Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

ICES20 logo

Use the "back" button of your browser to return to the list of abstracts.


Steffan A. SPENCER, University of Minnesota, Duluth

The Ethiopian Orthodox Book of the Trinity: A Homily from the Monastic Order of Daqiqa Estifanos, is an analysis of an fifteenth century Trinitarian treatise composed of stories elaborating upon biblical narratives, and rules for certain religious and cultural observances. Upon digitizing and producing a translation of the homily from Ge’ez (or Classical Ethiopic) into English, it is apparent that this compilation reflects both canonically held beliefs in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and a particularly localized Ethiopian sensibility. The stories expounded upon throughout the manuscript will be familiar to anyone acquainted with the Bible. These include the creation of the heavens and the earth, humanity’s origin in Paradise and Original Sin, the jealousy of Cain towards Abel, the trials of Christ and his Apostles, and Christ’s effort to save the souls of the Children of Adam in the Underworld, to mention a few of the narratives. It is also important that all of the sections of the manuscript begin and end by praising the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – One God, for this is the essential articulation of the Nicene Creed established in the early fourth century, and today remains at the heart of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo faith. Certain cultural practices are also highlighted in sections dealing with proper rules for servants and slaves, and in discussions of the proper rules for the two Orthodox Sabbaths, and the giving of alms. The Book of the Trinity often urges the reader to praise and call upon the Holy Trinity – alone, while critiquing the widespread adoration of the angels, saints and martyrs, because according to this particular text, only the Holy Trinity is able to save souls. Many of the ideas are firmly within the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, yet, the firm adherence to worship of the Holy Trinity, among other ideas, suggest the authors of the manuscript are from a unique tradition within the canonical Orthodox faith, that of the Monastic Order of Daqiqa Estifanos (The Children of Estifanos).