Gusarova Ekaterina

An idea of the Ecumenical Church in Medieval Ethiopia (based on the law-book "Fətḥa nägäśt")

Gusarova Ekaterina (2020) "An idea of the Ecumenical Church in Medieval Ethiopia (based on the law-book "Fətḥa nägäśt") ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2020, vol. 65, pp. 22-32 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII202065.22-32


The Ethiopian law-book Fətḥa nägäśt was the main source of law (canonical, civil, criminal and any other) in mediaeval Ethiopia until the middle of the 20th century. It is a translation (partly precise, partly slightly inexact) of the Nomocanon, a Coptic digest of church canons and imperial decrees, compiled by Abū’l-Faḍā’il Ibn al-‘Assāl al-Ṣafī in 1238. For this reason, the idea of the Ecumenical Church with its division into patriarchates found in this work refl ects the position of the Coptic Church. In Ethiopian historiographic tradition, there is suffi cient information to date the Fətḥa nägäśt back to the period not later than the 16th century. Of course, it opens the canonical Tetrarchy with the Patriarchate of Rome followed by the Patriarchate of Alexandria, then by that of Ephesus and only thereafter it is noted that the latter moved from Ephesus to the capital of the Empire, Constantinople. For the Monophysites, i. e. Copts and Ethiopians, the Chalcedonian Patriarchate of Constantinople was not ecumenical, and they did not even want to mention Constantinople on that occasion once again. The article pays special attention to the problem of claims of the Catholicos of Baghdad, Primate of the Church of the East, to the leadership of the Church of Antioch; a number of other issues is touched upon as well, in particular those associated with the Ethiopian metropolis.


Ethiopian Church, Coptic Church, law-book Fətḥa nägäśt, mediaeval law, Ecumenical Councils, Autocephalous Churches, Canonical Patriarchates


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Information about the author

Gusarova Ekaterina

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in History;
Place of work: Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences; 18 Dvortsovaya nab., St. Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation;
ORCID: 0000-0003-2170-024;
Email: ekater-ina@mail.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.