Ethiopia, the land of Judeo-Christianity, is one of the most ancient predominantly Christian countries of the world. It is marked with a fascinating history, unique civilization, culture and religious life. The Book of Genesis recounts: “And the name of the second river is Ghion: the same is it that compasses the whole land of Ethiopia” (Geneses 2:13). The Psalmist David also says: “Let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out her hands to God” (Psalms 68:31).
Furthermore, historical and archaeological evidences reveal another interesting fact that Ethiopia is the only African country, which has developed its own alphabet and written language. The ancient Greek poets and historians such as Homer, referred to them as, “Blameless Race” when speaking of this great land and its people. Herodotus also referred to the country’s landscape as the area south of Egypt and around the Red Sea extending as far as the Indian Ocean. He said that Ethiopians “lived a long life” and characterized them as the most “just” men.
The Old Testament retells the pilgrimage the Queen of Sheba made to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon (1 Kings. 10:1-13). Ethiopic tradition maintains that the relationship that followed paved the way for the introduction of Old Testament to the country. Menilik I, Queen of Sheba’s son from King Solomon, made possible the coming of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia. Since then, Judaic belief and practice became the norm for the daily life of its people. Ethiopia is well known as the Kingdom of Aksum, established by Emperor Menilik I. Historical documents trace the beginning of an independent Ethiopian monarchy as far back as 4522 B.C. At present day Aksum, the ancient capital and birthplace of Ethiopian civilization and Christianity, antiquity is still present along with its standing obelisk and other artistic features. Aksum has thus remained a religious center to this day.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church maintains a large number of learned and accomplished clergies who posses highly developed skills in religious scholarship. Today, with over 30,000 parishes, 300,000 clergies and about 45 millions followers, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the World. [For further information about the Church and Ethiopian civilization, see Martin Bernal: Black Athena (1987), Henry Hill: Light from the East (1988), Arch Bishop Yesehaq: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (1975) and Stanslaw Chojancki: Ethiopian Icons.]
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