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CIRCUMCISION AND THE COPTS – A HISTORY: PART III

June 24, 2012

Figure 1: Fayum mummy portrait of the boy Eutyches.

 

In Part I we saw that the Copts most probably did not know circumcision until at least after the ninth century; and in Part II we saw that circumcision was adopted by some Coptic employees in the Fatimid administration in order ‘to normalise’ themselves and promote their careers, and that the Coptic Church felt obliged to regulate the foreign custom by restricting its practice to before baptism.

The first half of the twelfth century was a period in which all parties in Coptia were very much relaxed about circumcision, most probably because it did not represent yet a huge social phenomenon. It is clear that circumcision at that time did not represent a bone of contention within Coptia upon which Copts bitterly divided.

But ….

 

Not, however, after the dismantling of the relatively tolerant Ismaili, Fatimid Dynasty by Saladin, who established in 1171 AD the Sunni, Ayyubid Dynasty in Egypt (1171 – 1250 AD), and became its first sultan (1171 – 1193 AD). This was a period of intense pressure on the Copts created by the fanaticism of Saladin,[i] the influx of Sunni Muslim scholars who agitated against the Christians, and the intensification of the wars between the Muslims, on one side, and the Franks and Byzantines, on the other, which triggered a strong anti-Christian sentiment that had not been lacking in the first place. The Ayyubid Period, particularly at its beginning and towards its end, was marked by intense, and increasing, hostility towards the Copts. The Ayyubids opened their rule by forcing Christians and Jews to wear distinguishing attires to single them out for insults and further discrimination, sacking all Christians from positions of inspecting and overseeing revenues, and destroying several churches and monasteries across Egypt.[ii] What ameliorated the lot of the Copts was only the realisation by Egypt’s new Muslim rulers of the indispensability of the Copts as scribes and accountants in running the administration of the country,[iii] and the later treaties of friendship between the Ayyubid rulers and the Crusading Franks, particularly that between al-Malik al-Kamel and Frederick II in 1229 AD.[iv] Christians in Egypt were looked at with suspicious eyes, especially those who followed the Melkite creed[v] – and the hostility was always greater in Misr than in al-Qa’hira, since the former was the hotbed of Sunni fanaticism.[vi] To gauge the degree of animosity with which Christians were met, one has to study the History of the Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria. For instance, in the early months of 1219 AD, and after the defeat of the new sultan al-Malik al-Kamil at the hands of the Franks of the Fifth Crusade, Copts were attacked and massacred,[vii] and:

“[A]fter this [defeat], an order of the Sultan came to send out half of the inhabitants of Misr and al-Qa’hira to the fight, voluntarily or by compulsion. And the majority of the Muslim people went out; and the privileged, for whom it was not becoming to go out, used to buy themselves off with the price at which they were estimated, in the way of gold, everyone of them according to his condition. As for the Christians who were in al-Qa’hira, they collected a tax from them, together with those who had means of livelihood; and they were not treated harshly, nor anyone of the inhabitants of al-Qa’hira. And, finally, they collected in tax from the scribes who resided in it, and they favoured some and they exempted some. And as for Misr, its governor was guided by the Muslim jurisconsults, and he brought the priests of the churches which belonged to the Copts and to the Melkites, and he said to them: ‘Go out!’, and he threatened them, saying: ‘You will go out with the Muslims, but you will not reach with them to the gate of the city before they will kill you. And no one will be able to say to them at this time anything’. And the tendency of the saying was chiefly for the Melkites, because the Muslims used to spread evil reports about them, that they loved the Franks, and that they followed their law in the arrangement of the hair and the omission of circumcision, and what is similar to that.”[viii]

During this period any identification of the Copts with either the Melkites, who were followers of the Byzantine Church in Constantinople, or the Franks, did not seem to be politically prudent. Many Copts were conscious of that. Consequently, they dissociated themselves further from the Melkites, particularly in their social customs such as the way they grew their hair and in circumcision: Melkites allowed their hair to grow long and did not practice circumcision. So, in differentiating themselves from their fellow-Christians, they increasingly identified with their Muslim rulers. This was a process of Islamic culturalisation,[ix] which was not limited only to outward appearances, such as hair style and circumcision, but included marital[x] and religious[xi] traditions as well, as we shall see.

