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The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt (641–1517)The Popes of Egypt: A History of the Coptic Church and Its Patriarchs Volume 2$
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Mark N. Swanson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9789774160936

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774160936.001.0001

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Continuity and Reinvention

Continuity and Reinvention

Benjamin I (#38, 623–662)

Agathon (#39, 662–680)

John III of Samannud (#40, 680–689)

Isaac (#41, 690–692)

Simon (#42, 692–700)

(p.1) One Continuity and Reinvention
The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt (641–1517)

Mark N. Swanson

American University in Cairo Press

A small fragment of the Coptic Life of Benjamin was preserved in a single parchment page in Paris. It relates to how the patriarch one day entered a monastery church, probably that of the Monastery of St. Macarius, in which there was a painted program not dissimilar from that at the Church of St. Antony. The saints' and angels' welcome makes it clear that Benjamin was a true monk, priest, and confessor of the faith, a genuine heir of the great Alexandrian patriarchs. A specifically Egyptian church, freed from increasingly problematic ties to Constantinople, creates its distinctive forms of life and witnesses within the new Islamic world order. It is not surprising that the principal history of the medieval Coptic Orthodox Church is called the History of the Patriarchs: the patriarchs serve as an instantiation—one might even say as “icons”—of the community as a whole.

Keywords:   parchment, patriarch, monastery, monk, Coptic

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