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Author Topic: With the Desert Fathers of Egypt (Road to Emmaus Journal)  (Read 1960 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fr.Kyrillos
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« on: August 18, 2011, 02:09:32 PM »

Online article...quite lengthy:

http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_38/With_the_Dessert_Fathers_of_Egypt.pdf

« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 02:10:09 PM by Fr.Kyrillos » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2011, 11:26:56 AM »

I read the article with a great deal of interest.

It doesn't make clear whether Dr Bebawi is still a Coptic Christian. He sounds full of praise for the patristic work done by the Russians and others.

Is he pan-Orthodox or what?
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2011, 12:06:45 PM »

I think he goes to an OCA Church in Indianapolis now.

Quote
GEORGE BEBAWI, PHD

Dr. Bebawi was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1938 to an Egyptian Christian father and a Hungarian Jewish mother.  He was adopted by his maternal grandmother at the age of five, who reared him as a Jew.  He converted to Christianity in 1957 and joined the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is the oldest church of Egypt.

Dr. Bebawi studied theology, Bible, church history and more at the Coptic Orthodox Theological College and received his Bachelor’s of Divinity in 1961. He was awarded a scholarship and studied at Cambridge University, where he received his M. Lit and Ph.D in 1970.

He taught theology, Church History, Patristic Studies and Islam at Orthodox, Evangelical, and Catholic Seminaries in the Middle East, Europe and the United Sates from 1970-1984. Also during that time, he served as an advisor for Christian Affairs to Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat before his assassination in 1981.

Through his devotion to Church Unity and ecumenical dialogue, he served on various committees of the World Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Christian Unity at the Vatican. 

He returned to England in 1984 to lecture at various British Universities and to teach at St. John’s College, at Nottingham University from 1985-2000.  He served as the Director of Studies at the Institute for Christian Orthodox Studies, at Cambridge, England, and lectured on Islam and Judaism at for the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges, Cambridge University from 2000-2002.

He also served as the Director of the Project “The Jewish Roots of Christian Worship” Faculty of Divinity and the Centre for Advanced Religious and Theological Studies, Cambridge University.   He is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading scholars on Eastern Christianity. He retired from Cambridge University and moved to the Indianapolis area and was joined in marriage to May. He is the father of three young adult men. He currently engages in public speaking and church ministry.

http://georgebebawi.com/Athanasius.doc
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2011, 01:32:33 PM »

I dislike how he calls his mother Church un-Orthodox.  Angry
« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 01:32:46 PM by Severian » Logged



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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2011, 06:36:23 AM »

With all brotherly love, I ask anyone interested in Dr. Bebawy's case, to read what he teaches and then decide for yourselves before judging or accusing him.
He has a regularly updated website where he posts videos and booklets about the teaching of the Church from his point of view, which I find fully Orthodox and in accord with the Apostolic tradition.

here is the link: http://www.coptology.com/


Edit: I am sorry, I forgot to say that he posts only in Arabic in this website.
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2011, 03:18:33 PM »

It wasn't clear whether or not he is still excommunicated from the Coptic Church, but he makes it pretty clear that he acknowledges Chalcedon as Orthodox and sees it as a great tragedy that his church rejected it. He also sees a decline in the teachings of his church after the 6th century. He was excommunicated for publishing works in favor of theosis in the 1980's, which the current Coptic Pope considers a heresy.

This actually makes me think that the writings of Matthew the Poor are more in line with Byzantine patristic spirituality, since I believe those in the camp of the current Coptic Pope also believe him to be a heretic.

Anyway, this was an invaluable article and thanks so much for posting it!
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 03:19:18 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2011, 03:54:59 PM »

I have unfortunately read articles by him which are erroneous and bitter and with which I cannot agree. I don't consider him Orthodox unfortunately, just as the fact that Rowan Williams can write interesting things about Orthodoxy doesn't make him Orthodox.
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2011, 04:18:51 PM »

It wasn't clear whether or not he is still excommunicated from the Coptic Church, but he makes it pretty clear that he acknowledges Chalcedon as Orthodox and sees it as a great tragedy that his church rejected it. He also sees a decline in the teachings of his church after the 6th century. He was excommunicated for publishing works in favor of theosis in the 1980's, which the current Coptic Pope considers a heresy.

This actually makes me think that the writings of Matthew the Poor are more in line with Byzantine patristic spirituality, since I believe those in the camp of the current Coptic Pope also believe him to be a heretic.

