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This third and final volume of The Popes of Egypt spans the five centuries from the arrival of the Ottomans in 1517 to the present era. Hardly any scholarly work has been written about the Copts during the Ottoman period. Using court, financial, and building records, as well as archives from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate and monasteries, Magdi Guirguis has reconstructed the authority of the popes and the organization of the Coptic community during this time. He reveals that the popes held complete authority over their flock at the beginning of the Ottoman rule, deciding over questions ranging from marriage and concubines to civil disputes. As the fortunes of Coptic notables rose, they gradually took over the pope’s role and it was not until the time of Muhammad Ali that the popes regained their former authority.
In the second part of the book, Nelly van Doorn-Harder analyzes how with the dawning of the modern era in the nineteenth century, the leadership style of the Coptic popes necessarily changed drastically. As Egypt’s social, political, and religious landscape underwent dramatic changes, the Coptic Church experienced a virtual renaissance, and expanded from a local to a global institution. Furthermore she addresses the political, religious, and cultural issues faced by the patriarchs while leading the Coptic community into the twenty-first century.
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