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21st St. Shenouda-UCLA Conference of Coptic Studies August 28-29, 2020

Coptic Society

21st St. Shenouda-UCLA Conference of Coptic Studies, August 28-29, 2020 (Online)

Click here for online registration. Registration fee is free, but limited to 100 attendees. You will get email notification within a week of the convening of the conference. If you would like to make a contribution to the activities of the Society, click here.

Friday, August 28, 2020 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm (Tentative)

1:00-1:05 pm. Hany Takla: Opening Words
1:05-1:35 pm. Dr. Daniel N. Girgis: Come to the Table: An Examination of the Sanctus in the Coptic Tradition
1:35-2:05 pm. Dr. Mike Wingert: The Syriac Version of the Vita of St. Shenouda
2:05-2:35 pm. Fr. Daniel Habib: Religious Education in the Coptic Orthodox Church through the Homily
2:35-3:00 pm Questions and Break
3:00-3:30 pm Prof. Salim Faraji: Athanasius and Ancient Egyptian Metaphysics: Forging Christology, Creed and Canon
3:30-4:00 pm Ms. Mary Ghattas: From Daughter to Sister Church: Coptic and Ethiopian Ecclesiastical Relations, 1805-Present
4:00-4:30 pm Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Agaiby: St Paul's Monastery Manuscript Project
4:30-5:00 pm Questions

Saturday, August 29, 2020 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (Tentative)

10:00-10:30 am. Dr. Youhanna N. Youssef : The Consecration of the Church of John the Baptist in Duwinah
10:30-11:00 am Dr. Botros Karam Sadek: The Qunbarian Penitential Model
11:00-11:30 am Dr. Ramez Mikhail: Clerical Boundaries in the Coptic Incense Ritual: The Cases of Cyril III Ibn Laqlaq and Yūḥannā ibn Sabbā‘'s Precious Jewel
11:30 am - Noon  Questions
Noon-1:00 pm Lunch Break
1:00-1:30 pm Hany N. Takla: "The Brothers of the Lord" in the Coptic Literary Tradition
1:30-2:00 pm Dr. Candace Lukasik: Modern-Day Martyrs: Coptic Blood and American Christian Kinship
2:00-2:30 pm Dr. Saad Michael Saad: Archdeacon Yustos Takla (1925-2000) and the Establishment of the First Coptic Monastery in the Diaspora
2:30-3:00 pm Questions and Break
3:00-3:30 pm Prof. Lillian Larsen/ Mr. Joseph Fahim: The Bible as School Text
3:30-4:00 pm Prof. Tim Vivian: The Origins of Monasticism: Egypt
4:00- 4:45 pm Prof. Mark Swanson: Buṭrus al-Sadamantī on the Christian Faith
4:45-5:00 pm Questions

 

Conference is online via zoom conferencing software. The conference link will be emailed to the conference registrants at least a week in advance of the conference date.

Tentative list

+ Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Agaiby (St. Athanasius College, University of Divinity, Melbourne Australia)

+ Prof. Kathlyn Cooney (UCLA, CA)

+ Mr. Joseph Fahim (St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, CA)

+ Prof. Salim Faraji (California State University, Dominguez Hills, CA)

+ Ms. Mary Ghattas (Claremont Graduate University, CA)

+ Dr. Daniel Girgis (St. Vladimir Seminary, NY)

+ Fr. Daniel Habib (Fordham University, NY)

+ Prof. Lillian Larsen (Redlands University, CA)

+ Dr. Candace Lukasik (Washington University in St. Louis, MO)

+ Dr. Ramez Mikhail (University of Regensburg, Germany)

+ Dr. S. Michael Saad (Claremont Graduate University/St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, CA)

+ Dr. Botros Karam Sadek (Claremont Graduate University/St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, CA)

+ Prof. Mark Swanson ( Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, IL)

+ Mr. Hany N. Takla (St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society/ACTS, CA)

+ Dr. Michael Wingert (Agora University)

+ Prof. Tim Vivian (State University of California, Bakersfield, CA

+ Dr. Youhanna M. Youssef (Sankt Ignatios College, Stockholm, Sweden)

 

Presenter: Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Agaiby (St. Athanasius College, University of Divinity, Melbourne Australia)

Title: St Paul's Monastery Manuscript Project.

