Ethiopia Religion – Controversy on Anointing and Union

In the Acts of the Apostles (X, 38) it is said that, in the speech given in Caesarea by St. Peter, he pronounced the words: “Jesus… how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and virtue”. (Iesusquomodo unxit eum Deus Spiritu Sancto et virtute). This anointing, which cannot reasonably be referred to except to the humanity of Jesus Christ, necessarily supposes that the Word, after the Incarnation, had a human nature distinct from the divine. It was therefore an argument against Monophysitism and perhaps it was put forward by the Jesuits, especially as the controversy begins as early as the 15th or 16th year of Susnēos. To overcome the difficulty, the Abyssinian monks argued that “anointing” meant “union of the Word with the flesh”. We believe that they were led to this affirmation by the words of the “epiclesis”, that is, of the prayer which in the Abyssinian liturgy (as in other Eastern liturgies) follows, in the Mass, the consecration of the Eucharistic species, which prayer asks God to send on these species “Holy Spirit and virtue” (the identical words, note well, of the discourse of St. Peter) and make her the body and blood of Christ. This affirmation of the monks was expressed with the words “baqeb ‘tawāḥedo” that is “with the anointing the union” of the Word with the flesh took place. From the word qeb ā t “anointing”, the partisans of this belief were called qeb ā to č, as to say “unionists”. The dispute dragged on, and gave rise to various Councils, especially in 1654, in 1684 and in 1707, and other formulas and definitions (see the annals of Iyasu I in Corp. Script. Christ. Orient., p. 214 ff.). In the fifth year of the reign of Dāwit III, great disputes took place between the monks, especially of Goggiam and those of Dabra Libānos, on the formula proposed for some time “by anointing he was the son of essence” and Metropolitan Krestodulus (II) who succeeded the Metropolitan Marcus, who died in 1716, first seemed to approve of this formula and then that of Dabra Libānos; and it is characteristic that, without preceding any council or act of ecclesiastical authority, but with a simple proclamation of herald, King Tēwoflos, to favor the Goggiam, imposed the said formula, giving a clear example of the usual interference of kings in the government of the church (in the Walda B ā hrey formula the word b āḥ rey corresponds to οὐσία that is “son of essence”; also had followers the formula Walda Ṣ ag ā, that is “son of grace”). And they also gave rise to serious agitations, such as that of the Sedudan or “exiles” of Goggiam. For Ethiopia 2006, please check

Some monks of Dabra Libānos, in the second half of the eighteenth century, seemed to approach diophysism, which provoked a reaction in the monks of Ēwosṭātēwos, very numerous in Tigrè, and gave rise to the rigid monophysite sect of the “Kārroc”. At the end of the century. XVII and at the beginning of the following had many followers, especially in the Goggiam, the sect mentioned above by Zar’a Buruk, of which amazing miracles are narrated and who died in 1705. This sect differed from that of Takla Hāymānot and, even more profoundly, from that of Ēwosṭātēwos or “karroč”. Perhaps as a reaction arose in the Goggiam, and especially in the Scioa, the belief about the three “births” of Jesus Christ (eternal generation, birth from the Virgin, and anointing), for which three births Jesus Christ is respectively Unigenitus,, Primogenitus omnis creaturee (John I, 14; Matt., I, 25, Luc. II, 7; Coloss., I, 15). This belief was forbidden by Metropolitan Josāb (who died in 1803), except that, when he died, it was proclaimed mandatory by rās Gugsā, at least in the territory subject to him, and in 1840, the king of Scioa Sāhla Sellāsē declared it mandatory in the Scioa. But King Theodore, instigated by the well-known metropolitan Abbā Salāmā, forbade it; Menelik re-established it in 1866, but for a short time, because King John IV (1868-1889) banned it in all of Abyssinia.

The controversy about “anointing and union” is the only one, or nearly so, that has agitated the whole church of Abyssinia, because the questions and heresies of the first centuries, the gnosis, the controversies about the Trinity under Justinian, the Theopaschites, and others, Arianism, etc., did not reach Abyssinia which was still pagan, and the arrival of the Arian bishop, Theophilus, even if it did take place, was without consequence. For geographical reasons the soteriological controversies, on grace, on original sin, and others did not enter. The Monophysite heresy entered it alone, probably through the work of the Syrian monks, and with this is connected, as has been said, the late controversy on union and anointing. All the other heresies that arose after the century. V did not disturb the Abyssinian church, now separated from Byzantium and the West.

All that has been said above suffices to show the fundamental difference between the Abyssinian Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, a difference denied for political purposes by those who, for this purpose, took advantage of the similarity of ancient rites preserved in both churches, but independently in both.

The remarkable spread of Islam (see above) could in many cases be characterized as the passage from a languid Christianity to a languid Islam.

Ethiopia anointing and union