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The history of Coptic Christianity is tragic, sad and filled with stories of misery. The Coptic language is no longer spoken outside church and the percentage of Copts in Egypt have declined to fewer than 10 percent of the population yet this sect has survived through the centuries spreading beyond the Egyptian borders to many countries around the world. According to Coptic belief the Christian sect began when the Apostle Mark traveled to Egypt. Mark would become the first Pope of Alexandria. The word “Copt” is derived from the “Aigyptos,” a Greek word meaning Egyptian. The Coptic Church believes Jesus is less than God because He was made by God while all other Christian denominations believe Jesus to be a spiritual being whose nature was the same therefore equal to God. This was a major divisive issue in 451 AD at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) when the Copts separated from the other Christian sects but the disagreement has cooled over the many years since. Neither mainline nor do Coptic Christians believe this one point of contention to be of great importance anymore. Otherwise, most Coptic beliefs are essentially the same as other Christians Churches, the Bible being the guiding text. As in other Christian sects, Copts believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. Men actually wrote it but were guided by the Holy Spirit. Copts, as other Christian’s sects believe that Christ not only taught through words but also by His actions and the Bible is not the only source of knowledge. According to Coptic Pope H. H. Pope Shenouda II “the Holy Bible does not mention everything.” (BBC 2009). Traditions are particularly important to Copts because these have directed civilization from since the time of the first people, Adam and Eve, a period which, according to them, occurred many centuries prior to the writings of the Bible. Somewhat surprisingly, due to the Copts, Christian monasteries originated in Egypt. Termed “monasticism,” the creation of monasteries is the most significant contribution to the Christian religion by the Copts. The original monastic community was unintentionally founded by Saint Anthony (died in 356 AD). He departed for Egypt intending to live a spiritual life alone but came across others who wanted to live close to what they believed to be a holy person. They formed a religious community, a novel concept at that time. Of course the community needed rules and who better than a Roman for the task? Saint Pachomius (died 346 AD), an Egyptian and former soldier in the Roman Army, established the first collection of rules for a religious community with a central highly spiritual leader, later to be termed ‘monastery.’ The list of rules combined a work regiment and spiritual dedication. As is the case for all other religions and Christian sects, there are many traditions and rituals unique to Coptic Christians. All Coptic churches face east as do the faithful when praying. Traditions and symbolism, such as facing east, is held sacred by Copts. “We see Christ as our east, in that the sun rises from the east. The sun is the source of our life and so Christ is our salvation, the source of our life in the spirit. Looking towards the east, we are facing the Garden of Eden.” The act is also Biblical in nature. According to ‘Acts,’ St. John of Zebedee “took a cross of wood and placed it up towards the east and kneeled ...Show more
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Christian Copts Name Instructor Class Coptic Christianity had its beginnings in Egypt about 50 years following the death of Christ (50 AD). It is believed to be the first Christian sect outside present day Israel, the Holy Land. From the earliest days, Coptic Christians have been an oppressed minority subject to violence and subjugation by the dominant group…
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