You are on page 1of 299

A QUESTION OF BALANCE: A THEOLOGICAL EXAMINATION OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX UNDERSTANDING OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF ADORATION, CONTEMPLATION, WORK AND LEISURE

IN THE LIGHT OF GORDON PREECES THEOLOGY OF WORK

by Hailu Cherenet Biru BTh, Evangelical Theological College of Addis Ababa, 1994 MDiv, Eastern Mennonite University, 1999

A DISSERTATION Submitted to the faculty in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in Theological Studies at Trinity International University

Deerfield, Illinois May 2011

UMI Number: 3433380

All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion.

UMI 3433380 Copyright 2011 by ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.

ProQuest LLC 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346

ABSTRACT

While the issue of work has been a focus of theological research and discussion in a Christian communities since the time of Reformation, concern regarding the understanding and practice of work was not given due attention in the Ethiopian context in which Scripture was read for several thousand years. This dissertation seeks to addresses the vital issues that contributed to the imbalance of leisure and work. In chapter one by utilizing Gordon Preeces theology of work this dissertation examines the EOTCs understanding of contemplation, adoration, work and leisure. In chapter two the thesis explores how the EOTCs historical journey, with its emphasis on the teaching of the Founding Fathers and its focus in mystical theology contributed to the minimal development of a theology of work. From chapter three to chapter five the thesis addresses the notions of deification, theological anthropology, the allegorical interpretation of the Scripture and uncritical appropriation of Platonism and the roles they have played in shaping the lapsarian-centered view of work in the EOTC. In chapters six and seven the thesis attempts to show the flaws of EOTCs system when viewed from an evangelical perspective. This study concludes with the suggestion that the lapsarian-centered view of work needs to be replaced by vocation-centered view of work that brings balance between leisure and work. Further, the dissertation proposes that vocation-centered view of work is the way to attain the intended community transformation.

iii

CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ... INTRODUCTION .. Chapter 1. PREECES THEOLOGY OF WORK AS A CRITICAL TOOL .. 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Preeces Trinitarian Theology of Work 1.2.1 The Strength of Trinitarian Theology of Work 1.2.2 Vocation as Dynamic vs. Static 1.3 1.4 The Impact of the Vocational View Preece and the EOTCs Understanding of Work 1.4.1 Adoration and Work 1.4.2 Contemplation, Work and Leisure 1.5 Vocation as a Tool for Community Transformation 1.6 Conclusion

ix xi 1

21

2. THE EOTCS MYSTICAL THEOLOGYS AND ITS IMPACT ON WORK.51 2.1 Introduction 2.2 The Founding Fathers and Contemplation 2.2.1. Factors That Contributed to the Minimal Development of Theological Reflection in the EOTC 2.2.2. Theology of Work in the Light of the Founding Fathers of the EOTC iv

2.3 The Dispute between the Coptic Church and EOTC and Its Impact on the Theology of Work 2.3.1 The Dispute between the Coptic Church and EOTC 2.3.2 The Impact of the Dispute 2.4 Mystical Theology and its Impact on Work 2. 4.1 The Emphasis on the Mystery of God 2. 4.2 The Impacts of the Emphasis on the Mystery of God 2.5 Adoration vs. Analysis and Work 2.6 Conclusion 3. THE IMPACT OF CONTEMPLATION AND DEIFICATION IN RELATION TO WORK .....84 3.1 Introduction 3.2. The Impact of Contemplation and Deification in Relation to Work 3.2.1 The Understanding of the Deification of Humanity and Work 3.2.2 Deification and its Impact on Human and Divine Relationship 3.2.3 Deification and Work 3.3. The Influence of the Church Fathers on the Daily Life of the EOTC 3.3.1 The Church Fathers and Work 3.3.2 The Impacts of the Church Fathers Teaching on the EOTC 3.4. The Impact of Church Architecture on Contemplation and Vice Versa 3.4.1. Architectural Design and Contemplation 3.4.2 The Impact of Contemplation on Location, Design and the Cemetery 3.5 Conclusion v

4. THE UNDERSTANDING OF HUMANITY IN RELATION TO WORK .....118 4. 1 Introduction 4. 2 The Understanding of Humanity in Relation to Work 4. 2.1 Theological Anthropology and Its Impact on the EOTCs Tradition 4. 2.2 The Constitutional Nature of Humanity in the EOTCs Perspective and Its Impacts 4.2.3. The Understanding of Humanity and Its Impact on the Practice of Work 4.3. The Veneration of Saints and Its Impacts on Work 4.4. The Monastic focus of Learned Leaders and its Impact on the Laity in Relation to work 4.4.1 The impact of Monasticism on Political Leaders 4.4.2 The Impact of Monastic Political Leaders on Lay People 4.4.3. The Overall Impact of the Monastic Inclination on Work 4.5. The Observance of Special days and Its Impact on Work 4.6. The Extended Fasting Season and Its Impact on Work 4.7. The Interplay between Work and Leisure in the EOTCs Understanding 4.7.1 The Relationship between Leisure and Work in the EOTC 4.7.2 The Impacts of Leisure and Work on the EOTC 4.8 Conclusion 5. SCRIPTURE INTERPRETATION AND WORK ...152 5.1 Introduction 5.2. Holy Days and Scripture Interpretation vi

5.2.1 The View of Scripture in the EOTC 5.2.2 The EOTC Canon 5.2.3 Holy Days and Scripture Interpretation 5.3. The Uncritical Appropriation of Platonism 5.3.1 The Platonic Elements in the Spiritual Experience of the EOTC 5.3.2 The Impacts of an Uncritical Appropriation of Platonism on Work 5.4. The Consequences of the Allegorical Interpretation in Relation to Work 5.4.1 Skewed Perception of Humanity 5.4.2 Inadequate Formulation of Theology of Work 5.5 Conclusion 6. EVALUATION OF THE EOTCS UNDERSTANDING OF WORK.189 6.1. Introduction 6.2. Biblical and Theological Understanding of Work and Leisure 6.2.1 The Biblical and Theological Understanding of Work 6.2.2 The Biblical and Theological Understanding of Leisure 6.3. Humans Are Designed to Work and Worship 6.3.1 The Place of Work in Human Life 6.4. The Relationship of Work and Worship 6.4.1 The Relationship of Work and Worship in Christian Life 6.4.2 The Impact of Work as Worshipful Action 6.5. God, Human Work and Leisure in the Evangelical Perspective. 6.5.1 God the Worker and Human Beings vii

6.5.2 Human Work and Leisure in Evangelical Perspective 6.6. Humanity and Its Role in the World in Relation to Work 6.7. Humanity and Nonhuman Creatures in Relation to Work 6.8 Conclusion 7. A THEOLOGICALLY BALANCED UNDERSTANDING OF WORK IN CONVERSATION WITH THE EOTC..229 7.1 Introduction 7.2 Practicing Human Work without Underplaying the Mystery of Spiritual Life 7.2.1 Human work and Spirituality 7.2.2 Maintaining balance between Work and Mysteries of Spiritual life 7.3 Honoring the Transcendent God without Violating His Revelation Regarding Work 7.3.1 Work and its Relationship with the Nature of God 7.3.2 Work and Gods Revelation 7.4 Work as an Integral Part of Who We Are as Human Beings 7.4.1 Work and Human life 7.4.2 The Intrinsic Nature of Work to Humanity 7.5 Conclusion CONCLUSION..268 BIBLIOGRAPHY..272

viii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The journey that led to the completion was a long one that began several years ago. I would like to acknowledge the support and encouragement of many people who lend a hand in many ways along the way. Words of recognition and appreciation are extended to the many who inspired this journey of my graduate study. I am especially grateful to my dissertation advisor and mentor Dr. Graham A. Cole whose tireless effort made my work to reach this level. He has been firm in supporting my research interest and scholarship. He has also been a wise advisor, challenging where needed and asking the right questions that helped to distill my ideas. Further, his keen interest in probing my arguments more deeply than at times I desired gave the shape this work has today. He unreservedly gave his time and expertise. I also want to extend my sincere appreciation and gratitude to my dissertation committee: to Dr. C. Ben Mitchell and Dr. Willem A. VanGemeren who unreservedly gave their time and expertise through classroom and personal relationship to the formation of ideas that shaped this work. I also want to extend my appreciation to Dr. Thomas N. Finger who was instrumental for the inception and materialization of my dream of graduate study. I am grateful to his penetrating insight into the theological subject at hand and his sacrificial monetary gift which facilitated my study. I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to Scholar Leaders International (SLI) for their generous scholarship grant that facilitated this ix

project. I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to individual groups who supported this journey. I am grateful to the support of Lombard Mennonite Church, Reba Place Church, Seattle Mennonite Church, and Berhane Wongel Evangelical Church. I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to Meserete Kristos College for providing the academic and spiritual resources for this work. Above all, I am especially grateful to my wife Yeshihareg S. Hailegiorgis and my children (Abenezer, Salem, Natnael and Daniel) for their inexpressible sacrifice and persistent support in encouraging me to reflect on my life long passion.

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

AAU COC EC EOC EOTC GOC JETS NPNF PC RAC RCC ROC

Addis Ababa University Coptic Orthodox Church Ethiopian Calendar Eastern Orthodox Church Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Greek Orthodox Church Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Protestant Church Replica of the Ark of the Covenant Roman Catholic Church Russian Orthodox Church

NB

All translations from Amharic are my own unless otherwise indicated. Throughout this thesis where relevant the writer has included a translation of the Amharic immediately after the title of the book.

xi

INTRODUCTION

Ethiopia is the oldest Christian country in Eastern Africa. Anthropologists and historians use the designation Ethiopia to talk about wider geographical settings than that of the Ethiopia we know today. In that regard John G. Jackson writes, In modern geography the name Ethiopia is confined to the country known as Abyssinia, an extensive territory in East Africa.1 In this specific work we restrict our focus to Ethiopia as known in modern times. The Christianity that was practiced among the Ethiopians is unique of its kind.2 Long before Christianity was introduced to many nations of the Western world, Christianity pioneered a national religion in Ethiopia.3 Even though there is controversy with reference to the actual date, almost all historians and scholars agree that the earliest Christianity that appeared on African soil is Ethiopian Christianity.4 In fact Ethiopia at this point in time was the only sub-Saharan country to have Scripture in its own language. Nathan B. Hege writes,

John G. Jackson, Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization: A Critical Review of the Evidence of Archaeology, Anthropology, History and Comparative Religion: According to the Most Reliable Sources and Authorities, http:// www.nbufront.org/html/Master Museums/ JGJ/html/ (accessed on October 31, 2008). Cf. David W. Phillipson, Ancient Churches of Ethiopia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 2-10. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Yethiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik Keledete Kristos Eske Hulet Sheh Ametemehret [The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church History from the Birth of Christ to the 2000] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 2000 EC), 2-18.
3 2

Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: United Printers, 1970), 3-6.

These were actually the only Sub-Saharan Africans in the first millennium to translate the scripture into their native tongue.5 The large numbers of holy days that are commemorated in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC)6 have initiated discussion in the Ethiopian society. Some even speculated that Egypt might have played a role here through her Egyptian bishops who were the spiritual heads of the EOTC.7 Berhanu Admas offers this observation in relation to the speculation of the influence of Egypt and notes, Except for encouraging us to free ourselves from the Jewish way of celebrating holy days, there is no evidence that shows that the Egyptians [leaders] overburdened the [Ethiopians] in relation to celebrating holy days.8

See Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: United Printers, 1970), 3-6. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present (Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing Press, 1998), 6-13. Yohannes Sandved, The Ancient Church History (Addis Ababa: Bole Printing Press, 1981), 86-93. Nathan B. Hege, Beyond Our Prayers (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1998), 35. Edward Ullendorff, Ethiopia and The Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), 56.
6 7 5

From now onwards we shall use EOTC to indicate Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Berhanu Admas, Bealat Mene? Lemen? Endet?[Holy Days What? Why? How?] (Addis Ababa: Mega Printing Press, 1998 EC), x. Here Admas comments,

Some people make comments such as: Our holy days are the

sources of our poverty, the causes of our poverty are those numerous holy days. It is the Egyptians who gave these numerous holy days to distract us from using the Nile River those of us who know the tense relation of our church with Alexandria are cautiously observing these rumors. Ibid., xii.
8

Today the politicians are more concerned than the theologians are to encourage a proper rhythm of life. In an Ethiopian television panel discussion the Information Minister Bereket Simon said "the country could not afford more than 200 holy days in a year which has 365 days."9 This bold comment in the public media is unpalatable to the proponents of the EOTC. In this regard Berhanu Admas argues, We hear news [through the radio and television] regarding the decision people made in relation to the existing holy days. The news is basically that district inhabitants and priests gathered and agreed to reduce the amount of holy dayswe cant help asking questions in relation to these kind of decisions that are declared in the public media. Who is deciding the numbers of holy days? In what ways? In a country where attempting to change the government through illegal approaches is legally unacceptable, how does the government view the attempt of amending the tradition of the church without strictly following the churchs tradition?10 Although Admas raises this thought provoking questions, he himself does not give an explicit solution for the problem that many people have seen in contemporary Ethiopia.11 In a country where we have lots of mouth to feed, we also have lots of idle hands

The panelist i.e. the information minister was worried about the future of this country which was claiming to build new generation of leaders. His argument was unless we tear down old values, beliefs, and attitudes, it is practically impossible to dream of new society. Ethiopian Television News release Addis Ababa: Ethiopian News Agency November 7, 2002. Cf. Tilahun Mekonen, Yeramse Chenket /The Worry of Ramse/ (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999 EC), 146-151. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel?/ , 136. Memhir Tsege Setotaw, Yenegal: Yehaimanot Kerekir [It Shall Dawn: Religious Dialogue] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1997 EC), 43-45. Admas, Bealat Mene? Lemen? Endet?, x. ? ? ?
10

Although Berhanu recognizes the problem in relation to the celebration of holy days, huge portion of his book is devoted to make a case for celebration of holy days.

11

that are not working to feed the population.12 An impetus behind this project is the desire to understand the theology that allows idleness in the face of starvation.13 What are the main reasons for the imbalance between contemplation and work in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity? What are the limitations of the contemplative system of thinking in shaping ones accountability in life? Gordon R. Preece argues, work and worth, industry and identity are very closely related in contemporary culture.14 Even though this is true for the vast majority of the modern society, due to their skewed view of work, Ethiopian society does not follow this characterization. The imbalance of leisure and work that is to be observed in the EOTC has its roots in the contemplative nature of its spirituality, its overemphasis on the deification of humanity, and its allegorical interpretation of the Scripture. Furthermore, the uncritical appropriation of Platonism has impacted on thought and action, and therefore the working habits of the EOTC adherents. Furthermore, the EOTCs overemphasis on the curse of Genesis 3 and not enough on the task on Genesis 1-2 has impacted the practice on work. This in turn led to a lapsarian-centered view of work (i.e. view that regards work as a consequence

According to the UN report the population of Ethiopia was 78,254, 090 in 2008. In 2009 the CIA World Fact Book reported that the population is 85,237,338. http://www.unohrlls.org/en/orphan/84/, http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/ethiopia/ethiopia (accessed on July 17, 2009). In the past 40 years Ethiopian history is dominated by stories of starvation. The great famine of 1974 exposed the inability of the government to address the issue. As a result the communists grabbed power hoping to introduce hard work that alleviates starvation. However, since they were not able to change the worldview of the people they failed. I believe the repeated famine is connected with the working habits or lack of them that we developed through the years. Gordon Preece, Work, in The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity, ed. Robert Banks and Paul Stevens (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 1123-1124.
14 13

12

of the Fall and asceticism as the appropriate response to it), which has contributed to the EOTCs minimal development of the theology of work. The believers reverence for God should be observed in their work which ought to bring glory to His name and benefit to humanity. Restoring the authority of the Scripture and the centrality of Christ in the thought and action of believers is the necessary encounter that will help remove the imbalance between contemplation and work in the EOTC.

Review of Literature According to EOTCs understanding, monastic life is superior to the active life;15 resulting in spiritual experience and artistic exercise being given priority over rational theological reflection.16 Eastern Orthodoxy in general and Ethiopian Orthodoxy in particular emphasizes the adoration of God rather than analyzing facts about God.17 Rational reflection is not welcomed in the Eastern tradition. Due to the emphasis on adoration over analysis both the scholars and their students in Eastern tradition are not overly interested in the abstract

In relation to work vita activa (active life) is referring to life that is characterized by secular involvement that is full of engagement such as agriculture, industry, commerce. In contradistinction vita contemplativa (contemplative life) is referring to pious life that is characterized by prayer, studying the word of God, etc it is life dominated by monastic lifestyle. Augustine distinguished between these two vitas. See Cuthbert Butler, Western Mysticism: The Teaching of Augustine, Gregory and Bernard on Contemplation and the Contemplative Life, 3rd ed. (New York: Barn and Nobles, 1968), 157-165.
16 17

15

Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: United Printers, 1970), 15-25. Ibid., 20-21.

presentation of doctrines.18 John Meyendorff is right when he says, The Orthodox churchs formal and doctrinal definitions are concerned with only essentials.19 This is true of the EOTC in many ways. The theological reflections that are dominant in this tradition are the translations and biographies of saints.20 Creative theological reflection is treated as a breakaway from the teaching of the ancestors.21 Therefore, it is indeed difficult to find a thorough treatment of a given theological theme.22 This research project is in two parts. In the first part of this research, materials from the eastern tradition and the EOTC were utilized. Therefore, works of early Church Fathers and the works of EOTC thinkers throughout the ages were deeply scrutinized to look for possible answers to the vital questions of this research. Because of the scarcity of material, executing this study was challenging and laborious; however, the effort to learn what was done in relation to work in the journey of EOTC was an eye opening experience in

Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994), 50-53. John Meyendorff, Doing Theology in an Orthodox Perspective in Eastern Orthodoxy: A Contemporary Reader, ed. Daniel B. Clendenin (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 90. Cf. Harry Middle Hyatt, The Church of Abyssinia (London: Luzac & Co., 1928), 85-100. David Appleyard, Ethiopian Christianity in Ken Parry ed., The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity (Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2007), 125-129. Habtemariam Workeneh, Yemetsehaft Terguame [The Interpretation of Books] (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008), 2-11. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective, 51-53. Cf. Berhanu Gobena, Amede Haimanot [Pillar for Faith] (Addis Abeba: Ethio Tekur Abay Printers, 2000 EC), 9. Gobena notes, Even though there are several scholars who have special ability to interweave history and Old Testament, New Testament and the books of Scholars in our church, as compared to their wealth of knowledge what they have published is insignificant.

