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An examination of africas contributions to the early christian movement part 1


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An examination of africas contributions to the early christian movement part 1

  1. 1. Part 1 An Examination of Africa’s Contributions to the Early Christian Movement
  2. 2. Prof. Angela Davis DARC December 31, 2018 An Examination of Africa’s Contributions to the Early Christian Movement 2
  3. 3. Opening Question • Take five minutes to write your answers to the following questions: • What do you know about the history of Christianity? • What do you know about Christianity and Africa? • Take five minutes to share out your thoughts 3
  4. 4. • A collection of translated texts found in 1945 near a town called Nag Hammadi • Nag Hammadi is located in Upper Egypt • James Robinson, the editor of the book, suggested the texts may belong to a nearby Pachomian monastery and were buried after Athanasius, archbishop of the Church of Alexandria, condemned all non-canonical books in 367 CE 4
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  6. 6. Monastery of St. Anthony • Named in honor of Anthony (251- 356 CE) • Located in the eastern desert • Southeast of the city of Cairo • This is the oldest monastery in the world • It was built between 298-300 CE 6
  7. 7. • Here we see elements of Egyptian religion in the Roman period (30 BCE-395 CE). • The deceased person is flanked by two Egyptian gods dressed in Roman fashion • In the foreground: • Wosir (Osiris) on the left • Inpu (Anubis) on the right • In the Background: • Inpu standing over a deceased person performing the burial ritual 7
  8. 8. Faiyum Mummy Portraits 8
  9. 9. Faiyum Mummy Portraits • Faiyum was known to ancient Egyptians as Atef-pehu “northern sycamore” • The Greeks called it Crocodilopolis • The portraits date to the Roman period • About 900 mummy portraits are presently known • They were found in 1615 by explorer Pietro della Valle • The portraits covered the faces of the bodies that were mummified for burial • Burial practices of this period followed ancient traditions. Members of upper classes were mummified, had decorated coffins and a mummy mask to cover the head • These portraits are on display at the British Museum, the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Royal Museum of Scotland 9
  10. 10. According to Eusebius, 263-339 CE • In the first quarter of the 4th century St. Mark came to Egypt in the first or third year of the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54CE), where he preached the gospel, established the See of Alexandria. • This is the story that is traditionally taught about the origins of Christianity in Egypt. • Ecclesiastical History, 4th century CE in Koine Greek 10
  11. 11. Agenda: • Church Fathers • Christian Educational Institution (Didascalium) • Martyrs and Saints • Monasticism • Early Ecumenical Councils • Lost Christianities • Egyptian Spiritual Elements in Christianity 11
  12. 12. What is the relevance of this presentation? • Many of us grew up attending church from an early age. We know little to nothing about the history of the church or its doctrine. • We certainly don’t learn about the role of Africans in the development in the Christian movement. • Despite our ignorance of the lives and contributions, the Church Fathers and Mothers influence can be felt in the hymns we sing and the doctrines that are taught. • These Church Fathers were bishops, priests, deacons, and martyrs of the early Christian Church. Church Mothers were also martyrs and deaconesses – they were Africans. • These Africans contributed to the intellectual development of both the Eastern and Western Christian traditions. • These Africans debated the meaning of central doctrines including, by not limited to, the nature and work of Jesus the Christ, the Trinity and the identity of the Church. 12
  13. 13. Early African Intellectuals (Church Fathers) 13
  14. 14. Church Fathers • Although they were of North African descent, they spoke and wrote in Greek and Latin. • They also had names that we don’t typically associate with Africa. • They were Africans even though the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches refer to them as the Greek and Latin Fathers • Clement, c.150-c.215 CE • Origen, 184-253 CE • Athanasius, 296-373 CE • Cyril, 412-444 CE • Wrote and Spoke Greek • Cyprian, 210-258 CE • Tertullian, c.155- c.240 CE • Augustine, 354-430 CE • Wrote and Spoke Latin 14
  15. 15. • European painters depicted these Africans as white men. • For example: • Botticelli’s painting of Augustine featured in Western museums and replicas in textbooks of church history and theology 15
