Syriac Christianity is the form of Eastern Christianity whose formative theological writings and traditional liturgy are expressed in the Syriac language. The Syriac language is a variety of Middle Aramaic that in an early form emerged in Edessa, Upper Mesopotamia in the first century AD, it is related to the Jewish Palestinian Aramaic spoken by Jesus. This relationship added to its prestige for Christians; the form of the language in use in Edessa predominated Christian writings and was accepted as the standard form, "a convenient vehicle for the spread of Christianity wherever there was a substrate of spoken Aramaic". The area where Syriac or Aramaic was spoken, an area of contact and conflict between the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire, extended from around Antioch in the west to Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Sasanian capital, in the east and comprised the whole or parts of present-day Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Turkey and Iran. Christianity began in the Middle East in Jerusalem among Aramaic-speaking Jews.
It soon spread to other Aramaic-speaking Semitic peoples along the Mediterranean coast and to the inland parts of the Roman Empire and beyond that into the Parthian Empire and the Sasanian Empire, including Mesopotamia, dominated at different times and to varying extents by these empires. The ruins of the Dura-Europos church, dating from the first half of the 3rd century are concrete evidence of the presence of organized Christian communities in the Aramaic-speaking area, far from Jerusalem and the Mediterranean coast, there are traditions of the preaching of Christianity in the region as early as the time of the Apostles. However, "virtually every aspect of Syriac Christianity prior to the fourth century remains obscure, it is only that one can feel oneself on firmer ground." The fourth century is marked by the many writings in Syriac of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, the Demonstrations of the older Aphrahat and the anonymous ascetical Book of Steps. Ephrem lived in the Roman Empire, close to the border with the Sasanian Empire, to which the other two writers belonged.
Other items of early literature of Syriac Christianity are the Diatessaron of Tatian, the Curetonian Gospels and the Syriac Sinaiticus, the Peshitta Bible and the Doctrine of Addai. The bishops who took part in the First Council of Nicea, the first of the ecumenical councils, included twenty from Syria and one from Persia, outside the Roman Empire. Two councils held in the following century divided Syriac Christianity into two opposing parties. In 431, the Council of Ephesus, reckoned as the third ecumenical council, condemned Nestorius and Nestorianism, it was ignored by the East Syriac Church of the East, established in the Sasanian Empire as a distinct Church at the Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in 410, which at the Synod of Dadisho in 424 had declared the independence of its head, the Catholicos, in relation to "western" Church authorities. In its modern form of Assyrian Church of the East and Ancient Church of the East, it honours Nestorius as a teacher and saint. In 451, the Council of Chalcedon, the fourth ecumenical council, condemned Monophysitism.
This council was rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, one of, the West Syriac Syriac Orthodox Church. The Patriarchate of Antioch was divided between a Chalcedonian and a non-Chalcedonian communion; the Chalcedonians were labelled'Melkites', while their opponents were labelled Monophysites and Jacobites. The Maronite Church found itself caught between the two, but claims to have always remained faithful to the Catholic Church and in communion with the bishop of Rome, the Pope; the two Christological doctrines that were thus condemned are polar opposites. Both the West Syriac Church and the East Syriac maintained that their own doctrine was not heretical and accused the other of holding the opposing condemned doctrine, their fifth-century estrangement still persists. In 1999 the Coptic Orthodox Church blocked admittance of the Assyrian Church of the East to the Middle East Council of Churches, which has among its members the Chaldean Catholic Church and some Protestant Churches, demanded that it remove from its liturgy the mention of Diodore and Nestorius, whom it venerates as "the Greek doctors".
