Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Overview
 
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the predominant Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 church in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

. The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa, Cyril VI
Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria
Father Mina became Pope of Alexandria on 10 May 1959 . In accordance with the old Coptic church tradition, Pope Cyril VI was the only monk in the 20th century to be chosen for papacy without having being a bishop /Metropolitan first...

. It should not be confused with the Ethiopian Catholic Church
Ethiopian Catholic Church
The Ethiopian Catholic Church is a Metropolitan sui iuris Eastern particular Church within the Catholic Church. Established in 1930, its membership includes inhabitants of Ethiopia and Eritrea....

, which is a Chalcedonian
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 church.

One of the few pre-colonial
Colonisation of Africa
The colonisation of Africa has a long history, the most famous phase being the European Scramble for Africa during the late 19th and early 20th century.- Ancient colonialism :...

 Christian churches of Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

, the Ethiopian Church has a membership of between 40 and 45 million, the overwhelming majority of whom live in Ethiopia, and is thus the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches.
Encyclopedia
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the predominant Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 church in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

. The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa, Cyril VI
Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria
Father Mina became Pope of Alexandria on 10 May 1959 . In accordance with the old Coptic church tradition, Pope Cyril VI was the only monk in the 20th century to be chosen for papacy without having being a bishop /Metropolitan first...

. It should not be confused with the Ethiopian Catholic Church
Ethiopian Catholic Church
The Ethiopian Catholic Church is a Metropolitan sui iuris Eastern particular Church within the Catholic Church. Established in 1930, its membership includes inhabitants of Ethiopia and Eritrea....

, which is a Chalcedonian
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 church.

One of the few pre-colonial
Colonisation of Africa
The colonisation of Africa has a long history, the most famous phase being the European Scramble for Africa during the late 19th and early 20th century.- Ancient colonialism :...

 Christian churches of Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

, the Ethiopian Church has a membership of between 40 and 45 million, the overwhelming majority of whom live in Ethiopia, and is thus the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is a founding member of the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

.

Tewahedo (Te-wa-hido) (Ge'ez
Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez , also called Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea but originated in an abjad used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church...

 ተዋሕዶ tawāhidō, modern pronunciation tewāhidō) is a Ge'ez
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

 word meaning "being made one" or "unified"; it is cognate
Cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 with the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 term توحيد tawḥīd
Tawhid
Tawhid is the concept of monotheism in Islam. It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God is one and unique ....

, used in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 to mean worshipping Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 alone. This word refers to the Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 belief in the one single unified Nature of Christ
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

; i.e., a belief that a complete, natural union of the Divine and Human Natures into One is self-evident in order to accomplish the divine salvation of humankind, as opposed to the "two Natures of Christ" belief (unmixed, but unseparated Divine and Human Natures, called the Hypostatic Union
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

) which is held by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

 article on the Henotikon
Henotikon
The Henotikon was issued by Byzantine emperor Zeno in 482, in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the differences between the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon and the miaphysites...

: the Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

s of Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

, and Jerusalem, and many others, all refused to accept the "two natures" doctrine decreed by the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 in 451, thus separating them from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox — who themselves separated from one another later on in the East-West Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

 in 1054, although not over Christological views.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches, which today include the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

, the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

, the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, are referred to as "Non-Chalcedonian", and, sometimes by outsiders as "monophysite" (meaning "One Single Nature", in reference to Christ). However, these Churches themselves describe their Christology as miaphysite (meaning "One United Nature", in reference to Christ; the translation of the word "Tewahedo").

Origins

The Ethiopian Church claims its earliest origins from the royal official said to have been baptized by Philip the Evangelist
Philip the Evangelist
Saint Philip the Evangelist appears several times in the Acts of the Apostles. He was one of the Seven Deacons chosen to care for the poor of the Christian community in Jerusalem . He preached and performed miracles in Samaria, converted Simon Magus, and met and baptised an Ethiopian man, an...

 (not to be confused with Philip the Apostle
Philip the Apostle
Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia....

), one of the seven deacons:
Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian
Ethiopian eunuch
The Ethiopian eunuch is a figure in the New Testament of the Bible. The story of his conversion to Christianity is recounted in Acts 8.-Biblical narrative:...