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  17. 17. Key Academic Communities in Africa • These Africans were leaders in key academic communities in North Africa • Alexandria (Egypt) • Origen • Athanasius • Hippo (Algeria) • Augustine • Carthage (Tunisia) • Tertullian • Cyprian • Cyrenaica (Libya) 17
  18. 18. These Academic Communities are Ancient Cities • Hippo – first settled by Phoenicians from Tyre c. 12th century BCE • Carthage – Qart-hadast – established by the Phoenicians in 814 BCE • Cyrenaica – established in 631 BCE according to Herodotus • Alexandria – founded in 331 BCE by Alexander of Macedonia 18
  19. 19. In these ancient cities African institutions developed and provided the essential archetype of universities and libraries of medieval Europe such as: • Padua (Italy) • Paris (France) • Salamanca (Spain) • Oxford (England) 19
  20. 20. Major Academic Community: Alexandria, Egypt • Established by Alexander, son of Philip of Macedonia, 331 BCE • Ptolemy (367-283 BCE), Alexander’s general, claimed the city after Alexander died in 323BCE • Second only to Rome in size and wealth • Center of trade, commerce, tourism and learning • Home to the a very large Jewish community • Home to the Library, Musaeum, Serapeum and the Didascalium 20
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  22. 22. The Library and Musaeum of Alexandria • Library of Alexandria: • Was one of the largest storehouses of texts in the ancient world: • Anatolia, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Rome and Syria • Constructed in the 3rd century BCE • Flourished under the Ptolemaic dynasty • Unexcelled for 500 years • Part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum • After the library was destroyed ancient scholars used the Serapeum • Museum of Alexandria: • Μουσεῖον τῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας • Functioned as a research institution • Curriculum included: Astronomy and Anatomy • There was a zoo of exotic animals • Classical thinkers who studied, wrote and experimented there include: • Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Pappas, Hypatia, and Aristarchus 22
  23. 23. Hypatia• Born c. 355 CE into academic elite of Alexandria • Her father, Theon, taught her mathematics and astronomy • She formed her own school – attracting he sons of some of the most influential and wealthy families • She taught: Ethics, Ontology, Astronomy, Mathematics and Philosophy (Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle) • She was also a public lecturer • She was savagely attacked and murdered • There is a film about her life and work: The Agora 23
  24. 24. The Serapeum - Σεραπεῖον • Built by Ptolemy III (246-222 BCE) • Temple was dedicated to Serapis • Serapis was the combined aspects of: • Worsir (Osiris) • Apis or Hapis – the sacred bull • Also had it own library and stadium • It was the center for Gnostic communities who made no distinction between Christ and Serapis 24
  25. 25. The Bull and Cow – Sacrosanct in Kemet • The bull was a powerful symbol since the first Egyptian dynasties • Originally it represented the power and the will of the pharaoh • When the bull died – there was mourning and fasting • The animal was mummified and buried at Saqqara • A new black calf was found • By Ptolemy’s rule the bull came to represent the incarnation of Wosir (Osiris) and known as Osiris Apis or Serapis 25
  26. 26. Christian Education Institution (Didascalium) 26
  27. 27. Didascalium Catechetical School of Alexandria • Established c. 180/190 CE • Instructors included: Athenagoras (176), Pantaenus (181), Clement (190) • Originally a Christian school to educate converts, but was open to anyone • Curriculum: Philosophy, Classic literature, Science, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Medicine, Music • Classes were held in Greek and Coptic • There was a scriptorium were manuscripts were copied 27
  28. 28. Didascalium Catechetical School of Alexandria • Students came from abroad to study there, especially from Rome • Graduates from this institution held prominent positions throughout the Roman Empire • Home of the first translation of the Hebrew Scriptures from Aramaic and Greek to Coptic – Septuagint (LXX) • At this time most Jews living in Alexandria could not read or write Aramaic or Hebrew 28
