Chapter

Continuity and Reinvention

Mark N. Swanson

in The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt (641–1517)

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9789774160936
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970498 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5743/cairo/9789774160936.003.0001
Continuity and Reinvention

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A small fragment of the Coptic Life of Benjamin was preserved in a single parchment page in Paris. It relates to how the patriarch one day entered a monastery church, probably that of the Monastery of St. Macarius, in which there was a painted program not dissimilar from that at the Church of St. Antony. The saints' and angels' welcome makes it clear that Benjamin was a true monk, priest, and confessor of the faith, a genuine heir of the great Alexandrian patriarchs. A specifically Egyptian church, freed from increasingly problematic ties to Constantinople, creates its distinctive forms of life and witnesses within the new Islamic world order. It is not surprising that the principal history of the medieval Coptic Orthodox Church is called the History of the Patriarchs: the patriarchs serve as an instantiation—one might even say as “icons”—of the community as a whole.

Keywords: parchment; patriarch; monastery; monk; Coptic

Chapter.  5689 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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