Ptolemy

Apocrypha

Apocrypha n. Greek (ah-POCK-rih-fah) A group of 14 religious books that were originally included in the Septuagint, the oldest Greek version of the Old testament. The writings are thought to have been translated by Jewish scholars at the request of Ptolemy II. These books, which the ancient rabbis referred to as sefarim hizonim (extraneous books), …

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ALEXANDRIA (Ἀλεξάνδρια)

ALEXANDRIA (Ἀλεξάνδρια) The city of Alexandria almost realized Alexander the Great’s dream of ‘a city surpassing anything previously existing’ (Plutarch, Alex. xxvi.). Planned by Dinocrates under the king’s supervision, and built on a neck of land two miles wide interposed between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mareotis (Mariut), about 14 miles from the Canopic mouth …

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Cosmas Indicopleustes

COSMAS INDICOPLEUSTES The name given to an anonymous Nestorian author of the twelve-book Christian Topography, written a few years before the Second Council of CONSTANTINOPLE (553). Cosmas was an Egyptian merchant, probably from Alexandria, who plied his trade in Alexandria, the Red Sea port of Adulis (Sawakin), and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), calling at the island …

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Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA Founded in 331 b.c. by Alexander the Great at the western end of the Nile Delta. An Egyptian town, Rakote, already existed there on the shore and was a fishermen’s resort. From its very beginning, Alexandria developed rapidly into one of the world’s great cities. The city replaced Memphis as the capital of Egypt …

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Coptic Calendar

COPTIC CALENDAR Early Egyptian Christians, like those elsewhere, took systems of reckoning time used in the world that they knew, modified them, and adapted them to their own observances and practices. The civil day of Christians in Egypt began in the morning, as did that of the ancient Egyptians and the Romans; but their liturgical …

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Gnosticism In Egypt

GNOSTICISM IN EGYPT The term “Gnosticism” was first coined in the 17th century to refer to an early Christian heresy described by the Church Father Irenaeus of Lyon in his five volumes Against Heresies (ca. 185). Historians of religions use the term to refer to a religion that probably developed around the turn of the …

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