CFEE JOINT SEMINAR: THE BETA ISRAEL

SÉMINAIRE / SEMINAR

CFEE Seminar Past and Present: History, Memory and Heritage
(2017-2018)

1ère séance / 1st session: The Beta Israel: legends and facts about their emergence, with a focus on their monasticism, par / by Sophia DEGE-MÜLLER & Bar KRIBUS

Lundi 25 septembre 2017, 15h30-17h, Bibliothèque d’études éthiopiennes Berhanou Abebe (CFEE) / Monday 25th September 2017, 3:30-5 PM, Berhanou Abebe Library of Ethiopian Studies (CFEE).

The Beta Israel: legends and facts about their emergence, with a focus on their monasticism.

The emergence of the Beta Israel, the Jews of Ethiopia, have long been debated. There are many legends connecting them to the group of first-born sons accompanying Menilek I back from Jerusalem to Aksum. Other legends see them as descending from Himyarite Jewish prisoners of war, or adherents of « the old religion » before Ezana converted to Christianity. And yet other legends claim that the worrier Queen Esato/Judith, that laid Aksum to waste, was a Jewish queen.
The sources however, support dating their appearance to the 14th/15th century, stressing their close connection to the Ethiopian Church. One noteworthy element of the Beta Israel tradition is monasticism which took distinctive features in their group.
We want to  elaborate on their monastic tradition, and present an outlook to ongoing research to locate the material remains of their monasteries and settlements in the Semien mountains.

Les intervenants / The speakers

Sophia Dege-Müller is a specialist of Ge’ez, Ethiopian Christian History and Ethiopian manuscripts. Since September 2015 , she is research fellow at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany. One of her current projects is editing a special issue dedicated to the Oral Traditions in Ethiopian Studies, a collaborative work with Dirk Bustorf and Alexander Meckelburg. For her PhD thesis she studies The Aksimaros-Literature: the Story of Creation in Ethiopian Tradition at the University of Hamburg.

Bar Kribus is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). His research focuses on Late Antique (Aksumite) and Medieval Ethiopian archaeology and on the history and material culture of the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews). For his PhD thesis, he is studying the monastic movement of the Beta Israel, with an emphasis on the daily lives of the monks and on Beta Israel monasteries. A central component of this research will be an archaeological survey of Beta Israel monastic sites in Ethiopia.

They are both Responsible Team-Members of the sub-project « The Horn of Africa – from Ethiopia to the Red Sea » within the research program JEWSEAST « Jews and Christians in the East: Strategies of Interaction between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean »  funded by the European Research Council at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

Organisateurs du séminaire / Convenors of the seminar series:
Dr. Ahmed Hassan (Addis Ababa University, Institute for Ethiopian Studies), Tewodros Seyoum (Debre Berhan University, History and Heritage Management Dept.), Dr. Amélie Chekroun (CFEE), Dr. Margaux Herman (CFEE/IMAF)

 

Photo : The Beta Israel cemetery in Amba Gualit (crédit: Sophia Dege-Müller)


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