The liturgies of the East and West Syriacs are quite distinct. The East Syriac Rite is noted for its eucharistic Qurbana of Addai and Mari, in which the Words of Institution are absent. West Syriacs use the Syro-Antiochian or West Syriac Rite, which belongs to the family of liturgies known as the Antiochene Rite; the Syriac Orthodox Church adds to the Trisagion the phrase "who were crucified for us". The Church of the East interpreted this as heretical. Church of the East Patriarch Timothy I declared: "In all countries of Babylon, of Persia, of Assyria and in all countries of sunrise, to say among the Indians, the Chinese, the Tibetans, the Turks, in all provinces under the jurisdiction of this Patriarchal See there is no use of'Crucified for us'.”Among the Saint Thomas Christians of India, the East Syriac Rite was the one used, but those who in the 17th century accepted union with the Syriac Orthodox Church adopted the rite of that church. A schism in 1552 in the Church of the East gave rise to a separate patriarchate, which at first entered into union with the Catholic Church but formed the nucleus of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East and Ancient Church of the East, while at the end of the 18th century most followers of th
Council of Ephesus
The Council of Ephesus was a council of Christian bishops convened in Ephesus in AD 431 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II. This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the original Nicene Creed, condemned the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who held that the Virgin Mary may be called the Christotokos, "Birth Giver of Christ" but not the Theotokos, "Birth Giver of God", it met in July 431 at the Church of Mary in Ephesus in Anatolia. Nestorius' doctrine, which emphasized the distinction between Christ's human and divine natures and argued that Mary should be called Christotokos but not Theotokos, had brought him into conflict with other church leaders, most notably Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria. Nestorius himself had requested the Emperor to convene the council, hoping that it would prove his orthodoxy; the council declared Mary as Theotokos. Nestorius' dispute with Cyril had led the latter to seek validation from Pope Celestine I, who authorized Cyril to request that Nestorius recant his position or face excommunication.
Nestorius pleaded with the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II to call a council in which all grievances could be aired, hoping that he would be vindicated and Cyril condemned. 250 bishops were present. The proceedings were conducted in a heated atmosphere of confrontation and recriminations and created severe tensions between Cyril and Theodosius II. Nestorius was decisively outplayed by Cyril and removed from his see, his teachings were anathematized; this precipitated the Nestorian Schism, by which churches supportive of Nestorius in the Persian Empire of the Sassanids, were severed from the rest of Christendom and became known as Nestorian Christianity, or the Church of the East, whose present-day representatives are the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Chaldean Syrian Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church. Nestorius himself retired to a monastery. McGuckin cites the "innate rivalry" between Alexandria and Constantinople as an important factor in the controversy between Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius.
However, he emphasizes that, as much as political competition contributed to an "overall climate of dissent", the controversy cannot be reduced to the level of "personality clashes" or "political antagonisms". According to McGuckin, Cyril viewed the "elevated intellectual argument about christology" as one and the same as the "validity and security of the simple Christian life". Within Constantinople, some supported the Roman-Alexandrian and others supported the Nestorian factions. For example, Pulcheria supported the Roman-Alexandrian popes while the emperor and his wife supported Nestorius. Contention over Nestorius' teachings, which he developed during his studies at the School of Antioch revolved around his rejection of the long-used title Theotokos for the Virgin Mary. Shortly after his arrival in Constantinople, Nestorius became involved in the disputes of two theological factions, which differed in their Christology. McGuckin ascribes Nestorius' importance to his being the representative of the Antiochene tradition and characterizes him as a "consistent, if none too clear, exponent of the longstanding Antiochene dogmatic tradition."
Nestorius was surprised that what he had always taught in Antioch without any controversy whatsoever should prove to be so objectionable to the Christians of Constantinople. Nestorius emphasized the dual natures of Christ, trying to find a middle ground between those who emphasized the fact that in Christ God had been born as a man, insisted on calling the Virgin Mary Theotokos, those that rejected that title because God as an eternal being could not have been born. Nestorius suggested the title Christotokos, but this proposal did not gain acceptance on either side. Nestorius tried to answer a question considered unsolved: "How can Jesus Christ, being part man, not be a sinner as well, since man is by definition a sinner since the Fall?" To solve that he taught that Mary, the mother of Jesus gave birth to the incarnate Christ, not the divine Logos who existed before Mary and indeed before time itself. The Logos occupied the part of the human soul, but wouldn't the absence of a human soul make Jesus less human?
