ANCIENT  SPLENDOR: CHRISTIANITY  IN  ETHIOPIA


A modern Westerner encountering the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for the first time often experiences a sort of delighted disorientation. One cannot help but be overwhelmed by the sheer sensory splendor of the Tewahedo (as the Church is called in Ethiopia): the stern grandeur of the worship, the opulent vestments, the sumptuous processional 'parasols', the grand elaborate liturgies, the ornate gold crosses, the vivid icons, the drums and sistrums and ritual dance and mesmerizing pentatonic chant.


(ALL  AGAIN  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  WITH  SOME  ETHIOPIA  THROWN  IN  FOR  GOOD  MEASURE  -  Keith Hunt)




The Ethiopian Church is also pervaded by an almost irresistible air of mystery: its claim that it possesses the Ark of the Covenant, for instance, or the national belief that the emperors of Ethiopia descended from Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and the queen of Sheba. But, even for those not drawn to grand spectacle or the enigmas of ancient history, the Tewahedo can exert a rare fascination, since it constitutes the sole living link to a magnificent civilization that vanished long ago. At its zenith, this civilization formed not only the southernmost frontier of ancient Christendom, but also one of its most remarkable manifestations.


(MOST  OF  THIS  IS  GOOIGO-BOOIGO-MUSHMOO-GARBAGE.  NOW  TRUE  YOU  HAVE  "JEWISH"  ETHIOPIANS,  THAT  COULD  HAVE  BEEN  FROM  WAY  WAY  BACK.  BUT  STILL  BLINDED  TO  TRUTH  AS  MUCH  AS  ANY  RELIGIOUS  JEW  IS  TODAY.  YOU  MAY  WELL  HAVE  HAD  TRUE  CHRISTIANITY  IN  ETHIOPIA  FROM  PHILIP  AND  THE  ETHIOPIAN  EUNUCH  OF  ACTS  8.....COULD  WELL  HAVE  GONE  BACK  AND  SPREAD  TRUE  CHRISTIANITY.  BUT  LIKE  ALL  NATIONS,  THE  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  CHURCH [OR  HER  DAUGHTERS]  CONQUERED  ETHIOPIA  -  Keith Hunt)


Two Shipwrecked Sailors


That frontier might never have been reached but for a fortunate mischance. Sometime in the early decades of the fourth century AD, two Christian merchants from Tyre named Frumentius and Aedesius — brothers who had been raised in Alexandria - took passage aboard a trading vessel bound for India, but never reached their destination. Their ship foundered in the Red Sea, off the East African coast, and though both safely reached the Ethiopian shore, the men who found them did not put them on another ship, but took them instead to the imperial city of Aksum, high up on the Tigray Plateau of the mountainous north. Here the two brothers were sold into the service of the royal court: Aedesius as a cupbearer of the emperor and Frumentius as tutor to the crown prince Ezanas. And this, it seems, is how Ethiopia became a Christian empire; for, after ascending the throne, Ezanas and his court converted to the faith the two Alexandrians had introduced to the royal household. Later, Ezanas permitted Aedesius to return to Tyre and sent Frumentius to Alexandria to ask the patriarch to appoint a bishop for Ethiopia, to which the patriarch responded by assigning Frumentius to the post and sending him back to oversee the evangelization of the Aksumite empire.


(YEP  THERE  YOU  HAVE  IT  AGAIN  -  ROMAN  THEOLOGY  CAME  TO  ETHIOPIA,  AND  TOOK  OVER  -  Keith Hunt)


This, at least, is one version of the story of how the gospel came to Ethiopia. In other versions, certain narrative details are different. But there is little doubt that, in its broad outlines, the tale is true. Not that the arrival of the two brothers marked the first contact between Ethiopia with Christianity or, for that matter, with monotheism. For centuries, Aksum had controlled most of the significant trade routes from the African interior, as well as the thriving Red Sea port of Adulis, where traders brought goods from the Roman empire, Asia and the Near East to sell for African horn, ivory, precious metals, frankincense, and slaves, and where merchants from the Mediterranean world had long been settled, Christians among them. Moreover, Judaism was already well established in the empire; the exact origins of the Falasha — the native Jews of northern Ethiopia — are impossible to determine, but their conversion to Judaism certainly came long before the Christian era. All that said, however, the kingdom that Ezanas inherited was a pagan state, devoted to a host of Near Eastern and African gods, and it might have remained one indefinitely had it not been for that shipwreck in the Red Sea.


