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The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church (Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ:ኦርቶዶክስ:ተዋሕዶ:ቤተ:ክርስቲያን; Yäityop'ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan) is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches. One of the few pre-colonial Christian Churches in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a membership of between 45 and 50 million people,[1] the majority of whom live in Ethiopia.[2] It is a founding member of the World Council of Churches.[3] The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is in communion with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Alexandria
having gained autocephaly in 1959. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
from the first half of the 4th century until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch
Patriarch
by the Coptic Orthodox Pope
Pope
of Alexandria
Alexandria
and Patriarch
Patriarch
of All Africa, Cyril VI.[citation needed] As one of the oldest Christian churches and a non-Chalcedonian Church, it is not in communion with the Ethiopian Catholic Church. Ethiopia
Ethiopia
is the second country only after Armenia[citation needed] to have officially proclaimed Christianity
Christianity
as state religion (in 333 AD) though some argue it may even be the first; due to biblical references.[4] Tewahedo ( Ge'ez
Ge'ez
ተዋሕዶ) is a Ge'ez
Ge'ez
word meaning "being made one". This word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one perfectly unified Nature of Christ; i.e., a complete union of the Divine and Human Natures into one nature is self-evident in order to accomplish the divine salvation of humankind, as opposed to the "two Natures of Christ" belief commonly held by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and most Protestant Churches. The Oriental Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodox Churches
adhere to a Miaphysitic Christological view followed by Cyril of Alexandria, the leading protagonist in the Christological debates of the 4th and 5th centuries, who advocated "mia physis tou theou logou sesarkōmenē", or "one (mia) nature of the Word of God incarnate" (μία φύσις τοῦ θεοῦ λόγου σεσαρκωμένη) and a "union according to hypostasis" (ἕνωσις καθ' ὑπόστασιν henōsis kath' hypostasin), or hypostatic union. The distinction of this stance was that the incarnate Christ has one nature, but that one nature is of the two natures, divine and human, and retains all the characteristics of both after the union. Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism
holds that in the one person of Jesus Christ, Divinity and Humanity are united in one (μία, mia - "united") nature (φύσις - "physis") without separation, without confusion, without alteration and without mixing[5] where Christ is consubstantial with God the Father
God the Father
in as much as He is with Mankind. Around 500 bishops within the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch
Antioch
and Jerusalem
Jerusalem
refused to accept the Dyophysitism
Dyophysitism
(two natures) doctrine decreed by the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
in 451, an incident that resulted in the first major split in the main body of the Christian Church.[6] The Oriental Orthodox Churches, which today include the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, are referred to as "Non-Chalcedonian", and, sometimes incorrectly by outsiders as "monophysite". Monophysitism
Monophysitism
is a theology adopted by a 5th-century presbyter and archimandrite in Constantinople known as Eutyches
Eutyches
and claims that Christ has "One Single Nature" where His Divinity absorbed His Humanity resulting in a "Simple" mathematical "One" Nature to which the Oriental Orthodox Churches object. According to these, both natures in Christ are perfectly preserved after the union in "mia physis" - One Nature; yet, not resulting in a distinct third Nature.

Contents

1 History

1.1 Origins 1.2 Middle Ages 1.3 Jesuit interim 1.4 Recent history

2 Practices and beliefs

2.1 Exorcism

3 Distinctive traits

3.1 Biblical canon 3.2 Language 3.3 Architecture 3.4 Ark of the Covenant 3.5 Similarities to Judaism 3.6 Debtera

4 Abuna Patriarch-Catholicoi, Archbishops and bishops 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

History[edit] Origins[edit]

Ethiopian Orthodox icon depicting St. George, the Crucifixion, and the Virgin Mary

