To preserve, revive, and promote the heritage of Christian Egypt, especially Coptic Christian throughout its history.
II. History & Organization:
The Society was conceived in Los Angeles in December 1979, to serve the Coptic community outside Egypt in strengthening its roots by the systematic revival of its Christian Heritage. In 1983, the Society was fully organized and approved under the laws of the State of California and the United States as a nonprofit foundation. Its current membership is over 200 members divided among the different classes of membership available and spread over six Continents.
III.Projects and Activities:
Coptic Microfilm Library (CML):
The CML is a collective effort to gather and preserve on microfilm the written sources of our heritage for the purpose of promoting its study as well as those works that have dealt with it. So far the collection generated by the project includes over 200,000 microfilm frames of Coptic, Coptic-Arabic, and Arabic manuscripts. This collection is considered one of the largest in the world dealing with manuscripts related to the Coptic Church, and there is room as well as need to grow even further. The collection includes material written on papyrus, parchment, and paper. They were collected from such places as the Vatican Apostolic Library, National Library of Paris, the British Library, Cairo Coptic Museum, New York Pierpont Morgan Library, Oxford Bodleian Library, Manchester John Rylands Library, Birmingham Selly Oak College Library, Napels National Library, Cambridge University Library, Vienna National Library, and Michigan University Library. They cover such subjects as the Bible, Church History, Hagiography, Patristics writings, Liturgical services, Canon Law, Apocryphal texts, Gnostic writings, and Lexical works.
Since its inception, the Society has worked on gathering a library of all books and scholarly articles dealing with the various aspects of Coptic Studies such as Bible, Language, Patristics, History, Liturgy, Hagiography (life of the Saints), and Art & Architecture. The library holdings are about several thousands of books, periodicals, and off-prints. It is one of the multiple libraries housed at the St. Shenouda Center.
Mapping of Coptic Monuments (MCM):
This is an effort commenced several years ago to document all the Coptic religious structures that were ever-built. The Society has gathered thousands of photos, digital images, and slides of existing churches and monasteries. In addition our library system includes many books and scholarly articles dealing with these structures. Our Affiliate Organization, St. Mark Association for Coptic Studies has taken great strides in gathering a digital archive of these monuments. Currently one of the Society’s volunteers is working on a comprehensive listing of the important monuments of Christian Egypt, and documenting all the web resources available on them.
Computerization of Primary Sources:
Since 1984, the Society has sought the aid of computers in preserving Coptic texts as well as translation of primary text sources pertaining to our heritage. Our current Database include the majority of Coptic biblical texts in existence as well as many hagiographic, patristic, and liturgical texts. Currently, the Coptic True-type-fonts based computerized text have been converted to the new Unicode-based system. We are currently working on checking and correcting the converted texts. All of these texts are stored on IBM-based systems. The generated PDF files of these documents will have multi-platform access.
As a result of the above-outlined efforts, the Society is working on a 300-volume set of books that would bring all the textual evidence of the Coptic heritage into an accurate, scientific, and detailed format. This would include all texts as well as their respective English translations. Preliminary editions are being prepared of several of the Old and New Testament Coptic texts as well as some of the Hagiographic texts that are being translated in the Coptic classes conducted by the Society.
The St. Shenouda Center for Coptic Studies (SSCCS):
The St. Shenouda Center for Coptic Studies is the physical flag ship of the Society. It was founded in September 1992 to house all the activities of the Society in one location. As you can see from the history of the Society, it expanded multifold over its over quarter-century history. It includes facilities for the multiple library holdings of the Society, classroom space, work space for researchers, and even a small Cultural Museum to show case our Christian Egyptian Heritage.
The St. Shenouda Coptic Microfiche Center:
As early as 1982 the Society saw the need for a micro-size library of research material dealing with Coptic Studies. While we began to do it in-house in 35-mm microfilm format, this proved to be inefficient and costly. In 1985, we utilized a specialized professional service bureau to do this work. The format used was that established by University Microfilm International in Michigan, i.e. 98-frame 4×6 microfiche cards. Since that time, we have generated over 1950 microfiche cards, containing approximately 130,000 frames (about 200,000 pages) of printed materials dealing with works done in the field of Coptic Studies. This 10-year effort literally scanned the globe to bring, in one place, one of the greatest collection of resources for the study of our heritage ever assembled.
With the advent of the Digital Age, the use of these microfiche cards have significantly diminished. However, they preserve an important archive of the material they preserve.
The Nagi Khalil Coptic Software Center (NKCSC):
This project was dedicated to the pioneering spirit of the Society’s late Vice President Mr. Nagi F. Khalil. It was envisioned as a futuristic way to share fruits of the Society’s preservation efforts with the public. It began with an IBM-based windows software, distributed on 3.5 in diskettes. The following is a list of released titles in this environment, which required a separate installation of the Coptic Fonts:
- (NKCSC-CL1) Introductory Coptic (Bohairic) Grammar
- (NKCSC-CL2) Bohairic-English Dictionary
- (NKCSC-CB1) New Testament Text Viewer (Bohairic/English-KJV/Sahidic/Greek)
- (NKCSC-CB1A) New Testament Text Viewer (Bohairic/English-KJV)
- NKCSC-CB1B) New Testament Text Viewer (Sahidic/Greek)
- (NKCSC-CLG1) Coptic Church Lectionary (Annual Cycle – Days), Bohairic-English.
It eventually evolved into multi-platform PDF documents of these texts with Coptic texts embedded in them. It also allowed us to introduce audio capabilities especially with Introductory Coptic Grammar course. The fruit of this endeavor came out in publication in 1998 in the form of a single CD that included all the titles listed above in four individual modules. Currently, the Grammar (without the audio) and the Dictionary are available on this website, using flipping page technology. The New Testament and the Lectionary are available at the Coptic Heritage subscription site.
St. Shenouda Coptic Scholarship Fund (SSCSF):
In 1995, the Society set up a scholarship fund to encourage students pursuing a graduate degree within the different fields of Coptic Studies. In the 1995-96 school-year , we awarded two scholarship of $1,500 each to students that began working in a combined Masters/PhD programs in Coptic History at American Universities. Priorities and amount awarded will be based on the degree to be awarded, financial needs, and attendance at a accredited American college or university. Several $2,000 scholarships have been awarded to multiple students over the past years.
Coptic Slides Collection (CSC):
For more information, consult the webpage of this collection on the site.
The Center also offered classes in Coptic Language (Grammar and text translation), History, and Ecclesiology, as well as workshops in the techniques of Manuscript transcription and comparison. Also consult our Electronic Institute (SSEICS) for more classes in this field. For new classes contact us on the Contact Us page on this website.