22 21 20 19

18

many ways. Using the fragmented materials and building up a meaningful treatise was a struggle, but formulating a meaningful argument out of this struggle was possible. Most of the materials that were produced by EOTC proponents up until 1970 Ethiopian Calendar (EC) obliquely touch on the issues of work.23 Therefore, significant effort is made to collect those fragmented reflections to build a picture of the Ethiopian Orthodox understanding of the theology of contemplation and work. I have closely examined the place of contemplation and work in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition using these available resources. This study will endeavor to explain why the EOTC tradition is not interested in theological reflections that are relevant to the issues of the society. Several works that reflect the theological stance of EOTC were explored.24 The first book that provided guidance to believers in relation to dayto-day involvement in active life was the Fetha Negest.25 The guidance that is given in this book is presented from legal perspective. The theological ideas are implied in this book, rather than stated explicitly. Fetha Negest means the law of kings. As the name suggests this book is an instrument of the Ethiopian Kings who were active in giving both spiritual and

Cf. Zemenfeskedus Abreha, Tegsatsena Meker [Rebuke and Counsel] (Asmara: Artigraphic Printing Press, 1941 EC), 128-193; Melakeberhan Admasu Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot:Wetat Temelket Endatisasat [Foundation for Faith: Youth Watch Out That You Will Not Err] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1989EC), 151-3332. Admassu Jenbere is a scholar, writer, theologian and apologist in the EOTC. Melakeberhan means the angel of light which is a church title given to a scholar of his kind in the EOTC. EOTC proponents are interested in producing materials that are related to worship and interpretations of scripture. In this regard, we can take the numerous materials that are produced throughout the ages as a case in point. For example Indigenous songs, Qene (poetry), Andemeta (allegorical interpretation of the Holy Scriptures) are some of them. Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, trans. Abba Paulos Tzadua, ed. Peter L. Strauss (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968), 125-129.
25 24

23

political leadership.26 For the most part the historians and politicians were more courageous about reflecting on the issues of work than theologians have been.27 The EOTC, the establishment has vigorously reacted against critiques of the status quo that challenge and question some of the practices of 28 For example, Aberhas work is one of those that were harshly treated when it was published.29 After this book was published Melake Berhan Admasu Jenbere wrote a response.30 That is why this work extensively engages Jenbere who entered into dialogue with the contemporary thinkers of his time on the topic of work.31 The vast majority of works that were consulted in this research projects are of two kinds. The first group is more historical and autobiographical in nature. Since the EOTC proponents like their Eastern Orthodox family members, did not devote time or resources to

Melake Berhan Admasu Jenbere, Yehaimanot mizan [The Scale of Religion] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1954 EC), 52-56. See Bahiru Zewde, Pioneers of Change: The Reformist Intellectuals of Early Twentieth Century (Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press, 2002), 123. For example the historian Bahiru citing Afework, obliquely commented about work using the exchanges between two travelers and notes, Foreigner: How come such beautiful country lies undeveloped? Why is not a soul to be seen? Ethiopian: How can the country develop or the people reproduce when they are subjected to the twin plagues of famine and war? Foreigner: What wars are you talking about? Ethiopian: Has Abyssinia known anything but wars? In Abyssinia, it is uncommon for one to submit peacefully to another. Royal succession is invariably preceded by a bloody civil war. Cf. Richard Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Haile Sellasie I University Press, 1968), 38-71.
28 29 27

26

Zewde, Pioneers of Change, 55-155.

Abreha, Tegsatsena Meker, 24-211. With the intervention of the progressive Emperor Haile Sellassie I Aberehas book survived from severe revenge by his opponents. Mahbere Kedusan, Fire Leqawent: YeEthiopiawian Leqawent ena Sebketoch,[The Product of Scholars: Ethiopian Scholars and Their Preaching] (Addis Ababa: Mega Printers, 1999 EC), 66-67. See his dialogue with Abrehas critical book entitled Tegsatsena Meker and Dr. Ayeles doctoral thesis entitled The Ethiopian Church and Its Christological Doctrines.
31 30

abstract theological reflection, most of the oblique materials were gleaned from the historical treatises that were produced throughout the ages. The second group of materials that were widely used for this research were produced by the renewal movements within the EOTC tradition.32 Since these renewal movements are challenging the establishment from different angles they reflect on many relevant theological questions.33 Their materials are not a coherent, critical, systematic reflection but prophetic utterances that call upon the EOTC to remove unscriptural practices.34 Compared to the first part, i.e., (chapter 2-5) the second part (6-7) draws on a richness of sources. The evaluation of the EOTC understanding of work through the evangelical perspective utilizes literature that is mainly vocation-centered. Since the evangelical tradition encourages theological reflection on a wider area of theological concepts, the research incorporated resources from the time of the Reformation up to the present. In particular this work used Gordon R. Preeces35 theology of work as a lens to

Some of these writers were expelled from the church they love and belong to. However many of them treasure their identity as the EOTC adherents. See Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel?, 4-23. For example, see Tilahun Mekonen, Metsehafete Nufake Bemetsehaf Kidus Ayin Sitayu [Examining Pseudepigrapha through the Lens Bible] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999), 87-134. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 4-217. Setotaw Yenegal, 18-45. For example praying for the deceased, the belief that righteousness through good work and practicing holy banquet in the name of saints, angels and martyrs. Having the Old Testament Ark in the New Testament church and confusing the continuity and discontinuity elements in belief and practice of the church are some practical examples. Gordon R. Preece is an Anglican minister who devoted his life to the issues related to the theology of work. He is the author of Changing Work Values, Getting the Job Done Right and numerous articles on work. He did his doctoral studies at Fuller Seminary on the theology of work and vocation. Preece served as Director of the Center of Applied Christian Ethics, Ridley College, and University of Melbourne. He is currently Director of Ethos Centre for Christianity and Society in Melbourne, Australia.
35 34 33

32

10

understand and evaluate the EOTCs understanding of the relationships of adoration, contemplation, leisure and work. Furthermore, this research follows Leland Rykens insightful diagnosis of his own society. Ryken recognizes the imbalance between work and leisure in Western society.36 He addresses this similar issue in a different context. In this work I have followed Rykens strategy of addressing the issue in the problem and solution fashion.37 Ryken carefully analyzes the problems of work in contemporary Western society and gives answer based on his Christian view of leisure and work.38 In this second part I consider the monastic mentality that dominates the thought and action of the EOTCs adherents impose a lapsarian-centered view of work on contemporary Ethiopian society. This in turn leads to a passivity that led believers to be neutral spectators in society. I contend that Ethiopian faith communities are exalting contemplation over work. To aid in the task, Preeces theology of work In Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspectives provides important guidelines to my conceptualization of the theology of work. Especially Preeces refusal of to be content with only an inner, spiritual liberty or a priesthood of all believers, and his stance for the transformation social structures is one example.39 I concur with Preece that Reformed dominion theology has

36

Leland Ryken, Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective (Portland: Multnomah Press, Ibid.,16.

1987), 11-13.
37 38

Ibid., 43-158. Ryken presents work as obligatory and leisure as freedom. He argues that the West is focusing more on the obligatory side and the freedom side, i.e., leisure has suffered. He argues for balance.
39

Ibid., 289.

11

provided a stronger rationale for scientific and technological development.40 For example his constructive insight in the trinitarian schema41 is helpful for guiding my critical evaluation in many ways. The idea of: let us forget the here and now and focus on the future because eternity is just around the corner,42 is dominant in our specific Ethiopian context. Work is not perceived as something that has a lasting effect. I perceive this is a major deviation from the true biblical understanding of work. On this deviation Volfs theology of work in eschatological perspective provided a helpful and corrective insight.43 According to Volf transformatio mundi means that the world will not end in apocalyptic destruction, but transformation.44 Volfs constructive insight is invaluable for challenging the status quo. Both Preece and Volf have play substantial roles in shaping my critique of the EOTCs understanding of the theology of work. Not only contemporary voices but also the wisdom of some of the saints throughout the ages has thrown light on the theology of work that is discussed in this treatise. The exaltation of contemplation, the practice of the veneration of saints, the architectural design of churches and the implications of these have impacted the working

40 41

Ibid., 259.

Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 11-26.
42

Darrell Cosden, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work (Peabody: Hendrickson Publisher,

2006), 34. Miroslav Volf, Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 3-201.
43

12

habits of the people in the EOTC. Therefore, the EOTCs extreme emphasis on the transcendence of God, an inadequate theological anthropology, an inadequate hermeneutic of the Scripture and uncritical appropriation of Platonism led to a minimal development of a theology of work with deleterious consequences. The way forward is to retrieve from Scripture a balanced theology of adoration, contemplation, work and leisure.45

Research Methodology Utilizing Gordon Preeces theology of work this thesis attempts to examine the EOTCs understanding of contemplation, adoration, work and leisure. This study seeks to discover for meaningful answers for the following questions: How have Ethiopian Orthodox Christians ended up having close to 200 holy days in a year? What is the theological basis to this practice? How does theology inform the daily practices of Ethiopian Christians in relation to work in the past, present and future? In this endeavor of looking for meaningful answers, where do we start the journey? Our starting point is none other than the special revelation given by God. We do not

44 45

Ibid., 94-96.

Despite its lack of balance between adoration, contemplation, work and leisure, the EOTCs God focused and enormously communal practices are something to be coveted as opposed to Western individualism.

13

want to take an action-reflection path which develops theology by making experience the starting point.46 Instead, we take revelation as our indispensable criterion. The revelation that is given by God in a written form is the basis for my thought and action in this theological reflection. I believe Christian theology has an obligation to give insights and practical guidance to its contemporary context. Although it is wise to be relevant to the context, the danger is to be swallowed by the context. I emphasize that revelation is an indispensable starting point for proper theological reflection. I follow Graham A. Cole on this when he says without revelation from God our theology is blind and represents the best human guess about the divine.47 Moreover, I insist that the effort of doing theology should be sensitive to its kerygmatic and contextual poles.48 This does not mean that I dismiss the wisdom of Christian thinkers throughout the ages. It means they are not the primary authorities in this study. I agree with Cole who argues, Scripture is the Word of God, is the norming norm (norma normans) while other authorities (tradition, reason and experience), although operative in Christian theology, are ruled norms (norma normata).49

Robert K. Johnston, Unity and Diversity in Evangelical Theology http://www.religiononline.org/ (accessed on March 14, 2009).
47 48

46

Graham A. Cole, He Who Gives Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 23.

Thomas N. Finger, Christian Theology: An Eschatological Approach. (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1985), 35-46.
49

Cole, He Who Gives Life, 26. n. 6.

14

Neither modern optimism nor postmodern suspicion is appropriate to the approach taken in this study. 50 I believe hushing the Bible for the sake of exalting ones method is not only unwise but wrong. It is equally inappropriate to say that the Bible gets its authority only when the church recognizes its function. This is how my Ethiopian Orthodox colleagues treat the Bible in their midst.51 They consider the Bible as only one of the sources to guide the church. They treat the Bible as equal to tradition.52 In contrast I intend to read the Bible as a coherent whole and will follow the historico-grammatical interpretation of a given text. In order to have a proper approach in doing theology we need to take both attitudinal and interpretive steps.53 Vanhoozer is right when he argues, we speak of hermeneutical theology to signal that the way we gain knowledge of God is largely through biblical interpretation.54 I believe the basic disagreements that we have witnessed in the thought and actions of different schools of theology are hermeneutical in nature. I argue that the erroneous practices that I investigate and evaluate are directly related to the method of Scripture interpretation that is employed. The constructive proposal I am making is guided

50 51

David K. Clark, To Know and Love God (Wheaton: Cross Book Publishers, 2003), 373-375. Agizachew Tefera, Yetekebere Meklit [Buried Talent] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press,

1993 EC). Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Faith, Worship and Foreign Relation . Addis Ababa: Tensae Publishing House, 1996, p. 48. Religion and Ethics: Christianity organization and priesthood http: //www. bbc. co.uk/religions/christianity/subdivisions/ coptic_3.shtml (accessed on November 14, 2008). Richard A. Muller, The Study of Theology: From Biblical Interpretation to Contemporary Formulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 50. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Advanced Theological Prolegomena Note, Deerfield: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fall 2006.
54 53 52

15

by evangelical hermeneutics. I recognize that the interpretive approach this study takes plays a significant role in the methodology. The centrality of Jesus Christ guides my methodology. The Christian community that is deviating from the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ opens itself to erroneous practices that are manifested in several areas of its community life. The rhythm in the work life, worship focus and spirituality will be affected. For example, the deviation from the centrality and primacy of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the EOTC has deflected the focus from the continuing Lordship of Christ over all of the believers life.55 This in turn impacted the working habit of the adherent of the EOTC. This study will show how this happened by bringing historical evidences from the journey of EOTC. I advocate the primacy of the Scripture, I recognize that my method needs to make a conscious effort to be culturally relevant. Therefore, by closely examining the factors that contributed to the imbalance of contemplation and work, this study shows that the root causes for distorted practices are buried underneath the overemphasis of contemplation and deification of human beings in the EOTC. Furthermore, the EOTCs allegorical interpretation of Scripture and uncritical appropriation of Platonism have also had their substantial role to play in the imbalance of contemplation and work.

55

Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 113-121.

16

Significance of Project Historically speaking the dominance of oral tradition in the EOTC did not allow for deep theological and rational reflection.56 In some cases rational theological reflection was intentionally avoided due to the extreme focus on contemplation.57 Some of the reasons that were given for such an intentional avoidance of rational reflection were connected with the way people learn. It was believed that people will learn and retain truth by following the examples of their mentors.58 Not only in Ethiopian Orthodoxy but also in Eastern Orthodox Christianity rational theological reflection has not been encouraged. In regards to this Daniel B. Clendenin writes, Almost no Eastern theologians have written what we in the West have come to know as systematic theologies.59 Rationality that leads to critical questioning of the tradition is considered as an obstacle to faith and it is discouraged in every way in the EOTC.60 As I noted earlier, profound and abstract theological reflection is not appreciated. Instead, simple expressions of faith are highly favored in the eastern tradition.61 The simplicity has the pedagogical advantage of passing the vision to the

Imbakom Kalewold, Traditional Ethiopian Church Education. Translated by Mengistu, Lemma (New York: Teachers College Press, 1970), xiii.
57 58

56

Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel?, 89-97.

Habtemariam Workineh, Yemetsehaft Terguame (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008).
59 60

Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective, 53.

Aba Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik [Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church History] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1974 EC), 114. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective, 53. Clendenin further elaborates and writes, In Eastern theology we find nothing at all that would compare with Aquinass Summa Theologica, Calvins Institutes of the Christian Religion, or Karl Barths Church Dogmatics. Even works that
61

17

generation to come without complication. Because of such a bias against systematic and rational formulation for theology, Western theological reflections were not taken as faith exercises. To this end, citing Eastern Orthodox proponent Alex Khomiakov, Clendenin writes, Western expressions of Christianity are rooted in the soil of rationalism and do not even deserve the appellation of faith.62 With this mentality the effort of doing systematic theology is not only discouraged, but an inclination to do it is suspected as a deviation from the central focus of the church. As a result we do not see a well developed systematic theology in the eastern traditions. It is a surprise for me to learn that there is little or no theological reflection in the area of the theology of work in Eastern Orthodox Christianity in general and Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity in particular. Most of the works that were produced in the past in the theology of Eastern Orthodoxy touches on the theology of work only indirectly. The Oriental Orthodoxy63 that the EOTC is part of agrees with the wider family in their theological stand regarding theological reflection. Preserving the tradition is given more priority than creative reflection. If an attempt to be creative is observed among

appear to be quite systematic, like the Treasury of Divine Knowledge and Twenty-four Discourse by Peter of Damascus (c.1000), lack any coherent line of thought and contain many digression and repetitions. But Peters monastic readers were not seeking abstract intellections; they wanted practical spiritual counsel, and so the lack of systematization would have been of little concern to them, 53.
62 63

Ibid., 51.

These groups of Orthodox churches are non-Chalcedonian. They are namely: Egyptian Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian, Armenian and Indian Orthodox Churches.

18

the students of the Scripture in EOTC tradition, the creative thinker is attacked by those who are loyal to the status quo.64 Even though scarcity of material would be the main challenge to tackling those core questions this study seeks to answer, using the resources that obliquely touch the theology of work in the EOTC tradition the root causes for the imbalance of contemplation and work. The study delineates those factors that contributed towards such an imbalance between work and contemplation. The project tackles the above theological questions and proposes solutions that encourage the exercise of theological reflection. I trust the effort of showing the imbalance of contemplation and work will facilitate productive discussion between the proponents of Evangelical and Orthodox Christianity in contemporary Ethiopia. This study contributes its part in bringing the marginalized theological topic (i.e., the theology of work) to more prominence. Further, it encourages an in depth reflection on the matter. Since no one has ever done a work of this kind, the project commends itself as a unique contribution.

Outline The study is divided into two parts followed by a conclusion and select bibliography. The first part elaborates on the factors that impacted the EOTC in the area of theological reflection specifically in the theology of work. Moreover it expounds on the influence of emphasizing the transcendence of God on the daily practice of work. It will also

64

Habtemariam Workineh, Yemetsehaft Terguame, (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo

19

elucidates how a skewed anthropology and inadequate hermeneutics negatively influences the practice of work in the EOTC. The first part has five chapters. The first chapter expounds Gordon Preeces theology of work and assesses its usefulness as a critical tool for this study. The second chapter explores the historical journey of the EOTC in relation to work. Furthermore, it expounds on the impacts of EOTCs mystical theology on the working habits of its adherents. The tense relationship of the mother and daughter65 is explored, and its impact in several areas shown. The third chapter deals with the theological understanding of work in the EOTC in the past and present with special reference to deification and contemplation. Moreover, the influences of contemplation on the architecture of the church in the work life of the faith community are examined and its impacts elaborated. The fourth chapter investigates the anthropology of the EOTC. Its implications for the theology of work are observed closely. This chapter also examines and shows the impact of the veneration of saints and idolized monastic political leaders in the EOTC. Moreover, the impact of observing special days and extended fasting season in relation to work is scrutinized. The fifth chapter deals with the core questions we have raised in this study. I believe that behind every practice stands a particular view of the Scripture and its interpretation. Therefore, I argue that behind the observance of extended holy days and the exaltation of humanity stands the EOTCs allegorical interpretation.