Many traditions claim that Christian teachings were introduced to the region immediately after Pentecost. John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
speaks of the "Ethiopians present in Jerusalem" as being able to understand the preaching of Saint Peter
Saint Peter
in Acts, 2:38.[7] Possible missions of some of the Apostles
Apostles
in the lands now called Ethiopia
Ethiopia
is also reported as early as the 4th century. Socrates of Constantinople
Constantinople
includes Ethiopia in his list as one of the regions preached by Matthew the Apostle,[8] where a specific mention of " Ethiopia
Ethiopia
south of the Caspian Sea" can be confirmed in some traditions such as the Roman Catholic Church[9] among others. Ethiopian Church tradition tells that Bartholomew accompanied Matthew in a mission which lasted for at least three months.[10] Paintings depicting these missions are available in the Church of St. Matthew found in the Province of Pisa, in northern Italy portrayed by Francesco Trevisan (it) (1650-1740) and Marco Benefial (1688-1764).[11] The earliest account of an Ethiopian converted to the faith in the New Testament books is a royal official baptized by Philip the Evangelist (distinct from Philip the Apostle), one of the seven deacons (Acts, 8:26–27):

Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem
Jerusalem
to Gaza. So he set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian. This man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake
Kandake
(Candace) Queen of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
in charge of all her treasure. (Acts, 8:26–27)

Holy Trinity
Trinity
Cathedral, Addis Ababa

The passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian treasurer understand a passage from the Book of Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
that the Ethiopian was reading. After Philip interpreted the passage as prophecy referring to Jesus Christ, the Ethiopian 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
Ethiopia
from c. 42 to 52. Where the possibility of gospel missions by the Ethiopian eunuch
Ethiopian eunuch
cannot be directly inferred from the Books of the New Testament, Irenaeus
Irenaeus
of Lyons around 180 AD writes that "Simon Backos" preached the good news in his homeland outlining also the theme of his preaching as being the coming in flesh of the One God that "was preached to you all before."[12] The same kind of witness is shared by 3rd and 4th century writers such as Eusebius
Eusebius
of Caesarea[13] and Origen
Origen
of Alexandria.[10]

Coin of King Ezana, under whom Oriental Orthodox Christianity
Christianity
became the established church of the Kingdom of Aksum

Oriental Orthodox Christianity
Christianity
became the established church of the Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom under king Ezana in the 4th century when priesthood and the sacraments were brought for the first time through a Syrian Greek named Frumentius, known by the local population in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
as Abba Selama, Kesaté Birhan ("Father of Peace, Revealer of Light"). As a youth, Frumentius
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 baptized Emperor Ezana. Ezana sent Frumentius
Frumentius
to Alexandria
Alexandria
to ask the Patriarch, St. Athanasius, to appoint a bishop for Ethiopia. Athanasius
Athanasius
appointed Frumentius, who returned to Ethiopia
Ethiopia
as Bishop
Bishop
with the name of Abune Selama. From then on, until 1959, the Pope
Pope
of Alexandria, as Patriarch of All Africa, always named an Egyptian (a Copt) to be Abuna or Archbishop
Archbishop
of the Ethiopian Church. Middle Ages[edit]

Late 17th century portrait of Abba Giyorgis
Abba Giyorgis
by Baselyos

Union with the Coptic Orthodox Church continued after the Arab conquest of Egypt. Abu Saleh records in the 12th century that the patriarch always sent letters twice a year to the kings of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Nubia, until Al Hakim stopped the practice. Cyril, 67th patriarch, sent Severus as bishop, with orders to put down polygamy and to enforce observance of canonical consecration for all churches. These examples show the close relations of the two churches throughout the Middle Ages. In 1439, in the reign of Zara Yaqob, a religious discussion between Abba Giyorgis
Abba Giyorgis
and a French visitor led to the dispatch of an embassy from Ethiopia
Ethiopia
to the Vatican. Jesuit interim[edit]

