HELLENISTIC AND PHARAONIC INFLUENCES ON THE FORMATION OF COPTIC IDENTITY

Annette Evans

Abstract


Conflicting descriptions of Coptic identity still exist today. The Copts regard
themselves as those descendents of Pharaonic Egyptians who have retained their
identity because of their Christian faith, in spite of Egypt having become a
predominantly Islamic, Arab country. They claim to have “caught a glimpse of the
Light of Christianity” before the birth of Christ. This article offers iconographical
evidence to supplement an explanation of how the ancient Egyptian mythopoeic
thinking, in combination with the syncretistic cultural environment of Hellenism,
mediated this phenomenon. Today the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt represents
“a return to the apostolic father type leading of the church”. Although pharaonic
and gnostic influences appear to have contributed to their remarkable eusebeia, the
Copts perceive themselves as having abided by the decisions of the first three
Church Councils and have respected and upheld the canon.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/86-0-956

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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