  29. 29. Recap: Alexandria was the most important Christian center of the 1st Century CE • Library of Alexandria was the model for university libraries all over Europe • The learning community that surrounded the Alexandrian library provided the model for medieval European universities: Padua, Paris, Salamanca and Oxford • Curriculum and text examination were refined in the 2nd century CE at the Didascalium in Alexandria • Christian scholarship born in leading academic centers in North Africa was exported to Rome, Byzantium, and Antioch • What most scholars fail to ask is… • What was the model for the Alexandrian Library, Museum, Serapium, Didascalium, and the North African academic communities? • The answer – the temples in ancient Kemet 29
  30. 30. • Africans have been excelling in education since ancient times. The alphabet we currently use is derived from the ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) script, Medew Netcher. • Examples: • Medew Netcher is written everywhere: Temples, Obelsks, Stela • Archives – Recordkeeping • Ancient text: Satire of the Trades 30
  31. 31. • No other culture produced as many temples • Served many different purposes • Primary purpose – mansion of the nTr: • The statue of the nTr was bathed, censed, oiled, clothed, fed and entertained daily by priests and priestesses • Other purposes: • Fortresses, Administrative centers • Treasuries (spoils of military conquest, tribute of foreign nations, taxes, donations) • Offices, Slaughterhouses, Storehouses, Workhouses, Workshops • Participated in trade with other regions – fleets of boats and ships • Schools – where scholarship thrived 31 Pr-ankh = House of Life
  32. 32. Pr-ankh = House of Life • The temples were integral to political, social and economic structure of the nation. • The temples were official repositories of Egyptian learning (wide range of disciplines) • Texts were also studied and copied in these temples • These ancient institutions in Kemet were run by priests (Wab – “Pure one”) • Houses of Life were located along the Nile River at: • Abdju (Abydos), Edfu, Ineb-hedj (Memphis), Akhenaten (Amarna), Ipet resut (Luxor) • The earliest mention of these institutions date to the Old Kingdom Period in the decrees of Pepi II (r. 2278-2184 BCE) 6th Dynasty • According to Miriam Lichtheim: • [t]he principle subjects studied and practiced by the members of the House of Life were medicine, theology, ritual, and dream interpretation. 32
  33. 33. 33 Ineb-Hedj (Memphis) Ipet-Isut (Karnak)
  34. 34. Many ancient Greeks studied in Kemet • Thales (c.624-546 BCE) • Pythagoras (c. 530 BCE) • Xenophanes (d. 475 BCE) • Plato (b. 427 BCE) • Anaximander (d. 545 BCE) • Anaximenes (c. 585-525 BCE) 34
  35. 35. Martyrs and Saints 35
  36. 36. African Martyrs 36
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  38. 38. African Popes 38
  39. 39. Pope Victor I • Afer = African, Afri – plural • First pope from Africa • Papacy began in 189 and ended 199 CE • Born in Leptis Magna (Tripolitania), year unknown • He established the celebration of Easter on Sunday • First pope to celebrate mass in Latin instead of Greek • Upheld the divinity of Christ and the triumph of good over evil • He was canonized as a saint – Feast day is 28 July • During his rule as pope there was also an African ruler of the Roman Empire – Septimius Severus (r.193-211CE) 39
  40. 40. Septimius Severus • Ruled as emperor from 193 – 211 CE • Born in Leptis Magna (Libya) - Roman province • Spoke Punic, Latin and Greek • Father: Publius Septimius Geta • Mother: Fulvia Pia • Wealthy and distinguished family 40
  41. 41. Caracalla • The son of Septimius Severus • Caracalla (r. 198-217) • He co-ruled with his father from 198-211) • Best known for: • The baths he built in Rome which carry his name • An edict of 212/213 CE that granted full citizenship to nearly all inhabitants of the empire
  42. 42. Miltiades I • Afer = African, Afri – plural • Papacy began in 311 and ended 314 CE • Born in North Africa, date unknown • During his pontificate: • Constantine defeated Maxentius and became the emperor of Rome • Edict of Milan issued by Constantine • Donatist Controversy • Canonized – Feast day is 10 January 42
  43. 43. Gelasius I • Afer = African, Afri – plural • Papacy began in 492 and ended 496 CE • Last African pope • Born in North Africa, date unknown • He was a prolific writer: • Composed hymns • Arranged a standard mass book • Saved Rome from famine by insisting that bishops devote ¼ of their revenue to charity 43
  44. 44. The Desert People 44
  45. 45. Church Mothers • There were many great women in the early church • In most ancient societies women were rarely taught to read and write • Very few women’s writings come down to us from early church history • One surviving text penned by a noblewoman was that of Perpetua who was a martyred in 203 CE • There was also Felicity, Perpetua’s servant
