"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ethiopian Christianity

Ashgate this week put into my hands the second volume in their exciting and welcome series "The Worlds of Eastern Christianity 300-1500." I have earlier drawn attention to the first volume in the series here, and to the series as a whole here.

Now the next volume is out: Alessandro Bausi, ed., Languages and Cultures of Eastern Christianity: Ethiopian (Ashgate, 2012, 431pp.)

 About this book the publisher tells us:
This volume brings together a set of contributions, many appearing in English for the first time, together with a new introduction, covering the history of the Ethiopian Christian civilization in its formative period (300-1500 AD). Rooted in the late antique kingdom of Aksum (present day Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea), and lying between Byzantium, Africa and the Near East, this civilization is presented in a series of case studies. At a time when philological and linguistic investigations are being challenged by new approaches in Ethiopian studies, this volume emphasizes the necessity of basic research, while avoiding the reduction of cultural questions to matters of fact and detail.
Too many people may assume that "Eastern" Christianity means only the Middle East, or Eastern (especially Slavic) Europe, but the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is a huge church, numbering over 30 million members by some counts, making it the largest Orthodox church on the African continent. It has a long and very venerable tradition, and their liturgical tradition (as this picture would suggest) in particular is incredibly rich, complex, and fascinating. This is not an inexpensive book but no serious scholarly library, whether personal or institutional, will want to be without this volume and the entire series. 

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