. This man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake (Candace) Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure. (Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

, 8:27)


The passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian treasurer understand a passage from Isaiah that the Ethiopian was reading. After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage, he requested that Philip baptize him, and Philip did so. The Ethiopic version of this verse reads "Hendeke" (ህንደኬ); Queen Gersamot Hendeke VII was the Queen of Ethiopia from ca. 42 to 52.

Orthodox Christianity became the established church of the Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom under king Ezana
Ezana of Axum
Ezana of Axum , was ruler of the Axumite Kingdom located in present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, he himself employed the style "king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan"...

 in the 4th century through the efforts of a Syrian Greek named Frumentius, known in Ethiopia as Abba Selama, Kesaté Birhan ("Father of Peace, Revealer of Light"). As a youth, Frumentius had been shipwrecked with his brother Aedesius on the Eritrean coast. The brothers managed to be brought to the royal court, where they rose to positions of influence and converted Emperor Ezana to Christianity, causing him to be baptised. Ezana sent Frumentius to Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 to ask the Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

, St. Athanasius, to appoint a bishop for Ethiopia. Athanasius appointed Frumentius himself, who returned to Ethiopia as Bishop with the name of Abune Selama.

From then on, until 1959, the Pope of Alexandria, as Patriarch of All Africa, always named an Egyptian (a Copt
Copt
The Copts are the native Egyptian Christians , a major ethnoreligious group in Egypt....

) to be Abuna
Abuna
Also see Leaders of ChristianityAbun is the honorific title used for any bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church as well as of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church...

or Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of the Ethiopian Church.

Middle Ages

Union with the Coptic Orthodox Church
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 continued after the Arab conquest of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Abu Saleh records in the 12th century that the patriarch always sent letters twice a year to the kings of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

, until Al Hakim stopped the practice. Cyril, 67th patriarch, sent Severus as bishop, with orders to put down polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 and to enforce observance of canonical consecration for all churches. These examples show the close relations of the two churches concurrent with the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

.

In 1439, in the reign of Zara Yaqob
Zara Yaqob
Zar'a Ya`qob or Zera Yacob was of Ethiopia , and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

, a religious discussion between Abba Giyorgis and a French visitor had led to the dispatch of an embassy from Ethiopia to the Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

.

Jesuit interim

The period of Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 influence, which broke the connection with Egypt, began a new chapter in Church history. The initiative in the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 missions to Ethiopia was taken, not by Rome, but by Portugal, as an incident in the struggle with the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and Sultanate of Adal for the command of the trade route to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 by the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

.

In 1507 Matthew, or Matheus, an Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, had been sent as an Ethiopian envoy to Portugal to ask for aid against the Adal Sultanate
Adal Sultanate
The Adal Sultanate or the Kingdom of Adal was a medieval multi-ethnic Muslim state located in the Horn of Africa.-Overview:...

. In 1520 an embassy under Dom Rodrigo de Lima landed in Ethiopia (by which time Adal had been remobilized under Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi
Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi
Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi "the Conqueror" was an Imam and General of Adal who invaded Ethiopia and defeated several Ethiopian emperors, wreaking much damage on that kingdom...

). An interesting account of the Portuguese mission, which lasted for several years, was written by Francisco Álvares
Francisco Álvares
Francisco Álvares was a Portuguese missionary and explorer. In 1515 he traveled to Ethiopia as part of the Portuguese embassy to emperor Lebna Dengel accompanied by returning Ethiopian ambassador Matheus. The embassy arrived only in 1520 to Ethiopia where he joined long sought Portuguese envoy...

, the chaplain.

Later, Ignatius Loyola wished to take up the task of conversion, but was forbidden. Instead, the pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 sent out João Nunes Barreto as patriarch of the East Indies, with Andre de Oviedo as bishop; and from Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

 envoys went to Ethiopia, followed by Oviedo himself, to secure the king's adherence to Rome. After repeated failures some measure of success was achieved under Emperor Susenyos
Susenyos of Ethiopia
Susenyos was of Ethiopia...

, but not until 1624 did the Emperor make formal submission to the pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

. Susenyos made Roman Catholicism the official state religion, but was met with heavy resistance by his subjects, and the authorities of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and eventually had to abdicate in 1632 to his son, Fasilides
Fasilides of Ethiopia
Fasilides was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

, who promptly restored the state religion to Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. He then expelled the Jesuits in 1633, and in 1665, Fasilides ordered that all Jesuit books (the Books of the Franks) be burned.

