Hi everyone!

As you have probably heard, ISIS released a brutal video yesterday in which they beheaded 21 innocent Egyptian Coptic Christians. They all lived in poverty and went to Libya in order to provide for their families, as many Copts often do. Here is a gofundme constructed by another Copt. 100% of the proceeds will be offered to the families of the 21 men. Aside from prayer, this would be such an incredible blessing for them, and although it cannot bring them back, it will surely let them know that people care. Please share and please consider donating. Thank you!

It is a sad day when 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians are beheaded by members of ISIS in Libya. For a community that prides itself on spreading news of social injustices in the world, it sure likes to neglect my people. this is why my parents have not been to their home in 8 years and why i barely remember the egypt that is always shown in movies. 

R.I.P. ya rab erhamna


Influence Through the Ages: The Fayum Mummy Portraits

The art of encaustic painting, a technique essential to a vast amount of art in Europe during the dark ages, High Medieval periods, the Renaissance, and especially influential to Russian Iconography, traces its roots through Byzantine art and back into classical antiquity…arriving at the Fayum Mummy Portraits dating from the first century B.C.E.

Most of these near 1,000 portraits are attached to the preserved body of the person depicted. The methods used to create these works can be traced to artistic styles kept alive from Hellenistic Greece to Coptic Egyptian tradition, traveling up into Europe via Italy and Greece to be regenerated at the dawn of the Italian Renaissance with the resurrection of Classical values and virtues.

The connections of these encaustic portraits on wooden panels to Russian Medieval Religious Icons are both stylistic and historical. Many Christian treasures were carried from their North African and Middle Eastern origins and hidden in Northern Europe and Russia for safekeeping; many of the Black Madonnas of Europe owe their existence to these flights from war-torn areas.

These mummy portraits have immense art-historical importance because very few mobile pieces of art like these ancient panel paintings survive. Some aspects of the mummy portraits, especially their frontal perspective and their concentration on key facial features, strongly resemble later icon painting.

The earliest portraits of the Virgin Mary, attributed to Saint Luke and said to have been “painted from life”, also indicate influence in composition, style, and materials.

Some art historians name the Fayum portraits “The Earliest Modernist Paintings”. Many Medieval and Renaissance schools of painting were influenced by these ancient techniques. Romanesque to Medieval religious Italian art shows this influence in the colors and methods used for religious iconography:

And the realism and brushstrokes are echoed in Early Flemish and Netherlandish religious paintings as well.

Although Northern European art after the fall of the Roman empire shifted sharply to stylized form and symbolic rather than representational images, the soft realism and warm individuality of the Fayum portraits was kept alive in pockets of influence to be reborn in the High Medieval Period and Renaissance in Northern Europe.

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Origins of 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' Begin to Emerge

The truth may be finally emerging about the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” a highly controversial papyrus suggesting that some people, in ancient times, believed Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. New research on the papyrus’ ink points to the possibility that it is authentic, researchers say, while newly obtained documents may shed light on the origins of the business-card-sized fragment.

Debate about the credibility of the “gospel” began as soon as Harvard University professor Karen King reported her discovery of the papyrus in September 2012. Written in Coptic (an Egyptian language), the papyrus fragment contains a translated line that reads, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’” and also refers to a “Mary,” possibly Mary Magdalene.

King had tentatively dated the papyrus to the fourth century, saying it may be a copy of a gospel written in the second century in Greek. Read more.


Snippets in Stone

Here are two unusual stone fragments. The object at the top is an “ostrakon”, a piece of stone or pottery filled with text, in this case from Byzantine Egypt, dating from c. 600. While the fragment seems to be part of something that was initially much bigger (a sizable pot filled with a long biblical text, perhaps), it was actually always meant to be like this: a snippet with only a few words. The object was filled with text after it had become a fragment, as can be seen from the words written on its side. It is the equivalent of a page from a notebook. The second image, from 1280 BCE, has an even stronger draft connotation. This piece of stone was likely a teaching tool used by a master who showed his apprentice how to draw a face. The pupil subsequently tried out a pair of arms, which look clumsy - lots to learn here. Both items deceive us: they seem broken and insignificant, yet are complete and full of history.

Pic: (top) Metropolian Museum of Art, Accession nr. 14.1.103, dated c. 600 (more here); (bottom) Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, Accession nr. 32.1 (more here).

I think there is no greater labor than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath.
—  Abba Agathon
Horror: ISIS releases video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians

ISIS in Syria has released a horrific video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian men.  Unlike many of their other beheading videos, this one does not cut away during the actual beheadings.

from AFP:

The Islamic State group released a video on Sunday purportedly showing the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians the jihadists say they captured in Libya.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi immediately called an urgent meeting of the country’s top security body and declared seven days of mourning.
Al-Azhar, the prestigious Cairo-based seat of Islamic learning, denounced the “barbaric” killings.

The footage released by IS online shows handcuffed hostages wearing orange jumpsuits being beheaded by their black-suited captors in a coastal area the group said was in the Libyan province of Tripoli.

In the latest issue of the IS online magazine Dabiq, the group said 21 Egyptian hostages were being held in Libya, and in Sunday’s video, shot from several angles, the beheadings of at least 10 hostages were seen.
Egyptian state television also broadcast some of the footage from the IS video.

read the rest

I won’t be posting the video here because these Islamic radicals use their violence as recruitment tools.  I want no part in spreading their evil. If you must see it, it’s not difficult to find on Google.

Newfound 'Gospel of the Lots of Mary' Discovered in Ancient Text

A 1,500-year-old book that contains a previously unknown gospel has been deciphered. The ancient manuscript may have been used to provide guidance or encouragement to people seeking help for their problems, according to a researcher who has studied the text.

Written in Coptic, an Egyptian language, the opening reads (in translation):

“The Gospel of the lots of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, she to whom Gabriel the Archangel brought the good news. He who will go forward with his whole heart will obtain what he seeks. Only do not be of two minds." 

Anne Marie Luijendijk, a professor of religion at Princeton University, discovered that this newfound gospel is like no other. Read more.


This papyrus sheet contains two love charms. While over 1400 years old, the charms are, well, charming. The top part of the sheet instructs the user how to get a good singing voice - and who wouldn’t want that? Certain words had to be written in a chalice, which apparently worked miracles to the voice. The second charm is more in line with what we would expect a person activating a charm to pursue: a woman’s heart. Again words needed to be written down, this time on a sheet of tin, after which the writing had to be buried at the woman’s door. Such charms were deemed powerful; powerful enough to have them written down on expensive material, possibly by a third - professional - party. I can’t help thinking of this pair as plan A and B: if the singing failed, a potent alternative was to secure the desired woman’s heart. Success guaranteed.

Pic: New Haven, Beinecke Library, Call Number P.CtYBR inv. 1791 (Coptic, Egypt, 6th or 7th century): source of the image and more information. Here is another papyrus love charm.