Nestorius rejected this proposition, answering that, because the human soul was based on the archetype of the Logos, only to become polluted by the Fall, Jesus was "more" human for having the Logos and not "less". Nestorius argued that the Virgin Mary should be called Christotokos, Greek for "Birth Giver of Christ", not Theotokos, Greek for "Birth Giver of God". Nestorius believed that no union between the divine was possible. If such a union of human and divine occurred, Nestorius believed that Christ could not be con-substantial with God and con-substantial with us because he would grow, mature and die and would possess the power of God that would separate him from being equal to humans. According to McGuckin, several mid-twentieth-century accounts have tended to "romanticise" Nestorius. Nestorius's opponents charged him with detaching Christ's divin
A debtera is an itinerant religious figure among the Beta Israel and in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches, who sings hymns and dances for churchgoers, who performs exorcisms and white magic to aid the congregation. A debtera will behave as in minor orders, they may in fact be ordained as deacons, or may act outside the Church hierarchy. They are feared by the local population. Debteras are chosen from families of other debteras, are trained from childhood as scribes and as cantors, they are taught traditional medicine and lay rites as well. While studying, they live by begging, retailing, or practicing traditional medicine; the main purpose for their studies, however, is written and oral lore pertaining to religious functions, the test for graduation is memorizing the psalter. Before services, they bathe and don white clothing, a loose striped over-garment called a shamma. Debteras carry prayer sticks to the service, where they sing and play drums and sistra outside the church or the synagogue during religious services.
Among the Beta Israel, the status of debtera is a milestone in the study to become a kahen. Unlike fully-fledged Kahens, debteras are closer to the laypeople serving as intermediaries between them and the clergy. A Kahen who gives up his position or is deposed may serve as a debtera. Kahens and debteras are two separate professions. Orthodox Tewahedo churches see the division as following the model used by the ancient Israelites. During Lenten services, debteras tap prayer sticks to keep the rhythm; the Ethiopian Church condones the performances of debteras, citing the story in 2 Kings of David dancing at the temple and Psalm 47:1 for Biblical examples. These performances feature symbols connected to the Passion of Jesus: the sistrum's swaying and the beating of the drums represent Christ's swaying while enduring beatings, the tapping of the prayer sticks represent the flagellation of Christ. Debteras participate in liturgy as singers and musicians and, outside the Church religio-magical healers by performing as herbalists, fortune-tellers etc.
Some Ethiopian authors consider these healers as ‘spiritual healers’ whereas, they are purely religio-magical healers. Not all duties taken on by Debteras are condoned by the Ethiopian Church. Many distribute contraceptive herbs to women and perform magic meant to perform contraceptive functions, in contradiction to the Ethiopian Church's teachings; some are reputed to study black magic invoking demons alongside their more benevolent official learning. Some Debteras manufacture; these amulets are made of silver and are noted for their use against the legendary budas, zār spirits, the evil eye. They may study a variety of anti-magic invocations and exorcisms; these exorcisms may include prayers, blessing of holy water, burning of roots, incantations from a Magic Star Book. Some amulets may take the form of small scrolls kept in pouches or similar containers, made from the skin of a sacrificed goat or lamb whose blood is used to ritually purify the intended owner; some practice astrology, by giving unlucky people new stars by changing their names.
This may be considered "cheating" by the locals, however. Some Debteras have been noted to use Datura stramonium to cause hallucinations. A debtera may charge a fee for his charms and astrological practices, but not liturgical activities. Not all of the Debteras duties and cures are supernatural. Debteras place scarecrows in farm fields to protect them and shave heads to prevent lice outbreaks. Before the 1974 revolution, nobles would hire Debteras to educate their children. A major theological difference in the healing practices of Priests and Debteras is that for the priests, sin Vs virtue or evil-spirit Vs God is the basis for any sickness and healings. Therefore, they prescribe prayer and holy water, fasting, penance together with holy water as a remedy. For the debteras it is evil spirit Vs human beings. Besides these, kitab or amulets are prepared and give by them to be worn to wade away the evil spirits and evil eye. On the other hand, the priests use the practice of confession, fasting and Church attendance as a means of healing together with some sort of advice and guidance.
The soul-father, called yenafs abbat is a kind of family spiritual-doctor, common in many places makes frequent visits to the home and performs services as required. Ethiopian chant
Timkat is the Orthodox Tewahedo celebration of Epiphany. It is celebrated on January corresponding to the 10th day of Terr in the Ethiopian calendar. Timkat celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River; this festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism. During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, present on every Ethiopian altar, is reverently wrapped in rich cloth and borne in procession on the head of the priest; the Tabot, otherwise seen by the laity, represents the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated near pool early in the morning; the nearby body of water is blessed towards dawn and sprinkled on the participants, some of whom enter the water and immerse themselves, symbolically renewing their baptismal vows. But the festival does not end there; the clergy, bearing umbrellas of many hues, perform rollicking dances and songs. Dressed up in their finest, the women chatter excitedly on their one real day of freedom in the year.
