Charles Buck Theological Dictionary: ABYSSINIAN CHURCH

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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary: ABYSSINIAN CHURCH

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That which is established in the empire of Abyssinia. They are a branch of the Copts, with whom they agree in admitting only one nature in Jesus Christ, and rejecting the council of Chalcedon; whence they are also called Monophysites and Eutychians, which see. The Abyssinian church is governed by a bishop styled abuna. They have canons also, and monks. The emperor has a kind of supremacy in ecclesiastical matters. The Abyssinians have at divers times expressed an inclination to be reconciled to the see of Rome; but rather from interested views than any other motive. They practise circumcision on females as well as males. They eat no meats prohibited by the law of Moses. They observe both Saturday and Sunday sabbaths. Women are obliged to the legal purifications, Brothers marry brothers' wives, & 100: On the other hand, they celebrate the Epiphany with peculiar festivity; have four Lents; pray for the dead; and invoke angels. Images in painting they venerate; but abhor all those in relievo, except the cross. They admit the apocryphal books, and the canons of the apostles, as well as the apostolical constitutions, for genuine. They allow of divorce, which is easily granted among them, and by the civil judge; nor do their civil laws prohibit polygamy.

They have, at least, as many miracles and legends of saints as the Romish church. They hold that the soul of man is not created; because, say they, God finished all his works on the sixth day. Thus we see that the doctrines and ritual of this sect form a strange compound of Judaism and Christianity, ignorance and superstition. Some, indeed, have been at a loss to know whether they are most Christians or Jews: it is to be feared, however, that there is little beside the name of Christianity among them. Should the reader be desirous to know more of this sect, he may consult Father Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia; Bruce's Travels; Ludolph's Hist. of Ethiopia; and Dict. of Arts and Sciences, vol. 1: p 15.