accessible. Their influence manifests itself in youth work and among Coptic students at the universities. There can be no doubt that the monastic revival has affected and does affect the Coptic Church at large.
At the same time, theology in the Coptic Orthodox Church is taught at the Coptic theological seminaries, primarily the Coptic theological seminary at al-Abbasiya and the higher institute for Coptic studies, both attached to the patriarchate in Cairo. But while the renewal in the monasteries is nourished by patristic literature, especially the writings ofthe monastic fathers, the seminaries rely on textbooks shaped by contact with western academic theology, even if their content is still heavily dependent upon a theological tradition deeply rooted in medieval Arabic theological literature.40 Although there is a long history of co-existence between the two traditions and forms of theological literature, there are today signs of growing tension, largely caused by the increasing contact with western patristic and ecumenical theology.41
Following a golden age in the fourteenth century, Coptic theological writing almost ceased until the beginning of the nineteenth century. With Muhammad Ali, Egypt was suddenly opened up to the west. In addition to explorers, merchants, technical experts and secular teachers, missionaries of various Protestant and Catholic affiliations settled in the country in growing numbers. Many of them soon engaged in teaching activities aimed at the Coptic Orthodox. This was especially true of the British missionaries from the Church Missionary Society who hoped to influence the Coptic Church in the direction of the Reformation and its theology. Instead of establishing an Anglican Church in Egypt, which did in fact come later, they tried to work with the Orthodox. Numerous Copts who later became prominent in the church were educated in their schools. With the enthronement of Patriarch Kyrillos IV (1854-61) - 'Abu al-'Islah', the father of reform as he has been called by some - their influence was at its peak. For a short time they even managed the first Coptic Orthodox theological school.42
The latter part of the century saw a Coptic Orthodox reaction against western Christian influence. Partly it was in opposition to some of the more radical reforms of Kyrillos IV, but mainly it was part of the growth of Egyptian national consciousness strengthened by the British occupation in 1882. The church had by then accepted many of the methods of the new missionaries
40 S. Rubenson, 'Arabic sources for the theology of the early monastic movement in Egypt', Parole de I'Orient 16 (1990-91), 33-47.
41 S. Rubenson, 'Tradition and renewal in Coptic theology', in Between the desert and the city, 35-51.
42 Samir Sekaly, 'Coptic communal reform, 1860-1914', Middle Eastern Studies 6 (1970), 247-75.
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