Solid Coptic Theology


For a spiritual challenge this coming year, I’ve decided to delve into Coptic spirituality and devotion in addition to my Byzantine traditions.

If there are any Coptic or other Oriental brothers and sisters, I’m very interested in both prayer and dogmatics. I’ve ordered an Arabic-English Agpeya, but what else is recommended for solid catechetical instruction? What are your recommendationed Patristic sources? What other devotions, especially Mariological devotions, do you follow?

Salaam ar-Rabb


I would recommend any of the lives and/or sayings of the Desert Fathers. You can find translations of lives and sayings of the Egyptian Desert Fathers pretty easily. Some are available through Cistercian publications, or you could just search on Amazon.


I ordered a two-volume collection called The Paradise of the Holy Fathers. It looks quite promising.

Does the Coptic tradition have its own catechism?


The Paradise of the Holy Fathers is an excellent work. Although it was a Syriac text, it talks mostly about the Desert Fathers of Egypt (with some of the Greek Fathers thrown in there as well). I’ve read through the entirety of the first volume and most of the second (don’t know why I got bogged down in the second), and highly recommend the text to anyone/everyone. It’s by far the best work on the Desert Fathers that I’ve found. I even prefer it to the four-volume Evergetinos.

Not sure if the Coptics today have a catechism. I think you’ll find that catechisms in general are a rather modern phenomenon, and predominantly a Roman thing. Some of the Eastern/Oriental Churches do have catechisms, but most of them (that I’ve been able to find) are from modern 20th Century authors and mimic the Roman catechetical approach.

What you might consider looking for are the catechetical lectures of one of the early Fathers. Cyril of Jerusalem has some wonderful lectures that are quite challenging. Cyril of Alexandria also has some amazing homilies that serve as commentaries on the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John, plus some other wonderful writings as well.


Thank you for the recommendations. St. Cyril’s works were already on my waiting list. :grinning:

Tales From The Egyptian Desert is a delightful collection of simple stories from the Coptic tradition. It’s ideal for reading with older children, but adults can love it, too. I recommend it.


If you are talking about the Coptic Orthodox Church then you should understand that they contradict the Catholic Church in some areas.


Yes, I am aware. I still recommend the book for those interested.


The Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox Churches are the same Church, only difference is communion with Rome so there really shouldn’t be any contradiction with the Catholic Church. Unless of course, you assume Latin Catholic is synonymous with Catholic.



Are you sure? I just looked at the website of our local Coptic Orthodox Church and they say they are not in communion with Rome. A difference stems from the Council of Chalcedon. The Coptic Orthodox believe that Christ had two natures, one human and one divine, without intermingling, whereas the Catholic and other Christian churches believe in the incarnation, that Christ was simultaneously both divine and human. Also, Coptic Orthodox don’t believe in the infallibility of the pope and in purgatory.


What I mean by the same is in its Liturgy and expression of the faith. Coptic Catholic and Orthodox should be the same in that sense. Didn’t mean for any confusion. My apologies!



This is not correct. The Coptic Orthodox have a miaphysite christology that is often formulated as “one nature of the Incarnate Word of God.” The Coptic Orthodox affirm the Incarnation, as well as both the divinity and humanity of Christ.


From their website:
“The Coptic Orthodox Church split away from the broader Christian community in 451 A.D at the Council of Chalcedon in part due to differing beliefs about the nature of Christ. Coptic Christians believe that Christ had two natures ― one human and one divine ― united as one “without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration.” Catholics and other Christian denominations believe in the incarnation of Jesus, which similarly holds that Christ was both fully human and fully divine.”


Your initial post left out the part about “united as one.” Coptic Orthodox, like other Oriental Orthodox, believe that in the Incarnation, Christ’s humanity and divinity are united in one nature. While at the time of the Council of Chalcedon, some Eastern Churches, including the Copts, left communion with Rome and Constantinople because they suspected Chalcedon of Nestorianism, in recent decades, an understanding has arisen that Coptic christology and Catholic christology are essentially compatible, as shown in the joint declaration on christology between Rome and the Coptic Orthodox Church.


In other words, the schism was another, albeit earlier, round of what the Union of Brest referred to as talking past Ione another "because we do not want to understand each other.

(where did I put that headbang emoticon?)



The English version of the Bible recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Church is the King James version.
The Coptic Orthodox Church denies the existence of original sin. They also deny the Immaculate Conception. They also deny the existence of Purgatory.


I’m Byzantine Catholic and use the Orthodox Stidy Bible for private devotion (New King James for the New Testament and Septuagint for the Old). We, like our Eastern Orthodox counterparts, have a different view (actually if you read the CCC not that different of a view) of original sin and finally, we, as Byzantine Catholics, don’t share the same view as the Immaculate Conception as the Latin West.

Catholic is not synonymous for Roman.



Coptic is not synonymous with Byzantine.
The canon of the Bible which the Catholic Church uses comes to us from the Council of Nicea.


I realize this. The Coptic Church practices the Alexandrian rite.

The Council of Nicea did not produce a list of the Scriptures as far as I remember. It’s Saint Athanasius who put together a list around 360 or so which was before Pope Damasus’ decree at the Council of Rome.



Has anyone prayed the Agbeya?


May I ask how do Byzantine Catholics view Assumption differently than Latin Catholics? While points of view might be a bit different, dogma was promulgated universally and all Catholics should hold it as dogma anyway. I believe you call it Dormition in your Tradition, however I can not imagine how is it different from what we are needed to believe.

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