Anyway, this was an invaluable article and thanks so much for posting it!
I can name several of the most prominent modern Coptic theologians who place an emphasis on theosis, none of them have been excommunicated or reprimanded. Bebawi was excommunicated for extreme views.

I heard that Bebawi said that we eat the divinity of Christ in the eucharist. Divinity is incorporeal and cannot be consumed. By predicating human attributes such as tangibility to the divine nature of Christ, Bebawi has fallen into an extreme form of monophysitism. That's one example of heresy on his part. Maybe Fr. Peter can explain some of Bebawi's other erroneous teachings.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 04:23:41 PM by Severian » Logged



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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2011, 05:27:02 PM »

I have no intention of dragging anyone into a debate, we can do more fruitful things with our time instead. That being said, I have to admit that I agree with Fr. Peter, that one can feel some bitterness in many of Dr. Bebawy's writings, and I am not really shocked at this, after all we are humans and prone to negative feelings.

Regarding the Eucharist, brother Severian, if you can understand spoken Arabic, please listen to this webcast, it will clear some of your confusion about his position. And as you said, you only heard about it so it is fair to hear from him too.
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2011, 05:30:13 PM »

I heard that Bebawi said that we eat the divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.

I heard that Severian said that blah blah blah. Hearsay is a word for a reason.
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« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2011, 05:34:23 PM »

I certainly don't believe that anyone thinks that we consume the divinity of our Lord in a material sense, even while we receive the incarnate Word in the eucharist. The body of our Lord in the eucharist is not separated from the divinity of our Lord.

I don't really want to criticise anything in particular about some of Dr Bebawi's writings but I will say that they sometimes exhibit a bias and wilful misrepresentation of our Orthodoxy which is understandable to some extent but not justified by the truth.
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« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2011, 05:57:10 PM »

Well forgive me for misspeaking. I find that the quality of my posts in general have been dropping lately, I have a great many things to worry about. But enough of my excuses! I will listen to the podcast Copticmind gave me when I have the time. My point still stands, IMO. That is, many modern Coptic theologians (Fr. T. Malaty, H.G. Bishop Youssef, HE Metr. Bishoy, et al) use very strong and emphatic language regarding theosis and no one protests. With that being said, why is Bebawi so controversial?
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 06:13:30 PM by Severian » Logged



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« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2011, 06:57:31 PM »

He was excommunicated for publishing works in favor of theosis in the 1980's, which the current Coptic Pope considers a heresy.
Really? Have we had a thread on that?
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2011, 01:41:19 PM »

I heard that Bebawi said that we eat the divinity of Christ in the eucharist. Divinity is incorporeal and cannot be consumed. By predicating human attributes such as tangibility to the divine nature of Christ, Bebawi has fallen into an extreme form of monophysitism. That's one example of heresy on his part. Maybe Fr. Peter can explain some of Bebawi's other erroneous teachings.

Severian, maybe this what you're refering to?  The quote is from Fr. Matta's book ‘The Ascension of Christ’.

Quote
Ultimately, the bodily economy of this ‘deification’ is made explicit in Matta al-Miskın’s discussion of the eucharist. In the act of eating the body and blood of Christ, we receive and ingest ‘the awesome live coal of divinity’, we are united with Christ’s flesh ‘in the full light of divinity’, and we experience ‘the blood of Christ permeating through us, transmitting to us the Spirit of divinity and pouring it into our being’.

S. Davis, Coptic Christology in Practice, p. 276


Since Christ has a 'divine body' and we truly partake of His flesh and blood, wouldn't Fr. Matta's quote be an accurate understanding of the Eucharist?
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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2011, 03:40:00 PM »

It doesn't seem to be a full quote from Fr Matta, just some phrases.

Certainly in the liturgy we speak of 'placing the burning coals into the mouths of the believers for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life'.

There is no need to see this in a materialistic sense, only as preserving the Orthodox teaching that the divinity is not separated from the humanity.

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« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2011, 03:53:00 PM »

He was excommunicated for publishing works in favor of theosis in the 1980's, which the current Coptic Pope considers a heresy.
Really? Have we had a thread on that?
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pope_Shenouda_III_of_Alexandria&oldid=132559251#Theological_disputes

Not a thread, but a reference.

PP
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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2011, 04:23:01 PM »

If those claims are true I am depressed. I have always found HH books very helpful!
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« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2011, 06:32:16 PM »

He was excommunicated for publishing works in favor of theosis in the 1980's, which the current Coptic Pope considers a heresy.
Really? Have we had a thread on that?
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pope_Shenouda_III_of_Alexandria&oldid=132559251#Theological_disputes

Not a thread, but a reference.

