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The Church in Africa, 1450-1950$
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Adrian Hastings

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198263999

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198263996.001.0001

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The Ethiopian Church in the Age of Zara Ya'iqob

The Ethiopian Church in the Age of Zara Ya'iqob

(p.3) 1 The Ethiopian Church in the Age of Zara Ya'iqob
The Church in Africa, 1450-1950

Adrian Hastings

Oxford University Press

An account is given of the origins of Christian Ethiopian Church up to the Age of Emperor Zara Ya’iqob (who came to the throne in 1434) and his son Baida Maryam (who came to the throne in the 1470s). The chapter starts with an introduction covering the Council of Dabra Mitmaq called by Zara Ya’iqob in 1449, at which he settled the question of observance/non‐observance of the Sabbath by decreeing that both the Jewish and Christian Sabbaths (Saturday and Sunday, respectively) be recognized. It then traces the origin of Ethiopian Christianity back to the conversion of King Ezana in the fourth century in the Semitic kingdom of Aksum on the Red Sea coast, before going on to discuss the Coptic and Aksumite origins of the Church, Ethiopia's Hebraic character, monasticism, and monarchy in the fourteenth century, and the ‘House of Ewostatewos’ (an Ethiopian Christian movement that observed the Jewish Sabbath rather than the Christian Sabbath). The last part of the chapter discusses the policies of Zara Ya’iqob, a convinced sabbaterian, kingdom unifier, scholar, and expounder of an extremely rigid and detailed religion, who was canonized after his death. The Age of his son Baida Maryam that followed was much more relaxed, but still religious.

Keywords:   Christianity, Ethiopia, Ethiopian Church, history, Sabbath, Zara Ya’iqob

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