Church Faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008), 1-11. Egyptian Coptic Church and Ethiopian Orthodox Church have the mother and daughter church relation. In 1959 their relation changed its form and they became sister churches.
65

20

The second part focuses on theological examination of the EOTC. It argues that the imbalance between leisure and work is a manifestation of the deviation from the true biblical teaching of work. This part argues that a persons work is integral to their nature and purpose as God created them. It elaborates that the evangelical view of work acknowledges that God is active in the world in every sphere of human existence and work is perceived as a means of giving glory to God by furthering His will in the area of ones influence. This part has two chapters i.e. the sixth and the seventh chapters. The sixth chapter elaborates on the biblical and theological understanding of work, the purpose of human work and the role of God in the activity of human work. The seventh chapter evaluates the overall impact of the EOTC view of work and suggests constructive proposals in an evangelical perspective.

CHAPTER 1 PREECES THEOLOGY OF WORK AS A CRITICAL TOOL

1.1 Introduction The experience of work takes so much of our time in our day to day activities, even so, amazingly little theological reflection has taken place in the past1 on it. This minimal reflection in the area of the theology of work is even more minuscule in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.2 Further, it is indeed difficult to find a thorough treatment of the theology of work in the EOTC. In the past, theologians have given less attention to the issues of human work than economists and philosophers have.3 However in recent years issues in relation to human work have begun to gain some attention in the works of contemporary theologians. To that end, citing Pope John Paul II, Darrel Cosden writes, The key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question is to be found in the phenomenon that we call human work.4
1

Miroslav Volf, Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 69. Cf. Leland Ryken, Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995), 7. Gordon R. Preece, Changing Work Values: A Christian Response (Melbourne: Acorn Press, 1995), v. Darrell Cosden, A Theology of Work: Work and the New Creation. (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006), 5-6. Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994), 51-53. Cf. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 46-71; John A. Bernbaum and Simon M. Steer, Why Work? (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986), 14-18. Darrell Cosden, A Theology of Work: Work and the New Creation. (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006), 3.
4 3 2

21

22 In this chapter I will argue that Gordon Preeces Bible based trinitarian theology of work, which explicates vocation as a dynamic and vital tool of community transformation, offers fundamental concept, regarding human work. He screens everything through the filter of work as an activity that benefits the worker and glorifies God. His vocation centered theology of work in trinitarian and creedal perspective is my principal tool to understand and evaluate the relationships of adoration, contemplation, work and leisure in the EOTC.

1.2 Preeces Trinitarian Theology of Work Gordon Preece begins discussing his trinitarian schema by giving a thorough survey of the theologies of Gustaf Wingren, Karl Barth and Jrgen Moltmann. This includes their preferred article of the creed in addressing issues in relation to the theology of work.5 Although the theologians that Preece has chosen to engage with are trinitarian in their theological conviction, they each have a favorite creedal article of trinitarian entry point.6 According to Preece, Wingren delights in a creation based framework. Barth formulates his theology of work in a Christocentric fashion and Moltmann navigates his theology of work by taking a pneumatological route.7 Preece argues that the theologies of work formulated in these respective theological systems must not be considered as contradictory but complementary. Therefore, according to Preece, Moltmanns eschatological framework and
5

Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 27-294.
6 7

Ibid., 24. Ibid., 27-294.

23 Wingrens protological construction can then enrich each other rather than struggling in a sibling rivalry that succumbs to the false alternatives of restoring or negating creation.8 Having established the complementary nature of those two theories, Preece brings to bear Barths Christological argument to link protology and eschatology in his own vocation centered theology of work. Instead of taking one entry point for formulating the theology of work Preece advocates for a full trinitarian framework which allows three points of entry depending on timeliness and need.9 Weaving the strength of these three trajectories and keeping them in perfect balance is the route that Preece has taken to argue for his trinitarian schema. Moreover, using his creative illustration of the tri-partitioned revolving door10 Preece shows the validity of a three point entry into the theology of work using the trinitarian framework. Such a conscious choice to make a case for his threefold call is a vital step for his vocation centered theology of work in trinitarian perspective.

1.2.1 The Strength of Trinitarian Theology of Work As I noted earlier Preece argues that his trinitarian schema which is illustrated as a revolving door with three entry point, 11 is a more balanced approach to formulate a vocation centered theology of work than the protological, Christological and eschatological
8

Ibid., 307. Cf. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 89-122. Protological frame work is a theology of work that closely identifies with the doctrine of creation. It differs with the eschatological (pneumatological) framework that mainly focus on the new creation.
9

Ibid., 25. Ibid. Ibid., 307.

10 11

24 perspectives which are perceived as a single door approach to the theology of work.12 Preece is equally uncomfortable with H.R. Niebuhrs preference for God the Father over the Son and the overly Christocentric inclination of Barth.13 That is why Preece insists on the scheme of the threefold call which discourages emphasizing one member of Trinity over the other. To that end, citing Jonathan Gibbs, Preece notes, the church mission is to be fully trinitarian, not unitarian: neither creativistic, nor Christocentric, nor spiritualistic, but all of these at once.14 Therefore, Preece rejects the monopoly of the single door approach towards formulating the theology of work which overly centers on one specific person of the Triune God. Although Preece is uncomfortable with either overly protological or eschatological or Christological starting points, he recognizes the contribution and richness of each framework for formulating a balanced theology of work in a trinitarian perspective. For example Preece agrees with Wingrens rejection of Barths overly Christocentric theology as it did not deal properly with the gap between kerygma and creation.15 Barths theological system does not give serious attention to the actual situation of unbelievers and seems to put unbelievers in a state of an ethical vacuum.16 This phenomenon made Wingren uneasy. Preece shares Wingren concern and applauds Wingrens protological insight that includes nonbelievers. In this regard Preece writes, We can co-operate and
12 13

Ibid., 307. Preece finds the trinitarian framework to be a useful corrective to the unitarian view. Ibid., Ibid., 17. Ibid., 33. Ibid.

17, n.80.
14 15 16

25 work with non-Christians through a common sense creation theology recognizing God as the Father of all people.17 Preece also takes the Christological insights of Barth that enriches his trinitarian framework which advocates for vocation centered theology of work. Preece writes, For Barth, the presence of Gods transcendent power in Christ is the only effective leverage for our vocation to kingdom-like social transformation- in him is the impulse to work, to struggle, and also the impulse towards fellowship, towards human solidarity.18 Barths Christological insights serve to join the protological and eschatological frameworks of the theology of work. In his dialogue with Moltmann, Preece recognizes that Moltmanns third article eschatological framework only stresses one side of 1 Cor. 7:29-31 and wonders how Moltmann links the old and new creations. In this regard Preece argues without a stronger creation theology, he cannot adequately expresses the continuities between creation and new creation, of social and work life or even of the moral agency of the self.19 After showing the deficient parts of those mono-article centered theologies of work Preece offers his possible alternative i.e. the threefold call. Preece argues that no single focus of the creedal article20 could serve as a complete framework for the theology of work. Therefore, Preece concludes A three articled schema is better balanced and does most justice to the protological,
17 18 19 20

Ibid. Ibid., 149. Ibid., 253.

According to Preece categorization theologians such as Wingren, Barth and Moltmann are 1 , 2 and 3 creedal article theologians respectively.
st nd rd

26 Christological, and eschato-pneumato-logical aspects of the Christian theology and experience of work.21 In Preeces elaboration of his theology of work in a trinitarian framework I discovered three significant theological positions and presuppositions that shape his proposal of a three articled schema. First, his approach not only ties both creation and eschatology within a trinitarian creedal framework but also avoids the false protological or an eschatological alternative that leaves out the christological which alone holds together creation and new creation.22 Second, Preece is convinced that a three articled schema is better balanced. It does justice to all protological, christological and pneumatological aspects of a Christian theology of work.23 Third, Preece argues that his approach is more biblical, historical, currently relevant and comprehensive enough to cover everything important in the discussion of the theology of work.24 It is not only on the strength of Preeces claim but also by closely examining the nature of the trinitarian schema that I decided to utilize his trinitarian framework. Preeces trinitarian framework is more accommodating than other theologies of work that were developed in recent years. Therefore, Preeces system is unique quality in the area of balance, comprehensiveness and accommodating nature influenced my choice to utilize Preeces vocation-centered theology of work as a tool to execute this project.
21 22

Ibid., 248.

Ibid., 295-317. Preece gives an extensive treatise on this matter. He resonates with Jonathon Gibbs in insisting that theological reflection ought to be done from the standpoint of triune God. Preece refers to Gibbs dissertation. Cf. Jonathan R. Gibbs, The Challenges of Transformation: Towards a Theology of Work in the Light of the Thought of H. Richard Niebuhr, PhD diss., University of Cambridge, 1989).
23 24

Ibid., 17- 307. Ibid., 307-318.

27 1.2.2 Vocation as Dynamic vs. Static Martin Luther showed great courage in re-defining vocation in his time. Luther argued against restricting the use of vocation to monks and priests. He argued that they were not specially set apart from all others and extended the usage of vocation to all Christians.25 Leland Ryken in his reflection on the Reformers comments, No work is divorced from the idea of service to God and others.26 The Reformers fought to dismantle the rigid boundary line between the secular and sacred and introduced the wider use of vocation.27 In the medieval time the most common definition of vocation was a heroic activity that is equated with sacred performance. Today the word vocation once again is difficult to define. Douglas J. Schuurman comments, The most common understanding of vocation today is secularized one where vocation refers to ones paid work.28 He further laments, that vocation is under assault and asks can it be salvaged?29 Further, Schuurman underscores the difficulty of bringing the word vocation back to its Protestant roots. Preece agrees with Schuurman that vocation is wider in definition than a paid job and he comments, While work is wider than a job including unpaid and domestic work, vocation is even wider,
25

Martin Luther, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, in Three Treatises, trans. C.M. Jacobs (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1960), 13-16. Leland Ryken, Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1987), 68-69. R. Paul Stevens, Doing Gods Business: Meaning and Motivation for the Market Place (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2006), 44.
26 27 28

Ryken, Work and Leisure, 69. Ibid., 136-152.

Douglas J. Schuurman, Vocation: Discerning our Callings in Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2004), 1. Ibid., 1. Preece also agrees with Schuurman on this and says, Vocation is much controverted and misunderstood. Preece, Viability, 5.
29

28 including ecclesiastical, domestic/economic and political roles.30 I follow Preece in this and argue that vocation touches all areas of our life as human beings. The heated discussion in the area of vocation continues in our contemporary scene. Armand Larive shares his interesting observation regarding the notion of vocation in terms of something to be rather than something to do while arguing that who we are comes first before what we do in the public setting.31 In the same vein R. Paul Steven interestingly notes, First of all, we are called to follow someone before we are called to do something.32 As it was difficult to define vocation in the Reformation time so also it is difficult to determine whether it is dynamic or not when one observes the controversy among thinkers of the past and present.33 The controversy between those who viewed vocation as either dynamic or static continued for the last few decades.34 Miroslav Volf characterizes the Lutheran view of vocation as something immobile. Therefore, he rejects Luthers view of vocation and shows preference to the New Testament language of gifts.35 Volf believes the creation centered view of vocation makes work static and conformist.36 On the contrary
30

From now on when I use vocation I take this wider definition of Preece as it is presented in Preeces, the Viability 61. Larive is perplexed of the responses he received during informal interviews: In conversation with young people about vocationwhat do you want to be? Invariably, the response comes as if one asked, what do you want to do? Where the answer is I want to be an engineer, teacherbut within vocations, there is something to be and not just something to do. (Italics his) Armand Larive, After Sunday: A Theology of Work (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2004), 28. Stevens, Doing Gods Business, 21.
32 33 34 35 36 31

Stevens, Doing Gods Business, 21. Ryken, Work and Leisure, 136-152. Schuurman, Vocation, 27. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 104-119. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 104-110. Schuurman, Vocation, xii. Preece, Viability, 288.

29 Gustaf Wingren advocates for a plurality of vocation and writes, The life of the home, the relation between parents and children, is vocation, even as is life in the field of labor From this it is clear that every Christian occupies a multitude of offices at the same time, not just one All these are vocation.37 Further, Preece disagrees with Volfs take on the Lutheran interpretation of vocation as normative and makes a case for the Reformed understanding of vocation which is characterized by an increasing openness to mobility.38 According to Lee Hardy the gift paradigm that Volf talks about is not really new.39 Preece agrees with Hardy and argues that the charismatic or vocational view builds upon Calvins Pneumatology.40 I agree with Hardy and Preece that rather than discarding vocation because of the connotations it has, it is wise to salvage it. Preece affirms this when he comments Hardy uses vocation for call and gift, Volf uses charisma for gift and call. It is a matter of linguistic preference, not theological validity.41 Therefore it is not inappropriate to use the terms gifts and vocations interchangeably.42 If we are convinced that vocation and charisma are interchangeably used, there is no point in vigorously arguing that vocation is static and charisma is not.
37

Gustaf Wingren, Luther on Vocation, trans. Carl C. Rasmussen (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Preece, Viability, 269-294.

Press, 1957), 5.
38 39

Lee Hardy, The Fabric of This World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice and the Design of Human Work (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 82. n. 2.
40 41 42

Preece, Viability, 289-293. Ibid., 298. Schuurman, Vocation, 30-31.

30 1.3 The Impact of the Vocational View The impact of vocation in the medieval times was felt in the monastic circles.43 However, it took centuries of persistent dispute and conscious effort to bring this impact into the sphere of all believers.44 As I noted earlier the conscious step taken by the Reformers diminished the division of work into secular and sacred.45 This phenomenon is rightly summarized by John A. Bernbaum and Simon M. Steer when they comment, It is hard to escape the impression that the followers of Augustine and Aquinas were to serve in the world only when necessary, that Luthers followers were ushered out to serve in the world, and that Calvins followers were let loose to transform the world.46 This in turn was instrumental in inculcating the beliefs and the values that facilitated industriousness as a religious ideal. Further, it introduced the mentality that leisure is earned by work.47 Although Max Webers thesis is questioned by some scholars who tried to show its inadequacies,48 one can maintain that Weber was right in proposing that Calvinism
43

William C. Placher, Calling: Twenty centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005), 107-114. See Schuurman, Vocation, 10. The idea that vocation is restricted to the exceptional few was rejected by the Reformers. In fact this is the view of vocation Luther and Calvin thundered against, because in it vocation applies less and less to the day-to-day activities that constitute the lions portion of most peoples lives.
45 46 47 48 44

Ryken, Work and Leisure, 68. Bernbaum and Steer, Why Work? 23. Stevens, Doing Gods Business, 168-169.

Cf. Albert Hyma, Christianity, Capitalism and Communism: A Historical Analysis (Ann Arbor: George Wahr, 1937); W. R Forster, Christian Vocation (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1953), 152-167; Robert W. Green, ed., Protestantism and Capitalism: The Weber Thesis and Its Critics (Boston: D.C Heath, 1959).

31 supplied the passion for entrepreneurship.49 In the same vein Gianfranco Poggi observes that Calvinism offered an inspiration to work hard that resulted in the transformation of society.50 Preece resonates with this and comments, At its best, Calvinisms vocational egalitarianism shook the Medieval vocational ladder. It had a more dynamic view of mobility51 and yet limited unfettered ambition.52 It is indeed true that this view of vocation inculcated the mentality to take every single activity of the believers in scrutiny of Gods glory.53 Therefore, the vocational view that dominated the post-Reformation community of believers has mobilized an army of workers.54 This ambition was regulated by the solid conviction that took seriously callings as places for service and self-sacrifice.55 For both Luther and Calvin vocation was not for fulfillment of the self but the glory of God and the welfare of the neighbor.56 In the same vein Preece recognizes the horizontal and vertical impact of work
49

Max Webber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcot Parson (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1958), 42-175. See Gianfranco Poggi, Calvinism and Capitalist Spirit: Max Webers Protestant Ethics (London: Macmillan, 1983), 41- 83. By mobility here Calvin is suggesting that people are free to move between jobs when the need arise. Calvin vocational outlook is not rigidly immovable. It allows free movement that allows multiple roles.
52 53 51 50

Preece, Viability, 286.

Cf. Wayne Grudem, How Business in Itself Can Glorify God, In On Kingdom Business Transforming Missions Through Entrepreneurial Strategies, ed. Testsunao Yamamori and Kenneth A. Eldred (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2003), 127-151. Max Kaplan, Leisure in America: A Social Inquiry (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1960), 151; Volf, Work in the Spirit, 129.
55 56 54

Schuurman, Vocation, 118. Ibid., 118.

32 and writes, there is mutual divine and human pleasure in vocational work because of our chief end - to glorify God and enjoy him forever.57 Even though the intended purpose of Calvins vocational theology was to create a scripturally based conviction that makes the activity of work for the glory of God and the welfare of the society, not all forms of Calvinism have functioned with this conviction as its core.58 Preece recognizes this folly in the experiences of some forms of ideological Calvinism.59 In resisting such Preece writes, Calvinism is more careful not to reify contingent social patterns as natural and immutable. Social structures are corruptible and therefore need change. Evils are not to be endured as inevitable, but removed.60 I have chosen Preeces theology of work as a means for examining and evaluating the EOTC for the following reasons. The first reason for choosing Preeces theology of work is related to his solid Bible based theology of work. Preece disagrees with both Jacques Ellul61 and Volf in their reduced use of the Bible as the sufficient source for a
57 58

Preece, Viability, 280-281.

The Calvinism that advocated apartheid policy in South Africa was one form of skewed Calvinism. I disagree with this kind of Calvinism which worked for the dehumanizing of fellow humans. Therefore, Calvinism only insofar as its pursuit of production, consumption and profit with unbridled passion to the point of enslaving and cruelly exploiting fellow humans just for the benefit of sectarian group is out of the picture when we talk about vocation here. Cf. Leo Marquard, The people and Policies of South Africa (London: Oxford University Press, 1969); James Oliver Buswell, Slavery, Segregation and Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964); Ernie Regher, Perception of Apartheid (Kitchener: Between the Lines, 1973).
59 60 61

Preece Viability, 280-281. Ibid., 286.