  46. 46. Monasticism: The ascetic lifestyle • Patterns of early monasticism began in the Egyptian desert • Founders: Antony, Pachomius and Mary • Basil in the East and Benedict in the West followed • Monasticism spread from Africa to Syria, Palestine and Britain • Activities in the monasteries included: • Daily prayer, Eucharist, Manual labor, Fasting, Translating and preserving documents • Later monastic communities include: • Franciscans founded in 1209 by Francis of Assisi • Dominicans founded in 1200s by Dominic de Guzman • Jesuits founded in 1540 by Ignatius of Loyola 46
  47. 47. Scriptures that were translated and preserved in early monasteries • The Septuagint • The three oldest existing manuscripts are: • Vaticanus – 4th cent. CE – Vatican (Rome) • Sinaiticus – 4th cent. CE – found in a monastery on Mt. Sinai • Alexandrian – 5th cent. CE – written in Alexandria • Nag Hammadi Library – found in 1945 - Egyptian desert 47
  48. 48. The Egyptian Gnostics • In 1945, an Egyptian peasant discovered 48 texts at a place called Nag Hammadi. The texts had been translated from Greek into Coptic • The texts had been concealed because in the late 4th century CE Gnosticism and all other unorthodox teachings had been deemed a heresy • Alexandria was the world’s leading gnostic center in the 2nd century CE where many Gnostics lived and taught peacefully • They never formed a unified school of thought. Each teacher had their own teachings: • Basilides (founded -2nd century), Valentinus (founded -2nd century) 48
  49. 49. Nag Hammadi Texts • Discovered in 1945 • Witten in Coptic • Date to 4th Century CE • Translated in the 1970s • First published in 1978 • Include: • Gospel of Thomas • Gospel of Philip • Thunder Perfect Mind • Gospel of Mary Magdalene • Currently housed in the Coptic Museum, Egypt 49
  50. 50. Gospel of Thomas • Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds will become first before you in the sky. If they say to you, ‘She is in the sea,’ then the fish will become first before you. But, the Kingdom, She is inside you and She is outside you.” • Hebrew word for kingdom is Mamlakah – fem noun - ‫ָה‬‫כ‬ָ‫ל‬ ְ‫מ‬ ַ‫מ‬ • Greek word for kingdom is Basileia – fem noun - βασιλεία • “When you will know yourselves you will be award that you all are the children of the Father who lives. If you all will not know yourselves, then you all exist in poverty and you all are the poverty.” 50
  51. 51. Gospel of Philip • Much of the Gospel of Philip is dedicated to a discussion of marriage as a sacred mystery, and two passages directly refer to Mary Magdalene and her close relationship with Jesus: • “There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and his sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each named Mary. • Mary Magdalene is called Jesus’ companion, partner or consort, using the Greek word koinônos • Mary Magdalene (Μαγδαληνή) [Greek Magdalene =“of Magdala”] 51
  52. 52. Gospel of Philip • The other passage referring to Mary Magdalene is incomplete because of damage to the original manuscript. Several words are missing. The best guesses as to what they were are shown below in brackets [ ]. • And the companion of [the saviour was Mar]y Ma[gda]lene. [Christ loved] M[ary] more than [all] the disci[ples, and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth]. The rest of [the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval]. • They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" • The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness. 52
  53. 53. Thunder Perfect Mind • I was sent forth from the power, and I have come to those who reflect upon me, and I have been found among those who seek after me. • Look upon me, you who reflect upon me, and you hearers, hear me. • You who are waiting for me, take me to yourselves. And do not banish me from your sight. And do not make your voice hate me, nor your hearing. • Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or any time. Be on your guard! Do not be ignorant of me. • For I am the first and the last. • I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. • I am the wife and the virgin. I am [the mother] and the daughter. • I am the members of my mother. • I am the barren one and many are her sons. I am she whose wedding is great, and I have not taken a husband. • I am the midwife and she who does not bear. I am the solace of my labor pains. 53
