"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Coptic Papacy

The world's attention is focused on the trip to Great Britain of one bishop who happens to have the title "pope" (viz., Benedict XVI of Rome) but the world forgets--if it ever knew--that there is another bishop, of equally impeccable apostolic lineage, whose use of the title "pope" actually predates the Roman usage. I refer, of course, to the pope and patriarch of Alexandria, descendant of St. Mark. The current Coptic incumbent is His Holiness Shenouda III--who, unlike his Latin brother, claims neither infallibility nor universal jurisdiction, but governs his church together with his synod:

For centuries, scholars have studied the West-Roman papacy. Indeed, of the writing of books about the papacy there is no end. As a scholar of the papacy and the Orthodox Churches, with my own book on the topic coming out next year, I remain very interested in the topic of course. I was therefore overjoyed when, in 2004, the first volume of a projected trilogy on the Coptic papacy was published by the American University in Cairo Press. I reviewed that book in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. Now at long last we have the second volume forthcoming, and I am eagerly awaiting it from the AUC Press. I will have more to say about it when it arrives.

Mark N. Swanson, The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt 611-1517 (AUC Press, 2010), 192pp. 


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