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Christianity and Monasticism in Middle Egypt$
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Gawdat Gabra and Hany Takla

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166631

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166631.001.0001

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John of Shmoun and Coptic Identity

John of Shmoun and Coptic Identity

(p.89) 9 John of Shmoun and Coptic Identity
Christianity and Monasticism in Middle Egypt

Samuel Moawad

American University in Cairo Press

This chapter explores the writings of John of Shmoun on St. Antony and St. Mark. In choosing these two famous saints John demonstrates his tendency to emphasize the superiority of the Coptic Church. He shows how Egypt before Mark lived in the darkness of paganism. He speaks clearly about “our worshipers of the vain idols in that time.” He identifies the beginning of the real history of Egypt with the coming of Mark when he says, “Before Mark came, there was in Egypt no morning at all, but a continuous night. But when Mark, the light, came, the morning began.” After that, John mentions the famous Egyptian monks, such as Pachomius, Pijoul, Shenoute of Atripe, and others. These short citations from the Panegyric on Mark draw attention to two important points: the Coptic view of the pre-Christian history of Egypt and the role of St. Mark in the formation of the Coptic identity.

Keywords:   John of Shmoun, Coptic literature, St. Antony, St. Mark, Coptic Church, Coptic identity, Egypt

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