Coptic chronological framework
- Coptic documentary papyri from the fourth century AD
- During this century Egypt turned Christian. Most of the earliest Coptic
documentary papyri come from a monastic or ecclesiastical context and are
private letters rather than contracts. The earliest Coptic literary papyrus in
the Duke papyrus collection, P.Duk.inv. 438, is a different matter.
- Coptic documentary papyri from the fifth or sixth century AD
- In AD 451 the church council held at Chalcedon decided on a particular form of
Christology. The churches in Egypt in the person of the patriarch of Alexandria
declined to follow the decision and from then on the Egyptian church went its
separate way. It is now known as the Coptic church, but at the time most of its
leaders were Greek or bilingual. In documentary papyri little can be noticed of
the ecclesiastical developments. In addition to private letters we find the
first contracts and other documents.
- Coptic documentary papyri from the seventh or eighth century AD
- Most of the Coptic documentary papyri are from this period. Coptic by and large
replaced Greek for most ordinary types of texts except those from the
administration, which adopted Arabic in the eighth century AD.
- Coptic documentary papyri from the ninth or tenth century AD
- By now the main language to document everyday affairs had become Arabic, but
here and there the use of Coptic persisted.
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Last updated by Suzanne Corr on 5/10/95