السبت، 8 أكتوبر، 2011

Wisdom of the Coptic Fathers

The Fathers of the Coptic Church wrote on many subjects, which can be divided into two main categories, theology and liturgy.

Alexandria's scholars and its Patriarchs contributed to the canons of theology for the entire Christian world. They achieved international renown.

The position of scholarly leadership assumed by Saint Athanasius at the Council of Nicea in AD 325 resulted in the spread and prominence of his theological writings and his discourses on the nature of Christian faith.

His writings became a foremost source for Christian theology, to the extent that he can be considered a father of theology in Christianity.


His treatises on the Incarnate Word, the Holy Spirit and his Apologia Contra Arianos or Defense against the Arians were widely received.

Many theologians developed their thoughts based on his teaching, as can be seen from the saying common in the west, "Should you come upon one of the sayings of Athanasius and not have a paper to write it on, immediately write it on your shirt." As the reputation of Saint Hilary, the Bishop of Poitier in France, grew, he was given the title, "Athanasius of the West." The eminence achieved by the Coptic Fathers in theology was paralleled by the same renown in monastic literature.

The most significant examples were the famous rules of Saint Pachomius which were taken to Rome by Saint Athanasius during his years of exile from Egypt.

The rules and life of Saint Pachomius were translated into Latin by Saint Jerome in AD 404 for the benefit of the monks of Italy. They reached Gaul through Saint John Cassian, who implemented the rules in a practical manner in his monastery in Marseilles.

Moreover, Saint Augustus set up his monastic order using the rules of Saint Pachomius as a guide, as did Saint Basil the Great, the founder of Greek monasticism. The sayings of the Coptic Fathers can be divided into many types, among them quotations written as spoken by the monks, who were also known as the Desert Fathers. These quotations were all related to asceticism, or the foregoing of worldly concerns and training oneself in virtue and purity.

Among these writings are the 20 epistles, or letters, sent by Saint Antony to his followers, the rules of Saint Pachomius for organizing monastic life and Saint John's profound quotations on spiritual life. They also contained sermons and religious discourses that were preached on Sundays .

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