"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).

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Copts and the West

In 2006 when the hardback version of this book came out, we had a Coptic specialist review it for Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. The reviewer praised the book as a significant and insightful contribution not only to Eastern Christian, and specifically Coptic, history, but also to East-West relations and the historical construction of the same. At the end of this year a very affordable paperback version will be forthcoming of Alastair Hamilton, The Copts and the West, 1439-1822: The European Discovery of the Egyptian Church (Oxford UP, 2014), 354pp.

About this book we are told:
In seventeenth-century Europe the Copts, or the Egyptian members of the Church of Alexandria, were widely believed to hold the key to an ancient wisdom and an ancient theology. Their language was thought to lead to the deciphering of the hieroglyphs and their Church to retain traces of early Christian practices as well as early Egyptian customs. Now available in paperback for the first time, this first, full-length study of the subject, discusses the attempts of Catholic missionaries to force the Church of Alexandria into union with the Church of Rome and the slow accumulation of knowledge of Coptic beliefs, undertaken by Catholics and Protestants. It ends with a survey of the study of the Coptic language in the West and of the uses to which it was put by Biblical scholars, antiquarians, theologians, and Egyptologists.

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