Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Religion, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Gawdat Gabra Abdel-Sayed

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Tammi Schneider

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Mary Poplin

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Rights Information

© Copyright Botros K. Sadek, 2020. All rights reserved.


This dissertation studies the development of auricular confession in the Coptic tradition from the early Church to medieval times. It demonstrates the evolvement of five penitential models through the centuries. In the first millennium of Christianity, auricular confession was neither demanded from the laity by any Coptic bishop nor embedded in any of the canonical collections accepted by the Coptic Orthodox Church. Unlike Latins and Byzantines who transferred the monastic penitential model from the desert to the city in early medieval times, the Coptic church took that move much later. Auricular confession was first introduced to the Copts in the twelfth century by Marqus ibn Qunbar (+ 1208 A.D.), a controversial priest who attempted to promote several Melkite customs, and secondly by Kyrillus ibn Laqlaq (+ 1243 A.D.), a controversial patriarch who was judged by his own bishops in an official synod. Although both attempts had faced fierce opposition from the ecclesiastical hierarchy, their literary works have promoted the practice of confession among the Copts, especially Kyrillus’ treatise, Book of Confession (or Master and Disciple). This dissertation examines carefully, from both literary and theological perspectives, this pivotal treatise that was never published in full, nor translated, nor studied before in academia.