The young braves leap down in spirited dances, tirelessly repeating rhythmic songs. When the holy ark has been safely restored to its dwelling-place, everyone goes home for feasting. "Timket". 13 October 2004. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 2014-10-04. "Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris - Timket - Epiphany in Ethiopia". Ethiopianriftvalleysafaris.com. Archived from the original on 2014-09-29. Retrieved 2014-10-04. "meskelsquare.com". Meskelsquare.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2014-10-04. Timkat Celebration in Lalibela
Saint Thomas Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians called Syrian Christians of India, Nasrani or Malankara Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila, are an ethnoreligious community of Malayali Syriac Christians from Kerala, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The terms Syrian or Syriac relate not to their ethnicity but to their historical and liturgical connection to Syriac Christianity; the term Nasrani was derived from Semitic languages like Syriac and Arabic and refers to Christians in general. This community was organised as the Province of India of the Church of the East in the 8th century, served by Nestorian bishops and a local dynastic Archdeacon; the Church of the East declined in the 16th century due to outside influences like the Islamic invasion and the influence of the Catholic Church. The Schism of 1552 split the Church of the East into two factions, the independent Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church, in full communion with Rome.
Both the factions follow the East Syriac Liturgy of the historic Church of the East. In the 16th century the overtures of the Portuguese padroado to bring the Saint Thomas Christians into the Catholic Church led to the first of several rifts in the community; the majority of Nasranis joined in formal communion with Rome, to form the Syro-Malabar Church, distinct and separate from the Western Latin Church but is one of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The remaining group entered into a new communion with the Syriac Orthodox Church, to form an Oriental Orthodox Church; the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church follows the East Syriac Liturgy of the historic Church of the East, traditionally attributed to Saints Addai and Mari which dates back to 3rd-century Edessa. The Malankara Church follows the West Syriac Liturgy of the Syriac Orthodox Church, traditionally attributed to Saint James, is an ancient rite of the Early Christian Church of Jerusalem. Since that time further splits have occurred, the Saint Thomas Christians are now divided into several different Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and independent bodies, each with their own liturgies and traditions.
The Eastern Catholic faction is in full communion with the Holy See in Rome. This includes the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; the Syro-Malankara Church were a minority faction within the Oriental Orthodox faction that joined in communion with Rome in 1930 under Bishop Mar Ivanios. The Oriental Orthodox faction includes the Malankara Orthodox Church and the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church; the Malankara Orthodox Church is headed by the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan in Kottayam, India. Whereas the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church and is headed by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch in Damascus, Syria. Independents include the Chaldean Syrian Church of India; the Marthoma Syrian Church were a part of the Malankara Church that went through a reformation movement under Abraham Malpan due to influence of British Anglican missionaries in the 1800s. The Mar Thoma Church follows a reformed variant of the liturgical West Syriac Rite.
The Chaldean Syrian Church is an archbishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq. They were a minority faction within the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who split off and joined with the Church of the East Bishop during the 1700s. Saint Thomas Christians represent a multi-ethnic group, their culture is derived from East Syriac, Hindu and West Syriac influences, blended with local customs and elements derived from indigenous Indian and European colonial contacts. Their language is Malayalam, the language of Kerala, Syriac is used for liturgical purposes; the Saint Thomas Christians are classified as a Forward caste by the Government of India under its system of positive discrimination. The Saint Thomas Christians have been nicknamed such due to their reverence for Saint Thomas the Apostle, said to have brought Christianity to India; the name dates back to the period of Portuguese colonisation. They are known locally, as Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila; the former means Christian. Mappila is an honorific applied to members of non-Indian faiths and descendants of immigrants from the middle east who had intermarried with the local population, including Muslims and Jews.
