purple - the Assyrian Church
Black - the rest of the Church


COUNCIL OF NICAEA - 325 A.D.

  • the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
    **
    COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE - ca. 381 A.D.**

  • the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

COUNCIL OF EPHESUS - 431 A.D.

  • the imperial, state-sponsored Church of the Roman Empire

  • the Church in the Persian Empire - accused of being “Nestorians”

  • modern day descendant: The Assyrian Church of the East

  • modern day descendant: The Ancient Church of the East

COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON - 451 A.D.

  • the imperial, state-sonspored Church of the Roman Empire

  • the Churches-in-resistance within the Roman Empire - accused of being “Monophysites”
    - national subgroup: COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
    - national subgroup: Syriac Orthodox Church
    - national subgroup: Armenian Orthodox Church
    - national subgroup: Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
    - national subgroup: Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church
    - national subgroup: Malankara Orthodox Church

  • the Church in the Persian Empire - accused of being “Nestorians”
    - modern day descendant: The Assyrian Church of the East
    - modern day descendant: The Ancient Church of the East

THE GREAT SCHISM - ca. 1054

  • the western Latin Church
    - modern day descendant: The Roman Catholic Church
  • the eastern Byzantine Church
    - modern day descendant: The Eastern Orthodox Church
  • the Churches-in-resistance within the Roman Empire - accused of being “Monophysites”
    - national subgroup: COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
    - national subgroup: Syriac Orthodox Church
    - national subgroup: Armenian Orthodox Church
    - national subgroup: Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
    - national subgroup: Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church
    - national subgroup: Malankara Orthodox Church
  • the Church in the Persian Empire - accused of being “Nestorians”
    - modern day descendant: The Assyrian Church of the East
    - modern day descendant: The Ancient Church of the East

Then, the Protestant Reformation happened in the 16th century.


#6

No. Coptic Tradition asserts that St. Mark was sent by St. Peter FROM Rome.

Blessings,
Marduk


#7

The " " quotes on “pope” were just meant by me to draw attention to that title, since that is what originally drew attention to the Copt article. I had never heard of any other religion having a pope except Catholics. I thought that was a title only in Catholocism.


#8

Another religion?


#9

Nevermind the fact that the Apostles often visited already established Christian communities or wrote to communities which they had not yet visited. Let’s just uncritically accept this tradition, like biblical fundamentalists uncritically accept the bible, and throw all use of reason out the window.


#10

Another branch of Christianity instead of ‘another religion’ might be a better way to word that. There are at least from memory alone three validly ordained Bishops who use the term Pope at present which are:-

Pope of the Roman Catholic Church,
Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa, the Primate of the non-Chalcedonian Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, the leader of the Chalcedonian Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria

There is also the Palmarian Pope, but he is Pope of a group of schismatic Catholics and far less well known than the others and I have my doubts about whether he would be seen as a validly ordained Bishop.

Remember Pope is merely a term ultimately meaning Father and as pointed out it was used before been commonly adopted by the Bishop of Rome.


#11

I hope this sad story about Pope Shenouda III’s passing, among other things, brings to the attention of some Westerner’s (many of whom are clueless about the matter) that Egypt was once a thriving Christian land and that her Desert Fathers were instrumental in building up the Church…before receving the sword and flame courtesy of the Muslim conquest, of course.

I often wonder why it is forgotten, or simply not talked about–because of PC or courtesy or just lack of knowledge–that the whole of ancient Africa, the Holy Land, and Anatolia was once the heartland of Christianity. For us Roman Catholics, where do you think we get all these titular dioceses from? This is no slight against modern Muslims, mind you, but I think it is a sad chapter indeed.

My heart also goes out to those Christians in Egypt right now who are looking to have a very difficult time ahead indeed. God Bless them.


#12

It was also the the bishop of alexandria who represented the the Roman bishop at some early councils.


#13

I think the Bishop of Rome sent legates instead. Which could be deacons or presbyters from Rome or other Italian bishops. They represented the Pope.


#14

With all due respect, I don’t see the equivalence. He is expressing the Tradition of the Coptic Church concerning itself.

Peter and Paul had not yet visited Rome where there were Christians, and yet they are considered the “founders of the Church of Rome”.

Frankly, I find this comment to disappointing, and a bit uncharitable towards Marduk. He has not thrown “reason out the window”, and I can assure you he is not acting in any way like a biblical fundamentalist. Come on now.


#15

Can you provide us with the Coptic Text that assert this( by St. Peter FROM Rome), and give your claim some weight.
God bless all of you †††


#16

And St. Mark is the traditional founder of the Church of Alexandria.

Both Rome and Alexandria predate the apostles visit, but Alexandria very likely by a few more years.


#17

I would also like to see this, as I have not found any such claim in any of the sources I have consulted regarding the founding of the Church in Egypt. It is not mentioned in Idris Habib El Masri’s “History of the Copts” (the entire first chapter of which recounts the traditional Coptic account of St. Mark’s life), nor in the history as presented by the Southern US diocese (which I read often because that’s where I live), nor in the Synaxarium, which mentions on the commemoration of his martyrdom that he learned Christian teachings from St. Peter, but nothing about being sent by St. Peter from Rome to anywhere. In fact, there is a tradition that as St. Mark was preaching in Alexandria, St. Peter was preaching to the Jews in another Egyptian locale, making it somewhat hard for St. Peter to be sending anyone anywhere from Rome at that time. :slight_smile:


#18

I would agree with this statement. I don’t agree with your prior statement that the Church of Alexandria is older than the Church of Rome, because a Christian community is not considered a “church” by patristic standards until it has an apostolic head (or a bishop). As St. Peter was in Rome as its first head before St. Mark came to Alexandria, then it is impossible that the Christian community at Alexandria as a church is older than the Christian community in Rome as a church. I think only Protestants regard Christian communities as “churches” despite the absence of a proper bishop. Or perhaps you are reflecting a facet of EO ecclesiology of which I was previously unaware. So EO really regard Christian communities without a proper hierarchy as “churches?”

Blessings,
Marduk


#19

Do a google search on “Coptic History of the Patriarchs” and read about the Tradition of the Coptic Church for yourself.

Blessings,
Marduk


#20

You haven’t read enough. Do a google search on “Coptic History of the Patriarchs” and read about the Tradition of the Coptic Church for yourself from a primary source, instead of the secondary sources you have mentioned.

In fact, there is a tradition that as St. Mark was preaching in Alexandria, St. Peter was preaching to the Jews in another Egyptian locale, making it somewhat hard for St. Peter to be sending anyone anywhere from Rome at that time. :slight_smile:

Coptic Tradition, according to a primary source (“the Contendings of the Apostles”, not your secondary sources), asserts that St. Peter established the Church in Rome, but left for a period and then returned in order to refute Simon Magus. St. Peter sent St. Mark to Alexandria from Rome during his first residence there. He then left, and while St. Mark was preaching in Alexandria, St. Peter was preaching elsewhere. So your secondary source does not contradict the primary sources of the Coptic Church about its own history.

Hope that helps.

Blessings,
Marduk


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