Icon of Abuna Samuel of Waldebba, a 15th-century Ethiopian monk and ascetic of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The period of Jesuit influence, which broke the connection with Egypt, began a new chapter in church history. The initiative in Roman Catholic missions to Ethiopia
Ethiopia
was taken, not by Rome, but by Portugal, in the course of a conflict with the Muslim
Muslim
Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
and the Sultanate of Adal
Sultanate of Adal
for the command of the trade route to India
India
via the Red Sea. In 1507 Matthew, or Matheus, an Armenian, had been sent as an Ethiopian envoy to Portugal
Portugal
to ask for aid against the Adal Sultanate. In 1520 an embassy under Dom Rodrigo de Lima landed in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
(by which time Adal had been remobilized under Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi). An interesting account of the Portuguese mission, which lasted for several years, was written by Francisco Álvares, its chaplain. Later, Ignatius Loyola
Ignatius Loyola
wished to take up the task of conversion, but was forbidden to do so. Instead, the pope sent out João Nunes Barreto as patriarch of the East Indies, with Andre de Oviedo as bishop; and from Goa
Goa
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 I, but not until 1624 did the Emperor make formal submission to the pope. Susenyos made Roman Catholicism the official state religion, but was met with heavy resistance by his subjects and by the authorities of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and eventually had to abdicate in 1632 in favour of his son, Fasilides, who promptly restored Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity
Christianity
as the state religion. He then in 1633 expelled the Jesuits, and in 1665 Fasilides
Fasilides
ordered that all Jesuit books (the Books of the Franks) be burned. Recent history[edit]

Engraving of Abuna Salama III, head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (1841-1867)

In more modern times, the Ethiopian church experienced a series of developments. The earliest was in the 19th century with the publication of an Amharic
Amharic
translation of the Bible. Largely the work of Abu Rumi over ten years in Cairo, this version, with some changes, held sway until Emperor Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie
ordered a new translation which appeared in 1960/1.[14] Haile Selassie
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,[15] as well as his promotion of improved education of clergy, a significant step in the Emperor's effort being the founding of the Theological College of the Holy Trinity
Trinity
Church in December 1944.[16] A third development came after Haile Selassie's restoration to Ethiopia, when he issued, on 30 November, Decree Number 2 of 1942, a new law reforming the Church. 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 for the appointment of clergy—which had been fairly lax until then.[17] The Coptic and Ethiopian Churches reached an agreement on 13 July 1948, that led to autocephaly for the Ethiopian Church. Five bishops were immediately consecrated by the Coptic Pope
Pope
of Alexandria
Alexandria
and Patriarch
Patriarch
of All Africa, empowered to elect a new Patriarch
Patriarch
for their church, and the successor to Abuna Qerellos IV would have the power to consecrate new bishops.[18] This promotion was completed when Coptic Orthodox Pope
Pope
Joseph II consecrated an Ethiopian-born Archbishop, Abuna Basilios, 14 January 1951. Then in 1959, Pope
Pope
Cyril VI of Alexandria
Alexandria
crowned Abuna Basilios as the first Patriarch
Patriarch
of Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian Orthodox priest displays the processional crosses.

Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Basilios died in 1971, and was succeeded that year by Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Tewophilos. With the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie
in 1974, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church was disestablished as the state church. The new Marxist government began nationalising property (including land) owned by the church. Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Tewophilos
Abune Tewophilos
was arrested in 1976 by the Marxist Derg
Derg
military junta, and secretly executed in 1979. The government ordered the church to elect a new Patriarch, and Abune Takla Haymanot was enthroned. The Coptic Orthodox Church refused to recognize the election and enthronement of Abune Tekle Haymanot
Tekle Haymanot
on the grounds that the Synod
Synod
of the Ethiopian Church had not removed Abune Tewophilos
Abune Tewophilos
and that the government had not publicly acknowledged his death, and he was thus still the legitimate Patriarch
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.[19]