But this did not please all Copts. Circumcision in the years that followed the patriarchate of Gabriel II (d. 1145 AD) became a hot debate issue, and created opposition and strong feelings as much as it gained supporters from both laity and clergy. In a way, it can be said that the circumcision controversy, which got entangled with other issues (some social while others theological), seriously divided the Church and the nation, and weakened both. These were the years of Patriarchs Mark III (1166 – 1189 AD),[xii] John VI (1189 – 1216 AD),[xiii] and Cyril III (1235 – 1243 AD).[xiv] These were also the times of Abu Yasir ibn al-Kustal, Mark ibn al-Kanbar,[xv] and Metropolitan Mikha’il of Damietta; three Copts who felt strongly about circumcision, one way or the other.

The change in Coptic culture, by following foreign Muslim customs, horrified many within Coptia, and so they tried to reverse the process. The priest of the church of al-Martuti,[xvi] Abu Yasir ibn al-Kustal,[xvii] for instance, discarded circumcision and baptised infants without it,[xviii] and gave permission for bridegrooms to see their brides before marriage.[xix] Another Copt, Mark ibn al-Kanbar[xx] (d. 1208 AD), was also a strong opponent of circumcision. Ibn al-Kanbar was blind, but his visual disability did not affect the sharpness of his mind or charisma; or, indeed, his ability to influence the thousands of his followers. Ibn Kanbar was ordained priest at Damsis in the Nile delta, possibly around 1160 AD, during the patriarchate of John V (1147 – 1166 AD). About his learning and his ability to explain the holy books, which he translated from Coptic to Arabic for the benefit of his congregation, there is no dispute; and even his enemies testified to his erudition. As we read his biography, one comes to the conclusion that he made it his mission to resist later innovations that had crept, as by stealth, into the Coptic Church and society, of which many social customs were borrowings from Muslim culture that ran against the grain of older traditions of the Church. For the first fifteen years of his ordainment, he stopped the practice of confession over the censer and reintroduced auricular confession and penance;[xxi] forbade circumcision; allowed his followers to grow their hair;[xxii] and banned the practice of burning sandarach in the churches, allowing only frankincense.  About circumcision it was his opinion that circumcision wasn’t Christian: “circumcision belongs to the Jews and Hanifs [Muslims], and … it is not lawful for Christians to resemble the Jews or the Hanifs in any of their traditions which are in force among them in our time.”[xxiii] Abul Makarim, the author of Churches and Monasteries of Egypt, tells us: “For this doctrine he [ibn Kanbar] set up many proofs;”[xxiv] but unfortunately none of his books seem to have survived so that we can judge for ourselves.[xxv] However, in a letter written by Mikha’il, Metropolitan of Damietta, to Abul Makarim we learn that ibn Kanbar commanded his followers “to give up the practice of circumcision, because God created Adam perfect and free from defects; saying, ‘As God created the form of Adam and perfected it, so it is very good,’ and that this tradition of circumcision is not accepted except by the Jews and Hanafis.”[xxvi] This, as we have seen earlier in the Nomocanon of Patriarch Gabriel II, is an orthodox theological position, based on the Epistles of St. Paul and the First Council of Nicaea.[xxvii]

Ibn Kanbar’s opposition to what he thought was not original in the Coptic Church, and which he could prove from using literature written in Coptic language, brought him in 1174 AD to the attention of Patriarch Mark III who banished him to the monastery of St. Antony at the Eastern Desert. Eventually ibn Kanbar was excommunicated for heresy, as, we are told, he rejected the Coptic Church’s position on Christology, and joined the Chalcedonian Mekite sect.[xxviii] As one read the story of ibn Kanbar, one tends to think that he was pushed against his will to take that decision by the way he had been treated for his differing views. It is sad that the social programme of Coptic reformers was mixed with other issues of a more controversial nature,[xxix] and so was met with much resistance. Consequently, the efforts of both ibn al-Kustal and ibn al-Kanbar to put a stop to the practice of circumcision were frustrated; and they failed to reverse the trend in the change of Coptic culture.

