Pérès Jacques-Noël

Arius and the Three Hundred and Eighteen Orthodox Fathers in the Ethiopian Tradition

Pérès Jacques-Noël (2014) "Arius and the Three Hundred and Eighteen Orthodox Fathers in the Ethiopian Tradition ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia, 2014, vol. 52, pp. 30-42 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI201452.30-42


What do today’s Ethiopian Christians think about Arius and what do they think about his theology? Naturally, recent studies concerning this topic are terra incognita to them. Arius continues to represent for them the typical arch-heretic. This author bases his study on his research of the Senkessar (the Ethiopian Synaxarion), the Ethiopian liturgical tradition, a number of other texts, as well as the Ethiopian tradition of sacred art. All this permits him to define the image of Arius in today’s Ethiopian Church. The Ethiopian national epos known as the Kebra Nagast or Glory of the Kings places Arius in the company of Nestorius and Ibo of Edessa. For the Ethiopian church which does not accept the Council of Chalcedon, both of these represent hated dia-physite heretics. By associating Arius with them, he becomes the founder of the dia-physite heresy — a movement which historically occurred only after his time and with which he actually had little or nothing to do. In the Ethiopian Synaxarion, Arius is juxtaposed with such heroes of the Ethiopian faith as Peter, Alexander, and Timothy of Alexandria, Athanasius the Great, and the fathers of the Council of Nicaea. Naturally, here just as in the Kebra, Arius is once again portrayed as the arch-heretic, whose teaching represents a pernicious catastrophe for the Orthodox faith. He is compared with Sabellius, Macedonius, Nestorius, and even Mani. He is demonized to the extent that he is actually called a devil. In the Anaphora of the Three Hundred and Eighteen, Arius is not mentioned by name, but the anaphora in question does contain an attack on his heresy. It would seem that the Ethiopian authors make no attempt to even understand the logic which Arius used to define his position. They simply reject it without discussion. The Ethiopian tradition likewise portrays Arius as a new Judas, pointing out similar details in the way both of these figures met their fi nal end. A particular representation of this is found in the way Arius is depicted on the wall of the church of Ura Kidana Mehret, near Lake Tana on the Peninsula of Zege. A similar depiction, this time in words, is found in the Ethiopian Synaxarion.


Arius, Alexander of Alexandria, Peter of Alexandria, Arianism, Ethiopia, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Anaphora of the 318 Orthodox Fathers, Ethiopian Synaxarion, I Ecumenical Council.


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Pérès Jacques-Noël