By: Fr Anthony St Shenouda
When we speak of the church fathers we immediately think of St Athanasius, St Cyril, St John Chrysostom, Clement of Alexandria, and the many other well known patriarchs & deans of the School of Alexandria. Only recently have I come across a man who has been very influential in Coptic Church in the sixth century, yet virtually unknown to many Copts today. He was no patriarch, or a priest or even a monk, yet his theological, philosophical, and scientific, writings have been very influential in his time and only started to resonate its effect in the late 20th century in the scholarly field.
John Philoponus was born from Christian parents in Egypt around the year 490 A.D. He received his philosophical learning at the pagan school of Alexandria, which was rising to prominence over and against the declining school of Athens which shut down by an edict of Justinian in 529 A.D. He received his learning from Ammonius Hermeion a skilled pagan philosopher. John’s youth was not spent in barren academic learning but he belonged to a group of committed Christians in Egypt along with St. Severus of Antioch who later on become the non-Chalcidonian patriarch of Antioch. This group of Christians – like the first seven deacons in Acts – embarked on charitable works; building churches, and holding heated discussions with non-Christians. Read the rest of this entry »