Recent history

In recent years, the Ethiopian church experienced a series of reforms. The earliest was in the 19th century with the publication of an Amharic translation of the Bible. Largely the work of Abu Rumi
Abu Rumi
Abu Rumi is the name recorded as being the translator for the first complete Bible in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. Previously, only partial Amharic translations existed, and the Ethiopian Bible existed only in Ge'ez, the ancient liturgical language of Ethiopia. His story is recorded...

, who worked on this monumental effort for ten years in Cairo, this version, with some changes, held sway until Emperor Haile Selassie ordered a new translation which appeared in 1960/1. Haile Selassie also played a prominent role in further reforms of the church, which included encouraging the distribution of Abu Rumi's translation throughout Ethiopia, as well as his promotion of improved education of clergy, the founding of the Theological College of the Holy Trinity Church in December 1944 being a significant step in the Emperor's effort. A third development came after his restoration to Ethiopia, when Emperor Haile Selassie issued on 30 November 1942 a new law reforming the Church, Decree Number 2 of 1942. The primary objectives of this decree were to put the finances of the church in order, to create a central fund for its activities, and to set forth requirements and steps for the appointment of clergy—which had been embarrassingly lax until then.

The Coptic and Ethiopian Churches reached an agreement on 13 July 1948, that led to autocephaly
Autocephaly
Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

 for the Ethiopian Church. Five bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s were immediately consecrated by the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa, empowered to elect a new Patriarch for their church, and the successor to Abuna Qerellos IV would have the power to consecrate new bishops. This promotion was completed when Coptic Orthodox Pope Joseph II
Pope Joseph II of Alexandria
Pope Joseph II of Alexandria, known in Coptic as Yusab II was the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St...

 consecrated an Ethiopian-born Archbishop, Abuna Basilios
Abuna Basilios
His Holiness Abuna Basilios was the first Ethiopian born Archbishop or Abuna, and later the first Patriarch, of the Ethiopian Church.-Early life :...

, 14 January 1951. Then in 1959, Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria
Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria
Father Mina became Pope of Alexandria on 10 May 1959 . In accordance with the old Coptic church tradition, Pope Cyril VI was the only monk in the 20th century to be chosen for papacy without having being a bishop /Metropolitan first...

 crowned Abuna Baslios as the first Patriarch of Ethiopia.

Patriarch Abune Basilios died in 1971, and was succeeded that year by Patriarch Abune Tewophilos
Abune Tewophilos
Abuna Theophilos, also known as Abune Tewophilos, was the second Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. He officially succeeded Abuna Basilios in 1971, having assumed the role of acting patriarch upon Abuna Basilios' death in 1970.-Early life:Abune Tewophilos was born as Meliktu...

. With the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was disestablished as the state church
State church
State churches are organizational bodies within a Christian denomination which are given official status or operated by a state.State churches are not necessarily national churches in the ethnic sense of the term, but the two concepts may overlap in the case of a nation state where the state...

. The new Marxist government began nationalising property (including land) owned by the church. Patriarch Abune Tewophilos was arrested in 1976 by the Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 Derg
Derg
The Derg or Dergue was a Communist military junta that came to power in Ethiopia following the ousting of Haile Selassie I. Derg, which means "committee" or "council" in Ge'ez, is the short name of the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army, a committee of...

 military
Militarism
Militarism is defined as: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests....

 junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

, and secretly executed in 1979. The government ordered the church to elect a new Patriarch, and Abune Takla Haymanot
Abune Takla Haymanot
Abuna Takla Haymanot or Abune Takla Haymanot was the third Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. He was enthroned following the forcible removal from the Patriarchal throne of the previous Patriarch, Abuna Theophilos by the Marxist Derg regime in 1977...

 was enthroned. The Coptic Orthodox Church
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 refused to recognize the election and enthronement of Abune Tekle Haymanot on the grounds that the Synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 of the Ethiopian Church had not removed Abune Tewophilos and that the government had not publicly acknowledged his death, and he was thus still the legitimate Patriarch of Ethiopia. Formal relations between the two churches were halted, although they remained in communion with each other. Formal relations between the two churches resumed on July 13, 2007.

