The Center for Early African Christianity LogoThe Center for Early African Christianity Logo

Center for Early African Christianity Logo


300 Death of Theonas, patriarch of Alexandria, was succeeded by Theognostus.
c. 300 Acts of Mark draws together previous centuries of Marcan tradition in Egypt and Libya.
c. 300 Christians becoming numerous throughout the empire, and notably in Africa.
300’s Earliest known church locations in Alexandria: Pharos (restored under Theophilis), martyrium of St. Mark, Boukolou (pasture near northeastern cliffs beside the sea, Eunostos Harbor), Bendidiou (Mendideion, Church of St. Athanasius), Angeloi (Serapeum), St. Theonas church near eastern gate; Caesareum on Great Harbor; Church of the Archangel Michael; Cosmos and Damian (founded 282 near the stadium west of the colonnade.)
300’s Writings: fourth-century Gnostic manuscripts in Nag Hammadi Library; Deir el Bala’iza fragments; Askew Codex; Bohairic Coptic Bible translations; Teachings of Silvanus compiles earlier second century Alexandrian Christian moral wisdom.
302–310 Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, fourteen penitential canons on discipline during time of persecution; Homily on Riches, Epiphany homily On the Baptism of Christ are attributed to Peter.
303 Apa Hor, prepared for martyrdom, makes public confession of faith in Pelusium, tortured, beheaded; later the martyrium of Apa Hor south of Minya was cut into the rock, entered through tunnel to nave; seven monastic centers would form on east bank of Nile south of Minya; St. Apater tortured and beheaded near Asyut.
303 Beginning of the Great Persecution, February 23; imperial decrees under Diocletian (emperor 284-305) to destroy churches, burn books, confiscate property, dissolve congregations. In Egypt, Hesychius, Pachomius, Theodorus, and Philea are forcibly removed and jailed.
304 Grave Illness of Diocletian.
304 Porphyry, Neoplatonic philosopher, wrote Against the Christians (Adversus Christianos.)
304–306 Four Egyptian bishops under arrest rebuke Melitius for presuming to appoint successor to exiled Peter; Melitian Schism begins between Melitius of Lycopolis and Peter of Alexandria.
305 Diocletian and Maximian abdicate, 1 May.
c. 305 Anthony emerges as a monk with disciples; first Christian monastic community formed around him in Eastern Egyptian desert; the colony of hermits evidence of the beginnings of semi-eremetic monasticism; Anthony authored seven letters.
310 Anthony goes to Alexandria to encourage the martyrs.
311 Galerius issues Edict of Toleration to Christians, though some persecution continues.
311 Peter, Bishop of Alexandria imprisoned and taken to Boukolous where he prayed at the tomb of St. Mark before being beheaded; Martyrdom of Peter (Passio S. Petri) an anonymous fourth-century text is written.
c. 311-325 Ammonius (Ammoun), a notable Alexandrian, takes up monastic life in Nitria; he forms a loosely connected semi-eremitic monastic retreats; numbers grew to 5000 monks by 400 C.E.
313 Emperor Constantine with Licinius declares “Edict of Milan” ending religious persecutions, providing freedom of worship and restitution of the goods confiscated from the Christian communities; first step towards the establishment of Christianity’s dominance in the Roman Empire.
313 Licinius defeats Maximinus Daia and is sole emperor of the East.
c. 313 Birth of Didymus the Blind, the leading Alexandrian exegete after Origen (d. 398.)
318 Athanasius, Treatise on the Incarnation of the Word [De Incarnatione.]
318 Pachomius (c. 292-347), born in Sne, a converted Egyptian soldier (312), founds first communal monastery, initiating coenobitic monasticism; sets forth monastic rule for communities.
318–23 Arian controversy begins; Alexander deposes Arius from his presbyterium.
c. 320 See Ethiopian Timeline
320–329 Pachomius founds the monasteries of Tabennisi, Phbow, Sheneset, Thmoushons.
321 Synod at Alexandria condemns Arius (born c. 260 in Cyrenaica.)
323–346 Letters of Pachomius, Instruction of Pachomius are written.
324 Eusebius (c. 265-339; Bishop from 314) of Caesarea completes Ecclesiastical History.
325 First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, called by Constantine; Arianism condemned by the 318 bishops in the Nicene Creed; Arius is exiled to Illyricum.
