Mythic Imagination

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Twilight Of The Old Gods
How political suppression gave birth to nationalism and the birth of Coptic Christianity in Egypt

By Anya Martin

Copyright © 2011

Fascinated with Egyptian history since she was a child, Anya Martin is an Atlanta-based author/journalist, whose work appears regularly in MarketWatch.com, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times .  Martin is editor/publisher of ATLRetro.com and her short story, “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” recently appeared in Daybreak.  A graduate of Smith College (Anthropology), Martin also holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication from Georgia State University. She is Chair of Media and Public Relations for the Mythic Imagination Institute. More about Anya Martin

Author’s Note:
As the crowds gathered in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria over the last few weeks, I remembered a graduate paper that I wrote back in 1989 about the transition from the old gods of ancient Egypt to Christianity, which preceded Islam in that nation. Those transitional years when Egypt was dominated first by Greece, and then by the Roman Empire, were also ones of great stress, tyrannical government, and nascent nationalism. At the time, I was fascinated with the question of how a religion that predominated for thousands of years gives way to a new belief system. The answer not unexpectedly lies in that turmoil, and many old beliefs endure, albeit in new trappings. Because ancient Egyptian scholars often dismissed the Greco-Roman period as a time of decline, at the time I wrote the original draft, few scholars had explored this topic. Since then there has been more interest, driven notably by The Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at Claremont Graduate University in California. In order to keep this publication timely unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to explore that new literature in depth. Nevertheless, because of the comprehensive research I pursued at the time, often from primary sources, I feel confident that the basic tenets and history remain unchanged.

"Oh, Egypt, Egypt, only tales will remain of your religion and they will be incredible to posterity; only words engraved in stone will remain, which will give voice to your acts of piety, and in the land of Egypt there will live Scythians or Indians."

–From an Unknown Classical Author

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