PP
Whoah.

Any of you Copts wanna comment on the veracity or lack thereof of that information?
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« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2011, 06:33:47 PM »

Since Christ has a 'divine body' and we truly partake of His flesh and blood, wouldn't Fr. Matta's quote be an accurate understanding of the Eucharist?
What do you mean a Divine Body?
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« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2011, 03:07:50 AM »

Dr. Bebawy is a very opinionated person, but also a person who did and said many controversial things in his life.

I listened to some of his lectures online that are offered in English.  While many are edifying, I so far heard two things that made me wonder if really our bishops were all that wrong or not.  For instance, he believes true Orthodox Christianity is neither Monotheistic or Polytheistic.  He hates the label "Monotheism" on Christian faith in God.  Then another story he shared with the class was when he was a Coptic deacon at some point and he decided to give communion to Mennonites after permission from a priest.

Let's be honest, is it really merely theosis that Dr. Bebawy was excommunicated?  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to assassinate Dr. Bebawy's character.  I think he has a lot to offer for any Church today, and he's a great theologian, and I have great respect for him.  I also feel that the whole theosis issue is blown out of proportion and have lead many to misunderstand one another and assassinate one another's characters, and I feel some sympathy with Dr. Bebawy, but I don't lay the blame on His Holiness Pope Shenouda either.

So reading this article, it's very typical of Dr. Bebawy's opinionated self, as well as not afraid to say what is on his mind, even if it may offend anyone in his own Church.  I believe Dr. Bebawy has said things that the EO's wouldn't be proud of having him say, but he says them anyway, because he simply says what's on his mind, not because it's a dogmatic understanding.  He doesn't view the Coptic Church or tradition as a whole as backward, but he did have a very bad experience, and the Coptic Church did have her dark times.  But the things he complains about as in the Manichaen tendencies of Coptic monks and the weird practices of Ethiopian pious areas are all things that have clearly been condemned by respective Coptic and Ethiopian bishops and educated priests.  And let's be honest.  Dr. Bebawy knows a lot about the Coptic Church, because he's a Copt.  But can we say that there were never any dark times for Greeks or Russians in the past with certain practices of their own monks or priests, honestly?  It would be interesting to find one day a Bebawy version of a Russian leaving his own church due to experiences he seen and fed up with.

In addition, Dr. Bebawy speaks in simplicity concerning the Council of Chalcedon and finds in it things he agrees with and things in the Coptic liturgical texts that agree with it.  But to be honest, as any objective scholar can understand, when one reads post-Chalcedonian anti-Chalcedonian fathers, they too suffice for the plethora of dogmatic statements that are allegedly "Chalcedonian" in our liturgical books, and Dr. Bebawi has failed to mention many great theologians like St. Severus.  But I also notice that he refrained from calling the Coptic Church as a whole Eutychian, or the post-Chalcedonian tradition as Eutychian either, and even St. Dioscorus, he didn't call a heretic, but simply "wrong."

That's my two cents.  There are more of course I can talk about, but at least this is my reaction to the article, which honestly I'm not surprised in reading.  But let us at least read into this that he is still not a hard line, anti-OO man.  He reveres HH Pope Kyrillos VI and other Coptic monk and really values their holiness.  For someone like Patrick Barnes, he might have called those mystical experiences demonic, just as they called the Marian Apparition at Zeitoun.  But Dr. Bebawy didn't, which shows he still may have some respect for OO Church fathers if pushed to ask.  But Dr. Bebawy's specialty and expertise is in the first five centuries; he seems so turned off after Chalcedon he seemed to stop reading much about it.
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« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2011, 09:40:52 AM »

@peterfarrington  - Thank you, Fr. Peter. I couldn't find the original source to quote more extensively, but wanted to provide it for Severian to ask if this was possibly what he was refering to; especially with that...ahem...unkind thread tag.

@NicholasMyra - What do you mean what do I mean? Don't make me go all hyperdox on you  Smiley

@minasoliman - well said as always, but I question if he truly was a Copt. I don't mean that in an ethnic sense, but the fact that he was an atheist for most of his life, got a taste of the Coptic spiritual life for a few short years, and then went to the West and studied from their texts without a firm foundation in our Church's history & teachings. How else does one explain such an erroneous statement as this:

Quote
"In the prayers to the Mother of God in Sunday Matins there is a text from Chalcedon that is amazing – it speaks of Christ’s Divinity being consubstantial with the Father and His humanity being consubstantial with us. That is Chalcedon."

