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Historical region of Country

I. Origins of Christianity – II. Liturgy – III. Archaeology. Ancient Egypt, in N-E Africa, extended along the Nile valley as far as the first cataract PhilaeAswan, including part of the Libyan and Arabian deserts. The pharaohs of the middle kingdom, the Ptolemys and the Roman emperors pushed its S borders beyond the second cataract. The foundation of the colony of Naucratis in 700 BC on the Canopic branch of the Nile by the Milesians begins the history of Greek Egypt which, after its conquest by Alexander the Great, became a stable kingdom under the Ptolemaic dynasty until the Roman conquest of 30 BC. Egypt is a gift of the Nile Hecataeus of Miletus 550-490 BC. The existence of the great river has left profound marks on the topography, economic and political history, and even the religious life of the Egyptian people. In this singular context we can glimpse the development of so-called lines of force that nourished the sociocultural originality of Greco-Roman Egypt even in its encounter with Christianity.

I. Origins of Christianity. On the origin of Christianity in Egypt we possess only scanty and uncertain evidence. The Acts of the Apostles 18:24-25 speak of the arrival at Ephesus of a certain Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew instructed in the way of the Lord who taught with exactness the things regarding Jesus, but who knew only the baptism of John. Nevertheless there is nothing in the text, which appears in all the manuscripts except one the famous Codex Bezae, that authorizes us to assert that this Apollos had come to know Christianity in his native city, and not in some other city in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.

An ancient tradition, which the Coptic Church still recognizes as valid, attributed the beginnings of the preaching of the Good News in Egypt and the foundation of the Christian community of Alexandria to Mark the evangelist. This is attested by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History II, 16, 1, but he introduces the information regarding Mark with they say, making it clear that he was not entirely certain this was true. In Jerome’s Latin translationrevision of Eusebius’s Chronicle, the following information appears in the year 43: Mark the evangelist, Peter’s interpreter interpres, announced Christ to Egypt and at Alexandria. Another passage of the Ecclesiastical History II, 24 says that Annianus succeeded Mark as leader of the church of Alexandria; and in the Latin version of the Chronicle, in the year 62, we read: First after Mark the evangelist, Annianus was ordained bishop of the Alexandrian church; he led it for 22 years. Neither Eusebius nor Jerome say that Mark died a martyr; this is likely a legend that sprung up later.

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