in areas like education and the distribution of literature. Now Copts educated in modern schools used these against the missionaries. In this way, the late nineteenth century gave rise to a renewal of Coptic theological literature, though largely in a polemical form, but it was their opponents, Catholic and Protestant rather than Muslim, who decided the themes, thus making the role of the Coptic theologians largely apologetic. Exposure to missionary activity had, however, made a deep impact. It was within a western - mainly Catholic - theological framework that the Copts chose to defend their position on controversial issues. Unfortunately the ecclesiastical conflicts between the reformers in the Majilis al-Milli and the hierarchy long prevented effective reforms of theological education.
An outgrowth of this defence of the Coptic Orthodox tradition against the proselytism of the missionaries, and one of the most important factors behind the revival that started in the 1940s, was the Sunday School Movement. Based on ideas largely taken from Protestant missions, it was the work of some of the great Copts of the early twentieth century, such as Habib Girgis, and became the major form of Coptic religious instruction in the growing cities, especially Cairo. Through these schools young Copts received a thorough religious training under enthusiastic young teachers. In them a new generation of lay leaders with modern secular education became devoted to the church. A large number of them later entered the desert monasteries, contributing to their revival. But the schools were still dependent on the old 'scholastic' tradition, to which western methods of religious instruction, in particular Bible reading and a systematic exposition of liturgy and the sacraments, were added.
A very different impetus came out of the desert tradition itself, which gained strength from the general disenchantment among young Egyptians, Muslim and Copt alike, with the Egyptian kingdom and its dependence on the British. From before the Second World War radical hermits retreated to the desert and began to attract disciples. In the monasteries they found not only spiritual leaders, but also libraries with manuscripts containing their spiritual heritage, the writings of the radical monastic leaders of the first Christian centuries, like St Antony, St Makarios and St Isaak of Nineveh. But some, such as the uneducated Ethiopian monk 'Abd al-Masih al-Habashi, did not find the life in the monasteries sufficiently exacting and retreated further into the desert so that they might live the life of the Desert Fathers of the fourth century.
In 1959 the monastic revival received powerful support with the election of Kyrillos VI as patriarch of Alexandria. He was a well-known hermit and
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