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October 15, 2017

The term ‘Copt’ has been explained ad nauseam by returning it to the pharaonic word ‘Het-ka-Ptah’, ‘the house of the soul of Ptah’, the name of the ancient shrine at Memphis. The nauseating repetition in every narrative about the Copts, represents, in my opinion, the author’s previous ignorance on the subject more than advancing a new point since the word was explained for the first time in the eighteenth century.

Rather than explaining the etymology of the word in writings about the Copts, one would like to see a more advanced definition. The term ‘Copt’ is an ethnico-religious one that means at once the direct descendants of the ancient Egyptians and the Christians of that stock. Some use it sometimes in a religious sense only to designate the followers of the liturgy of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and then it applies to the Christians of Egyptian stock and also to the Ethiopians and Eritreans.

The ethnic component in the definition is important as it describes more than a religious denomination (طائفة) – it describes a nation (أمة) with a particular ethnicity and religion is an important element in its composition.

The new understanding, once kept in the mind, focuses the attention on the Copts as a nation, and not only as religious denomination.

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