Patriarch Abune Tekle Haymanot proved to be much less accommodating to the Derg regime than it had expected, and so when the Patriarch died in 1988, a new Patriarch with closer ties to the regime was sought. The Archbishop of Gondar
Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder Province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar...

, a member of the Derg-era Ethiopian Parliament, was elected and enthroned as Patriarch Abuna Merkorios
Abuna Merkorios
Abuna Merkorios was the fourth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church elected after the death of Abuna Takla Haymanot in May 1988...

. Following the fall of the Derg
Derg
The Derg or Dergue was a Communist military junta that came to power in Ethiopia following the ousting of Haile Selassie I. Derg, which means "committee" or "council" in Ge'ez, is the short name of the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army, a committee of...

 regime in 1991, and the coming to power of the EPRDF
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front is the ruling political coalition in Ethiopia. It is an alliance of four other groups: the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization , the Amhara National Democratic Movement , the South Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Front The Ethiopian People's...

 government, Patriarch Abune Merkorios abdicated under public and governmental pressure. The church then elected a new Patriarch, Abune Paulos
Abune Paulos
Abune Paulos is Abuna and Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church . His full title is "His Holiness Abuna Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St...

, who was recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

. The former Patriarch Abune Merkorios then fled abroad, and announced from exile that his abdication had been made under duress and thus he was still the legitimate Patriarch of Ethiopia. Several bishops also went into exile and formed a break-away alternate synod. This exiled synod is recognized by some Ethiopian Churches in North America and Europe who recognize Patriarch Abune Merkorios, while the synod inside Ethiopia continues to uphold the legitimacy of Patriarch Abune Paulos.

Following the independence of Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

 as a nation in 1993, the Coptic Orthodox Church in 1994 appointed an Archbishop for the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which in turn obtained autocephaly
Autocephaly
Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

 in 1998 with the reluctant approval of its mother synod. That same year the first Eritrean Patriarch was consecrated.

As of 2005, there are many Ethiopian Orthodox churches located throughout the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and other countries to which Ethiopians have migrated (Archbishop Yesehaq 1997). The church claims more than 38 million members in Ethiopia, forming about half the country's population.

Practices and beliefs

The faith and practice of most Orthodox Ethiopian Christians includes elements from Miaphysite Christianity as it has developed in Ethiopia over the centuries. According to researchers Thomas P. Ofcansky and LaVerle Berry, as with many Christian traditions, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity includes elements from the local non-Christian heritage that are rejected by more educated church members, but usually shared by the ordinary priest. Christian elements include God (in Ge'ez / Amharic, ′Egziabeher, lit. "Lord of the Universe"), the angels, and the saints, besides others. According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church itself, there are no non-Christian elements in the religion other than those from the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, or Higge 'Orit (ሕገ ኦሪት), to which are added those from the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, or Higge Wongiel (ሕገ ወንጌል). A hierarchy of "Kidusan" (angelic messengers and saints) conveys the prayers of the faithful to God and carries out the divine will, so when an Ethiopian Christian is in difficulty, he or she appeals to these as well as to God. In more formal and regular rituals, priests communicate on behalf of the community, and only priests may enter the inner sanctum of the usually circular or octagonal church where the tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

 ("ark") dedicated to the church's patron saint is housed. On important religious holidays, the tabot is carried on the head of a priest and escorted in procession outside the church. It is the tabot, not the church, which is consecrated. Only those who feel pure, have fasted regularly, and have generally conducted themselves properly may enter the middle ring to receive communion
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

. At many services, most parish members remain in the outer ring, where debteras sing hymns and dance.

Ethiopian Orthodox believers are strict Trinitarians
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

, maintaining the Orthodox teaching that God is united in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This concept is known as səllasé, Ge'ez for "Trinity".

Weekly services constitute only a small part of an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian's religious observance. Several holy days require prolonged services, singing and dancing, and feasting. An important religious requirement, however, is the keeping of fast days. All devout believers are to maintain the full schedule of fasts, comprising 250 days.
  1. Fast for Hudadi or Abiye Tsome (Lent
    Lent
    In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

    ), 56 days.
  2. Fast of the Apostles, 10–40 days, which the Apostles kept after they had received the Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

    . It begins after Pentecost
    Pentecost
    Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

    .
  3. The fast of Assumption, 16 days.
  4. The gahad of Christmas
    Christmas
    Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

     (on the eve of Christmas).
  5. The fast preceding Christmas, 40 days (Advent
    Advent
    Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

    ). It begins with Sibket on 15th Hedar and ends on Christmas Eve with the feast of Gena and the 28th of Tahsas.
  6. The fast of Nineveh
    Nineveh
    Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

    , commemorating the preaching of Jonah
    Jonah
    Jonah is the name given in the Hebrew Bible to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC, the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation...