From that time on we observe hardening of positions, and an emerging pattern within some Coptic clergy that was not satisfied with presenting circumcision as an optional undertaking for as long as it was performed before baptism, but actively defended it as a tradition that was sanctioned by the Church and rooted in history. Mikha’il, Metropolitan of Damietta[xxx], under whose authority the church at Damsis fell, was the main adversary of Mark ibn al-Kanbar. He preached that circumcision was an ancient tradition in the Egyptian Church; that the Egyptians borrowed it from the Jews; and that St. Mark the Evangelist, founder of the Church of Alexandria and its first patriarch, approved its practice when he found the Egyptians performing it. In astonishing passage, he tries to explain for us the origin of circumcision and the spread of its practice to Egypt, through Hagar,[xxxi] a long time ago – as he believes – and definitely before the advent of Christianity in Alexandria in the first century:

“After Sarah had driven away Hagar from her house and her son Ismael with her, as the Law affirms, Hagar withdrew to Yathrib of the country of the Higaz and to Faran. And Ismael grew up, and God beautified him in the eyes of the women of the people of Yathrib, and they asked his mother to give him in marriage. And she said: ‘We are a circumcised people, both the men and the women of us and we do not marry, except with those like us.’ And when they had circumcised themselves, Ismael married them, and God fulfilled His promise to him, and granted to him twelve princes. And circumcision spread in that country and in that which was neighbouring to it, and it became firmly established among the Copts of Egypt when they witnessed the victory of God for the circumcised, namely the children of Israel. And when the Apostle Mark evangelized them, he did not disapprove it for them, and they continued it.”[xxxii]

There is no evidence to my knowledge in any Coptic document, other than this, to support the assertion of metropolitan Mikha’il that St. Mark had allowed the first Egyptians who converted to Christianity in Alexandria to circumcise their children, against the Pauline theology on the matter.[xxxiii] As we have seen in the case of Bishop John, the Copts most probably did not know circumcision in the 9th century.[xxxiv] Furthermore, had circumcision been a common practice amongst the Copts, one would expect Church Law to regulate it , at least in its relationship to baptism; but the truth is that no ecclesiastical canon is known to have attempted to do that prior to 1086 AD, when Patriarch Cyril II (1078 – 1092 AD) promulgated his canons.[xxxv] Bishop Mikha’il seems to be wrongly intimating that “the children of Israel” circumcised not only their boys but also their girls, and that the Egyptians, before the advent of Christianity, learned that from them. What Bishop Mikh’il’s story tells us is that, in the process of defending a foreign custom that had been introduced to us by Islam, some Coptic Church leaders were prepared to ignore fundamental Christian teachings that were solidly based on the New Testament, and resort to myth creation. Actually, there is evidence that Bishop Mikha’il might have taken his story of Hagar and Ismael, which has no place in the Old Testament, from Muslim sources. The story seems to have appeared for the first time in Muslim writings in the ninth century.  Al-Jahith (781 – 869 AD) informs us that, “Male and female circumcision was practiced by Arabs since the time of Abraham and Hagar until today.”[xxxvi] Ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥakam (803 – 871 AD) elaborated on the story;[xxxvii] and so did Al-Tabari (838 – 923 AD), who explains to us how female circumcision ‘became a norm between women’:

“Sarah said to Abraham, ‘Take Hagar as a concubine’. And so Abraham slept with Hagar, and she got pregnant with Ismail. Afterwards, Abraham slept with Sarah, and she got pregnant with Isaac. When Sarah delivered Isaac and he grew up, he fought with Ismail, and Sarah [because of this] was crossed with Ismail’s mother, and became jealous of her, and so she sent her out. But later, Sarah returned Hagar back, only to get crossed with her again, and drive her away once more. But a second time she returned her. However, this time Sarah swore that she would cut off part of Hagar’s, and said, ‘I shall cut her nose or her ear, so that she is disfigured’; then she said, ‘No, I shall cut her genitalia. And so she circumcised Hagar … and for this reason women became circumcised … And then Sarah said, ‘[Hagar] should not live in the same country where I live’. And so Allah inspired Abraham to go to Mecca, where he left Hagar and her son there.”[xxxviii]