Cf. Jacques Ellul, The Ethics of Freedom (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 447-497. Ellul argues that he does not find a biblical standard for presenting work as vocation. Cf. Gordon R. Preece, Changing Work Values: A Christian Response (Melbourne: Acorn Press, 1995), 183-197; Laura K. Simmons Dorothy L Sayers Theology of Work and Vocation in Everyday Life.In The Bible and The Business of Life: Essay in Honour of Robert J. Banks Sixty-fifth Birthday, ed. Simon Holt and Gordon Preece (Adelaide: ATF Press, 2004), 184-185; Schuurman, Vocation, 83.

33 theology of work as vocation. Unlike Volf who laments about the inadequacy62 of the inductive approach to the Bible for developing the theology of work, Preece argues that there is sufficient biblical backing for the trinitarian framework which takes vocation as both calling and gifts.63 I have already noted that Volf rejected the vocation oriented theology of work as deficient and irrelevant for the industrial and information society.64 However, Preece makes a strong case for a vocation centered theology of work as more biblical, transformative, comprehensive and fruitful.65 Further, Preece argues that the theology of work in a trinitarian framework revises the Reformed understanding of work and is more open to Volfs Pneumatology and thus should not be replaced, but be joined by it.66 I do not know how Volf reacted to this polite invitation to join the trinitarian framework; however, I am drawn to the trinitarian framework primarily for its fidelity to the Bible and its comprehensive nature to cover everything important in relation to work. In my understanding of the trinitarian framework it allows the Bible to take us where it will want to take us and that is why I am fascinated by it. Moreover, the biblically based vocational theology of work will serve us as the key instrument to better understand and evaluate the EOTC. My particular project is guided by making the Scripture a vital starting point.
62

See Volf, Work in the Spirit, 78-79. Volf consciously chose the deductive approach because he felt that the inductive approach to developing a theology of work is inadequate because of the scarcity of biblical materials, their limited relevance to the modern world of work, their ambiguous nature.
63 64 65 66

Preece, Viability, 295-297. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 108-109. Preece, Viability, 248. Ibid.

34

The second reason for choosing Preeces theology of work is related to the comprehensive nature of his trinitarian schema. It covers everything important in relation to work. Preeces analogy that explained his system in the form of a revolving door with three entry points is more balanced compared to other theologies of work.67 It provides comprehensive guidance about the role of the Triune God in shaping the activities of work. This is clearly expressed in Preeces discussion of the order of knowing and being as he notes, It is best done within a comprehensive Trinitarian framework that follows the biblical, ontological and creedal order and joins both creation and eschatology in Christology.68 Therefore, the theology of work in the trinitarian framework serves as a better instrument to closely and clearly investigate the EOTCs understanding and interpretation of work. Further, it offers a helpful tool that enables me to examine and evaluate the minimally developed theology of work in the EOTC. Third, Preeces trinitarian schema has proven to be transformative of society69 in nature. The trinitarian schema that drank from the deep well of Calvins foundational insights70 is of a great help to this task of evaluating the EOTC understanding of work that
67 68 69

See Preece, Viability, 305-317. Preece, Viability, 264.

See ibid., 265 Preece argues that Calvinists saw one serving God through stations which added transformative dimension to Luthers teaching on serving in a vocation. (Italics his) Calvins agrarian and small scale commercial context is somewhat similar to the social setting of contemporary Ethiopia in many ways. Although my context is several hundred years away from the
70

35 was shaped in a context like that of Calvin.71 Moreover, it gives us principles to evaluate our contemporary society. Unlike Volf who doubted the applicability of vocations to the increasingly mobile and information tossed society,72 Preece argues against the static concept of vocation and explains that vocation in the Reformed sense allows mobility.73 It is true that The call to love and serve the Lord, made active in a persons life, transforms all spheres and activities into so many callings.74 The insights that are derived from this transformative model are essential to scrutinize and appraise the place of work in the EOTC. Moreover, the encouragement and the practical counsel it gives to resist and remove evil systems and replace75 them with better one is another element that makes the trinitarian schema a viable tool for assessing the EOTC. Such a view of vocation will supply the raw materials for the constructive proposal I am going to make in the course of my work of understanding and evaluating the theology of work in the EOTC. Fourth, Preeces view that God has called all people and given gifts to all promotes the purpose of bearing fruit for the glory of God. This in turn has ramifications in the day-to-day activity of work. As we noted earlier, both vocation and charisma include

days of Calvin, the mentality that dominated the people and the physical environment that work is experienced is somewhat similar to the days of Calvin. Preece has shown that Calvin is still relevant and informs a contemporary theology of work. If Calvins wisdom is relevant to a technologically advanced society, it will be much more relevant to the society which resembles its actual situation. Therefore, Preeces filtered vocational insights that are derived from Calvin will be used to closely examine and evaluate contemporary Ethiopia. Aba Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik [Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church History] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1974 EC), 188-189.
72 73 74 75 71

Cf. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 108-109. Preece, Viability, 294. Schuurman, Vocation, 35. Cf. Preece, Viability, 286.

36 within them the elements of gifting and calling.76 In the past few decades terms like charisma77 and vocation78 have initiated meaningful discussion among their proponents. Volf, unlike Preece sees charisma as wider than vocation and allowing plurality of roles.79 Preece on the other hand answers Volfs practical critique and comments that vocation is structurally and pastorally more open to occupational mobility than the Lutheran view.80 Therefore, Preece questions the validity of Volfs charge against the vocation traditions in taking the Lutheran view of vocation as normative. Therefore Preece argues that unlike its Lutheran counterpart, the Reformed tradition is increasingly open to occupational mobility.81 Once we have recognized that Volf and Preece are complementary rather than contradictory we can take the best from both. Therefore, the insights that are derived from Preeces analysis of call and gift reinforce my conceptual task to examining the EOTCs understanding of gift and call in relation to work and its ramifications to the daily lives of Christians in Ethiopian context. Preeces theology of work will provide the conceptual tool for answering questions like What went wrong in applying the gift and the call of believers in this specific society where the Bible was read for more than two thousand years? According to Preece the followers of Calvin were not content with an inner, spiritual liberty or priesthood of all
76

Cf. see the discussion under 1.2.2 and the elaborated presentation in Preeces three fold call, See Volf, Work in the Spirit, 110-112. See Preece, Viability, 298. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 114-118. Preece, Viability, 294. Ibid., 269-271.

Chapter 8.
77 78 79 80 81

37 believers but sought to transform social structures in line with their liberty and kingship of all believers.82 It is true that the believers who take their call to work seriously do not feel comfortable in the habit of indulging in an extended holy days.83 In the Ethiopian context an over abundance of holy days symptom of the minimized value placed on work in the society and diminish the impact of industry. As to why industry is not a noble value in the God fearing society needs proper explanation. This project attempts to trace the roots of this problem and propose a solution. Therefore, Preeces trinitarian framework will help me to investigate and diagnose the problem. Fifth, Preeces balanced proposal regarding the relation of creation and new creation is another factor in my decision to utilize his theology of work to examine and evaluate the EOTCs understanding of work. Focusing on ones own preferred system while delivering truth, characterizes theological practice in the recent decades. In our contemporary society the marked difference between evangelical theologians is not over what they believe is true but rather on how to deliver it to the respective context.84 The designations such as right, left and center have become an accepted norm to categorize theologians based on their persuasion of a given theological reflection.85 In my evaluation Preeces trinitarian schema represents the center of evangelical debate. That is why he repeatedly pinpoints the
82 83

Ibid., 284-288.

While expressing his disappointment at wasting potential time and resource Getachew asks how can believers that build rich heritage for thousand years can tolerate the idea of practicing holy days for 365 days in a year? See Memhier Getachew Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? [Performance or Pit ?] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC), 136. David H. Kelsey, Proving Doctrine: The Uses of Scripture in Modern Theology (Harrisburg: Trinity International Press, 1999), 3-120. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Advanced Theological Prolegomena Notes (Deerfield: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fall 2006).
85 84

38 deficiencies of both protological and eschatological theologies of work for leaving out vital elements and he tries to include them all in his trinitarian schema.86 The stance we take in relation to the old and new creation, impacts the understanding of our daily activities of work. For example, Volf prefers the eschatological framework87 over protological and criticized it for its social conservatism, he underplayed the vitality of the creation model for his new creation framework. Such a conclusion on the part of Volf is unpalatable to Preece. Therefore, Preece resisted Volfs move and notes, Without laudable stress on continuity with creation, Volfs emphasis on the values of new creation and his categories of working gifts would be vague.88 While it is true that Preece shares Volfs earthy eschatology,89 their difference lies in Preeces sensitivity to establishing the notion of continuity and discontinuity which differentiates the Reformed thinkers from their Lutheran counterpart in the clear sense.90 It is such sensitivity to handle the tension between the creation and new creation that informed my choice to utilize Preeces trinitarian framework to examine and evaluate the EOTCs understanding of the relationship of adoration, contemplation, work and leisure.

86 87 88 89 90

See Preece, Viability, 263. See Volf, Work in the Spirit, 100-121. Preece, Viability, 259. Ibid.

Ibid. Preece notes, Volf critique of restorationist and discontinuous views of the relationship between creation and new creation applies to Lutheran. But Reformed views usually stress not only restoration but transformation, and share Volfs earthly eschatology.

39 1.4 Preece and the EOTCs Understanding of Work Preece argues for a three-fold understanding of vocation calling people to become Gods children, the work each person does as for instance farmer and the calling or entering of the office of preaching.91 Both Preece and Schuurman agree that vocation permeates all activities, namely: domestic, political, economical, cultural and educational.92 Moreover, spiritual activities are not separated from what we do in our day-to-day work. In contrast to this view the EOTC the term vocation is solely applied to activities carried out within the churches, which alone are considered sacred. 93 As we have seen earlier the attempt to restrict vocation to either the secular or sacred categories has complicated the matter in defining and implementing the notion of vocation in the contemporary society.94 It is true that what we believe affects what we do. In a country that considers itself as an island of Christianity in the sea of Islam,95 every single activity within it is shaped by its Christian values. Further, these values have their own uniqueness and are untainted by external influences. For example, EOTC uses Jewish style sanctuary and keeps the replica of the Ark of the Covenant in its makdas (holy of holies).

91 92 93

Ibid., 61. Schuurman, Vocation, 5. Preece, Viability, 301.

Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life (Addis Ababa: United Printers, 1970), 55-71; Donald N. Levine, Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of Multiethnic Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 1-14.
94 95

Cf. Schuurman, Vocation, 1-11.

See Nathan B. Hege, Beyond Our Prayers (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1998), 32. Hege further elaborates the actual situation of Ethiopians at this point in time in history and notes It certainly was an island of Christianity, not only because of surrounding Muslims, but also because of its isolation from the rest of Christendom. 32.

40 1.4.1 Adoration and Work Preeces theology of work maintains the balance between understanding God as both transcendent and immanent and meeting the challenges of everyday life.96 On the contrary the EOTCs understanding emphasizes adoration of God while underplaying work97 in the daily practice of Christian life. Preeces balanced view serves as the lens to scrutinize the EOTCs understanding of the relationship of adoration, contemplation, leisure and work. The emphasis on adoration over rational reflection and toilsome physical labor to satisfy human need affected the theological reflection of the Eastern Orthodox family.98 These theological reflections exalted the act of adoration over physical involvement of any kind. Therefore, not only the EOTC but also Eastern Orthodoxy in general were attracted to active adoration of God in the form of which influenced the working habits of their adherents. In the Ethiopian context the prominent leaders of the church in the early days advocated a life of seclusion from active life. In fact the famous saying clearly expresses this: to be justified one has to be celibate: to be compensated one has to be patient.99 Therefore, the people who sought justification went to the desert and forests of Ethiopia to lead the ascetic life.100 The remaining ones who wanted to be rewarded in the life to come led a
96 97

Preece, Viability, 284-305. Cf. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo, 128-135. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 51-53.

136.
98 99

Cf. Tebebe Solomon, Orthodoxawinet Endih New [Orthodoxy is Like This] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999 EC), 167-168.

See Doresse, Jean Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia, translated by Elsa Coult. (London: Elek Books Limited, 1959), 64-86; Solomon, Orthodoxawinet Endih New, 168.

100

41 monastic life in the city by setting aside their social responsibility.101 The ordinary people have to implement the obligatory demands in celebrating special fast, and feasts to please saints, martyrs and angels. In an attempt to adore God people are forced to choose a path that completely detaches them from their role in the society. 102 Eastern Orthodox proponents like Alex Khomiakov strongly argue that Western expressions of Christianity are rooted in the soil of rationalism and do not even deserve the appellation of faith.103 This is a charge against both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Such a vigorous reaction against rationalistic tendencies indicates the deep rooted suspicion of thinking and doing that is dominated by reason. In fact due to such suspicion Khomiakov concluded that it is hardly possible to find one point on which the West and Eastern Christianity agree.104 Having this critical mindset against the Western belief and practice of Christianity, the EOTC emphasized adoration that leads to spiritual vision.105 In the EOTC everyday life is geared towards facilitating this vital activity in the thought and action of the believer whether one chooses the ascetic life or not. In fact this is a distinguishing mark of Eastern Orthodoxy. In this regard Clendenin notes adoration, contemplation, and vision, not rational intellection, characterizes the Eastern tradition.106
101 102 103 104 105 106

Solomon, Orthodoxawinet Endih New, 168-169. Cf. Jean Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia, 63-77. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 51. Ibid., 51. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 164. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 54.

42 Although Preeces theology of work does not disagree with the EOTCs belief that adoring God should be a priority in the life of the believers, like Calvin he opposes the mentality that exalts contemplation over physical work.107 I believe truly biblical Christianity does not treat work as something inferior to contemplation.108 Further, authentic spirituality should not discourage doing work as a means of glorifying God. Luther was uncomfortable with an extreme emphasis of monasticism. He even labeled it as an egoistic spiritual exercise.109 In the same vein Calvin was against the practice that displays unbalanced inclination toward inner spirituality. Moreover he advocated hard work that enhances the transformation of social structures. 110 Adoration of God takes place not only when believers pray and meditate but also while believers work and seriously fulfill their everyday tasks as a responsibility they received from their God. Preeces theology of work does not tolerate a system that deviates from the central focus of the Scripture. Like his fellow Calvinists he surveys the imbalance between contemplation and work with the critical eye of an Old Testament prophet.111 Moreover, he calls for the right balance between worship and working life. He recognizes that God calls his children to both aspects of the spiritual life. Those who worship him should not be characterized by practices of adoration that diminish the value of work.
107 108

Preece, Viability, 284-285.

The Bible in Gen 2-3, in Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and in 2 Thess 3:10, teaches that work should be taken seriously in the lives of believers. Ibid., 308-309. For Luther monasticism is perceived as egoistic and he did not want to bring the options of taking monasticism into his view of vocation.
110 111 109

Ibid., 286. Ibid., 266.

43 1.4.2 Contemplation, Work and Leisure In the past the facts of life in human history have shown that multitudes of non-Christians and Christians have exalted contemplation over work. Especially in the Greco-Roman and later Christian society the unworthiness of labor was emphasized.112 In the same fashion the medieval society divided work into the sacred and secular.113 Ryken notes, The result of this division into sacred and secular was of course to reduce ordinary workers to second-class spiritual citizens.114 The EOTCs understanding of work is not incompatible with this notion that was dominant in the medieval times. In the EOTC work is perceived as an instrument that enables humanity to meet the day-to-day needs as pilgrims pass through this temporal world.115 In the EOTC the contemplative life is perceived to be superior to the active life. Even in the contemporary society of Ethiopia such thinking dominates the adherent of the EOTC.116 The scholars and preachers trace these practices to the ancestors who were
112 113 114 115

See Ryken, Work and Leisure, 63-65. Ibid., 65. Ibid., 66.

See Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Feteha Negest Nebabuna Tirguamew [The Reading of Law of Kings and Its Interpretation] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Zegubae Printing Press, 1990 EC), 203.The EOTC traces its source for thinking and doing from the Church Fathers. At this specific occasion the document quotes from John Chrysostom and notes,
? ? 23:819. This literally means And Chrysostom has said in his

admonition, that regarding the dwelling of the guest and pilgrims, it is known what they request and it is provided to them according to their need at that moment. Now who considers the last divine and heavenly dwelling and searches for it and thinks in his mind that he will not remain in this earthly dwelling but for a brief time, why should he tire himself in enlarging and making this [earthly] dwelling strong and why should he complain for what he will leave, though it is fine?(Translated by Abba Paulos Tzadua: Law of Kings. 128129). See Christine Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition: A Brief Introduction to Its Life and Spirituality (Orthdruk: Bialystok Poland, 2002), 129. She comments about
116

44 much closer to the apostles who in turn closely followed the Lord Jesus Christ in his earthly life. By connecting their line of thought with early Fathers they claim authenticity for what they think and do since it has come from an authoritative source. As I already noted the Church historians and trusted fathers are presented as providing support for evidences to this notion of the superiority of contemplation over work. For example Eusebius in wrote: Two ways of life were given by the law of Christ to his church. The one is above nature, and beyond common human livingwholly and permanently separate from the common customary life of mankind, it devotes itself to the service of God alone such then is the perfect form of the Christian life. And the other, more humble, more human, permits men to have minds for farming, for trade, and the other more secular interests as well as for religion and a kind of secondary grade of piety is attributed to them.117 According to Preece the belief that exalts contemplation over vocation or vice versa does not have biblical backing and does not comport to the life we are called to exemplify in our day-to-day walk in the world. Both contemplation and work have their own appropriate place in the life of the believers. In his appraisal Preece is critical of the contemplative thinking that minimizes and despises the value of work for shaping society and glorifying God. In the same fashion he also abhors the workaholic tendency of our modern society that creates a distressing environment in the day-to-day business of life. In this regard, citing Calvin, Preece writes, Men wear themselves out and torment themselves

numerous days of fasting that are closely associated with the contemplative life that practically dominate the adherents of EOTC. She further elaborates on this and notes, The canonical yearly days of fasting are very numerous and strict there are about 250 (for priests, monks and nuns and very devout people), with about 180 obligatory for all. They are strictly observed: no meat, or dairy products and also no food or drink until three oclock, or even sunset for the strictest Lent fast days. Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica, as quoted by W. R. Forester, Christian Vocation (New York: Scribner, 1953), 42.
117

45 in vain when they are busier than their calling requires or permitsneglecting to call on God and acting as their own executioners.118 In Preeces understanding vocation facilitates the responsible implementation of ones duty. God, the ultimate author of all life has definite calls for his creatures. All calls are equally precious in His sight. Regarding this Preece cites the experiences of French contemporaries of Calvin and the Puritans and comments, Workwas the great Genevan leveler. Many Puritans shared this vocational egalitarianism, ranking dishwashing and shepherding with preaching in Gods sight.119 In the light of this foundational truth there is no argument that validates the supremacy of contemplation over work in Preeces trinitarian schema. Therefore, Preeces trinitarian framework provides the critical apparatus that enable us to closely investigate the EOTC understanding of contemplation. After surveying the meaning and understanding of work since the time of Reformation through to the work of Wingren, Barth and Moltmann,120 Preeces trinitarian schema delineates a theology of work that shows fidelity to the Bible and relevance to the contemporary context. He does this by repeatedly alluding to, and directly basing his argument on the Bible. The steps I have taken to utilize Preeces trinitarian schema are closely connected with its two main features namely: balance and comprehensiveness. His trinitarian schema does not allow favoring work and marginalizing contemplation or vice
118 119 120

Preece, Viability, 285. Ibid.