    . It comes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the third week before Lent.
  7. The gahad of Epiphany, fast on the eve of Epiphany.


In addition to standard holy days, most Christians observe many saint's days. A man might give a small feast on his personal saint's day. The local voluntary association (called the maheber) connected with each church honors its patron saint with a special service and a feast two or three times a year.

Exorcism

Priests intervene and perform exorcism
Exorcism
Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed...

s on behalf of those believed to be afflicted by demons or buda
Buda (folk religion)
Buda , in Ethiopian folk religion, is the power of the evil eye and the ability to change into a hyena. Buda is generally believed to be a power held and wielded by those in a different social group, for example among the Beta Israel or metalworkers...

. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 study, 74% of Christians in Ethiopia claim to have experienced or witnessed an exorcism. Demon-possessed persons are brought to a church or prayer meeting. Often, when an ill person has not responded to modern medical treatment, the affliction is attributed to demons. Unusual or especially perverse deeds, particularly when performed in public, are symptomatic of a demoniac. Superhuman strength – such as breaking one's bindings, as described in the New Testament accounts – along with glossolalia
Glossolalia
Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables, often as part of religious practice. The significance of glossolalia has varied with time and place, with some considering it a part of a sacred language...

 are observed in the afflicted. Amsalu Geleta, in a modern case study, relates elements that are common to Ethiopian Christian exorcisms:

It includes singing praise and victory songs, reading from the Scripture, prayer and confronting the spirit in the name of Jesus. Dialogue with the spirit is another important part of the exorcism ceremony. It helps the counselor (exorcist) to know how the spirit was operating in the life of the demoniac. The signs and events mentioned by the spirit are affirmed by the victim after deliverance.


The exorcism is not always successful, and Geleta notes another instance in which the usual methods were unsuccessful, and the demons apparently left the subject at a later time. In any event, "in all cases the spirit is commanded in no other name than the name of Jesus."

Biblical canon

The Tewahedo Church Canon contains 81 books. This canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 contains the books accepted by other Orthodox Christians.
  • The Narrower Canon also contains Enoch
    Book of Enoch
    The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is not part of the biblical canon as used by Jews, apart from Beta Israel...

    , Jubilees
    Jubilees
    The Book of Jubilees , sometimes called Lesser Genesis , is an ancient Jewish religious work, considered one of the pseudepigrapha by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches...

    , and I II III Meqabyan
    Meqabyan
    I, II, and III Meqabyan are three books in the Ethiopian Orthodox Old Testament Biblical canon....

    . (These are unrelated to the Greek I
    1 Maccabees
    The First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...

    , II
    2 Maccabees
    2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the Jews' revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work....

    , III Maccabees
    3 Maccabees
    The book of the 3 Maccabees is found in most Orthodox Bibles as a part of the Anagignoskomena, while Protestants and Catholics consider it non-canonical, except the Moravian Brethren who included it in the Apocrypha of the Czech Kralicka Bible...

     with which they are often confused.) The canonical Enoch differs from the editions of the Ge'ez manuscripts in the British Museum
    British Museum
    The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

     and elsewhere (A-Q) used by foreign scholars (OTP), for example in treatment of the Nephilim
    Nephilim
    The Nephilim are the offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" in Genesis 6:4, or giants who inhabit Canaan in Numbers 13:33. A similar word with different vowel-sounds is used in Ezekiel 32:27 to refer to dead Philistine warriors....

     of Genesis 6 . The current 81 book version was published in 1986, containing the same text as previously published in the Haile Selassie Version of the Bible
    Bible translations (Amharic)
    Although Christianity became the state religion of Ethiopia in the 4th century, and the Bible was first translated into Ge'ez at about that time, only in the last two centuries have there appeared Translations of the Bible into Amharic.- Abu Rumi translation :...