The best that could be made of Bishop Mikha’il’s statement is that St. Mark did not want to antagonise the Egyptians when he found that the custom of circumcision was so rooted in their culture, and so he left it optional for them, particularly as, unlike with the Jews, it did not carry any theological significance. This, however, is unlikely, and, as we have shown, later evidence did not support the theory that circumcision was customary with the Copts. But Mikha’il’s opposition to ibn Kanbar, as some of his writings would suggest, such as his A Justification of the Peculiarities of the Copts,[xxxix] might had been driven by a passion to drive a deeper wedge between the Copts and the Melkites (and Franks), by banning Copts from emulating Melkite customs, rather than by a desire to assimilate with Muslim culture. Other matters Bishop Mikha’il listed as peculiar to the Copts, and defended, included shaving of the head, marriage of first cousins, confession to God alone,[xl] and making the sign of the cross with one finger from left to right.[xli] His motive might have been political – he was appointed bishop of Damietta, which was a front town in the conflict between the Crusaders and the Muslims; and he was probably keen to distance himself, and his flock, from any association with the current enemies of the state. For this, he drove an even deeper wedge between the Copts, on one hand, and the Byzantines and Franks, on the other hand. The schism now was not resting solely on the Christological controversy,[xlii] but was being consolidated by differences in social habits.

Patriarch John VI, a lay Copt from Misr (as his predecessor Mark III) before his consecration in 1189 AD, and a contemporary of Bishop Mikha’il of Damietta, was a staunch supporter of circumcision too. He took, in addition, a strong position against the lengthening of hair and, most importantly, auricular confession. This last put him in direct clash with the man who would become his successor, Patriarch Cyril III, as we shall see. John VI was a defender of tradition as he found it, and he considered circumcision as one of these traditions, even if it was, as we know, only introduced late into Coptic society. He was, therefore, not contented with simply making circumcision optional, allowing Copts to practise it for as long as it was performed on baby boys before baptism, but made it for the first time mandatory. The Coptic theologian and historian Abu Shakir ibn Butrus al-Rahib, in his Kitab al-Tawarikh that “Patriarch John VI completely eradicated confession from amongst the Copts; and emphasised (the importance of) circumcision, commanding that it must be performed; and he insisted on it.”[xliii] Although it is not clear from the text, it could be understood that John VI made it an excommunicable offense on any Copt not to circumcise. It could be said that with John VI circumcision became obligatory on all Copts, and was treated as a sacred, old tradition sanctioned by St. Mark the Evangelist himself no less. This is a new development – the borrowed Muslim circumcision social custom was now institutionalised by the Coptic Church, and made to be seen as authentic, or long standing Coptic tradition, at least predating the Arab Conquest of Egypt in 640 AD. We have moved a long way from the Coptic position on circumcision in the days of Bishop John in the ninth century, when circumcision was virtually unknown in Coptic society, and those of Patriarch Gabriel II in the first half of the twelfth century, when circumcision was a new social novelty, and treated by the Church as a social option left for individual Copts to decide on, and for as long as it was practiced before baptism.

In Part IV we shall see how circumcision became an issue of contention mingled with other serious issues which plagued the Coptic Church and society, and what the final position on circumcision which Coptia adopted was.

 

How to cite this article: Dioscorus Boles (24 June 2012), CIRCUMCISION AND THE COPTS – A HISTORY: PART III, https://copticliterature.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/circumcision-and-the-copts-a-history-part-iii/ 


[i] Saladin is considered in the West as a chivalrous Muslim ruler. This may be true of his later life; however, his early life and rule in Egypt show only a man dominated by Islamic fanaticism. The reader must remember that one of Saladin’s titles was “oppressor of the worshipers of the crosses” (title given him by the Fatimid Caliph, al-‘Adid on 26 March 1169 AD. For this, see: Ayman Fu’ad Sayyid: Les Fatimides en Ėgypte, Nouvelle Interpretation (Cairo, Al-Dar Al-Misriyya Al-Lubnaniyya, 2000); p. 301-2. The book is in Arabic [al-dawla alfatimiyya fi masr, tafseer jaded]).

