THE MYSTERY OF ENOCH

Idris_the_prophet

And Enoch walked with God and then he was gone, for God took him. I am investigating a mysterious disappearance. As I am a mere academic, there’s no actual blood involved, but it’s still a puzzling case. Briefly, I am trying to explain why the Book of Enoch vanished as thoroughly as it did, and [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...]

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...]

HERACLEON

Guercino_-_Jesus_and_the_Samaritan_Woman_at_the_Well_-_WGA10946

Here’s a trivia question. Who wrote the first ever commentary on a piece of Christian scripture? The answer is quite surprising, and it says a lot about some of the diverse subcultures that existed within different parts of the Christian world Elaine Pagels earned fame through her 1979 book The Gnostic Gospels. Far less well [Read More...]

VALENTINUS THE EGYPTIAN

Valentinianpleroma-Matter

Early Egyptian Christianity had a strong non-orthodox strand, if that “Gnostic” current did not actually dominate. I have already discussed the influence of Basilides, but Egypt produced an even more celebrated teacher in Valentinus. What makes him so interesting for a modern Christian audience is that he shows just how close the Gnostics were to [Read More...]

BASILIDES AND THE BAPTISM

timkat+priests

I was discussing the theory that the oldest level of Egypt’s Christianity was very different from anything we would recognize as orthodoxy, and that the most prominent leaders were what we would call Gnostic. That theory can be advanced in extreme terms, so that basically there is no early orthodoxy. Even if we do not [Read More...]

THE EGYPTIAN MYSTERY

pyxis1

I recently described the extraordinary position that Egypt held in early Christian history, when the country became the source of many ideas and institutions that would spread throughout the wider Christian world. Given that importance, it is really surprising that we know so very little about the early history of Egyptian Christianity, an ignorance that [Read More...]

EGYPT’S FAITH

map3

It’s grim to watch recent developments in Egypt, as the nation’s Coptic Christians face growing threats. Not that Egypt’s long-suffering Muslim majority does not deserve full sympathy and respect, but the Copts stand in a very special place in the Christian story. So central are they, in fact, that I sometimes fantasize about writing a [Read More...]

THE MOCKING OF CARABBAS

Agrippa_I_prutah

There is a passage in the Alexandrian writer Philo that casts a curious light on Christian origins, and I wish I understood it better. Let me put it out there for discussion. Philo reports on the violent and confrontational politics of the Egypt of his day, particularly the 30s AD. Alexandria was sharply divided between [Read More...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X