    , only with some minor modifications to the New Testament translation.
  • Some books speak of the Broader Canon has in fact never been published, but is said to include all of the Narrower Canon, as well as additional books in an appendix to the New Testament use by the early church: two Books of the Covenant, four Books of Sinodos, an Epistle to Clement, and the Didascalia. These may not all bear close resemblance to works of these titles known in the west.

Language

The divine services of the Ethiopian Church are celebrated in the Ge'ez language
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

, which has been the language of the Church at least since the arrival of the Nine Saints
Nine Saints
The Nine Saints were a group of missionaries who were important in the initial growth of Christianity in what is now Ethiopia during the late 5th century. Their names were Abba Aftse, Abba Alef, Abba Aragawi, Abba Garima , Abba Guba, Abba Liqanos, Abba Pantelewon, Abba Sehma, and Abba Yem’ata...

 (Abba Pantelewon, Abba Gerima (Isaac, or Yeshaq), Abba Aftse, Abba Guba, Abba Alef, Abba Yem’ata, Abba Liqanos, and Abba Sehma), who fled persecution by the Byzantine Emperor
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 after the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 (451). The Septuagint Greek version was originally translated into Ge'ez, but later revisions show clear evidence of the use of Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic sources. The first translation into a modern vernacular was done in the 19th century by a man who is usually known as Abu Rumi
Abu Rumi
Abu Rumi is the name recorded as being the translator for the first complete Bible in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. Previously, only partial Amharic translations existed, and the Ethiopian Bible existed only in Ge'ez, the ancient liturgical language of Ethiopia. His story is recorded...

. Later, Haile Selassie sponsored Amharic translations of the Ge'ez Scriptures during his reign, one before World War II and one afterwards. Sermons today are usually delivered in the local language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

.

Architecture

There are many monolithic church
Monolithic church
A monolithic church or rock-hewn church is a church made from a single block of stone. They are one of the most basic forms of monolithic architecture....

es in Ethiopia, most famously the above-mentioned twelve churches at Lalibela
Lalibela
Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia, known for its monolithic churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian...

. After these, two main types of architecture are found—one basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

n, the other native. The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
The Church of Our Virgin Mary of Zion of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the most important church in Ethiopia...

 at Axum is an example of the basilican design, though the early basilicas are nearly all in ruin. These examples show the influence of those architects who, in the 6th century, built the basilicas at Sanʻāʼ and elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

. There are two forms of native churches: one oblong, traditionally found in Tigray
Tigray Region
Tigray Region is the northernmost of the nine ethnic regions of Ethiopia containing the homeland of the Tigray people. It was formerly known as Region 1...

; the other circular, traditionally found in Amhara
Amhara Region
Amhara is one of the nine ethnic divisions of Ethiopia, containing the homeland of the Amhara people. Previously known as Region 3, its capital is Bahir Dar....

 and Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

 (though either style may be found elsewhere). In both forms, the sanctuary is square and stands clear in the center, and the arrangements are based on Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 tradition. Walls and ceilings are adorned with fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es. A courtyard
Courtyard
A court or courtyard is an enclosed area, often a space enclosed by a building that is open to the sky. These areas in inns and public buildings were often the primary meeting places for some purposes, leading to the other meanings of court....

, circular or rectangular, surrounds the body of the church. Modern Ethiopian churches may incorporate the basilican or native styles, and utilize contemporary construction techniques and materials. In rural areas, the church and outer court are often thatched
Thatching
Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge , rushes, or heather, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates...

, with mud-built walls.

Ark of the Covenant

The Ethiopian church claims that one of its churches, Our Lady Mary of Zion
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
The Church of Our Virgin Mary of Zion of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the most important church in Ethiopia...

, is host to the original Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

 that Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 carried with the Israelites during the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

. However, only one priest is allowed into the building where the Ark is located, ostensibly due to dangerous biblical warnings. As a result, international scholars doubt that the original Ark is truly there, although a case has been put forward by controversial popular writer Graham Hancock
Graham Hancock
Graham Hancock is a British writer and journalist. Hancock specialises in unconventional theories involving ancient civilizations, stone monuments or megaliths, altered states of consciousness, ancient myths and astronomical/astrological data from the past...

 in his book The Sign and the Seal
The Sign and the Seal
The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant is a controversial book by British researcher Graham Hancock. It was published in 1992....