Abstract

For the first time in the history of the Coptic monastery of St Paul the Hermit at the Red Sea in Egypt, the Monastery has allowed a foreign mission (St Athanasius College) the privilege to access their manuscript library for the purpose of digitising and cataloguing their precious collection of over 1200 unpublished Coptic and Arabic manuscripts (dating from the 11th to 20th centuries). For centuries the manuscripts have been housed in a building that lacks the conditions necessary for their preservation, and as a result, many of the manuscripts are damaged by moisture and insects. Thus, the request to digitise their entire collection was primarily proposed to eliminate the real threat of the manuscripts from further damage, and thus preserve them for posterity. Through cataloguing the manuscript collection, the project aims to shed new light on the history of the Monastery and its library, while providing the scientific community with otherwise inaccessible information. This project has been funded by research grants from the University of Divinity in Melbourne Australia. This paper will present an overview on the background and objectives of this project, and the status of fieldwork to date since the project's commencement in January 2018.

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Presenter: Prof. Salim Faraji (California State University, Dominguez Hills, CA)

Title: Athanasius and Ancient Egyptian Metaphysics: Forging Christology, Creed and Canon

Abstract

At first glance it is expected to find the source of Athanasian theology in Greek philosophy, but indeed he was an Egyptian who lived among the indigenous Egyptian monks of Upper Egypt.  Athanasius emerged as a Christian theologian and bishop in an Egyptian tradition that had been shaped by Plotinian metaphysics—a philosophy that proposed a metaphysical unity called the One that manifested itself as three hypostases, the One, the Mind and the Soul.  Athanasius not only framed the homousia doctrine of the Nicene Creed, but he also authored perhaps the most important theological treatise concerning Christology, On the Incarnation.  His emphasis on ontological unity in the Godhead and the incarnation of divinity in humanity are doctrines that are particularly resonant with the premise of ancient Egyptian metaphysics as expounded in the neo-Egyptian philosophy of Plotinus and the more classical forms as explicated in ancient Egyptian cosmology and temple cult.  This paper argues that it is ancient Egyptian Heliopolitan metaphysics that is the basis for Athanasius’ theology of incarnation and Plotinus’ metaphysics of the One.

Presenter: Ms. Mary Ghattas (Claremont Graduate University, CA)

Title: From Daughter to Sister Church: Coptic and Ethiopian Ecclesiastical Relations, 1805-Present

Abstract

The modern and post-modern period saw a significant shift in ecclesiastical relations between the Ethiopian Tawahedo Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. This study will highlight the process of autocephaly, the establishment of an Oriental Orthodox communion, and the consequent ecclesiastical diplomatique of church(es) and state(s) characteristic of the examined period. It will also consider the leadership role each church plays vis-à-vis the Oriental communion, citing authority either based on historical memory or geopolitical factors.

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Presenter: Dr. Daniel N. Girgis (St. Vladimir Seminary, NY)

Title: Come to the Table: An Examination of the Sanctus in the Coptic Tradition

Abstract

This presentation seeks to examine the historical development and current utilization of the Sanctus within the Coptic Orthodox rite. By analyzing textual variation, and engaging with a vast oral tradition, this study reflects on the evolution of the Sanctus within the Alexandrian tradition and the implication of said change on the theology expressed and perceived by the members of the Coptic Church. In addition to the discussion of particularities with regards to the Sanctus within the Coptic rite, this paper also exhibits a correlation to the use of the Sanctus within other jurisdictions in the Orthodox world. Finally, this paper proposes a revival of the hymns of the Sanctus and a restoration of the theological understanding pertaining to them in order that the faithful come to the table of the Lord in body, mind and spirit.

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Presenter: Fr. Daniel Habib (Fordham University, NY)

Title: Religious Education in the Coptic Orthodox Church through the Homily

Abstract

The homily is an opportunity to both catechize and foster adult formation in Christian faith and life. Moreover, the Sunday homily is the only ecclesiastical occasion when most Coptic Orthodox parishioners will hear a religious teaching during a typical week in the context of the church gathered together as the body of Christ. Thus, homilies are an essential means of religious education in the Coptic Orthodox Church. This dissertation proposes to analyze how religious education of Coptic Orthodox Christians through homilies can be evaluated and enhanced. The research will focus on the liturgical season of the Great Fast (also known as the “Holy Forty Days” or, customarily in the United States, “Great Lent”). Historically, during the Great Fast, the readings of the Coptic lectionary are devoted to the task of both catechizing as well as theologically educating parishioners in their faith.