Abuna Paulos, the late Patriarch
Patriarch
of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Tekle Haymanot
Tekle Haymanot
proved to be much less accommodating to the Derg
Derg
regime than it had expected, and so when the Patriarch
Patriarch
died in 1988, a new Patriarch
Patriarch
with closer ties to the regime was sought. The Archbishop
Archbishop
of Gondar, a member of the Derg-era Ethiopian Parliament, was elected and enthroned as Patriarch
Patriarch
Abuna Merkorios. Following the fall of the Derg
Derg
regime in 1991, and the coming to power of the EPRDF government, Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Merkorios abdicated under public and governmental pressure. The Church then elected a new Patriarch, Abune Paulos, who was recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Pope
Pope
of Alexandria. The former Patriarch
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
Patriarch
of Ethiopia. Several bishops also went into exile and formed a break-away alternate synod.[20] This exiled synod is recognized by some Ethiopian Churches in North America and Europe who recognize Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Merkorios, while the synod inside Ethiopia
Ethiopia
continued to uphold the legitimacy of Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Paulos. Following the independence of Eritrea
Eritrea
as a nation in 1993, the Coptic Orthodox Church in 1994 appointed an Archbishop
Archbishop
for the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church, which in turn obtained autocephaly in 1998 with the reluctant approval of its mother synod. That same year the first Eritrean Patriarch
Patriarch
was consecrated. As of 2005, there are many Ethiopian Orthodox churches located throughout the United States
United States
and other countries to which Ethiopians have migrated ( Archbishop
Archbishop
Yesehaq 1997). The church claims more than 38 million members in Ethiopia, forming about half the country's population. Patriarch
Patriarch
Abune Paulos
Abune Paulos
died on August 16, 2012, followed four days later by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.[21] On February 28, 2013, a college of electors assembled in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
and elected Abune Mathias to be the 6th Patriarch
Patriarch
of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.[22] Practices and beliefs[edit]

Priests and deacons conducting a church service at St. Michael Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church, Washington, DC.

The faith and practice of Orthodox Ethiopian Christians includes elements from Miaphysite Christianity
Christianity
as it has developed in Ethiopia over the centuries. Christian beliefs include belief in God (in Ge'ez / Amharic, ′Egziabeher, lit. "Lord of the Universe"), veneration to the Virgin Mary, 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, or Higge 'Orit (ሕገ ኦሪት), to which are added those from the New Testament, or Higge Wongiel (ሕገ ወንጌል).[23] 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 ("ark") dedicated to the church's patron saint is housed.[24] 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. At many services, most parish members remain in the outer ring, where debteras sing hymns and dance.[25]

Processional crosses carried on long poles in Ethiopian Orthodox religious processions

The Eucharist
Eucharist
is given only to those who feel pure, have fasted regularly, and have, in general, properly conducted themselves.[24] In practice, communion is mainly limited to young children and the elderly; those who are at a sexually active age or who have sexual desires generally do not receive the Eucharist.[24][26] Worshippers receiving communion may enter the middle ring of the church to do so.[24] Ethiopian Orthodox believers are strict Trinitarians,[27] maintaining the Orthodox teaching that God is united in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This concept is known as səllasé, Ge'ez
Ge'ez
for "Trinity". Daily 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, during which adherents abstain from consuming meat and animal products, and refrain from sexual activity.[24][26][28] All devout believers are to maintain the full schedule of fasts, comprising at least 250 days a year apart from other forms of fasting purely left to individual decision of the faithful.

An Ethiopian Orthodox ceremony at Fasilides' Bath in Gondar, Ethiopia, celebrating Timkat
Timkat
(Epiphany).

Fast for Hudadi or Abiye Tsome, 55 days prior to Easter (Fasika).[29][30] This fast is divided into three separate periods: Tsome Hirkal, eight days commemorating an early Christian figure; Tsome Arba, forty days of Lent; and Tsome Himamat, seven days commemorating Holy Week.[29][30] Fast of the Apostles, 10–40 days, which the Apostles
Apostles
kept after they had received the Holy Spirit. It begins after Pentecost. The fast Tsome Dihnet, which is on Wednesdays in commemoration of the plot organized to kill Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
by Caiaphas
Caiaphas
and the members of the house of the high priest and Fridays in commemoration of the Crucifixion
Crucifixion
of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
(starts on Wednesday after Pentecost
Pentecost
and spans up to Easter, in other words all Wednesdays and Fridays except during 50 days after Easter[24]). The fast of Dormition, 16 days. The fast preceding Christmas, 40 days (Advent). It begins with Sibket on 15th Hedar and ends on Christmas Eve with the feast of Gena and the 29th of Tahsas and 28th if the year is preceded by leap year. The Fast of Nineveh, commemorating the preaching of Jonah. It comes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the third week before Lent. The gahad of Timkat
Timkat
(Epiphany), fast on the eve of Epiphany.