325–350 Bruce Codex, probably Egyptian; the first Bishop of Phyle (1st cataract, Sudan) is appointed.
327 The kingdom of Ethiopia adopts Christianity; Ethiopian missionaries sent to convert the Himyarites; church historian Philostorgios (386-433) offers first evidence of a Jewish presence in the region.
c. 327 Death of Arnobius of Sicca.
328 Death of Alexander I; Athanasius succeeds as bishop of Alexandria in disputed election; early episcopacy spent among monastic circles and remote rural Christian communities along the Nile and in the desert as far south as the frontier of modern Sudan; Bebawi attempts to locate Athanasius’ birthplace in Upper Egypt; Athanasius’ sympathies strong toward Upper Egypt and the desert and Cyrenaica, rather than Alexandrian upper class identified with Arius.
328 Founding of Church of the Holy Virgin at Gabal al-Tayr (Convent of the Pulley, on the cliff above the Nile) built (memorial tablet remains.)
328 Melitians oppose Athanasius.
329 Amid beginnings of Pachomian monasticism, Athanasius forms close bonds with monastic communities of Upper Egypt; does not succeed in ordaining Pachomius as requested by bishop Serapion.
329 Hilarion of Gaza (b. 291) founds Palestinian monasticism as disciple of Anthony, whom he sought out at Qalala mountain; then founds hermitage in Libya, later Gaza.
330 Constantine moves capital to the New Rome, Constantinople formerly Byzantium.
c. 330 Macarius of Egypt founds desert monastery at Wadi-el-Natrun.
330’s Evidences of Christianity at necropolis of Kharga at al-Bagawat, a place of banishment for both Arius and Athanasius at different times.
335 Ecclesiastical trial of Athanasius at Tyre, Council (Latrocinium) condemns Athanasius, exiled by Constantine to Trier in Gaul; Athanasius would spend twenty three of his next thirty two years in five periods of exile or banishment, each time using his exile as a new frontier of witness; in Gaul writes Against the Nations.
336 Death of Arius in exile in Upper Egypt.
337 Constantine baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia on his deathbed; Athanasius returns to Alexandria; Christians the majority in many parts of North Africa by death of Constantine. After Constantine, Africa ruled by Constantius II (337-340) along with Italy and Illyricum; Egypt ruled to Constantius II (337-361) along with Asia and Syria; Spain and Britain by Constans I (337-350.)
337–339 Athanasius writes Letter to Virgins.
338 Anthony visits Alexandria in support of Athanasius.
338 Kellia monasteries founded.
339 Anti-Athanasian synod at Antioch names Gregory of Cappadocia bishop of Alexandria.
339–46 Second exile of Athanasius, who introduces monasticism to Italy and Gaul.
340 Founding of Dair al-Baramus, monastery of the Romans at Wadi al-Natrun (sacked and rebuilt in 407, 410, 444, 507, and 817.)
345 Synod of Latopolis tries Pachomius on charges of clairvoyance.
346 Death of Pachomius during plague; Pachomius succeeded by Theodore, then Petronius, then Horsisius (Horsiesi), then by Theodore again who held together Pachomian and Athanasian visions.
346 Return of Athanasius to Alexandria.
346 The Rule of Pachomius.
350 Athanasius writes letter to Ammoun; Paphnutius active in Upper Egypt, Horsisius resigns to Seneset; in Phbow, Theodore takes control of monasteries.
350 Fall of island of Meroe to the Aksumite King Ezana; ancient capital of Meroe abandoned to Noba, perhaps pastoralists from south.
350’s Pachomian writings under Theodore and Horsisius: Vitae Paraliponema; Letter of Ammon; Pachomian Rule; Letter of Theodore; Instructions of Theodore; Letters of Horsisius; Instructions of Horsisius; Regulations of Horsisius; Liber Horsisiusi, and later anonymous Pachomian Apocalpyse of Kjarur.
353 Serapion of Thumis leads Athanasian delegation to appeal to Emperor Constantius; Councils of Arles (353) and of Milan (355) condemn Athanasius.
356 Death of Anthony; the Church of Theonas is stormed in attempt to capture Athanasius, who escapes, assisted by monks; church buildings taken over by anti-Athanasians.
356–359 During exile, George of Cappadocia installed as bishop, then forced to flee Alexandria, returns, lynched by pro-Athanasian mob.
