Christianity in Ethiopia: How the Christian Church Developed in Ethiopia

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Christianity in Ethiopia: how the Christian Church developed in Ethiopia

Daniel Medina A00749550

PhD. Ayot

African Scenario

Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Campus Chihuahua

Christianity in Ethiopia: how the Christian Church developed in Ethiopia

I. Introduction

II. Beginning of Christianity in Ethiopia

a. King Solomon and Queen of Sheba

b. Philip and the eunuch (The biblical story)

c. Frumentius/King Ezana

d. Nine monks from the east

III. Ethiopian Christianity and Islam

a. The Zagwé Dynasty

b. The Solomonic Dynasty

c. The Muslim Jihad

d. The Portuguese intervention

IV. Consolidation of the Orthodox Ethiopian Church

a. Era of the Princes and doctrinal conflicts

b. Reunification and Tweodros II

c. 20th Century

V. Conclusion

Christianity in Ethiopia, the past and the present

I. Introduction

Christianity has a long history in Ethiopia, country that embraced the religion since biblical times and despite the threats of Islam and imperialism has remained firm in the faith with all and its different denominations. There are different versions of how Christianity came to be in Ethiopia, although all of them converge at some point; mostly, what varies is the time of when that happened. Some claim that the beginnings of Christianity in Ethiopia go as back as King Solomon´s times, even though the religion had not existed yet. This version includes the biblical story of Philip and the eunuch. Others claim that Christianity first arrived in Ethiopia in the IV Century A.D. with Frumentius and Aedesius, two Syrian Christian youth that arrived, because of a shipwreck, to Ethiopian shores. They then shared the gospel and later the king was baptized and the religion was made official. There are versions that claim that King Ezana´s conversion was a mere commercial strategy.

From that moment Ethiopia has been officially a Christian state, and though faced the threat of Islam to the degree of causing the disintegration of the kingdom for several hundred years, the country has remained in its majority Christian, including the Orthodox Ethiopian Church and all the different denominations.

II. Beginning of Christianity in Ethiopia
a. King Solomon and the Queen of Sheeba
Ethiopia has had a tie with the Jews and its laws since a long time before Christianity existed (of course as a well conformed religion), and it was because of this influence that Christianity made its way into Ethiopian lands. The story is a mix of accounts from the Bible as well as from an ancient Ethiopian book called Kebra Negast. During Solomon´s kingdom (971-931 B.C.) he became very famous because of his great wisdom. Many people came and visited him, including the Queen of Sheba, whom had heard of his great wisdom and went up to Israel with many gifts of gold, silver and spices. The name of the Queen, according to Biblical accounts is unknown, but according to Ethiopian tradition is Makeda. And as the Biblical story tells in 1Kings 10:2,3, “ And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.” (Biblegateway, n.d.) The Bible tells no more about the accounts, but the Kebra Negast tells the rest of the story of Makeda´s visit. According to this book, when she was ready to depart after six months in Jerusalem, King Solomon deceived Queen Makeda into sleeping with him, since she had refused to do it bare one of his children. After this she left the country, but before she would do so King Solomon stopped her and told her, “If thou shouldst ever bear a child this ring will be the sign of recognition. If it should be a son...
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