.

Throughout Ethiopia, Orthodox churches are not considered churches until the local bishop gives them a tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

, a replica of the tablets in the original Ark of the Covenant. The tabot is at least six inches (15 cm) square and made from alabaster
Alabaster
Alabaster is a name applied to varieties of two distinct minerals, when used as a material: gypsum and calcite . The former is the alabaster of the present day; generally, the latter is the alabaster of the ancients...

, marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

, or wood (see acacia
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

). It is always kept in ornate coverings on the Altar. Only priests are allowed to touch the tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

. In an elaborate procession, the tabot is carried around the outside of the church amid joyful song and on the feast day of that particular church's namesake. On the great Feast of T'imk'et
Timkat
thumb|250px|Crowds gather at the Fasilides' Bath in [[Gondar]], [[Ethiopia]], to celebrate Timkat - the [[Epiphany |Epiphany]] for the [[Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church]]....

, known as Epiphany or Theophany
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

 in Europe; group of churches send their tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

s to celebrate the occasion on a common location where a pool of water or a river is located.

Similarities to Judaism

The Ethiopian church places a heavier emphasis on Old Testament teachings than one might find in any of the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant churches, and its followers adhere to certain practices that one finds in Orthodox or Conservative Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Ethiopian Christians, like some other Eastern Christians
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, traditionally follow dietary rules that are similar to Jewish Kashrut
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

, specifically with regard to how an animal is slaughtered. Similarly, pork is prohibited, though unlike Rabbinical Kashrut, Ethiopian cuisine does mix dairy products with meat. Women are prohibited from entering the church during menses; they are also expected to cover their hair with a large scarf (or shash) while in church, per 1 Cor. 11. As with Orthodox synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s, men and women are seated separately in the Ethiopian church, with men on the left and women on the right (when facing the altar). (Women covering their heads and separation of the sexes in churchhouses officially is common to some Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and (before the 1960s) to Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 Christians, as well as many conservative Protestant and Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 traditions; it also is the rule in some non-Christian religions, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 among them.) Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers remove their shoes when entering a church, in accordance with Exodus 3:5 (in which Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, while viewing the burning bush
Burning bush
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus as being located on Mount Sinai; according to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name...

, is commanded to remove his shoes while standing on holy ground). Furthermore, both the Sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 (Saturday), and the Lord's Day
Lord's Day
Lord's Day is a Christian name for Sunday, the day of communal worship. It is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of...

 (Sunday) are observed as holy, although more emphasis, because of the Resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

 of Christ, is laid upon Sunday.

Bishops

These are bishops lead by the current patriarch Abuna Paulos and the synod in Ethiopia:

Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

:
  • Abuna Paulos, patriarch


Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

:
  • Bishop Matthias in Canadian diocese, residing in London, Ontario


In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 there are the following bishops:
  • Abuna Kewustos, archbishop of Washington, D.C.
  • Aba (Abuna) Zekarias, archbishop in New York City
  • Aba Ewastetewos (Eustathius), archbishop in Berkeley, California


The South of America:
  • Abuna Thaddaeus, archbishop of the Caribbean and Latin America


there is also a jurisdiction in Western Europe:
  • Archbishop Yohannes of Europe, in London


The church has 57 bishops and 44 dioceses.

See also

  • Abuna
    Abuna
    Also see Leaders of ChristianityAbun is the honorific title used for any bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church as well as of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church...

  • Christianity in Ethiopia
    Christianity in Ethiopia
    Christianity in Ethiopia dates to the first century AD, and this long tradition makes Ethiopia unique amongst sub-Saharan African countries. Christianity in this country is divided into several groups...

  • Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church
  • Ethiopian Catholic Church
    Ethiopian Catholic Church
    The Ethiopian Catholic Church is a Metropolitan sui iuris Eastern particular Church within the Catholic Church. Established in 1930, its membership includes inhabitants of Ethiopia and Eritrea....

  • List of Abunas of Ethiopia
  • List of Orthodox Churches
  • Christianity in India
    Christianity in India
    Christianity is India's third-largest religion, with approximately 24 million followers, constituting 2.3% of India's population. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings and 14th century Portuguese missionaries created an illusion to convert Indians that Christianity was introduced to...


External links

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