In addition to standard holy days, most Christians observe many saints' 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.[25] Exorcism[edit]

An Ethiopian Orthodox hand cross, used by priests in church services and to perform exorcisms.

Priests intervene and perform exorcisms on behalf of those believed to be afflicted by demons or buda. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, 74% of Christians in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
claim to have experienced or witnessed an exorcism.[31] Demon-possessed persons are brought to a church or prayer meeting.[32] Often, when an ill person has not responded to modern medical treatment, the affliction is attributed to demons.[32] Unusual or especially perverse deeds, particularly when performed in public, are symptomatic of a demoniac.[32] Superhuman strength – such as breaking one's bindings, as described in the New Testament accounts – along with glossolalia are observed in the afflicted.[32] 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.[32]

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."[32] Distinctive traits[edit] Biblical canon[edit] Main article: Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
biblical canon

Drawing of the Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
'with her beloved son' in pencil and ink, from a manuscript copy of Weddasé Māryām, circa 1875.

The Tewahedo Church Canon contains 81 books. This canon contains the books accepted by other Orthodox Christians.[33]

The Narrower Canon contains Enoch, Jubilees, and I II III Meqabyan. (These are unrelated to the Greek I, II, III Maccabees with which they are often confused.) The canonical Enoch differs from the editions of the Ge'ez
Ge'ez
manuscripts in the British Museum
British Museum
and elsewhere (A-Q) used by foreign scholars (OTP), for example in treatment of the Nephilim
Nephilim
of Genesis 6.[citation needed] The current 81 book version was published in 1986, containing the same text as previously published in the Haile Selassie Version of the Bible, only with some minor modifications to the New Testament
New Testament
translation. Some sources speak of the Broader Canon, which has never been published as a single compilation but is said to include all of the Narrower Canon, as well as additional New Testament
New Testament
books said to have been used by the early church: two Books of the Covenant, four Books of Sinodos, an Epistle of Peter to Clement—also known as "Ethiopic Clement," and the Ethiopic Didascalia. These may not all bear close resemblance to works with similar titles known in the West. An eight-part, Ethiopic version of the history of the Jewish people written by Joseph ben Gorion, known as the 'Pseudo-Josephus' is considered part of the broader canon, though it would be considered an Old Testament
Old Testament
work.[34]

Language[edit]

Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Meskel
Meskel
( Ge'ez
Ge'ez
for "cross")

The divine services of the Ethiopian Church are celebrated in the Ge'ez
Ge'ez
language. It has been the liturgical language of the Church at least since the arrival of the Nine Saints
Nine Saints
(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 after the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
(451).[citation needed] The Septuagint
Septuagint
Greek version was originally translated into Ge'ez, but later revisions show clear evidence of the use of Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic
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. Later, Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie
sponsored Amharic
Amharic
translations of the Ge'ez
Ge'ez
Scriptures during his reign, one before World War II and one afterward. Sermons
Sermons
today are usually delivered in the local language. Architecture[edit]

The Church of Saint George, a monolithic church in Lalibela

There are many monolithic (rock-hewn) churches in Ethiopia, most famously eleven churches at Lalibela. Besides these, two main types of architecture are found—one basilican, the other native. The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion at Axum is an example of the basilican design, though the early basilicas are nearly all in ruin. These examples show the influence of the architects who, in the 6th century, built the basilicas at Sanʻāʼ and elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula. There are two forms of native churches: one oblong, traditionally found in Tigray; the other circular, traditionally found in Amhara and Shewa
Shewa
(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 tradition. Walls and ceilings are adorned with frescoes. A courtyard, circular or rectangular, surrounds the body of the church. Modern Ethiopian churches may incorporate the basilican or native styles and use contemporary construction techniques and materials. In rural areas, the church and outer court are often thatched, with mud-built walls. Ark of the Covenant[edit]

The Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
is said to house the original Ark of the Covenant.

