The Coptic Orthodox Church, centered in Egypt, is one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. Although the origins of this group remain unclear, the message of Jesus took root and flourished in this region from a very early period: Apollos, Paul’s friend and fellow missionary, came from Alexandria according to Acts 18:24, and P52, the oldest New Testament manuscript, was found in Egypt and dates to the first half of the second century. In the fourth century, Egypt became a center for asceticism and monasticism, while the contemporaneous Nag Hammadi codices offer further evidence for early Christian diversity in this region.
On November 4, the Coptic church nominated a new pope, Bishop Tawadros II, and the enthronment ceremony occurred on November 18. In the audio segment below, the BBC’s Heart and Soul program covers the ceremony and examines the church’s position within the predominantly Muslim country.
To learn more about Egyptian Christianity in antiquity, see Birger A. Pearson and James E. Goehring, eds., The Roots of Egyptian Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986). For a survey of the history of the Coptic Church, see Otto F.A. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1999).