A Divine-Mediated Development in Coptic Christology A Comparative Analysis of the Christological Thoughts of Cyril of Alexandria and ibn al-Makīn

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Mena Abdelsayed



Coptic Christology developed rapidly in a timespan of eight centuries between St. Cyril of Alexandria  (fifth century) and al-Makīn  (fourteenth century), a well-renowned Coptic historian and theologian. Prior to the Council of Ephesus (431), Cyril established his Alexandrine Christology on the theological grounds of the Trinity, image and likeness, and subsistence. Thus, his model posits that the humanity of Christ is the express image of the divinity in the fullness of time. The imprints of humanity are contained within the divinity, yielding a ‘divinity-derived humanity’, which is characteristic to Cyrillian Christology. His Christological views were slightly modified by the Nestorian controversy causing him to inadvertently amend his Christology to adhere to a more Antiochene-friendly paradigm. Post-Ephesus witnessed an unprecedented shift in Cyrillian Christology, which later became a source of great schism in the Apostolic Church. Following Chalcedon and with the Arab conquest in Egypt, Coptic Christology developed tremendously. Al-Makīn, unlike Cyril of Alexandria, expands his Christology to discuss the peculiarities of anthropology and theology. His Christology veered towards Chalcedonianism, and, in some instances, Nestorianism. This development in Coptic Christology can be viewed as a providentially paved road towards ecumenism between the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches.


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