The Emergence of the Evangelical Egyptians traces the complex cultural encounter between American Presbyterian missionaries and the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox leaders over indigenous Protestant conversion in late Ottoman Egypt, 1854-1878. This examination uses various Arabic, English, and French sources to uncover the complexities behind the narratives from that time, thereby enriching the previous approach to the history, and later studies regarding Protestant conversion, and the clash of American and Arab civilizations over religious freedom. This fresh perspective will expand the story to include indigenous voices and cultural understandings.
Ramy Nair Marcos received his Ph.D. in interreligious studies from Hartford International University for Religion and Peace.
List of Abbreviations
Notes on Translation and Transliteration
Chapter 1: The American Mission to the Levant, 1842-1853
Chapter 2: Becoming the American Mission in Egypt, 1853-1860
Chapter 3: The Conflict between the American Missionaries and Coptic Leaders, 1860-1867
Chapter 4: The Egyptian Evangelical Community, 1867-1878
About the Author
Working at an intersection of World Christianity, American studies, and modern Middle Eastern studies, Ramy Nair Marcos seeks to understand how a major Protestant Christian community began to form in mid-19th-c. Egypt. The agency of Egyptian Protestants is emphasized in the fluid narrative of religious encounter presented here, alongside American Presbyterian mission initiatives, Coptic Orthodox reform efforrts, British imperial politics, late Ottoman social policies, and a rich blend of intercultural dynamics. In this book, Marcos shines a welcome light on the complex origins of the Egyptian Evangelical Church, now by far the largest Protestant community in the Middle East.
The story of the emergence of the Egyptian Protestant church in the nineteenth century has been well known primarily through western missionary sources and records. Ramy Marcos has now provided an important narrative focusing on the indigenous religious and cultural perspectives of the early Egyptian Protestant community. Of particular significance is his highlighting the complicated intercultural process of conversion of the early Egyptian Protestants. Marcos argues that the early Egyptian Protestants used their own agency to establish the Protestant millah through a dynamic intercultural process that neither completely rejected their Coptic roots nor fully accepted the missionary cultural perspectives. The Emergence of the Evangelical Egyptians is a critical study in our continued need to recall authentic voices in the history of a World Christianity.
A deeply insightful study of nineteenth-century American Protestant missions in Egypt and the emergence of an Arabic-speaking Egyptian Presbyterian church. What especially distinguishes Marcos’ book is his analysis of the cultural clash between the American missionaries’ individualistic understanding of religious freedom and the communal understanding of freedom underpinning the millah system that governed the public recognition of religious communities in Egypt. An indispensable resource for anyone interested in the religious and sociopolitical history of the modern Middle East.
In this lively account of mid-nineteenth-century Egypt, Ramy Nair Marcos traces the emergence of a new Egyptian “Evangelical” or Presbyterian community whose members struggled to find their place between Coptic Orthodox ecclesiastical leaders, Muslim authorities, and their American missionary mentors. He shows that while American missionaries sometimes challenged local religious conventions with impunity, drawing as needed on diplomatic connections, Evangelical converts proved more vulnerable as people embedded in Egyptian society. Marcos considers episodes ranging from a missionary’s denunciation of venerating Mary and an Evangelical group’s destruction of Coptic Orthodox church icons to cases of ostensible apostasy. He casts light on the tensions and ethical dilemmas in these encounters, during a period when the Egyptian Protestant community was forming and asserting its vision of what Christian culture should be.
The Emergence of the Evangelical Egyptians is the first book to delve deeply into the history of the Evangelical community in Egypt from its origins in the mid-nineteenth century. In this meticulously researched study, Marcos places Evangelical Egyptian converts at the center, shedding new light on their relationships with American Presbyterian missionaries and the Coptic Orthodox Church. This compelling work will be essential reading for scholars of Middle Eastern Christianity, World Christianity, and American mission history.