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IT’S APA, NOT ABBA OR ANBA OR AMBA

July 11, 2019

A biological father in Coptic is called Apa (Ⲁⲡⲁ) by his child. It is an endearing word for a father that Coptic children used, just like a British or American child would use Daddy, Pa, or Papa to call or refer to his father.

The Copts use the same word for spiritual leaders of all kinds and ranks, whether they are monks, abbots, priests, bishops, metropolitans or patriarchs. Even our martyrs are given the title ‘Apa’. It’s not exactly a title of honour as a title of intimacy and closeness to our fathers in spirit.

But Copts have corrupted this beautiful word and replaced it with Abba, Anba and Amba, thanks but no thanks to Semitic languages and the influence of Arabic on the lips that make them unable to pronounce ‘p’ and always replace it with ‘b’. Not only have we corrupted ‘ⲁⲡⲁ’ but we loaded it with rank so that an ‘Abba, ‘Anba’, or ‘Amba’ is now used for a bishop or a metropolitan or a patriarch. The word now is never used for a simple priest or archpriest or a monk. Instead, these are called ‘Abuna’, an Arabic word for ‘Our Father’.

We should abandon all these corrupt forms, Abba, Anba and Amba, and use the proper Coptic form, ‘Apa’ instead; and then use it to address all our spiritual fathers as we used to do in the past.

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