[ii] About the distinguishing attires and the sacking of Coptic inspectors and overseers of revenues, see pages 106 and 107, respectively, of History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church Known as the History of the Holy Church by Sawirus ibn al-Mukaffa, Bishop of al-Ashmunin; Vol. III; Part II; Mark III – John VI (1167 – 1216 AD), translated and annotated by Antoine Khater and O. H. E. Khs-Burmester (Cairo, Imprimerie de l’Institut Francais d’Archeologie Orientale, 1970). The author of this part of the History of the Patriarchs wrote it in 1207. He says in page 107 after talking about the sacking of the Christians, “ … and not one of the Christians returned to be employed as overseers and inspectors in the days of the State of Salah ad-Din [Saladin], nor of those who ruled after him of his sons and his descendants.”

[iii] Ibid; p. 165. The Copts were returned back to the service of the Ayyubid state not as inspectors or overseers of revenues, but as scribes.

[iv] For the kind of positive changes that that agreement between al-Malik al-Kamel and Frederick II in 1229 AD had brought, read: History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church Known as the History of the Holy Church by Sawirus ibn al-Mukaffa, Bishop of al-Ashmunin; Vol. IV; Part I; Cyril III, Ibn Laklak (1216 – 1243 AD), translated and annotated by Antoine Khater and O. H. E. Khs-Burmester (Cairo, Imprimerie de l’Institut Francais d’Archeologie Orientale, 1974); pp. 125-6.

[v] The Chalcedonian creed which was set at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. For more, go to n. xlii.

[vi] Even before the end of the Fatimid Dynasty, Misr, together with Alexandria, was known to be the centre of Sunni propaganda and what is called “Sunni resistance”. See: Ayman Fu’ad Sayyid: Les Fatimides en Ėgypte, Nouvelle Interpretation; p. 553.

[vii] History of the Patriarchs of the Egyptian Church Known as the History of the Holy Church by Sawirus ibn al-Mukaffa, Bishop of al-Ashmunin; Vol. IV; Part I; Cyril III, Ibn Laklak (1216 – 1243 AD); pp. 55-6.

[viii] Ibid; pp. 58-59 (with some changes in translation by me to clarify the meaning. Unfortunately the English translation by Antoine Khater and O. H. E. Khs-Burmester is not very accurate).

[ix] Islamic culturalisation (or Islamic assimilation التذويب الإسلامي), in the context of the Copts, is the process by which Copts, as individuals or collectively, consciously or subconsciously, abandoned their traditions, customs, behaviours, etc. – or in one word their culture – and acquired parts of Islamic culture to which influence they have been exposed.

[x] Such as marriage of first cousins and sexual segregation (like the ban on bridegrooms to see their brides before marriage).

[xi] Such as what is called “confession to God alone”; that is in the absence of a spiritual guide.

[xii] Marqus ibn Zar‘ah.

[xiii] Yu’annis VI (Abul Majd ibn Abu-Ghalib ibn Saweris).

[xiv] Kirillos III. Also known by his pre-pontificate name, Dawud ibn Laqlaq.

[xv] Marqus Ibn Qanbar as in The Coptic Encyclopedia. I have used the form used by Evetts in The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries attributed to Abu Salih, the Armenian, edited and translated by B. T. Evetts (Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1895).

[xvi] For the Church of Al-Martuti, see The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries; pp. 136-141. It is the same Church of the Virgin Mary in Ma’adi, south of Cairo.

[xvii] Ibn al-Qastal in The Coptic Encyclopedia. Unlike Ibn Kanbar, we don’t have any dates mentioned for Ibn al-Kustal in The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries, however it is clear that he was a contemporary of Ibn Kanbar.

[xviii] Abul-Makarim in his The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries uses the words “تنصيرالأطفال من غير ختانة”(p. 59). It is important to remember that he wrote in 1207, and that his writing probably reflected the changes which Patriarch John VI later introduced, as the reader will see. It is likely that Ibn al-Kustal preached against circumcision, as non-Christian practice, as Ibn Kanbar also did.

[xix] The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries; p. 140.

[xx] Ibid; pp. 20-43.

[xxi] Auricular confession was original in the Coptic Church; however, Patriarch John V is believed to have abolished it and allowed confession over the burning censer in church or at home, without the need for doing penance. Whether he actively enacted canons to change the practice or just went with the flow as the practice fell into abeyance, no one knows. Anyway, the Coptic Church of today has reintroduced auricular confession, and Christians must confess their sins at the hand of a priest before they allowed partaking of the Holy Communion.

