HIGHER INSTITUTE OF COPTIC STUDIES. Founded with a modest budget by the COMMUNITY COUNCIL on 21 January 1954, this institute was expected to become an important factor in the revival of Coptic studies in Egypt. Its restricted means were supplemented by meager donations from private, individual sources, which enabled its initial administration to launch a study program in Coptology. This program was facilitated by the volunteer services of its president, Aziz S. Atiya, and two vice-presidents, MURAD KAMIL and SAMI GABRA, who in turn recruited volunteers among noted scholars and specialists to serve as a teaching body and to constitute the Institute Council. The idea of the institute was universally acclaimed, and a number of eminent professors at the universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Michigan, Princeton, and Hartford, among others, accepted honorary fellowships in the new foundation.
The initial sections of the institute included theology, Coptic language and literature, Coptic history, archaeology, sociology, Coptic law, Coptic music, and Coptic art. A library was started, and several collections were assembled in it from various organizations and individuals. Besides the collections of the CLERICAL COLLEGE and the Library of the Committee of Coptic History, private collections included those of KAMIL MIKHA’IL ‘ABD AL-SAYYID, Mikha’il Salib, Sami Gabra, and others, which formed a solid basis of a specialized working research library in the field of Coptology.
The beginning classes of the institute included mainly Coptic enthusiasts, together with a number of Muslim and Jewish scholars, which signified the general interest in this new venture.
Requirements for admission included a bachelor's degree from a recognized university or the diploma of the Clerical College. Publication of a journal was contemplated, but was abandoned for lack of funds. The institute continues to function in a modest way, with severely limited financial resources. Voluntary academic services are rendered by supporters, and its library, together with the collections of the Society of Coptic Archaeology and the Patriarchal Library, offers admirable research opportunities in the field of Coptic studies. The Patriarchal Library has been enriched by the monumental collection willed to it by Murad Kamil. The Coptic collection of Aziz S. Atiya is also deposited at this library.
The two sections that have flourished on their own self-sustaining resources are the Section of Coptic Music, under Ragheb Moftah, and the Section of Coptic Art, under Isaac Fanous, whose icons have filled most of the new churches in Egypt and some foreign countries. The institute has served as a center for visiting Coptologists from other parts of the world. It has awarded doctoral degrees to specialized researchers, under the patronage of Pope Shenouda III and the presidency of Anba Gregorios, bishop in Cairo for higher theological studies, Coptic culture, and scientific research.
AZIZ S. ATIYA
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