Giza (Al-Jizah)

GIZA (al-Jizah)

A city just outside and across the Nile from Cairo and perhaps best known as a pagan site with its three pyramids and the Sphinx. The city has some significance in the history of Christian Egypt as well.

Although the many monasteries and churches in the vicinity of Giza argue that Christianity gained an early foothold in the area, the region is not mentioned in the Coptic martyrological literature for the pre-Arabic period, and the first bishop of Giza whose name is recorded in historical sources did not live until the eleventh century. It appears that Giza lay for centuries in the shadow of Memphis and Wasim.

The record of bishops in Giza begins with Bishop Hezekiah, who attended a synod in Cairo in 1086 as the bishop of Wasim and Giza. Bishop Mark, Hezekiah’s successor, is known for a trip he made to Abyssinia under the patriarchal commission. In 1299, 1305, and 1320 another bishop Mark of Wasim and Giza attended the consecration of chrism (see CHRISM, CONSECRATION OF THE) in Cairo. This bishop Mark is also known as the copyist of various manuscripts. In a colophon from a manuscript that he wrote in 1335, he calls himself the bishop of Awsim and Giza.

ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN said that there were fifty monasteries at the foot of the mountain at Giza (Jabal al-Giza), all of which had been destroyed by the Berbers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte a l’époque copte, pp. 190-91. Paris, 1893.
  • Graf, G. Catalogue de manuscrits arabes chrétiens conservés au Caire. Vatican City, 1934.
  • Munier, H. Recueil des listes épiscopales de l’église copte. Cairo, 1943.
  • Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, pt. 3, pp. 1055-60. Wiesbaden, 1985.

RANDALL STEWART

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