So i just read about the COPTIC church on wiki and it says it was founded in the year 43 by Mark. Is there any truth to this? I thought the catholic church was the only church until the protestant reformation.
Lesson #1: Wikipedia is not the place to read about most things, particularly scholarly things.
The See of Alexandria, from which the Coptic Church descends, was founded in the first century and it is attributted to St. Mark.
There have been many heretical and schismatic groups from the beginning.
The Copts (Coptic Orthodox Church) split off from the main body of Christianity quite early, in the mid 400s after the Councili of Chalcedon. The monophysite heresy is a complex one, and Copts reject the term monphysite. A small group of Copts reunited with the Catholic Church in the 1700s, the Coptic Catholic Church.
I would suggest the book Dissent From The Creed by Richard Hogan if you are interested in early Christianity and its divisions.
The Copts, together with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches (Ethiopian, Eritrean, Armenian, Syrian, and Malankara Syrian) reject the term monophysite because, to them, the term monophysite refers to the christological teaching of Eutyches, which they, together with the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church, reject. They refer to their own christology, which is essentially the christology of the St. Cyril of Alexandria, with the term miaphysite, based on the formula “one nature of the incarnate Word of God.” Like Chalcedonian Christians, they affirm both the divinity and the humanity of Christ.
As I said, it’s complex.
Not so complex that we can’t take the time to make it clear that the Oriental Orthodox are not guilty of the heresy of Eutychianism, which is exactly what many people think of when they see or hear the term monophysitism.
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, there were multiple groups that broke communion. The ones that are historically most important (by virtue of the fact that the groups that went into schism still exist) were the Assyrian Church of the East, which broke communion in 424, the Oriental Orthodox Church, which broke communion after the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The year 1054 is generally given as the year in which the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church broke communion, but the historical reality is a bit more complicated.
I should have written:
by virtue of the fact that they are the groups that went into schism that still exist
There is little that I can add to Ryan’s good posts, though this is the Church I belong to so if you have any further questions (OP or anybody), I would be happy to try to answer them. In absence of that, it is worth pointing out that it is possible now thanks to the internet to read historical and modern Coptic sources regarding their own history, which is very long and interesting. A very worthwhile and well-known older source is the work began by Severus Ibn al-Muqaffa’ (more commonly known as Severus al-Ashmunein, as he was bishop of Ashmunein/Shmin – he died in 987, but it was continued for some centuries after his death by others, including HH Pope Mark III in the 12th century) known in English as The History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria. Its first four parts, covering the founding of the Church by St. Mark to HH Pope Joseph I, the 52nd Patriarch of Alexandria (830-849 AD), is available online here (note: The link given is to part 1, starting with St. Mark; the others are available via the same website). A very thorough modern source is The Coptic Encyclopedia (ed. Aziz S. Atiya, 1991), which is almost comically expensive and difficult to find in print, but is thankfully being digitized and expanded by Claremont College under the title Claremont Coptic Enyclopedia. While it is very thorough and recommended on that account, many of the contributors are not Copts (and some are non-Christians), so it is also not without bias in certain cases and uses of terminology. Still it is an impressive undertaking and by far the largest work ever undertaken on any non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Church.
More popular/non-Encyclopedic books which are known from within the Coptic Orthodox Church are those of Iris Habib El-Masri (who taught history for 30 years at the Institute of Coptic Studies in Cairo) and the very well-known priest Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty, who writes introductory histories as well as short, digestible commentaries on the Bible and the traditions of the Church. I would recommend Ms. El-Masri’s works before Fr. Tadros’, if only for the somewhat unfortunate obviously non-native editing attempts on Fr. Tadros’ books sometimes (still not as bad as HH Pope Shenouda’s, though, oddly). Both of these, and many others, are available online for free at Orthodox E-Books, as well as various other places (individual church websites, etc.).