Some Syrian Christians of Travancore continue to attach this honorific title to their names. The Government of India designates members of the community as Syrian Christians, a term originating with the Dutch colonial authority that distinguishes the Saint Thomas Christians, who used Syriac as their liturgical language, from newly evangelised Christians who followed the Roman Rite; the terms Syrian or Syriac relate not to their ethnicity but to their historical and liturgical connection to the Church of the East, or East Syriac Church. According to tradition, Thomas the Apostle came to Muziris on the Kerala coast in 50 AD, in present-day Pattanam, Kerala; the Cochin Jews are known to have existed in Kerala in the 1st century AD, it was possible for an Aramaic-speaking Jew, such as St. Thomas from Galilee, to make a trip to Kerala then; the earliest known source connecting the Apostle to India is the Acts of Thomas written in the early 3rd century in Edessa. A number of 3rd and 4th century Roman writers mention Thomas' trip to India, including Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Nazianzus and Ephrem the Sy
Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem known as the Armenian Patriarchate of Saint James is located in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The Armenian Apostolic Church is recognised under Israel's confessional system, for the self-regulation of status issues, such as marriage and divorce. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, served the Armenian Church as the Grand Sacristan and the Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarchate, when he was elected as the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem on January 24, 2013. Manougian succeeded Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, who died on October 12, 2012 after serving 22 years in the office; the Patriarch, along with a Synod of seven clergymen elected by the St. James Brotherhood, oversees the Patriarchate's operations. During World War I, survivors of the Armenian Genocide received shelter in the Armenian Convent in Jerusalem; the Armenian population of Jerusalem reached at that time 25,000 people. But political and economic instability in the region have reduced the Armenian population.
Most Armenians in Jerusalem live around the Patriarchate at the Sts. James Monastery, which occupies most of the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. Apart from Jerusalem, there are Armenian Communities in Jaffa and Nazareth, in the Palestinian Territories; the Jerusalem Armenian community uses the Old Julian calendar, unlike the rest of the Armenian Church which use the Gregorian calendar. In 638, after Saint Sophronius died and the Greeks did not appoint another bishop for Jerusalem, the Armenian Apostolic Church began appointing its own bishops for Jerusalem; the office has continued, with some interruptions, down to this day. The Bishops were elevated in stature and became Patriarchs; the Armenian Patriarch is self-governing. The Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem recognizes the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin as having pre-eminent supremacy in all spiritual matters. After the end of the Crusader period, the Armenian Patriarchs sought to establish good relations with the Muslim rulers; the Armenian Patriarch Sarkis I met the Mamluk governor in Egypt and subsequently returned to his community in Jerusalem, hoping to usher in a period of peace for his people after the Crusades.
In the 1340s the Armenians were permitted to build a wall around their quarter. The Mamluk government engraved a protective declaration in Arabic on the western entrance to the quarter; the Armenian quarter in this period kept creating "facts on the ground" by the constant small expansions and consolidations. In the 1380s Patriarch Krikor IV built a priests' dining room across from the St. James Cathedral. Around 1415 the olive grove near the Garden of Gethsemane was purchased. In 1439, Armenians were removed from the Golgotha chapel, but the Patriarch Mardiros I purchased the “opposite area” and named it second Golgotha; this remains in the Patriarch's possession to this day. At times, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem became politicized by struggles within the Armenian Church; the Armenian Patriarchate, due to its proximity to the Holy places and isolation from the main Armenian population, played an important role in the schism that began to affect the Armenian leaderships in Constantinople and Etchmiadzin.
Bishop Eghiazar assumed the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and in 1644 declared himself for a short period of time as "Catholicos" of all the Armenian church. In the 17th century, the Armenians were allowed after much pleading to enlarge the St. James Monastery. At the same time the Armenian Patriarch Hovhannes VII purchased a large parcel of land south of the St. James Cathedral, called “Cham Tagh”. By 1752 the Patriarchate was busy renovating the entire quarter, in 1828 further renovations took place after an earthquake. In 1850 the seminary complex at the south end of the St. James convent was completed. In 1833, the Armenians established the city's first printing press, opened a theological seminary in 1843. In 1866, the Armenians had inaugurated the first photographic studio and their first newspaper in Jerusalem. In 1908, the Armenian community built two large buildings on the north-western side of the Old City, along Jaffa Street; as the Armenian diaspora spread throughout Europe and America, wealthy Armenians donated generously for the prosperity and continuity of the Patriarchate.
