top of page

Christianity in Egypt


Recommended Especially


Christopher Haas, Alexandria in Late Antiquity: Topography and Social Conflict (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1997 / paperback, 2006). Much of the story of early Christianity takes place in Alexandria, among both its educated elite and its rowdy crowds. Many leading theologians—Clement, Origen, Arius, Athanasius, Didymus, Cyril—called Alexandria home. This brilliant study brings alive the city—its layout, its leading monuments, its local politics. Haas particularly focuses on religious dynamics and conflicts among pagans, Jews, and Christians.

Roger S. Bagnall, Egypt in Late Antiquity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993). An excellent study of the social world of Egypt, drawing mostly on evidence from recently discovered papyri.

Roger Bagnall, Early Christian Books in Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009).

Alan K. Bowman, Egypt After the Pharaohs, 332 BC-AD 642: From Alexander to the Arab Conquest (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). A valuable overview.

David Brakke, "The East (2): Egypt and Palestine," in Susan Ashbrook Harvey & David G. Hunter,The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 344-363.

David Frankfurter, ed., Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).

David Frankfurter, ed., Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

James E. Goehring and Janet Timbie, eds., The World of Early Egyptian Christianity: Language, Literature, and Social Context, CUA Studies in Early Christianity (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2007).

Jill Kamil, Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs: The Coptic Orthodox Church (New York: Routledge, 2002).

Birger A. Pearson & James E. Goehring, eds., The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, Studies in Antiquity & Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986).

C.H. Roberts, Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977).


Regarding the Coptic Church


Boochs, Wolfgang, ed. Geschichte und Geist der koptischen Kirche. Langwaden: Bernardus-Verlag, 2004.


Burmester, O. H. E. (Khs-). The Egyptian or Coptic Church: A Detailed Description of Her Liturgical Services and the Rites and Ceremonies Observed in the Administration of Her Sacraments. Cairo: Société d'archéologie copte, 1967.


Burmester, O. H. E. (Khs-) “On the Date and Authorship of the Arabic Synaxarium of the Coptic Church.” Journal of Theological Studies 39 (1938): 249-53


Cannuyer, Christian. Coptic Egypt: The Christians of the Nile. Discoveries. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001.


Crum, W.E. Eusebius and Coptic Church Histories. London: Harisson and Sons, 1902. See Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 24 (1902): 68-84.


Davis, Stephen J. The Early Coptic Papacy: The Egyptian Church and Its Leadership in Late Antiquity. New York and Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2004.


Gerhards, Albert, and Heinzgerd Brakmann, eds. Die Koptische Kirche: Einführung in das ägyptische Christentum. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1994.


Habib, Rauf. The Ancient Coptic Churches of Cairo. Cairo: Mahabba Bookshop, 1979.


Hanna, Fr. M. The Coptic Offices for the Coptic Orthodox Church. 1st edition, 1984. Coptic-Arabic-English. 2nd edition in 4 volumes. Los Angeles: n.p., 1991-96.


Johnson, David W. Coptic Sources of the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria. Ph.D. diss., The Catholic University of America. Washington, D.C., 1973.


Kamil, Murad. Coptic Egypt. Cairo: Scribe Egyptien, 1968.


Krause, Martin, ed. Ägypten in spätantik-christlicher Zeit. Einführung in die koptische Kultur. Wiesbaden: L. Riechert, 1998.


Lemm, Oscar von, “Koptische apokryphe Apostelacten.” Bulletin de l’Academie imperiale des sciences de St. Petersburg 1 (1890): 509-57.w227


Malaty, Fr. Tadros Y. Introduction to the Coptic Orthodox Church. Revised by Samy Anis and Dr. Nora El-Agamy. Alexandria: St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church, 1996.


Masri, Iris Habib el-. The Story of the Copts. Cairo: Middle East Council of Churches, 1978.


Meinardius, Otto F.A. Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity. Cairo: American University of Cairo Press, 1999.


Meyer, Marvin, and Richard Smith, eds. Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.


Noshy, Ibrahim. The Coptic Church: Christianity in Egypt. Washington, D.C.: Coptic Diocese, 1955.


O’Leary, De Lacy. The Saints of Egypt in the Coptic Calendar. New York: SPCK, 1937.


Samuel, Bishop Habib Badie. Ancient Coptic Churches and Monasteries in the Delta, Sinai, and Cairo. Cairo: Institute of Coptic Studies, Amba Reweis Abbasiya, 1996.


Sawirus Ibn al-Mukaffa’. History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria. Patrologia Orientalis 1:101-24 and 381-518. Arabic text edited and translated by B. T. Evetts. Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1906, 1948; Cairo: Society of Coptic Archaeology, 1943-59.


Wüstenfeld, H. F. Al-Sinaksari; Synaxarium das ist Heiligen-Kalender der Coptischen Christen aus dem Arabischen Übersetzung. Gotha, Germany: n.p., 1879.


For Further Research


Bagnall, Roger S. “Archaeological Work on Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, 1995-2000.” American Journal of Archaeology 105 (2001): 227-43.