  54. 54. Thunder Perfect Mind • I am the bride and the bridegroom, and it is my husband who begot me. • I am the mother of my father and the sister of my husband and he is my offspring. • I am the slave of him who prepared me. I am the ruler of my offspring. But he is the one who begot me before the time on a birthday. And he is my offspring in (due) time, and my power is from him. • I am the staff of his power in his youth, and he is the rod of my old age. And whatever he wills happens to me. • I am the silence that is incomprehensible and the idea whose remembrance is frequent. • I am the voice whose sound is manifold and the word whose appearance is multiple. I am the utterance of my name. 54
  55. 55. The Mother Goddess • There is archaeological evidence to show that in pre-historic times the divine was thought to female. There were goddesses before there were gods (Merlin Stone) • Later in antiquity there were female and male gods together – compliments • For example, in ancient Kemet: Amun and Amunet, Aset and Wosir, Geb and Nut, Shu and Tefnut, etc. • In late antiquity, some thought it unusual for the Hebrew God, Jehovah to be depicted without his wife – Asherah (William Dever) • In many Christian texts, God is described as masculine but in other Christian texts God is spoken of as Mother and as Father (Thunder Perfect Mind) 55
  56. 56. Gospel of Mary • The second section of the text contains a description by Mary Magdalene of a special revelation given to her by Jesus • At Peter’s request, she tells the disciples things that were hidden from them • Peter said to Mary, “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know (but) we do not, nor have we heard them.” • Andrew answered…”I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.” • Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things…”Did he really speak with a woman without our knowledge and not openly? Are we to turn about and listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?” • Levi answered…if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. This is why he loved her more than us…” 56
  57. 57. Mary Magdalene The Apostle to the Apostles • She is mentioned in all four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John • She is mentioned more times than any other woman in the Bible • She is not described as a prostitute • In 591 CE, during a sermon, Pope Gregory declared Mary Magdalene a prostitute • In 1969 the Catholic Church recanted this claim about Mary Magdalene • However, she is till portrayed as a prostitute 57
  58. 58. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene • In John 20:11 • Mary Magdalene goes to Jesus’ tomb alone • She finds his body is missing • She informs the male disciples then they leave • A man asks her why she is weeping but then she recognizes him • Jesus instructs her to go back to the disciples, that he has been raised from the dead • This identifies Mary Magdalene as the apostle to the disciples 58
  59. 59. The Repentant Prostitute • Prior to the year 596 CE • The idea of Mary as the repentant prostitute began in a very early period • There are several Church leaders trying to work out who the various women named Mary in the New Testament • Example: • The name Mary appears more than 60 times in the New Testament • The name Mary was very popular • The three: • Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the sister of Jesus and Mary Magdalene • Other women named Mary: • Mary mother of James, Mary mother of John Mark, Mary of Rome, etc. 59
  60. 60. Significance of the Nag Hammadi Texts • These texts provide access to the spiritual literature of Gnostic groups • The give insight into 2nd century Gnostic beliefs and traditions • They reveal common themes throughout the texts which include: • Spirit vs. matter • Divine Feminine • Unit of self-knowledge and knowledge of the divine • Attainability of Christhood to all who attain ‘gnosis’ • Illusionary nature of the material world • Prior to this discovery, few texts survived, many that did survive as fragments • Prior to this discover, most of what was known about Gnostic groups came from their detractors in the proto-orthodox Church such as: • Irenaeus (d. c. 202), Tertullian (d. after220), and Clement of Alexandria (d. 215) 60
  61. 61. Pope Gregory 590 – 604 CE • Pope Gregory decided that Mary was a combination of two other women: • The unknown sinful woman who wipes Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair – Luke 7 • Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus • These two women were amalgamated into one – Mary Magdalene • After Pope Gregory’s sermon in 591 CE, Mary Magdalene is deemed a fallen woman – prostitute • She is down played in the Church because there was a rivalry between Peter’s followers and Mary’s followers suggesting that women could take prominent roles in the Church 61
  62. 62. End of Part I