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Presenter: Prof. Lillian Larsen (Redlands University, CA); Joseph Fahim (St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, CA)

Title: The Bible as School Text

Abstract

In his mid-fourth century letter to the Christian mother of a young daughter, Jerome offers a detailed curriculum for the child’s education. He suggests that instead of “jewels or silk” young Paula’s treasures ought to be “ … manuscripts of the holy scriptures.” In these, she should prefer “correctness and accurate [punctuation]” rather than “gilding, and Babylonian parchment, with elaborate decorations” Ep. 107. Jerome’s letter is written in Latin, and addressed to a wealthy Roman householder. However, we encounter comparable Christianization of the classical curriculum in Coptic monastic sources. In fact, although Jerome’s Latin description of an emergent Christian curriculum is perhaps the most familiar, by virtue of climate, our best (and sometimes sole) evidence for Christian classroom practice is preserved in extant Biblical and liturgical texts, provenanced to the deserts of Egypt (and beyond).

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Presenter: Dr. Candace Lukasik (Washington University in St. Louis, MO)

Title: Modern-Day Martyrs: Coptic Blood and American Christian Kinship

Abstract

Since the 1990s, attacks on Egyptian Copts have been made legible to American (particularly evangelical) audiences through the moral imaginary of the “Persecuted Church,” which argues that Christians around the globe are persecuted more than any other time in history. Images of bloodied Egyptian Coptic bodies have circulated among Western Christian religio-political networks in an “economy of blood,” an imperial economy of Christian kinship that performs the double movement of glory and racialization. This double movement has placed American Copts in a bind, whereby indigenous Coptic collective memory of blood and persecution has intersected with the political, theological, and affective kinship formations of this economy of blood. This conference paper briefly analyzes how the contemporary remapping of Eastern Christian traditions, like that of the Copts, produces effects on a geopolitical scale, and examines how this reconfiguration has impacted upon Coptic political subjectivities and religious sensibilities in the United States.

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Presenter: Dr. Ramez Mikhail (University of Regensburg, Germany)

Title: Clerical Boundaries in the Coptic Incense Ritual: The Cases of Cyril III Ibn Laqlaq and Yūḥannā ibn Sabbā‘'s Precious Jewel

Abstract

Almost every Coptic liturgical ceremony begins with an offering of incense, a highly-ritualized act involving the blessing of incense, placing it in a censer, and the spreading of incense smoke throughout the worship space. In the medieval period in particular, this ritual was employed for its capacity to assert expected boundaries among the clergy. Two medieval authors, namely Pope Cyril III ibn Laqlaq (r. 1235–43) and Yūḥannā ibn Sabbā‘, author of the theological/liturgical compendium The Precious Jewel provide the strongest examples of this trend, whereby this act of devotional use of incense functioned to set a clear tone of clerical authority and to underscore a sense of proper boundaries that higher members of the clergy in particular were not to transgress. A close contextual reading of these important Christian Arabic literary and canonical texts sheds light on the interplay between ritual and power dynamics in medieval Coptic Egypt.

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Presenter: Dr. S. Michael Saad (Claremont Graduate University/St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, CA)

Title: Archdeacon Yustos Takla (1925-2000) and the Establishment of the First Coptic Monastery in the Diaspora

Abstract

The life of Archdeacon Yustos (Nos’hy) Takla (1925-2000), and in particular his dedication to the establishment of the first Coptic monastery in North America, demonstrate the seminal role which Coptic laity took in both creating and sustaining the necessary conditions for the Coptic Church to start, grow, and thrive in the diaspora. When Takla was ordained deacon in 1989, and then elevated to archdeacon in 1995, both by HH Pope Shenouda III, and both to serve the St. Antony Monastery in California’s Mojave Desert, it was in recognition of what he had already achieved as a layman over many years, and entrusting him with a mission still in progress.

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Presenter: Mr. Botros Karam Sadek (Claremont Graduate University/St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, CA)

Title: The Qunbarian Penitential Model

Abstract

In the first millennium of Christianity, auricular confession was neither demanded from the laity by any Coptic bishop nor embedded in any of the canonical collections accepted by the Coptic Orthodox Church. Unlike Latins and Byzantines who transferred the monastic model from the desert to the city in early medieval times, the Coptic church took that move much later. Auricular confession was first introduced to the Copts by Marqus ibn Qunbar (+1208), a controversial priest who attempted to promote several Melkite customs and secondly by Kyrillus ibn Laqlaq (+ 1243 A.D.), a controversial patriarch who was judged by his own bishops in an official synod. This paper examines their penitential model and the reasons behind the ecclesiastical opposition.

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Presenter: Prof. Mark Swanson ( Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, IL)

Title: Buṭrus al-Sadamantī on the Christian Faith

Abstract

One of the great figures of the “Golden Age” of Copto-Arabic literature is the monk and priest Buṭrus al-Sadamantī, about whom we know little other than that he was a respected teacher of the faith of the Coptic Orthodox Church who flourished around the year 1260 CE. This paper will present two short works:

  • Maqālah fī l-ʿaqīdah (A Treatise on Christian Doctrine), a summary of Christian faith in 50 short articles. I rely on the copy in MS Vatican ar. 126, as well as the text published in Cairo by the Tawfīq Press in 1895.
  • Urjūzah fī l-iʿtiqād (A Poem on Christian Belief, in the meter rajaz). Again, I rely on the copy in MS Vatican ar. 126.

