A sixteenth century citation of the Ethiopic Didascalia

ludolfIn debate with Roman Catholic missionaries in the sixteenth century, Gälawdewos (Claudius) emperor of Ethiopia, defends practices in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity which were seen as Judaizing.

One point of contention was the Ethiopian observation of the Sabbath. He states that it is not kept in the Jewish manner, but that they “honour it by offering up on it the sacrifice (ቍርባን) and perform on it the supper (ምሳሐ) as our fathers, the Apostles, have commanded us in the Didascalia (በዲድስቅልያ).”

Solomon Gebreyes, “The Confession of King Gälawdewos (1540–1559): a 16th century-Ethiopia monophysite document against Jesuit proselytism” JAHPS 3 (2016), 1-18, at p5, gives a reference to Harden’s Didascalia pp178-179, which is a version of CA 7.36, the “synagogal” prayers which are found in that text. This does not seem likely. More probable is the Ethiopic Didascalia version of CA 2.59 (cited here following Harden with some readings from Platt’s text, which seem to fit the citation more neatly):

Admonish, then, O bishop, thy people, and bid them come to the church day and night, and never absent themselves from it, that the congregation therein be not diminished, for they are members of Christ. And we say this not concerning the priests alone, but concerning all the people, that each one may understand the word of the Lord. For our Lord saith, “But he that is not with me is mine adversary, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” Be not slothful, then, for ye are members of Christ; separate not yourselves from His Body and His Blood; nor choose the cares of this world before the commandments of God. Gather yourselves together in the church in the evening and in the morning; glorify God, and sing, and read the Psalms of David, the sixty-second, and the hundred and fortieth as well. And especially on the Sabbath of the Jews and on the first day, the Christian Sabbath, which is (the day of) His holy resurrection, offer praise and thanksgiving and honour to God, who created all things by His Son Jesus Christ, whom He sent unto us; who was well pleased to suffer according to His will, and was buried in the earth, and rose again from the dead. But if ye come not to the church, what excuse, or what answer will ye make to God? For on this day, the Christian Sabbath, we ought to hear the preaching of His holy resurrection, and remember His sufferings, and make remembrance of Him, and read the Scriptures of the prophets, and the Gospel; and (celebrate) the eucharist, the sacrifice of the oblation, (our) spiritual food.

What is most interesting is to find a church order cited as authoritative in the sixteenth century.

The picture, incidentally, is the relevant page of Ludolfus (Hiob Ludolf) Ad suam historiam Aethiopicam commentarius, which is where I initially found the reference. For those unfamiliar with this work, it is worth recording that it contains the first western publication of Apostolic church order, in Ethiopic. A Greek text did not appear for another 150 years.

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Other church order literature

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s