In the earlier section I mentioned that Preece used theologians such as Wingren, Barth and Moltmann as his dialogue partners to argue with the claims of Volf.

46 versa.121 It rather recognizes the tension and discourages extremism of any kind.122 Preece with Calvin advocates for the traditional view of vocation that facilitates ways to implement human interdependence and giftedness.123 It is this intentionally balanced focus that attracted me to utilize his work as a theological framework for examining and evaluating the underdeveloped theology of work in the EOTC, which lacks the balance that I observed in Reformed model. On the one hand it discourages the mentality that dismisses contemplation as waste of time and exalts work as the god of the technological society.124 On the other hand Preece is uncomfortable with an activity that leads to forgetting the rest of the world and retiring into the mountains and caves. According to Preece, this is not something noble when the worlds people are hungering for an exemplary life from the followers of Christ as salt and light.125 Although Preece does not give an extensive reflection in relation to leisure and work his wider view of vocation includes leisure as a vital component of work.126 Preece
121

See Preece, Viability, 284-287. Preece repeatedly argued against the busyness of persons more than their call required. He encourages dependence on God who provides for the needs of his children and to take time with Him in worship.
122 123 124 125

Ibid., 274-289. Ibid., 276. Preece, Changing Work Values, 6-62.

See Preece, Viability, 314. Here Preece links vocation with creative imitation of Christ. Citing the Heidelberg Catechism, he notes, Christians are not anointed with the power of the Spirit so that we can become carpenters for thirty years, and then begin to preach in Palestine. Christians are anointed to be like Christ by prophetically denouncing sin and injustice and announcing Gods favor, by royally resisting the kingdom of evil as they have occupied marriages, families, media, politics and other domains, and by priestly representation of Gods compassion for the broken lives our world and sacrificial service of others. (italics his).
126

Ibid., 250.

47 repeatedly argues that work is more than a paid job, and even more so vocation is wider127 than work since it touches almost all areas of life. Therefore, through his vocational lens there is a way to investigate the impact of leisure on work and vice versa. Preeces vocational insight which touches the issue of leisure indirectly will give us the tool to examine the place of leisure in the EOTC. I believe the imbalance that is observed between leisure and work in the EOTC has its roots in the churchs contemplative focus. As it was difficult to define work and vocation so also it is difficult to define leisure.128 Ryken defines leisure as an activity that we choose to do. It is not obligatory like work. In the same vein Volf notes, work and leisure are polar but not mutually exclusive activities; the dividing line between them is not very sharp.129 But the phenomenon we see in the practice of EOTC does not resemble this. When the calendar130 is controlled by leisure,131 instead of work it reveals a deviation that calls for further reflection. That is what I will explore further in the other sections of this work. In the next few pages I would like to underscore the significance of vocation in a brief fashion.
127 128

Ibid., 301. Cf. Ryken, Work and Leisure, 19-22; Volf, Work in the Spirit, 133-134; Preece, Viability, Volf, Work in the Spirit, 134.

6.
129 130

See Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo, 128. She expounds that the Ethiopians are deeply religious and they have lots of festivals that are controlled by the calendar. She comments, Daily life is very linked to Church life rhythmed by fasting, praying, going to church, especially on festivals which are very numerous and really rule the calendar. See The information minister Bereket Simon in one of his panel discussion expressed his concern that the working force is under utilized. He argued that this needs to change to impact the industry of the nation. Ethiopian Television News release Addis Ababa: Ethiopian News Agency November 7, 2002. Cf. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo, 128. In the EOTC leisure is a time devoted to the veneration of saints or angels. It involves people coming together to share meal and relax with each other. This time of leisure is therefore, dictated by church calendar and regarded as sacred.
131

48 1.5 Vocation as a Tool for Community Transformation When the Reformers emphasized the priesthood of all believers their desire was to resist the rigid boundary that divided activities between secular and sacred categories. Calvins emphasis on the active God who shapes human life using those who are united with Him is revealed in his anti-contemplative and anti-aristocratic132 reactions. His substantial contribution to shape the modern meaning of talent133 has a radical impact in the transformation of society. According to Calvin, the ultimate purpose of existence for believers here on earth is to demonstrate loving obedience to the sovereign God and to contribute what they can for the full satisfaction of their neighbors.134 When believers are positively responding to their vocation the kingdom of Christ on earth is growing and the helpfulness of believers to their neighbor is increasing.135 Improvement is possible when there is transformation in a positive sense.136 This improvement is achievable in the conscious action of believers who are
132 133

Preece, Viability, 284-286.

Paul Marshall, A Kind of Life imposed on Man: Vocation and Social Order from Tyndale to Locke (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 29-35. John Calvin, Institute of the Christian Religion, ed. T. McNeil and trans. Ford Lewis Battle (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967), 1:689-725; 2:974-976.
135 136 134

Ibid., 1:689-725.

The dramatic community transformation in South Korea is connected with the inculcation of Christian values. The country which was the poorest in the world has been transformed to be counted amongst the developed nations. The country which had 52 dollars per capita income has changed to be one of the thriving economies in the world today. This was possible because many Bible believing Christians in South Korea have taken work as a vocation. See Kenneth A. Eldred, God Is at Work: Transforming People and Nations through Business (Ventura: Regal Books, 2005), 11-13.

49 determined to view work as a service to others that brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God.137 Work that is not performed with a view to benefiting humanity and glorifying God will not be instrumental in bringing the desired transformation of human society. Steven is right when he says, Gods call to humanity is a global call: Fill the earth Business can be an agent of the kingdom of God bringing a measure of shalom to people and nations.138 When production and profit are the only centers of activity it is difficult to assure that work or business in this case brings the preferred benefit to the community. However, when vocation is taken seriously and intentionally it is a tool for community transformation.

1.6 Conclusion Preeces trinitarian framework is characterized by fidelity to biblical revelation, comprehensiveness, balance, relevance, and the transformative qualities of work. Because of such qualities I have chosen it to be my vital instrument in the task of accomplishing this project. Preeces theology of work builds its arguments with biblical truth.139 It is not that he underestimates reason but he gives priority to revelation. Moreover, Preece has shown comprehensiveness in his approach to the theology of work. This is demonstrated in many ways in his work. For example, he has affirmed the validity of Wingrens first article
137

John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Old Tappan, NJ: F.H Revell, 1990), Stevens, Doing Gods Business, 28. (Italics his) See Preece, Viability, 196-197

162.
138 139

50 approach which affirms God is creator now.140 Further, Preece appreciates Barths effort to develop more dynamic notion of vocation. Still further, Preece welcomes Volfs eschatological theology of work and writes, a trinitarian framework with a strengthened Pneumatology could thus allow for the fine-tuning which, Volf hopesshow Reformed and pneumatological views to not be different paradigms after all141 It is striking to observe that Preece comprehensive view builds on the strength and interweaving of the works of those three continental theologians. Preeces system is comprehensive enough to cover everything relevant to the discussion of work in the contemporary society. It should be noted that Preeces sensitivity to keep balance between the tensions of creation and new creation is another area that makes his trinitarian schema attractive. Preeces wider use of vocation serves as the vital instrument of evaluating the understanding of work in the EOTC. Furthermore, his vocation-centered view of work not only lends itself as conceptual tool but provides an insight as to how vocational view in its wider use could be an instrument for community transformation. While explaining the link of vocation with Christians daily walk in imitating Christ, Preece notes that in creative imitation of Jesus we become mini-prophets, priests, kings.142 Finally a vocation-centered theology of work, historically speaking has challenged when necessary the status quo and worked towards replacing a flawed system with a better one.
140

Ibid., 58-59. Preece compares and contrasts both Wingren and Barth and takes the best out of each system. (Italics his).
141 142

Ibid., 318. See n. 125 in this specific chapter to check how the idea of imitating Christ is elaborated by

quoting Preece.

CHAPTER 2 THE EOTCS MYSTICAL THEOLOGYS AND ITS IMPACT ON WORK

2.1 Introduction In this chapter I will argue that closer observation of the EOTCs Founding Fathers1 uncovers the factors that contributed the minimal development of systematic theology in general and the theology of work in particular. The tense relationship between the mother2 and daughter churches has also contributed to the lack of development of the theology of work. Further, through the lens of Preeces vocational theology of work; the EOTCs emphasis on the mystery of God and the impact of this emphasis in the daily working habits of its adherents will be examined. Scholars throughout the ages have struggled to define work.3 Work for the most part is defined by many as instrumental
1

This is referring to those Fathers who shaped the thought and action of EOTC. This term refers Fathers such as Athanasius, Frumentius, Cyril of Alexandria, St. Gregory, Basil, Chrysostom and Nine saints from Syria. The proponents of the EOTC call on these authorities to authenticate their claims.
2

The Egyptian Coptic Church was the mother church for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church up

until 1959. Cf. Miroslav Volf, Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 7-14. Here Volf recognizes the difficulty of defining work and end up in defining it instrumentally. Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 5. Preece recognizes that Defining work is notoriously difficult. (5). Citing Francis schssler Foioreza, Preece outlines three types of modern theology of work namely: 1) A literalist or scripturalist type is exemplified by Barth, Bienert and Richardson tries to demonstrate biblical doctrine of work 2)The transcendental or anthropological approach is epitomized by Schleiemacher, Bushnell, Rahner and Pieperinstrumental zing work for the sake of leisure.. 3) Critical Theology that includes the other two in the larger context of a historical, societal and practical analysis. (Italics his); Stephen Palmquist, Toward A Christian Philosophy of Work: A Theological and Religious Extension of Hannah Arendts Conceptual Framework. Philosophia Christi 11 no. 2 (LaMirada: Biola University, 2009), 397- 419. Palmquist notes, The Longman New Universal Dictionary cites
3

51

52 activity.4 I follow John Stotts definition of work that takes work as the expenditure of energy in the service of others that brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God.5 There is definitely a need for more scholarly reflection on the theology of work that includes all possible contexts. Work has taken an exalted status in the western world. Whereas in the context I come from much has to be done in the area of inculcating work as God intended it for human life. Though it is purported that the Ethiopian eunuch6 tried to teach Christianity to his people, his effort did not gain a significant breakthrough in reaching the wider Ethiopian society.7 That is why Christianity was re-introduced in 330EC8 through the ministry of two

forty-four different definition of work ranging from sustained physical or mental effort to achieve a result to definitions such as to excite, provoke and to move slowly in relation to another part. (n.1, 397). The Reformers treated work as a means of fulfilling ones call. Furthermore, Barth understands the relation of work and humanity in an instrumental fashion. He defined work as an activity to keep the body and soul together. See Karl Barth, The Church Dogmatics III (Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1960), 518-519. Doug Sherman and William Hendricks argue that work is an instrument of getting what we need and also an instrument of evangelism. See Doug Sherman and William Hendricks, Your work Matters to God (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1987), 87-147. Miroslav Volf, Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 69-156. Volf argues for work as an instrument of eschatological transformation.
5 4

John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Old Tappan, NJ: F.H Revell, 1990),

162. The encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 is claimed by many Christian thinkers in Ethiopia as the beginning of Christianity. However, historians like William Leon Hansberry argue that Exactly when and how Christianity first appeared in Ethiopia are questions which cannot be answered with any certainty. Cf. William Leo Hansberry, Pillars in Ethiopian History , edited by Joseph E. Harris (Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974), 62. Edwin M. Yamauchi Africa and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) 161-182. Aba Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik [Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church History] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1974 EC), 20. EC refers to Ethiopian Calendar. Ethiopians have their own calendar which has 7 or 8 years difference with the Gregorian calendar. Ethiopians follow the Julian calendar.
8 7 6

53 shipwrecked youngsters who accidentally landed in Ethiopia.9 Frumentius who was chosen as the first Ethiopian bishop with the help of King Ezana, succeeded in making Christianity the national religion of what is Christendoms second oldest independent state.10 Christianitys impact was restricted in the northern and central part of the country for several hundred years up until the Second World War.11 The key reason for this was the influence of the government. 12 The government mainly identified with the EOTC. Therefore the northern part of the country is still dominated by the EOTC believers where the government influence was felt for several hundred years.13 It therefore enjoyed a freedom of propagating its values that in turn shaped the economic political and social life of the country. 14 Even today, Ethiopia15 is still dominated by EOTC believers.
9

Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life (Addis Ababa: United Printers, 1970), 3-6. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present. (Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing press, 1998), 6-13. Yohannes Sandved, The Ancient Church History.(Addis Ababa: Bole Printing Press, 1981), 86-93. Nathan B. Hege, Beyond Our Prayers (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1998), 30-39.
10 11 12

Hansberry, Pillars in Ethiopian History, 74. Melaku, Yebete Kristian Tarik, 84. Hege, Beyond Our Prayers, 41-50. Margery Perham, The Government of Ethiopia (Evanston: North Western University Press,

1969), 16-80. Cf. Kinfe Abraham, Ethiopia from Empire to Federation, (Addis Ababa: EIIPD Press, 2001), 19-137. For most of Ethiopian history the emperors were EOTC members. They were determined to implement the EOTC values in the society. This was true especially in newly conquered areas where state sponsored evangelization was introduced to proselytize the pagan population. The main task of feudal lords was to implement this agenda of the Ethiopian government. Since Christianity was introduced to the royal family first, its political influence continued up until the rise of communism that dismantled the feudo-capitalist system in 1974. In fact Christianity was the state religion in Ethiopia and shaped the belief, values and attitudes of the people. See Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: An Introduction to the Country and People, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), 1-26. Ullendorff writes, Ethiopia four times more than the size of Great Britain is a country of great natural beauty marked by a vast mountain massif with a mean height of some 8000 feet2 it preserved a civilization of biblical hue in a cocoon of archaic and antique style.
15 14 13

54 2.2 The Founding Fathers and Contemplation The EOTC was born in the middle of the Arian controversy.16 Indeed, the church was established after the first ecumenical council that condemned Arius.17 Athanasius I,18 who was one of the leaders in the Egyptian church and the influential leader in the Nicene Council, shaped both the structural and spiritual aspects of the EOTC.19 The bond that was established between the two churches at this specific moment in time directed20 the journey of the EOTC. Although the Ethiopian church maintained its traditions which were inherited from its exposure to the Old Testament through Jewish influence,21 for the most part the EOTC relied on the instruction of the Coptic Church for its thought and action.22 The Coptic Church tolerated the practices of the EOTC. For example, it tolerated EOTCs keeping the dietary laws, putting the ark in the church and observing some practice of the Old
16 17 18

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, A Panorama, 5-6. Ibid., 5-6.

See Otto F.A. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (Cairo: The American University Press, 1999), 132. See ibid., 132-133. This was realized by way of ordaining Coptic bishops sent to Ethiopia and by the ongoing catechistic instructions. Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet [The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith, Order of Worship and Ecumenical Relations] (Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1988EC), 10-11.Since the time of Athanasius I (328-373) the Egyptian Coptic Church denied the right of the EOTC to ordain the indigenous bishop for Ethiopia up until 1959. Therefore, the EOTC was under the care and instruction of the Egyptian Coptic Church for 1600 years. The architecture of the church, the replica of the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary, circumcising children, dietary restrictions such as forbidding the believers not to eat pork meat, etc in church practices are visible marks of the Jewish influence in the EOTC.
22 21 20 19

Hege, Beyond Our Prayers, 33-35.

55 Testament.23 So long as the EOTC was unconditionally obeying the guidance of the Coptic leaders, it was tolerated. To take this relationship to a deeper level the EOTC discouraged any relations with other Christian churches. Hege writes, Relating mainlyand almost exclusivelyto the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, the Ethiopian body became highly skeptical of other Christian traditions.24 This happened not because the Coptic leadership was perfect, but because the Catholic missionaries who were initially welcomed positively into Ethiopia, caused havoc25 and worked hard to bring the EOTC under the umbrella of Rome.26 Therefore, the EOTC remained under the jurisdiction of the See of Alexandria.27 Otto F.A Meinardus notes the outstanding contribution of the Egyptian Church to world Christianity was the monastic movement, which received its impetus from men like Saints Anthony, Paul of Thebes, Macariusothers. Saint Anthonys name became known and associated with a new way of life leading to salvation.28 What was noble in the life of the mother church was passed on to the daughter church. Meinardus writes, Like
23

Cf. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik, 107-109. Hege, Beyond Hege, Beyond Our Prayers, 34.

Our Prayers,32.
24 25

See Thomas P. Ofcansky and LaVerle Berry, eds. Ethiopia: A Country Study (Lanham: Bernan Press, 1993), 20-29. The Portuguese armys intervention to assist Ethiopia against the Muslim control of Ahmad Gragn who destroyed several churches was timely. The joint effort foiled the Muslim dominance of the country. In return for such help the Catholic missionaries enjoyed freedom in the family of the EOTC. However, its subtle attempt to put the EOTC under Rome brought about civil war that claimed the lives of multitudes of rural men during the time of Emperor Susineyos (1607-1632). Since that time the Catholic Church has remained suspect. For that matter any foreign missionary was identified as Catholic by the rural population of Ethiopia up until the present day.
26 27 28

Cf. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years, 132-133. Ullendorff, The Ethiopians, 77-80. Ibid., 131-134. Ibid., 35.