The oil magnate and philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian came to endow the Gulbenkian Library in the Armenian quarter, named in gratitude in his name, today holding one of the great collection of ancient Armenian manuscripts including endless copies of the various Firmens, Ottoman edicts that granted the quarter protection and rights under Muslim rule. By the 1920s, most of the Armenian quarter had “European style gable roofs” as opposed to the domes preferred in the Muslim quarter. In 1922 Armenians made up 8% of Jerusalem's Christians, bringing their total number to about 2,480 people, it is noted that non-Armenians found comfort in the protection of the walled Armenian "compound". In the 1930s and 1940s, the Armenian quarter saw further renovations; the end of World War II brought the division of Mandate Palestine and the establishment in 1948 of Israel. The numbers of Armenians residing at the time in the Holy Land totaled about 8,000; the Armenians who lived in Haifa and Jaffa, which became part of Israel, got the Israeli citizenship.
The Armenian community was further reduced after the 1967 Six-Day War and occupation, with many emigrat
Orthodox Tewahedo is the common and historical name of two Oriental Orthodox churches. These are the predominant Orthodox Christian denominations in Eritrea; until 1959, the Orthodox Tewahedo churches were administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The Orthodox Tewahedo church was granted autocephaly and its own Patriarch that year by Pope Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria. Following the independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church was made autocephalous by Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria and it separated from what was now the distinct Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Tewahedo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one" or "unified"; this word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one single unified nature of Christ. This is in contrast to the "two Natures of Christ" belief, held by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Henotikon, around 500 bishops within the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem refused to accept the "two natures" doctrine decreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, thus separating themselves from the main body of the Christian Church at the time, which would itself split in two factions in the East–West Schism of 1054, although this event was not about Christological views.
Oriental Orthodoxy consists of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Armenian Apostolic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church. It is known as "non-Chalcedonian", sometimes by outsiders as "monophysite". However, these Churches themselves describe their Christology as miaphysite; the Orthodox Tewahedo churches claim their origins from the royal official said to have been baptized by Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven deacons: Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian; this man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure. The passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian treasurer understand a passage from Isaiah that the Ethiopian was reading. After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage, he requested that Philip baptize him, Philip did so.
The Ethiopic version of this verse reads "Hendeke". Orthodox Christianity became the state religion of the Kingdom of Aksum during the fourth century AD under Ezana of Axum, through the efforts of a Syrian Greek named Frumentius, known to the churches' followers as Abune Selama, Kesatē Birhan "Father of Peace, Revealer of Light"; as a youth, Frumentius had been shipwrecked with his brother Aedesius on the Eritrean coast. The brothers managed to be brought to the royal court, where they rose to positions of influence and converted Emperor Ezana to Christianity, causing him to be baptised. Ezana sent Frumentius to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch, Athanasius of Alexandria, to appoint a bishop for Ethiopia. Athanasius appointed Frumentius himself, who returned to Ethiopia as Bishop with the name "Abune Selama". From on, until 1959, the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria, as Patriarch of All Africa, always named a Copt to be Abuna of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Union with the Coptic Church continued after the Arab conquest of Egypt.
Abu al-Makarim records in the twelfth century that the patriarch always sent letters twice a year to the kings of Abyssinia and Nubia, until al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah of the Fatimid Caliphate stopped the practice. Patriarch Cyril II of Alexandria, the 67th patriarch, sent Severus as bishop, with orders to put down polygamy and to enforce observance of canonical consecration for all churches; these examples show the close relations of the two churches concurrent with the Middle Ages. In 1439, in the reign of Zara Yaqob, a religious discussion between Abba Giyorgis and a French visitor had led to the dispatch of an embassy from Ethiopia to the Vatican; the period of Jesuit influence, which broke the connection with Egypt, began a new chapter in Church history. The initiative in the Catholic missions to Ethiopia was taken not by Rome, but by the Kingdom of Portugal, as an incident in the struggle with the Muslim states of the Ottoman Empire and Adal Sultanate for the command of the trade route to India by the Red Sea.
In 1507, Mateus, an Armenian, had been sent as an Ethiopian envoy to Portugal to ask for aid against the Adal Sultanate. In 1520, an embassy under Dom Rodrigo de Lima landed in Ethiopia. An interesting account of the Portuguese mission, which lasted for several years, was written by Francisco Álvares, the chaplain. Ignatius of Loyola wished to take up the task of conversion, but was forbidden. Instead, the pope sent out João Nunes Barreto as patriarch of the East Indies, with Andrés de Oviedo as bishop. After repeated failures some measure of success was achieved under Emperor Susenyos I, b