This unit will cover the history of the Coptic Church from its founding by St Mark the Evangelist to the 7th Century AD. Students will learn about the theological contribution of the great Alexandrian fathers of the church such as Clement, Origen, Athanasius and Cyril, and the School of Alexandria. Students will also examine the important roles its Patriarchs and scholars played in the ecumenical Councils until the 5th century. Different forms of monasticism such as the eremitical (Antony) and cenobitic (Pachomious) will be studied. Finally, students will learn about the various eras of persecution in the Coptic Church.

Unit code: CH8100A

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Identify the sources for Coptic Church history in their original languages using basic research skills


Evaluate the contribution of the scholars of the school of Alexandria to Christian thought.


Discuss the fathers of Egyptian Monasticism and their ascetic teachings


Analyse the role of the Coptic Church in the ecumenical councils


Discuss the historical and dogmatic background of the Council of Chalcedon (451AD).


Weekly lectures and class discussions

Indicative Bibliography

  • Chesnut, Glenn F. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. 2nd ed. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986.
  • Davis, Stephen J. The Early Coptic Papacy: The Egyptian Church and Its Leadership in Late Antiquity. Cairo; New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2004 (recommended for purchase)
  • Donald, Leo Davis. The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1990.
  • Eusebius, William Wright, and Norman McLean. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphili. Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1975.
  • Evetts, B., ed. History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria I-IV. Patrologia Orientalis, vol. I.2, I.4, V.1 and X.5. Paris, 1906 (recommended for purchase)
  • Griggs, Wilfred G. Early Egyptian Christianity from its Origins to 451CE, Leiden: Brill Academic 2000.
  • Meinardus, Otto F.A. Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1999.
  • Samuel, V.C. The Council of Chalcedon, Re-Examined. Xlibris, 2001


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 3500 Words

0 60.0

Essay 2500 Words

0 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-03-26 13:45:48 +1100