356–362 Third exile of Athanasius (356-362), in hiding among monks; writes Defense of his Flight, Discourses Against the Arian, anti-Arian letters to monks, Life of Anthony, Four Letters to Serapion.
360 Martin of Tours founds Liguge monastery after the Egyptian model.
c. 360 Birth of John Cassian (d. 435.)
361 Monastery of St. Anthony at Mount Clysma founded below mountain cave of St. Anthony.
361–363 Death of Constantius; reign of Julian, nephew of Constantine, apostate emperor of East, attempts to revive Paganism; Donatist triumph in Africa; Arian hegemony in East.
362 October, Emperor Julian forces Athanasius from Alexandria.
362 Upon openly returning to Alexandria, Athanasius calls Council to decree triune faith; fourth exile of Athanasius.
363 Julian dies; Athanasius returns, then leaves to meet new emperor Jovian in Syria.
365-403 Egyptian-born and educated Epiphanius would later become bishop of Salamis; visits Egyptian desert fathers, returns to Eleutheroopolis in Judea to found monastery following Egyptian rule; writes Panarion Against Heretics.
365–366 Fifth exile of Athanasius under duress from Emperor Valens; Athanasius again visits Pachomian monasteries seeking reconciliation between Theodore and Horsisius.
367 Athanasius writes Festal Letter 39, first reference to complete ecumenically received canon of scripture, citing twenty seven New Testament apostolic books that by tradition have been received for reading in churches.
368 Athanasius writes Synodal Letter to the Bishops of Africa, Festal Letter 40; Isidore replaces bishop Dracontius of Hermopolis Parva; Theodore dies; Horsisius leads Pachomian monasteries.
368 The Great Church (Megale Ecclesia, Kyriakon) of Alexandria reconstructed under Athanasius; a basilica is built at St. Menas near Maryut for international pilgrims.
370 Athanasius’s Life of Anthony begins circulating in Gaul.
373 Death of Athanasius, succeeded by Peter II, who is immediately forced into exile; many monks sent away to hard labor in mines or exile.
373–80 Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 345-410) resides in Egypt under Didymus; translates Origen into Latin (397ff.)
378–384 Timothy I, brother of Peter I, becomes bishop of Alexandria.
379 Theodosius I, emperor of the united empire begins Age of Theodosius the Great and his sons (379-395.)
380 Theodosian Code makes Catholic Christianity the official religion of the empire; those in communion with Peter of Alexandria and Damasus of Rome are considered orthodox.
380’s Pilgrimage of Egeria of Gallaecia to Egypt and Palestine.
381 Didymus the Blind writes On The Holy Spirit.
381 First Council of Constantinople (second ecumenical council) defines the deity of the Holy Spirit; Constantinople is declared to have second place after Rome against Alexandrian wishes.
381 Proscriptions against pagan cults; assemblies of heretics interdicted; prohibition of sacrifices.
384–412 Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, vests all teaching functions formerly held in catechetical school in the episcopal office; Anba Hadra consecrated Bishop of Aswan on Upper Nile.
385 Jerome visits Scetis (Wadi al-Natrun) monastics and returns to Bethlehem to found four monasteries with Paula and Eustochium.
385 Shenute of Atripe becomes hegumen of White Monastery near Suhag; he writes Letters, Sermons Against the Origenists (Contra Origenistas et gnosticos); Contra Melitianos; De Vetere Testamento contra Manichaeos; De praeexistentia Christi; Shenute (d. 466) would be succeeded by Besa, then by Zenobius.
c. 385 Evagrius of Pontus (345-399) settled in Egypt first in Nitria, then in Kellia.
390 Death of Macarius (300-390), closely linked with Dair Abu Maqar monastery in Wadi al-Natrun; Macarius succeeded by Paphnutius.
391 Palladius visits monks of Nitria; over a thousand monks reside at the Monastery of the Cross (Abu Fanah) on the edge of the western Egyptian desert near Qasr Hor, remains of three naves, pillars, apses, wall painting still visible.
391 Riots in Alexandria destroy the Serapeum.
394 Arsenius leaves Rome for Desert of Scetis to become disciple of John the Short; fled desert raid in 408 for Gabal Tura (Dair al-Qusayr) for twelve years; ten thousand monks in fourth century Oxyrhynchus; thirty thousand monks and nuns at Basilica at Kom al-Namrud.