Origins of the Agpeya

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Does anyone know the history behind it? Who compiled it? When was it introduced into the church? Thanks!


  • thank you for that link but I was hoping for something a little more detailed. Does anyone know where I can find more info about it? please share! thanks!
  • Dear Amoussa,

    I am afraid this article on is overly simplistic to the point of being grossly misleading. Yes, the apostles prayed at specific times of day in accordance with Jewish custom, but this has little to do with our Coptic Horologion as such. To make the statement that "The Agpeya or the seven canonical prayers started as early as the Apostolic age during the earliest days of Christianity," can lead some to think our Coptic Horologion (the only book in any tradition called Agpeya) existed as it is today since the apostles. I won't get into the details of the rest of the article, because they seem to shed very little light on the Coptic Horologion as it stands today.

    I'd be glad to discuss specifics, since the Horologion is a complex topic. As with any liturgical service, it is composed of layers and various prayers that slowly and gradually took the form it has today. Various gospel passages and order of prayers can be seen in manuscripts up to the 19th century. With the beginning of the 20th century and the spread of printing, you start to see the homogeneity we have now, where virtually all agpeyas published are replicas. The point is, we cannot make any such statement saying "The Agpeya was introduced to the Church in the....century". Services and rites develop gradually, and are seldom if ever introduced in whole.

    Aside from asking me about specifics, I can also recommend some critical sources for the study of daily prayer written by liturgical scholars:

    1- The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West / Robert Taft
    2- Daily Prayer in the Early Church: A Study of the Origin and Early Development of the Divine Office / Paul Bradshaw
    3- Daily Office and Theotokia / De Lacy O'Leary
    4- Untersuchungen Zum Koptischen Stundengebet / Hans Quecke
    5- The Canonical Hours of the Coptic Church / O.H.E. Burmester
    6- The Agpeya / Fr. Athanasius Almaqari (Arabic)
    7- The Horologion of the Coptic Orthodox Church According to Codex Parisinus 107 Arabe / Maged Hanna (Greek)

    There are countless other books and articles to address specific questions, but these offer good intros on the subject.

    God bless.
  • Thanks Ramez,

    I appreciate the sources. I believe you also know of a few good books regarding the liturgy as well; would you mind sharing those sources too? Thanks again!

  • Glad to be of help, Tony!

    Liturgy is even more complex. There is liturgical history, theology, Patristics on the Eucharist, early Christian eucharistic texts, comparative rites....etc. There are all kinds of books on the general development of the Liturgy in the early Church, the rise of various liturgical families...etc. But if you are thinking mainly of the Coptic rite, it might be daunting to read all these sources looking for information on the Coptic church.

    If you read Arabic, there are three great books on this topic:

    1- The Eucharist: The Supper of the Lord / Fr. Matta Al-Maskin
    2- The Eucharist / Fr. Athanasius Almaqari (2 parts)
    3- The Divine Liturgy / George Bebawi

    1 and 3 are more theological, 2 is stronger in ritual history. Please however understand that you are asking about a huge field with various subfields, theories, and emphases. I strongly recommend you start by asking concrete questions. If you just want a short read that provides a profound yet semi-brief meditation on the theology of the liturgy, that's another story...I can recommend these as well.
  • [quote author=RamezM link=topic=14579.msg165696#msg165696 date=1377109252]
    If you just want a short read that provides a profound yet semi-brief meditation on the theology of the liturgy, that's another story...I can recommend these as well.

    Dear Ramez,

    So sorry to hijack the thread but the last thing you mentioned about a short meditation on the theology of the liturgy is something I would really be interested in. Could you please recommend some titles?

    Many thanks,

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