Regarding the "decrees of Chalcedon" and by that I'm assuming he means the canons? If so, then yes I've read that many of them were incorporated into the Syriac Church and can assume they worked their way to our Church especially when one considers we've had several Syriac Popes. These canons are all of a disciplinary nature not theological.  But the quote above only shows me an utter ignorance to what we actually believe.
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« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2011, 11:36:12 AM »

Like I mentioned, Dr. Bebawy has a very good knowledge of the first five centuries, but after that seems to be turned off by reading anymore of the later Church fathers.  If anything, he has a great knowledge of "20th Century EO fathers" as well, if you know what I mean, and many Copts seem to fall in the trap of basing OOxy on 20th Century EO fathers, without enough foundation of their own.  So yes, he seems ignorant of post-Chalcedonian history, although to be honest, I don't want to say that, considering that he was involved as one of the Coptic representatives in dialogues with Roman Catholics.  So in any case, his Coptic understanding is very high, at least in the theological field.  Let's just say, he understands the Chalcedonian conflict in simplistic terms, but rightfully avoids calling OOs heretics or schismatics.

As for his past, from what I understand in the lectures I listened, he was born and raised an Egyptian Jew before his grandmother converted to Coptic Orthodoxy and converted her grandson with her.  Perhaps, he wasn't convinced of his grandmother's conversion until he met Fr. Mina.

By the way, if anyone's interested, I have been listening some of his stuff here:
http://www.georgebebawi.com/Classes.htm

So to allow anyone, OO or EO, to be the judge for themselves.
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« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2011, 12:07:14 PM »

By the way, if anyone's interested, I have been listening some of his stuff here:
http://www.georgebebawi.com/Classes.htm

So to allow anyone, OO or EO, to be the judge for themselves.

Will do, thanks!
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« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2011, 12:51:44 PM »

With all brotherly love, I ask anyone interested in Dr. Bebawy's case, to read what he teaches and then decide for yourselves before judging or accusing him.
He has a regularly updated website where he posts videos and booklets about the teaching of the Church from his point of view, which I find fully Orthodox and in accord with the Apostolic tradition.

here is the link: http://www.coptology.com/


Edit: I am sorry, I forgot to say that he posts only in Arabic in this website.

Dear CopticMind,

I tried to read and listen to some of the stuff in that site, but my Arabic is very poor.  It's not his Orthodoxy people are concerned about, but his comments on the Coptic Church herself (at least speaking for myself).  What do you think?  He did disassociate himself from Max Michel, which shows he clearly is concerned of Coptic opinion about him.  Since you understand the site very well, I assume, do you feel he takes a stand like Mina Monir, condemning the Coptic Church of Eutychianism, or does he give full respect to the Coptic Church as an Orthodox Church even after Chalcedon, and only has his problems with the present administration?  Is there any mention in the site about Chalcedon or post-Chalcedonian traditions of the Coptic Church, or is it just pre-Chalcedonian history and theology?
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« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2011, 03:47:34 PM »

Since I posted the reference, I've been looking into a bit of the background of the accusations against the Coptic Pope. Im not Coptic, but I find some of them disturbing.

PP
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« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2011, 05:35:00 PM »

With all brotherly love, I ask anyone interested in Dr. Bebawy's case, to read what he teaches and then decide for yourselves before judging or accusing him.
He has a regularly updated website where he posts videos and booklets about the teaching of the Church from his point of view, which I find fully Orthodox and in accord with the Apostolic tradition.

here is the link: http://www.coptology.com/


Edit: I am sorry, I forgot to say that he posts only in Arabic in this website.

Dear CopticMind,

I tried to read and listen to some of the stuff in that site, but my Arabic is very poor.  It's not his Orthodoxy people are concerned about, but his comments on the Coptic Church herself (at least speaking for myself).  What do you think?  He did disassociate himself from Max Michel, which shows he clearly is concerned of Coptic opinion about him.  Since you understand the site very well, I assume, do you feel he takes a stand like Mina Monir, condemning the Coptic Church of Eutychianism, or does he give full respect to the Coptic Church as an Orthodox Church even after Chalcedon, and only has his problems with the present administration?  Is there any mention in the site about Chalcedon or post-Chalcedonian traditions of the Coptic Church, or is it just pre-Chalcedonian history and theology?

He didn't only disassociate himself from Max Michel, but also he stated several times that he didn't join any other church after being excommunicated. He said several times that he will always belong to the Coptic Church, and he hasn't become an EO.
I understand your concern, I was bothered myself with the tone of his language in the posted interview, regarding his opinions of the Coptic Church, and I sent him a message asking for clarification.

