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

Center for Early African Christianity Logo


400 African monasticism spreads to Gaul; Honoratus found monastery at Lerins following Egyptian rule.
c. 400 Apostolic Constitutions gathered from previous sources indicating African influence on shaping of early canon law.
400­–500 Collections emerge of sayings of previous desert fathers, Apophthegms of the Desert Fathers.
400–412 Theophilis pursues anti-Origenist policies in monasteries.
403 Ecclesiastical trial of Chrysostom, Synod of the Oak, a victory for Theophilis.
412–444 Cyril bishop of Alexandria (b. 376) writes Festal Letters; commentaries on Penteteuch, Isaiah, Minor Prophets, Songs, Proverbs, John, Luke, Pauline Epistles; Against Julian, Against Nestorius; Anathemas; Life of Athanasius and Catecheses (attributed to Cyril.)
415 Murder of Platonist philosopher Hypatia at Alexandria by mob; Cyril resists both the Alexandrian civil government of Orestes, and the Alexandrian Jews, and the Isis cult at Menouthis.
420–428 Monk John Cassian (c. 360-c. 432) reports conversations with leading African desert fathers in his Conferences encouraging spread of monastic movement to Gaul, following Egyptian rule.
427 Nestorian controversy; Nestorius bishop of Constantinople condemns those who call Mary “Theotokos” (God-bearer; Cyril’s Letter to the Monks of Egypt emphasizes the unity of Christ as divine and human as justification for Theotokos.
429ff. Cyril of Alexandria writes Commentary on the Psalms, Treasure on the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity; Epistles; Against Diodore and Theodore.
430 Cyril of Alexandria writes The Twelve Anathemas against Nestorian bifurcation of the unity of Christ.
c. 430 Death of Nilus, abbot of monastery of Sinai.
431 Christological Controversy between Nestorius and Cyril of Alexandria leads to Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus), convened by Theodosius II, ascribing Theotokos (“Godbearer”) to the Virgin Mary; Nestorius deposed.
431 Palladius of Helenopolis (363-431) transplants monastic disciplines of the desert fathers to Ireland, as evidenced by oldest missal of the Irish Church (Stowe.)
432 Patrick arrives in north of Ireland (allegedly from monastery of Lerins) with Pachomian monastic ideals.
433 Formulary of Reunion between churches of Egypt and Syria.
435 The Theodosian Code prohibits, among other things, the construction of new synagogues; sacrifices prohibited.
444 Death of Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, succeeded by Dioscorus (444-454.)
450 Silko, first Christian king of Ibrim (Nubia.)
c. 450 Arnobius the Younger, African monk.
451 Council of Chalcedon, Fourth ecumenical, approves Formulary of Renuinon, Leo’s Tome, and Cyril’s Second Letter to Nestorius; confesses Christ as one person in two natures, a teaching rejected by so-called monophysite Christians in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere, who would come to constitute “Oriental” Orthodox Churches, separating Coptic Christianity from pro-Chalcedonian minority in Egypt.
451ff. Greek viewed by Copts as an alien language; Coptic preferred in Egyptian hinterland; a literary genre praising the lives of holy men arises: Lives of Apa Longinus, John of Lykopolis, Abraham, Moses, Zenobii, and Dioscorus, A Panegyric on Macarius Bishop of Tkow (killed defending non-Chalcedonian teaching); Stephen, bishop of Heracleopolis Magna (Hnes), Panegyric on Apollo of Monastery of Isaac.
451–454 Dioscorus remains active, despite his deposition as leader of non-Chalcedonian Coptic Church until his death in 454; Melkites (Chalcedonians) are led by Proterius.
451–642 Long struggle between Coptic (non-Chalcedonian, “Monophysite”) and Byzantine (Melkite, Chalcedonian, Catholic) episcopal authorities for church property and prestige, especially in Alexandria; Coptic hegemony prevails in most of Egypt.
455–476 Disintegration of Western Roman Empire.
457–477 Timothy II Aelurus (the Cat), patriarch of Alexandria.
459–475 Timothy II banished to Gangra where Dioscorus had languished; he writes seventeen Responsa Canonica on questions of marriage and sacraments, and Against Chalcedon.
460–481 Timothy the Wobble Hat as ambivalent Melkite patriarch of Alexandria.
466 Death of Shenute of Atripe; his successor Besa (Visa, bishop of Athribis) writes Life of Shenute in Sahidic, as well as Letters and Sermons.
477 Death of Genseric (Gaiseric.)
477–489 Peter III (Mongas, the Stammerer), patriarch of Alexandria (non-Chalcedonian), forced underground.
488 Death of John, monk of Maiuma larva near Gaza, author of Plerophoriai.
c. 490 Date of oldest Christian icons that survive from Egypt.