The Ethiopian church claims that one of its churches, Our Lady Mary of Zion, is host to the original Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
that Moses
Moses
carried with the Israelites
Israelites
during the Exodus. 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
in his book The Sign and the Seal. Throughout Ethiopia, Orthodox churches are not considered churches until the local bishop gives them a tabot, a replica of the tablets in the original Ark of the Covenant. The tabot is at least six inches (15 cm) square, and it is made of either alabaster, marble, or wood (see acacia). It is always kept in ornate coverings on the altar. Only priests are allowed to touch the tabot. In an elaborate procession, the tabot is carried around the outside of the church amid joyful song on the feast day of that particular church's namesake. On the great Feast of T'imk'et, known as Epiphany or Theophany in Europe, a group of churches send their tabot to celebrate the occasion at a common location where a pool of water or a river is to be found. Similarities to Judaism[edit]

The Ethiopian Church, Jerusalem

The Ethiopian church places a heavier emphasis on Old Testament teachings than one might find in Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant churches, and its followers adhere to certain practices that one finds in Orthodox or Conservative Judaism. Ethiopian Christians, like some other Eastern Christians, traditionally follow dietary rules that are similar to Jewish Kashrut, specifically with regard to how an animal is slaughtered. Similarly, pork is prohibited, though unlike Rabbinical Kashrut, Ethiopian cuisine
Ethiopian cuisine
does mix dairy products with meat. Women are prohibited from entering the church temple during menses; they are also expected to cover their hair with a large scarf (or shash) while in church, as described in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11. As with Orthodox synagogues, men and women are seated separately in the Ethiopian church, with men on the left and women on the right (when facing the altar).[35] (Women covering their heads and separation of the sexes in churches officially is common to some other Christian traditions; it is also the rule in some non-Christian religions, Islam
Islam
and Orthodox Judaism
Judaism
among them). Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers remove their shoes when entering a church temple,[35] in accordance with Exodus 3:5 (in which Moses, while viewing the burning bush, was commanded to remove his shoes while standing on holy ground). Furthermore, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church upholds Sabbatarianism, observing the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), in addition to the Lord's Day
Lord's Day
(Sunday),[36] although more emphasis, because of the Resurrection
Resurrection
of Christ, is laid upon Sunday. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church calls for male circumcision, with near-universal prevalence among Orthodox men in Ethiopia.[37] Debtera[edit] Main article: Debtera

A painting of performing debteras.

A debtera is an itinerant lay priest figure trained by the Church as a scribe, cantor, and often as a folk healer, who may also function in roles comparable to a deacon or exorcist. Folklore and legends ascribe the role of magician to the Debtera
Debtera
as well. Abuna Patriarch-Catholicoi, Archbishops and bishops[edit]

Abuna Patriarch-Catholicos

Main article: List of Abunas of Ethiopia Since 1959, when the church was granted autocephaly by Cyril VI, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Ethiopian Patriarch- Catholicos of Eritrea
Eritrea
also carrying the title of Abuna is the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church. The Abuna who is known officially as Patriarch
Patriarch
and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot. the incumbent head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church is Abune Mathias
Abune Mathias
who acceded to this position on 28 February 2013.

Archbishops and bishops

Ethiopia:

Abune Mathias, Head of all Archbishops and Patriarch
Patriarch
of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church Abuna Dioskoros (Aba Wolde Tensai), former bishop of the dioceses of South West Shewa
Shewa
and Chebona Gurage diocese

Canada:

Bishop
Bishop
Matthias of the Canadian diocese, residing in London, Ontario

In the United States
United States
there are the following bishops:

Abune Fanuel, archbishop of Washington, D.C and California. Abune Zekarias, archbishop of New York and its surrounding areas

South America:

Abune Thaddaeus, archbishop of the Caribbean and Latin America

Western Europe:

Abune Yosef, Archbishop
Archbishop
of Europe, in Rome.