Examples from these texts will illustrate (a) Buṭrus’ linguistic artistry; (b) his familiarity with Islamic theological and legal discourse; and (c) the ways in which he talks about Christ’s redemptive work. The texts also offer hints about Buṭrus’ life; evidence will be offered that he converted from a former life (probably as a highly educated, privileged member of the secretarial class) to his life as monk and priest … and teacher of the faith, in which role he continued even when well advanced in years.


Presenter: Mr. Hany N. Takla (St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society/ACTS, CA)

Title: "The Brothers of the Lord" in the Coptic Literary Tradition

Abstract

The term "Brothers of the Lord" has perplexed Biblical scholars from Fathers of the Church to those investigating the Biblical truth in modern times. The aim of this paper to survey the Coptic tradition concerning this subject through transmitted Coptic and Arabic material circulating in Egypt. This survey will include biblical manuscripts, Catenae, and Life of Joseph.

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Presenter: Dr. Michael Wingert (Agora University)

Title: The Syriac Version of the Vita of St. Shenouda

Abstract

Forthcoming

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Presenter: Prof. Tim Vivian (State University of California, Bakersfield, CA)

Title: The Origins of Monasticism: Egypt

Abstract

Scholars have published numerous articles and chapters on the origins of monasticism. The presentation here is a shortened version of the forthcoming article “The Origins of Monasticism” that will appear in The T&T Clark Handbook to the Early Church (2021). It will cover (1) “Village Ascetics—the Apotactites,” (2) “Virgins of God—Early Female Monastics,” (3) “Anchorites, Semi-anchorites, and Cenobites,” focusing especially on Antony, Pachomius, and Shenoute.

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Presenter: Dr. Youhanna M. Youssef (Sankt Ignatios College, Stockholm, Sweden)

Title: The Consecration of the Church of John the Baptist in Duwinah

Abstract

The paper will start with a survey of the available manuscripts of this event. Then I will present an overview the historians' statement regarding the event. I will analyse some aspects of this text as well as the biblical citations included in it. Finally, I will present some extracts of the texts and the concluding comments. The entire text will be included at the time of publication.

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Friday, August 28, 2020 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

1:00-1:05 pm. Hany Takla: Opening Words

1:05-1:35 pm. Dr. Daniel N. Girgis: Come to the Table: An Examination of the Sanctus in the Coptic Tradition

1:35-2:05 pm. Dr. Mike Wingert: The Syriac Version of the Vita of St. Shenouda

2:05-2:35 pm. Fr. Daniel Habib: Religious Education in the Coptic Orthodox Church through the Homily

3:00-3:30 pm Prof. Salim Faraji: Athanasius and Ancient Egyptian Metaphysics: Forging Christology, Creed and Canon

 

3:30-4:00 pm Ms. Mary Ghattas: From Daughter to Sister Church: Coptic and Ethiopian Ecclesiastical Relations, 1805-Present

4:00-4:30 pm Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Agaiby: St Paul's Monastery Manuscript Project

 

Saturday, August 29, 2020 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

10:00-10:30 am Dr. Youhanna N. Youssef : The Consecration of the Church of John the Baptist in Duwinah

10:30-11:00 am Dr. Botros Karam Sadek: The Qunbarian Penitential Model

11:00-11:30 am Dr. Ramez Mikhail: Clerical Boundaries in the Coptic Incense Ritual: The Cases of Cyril III Ibn Laqlaq and Yūḥannā ibn Sabbā‘'s Precious Jewel

 

1:00-1:30 pm Hany N. Takla: "The Brothers of the Lord" in the Coptic Literary Tradition

1:30-2:00 pm Dr. Candace Lukasik: Modern-Day Martyrs: Coptic Blood and American Christian Kinship

2:00-2:30 pm Dr. Saad Michael Saad: Archdeacon Yustos Takla (1925-2000) and the Establishment of the First Coptic Monastery in the Diaspora

 

3:00-3:30 pm Prof. Lillian Larsen/ Mr. Joseph Fahim: The Bible as School Text

3:30-4:00 pm Prof. Tim Vivian: The Origins of Monasticism: Egypt

4:00- 4:45 pm Prof. Mark Swanson: Buṭrus al-Sadamantī on the Christian Faith

 

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