Hello and welcome to the History of the Copts Episode zero. Introduction. If you are a copt, listening, you know exactly who are the copts - if you are not, well, here's your formal introduction. The copts are ethno-religious group originating in Egypt that adheres to the miaphysite Oriental, Orthodox Christian faith. If you're wondering exactly what is a miaphysite or oriental belief. Stick around, there will be plenty of that to come. knowing who are the copts, the sort of important for the intellectually curious podcast listener
As the cops are the largest Christian group in the Middle East and show up quite periodically in the news with usually unfortunate events. Not to mention that in the last 50 years or so, there have been a significant migration pattern to North America, Europe and Australia. Forming a well educated Christian diaspora. Copts was the name that the native Egyptians were called when the Arabs arrived in Egypt in the seventh century. Before the Arabs arrived, the native Egyptian population were essentially exclusively Christian, mostly of the miaphysite belief, spoke Coptic as a native tongue, as well as Greek as the language of education and government.
Their romanization was never complete, at least compared to some of the western provinces of the Empire. And the Roman cultural and religious influence weakened significantly and progressively before the Arab arrived. I will discuss in details later on the nuances of the formation of a Coptic identity and how it developed. As an interesting historical trivia, the name Copts is originated by Greek settlers who came with the conquest of Alexander the Great. The settlers called Egypt by the name of its most famous temple in Memphis, the House of Saud, Hakbata in the Egyptian tongue, Hakata became Egypt, which eventually became Copts.
The Arabic name for Egypt is presumably from the Hebrew origin mizraim. So you might be asking why I'm doing this, and if you're not, then I think knowing, why I'm doing this project will give you an idea of what is to come. Full disclaimer, I am a Copt and was generally interested about knowing my history. But soon after I started learning, I realized that knowing, for the sake of knowledge is great. But knowing for the sake of knowledge, progress and dissemination of that knowledge is even better.
This project is meant to be the starting point to explore what have happened in a factual, unbiased way and hopefully through finding out what have happened, you can explore the more nuanced questions of why and the implication on the present. And finally, maybe present a way of preserving and enriching the Coptic cultural heritage in the future. Why is that important? Well, for me personally, it's my kids. I am presenting this project to them to grow up as a bond with their heritage.
to know, where they came from culturally and to lead them toward a certain way of living in the future. Why is it important to you? Well, I hope you like learning about history in general and the copts in particular. I have taken great care to try as best as possible to avoid bias, I have relied mostly on non coptic scholars, and an academic books that are sourced and went through the necessary academic rigour. A full list of the sources and other information is posted at the history of the copts website.
If you are interested. Now, a couple of notes about the podcast layout that hopefully will get us on the right track. First, I want to emphasize that this project is meant to be a history of the copts as an ethno-religious group. we will, will have plenty of church history. But, It is not exclusively a church history. The more accurate to this podcast would probably be the history of native Egyptians and Roman late antiquity Byzantine and Islamic Egypt with strong emphasis on the development of the Coptic identity.
But in addition to not wanting to say all of this, every time I refer to the podcast, the copts will be the center of the story and thus the title. The history as a whole is essentially a survival story of a side that mostly lost all the geopolitical battles it somehow managed to survive and at times thrive. So in opposition to the popular saying history is not always told by the victors. I will discuss theological issues and church history as it relates the development of the Coptic identity and historical events.
But often I will skip things that may be of great importance spiritually, but has limited impact from a historical point of view. For example, we will talk about St. Athanasius, but we will only discuss briefly St. Antony. My initial layout, which is subject to change, is a weekly release of episodes, with a yet to be determined break between major transition points in the history? I have broken the history into discrete periods, Roman, Egypt, late antiquity, Egypt, post, Chalcedon, Egypt and Islamic Egypt, which is obviously superficial but I think would be helpful from a narration perspective and for me to stop and catch up with research.
If you are a copt listening to this, consider this to be kind of you, Matrix, blue or Red pill moment, there will be a few uncomfortable truths in the history. Remember, this is a history of a people, so it is only natural to have good, bad, great, ugly events. There will be few historical myths that will be shattered. I am not making this podcast as means to spiritual benefit, but I think you may still benefit if that's your intention.
I am creating this podcast as a way to explore a national and a cultural identity. Finally, a couple of notes on some of the nomenclature in the first couple of episodes. First I will referred to the copts. Even so, I am a copt to myself. I feel I will make my neutrality easier. Second, the Coptic identity is even to this day evolving and pinning down an exact event to give the native Egyptians that label is without controversy. So at least for the first few episodes, while the Coptic identity is nonexistent or more accurately being formed, the term I will use is native Egyptians.
Next time, we will explore where in our history should we start and how did this early formative year of the copts. Farewell until next week
The story of Egypt by" Joanne Fletcher
From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt: Religion, Identity and Politics after the Arab Conquest by" Maged S. A. Mikhail