56 Christianity, monasticism was introduced into Ethiopia from Egypt.29 The Founding Fathers who shaped the life and practice of the EOTC exalted contemplation over active life.30 Among the Founding Fathers of the EOTC was the pioneer Athanasius I who ordained the first bishop of Ethiopia. His teaching and practices are still highly valued. The EOTC holds Athanasius in special veneration. He was canonized as a saint, and his work, The life of Saint Anthony, was translated in Ethiopic. One of the fourteen Anaphoras, the Ethiopian Church is attributed to Athanasius.31 The Founding Fathers of the EOTC after Athanasius also emphasized contemplation and founded churches, built inaccessible monasteries, tamed wild beasts, and lived on bitter herbs and unripe bananas.32 The introduction of monasteries of this kind facilitated a spirituality that was characterized by seclusion.33 In this seclusion the Founding Fathers encouraged detachment from the society.34 In addition, the testimonies about their extraordinary experiences in accessing the inaccessible created hunger in their followers.35 The unique experiences of these saints were retold for their disciples to encourage an
29 30 31 32

Ibid., 36. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama, 5-6. Ibid., 6 (Italics his).

Jean Doresse, Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia, translated by Elsa Coult. (London: Elek Books Limited, 1959), 64.
33 34 35

See Meinardus, Two Thousand Years, 36. Doresse, Ethiopia, 64.

Ibid., 64-71. Aba Libanos withdrawal from the world is commemorated by a church halfway up a cliff, perched among the euphorbias, accessible to goat rather than man; at Ham is the better-known monastery of Debra-Libanos.

57 undivided commitment to monastic life. For example, Aba Aragawi36 is repeatedly mentioned for this kind of experience. Doresse notes, Aragawi who was better favored, had the assistance of a miraculous serpent of gigantic proportions which stretched out its tail to him to the top of the mountain.37 Such stories, communicated using arts and verbal skills, motivated many adherents of the EOTC to exalt contemplation over an active life.38 Biblical Christianity encourages meditation that focuses on the almighty God as a worthy activity in life (e.g. Ps.77:10-12). However, when contemplation is exalted beyond a normal and natural level in the life of the community, the experience itself instigates questions about balanced spirituality. Assessing the contemplative dedication to the Almighty in critical fashion would seem unfair, and yet Luther and Calvin, who saw such dedication to be an obstacle for the glory of God, questioned the practice.39 Further, they rejected and condemned the monastic experience that overshadows the saving act of God. This chapter argues that an extreme stance in practicing contemplation affects the working life of that specific society.
36

Meinardus, Two Thousand Years, 36. Meinardus writes, In 480, Saint Aragawi, who is said to have received his habit from Saint Pachomius, founded the celebrated monastery at Debre Damo. With him came eight other monks from monastery Saint Anthony; together they are known in the Ethiopian Church as the Nine Saints.
37 38

See Doresse, Ethiopia, 81.

Volf questions the subordination of vita activa (active life) to vita contemplativa (contemplative life). He notes, Faithfulness to our Judeo-Christian biblical roots demands that we abandon it. Cf. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 70-102. Cf. Agizachew also perplexed on the exaltation of contemplative life over active life. Agizachew, Yetekebere Meklit [Buried Talent] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1993 EC), 4789.
39

Preece, The Viability, 281-310.

58 2.2.1. Factors That Contributed to the Minimal Development of Theological Reflection in the EOTC Several factors have arguably contributed to the lack of development of the theological reflection in the Coptic Orthodox tradition in general, and in the EOTC in particular. The factors that influenced the lack of development of theological reflection in the EOTC may be summarized as follows: The first factor is closely connected with the reaction against the rationalistic systematization of theological truth. Eastern Orthodox theologians in general and the EOTC in particular were not comfortable with the abstract and rationalistic systematization of theological truth. Regarding this matter Clendenin writes, Orthodoxys attitude toward systematic theology, its historic creedal statements of the Trinity and Christology, and its concepts of Gods self-revelation all illustrate the basic difference between Eastern and Western ways of theologizing.40 The EOTC especially is attracted to the historic creeds and autobiographies of saints.41 That is why one could not get a single work that is the equivalent, or even similar, to that of Aquinas Summa, Calvins Institutes, Barths Church Dogmatics and other modern day systematicians.42 The EOTC and its Eastern counterpart are satisfied with simple and essential expression of truth.43 The Eastern Orthodox thinkers in the monastic circles wanted practical spiritual counsel rather than abstract systematic treatments
40

Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994), 53. Memhier Getachew Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? [Performance or Pit ?] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC), 6-23.
42 43 41

Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 53.

John Meyendorff, Doing Theology in an Eastern Orthodox Perspective, in Eastern Orthodoxy: A Contemporary Reader, ed. Daniel B. Clendenin (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 79-96.

59 of different spiritual subjects.44 Therefore the lack of systematization would have been of little concern to them.45 The second reason for the minimal development of theological reflection is connected with the EOTCs emphasis on experience. Closer observations of the EOTC proponents reveal that the religious teachers emphasize practical encounters with God rather than theological reflection.46 For example, the EOTCs contemplative images come from a concentration on the ostrich and its hatching process.47 For the EOTC religious teachers such undivided focus on the almighty God rewards the believer in a unique experience of the heavenly realms. Therefore, rather than focusing on engaging the mind with profound rational ideas they encourage the parishioners to concentrate on visions that facilitate practical experience.48 In the same vein Clendenin notes, adoration, contemplation, and vision, not rational intellection, characterizes the Eastern tradition.49
44 45 46

Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 50-55. Ibid., 53.

See Christine Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition: A Brief Introduction to Its Life and Spirituality (Orthdruk: Bialystok Poland, 2002), 150-151. The moving stories that were collected throughout the ages are told in dramatic ways so that believers would follow contemplation that would lead to profound experience. For example Aba Nardos of Debre Bizen stood in prayer till his feet decayed. Saint Tekele Haymanot had three pairs of spears around him in his cell to prevent him from falling asleep during his long prayers. See Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 164. Although this could be questioned in todays scientific world, the EOTC thinkers assert the trustworthiness of this phenomenon. Therefore, Aba Gorgorious notes, Ostrich has exceptional capacity to gaze on the egg without wavering. Gazing accompanied without unwavering focus quickly hatches the eggs in a healthy fashion. However, if something interferes with that special gazing process and the ostrichs eye looks somewhere else all the eggs will be spoiled. In the same way believers contemplation should focus on the almighty without distracted attention will reward believers in experiencing the almighty God in a unique and profound way. That in turn facilitates the ability to pray and seek God without ceasing. Therefore the egg of ostrich is placed on the apex of churches as perpetual reminder of contemplation. See Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo, 151. Experience is the vital element of spirituality in the EOTC. Citing the current Ethiopian Patriarch Aba Paulos, Challiot underscores the vitality of experience and she notes, Our people pray for hours with concentrated mind, standing, standing on one foot,
48 47

60 The third reason for the minimal development of theological reflection is connected with the fear of heresy. According to Ethiopian orthodox thinking devout Orthodox thinkers are the ones who have the special ability to repeat what has been said by the Fathers.50 Those who are able to give an alternative and contextualized explanation would be considered liberals in that system of thinking.51 Indeed in the traditional Ethiopian setting those who bring a logical and creative presentation of doctrine, or an alternative explanation of the teaching would be labeled as heretics.52 In fact those who are able to articulate the doctrine in a new and profound way would be confronted by the groups who are loyal to the status quo. To discourage such a move the suspected person would be insulted in a poetic fashion. For example: you can find fascinating interpretations from heretics and incredible and attractive growth in tobacco.53 However, in real life both tobacco and heretics are having dangerous effects on those who are in contact with them. Since the thinkers in this community did not want to be labeled as dangerous they refrained from critical thinking. Another saying of this kind is No one can compete climbing trees with apes as there is none

with arms stretched, or also kneeling, sometimes crying. Spirituality is not accurately expressed by speaker or interviews. It is to be experienced in order to be understood in its pure and precious meaning and feeling. Whatever is explained about spirituality will be simply external.
49 50

Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox, 54.

Habtemariam Workeneh, Yemetsehaft Terguame [The Interpretation of Books] (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008), 7.
51 52 53

Ibid. Ibid., 6-8. Ibid., 8.

61 who could dispel the attractive rhetoric of the heretics.54 As a result the accepted practice is repeating only what the trusted Fathers taught.55 The fourth reason for the minimal development of theological reflection is connected with the hostile environment that the EOTC found itself in throughout the ages.56 Closer observation of the external environment reveals that the EOTC did not enjoy a freedom that facilitated theological reflection.57 When the church had relative freedom it was easy for the thinkers to intermingle with the political machinery of the existing society and they were distracted from making first thing first.58 For the church the first thing is evangelizing the unsaved and edifying the saints, and glorifying God in the process. For most of its historical journey the eastern churches were distracted by external powers either luring or persecuting them. In the presence of such a hostile environment the church struggle was just to survive. According to John Meyendorff Witness to the World in the year 1979, ninety percent of the Orthodox believers were living under the pressures of communism59 which intentionally discouraged the production of theological materials. As a result of this
54 55 56

Ibid, . 7. :: Ibid., 3-11.

Cf. Abraham Ethiopia from Empire to Federation, 43-103. The EOTC was taken as an instrument of unification for the country by the kings. Politicians who wanted to take advantage of it pulled it into uninterrupted and intensified internal conflict. The turbulence centuries (1150-1950) were characterized by both political and social unrest. This impacted the churchs function in many ways.
57 58

Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 32-49.

See Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 111. Healthy spirituality and theological reflection was not given priority. According to Perham people were expressing their disappointment using extremely depreciatory words of the clergy, such as ignorant, besotted, lazy, and degraded Ludolphus recorded that both the Patriarch and his Clergy are a poor sort of contemptible and rustic people and void of all common endowments. Twelve thousand clerical drones fatten in idleness on the labour of the working class, declared Harris. 59 John Meyendorff, Witness to the World (Crestwood: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1987), 70.

62 the church was inward looking and focused in maintaining what was handed down to her instead of formulating contemporary theology, relevant to the contemporary society.60 Therefore, the hostile environment had a substantial impact, resulting in the limited production of theological materials. This is basically true in EOTC as well. According to Ethiopian historians, Ethiopia never had an uninterrupted fifty years without wars since the 4th century.61 Therefore, it is no wonder that Ethiopian Orthodoxy did not produce influential theological materials, though it was the oldest Christian nation in sub Saharan Africa. 62 Fifthly, because individual and even corporate theological reflections were causes of fragmentation of the peaceful community, 63 the saints who emphasized contemplation discouraged abstract and rational reflection in the Orthodox Tradition. Therefore, in the present for fear of destabilizing the community of believers in the EOTC, adoration is favored rather than analysis. Moreover, analysis or theological reflection is considered as inferior theology.64
60 61 62 63

Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 7-23. Abraham Ethiopia from Empire to Federation, 19-103 Hege, Beyond Our Prayers, 33-37.

John Meyendorff Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham University Press, 1974), 91-101.
64

Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox, 54.

63 2.2.2. Theology of Work in the Light of the Founding Fathers of the EOTC The EOTC Christian experience is influenced by the Alexandrian Fathers such as Athanasius I65 and Cyril66 who were under persistent pressure from their contemporary political leaders.67 They themselves led monastic lives in which their model life inspired their respective EOTC parishners to follow their heritage.68 The trusted sources in the EOTC indicate that the basic tenets for doing and thinking were derived from the Alexandrian and Syrian Fathers.69 These Fathers were engaged in translating spiritual literature from Greek, Syriac and Arabic to Geez.70 Moreover, the Church Fathers were engaged in combating any
65

Cf. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years, 132-133. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, A Panorama, 39. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 109-123. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 27-34. As I noted earlier Athanasius ordained Frumentius to be the first bishop to Ethiopia, who had introduced Christianity to the royal family in Axum. His influence in Ethiopian Orthodoxy is enormous and he is one of the venerated saint that was given a special commemoration day. Athanasius work in the area of contemplation has been translated into Geez and continues to shape the pietistic movement in the monasteries and in the faith communities of Ethiopia. Cf. John S. Romanides, St. Cyrils One Physis or Hypostasis of God the Logos Incarnate in Chacedon in Christ in East and West, ed. Paul R. Fries and Tiran Nersoyan (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1987), 15-34. Here Romanides notes, Both Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian Orthodox accept St. Cyril as the chief patristic exponent of orthodox Christology. Yet both accuse each other of not remaining completely faithful to Cyril. (15). Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 27. The EOTC belongs to non-Chalcedonian group that called itself oriental churches. It accepts the council of Ephesians that was led by Cyril (370-444) of Alexandria. Cyril is one of the highly favored fathers in the EOTC who shaped theological reflections and spiritual experiences. Cf. Lule Melaku, Yebete Kristian Tarik [Church Hisotry] (Addis Ababa, Tensae Printing Press, 1994), 123-128. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 21-37. Most thinkers in the larger family of the EOTC are inspired by the sacrificial life of those leaders who lived the life of asceticism. As the result of this influence there are lots of monasteries in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian, 109-123. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 27-34. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years, 132-133. Cf. Edward Ullendorff, Ethiopia and the Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), 3172. Melaku, Yebete Kristian, 123-127. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 22-35.
70 69 68 67 66

64 heretical movement that threatened the unity of the church, therefore it is probable that they did not have quality time to reflect on the theology of work.71 The Founding Fathers also had a more pressing theological agenda than the theology of work.72 Consequently the vast majority of materials that were handed down from the Founding Fathers do not have any explicit reflection in the area of work. Issues related to human work seemed peripheral to them. However, by way of contrast there, it is observed that there are significant amount of materials in the area of monasticism. This was given priority because the monastic state is considered as one of the essential forms of Christian perfection and witness.73 On the other hand nonreligious work was considered as a carnal activity that imprisons those who cling to it.74 Following this belief the Founding Fathers advised believers to be modest. For example John Chrysostom has said The faithful must be recognized by their meals, by their adornment, by their talk and their behavior.75 In the same vein the wise St. Basil has said all must arrange our clothes to cover our nakedness, must have what is sufficient for our need and must protect ourselves from cold and heat and observe the rule of hermits.76 It appears that the Founding Fathers advocated the life of simplicity and solitude rather than
71

The scarcity of material in the area is an indication that either the subject was irrelevant or they had more pressing issues in their context of ministry.
72 73

See Volf, Work in the Spirit, 69.

John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham University Press, 1974), 56. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Haimanot Abew, [The Faith of the Church Fathers] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1986 EC), 33: 14-19. Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, trans. Abba Paulos Tzadua, ed. Peter L. Strauss (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968), 128.
76 75 74

Ibid., 128.

65 hard labor.77As a result it is difficult to find reflections in relation to the theology of work during the times of the Founding Fathers. Moreover the earliest Founding Fathers were persecuted by pro Arian and Nestorian leaders respectively.78 Therefore, their isolation from the larger society forced them to reflect on monastic life.79 This in turn had a negative impact in the production of theological reflection in the Ethiopian faith community.

2.3 The Dispute between the Coptic Church and EOTC: Its Impact on the Theology of Work Due to external pressures80 and inward inclination81 the Founding Fathers of the church emphasized contemplation rather than theological reflection. Above all the dispute that revolved around the governance between the mother82 and daughter 83 churches contributed to the minimal development of theological work in the EOTC. The question is precisely how did this phenomenon impact the theology of work? In what way did such a
77

Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life, 3-6. William C. Placher, Calling: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005), 59. Placher writes, Athanasius wrote about Anthonys life. It became very influential, and soon many Christians (both men and women) following Anthony into the desertsome, like him to lead the solitary life of hermits, others to live with fellows ascetics in monasteries and convents. In the same fashion Athanasius work influenced Ethiopian people towards the life of seclusion rather than hard work.
78 79

Ibid., 3-12.

As I expressed earlier Athanasius who was responsible to ordain the first bishop to Ethiopia, had the major task of combating the Arian controversy. The Arian kings forced him to spend lots of his time in exile. Therefore, he was not able to give any guidance that would inform the day-to-day activity of believers. His reflection in the area of the life of Saint Anthony is translated to Geez (Ethiopic) to facilitate contemplative life. Cf. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991) 255-265. Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 103-115. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity, 132-133.
81 82 80

Schaff and Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 195-221 Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity, 36.

66 dispute contributed to the minimal production of theological material? In what follows we shall explore this.

2.3.1 The Dispute between the Coptic Church and EOTC The historical ecclesiastical relationship between the Egyptian and Ethiopian churches was established through the consecration of Frumentius by Athanasius I.84 By this specific act a precedent was set on the basis of which, among other things, the patriarchate of Alexandria based its claims of superiority over the Ethiopian church.85 As the daughter church, the Ethiopian church has respected this superiority for over sixteen hundred years.86 However, this superiority created tension between these churches when the EOTC demanded more than one Abuna.87 The spiritual work that was performed was way above the capacity of one Abuna (bishop). The Coptic Church was not willing to ordain more than one Abuna at a time, therefore, to satisfy their ecclesiastical needs people were traveling from great distance to meet the Abuna. Some people lost their lives on their way to seek the Abunas blessings. When people encountered this problem in the context of their ministry, they raised the question of ordaining more than one bishop. However, a request from Ethiopia in 1140 for

83 84 85 86

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 104-108. Cf. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity, 132-133. Ibid., 132

This is from 330- 1959. Cf. Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 103-111. Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 90-96. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, t, 10. Ibid., 106-108. The Abuna is a person who is responsible for the spiritual oversight of the EOTC. The Abuna alone could crown an Emperor, though immediately afterwards he must make his submission and that of his church. He alone could ordain priests, deacons, and bless the altar stones for the
87

67 an increase of bishops was refused.88 This refusal created tension between the two churches. As a result several questions were raised. For example Perham asks Has the Ethiopian Church lost or gained from its association through abuna with the church of Alexandria?89 And he notes, It is difficult to say. That church, except at rare intervals, had little to give her daughter. The extreme subjection of the latter might have been justified in the earliest days, but very soon the daughter church became much greater in numbers and geographical extent than the mother, and, as we shall see the limitation upon the number of bishops was a serious handicap in such an immense country, especially as there was interruptions in the continuity of the Abunas office.90 When there was an interruption in the Abunas office there was spiritual void which could not be easily filled by the Ethiopians who were not allowed to assume the office of the abuna.91 This in turn created tension between the mother and the daughter churches. In fact it led to bitterness. Perham writes, a leading Ethiopian of modern outlook complained that his people had to pay heavily for the privilege of importing Abunas, not one of whom since Frumentiusthe founder of the church in Ethiopiahad, he said done any good to the country.92 Such bitter expression might not represent the feelings of the whole church but it clearly demonstrates the reaction of the average Ethiopian against the insensitivity of the

churches. He issued, nearly always upon the Emperors instruction and for political purposes, blessings or excommunications; he could liberate people from the oaths.(106). Ibid., 104. At this point in time the Abuna was generally the only bishop and that he had no power to create others.
89 90 91 88

Ibid., 106. Ibid., 106-107.

