September 21, 2012
The Copts are Egyptian Christians. They were the dominate religion of Egypt around 400 A.D. until Arab Muslims overran them in 640 A.D. Copts make up only 10 percent of the Egyptian population today but they’re making some pretty big headlines.
First, a fragment of a Coptic manuscript has been fairly well authenticated that refers to the “wife of Jesus.” This presents a certain problem for Roman Catholics who celebrate centuries of celibate priests based upon the premise of Jesus not laying so much as a finger upon Mary Magdalene, as well as the doctrine of his own virgin birth. This leaves the pope and his new butler much to ponder.
At about the same time a small group of Copts here in the U.S. have made a film deeply insulting to millions of Muslims who’ve never seen it. Resultant riots threaten the “Arab Spring.”
Most countries have laws forbidding speech that offends another’s dignity while America does not. Our concept of free speech is misunderstood by many who are left with the takeaway that America promotes Muslim hate speech. Nothing, however, can justify the violence and murders of the past few days.
Egypt hosted an ancient culture that was a lost civilization by the time of Christ. Few clues are found in the Sphinx of Giza, the oldest and largest stone monument ever built by man. It is an enigma. No one knows who built it or for sure even when.
Carbon dating is no help because the gigantic sandstone sculpture was carved in place out of a sandstone shelf near present-day Cairo. Despite the ravages of time’s erosion and man’s wanton destruction, the statue of the half-man, half-lion is remarkably well preserved due to being buried under the sands of the Saharan Desert.
In the late 1700s Napoleon stumbled across the Sphinx, buried up to its neck. For the next 250 years there were several efforts to excavate the sand away to expose the huge monolith but the Sahara’s relentless wind and the sheer immensity of the undertaking proved beyond the abilities of several engineers who tried. Beginning in 1925, it took 11 years of continuous effort for the French engineer Emile Baraize to excavate the Sphinx on behalf of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, and in 1936, for the first time in possibly 4,000 years, the great beast rose up Sahara again.
But maybe man didn’t build it. One theory says it was built by superior aliens who went on to settle Atlantis. We know about Atlantis from Plato, who claimed Athenians were peaceful philosophers while the Atlanteans were nasty, war-like neighbors who conveniently sank into the ocean during an earthquake.
In the early 1930s, German writers Julius Evola and Alfred Rosenberg speculated that Atlanteans were Aryan Nordic demigods from the northern island of Ultima Thule who had moved south to the idyllic island of Atlantis. The concept drove Adolph Hitler to send his second-in-command, Heinrich Himmler, as far as Tibet searching for Aryan Supermen. He didn’t find any.
Much of the decay of the Sphinx has occurred since it was uncovered. Acid rain, soot and carbon monoxide from the choking Cairo traffic have taken their toll. Preservation efforts made the situation worse, causing great chunks of the sandstone to flake off making its ultimate fate uncertain. A few years ago a fence was finally erected around the Sphinx to keep out the camels, donkeys and souvenir-seekers.
Too bad it can’t keep out the hatred.