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A NEW LETTER OF SEVEROS OF ANTIOCH PRESERVED IN ETHIOPIC: THE ETHIOPIAN TRADITION AND THE HERITAGE OF LATE ANTIQUITY [Abstract ID: 1302-12]
Severos of Antioch (c. 465–538) stands as one of the most celebrated figures in the development of miaphysite Christology. The Syriac, Coptic, and Ethiopian traditions all honor him as a saint. His works, condemned within his lifetime, primarily survive in Syriac and Coptic translations from late antiquity. Texts from the early Solomonic period attests to Severos’s popularity as a saint and author in Ethiopia. This presentation explores a previously unidentified letter by Severos in Ethiopic translation as evidence of interconnections between the Ethiopian tradition and the Coptic and Syriac churches. This letter appears in a fourteenth-century collection of homilies and is designated as a homily to be read on the Thursday of Holy Week. This letter is not known in any other language. The first part of this presentation will situate this letter within its late antique context. The addressee of the letter, Caesaria, was a patrician and from a prominent family. Severos wrote several letters to her, and she appears in both hagiographical and historiographical works. Severos responds in this letter to her exegetical question regarding the origin of evil. The theological nature of this letter matches that in Severos’s correspondence with Caesaria in general. The second part of this presentation focuses on the transmission and translation of this text into Ethiopic. I will especially consider how this text reflects a broader trend in the transmission of Severos of Antioch’s works into Ethiopic in the early Solomonic period. At least four other works by Severos were translated into Ethiopic around this time and became part of liturgical collections. A life of Severos survives in Ethiopic from around the year 1400, and he found a place in the Sənkəssar. This letter thus represents an important discovery for late antique Christianity as well as for understanding the Ethiopian tradition’s understanding of its relationship to other Christian communities.