Michael Ghattas (Egypt)
Theology and church music have always been a passion of the renowned Egyptian theologian and musician. In 1952, he was born in Iskanderiyya, Alexandria – a metropolis rich in history and famous for its philosophes and theologians, the book city – in the country that is praised as umm ad-dunya,”mother of civilisation”.
Prof. Ghattas, who speaks 11 languages, early on followed in the footsteps of the great thinkers of his famous hometown: his studies in Orthodox Theology and Byzantine Church Music first led him to Greece (Aristotle University of Thessaoloniki) and later to Germany where he studied Theology and Papyrology in Heidelberg. In 1996, he finished his doctoral studies in Marburg on the topic of “The Christology of Didymos the Blind of Alexandria in the Scriptures of Tura. On the Development of Alexandrian Theology of the 4th Century” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang A. Bienert. Several research stays in Germany followed. Since 1997, Prof. Ghattas has worked as scientist and lecturer at the Patristic Center Cairo. Since 2001, he has also worked as a teacher of religious studies at the German Protestant High School (“Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule”) in Cairo and since 2002 he has also been head of the Department of Coptic Hymns and Music at the Institute for Coptic Studies in Cairo. On a regular basis, he lectures at theologian seminars of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Germany and Egypt and is also subdeacon of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
To this day, his great concern is not only to study and know the cultural and religious heritage, but also to preserve and pass it on to future generations. As a lecturer and teacher he conveys this heritage to his students, as a scientist he prepares and preserves it. Thus, one of his research projects was dedicated to the preservation of a true treasure, of an old Coptic heritage: the audiotape recordings of the sound archive of the Institute for Coptic Orthodox Church Music in Cairo which had to be digitalised and transcribed. He carried out this work in cooperation with the Hanover University of Music, Drama and the Center for World Music. On October, 6th 2009 and in the presence of the German Ambassador to Egypt, Bernd Erbel, the ceremonial handover of the hard drive storage to Pope Shenouda III. took place in the Pope’s audience chamber.
Prof. Ghattas works tirelessly to ensure that the youth, not least the Coptic youth, stays in the country and to offer them a future in Egypt. As a consequence, the idea of forming a Partner Committee with Ghattas as secretary was greatly approved. In 2002, the Egyptian Partner Committee was established thanks to his commitment and disposition. Thanks to him, since 2002, approximately some 60 Egyptian students and scientists received a scholarship through the S1 program, alumni seminars are held on a regular basis in Egypt and all alumni can also count on Prof. Ghattas as a reliable contact person. Undoubtedly, Prof. Ghattas invests a lot of time and shows great commitment in order to render possible the numerous meetings with applicants, scholars and alumni. For this great commitment, KAAD expressed their sincere thanks to him and he was awarded the Bene-Merenti Medal in April 2018. We hope that many more years of working together with him are to come.