People, especially Copts, often ask why they need to study Coptic. The cause of their dilemma is that Coptic is rarely used even in its last stronghold, the Coptic Church. The answer to such a perplexing question lies in two distinct but closely related principles. The first is called the Ecclesiastical Principle and the second is referred to as the Coptic Principle. Both of these principles hold explanation for the importance as well as the necessity for keeping such language alive among people in general and Copts in particular.
The Ecclesiastical Principle:
The Ecclesiastical Principle is a 3-component concept that describes the Coptic Church in general terms. Its components are derived from the official name used by the Church but in reverse order. These components are as follows:
The first Component, the Church can be assumed to be the substance of Christianity, i.e., the Bible. This is due to the fact that the Coptic Church like any true Christian Church is build upon the Bible, the authentic Word of God.
The Orthodox component is understood as the authority of the fathers of the Church within the confines of the Coptic Church. An authority that is second only to the Bible because their writings are mere inspired explanation and expansion of the meaning of the Bible.
The last component of this trio is Coptic. The value of this component is embodied in the second principle to be discussed here, the Coptic Principle. It suffices to say here that this component is what gives the Coptic Church its identity and its distinctive flavor that sets it apart from any other Christian Church.
The Coptic Principle
The Coptic language provides a Copt with an identity that spells out an impressive commentary upon the character of such person. It exemplifies in him an unyielding spirit that was tried and came out victorious. A spirit that had to endure endless attempts by those that ruled Egypt for the past 2300 years to replace such language with that of their own. If such was achieved then they can subject the Copts to cultural and religious slavery that would forever made them subservient to such foreign rulers. It was attempted first by the Greeks, through their Helenizing approach. Then it was continued along the same principles by the successive Arabic and Moslem dynasties that ruled Egypt since the 7th century AD. The significance of such character can also inspire the Coptic youth to fight off the many harmful pressures, whether in spirit or in body, that are facing them in this turbulent Society of ours.
2. Link to the past,
The Coptic language is the bridge that links the Copts with their ancient Egyptian roots. It provides them with a continuous written record of their civilization that span over 6000 years, the longest in existence. A civilization that is truly been considered, then and now, a marvel of human achievement. Their accomplishments encompassed most areas of human endeavors such as art, architecture, medicine, and of course their remarkable embalming techniques. A recount of such achievements and others will require many volumes. And to do them justice, it is best left for the experts who have already scratched the surface but has not yet gone deep enough. One last word that needs to be said about such link is that to successfully claim such lineage to greatness, a common language is needed. Coptic, of course, is such a language. It embodies the same Egyptian language of ancient times that was formerly written in the picturesque Hieroglyphs, the practical Hieratic, and the handy Demotic characters.
3. Key to the Treasures of the Coptic Church.
This third and final category of the Coptic Principle has the most significant values that Coptic brings. By learning Coptic the hidden treasure of the church, the source of its greatness, will become accessible. This will make the Copt more rooted in his Church that has truly survived the test of time.These treasures has come down primarily in literary form. They were left by the fathers of the Coptic Church over the centuries as the fruit of their labor of love for the Almighty. They cover many areas of Christian knowledge and experiences that are essential for the spiritual well-being of the Copts or anyone interested in learning about God.