MURQUS IBN QANBAR
A late-twelfth-century reformer. He worked to reintroduce the secret confession and for the more frequent administration of communion, even outside liturgical services. These and other innovations, such as the abolition of circumcision before baptism for the Copts and changes in the rules of fasting and the use of the sign of the cross, were strongly opposed by the official defenders of Coptic morals and customs, but he had a great following for a time.
His elevation to the status of priest and monk under Patriarch JOHN V (1147-1167) had been seen as a serious mistake and as immoral and illegal. He was repeatedly disciplined and drew closer to the Melchites, eventually joining them formally. After his temporary return to the Coptic church, the Melchite patriarch banished him to DAYR AL-QUSAYR, southeast of Cairo. Here he spent the last twenty years of his life as an administrator.
He wrote prolifically to implement his reforms, but his works have been lost for the most part and are known only through writings opposing him, especially those by MIKHA’IL OF DAMIETTA. There is a commentary on the Pentateuch (see OLD TESTAMENT, ARABIC VERSIONS) that is probably his, as judged by style and subject, that is, interpretations are made on the basis of symbolic rather historical or dictionary meanings of words and actions, with an emphasis on the confession and penance.