Discipline: Humanities

Topic: World History


Ethiopia: Christianity, Islam, Judaism

Haggai Erlich, Steven Kaplan, Hagar Salamon

A detailed history of Ethiopia’s religious history, this book surveys the religious dimension and its role in the history of Ethiopia, from the beginning of the Middle Ages to the present. It examines the Ethiopian interpretation of each of the three belief systems, their local institutions, and their inter-relations.


An introduction summarizes the flexible, non-essentialist nature of Ethiopia’s religiosity. “Christianity” analyzes the history and many faces of the country’s hegemonic religion. It deals with the development of the spiritual-theological elements of Ethiopia’s unique form of Christianity and their role in the history of the country and its foreign relations.

“Islam” discusses the structure of Ethiopian Islam and its development as the minority religion on the margin of society, contending with the national Christian hegemony, and ends with its apparent revolution and penetration into the core in the 1990s. It also follows Ethiopia’s relations with Middle Eastern countries.

“Judaism” surveys the culture of “Beta Israel”: the essence of this special Jewry, its customs and practices, and its development and historical place in the multi-faceted religious and social fabric of Ethiopian society.

2003, 384 pp., cat. # 10333


Professor Haggai Erlich, of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University and the Department of History at the Open University, is author of 10 books, among them Ethiopia and the Middle East (Lynne Rienner, 1994) and The Cross and the River – Ethiopia, Egypt and the Nile (Lynne Rienner, 2002) and co-editor of The Nile – Histories, Cultures, Myths (Lynne Rienner, 2000).


Professor Steven Kaplan, Associate Professor of Comparative Religion and African Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is Provost of the Rothberg International School. An expert on Ethiopia, he has authored and edited numerous publications, including The Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia: From Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century (New York University Press, 1992).

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