Middle East:

Abune Dimetros, Archbishop
Archbishop
of United Arab Emirates and its surrounding areas Abune Kewestos, Archbishop
Archbishop
of Jerusalem[38]

The church has 60 bishops and 44 dioceses. The current eparchies of the church include:[39]

Awassa (Sidamo) Axum Ambo Arsi Assosa Afar Bale Gobe Wollega North Wollo South Wollo (Dessie) Gambela West Gojam (Bahr Dar) East Gojam (Debre Markos) North Gondar South Gondar
Gondar
(Debre Tabor) Jerusalem Illubabor Jimma Kenbata Mizan Teferi (Kaffa) Negele-Borena Ogaden Omo Selalya East Tigre West Tigre Khartoum and Nubia
Nubia
(Sudan, Africa) Shoa (Nazareth) North Shoa (Debre Berhan) America and Western Hemisphere Trinidad and Latin America

See also[edit]

Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
portal Ethiopia
Ethiopia
portal

Abuna Christianity
Christianity
in Ethiopia Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church Ethiopian Catholic Church Ethiopian chant List of Abunas of Ethiopia Oriental Orthodox Church

References[edit]

^ "Ethiopia: Orthodox Head Urges Churches to Work for Better World". Retrieved 2006-09-13.  ^ Berhanu Abegaz, "Ethiopia: A Model Nation of Minorities" (accessed 6 April 2006) ^ "Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church", World Council of Churches website (accessed 2 June 2009) ^ "Ethiopia: The First Christian Nation?". Retrieved 2015-12-03.  ^ The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity
Christianity
by Ken Parry 2009 ISBN 1-4443-3361-5 page 88 [1] ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Henoticon". Newadvent.org. 1910-06-01. Retrieved 2013-06-30.  ^ Meskel
Meskel
and the Ethiopians. EOTC Publicatiol Committee, September, 2015 ^ Socrates and Sozomenus Ecclesiastical Histories, p. 57 ^ "St. Matthew: Catholic Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2015-12-04.  ^ a b Meskel
Meskel
and the Ethiopians. EOTC Publication Committee, September 2015 ^ Meskel
Meskel
and the Ethiopians. EOTC Publication Committee September, 2015 ^ Irenaeus
Irenaeus
of Lyons, "Adversus haereses" III. 12. 8 ^ Eusebius
Eusebius
Pamphilius, Church History ^ Edward Ullendorff, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
and the Bible (Oxford: British Academy, 1988), p. 66 ^ Margary Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, second edition (London: Faber and Faber, 1969), pp. 121f ^ Perham, Government of Ethiopia, p. 132 ^ Perham, Government of Ethiopia, pp. 130 ^ Discussed in fuller detail by Perham, Government of Ethiopia, pp. 126–130 ^ ""Common Declaration" of Pope
Pope
Shenoudah III, Catholicos Aram I, and Patriarch
Patriarch
Paulos – News and Media of the Armenian Orthodox Church, 22 July 2007". Archived from the original on 2008-08-28.  ^ Goldman, Ari L. (22 September 1992). "U.S. Branch Leaves Ethiopian Orthodox Church". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2016.  ^ "Ethiopian church patriarch Abune Paulos
Abune Paulos
dies". BBC News. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.  ^ "Ethiopian church appoints Abune Mathias
Abune Mathias
as patriarch". BBC News. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-03-03.  ^ EOTC Doctrine Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine. ^ a b c d e f Professor Sergew Hable Sellassie & Belaynesh Mikael (2003) [1970]. "Worship in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church". The Church of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
– A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life. Addis Ababa. Retrieved 5 November 2014 – via EthiopianOrthodox.org. [unreliable source?] ^ a b Turner, John W. "Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity: Faith and practices". A Country Study: Ethiopia
Ethiopia
(Thomas P. Ofcansky and LaVerle Berry, eds.) Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Federal Research Division (1991). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.[2]. ^ a b Molvaer, Reidulf K. (1995). Socialization and Social Control in Ethiopia. Äthiopistische Forschungen. 44. Wiesbaden: Harassowitz. pp. 256–257. ISBN 9783447036627.  ^ "Doctrine of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church" (PDF).  ^ James Jeffrey (22 March 2017). "Ethiopia: fasting for 55 days". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 24 March 2017.  ^ a b "Tsome Nenewe (The Fast of Nineveh)". Minneapolis: Debre Selam Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church. 28 January 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-05. Retrieved 30 March 2017.  ^ a b Robel Arega. "Fasting in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church". Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church Sunday School Department – Mahibere Kidusan. Why Fifty-Five Days?. Retrieved 30 March 2017.  ^ "Ten things we have learnt about Africa". BBC News. April 15, 2010. Retrieved April 15, 2010. In Ethiopia, 74% of Christians say they have experienced or witnessed the devil or evil spirits being driven out of a person  ^ a b c d e f Geleta, Amsalu Tadesse. "Case Study: Demonization and the Practice of Exorcism
Exorcism
in Ethiopian Churches Archived 2010-01-01 at the Wayback Machine.". Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Nairobi, August 2000. ^ "The Bible". Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church. Retrieved 23 January 2012.  ^ Cowley, R.W. (1974). "The Biblical Canon Of The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Today". Ostkirchliche Studien. 23: 318–323. Retrieved 21 January 2012.  ^ a b Hable Selassie, Sergew (1997). The Church of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
– A panorama of History and Spiritual Life. Addis Abeba, Ethiopia: Berhanena Selam. p. 66.  ^ Binns, John (28 November 2016). The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia: A History. I.B.Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 9781786720375. The king presided, overruled the bishops who were committed to the more usual position that Sunday only was a holy day, and decreed that the Sabbatarian teaching of the northern monks became the position of the church.  ^ "Circumcision". Columbia Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press. 2011.  ^ " Jerusalem
Jerusalem
– Heads of Churches". World Council of Churches. Archived from the original on 2011-08-28.  ^ Eparchies of the Ethiopian Church (Russian)

