The Roots of Egyptian Christianity Project of the IAC was inaugurated with an international conference by that name held at Claremont and Santa Barbara in September, 1983, with sponsorship by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The first volume produced by the project (The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, SAC 1. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986) contained revised versions of papers presented at the conference.
The project has as its goal to foster scholarship on early Egyptian Christianity up to the time of the Arab conquest of Egypt in the seventh century. It seeks to understand the inception of Christianity in Egypt, first in Greek-speaking Alexandria, its further development and spread among the native populations of Egypt, and its emergence as the national religion of Egypt. By studying the development of Egyptian Christianity as an expression of Egyptian culture, often in reaction to the dominant culture of the Graeco-Roman world, one is better able to understand what makes Egyptian Christianity Egyptian.
Several volumes have been published by members of the project, all in the Roots of Egyptian Christianity subseries of the IAC series, Studies in Antiquity and Christianity. Since its inception the project has been directed by Birger A. Pearson, now Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Birger A. Pearson, Director, is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.