Bagnall, Roger S. and Dominic W. Rathbone. Egypt from Alexander to the Copts- An Archaeological and Historical Guide. London: The British Museum Press, 2004.


Barnard, L. W. “St. Mark and Alexandria.” Harvard Theological Review 57 (1964): 145-50


Basset, René M. J., ed. Le synaxaire arabé jacobite (rédaction Coptic). Texte arabe publié, traduit et annoté par R. Basset. 6 vols. Patrologia Orientalis 1 (1907): 215-379; 3 (1909): 243-545; 11 (1915) 505-859; 16 (1922): 185-424; 17 (1923): 525-782; 20 (1929): 735-89.


Baumeister, Theofried. Martyr invictus, der Martyrer als Sinnbild der Erlösung in der Legende und im Kult der Frühen koptischen Kirche: Zur Kontinuität des ägyptischen Denkens. Forschungen zur Volkskunde 46. Münster: Regensberg, 1972.


Bell, H.I. Jews and Christians in Egypt. London: Oxford University Press, 1924.


Burton-Christie, Douglas. The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.


Cheneau, Paul. Les Saints d’Egypte. (2 vols.) Jerusalem: Couvente des RR. PP Franciscains, 1923.


Delehaye, Hippolyte. “Les martyrs d’Egypte.” Analecta Bollandiana 40 (1922): 5-154; 299-364.


Goehring, James E. Ascetics, Society, and the Desert: Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity. Harrisburg, Penn.: Trinity Press International, 1999.


Griggs, C. Wilfred. Early Egyptian Christianity from its Origins to 451 C.E. Leiden: Brill, 1993.


Grillmeier, Aloys, with Theresia Hainthaler. Christ in Christian Tradition, Vol. 2, From the Council of Chalcedon (451) to Gregory the Great (590-604), Part Four, The Church of Alexandria with Nubia and Ethiopia After 451. Translated by O.C. Dean. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1996.


Grossmann, Peter. Christliche Architektur in Ägypten. Erste Abteilung: Nahe und der Mittlere Osten. Handbuch der Orientalistik 62. Leiden: Brill, 2002.


Habashi, Youssef. Dalil al-Sinaksar al-Kubti. Cairo: n.p., 1894.


Hardy, E. R. Christian Egypt, Church and People. New York: Oxford University Press, 1952.


Haubai, P. “The Legend of St. Mark: Coptic Fragments.” Studia Aegyptica 12. Budapest: University of Budapest, 1989.


Heisey, Nancy R. Origen, the Egyptian: A Literary and Historical Consideration of the Egyptian Background in Origen’s Writings on Martyrdom. Nairobi, Kenya: Paulines Publications Africa, 2000.


Johnson, David W. “Further Remarks of the Arabic History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria.” Oriens Christianus 61 (1977): 103-16.


Neale, John Mason. The Patriarchate of Alexandria. 2 vols. London: Joseph Masters, 1847.


Orlandi, Tito. “Hagiography.” In Coptic Encyclopedia, 4:1191-97, edited by Aziz S. Atiya. 8 vols. New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1991.


Orlandi, Tito. “La patrologia copta.” In Complementi interdisciplinari di patrologia, edited by Antonio Quacquarelli, pp. 457-502. Rome: Città Nuova, 1989.


Orlandi, Tito. Storia della Chiesa di Alessandria. Testo copto, traduzione [latina] e commento di Tito Orlandi. 2 vols. Testi e documenti per lo studio dell’ Antichità 17, 31. Milan and Varese: Editoriale Cisalpino, 1968-1970.


Patrick, Theodore Hall. Traditional Egyptian Christianity: A History of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Greensboro, N.C.: Fisher Park Press, 1996.


Pearson, Birger A. Gnosticism and Christianity in Roman and Coptic Egypt. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity. New York: T & T Clark, 2004.


Pearson, Birger A. Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1990.


Pericolo-Ridolfini, F. “Le origini della Chiesa d’Allesandia d’Egitto” Accademia Nazionale del Lincci 1, no. 17 (1962): 317-33.


Philopos, Father Anba Bishoy. Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt,


Riad, Zaher. The Church of Alexandria in Africa. Cairo: Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, 1962.


Riad, Zaher. The Doctrine of St. Mark in Africa. Cairo: Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, 1962.


Robinson, James, ed. The Nag Hammadi Library in English. 3rd rev. Ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990.


Sauneron, Serge. The Priests of Ancient Egypt. Translated by David Lotson. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000.


Sawirus Ibn al-Mukaffa’. History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church. Vol. 2, Part 1. Edited, translated and annotated by Yassa ‘Abd al-Masih and O.H.E. (Khs-) Burmester. Cairo: Le Caire, 1943.

Schenkel, Wolfgang. Kultmythos und Märtyrerlegende: Zur Kontinuität des ägyptischen Denkens. Göttinger Orientforschungen 4.5. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1977.

bottom of page