Archbishop
Archbishop
Yesehaq. 1997. The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: an Integrally African Church. Winston-Derek Publishers. Mikre-Sellassie Gebre-Amanuel. 1993. “The Bible and Its Canon in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.” The Bible Translator 44/1:111-123.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abyssinian Church". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

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Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Abyssinian Church.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Divine Liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Ethiopian Orthodox Church Directory Directory of Ethiopian Orthodox Churches Ethiopian Review's Directory of Ethiopian churches Ethiopian Religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism
Judaism
& Paganism Bilingual Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church site – English version List of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church websites Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church (Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church -the oldest site) Tewahedo Songs & Records CNEWA article by Ronald Roberson: Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church Historical Evolution of Ethiopian Anaphoras Abbink, J. A Bibliography on Christianity
Christianity
in Ethiopia. Leiden: African Studies Centre, 2003 (PDF) AN INTRODUCTION TO Ethiopic Christian Literature BY J. M. HARDEN, D.D., LL.D. Canon of St. Patrick's, Dublin, 1926 Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church outside of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
– includes music and preaching Ethiopian Crucifixes Gallery

v t e

Autocephalous and autonomous churches of Oriental Orthodoxy

Autocephalous churches

Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church Armenian Apostolic Church Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo
Orthodox Tewahedo
Church Syriac Orthodox Church Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

Autonomous churches

Coptic Orthodox: French Coptic Orthodox Church

Armenian Apostolic: Holy See
Holy See
of Cilicia Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Syriac Orthodox: Malankara Jacobite

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church: Brahmavar (Goan) Orthodox Church

v t e

Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
in Africa

Sovereign states

Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) Central African Republic Chad Comoros Democratic Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo Djibouti Egypt Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon The Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Rwanda São Tomé and Príncipe Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa South Sudan Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe

States with limited recognition

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Somaliland

Dependencies and other territories

Canary Islands / Ceuta / Melilla  (Spain) Madeira (Portugal) Mayotte / Réunion (France) Saint Helena / Ascension Island / Tristan da Cunha

.