Dr. Bebawy's writings are scholarly and analytical in nature, when he criticizes something, he tries to refute it in a methodological way and in the light of the writings of the fathers. I have never seen him accusing the Coptic Church of Eutychianism. However, as you mentioned he avoids talking about post-Chalcedonian issues. He is greatly influenced by St. Athanasius and St. Cyril but I haven't seen in his writings that I read any mention of St. Dioscorus for example. He also holds a great deal of respect to many EO theologians, contemporary and ancient, but I haven't seen him tackling the issue of the OO/EO schism in his writings at Coptology.com

His conflict with HH Pope Shnouda and HE Abba Pishoy are unfortunately affecting the way he writes in some of his articles, I feel that the personal issues are affecting the quality of his writings, when it come to the topics of dispute. But the other articles I find of great value and very edifying. For example, the letters between him and Monk Philemon are really great, I return to reading them every now and then.

Finally,I want to you to read what he wrote regarding why he created his website (coptology.com), Here is a rough translation:

Why this online website?

The answer is: opening the treasures of our Coptic Orthodox Tradition, that extends along 1700 years.  A Tradition that embraces the life of holiness in the ascetic writings and the theological vision of the school of Alexandria, and the apologetic writings that defend the faith ...
..................
..................
All this crosses the bridge, or goes through the channel, of our liturgical prayers, that accurately and precisely reflect the Apostolic Tradition and the boundless faith that creates the Love and the perfection of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the believers.




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« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2011, 05:44:43 PM »

With all brotherly love, I ask anyone interested in Dr. Bebawy's case, to read what he teaches and then decide for yourselves before judging or accusing him.
He has a regularly updated website where he posts videos and booklets about the teaching of the Church from his point of view, which I find fully Orthodox and in accord with the Apostolic tradition.

here is the link: http://www.coptology.com/


Edit: I am sorry, I forgot to say that he posts only in Arabic in this website.

Dear CopticMind,

I tried to read and listen to some of the stuff in that site, but my Arabic is very poor.  It's not his Orthodoxy people are concerned about, but his comments on the Coptic Church herself (at least speaking for myself).  What do you think?  He did disassociate himself from Max Michel, which shows he clearly is concerned of Coptic opinion about him.  Since you understand the site very well, I assume, do you feel he takes a stand like Mina Monir, condemning the Coptic Church of Eutychianism, or does he give full respect to the Coptic Church as an Orthodox Church even after Chalcedon, and only has his problems with the present administration?  Is there any mention in the site about Chalcedon or post-Chalcedonian traditions of the Coptic Church, or is it just pre-Chalcedonian history and theology?

He didn't only disassociate himself from Max Michel, but also he stated several times that he didn't join any other church after being excommunicated. He said several times that he will always belong to the Coptic Church, and he hasn't become an EO.
I understand your concern, I was bothered myself with the tone of his language in the posted interview, regarding his opinions of the Coptic Church, and I sent him a message asking for clarification.

Dr. Bebawy's writings are scholarly and analytical in nature, when he criticizes something, he tries to refute it in a methodological way and in the light of the writings of the fathers. I have never seen him accusing the Coptic Church of Eutychianism. However, as you mentioned he avoids talking about post-Chalcedonian issues. He is greatly influenced by St. Athanasius and St. Cyril but I haven't seen in his writings that I read any mention of St. Dioscorus for example. He also holds a great deal of respect to many EO theologians, contemporary and ancient, but I haven't seen him tackling the issue of the OO/EO schism in his writings at Coptology.com

His conflict with HH Pope Shnouda and HE Abba Pishoy are unfortunately affecting the way he writes in some of his articles, I feel that the personal issues are affecting the quality of his writings, when it come to the topics of dispute. But the other articles I find of great value and very edifying. For example, the letters between him and Monk Philemon are really great, I return to reading them every now and then.

Finally,I want to you to read what he wrote regarding why he created his website (coptology.com), Here is a rough translation:

Why this online website?

The answer is: opening the treasures of our Coptic Orthodox Tradition, that extends along 1700 years.  A Tradition that embraces the life of holiness in the ascetic writings and the theological vision of the school of Alexandria, and the apologetic writings that defend the faith ...
..................
..................
All this crosses the bridge, or goes through the channel, of our liturgical prayers, that accurately and precisely reflect the Apostolic Tradition and the boundless faith that creates the Love and the perfection of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the believers.






Thank you.  That's what I thought  Smiley
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