[xxii] The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries says, “He also allowed the people to let their hair grow long as the Melkites do.” (Page 21-22). Later the book describes that Ibn Kanbar “commanded them [his followers] not to shave the whole of their heads, but only the crown of the head.” (Page 38).

[xxiii] The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries; p. 22.

[xxiv] Ibid; p. 22.

[xxv] Mark N. Swanson, however, says that some of the writings of Ibn Kanbar have recently been discovered. See: Mark N. Swanson in his The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt, 641 – 1517 (Cairo, The American University Press, 2010); p. 80.

[xxvi] The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries; p. 38.

[xxvii] See Part II of this study.

[xxviii] The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries; p. 28.

[xxix] These allegations we know only from the letter of Bishop Mikha’il to Abul Malkarim which one can find in The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries. Some of these are his teaching that “the Holy Trinity is composed of three Gods, each of them absolutely perfect in word and spirit, but having one common nature; and that they resemble Adam, Eve, and Abel, who were three persons with one common nature, each of them being as perfect as the others” (page 39). Also, his teaching that “there was a feminine quality in the Godhead, and he taught that this feminine quality is proper to the Holy Spirit” (page 40).

[xxx] For a biography, see: Mikha’il (Entry Reference CE: 1624b-1625a) by Coquin, Rene-Georges in Coptic Encyclopedia, ed. Atiya, Aziz Suryal, Vol. 5 (Macmillan, 1991).

[xxxi] Hagar was Sarah’s maid and Abraham’s second wife, who gave birth to his first son, Ismael (Ishmael). Her story in the Old Testament is to be found in Genesis 16, 21.

[xxxii] See Otto F. A. Meinardus, Christian Egypt, Faith and Life (Cairo, The American University in Cairo Press, 1970); p. 327.

[xxxiii] On the Pauline theology on the matter of circumcision, see Part I and Part II of this study.

[xxxiv] See Part I of this study.

[xxxv] See Part II of this study.

[xxxvi] Al-Jahith, Kitāb al-hayawān (Book of Animals) (Cairo, 1939); Vol. 5, p. 27.

[xxxvii] Ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥakam, Kitāb futuḥ misr wa akbārahā (English title The History of the Conquests of Egypt, North Africa, and Spain), edited and with English preface by Charles Torrey (Yale University Press, 1922); pp. 11-12.

[xxxviii] Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk (History of the Prophets and Kings), edited by Muhammad Abul-Fadl Ibrahim (Cairo, Dar al-Ma’arif, 2nd Print); Vol. 1; pp. 253-4.

[xxxix] I have used the English translation as in René-Georges Coquin: Mikha’il in The Coptic Encyclopedia; Vol. 5 (1991). Mark N. Swanson in his The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt, 641 – 1517, page 80, calls it Usages that Distinguishes the Copts. The Arabic title of Bishop Mikha’il’s book is السنن التي انفردت بها القبط. An accurate translation would seem to be something like The Customs by which the Copts have become Singular.

[xl] See n. xi.

[xli] The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt, 641 – 1517; pp. 80-81.

[xlii] The Copts, followers of the Coptic Orthodox Church, rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, and its definition of the relation of the Godhead and Manhood of Christ. The Melkites, mainly of Greek descent in Egypt, accepted Chalcedon, which was also accepted by Constantinople and Rome. The Chacedonian definition as F. J. Foakes Jackson says in his The History of the Christian Church “was a Roman formula forced on the Oriental Church by imperial authority.” (Cambridge, J. Hall & Son; 1905; p. 468). The imperial authority was that of Marcian’s (450 – 457 AD); and the Melkites, which is a Syriac word meaning ‘followers of the king’, were the followers of the emperor’s definition.

[xliii] تاريخ أبي شاكر بطرس أبي الكرم بن المهذب المعروف بابن الراهب بتحقيق الأب لويس شيخو اليسوعي

(Beirut, 1903), p. 141. This was confirmed also by Bishop Yusab in his تاريخ البطاركة, ed. Mikha’il Maksi Iskandar (Cairo, 2003); p. 252.

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