(SATAN  WORKS  IN  MANY  WAYS  HIS  DECEPTIONS  TO  EMPLOY  -  Keith Hunt)

Imperial Zenith


For two centuries after Frumentius' return from Alexandria, Christianity continued to spread throughout Ethiopia, expanding constantly southward from Aksum. Monks and priests proselytized, churches proliferated, pagan shrines were reconsecrated, and a vast body of Greek, Syriac and Coptic Christian literature was translated into the native Aksumite language of Ge'ez (a Semitic tongue that survives today only in the scripture and liturgies of the Tewahedo). Of particular importance was the introduction of organized monasticism into the country in around 480. Especially revered in Ethiopian tradition are a number of foreign monks collectively known as the 'Nine Saints', who not only founded numerous



(Ethiopian Christian clergy in their exquisite vestments assemble for the Timkat festival (19 January) that celebrates Epiphany. During this feast, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant is taken in procession to its church and rituals commemorating Christ's baptism in the Jordan are celebrated)


monasteries (often on almost inaccessible mountain peaks), but made a particularly rigorous form of asceticism one of the key traits of East African Christianity. They and the other monks of the late fifth century inspired an era of robust Christianization that soon swept away most of the lingering traces of the old paganism in Ethiopia, and put in its place a unified — and remarkably fervent — Christian culture.


(YA  A  FALSE  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  CHRISTIANITY.....NOTICE  "MONKS"  AND  "ASCETICISM"  AND  "MONASTICISM"  -  BABYLON  MYSTERY  RELIGION  MARCHES  OVER  THE  WORLD  -  Keith Hunt)


In many ways, this was the golden age of Aksumite civilization. It was a period during which literature, music and all the arts flourished, almost exclusively in the service of the new faith, and during which Aksum's mercantile and military power continued to grow, extending even over parts of the Arabian peninsula. Commercial and cultural ties to Constantinople and Alexandria were strong, and no other power in the Red Sea or Indian Ocean rivalled Ethiopia for dominance of regional trade. It was also during these centuries that many of the most distinctive traditions of Ethiopian Christianity probably began to appear: for example, the adoption of Jewish practices such as observance of the Saturday Sabbath, abstinence from 'unclean' foods, and circumcision of male infants; also the extremely demanding fasting laws, which oblige Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to refrain from all animal products for some 250 days a year. These were also the years when the Ge'ez Bible was beginning to take shape, at a time when the exact canon of scripture was still indeterminate throughout the Christian world, with the result that the Ethiopian Bible comprises some 81 books, including many works in both the Old and New Testaments that no other tradition accepts.


(IT  WAS  A  TIME  INDEED  WHEN  "JUDAISM"  WAS  RAISED.  A  TIME  WHEN  SOME  TRUTHS  WERE  TAUGHT,  BUT  WHEN  MANY  FALSE  ERRORS  ALSO  CAME;  NOTICE  THE  81  BOOKS  OF  THE  ETHIOPIAN  BIBLE  -  IT  WAS  A  TIME  OF  GREAT  MYSTERY  RELIGION  IN  ETHIOPIA  -  Keith Hunt)


