THE CHILD MARY

Star_Child___from___2001___by_Lukasx

If I were to choose the single film that influenced me most, ever, it would be 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The astronaut, Dave Bowman, encounters the alien species that originally, millions of years ago, elevated humanity to its dominant species on the planet. They then use him as the basis for another and still [Read More...]

TWO GODS, TWO BIBLES?

Battle of Joshua with Amalekites Nicolas Poussin

I have posted recently about the Dualist sects who were such a persistent force through the Middle Ages, and who drew a sharp contrast between the inferior God of the Old Testament, and the pure deity of the New. In this, they were following on neatly from the old Gnostics, who so alarmed and disgusted [Read More...]

THE HOLY FAMILY IN EGYPT

holy-family-in-egypt

As will be obvious from my recent posts, I am very interested in Egypt’s role in Christian history. For years though, when I read material about this or talked to people, I always glided over one topic that had little appeal for me, and I now think I was wrong to do so. It really [Read More...]

IDLE TALES AND EMPTY SLANDERS

BloodLibel

I am rethinking my attitude to paranoia. For many years, I have written on the demonization of out-groups, the way in which similar charges are deployed against marginal minorities. Seemingly, the same sort of bogus allegations surface in widely different cultures around the world. Some such groups actually existed, even if they never committed the [Read More...]

ALEXANDRIAN CHRISTIANS

malabar1740max

With all the turmoil faced by modern-day Egyptian Christians, I hope it doesn’t seem inappropriate to write more on their ancient beginnings. It should remind us of just how much of the Christian heritage is at stake in these battles. I have described the oddly obscure nature of the early Egyptian church, suggesting that Christianity [Read More...]

THE CRISIS OF EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANITY

This past week has been horrible for Egypt’s Christians. I offer this quote from the New York Times: In Sohag, Bishop of Mar Girgis [St. George] Church Moussa Ibrahim told Mada Masr that the church was set ablaze by Muslim Brotherhood supporters at 9:30 a.m. in the absence of police forces, despite repeated threats against [Read More...]

THE FATE OF THE PATRIARCHS

hermopolis3a

Once upon a time, the Alexandrian Patriarch Mark was visiting a provincial Egyptian city called Agharwah (Aghra). “And the clergy came out to meet him according to the custom, that they might chant before him, with a body of the laity, chief men and leaders of the people; and he blessed them and prayed for [Read More...]

SHENOUTE AND THE GNOSTICS

NagHammadiCodices

I described the Egyptian monk Shenoute and his fierce wars for orthodoxy in the fourth and fifth centuries. If we look at his struggles against Egypt’s still continuing Gnostic movement, it helps us understand the context of many of the key books and documents that have surfaced in modern times, revolutionzing our understanding of early [Read More...]

SHENOUTE’S WARS

2_Blocks

The Egyptian abbot Shenoute is one of the major Christian figures of Late Antiquity. He never shied away from a fight, and often a literal physical confrontation. As a result, he has left a mixed historical reputation, and he is easily stereotyped as a crude and even thuggish figure. But the abundant evidence we find [Read More...]

SHENOUTE THE GREAT

ManuscriptLeaf_large

Who’s the odd man out: Ambrose, Patrick, John Chrysostom, Leo the Great, Shenoute? All were great Christian leaders who lived in the century after 350. But it’s a trick question, as there are two answers. One answer is “Patrick” as we have virtually nothing written by him, while the others all left copious literary remains. [Read More...]


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