Imperial Decline


During the latter half of the fifth century, when Alexandria separated from the Churches of Rome and Constantinople on account of the Council of Chalcedon, Aksum remained loyal to its original patriarchate (thus today Ethiopian Orthodoxy is still considered a branch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt). This perhaps somewhat weakened ties with the Roman empire, but not disastrously so. The real dechne of the Aksumite empire began in the mid-6th century, when it was driven from Arabia, and became precipitous in the seventh century, with the Muslim conquest of Egypt and Nubia, the rise of Arab shipping in the Red Sea, and the virtual isolation of Ethiopia from the rest of Christendom. The economic consequences were quite devastating, the administration and army of the empire collapsed, and in subsequent years Ethiopian civilization was forced to retire into itself. The vitality of the Church, though, seems never to have suffered; its profound spirituality, liturgical beauty and special history (both real and legendary) provided the principal foundation upon which Ethiopian culture continued to rest, and the chief inspiration for the most splendid achievements of that culture for many centuries to come.


(A  MYSTERY  RELIGION  OF  ROMAN  CATHOLICISM  PLUS  A  TOUCH  OF  ETHIOPIA  DEVELOPED  AND  REMAINS  TODAY  -  Keith Hunt)


THE LOST  ARK


No aspect of Ethiopian religion is more distinctive than the belief held by Christians and Jews alike - that the Ark of the Covenant, which was once housed in Solomon's Temple, now resides in a small sanctuary on the grounds of the cathedral of St Mary of Zion in Aksum. Only one guardian, a monk of extraordinary personal sanctity, ever enters its presence; and he, as death approaches, is obliged to name his own successor.

The Aksumite Ark (or Tabot) is more than a feature of pious folklore. It lies at the heart of Ethiopian Orthodoxy: the Tewahedo's holiest symbol of God's abiding glory in the Earth, and of the incarnate presence of that glory in Christ. Every church or monastery, in order to be consecrated, must possess a replica of the Ark, locked in its tabernacle. Once each year, these replicas are brought out - in sealed chests and heavily veiled for the Epiphany (or Timkat) procession. The Ark in Aksum, though, is never moved.

The great 13th-century Ethiopian epic, the Kebra Negast ('Glory of the Kings') tells of the Ark's secret removal from Jerusalem to Ethiopia by Menilek I; but this is a late reconstruction of a much older tradition. Before being brought to Aksum, the Ark supposedly resided at Tana Cherkos, an island in Ethiopia's Lake Tana where, to this day, monks still keep other alleged relics of Solomon's Temple. Some scholars think that the Ark may indeed have been taken south in the seventh century b.c., perhaps after the corruption of Temple worship by King Manasseh. This is, after all, the period when the Ark disappears from the Biblical record; and, not long after, the prophet Zephaniah speaks of the 'dispersed' Israelites 'beyond the rivers of Ethiopia' (Zeph. 3:10). Whatever the case, the story is extremely ancient, and its spiritual significance for Ethiopian Christianity is inexhaustible.

....................


IT  IS  ALL  A  BUNCH  OF  HOGIDOO  HOGWASH,  AS  NEARLY  EVERY  PART  OF  ROME'S  RELICS  ARE;  BUILT  UPON  SILLY  IDEAS  PUT  IN  THE  MINDS  OF  MEN  FROM  SATAN  AND  HIS  DEMONS,  TO  MAKE  OUT  THIS  BABYLON  MYSTERY  CHURCH  IS  THE  TRUE  CHURCH  OF  GOD  ON  EARTH.


THE  ARK  DISAPPEARED  AND  WAS  NEVER  INTENDED  BY  GOD  TO  SURVIVE,  AS  A  NEW  COVENANT  WAS  TO  BE  ESTABLISHED,  THAT  NEEDS  NO  PHYSICAL  OBJECT,  NOT  EVEN  THE  PHYSICAL  TEMPLE  IN  JERUSALEM.  ALL  PHYSICAL  WHATEVERS  FROM  THE  OLD  COVENANT  HAVE  BEEN  BLOWN  AWAY,  AND  ARE  NOT  NEEDED.  THE  ONLY  THING  TO  BE  BUILT  AGAIN  WHEN  THE  MESSIAH  RETURNS  IS  THE  EZEKIEL  TEMPLE  IN  JERUSALEM.


Keith Hunt


-ae^