Cf. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 33-45. Melaku, Yebete Kristian Tarik, 123-138. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity, 132.

68 mother church to the needs of its daughter. To present the history of the struggles of the EOTC throughout the centuries is beyond the scope of this work. Moreover, the primary purpose of this work is to show the negative impact of this tension on the minimal development of the theology of work. Therefore, I refrain from expounding on the tensions in great details. However, one will not miss that tension of this kind distracts from balancing life in an appropriate fashion. In 1600 years of its relationship with EOTC, the Coptic Church did not make a significant effort to train Ethiopian leaders.93 Due to the limitations of language abilities the Coptic bishops were not able to guide the believing community in an effective fashion.94 On some occasions to pacify the angry Ethiopians due to lack of clergy the Abuna was ordaining thousand of priests a day.95 As such the probable cause of the low standard of the clergy lay in the method by which priests and deacons were ordained wholesale by the Abuna without either preparation or examination.96 After waiting for so long an attempt to broaden the connection and to educate the clergy was made in the 1930.97 This was done after so much damage had occurred to the relationship between these two churches. Therefore, due to a lack of proper guidance and

92 93 94 95

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 107-108. Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 104-109. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 31-45. Melaku, Yebete Kristian Tarik, 121-139.

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 112. Citing the Alvarez Perham notes, Alvarez watched the Abuna ordaining thousands of priests a day and also children in arms as deacons. To his protest the Abuna replied that as he was very old and there might be an interregnum before his successor could be brought from Egypt, provision must be made in advance.
96

Ibid. 112.

69 trained personnel, theological reflection was hampered. There was little or no systematic theological work as its learned leaders focused on monastic life rather than shaping the thought and action of the society.98 It is true that correct practice originates from sound and cultural teaching of the Scripture. However, the bishops were not able to achieve this end due to language limitations.99 Because of the lack of clear guidance in the vital issues of life, the people were left to make their own arbitrary decisions.100 Further, the controversy affected the working habit of the adherent of the EOTC in many ways.

2.3.2 The Impact of the Dispute Every tension has its own negative impact on relationships. The dispute between these churches fueled suspicion and bitterness.101 The EOTC which was much larger than its mother in both organization and population could not understand why it was not allowed to have its own native bishop.102 On the other hand The Copts based their rights to nominate

97 98

Ibid., 107.

Ethiopian kings such as Abreha, Atsebeha, Lalibela, Yemerhane Kristos, Gebremariam, Nakutoleab, St. John, Zarayakob, Yohanses IV. etc, were known for their monastic life. See Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present (Addis Ababa: Commercial Printers, 1990 EC), 2932. See Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 105. Perham further elaborate on this and notes, Considering the great difficulties of communication between Ethiopia and Alexandria, it is astonishing how seldom the continuity of this appointment was broken. The head of Ethiopian Church was thus not only, as a rule, the sole member of his rank, but he also came in as a foreigner, knowing nothing of the customs and language of his flock, and in most instances was in a position of some detachment from his closest Ethiopian colleagues.
100 101 99

See Hege, Beyond Our Prayers, 32.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Autocephali (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008), 16-33.
102

Ibid., 16-18.

70 and consecrate the Abuna, or head of the Ethiopian Church, on the Eighty Disciplinary Canon of Nicea.103 The modern generation of leaders in the EOTC questioned this and refuted this bold claim of Nicea Council decision for three reasons: First, the Coptic Church claimed to be a guardian of the EOTC forever by using the so called Nicene council decision. However, when the Coptic claim of the Nicene decree was not found in other churches the EOTC felt betrayed. 104 Secondly, the Coptic Church claimed that the decision included an expression that said, The head for Ethiopian church should not come from one of them.105 The EOTC leaders felt that this expression promoted the superiority of one race over the other. Such an expression is purely racist. For EOTC racism is both unscriptural and unchristian. For this very reason the leaders argued the decision should be rejected. Thirdly, Ethiopia officially became a Christian country after the Nicene council. Therefore, the Coptic Church claim that the Nicene council made a decision in relation to the ordination of an Abuna for a non-existent country seemed absurd for the EOTC leaders. 106 The EOTC leaders finally discovered that the so called Nicene document was a forgery.107 Having this in mind the leaders wanted to resolve the tension. But when the Coptic Church hesitated to make the EOTC autocephalous, the EOTC leaders continued to
103 104 105

Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity, 132. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Autocephali, 17.

See ibid., 17. The racist claim, of this document angered the new breed of leaders. This was not acceptable to them. Above all such mentality is against the true teaching of the Scripture. For this reason the leader rejected it.
106 107

Ibid., 17. Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 104.

71 fight up until the Coptic Church changed its stance. The delaying of the decision for autonomy made the EOTC leaders bitter. In fact the bitterness reached its climax when the secular newspaper Ethiopian Herald, made an official statement regarding the forged canon.108 The EOTC leaders advocated its own autonomy because the Coptic bishops were not versed in the native language and in the time of crises109 they were leaving the country thus abandoning the flock.110 The gap in sound constructive leadership opened a way for distorted practices in relation to work.111 Due to the lack of sound teaching from the Scripture multitudes of religious holy days with lots of restrictions were introduced by the EOTC.112 It is only in the EOTC where you can find each day is associated with a feast and veneration of some kind.113 Lack of guidance from the mother church and the rough relationship between them exposed the EOTC to rituals one cannot find even in the Coptic Church. 114
108

Ministry of Information, Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa: Berhanena Selam Printing Press, July 1, 1946). The forged canon denies the Ethiopians the right to make the bishop among themselves. When Ethiopia was invaded by foreign powers which happened repeatedly for example by Muslims and Italians the Egyptian bishops were either expelled or they themselves returned to the country of their origin.
110 111 112 109

Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 31-45. Melaku, Yebete Kristian Tarik, 121-139. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel, 136.

Memhir Tsege Setotaw, Yenegal: Yehaimanot Kerekir [It Shall Dawn: Religious Dialogue] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1997 EC), 40-45. Ethiopian Orthodox, Werhawi Bealat (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008).
114 113

Hege, Beyond Our Prayers, 32-36. Setotaw, Yenegal, 56.

72 2.4 Mystical Theology and Its Impact on Work The repeated isolation and the lonely journey115 of the EOTC saw the church to become more contemplative than active. Hostility from every direction forced the church to be introverted.116 Isolation and contemplation characterized the EOTC in a similar manner to its Coptic mother. By exalting contemplation over an active life the EOTC overemphasized the mystery of God.117 As I repeatedly noted rational theological reflection is not a valued activity in the Eastern Traditions.118 According to the EOTC advocates of such an activity of accumulating knowledge without the intentional stance of building faith in prayer and fasting will enthrone reason alone. Therefore, before the mind is used as a device it should undergo different levels of purification.119 Instead of accenting what God is, almost all Eastern Christian Traditions emphasize what God is not.120 The EOTC is not an exception. The word mystery is the expression that frequently arises in the articles of faith, theological works and oral presentation of the EOTC.121 The result is that theological reflections were
115

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 102. Perham further elaborated this loneliness and says, Ethiopian Christianity for some thousand years followed a lonely road. It was beset for almost the whole of these centuries by pagan and Muslim enemies, who not only cut the church off the comfort and inspiration of other Christians but also forced her into an almost fantastically defensive and conservative attitude.
116 117

Ibid., 102-132.

See Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life, 61-70.
118 119

Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 47-64.

Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo, 150-151. Challiot writes, There are ten stages of spiritual ascent to be attained through three steps of purity. Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1976), 32-42.
121 120

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 24-44.

73 discouraged and the traditional creeds were taken as binding truth and the sole inspiring guide to the community.

2.4.1 The Emphasis on the Mystery of God In the EOTC circles to dwell on an abstract reflection is perceived as a futile attempt to access the inaccessible mind of God. They frequently express that the mystery of the Triune God is closely connected with the mystery of the incarnation. This mystery is neither grasped by reason nor illustrated by example. Were it grasped by reason it would not be wonderful; were it illustrated by example it would not be unique.122 In the same way the mystery of God could not be fully illustrated by example. Therefore, in the EOTC believers are encouraged to focus on the mysterious aspects of God instead of trying to plumb the depth of his nature.123 In the same vein, citing Evagrius of Pontus, Kallistos Ware writes, God cannot be grasped by the mind. If he could be grasped, he would not be God.124 With this firm conviction Eastern Orthodox proponents focus on the experiential end of theological activity. Likewise in the EOTC fasting is encouraged to narrow the chasm between the transcendent God and the believers prayer. No one with a right mind and sound biblical convictions disagrees with the disciplines of fasting and prayer. However, when the calendar
122

Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life: Systematic Theology Volume II (New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 1989), 156. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 53. Clendenin notes, Many of the conciliar statement and ecumenical creeds that are so important for Eastern Christianity are formed in negative language, telling us what God is not.(53).
124 123

Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Crestwood: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1979), 12.

74 is controlled by fasting one cannot help raising the question of balance. For example Luther in his time closely observed the dominant nature of monasticism. He not only challenged the sacredness of monasticism, but he also treated monasticism as an egoistic activity.125 He was bold enough to raise questions regarding these practices which consumed a lot of the time and energy of his contemporaries. In the same way Calvin was anti-contemplative and anti aristocratic.126 Because both elements were distracting believers from the noble activity of work as a vocation, Calvin resisted and stood against these practices which were seen to distract believers entrepreneurial effort.127 Likewise, I raise questions in relation to the extended fasting season of the EOTC. 128 How can a community that consisted of
125 126 127 128

Preece, The Viability, 309. Ibid., 284. Ibid., 284-287.

Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life, 68-69. Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 142-154. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 68-75. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, 129. There are about 250 days of fasting (for priests, monks and nuns and very devout people), with about 180 days fasts that are obligatory for all. There are nine types of fasting seasons: (1). Abiy Tsoam (Major Fasting: March April): The name Major Fasting refers to Christs fasting. This fasting is unique because believers are identifying with Him. The actual fasting days are 40 days. In order to complete those forty days, the season requires 8 weeks. On Saturdays and Sundays people are not allowed to fast. Therefore to complete the whole forty days it requires 55 (56) days. (2) Tsoame Hawariat (Apostles Fasting: June and July) 40 days: It is believed that the apostles took this fasting before they began the mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Fasting is a season to imitate the apostles who fasted after they received the Holy Spirits baptism. Some believing soldiers who broke the regular weekly fasting also fast in this fasting season to ask forgiveness from God for their misdeeds. It is between 30-40 days. (3) Tsoame Felseta (Fasting in memory of the Virgin Mary: August 1August 15) 15 days. This fasting season is connected with St. Mary the mother of Jesus. It is believed that Mary was resurrected at the end of this fasting season. The fasting involves all ages. It is conducted for two weeks. (4) Yenebiyat Tsoam (Fasting of the Prophets: November 15- December 28) 43 days: The prophets were praying about the coming of Messiah. They were eagerly waiting his appearance in their lifetime. To identify with them believers are supposed to take this fasting seriously. (5) Gad or Gehad (1day): This fasting date is one day before epiphany each year. The fasting takes place in January. (6). Yenenewe Tsoam (Ninevehs Fasting: January or February) 3 days: This fasting is a reminder of Nineveh where people thwarted judgment by repentance through fasting and prayer. In the same way believers are fasting and praying for their personal wellbeing and for the society they live in. (7). Wednesday and Friday (Weekly Fasting: more than 30 weeks): Every Wednesday and Friday believers and their children above the age of 7 are expected to fast. Fasting on Wednesday is a reminder of the decision to crucify Jesus Christ. Believers commemorate this day and recognize Christs substitution for their sin. Friday is a reminder of the crucifixion and this is also recognition that the

75 predominantly farmers129 afford 250 days of fasting in a year?130 What motivated such extended fasting in this specific society? Doesnt this affect the working habit of the community? In my opinion these questions demand careful and thoughtful answers from those who treasure these practices. In a heavily rationalistic western society theological reflection does not address issues of this nature.

2. 4. 2 The Impacts of the Emphasis on the Mystery of God The emphasis on the transcendent aspect of God impacts every single activity of the believer in the EOTC. Behind every practice of the church stands her view of God and the way she interprets His revelation. Our view of God is reflected in our thought and action. A.W Tozer notes, What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most Important thing about usthe history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and mans spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater

forgiveness of sin was through the penal substitution of Christ. Fasting seasons that are listed from 1-7 are commanded and are expected to be observed by the adherents of the EOTC who are above the age of seven. The following are particularly for priest, monks, nuns and devout believers. (8). Tsege Tsoam (fasting associated with the appearance of seasonal flower): this is a fasting specifically for priests, hermits and to those who imitate them. It comes every year between the months of September and November. This fasting took place to commemorate the escape of Mary and Joseph for the protection of the baby Jesus from the furious action of king Herod. St. Mary is considered as the flower that declares the appearance of new age. (9) Pagumen Fasting (5 days): This is a fasting conducted at the end of Ethiopian calendar on the 13th month. This is an optional fasting season which is open for those who wanted a special touch from the Lord to overcome evil. See Thomas P. Ofcansky and LaVerle Berry, eds. Ethiopia: A Country Study (Lanham: Bernan Press, 1993). 85% the Ethiopian population is farmer imagine how could this demand be met in realistic fashion? See Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, 129. As I mentioned above the majority of the Ethiopian people are farmers. We can imagine how hard it would be to perform physical work like farming on an empty stomach. Because of the seriousness of the practice either the work or the person suffers in this spiritual discipline. Regarding these fasting days Challiot notes, They are strictly observed: no meat, or dairy products and also no food or drink until three oclock, or even sunset for the strictest Lent fast days.
130 129

76 than its idea of GodAlways most revealing thing about the church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leave unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.131 As we have seen for the EOTC, God is a mystery and such a view impacts the practice of fasting. It also impacts the practice of prayer. Praying seven times a day in the EOTC is encouraged as follows: The faithful should pray seven times each day. First upon arising from bed in the morning and before beginning work. Secondly, at the third hour; thirdly, at the sixth hour; fourthly, at the ninth hour; fifthly, the evening prayer; sixthly, the prayer before sleep and lastly, the midnight prayer. The morning and evening prayer should be said in church, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. Anyone who omits prayer, unless he is ill, should be cut off from the congregation of the faithful.132 Such dedication to prayer delights those who love to communicate with God. True Christians will not question a balanced prayer time. However, the obligatory nature and the specific requirements raise questions. Therefore the issue is how do these times of prayers affect believers working lives? Firstly, the huge block of time devoted to prayer, let alone fasting, complicates the rhythm of life.133 In a market oriented society, the value of what is good for
131 132

A.W Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper Collins, 1961), 1.

Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life, 68-70. Cf. Larive, Armand After Sunday: A Theology of Work (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2004), 9-194. John D. Beckett, Mastering Monday A Guide to Integrating Faith and Work (Downers Groove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 38-197. The western world talks about six days of work and one day of rest or the principles of mastering Monday or how to behave after Sunday. One cannot talk about such a pattern of life because of the complicated rhythm of life in the social situation where the EOTC values dominate.
133

77 the market is good for everybody is enforced.134 Similarly in the EOTC what is good for the contemplative community is good for everybody is imposed.135 The obligatory disciplines practically demonstrate this impact. Practicing 180-250 fasting days in a year and daily prayers seven times a day require a good amount of time. These practices cannot be performed in a vacuum. The emphasis on seclusion and neglecting work has raised dialogue even with the EOTC itself.136 Volf notes, When one refuses to assign eschatological significance to human work and makes it fully subservient to the vertical relation to God, one devalues human work and Christian cultural involvement. 137 This is applicable to the EOTC. There is nothing contradictory in focusing on contemplation as long as it is balanced and sensitive to the world of work. However the question here is related with how one applies it in relation to Christian responsibility in the world.138 For many adherents of the EOTC life here on earth is perceived to be short and unreal.139 Furthermore, for them the authentic life which has genuine meaning is the life to come. Due to such a skewed view of
134

See Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998), 31. Here Merton is skeptical about what is good for the market is good for everybody and notes, The aim is not the good of man but higher profits. Instead of production for the sake of man, man exists for the sake of production. In the same fashion the society should not live for the sake of spiritual disciplines. The disciplines should serve our purpose and ought not trap us into disregarding our horizontal dimension of life.
135

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Cf. Setotaw, Yenegal, 5-193. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 134-150. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 90.

Life, 68-70.
136 137 138

See John A. Bernbaum and Simon M. Steer, Why Work?(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986), 21-23. Kesis Dereje and Dekemezmur Beza, Mekdes Yegebu Menafekan [The Heretics who Entered the Holy Place] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 2000 EC), 38-48. Dereje challenges the dualistic mentality that distorts reality and gives a biblical analysis of what life is all about and how we behave as people who trust in God.
139

78 eschatology people are not encouraged to engage in their day to day activities to the best of their abilities. Therefore, the rhythm of life is disrupted. Secondly, the emphasis on the mysterious aspect of God results in the appearance of contradictory practices. In a context where contemplation is exalted less time is invested in the work end of the continuum.140 Therefore, to make up for the lost time, such a view of God forces the believers to be busier141 than they can handle in the time available. This is the sad consequence of welcoming two extreme practices. It is just like burning the candle at both ends. As Calvin resists the tendency that forces believers to be busier than their call requires,142 so also Gorgorious refuses to accept the tendency that forces believers to refrain from work for numerous days for the sake of contemplative exercise and weary themselves to make up for the difference.143 Such a life of imbalance disturbs the equilibrium that needs to exist between leisure and work. Thirdly, this view also complicates the balance the believer is suppose to have regarding the view of God. God is both transcendent and immanent. Following Barth, Preece argues that work distinguishes humans from angels and animals as we shape nature, this
140

See Leland Ryken who presents human day to day activity in the form of two poles. He puts work (obligation) on one end of the scale and leisure (freedom) on the other end of the scale. Cf. Leland Ryken, Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1987), 20-22. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 134-136. See Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest, 129. From the warning given in relation to exhausting oneself in hard work to make up for the time lost, one can see that this was a consequence that was perceived by EOTCs adherents. Citing John Chrysostom, the writer of Fetha Negest notes, Do not turn your whole attention to seeds and multiplying fruit, plants and flowers; neither weaving of colored clothes nor to the multiplying of the weave nor to the construction of adornment of the house, nor to make it large and high.
142 143 141

Preece, Viability, 285.

Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 125. Gorgorios notes, the people refrain from work not because the EOTC doctrinally endorse the practice, but because they are delighted to observe the tradition that was inherited from the Old Testament.

79 is humanitys calling.144 However, in a view that places emphasis on the transcendent aspect of God, humanitys calling is overlooked. Given the demand in the area of prayer and fasting as I have shown above, one can envision the daunting task of fulfilling ones call in that setting. The long to do list that includes believers from the age of seven makes it even more complicated. The heart that is filled with this daunting task is discouraged from an active role in the world of work. In fact in this kind of environment work, which was suppose to facilitate the relationship with the almighty God is taken as an element of distraction.145

2.5 Adoration vs. Analysis and Work Although logical thinking is not something that the Eastern Tradition discourages, it rejects any inclination that exalts logic and reason as final arbiters in matters of truth.146 The Eastern system has reacted too strongly against the effects enlightenment, the impact of which made western society more driven by reason than by faith.147 As I noted earlier Eastern Tradition intentionally focuses on adoring God rather than doing an in depth critical analysis of who God is.148 In fact Eastern Tradition follows an apophatic path in its approach of knowing God.149 In this tradition experiencing God in mystical unity, by undergoing various
144 145 146 147 148 149

Preece, Viability, 154. Setotaw, Yenegal, 43-48. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 48. Ibid., 51-53. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church , 25.

Ibid., 25. In comparing and contrasting the cataphatic theology that is theology of affirmation and apophatic theology of negation, Lossky notes, apophatic or negative theology is the perfect way, the only way which is fitting in regard to God, who is of His very nature unknowable leads us to total ignorance.

80 levels of mental exercise has priority over than gaining knowledge.150 The EOTC like its Eastern Orthodox family members, prefer on experience that facilitates adoration rather than any analysis.151 God in the east is perceived as a being who no longer presents Himself as object, for it is no more of a question of knowledge but of union. Negative theology is thus a way towards mystical union with God, whose nature remains incomprehensible to us.152 In the same vein Ware writes, the apophatic way of unknowing brings us not to emptiness but to fullness. Our negations are super-affirmations it helps us to reach out, beyond all statements positive or negative, beyond all language and all thought, towards an immediate experience of the living God.153 Because of such an emphasis on union with God, the desire to experience God in practical matters as well is given priority in the EOTC. All effort in this system is to make adoration number one. Therefore, any activity that comes in between the believer and God is considered as a trap or intruder. Work carried out to fulfill daily needs is considered as taking time from the superior life call i.e. contemplation. Theological exercise in the form of profound thinking is considered as an obstacle rather than a practical way of loving God with the whole of our mind. Activities that facilitate contemplative devotion are considered noble, whereas occupational activities are treated as inferior elements.154
150

See. ibid., 25-42. According to Eastern thinkers the attempt to know the unknowable will not help searchers to achieve genuine knowledge of the almighty God. Therefore, visions and dreams that enhance experience are encouraged.
151 152 153 154

Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 48-70. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church , 28. Ware, The Orthodox Way, 17. Setotaw, Yenegal, 45.

81 This view of inferiority of work facilitates the context in which believers can be controlled by values that do not reflect the dignity of work, i.e., passivity is honored and activity is despised. Therefore, in order to give full attention to God distracting elements should be removed out of the way. 155 That is why the adherents of the EOTC were given meticulous instructions on how to behave on the special days. 156 Because of the complicated nature of the meticulous command, the spiritual activity that was intended to adore God did not foster worship the way it was envisioned. Furthermore, in this process both the work life and the spiritual life of the adherents was negatively impacted. Although emphasizing adoration over analysis was not wrong in the EOTC, its rigid stance in pushing people to refrain from work led to formalism. Perham notes, Most critics of the Ethiopian religion agree that its most serious defect is a reliance among both priests and people upon formal observance rather than the righteousness of life. Rigid observance of feasts and fasts seems to be regarded as the first, and too often as the only, duty of Ethiopian Christians.157 The mentality that consider work and rational reflection as earthly, and contemplation as heavenly forced people to view work with less regard. Preece is right when he questions such a view of work. The view that exalts contemplation over active life and adoration over analysis lacks integration. Citing the experience of the early Puritans, Preece writes, Puritans had integrated view of work as immediately heavenly as well as earthly. They
155 156

Ibid., 45-46.

See ibid., 42-70. Setotaw in his dialogue with the council of EOTC scholars expresses his inability to understand why farmers were warned to refrain from work, women were instructed not even fetch water for drinking and gather fire wood for cooking. Furthermore, it is perplexing to force believers to observe numerous feast days while knowing that they cant afford it. Does this really glorify God in real sense?
157

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 117. Here Christians refers specifically the EOTC.

82 found Gods gracious activity within work itself and thus transformed it into a disciplined vocation.158

2.6 Conclusion As I noted earlier a closer examination of the EOTC gives us clue as to why we find only a minimal development of both systematic theology and a theology of work. EOTCs view of God and how this specific view is communicated has directly impacted on the thought and action of its adherents. The experience oriented journey that lacked proper guidance forced the adherents to a single duty which in the end pushed them to be prisoners of legalism. Today the contemporary thinkers in the EOTC have started to question and challenge the system that led to legalism. According to Setotaw the negligence of the Coptic Church and the passivity of the EOTC are to be blamed for the minimal development of the theology of work.159 It is not only evangelicals who raise critical questions regarding beliefs that are not lived out with integrity in our setting, but also the proponents of the EOTC air their dissatisfaction.160 I have argued that an uninformed focus on the view of God as distant impacted both the faith community and the larger society. Therefore, adoration that is accompanied with analysis will be instrumental in bringing about the desired social change. In this regard David Clark notes, Theology is essential to the church as it invites seekers to
158 159 160

Preece Viability, 279. Setotaw, Yenegal, 42-70. Dereje and Beza, Mekdes Yegebu Menafekan, 6-16.

83 faith, forms people after Christ, and builds truly biblical communities that change the world.161 The goal of sound theological exercise is to evangelize the unsaved, to edify the saved and to glorify God. It is difficult to realize this while the EOTCs proponents advocate adoration at the expense of deep theological reflection. Preeces theology of work calls for a radical change of this kind of structure, as it does not serve the ultimate goal of glorifying God.162 According to Preece the Christian view that does not form people after Christ should be questioned and challenged.163 In EOTCs theological presentation there is no convincing argument as to why feast and fasting dominate the calendar.164 One plausible explanation is that the EOTCs emphasis on the transcendentally mysterious aspect of the believers relationship with God cause such emphases.165
161 162 163 164

David K. Clark, To Know and Love God (Wheaton: Cross Book Publishers, 2003), xxi. Preece, Viability, 279. Ibid., 294. Cf. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 134-140.Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Ibid., 3-17.

Church, 128-129.
165

CHAPTER 3 THE IMPACT OF CONTEMPLATION AND DEIFICATION IN RELATION TO WORK

3.1 Introduction The vast majority of people recognize that work is an essential component of human existence.1 Even those who exalt contemplation over active life endorse that work is a critical part of human life.2 Although the advocates of contemplative life acknowledge the benefit of work to human life, they argue that the introspective life goes beyond the experience of human work in terms of its value.3 Furthermore, they urge that humanity ought to look beyond work the temporal life.4 For the community that emphasizes the superiority of contemplation what is imperative in life is not hard work that assures productivity, but a meaningful relationship with the Creator.5 Humans need to give all that they are to the Almighty God who sufficiently meets their needs.6 According to the EOTC the superiority of

1 2

Karl Barth, The Church Dogmatics III (Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1960), 518-519.

Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present. (Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing press, 1998), 21-33. Chris Prouty and Eugene Rosefeld, Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia and Eritrea (Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1995), 61. Melakeberhan Admasu Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot:Wetat Temelket Endatisasat [Foundation for Faith: Youth Watch Out That You Will Not Err] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1989EC), 323-325. See n. 26 in the introduction section of this research.
5 6 4 3

Ibid., 296-328. Ibid., 298-323

84

85 contemplation over thought and action facilitates the normal rhythm of life.7 When life is fully controlled by hard work the beauty of creation becomes disrupted.8 For the EOTC humanitys every single activity is geared towards praising God. For example, praising God before and after eating food is one area where people show their deep commitments to praising God.9 In what follows I will argue that there is definite relationship between the minimal development of the theology of work and the EOTCs understandings of contemplation, deification, the influence of the Church Fathers and the churchs architecture. Furthermore, unlike Preeces vocation-centered theology of work that sees work as a positive, pioneering and productive activity that glorifies God, the EOTCs understanding, of work focuses on its sanctifying value solely as a tool to attain human necessities and combat immorality.

3.2. The Impact of Contemplation and Deification in Relation to Work Church Fathers like Augustine distinguished between an active life (vita activa) and a contemplative life (vita contemplativa).10 For the early Church Fathers, hard

7 8 9

Ibid., 320. Ibid., 298-301.

Habtemariam Workeneh, Temeherte Kiristena: YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Emnetena Temehert [The Teaching of Christianity: Ethiopian Orthodox Church Faith and Teaching] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1979 EC), 44-46. Many church traditions teach their adherents to pray before eating food. However, it is unusual to pray and praise God after they have finished eating food. The EOTC practices this form of praising God to promote that the belief that contemplative life ought to be the priority in the lives of its adherents.
10

John A. Bernbaum and Simon M. Steer, Why Work? (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,

1986), 19.

86 work and seeking God in prayer could not be seen as equal forms of co-operating with God. In fact anything that did not involve fully concentrating on God and His truth could not be taken as contemplation. Therefore, for them The vita activa took in almost every kind of work, even including that of studying, preaching, and teaching, while the vita contemplativa was reflection and meditation upon God and his truth.11 Thus, anything that is not fully devoted to meditating upon God could not be taken as a contemplative action. The advocates for contemplative life do not deny the goodness of both contemplative and active life, however, they argued that contemplative life was of a higher order.12 As a result, they underscored the importance of choosing the contemplative life over active life. Bernbaum and Steer summarize this tendency and write, At times it might be necessary for one to have the active life, but whenever possible, one should choose, the other; the one life is loved and the other endured.13 Loving the contemplative life and enduring with the active life was the dominant view of the Church Fathers.14 In the same fashion as the Church Fathers, the mentality of the EOTC leans towards loving the contemplative life and enduring the active life.15

11 12 13 14

Ibid., 19. Ibid. Ibid.

Cf. Cuthbert Butler, Western Mystcism (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1968), 157-165. Bernbaum and Steer, Why Work?18-19.
15

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 320.

87 In the previous chapter I have shown that the view of God as mystery reveals itself in the fasting and prayer life of the EOTC.16 Likewise the emphasis on contemplation is also revealed in the effort to devote seventy percent of the year to fasting.17 It is evident that the mysterious God theology and the contemplative focus of life together underpin the beliefs that result in the extensive fasting season and high demands of regular prayer. These spiritual disciplines are the visible manifestations of both elements of spirituality.

3.2.1. The Understanding of the Deification of Humanity and Work The Eastern Orthodox Fathers advocated the deification of humanity while they explained the redemptive act of God. For example, for Athanasius, to know God is to participate in His life.18 He wrote, On the Incarnation before the controversy. In his treatise, On the Incarnation he commented that Christ was made man that we might be made God.19 Eastern Fathers pioneered this discussion of the divinization of humanity. Citing the prominent Fathers, Vladimir Lossky notes, God made Himself man, that man might become

16 17

See the discussions under 2.2.1 and 2.2.2

Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life, 68-69. Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox, 142-154. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet [The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith, Order of Worship and Ecumenical Relations] (Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1988EC), 68-75. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, 129.. Athanasius, Letter 60, to Adelphius, The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series IV, eds. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace Select Writings and Letters of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 576. Athanasius explains that God has become man, that He might deify us in Himself that we may become henceforth a holy race, and partakers of Divine Nature.
19 18

Athanasius, On the Incarnation, 54:3 NPNF, 2nd Series, IV, 65.

88 God. These powerful words, which we find for the first time in St. Irenaeus, are again found in the writings of St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and St. Gregory of Nyssa.20 For Athanasius deification is not only an assurance of the forgiveness of sin but is also a way of appropriating the divine nature through the One who invites humanity to be the partakers of His nature.21 In the same fashion Gregory of Nyssa argued He was transfused throughout our nature, in order that our nature might by this transfusion of the Divine become itself divine.22 The Early Fathers and the subsequent generation of the orthodox theologians throughout the ages frequently used this expression with the same emphasis.23 Therefore it is appropriate to say that deification, or divinization, is the controlling doctrine in the Orthodox tradition. In this regard Daniel B. Clendenin notes, It is not too much to say the divinization of humanity is the central theme, chief aim, basic purpose, or primary religious ideal of Orthodoxy. Theosis is the ultimate goal towards which all people should strive.24 Such striving to realize unification with God in everyday life affected the working habit of EOTCs adherents.25 Although the doctrine of deification has its strength in empowering believers to strive for godliness, it also has drawbacks in distracting

20

Vladimir Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God (Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Athnasius, Letter 60 To Adelphius, NPNF, 2nd Series IV, 576-578.

Press, 1985), 97.


21 22

Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, NPNF, 2nd Series IV, Ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace Select Writings and Letters of Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 495. (Italics his).
23 24

Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God, 97.

Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994), 120. Cf. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 318-319. Girma Zewdie, Ethiopis (Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Press, 1985), 63-74.
25

89 people from playing their vital role as salt and light in this world.26 We can take the teaching and practice of the EOTC as a case in point to show the negative impact of this doctrine.

3.2.2 Deification and Its Impact on Human and Divine Relationship As I briefly mentioned above the doctrine of deification was introduced by the Eastern Orthodox Fathers. In an attempt to make the truth of the incarnation relevant to humanity, the view of the deification of humanity was presented to explain how God became man so that we humans could become God. In what follows I shall elaborate on the impact of the doctrine of deification on the understanding of the relationship between humanity and God and its subsequent ramifications for their understanding of work. Firstly, the distorted understanding and application of the doctrine of deification diminished the boundary between Creator and creatures.27 This is observed in the autobiographies that were written to edify the believers. Memhere Getachew explains that the written acts of saints and martyrs that were intended to inspire believers actually did the opposite.28 In fact those writings overly exalt the fragile human being.29 Indeed, some saints

26 27

Zewdie, Ethiopis, 65-67.

Memhere Getachew Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel?[Performances or Pits ] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC), 24-25.
28

Ibid., 24-104. Instead of increasing their discernment they made them irrational and

legalistic. Ibid., 36. For example Macarius and Teklehaimanot are given this exalted status in the lives of the EOTCs adherents. (1) Macarius became the savior of all souls. (2) our father (Teklehaimanot), our savior, our hope, our deliverer, our way to heaven, our cloth when we are naked, our food when we are hungry, when we are thirsty living water and you are our staff when we are weak. See also GBV, Metsehafe Seatat: According to the Balance of the Sanctuary [The book of Prayer in hours] (Addis Ababa: BGNLJ Publishers, 2002), 5-44.
29

90 challenged the authority of their Creator by not obeying Him. Merigeta Serekebrehan agrees with Getachew and writes, How can a mortal man challenge the authority of the glorified Jesus?30 This effort of putting people in charge of the universe is the result of an improper application of the doctrine of deification that exalted humans.31 This example is not a rare incident. It is observed in the numerous festivals in weekdays, and during weekend worship programmes.32 For example, priests who chant prayer songs pray directly to deceased human beings seeking their interventions.33 In many of these prayer and praise songs we see expressions that exalt the deceased human beings to a divine status.34 The songs and prayer chants give them an overly exalted status.35 Venerated saints with this status and nature are

Merigeta Serekeberhan Zewengel, Yezemenat Enkoklesh Sifeta [When Years of Riddle is solved] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999 EC), 105-108. By giving different examples from the major ministerial book (Metsehafe Ziqq means book of church cermony) of the church Serekeberhan throughout his book asks how dare do we exalt creatures above the creator. For example the saint who lived all his life in prayer and fasting challenged the authority of Jesus when he was asked to die at the age of 562. Merigeta is a title of a church scholar in music and interpretation. Ibid., 15-16. See ? ? Michael [the angel] said Is my arm too short to save? Is my ear too dull to hear? Observe my festivals, walk in my laws and you shall eat from my handwork enjoy long awaited blessings. Serekebrehan argues this is usurping God and giving His status to his creature.
32 33 31

30

Ibid., 8-12

GBV, Metsehafe Seatat, 32. The prayer is addressed to a deceased saint O! St. George I express my love to you day and night; show me thy face, let me hear your voice. Come George who are the sun, the star and king of Leda. This prayer is offered to the deceased human being. This practice is closely connected to the doctrine of deification where human beings can achieve status like that of God. Ibid., 32-42. See 1) It is maintained that Mary the mother of Lord Jesus pre-existed, answered the prayers of Job etc 2)Tekelehaimanot, who is one of the most highly respected Ethiopian monks is said to have the ability to hear believers prayers and protect them from temptation. Ibid., 36. See Our Father who is enthroned under God by Christ over the heaven and to the ends of the earth please intercede on our behalf. This is a prayer presented to a fellow human being who is deceased. We can thus see how the saints and martyrs have taken the place of Christ.
35 34

91 numerous in the EOTC tradition. This has instilled in believers the hunger to attain the status of these saints, which in turn impacts on their working habits.36 If one knows and practices his unique divine status, will there be a genuine desire to work? It is my impression that such a desire to attain perfection in daily life negatively impacted human work. Since work is presented in a pessimistic light, the desire of industry died in the process. Above all this belief and practice inculcated less value to human work.37 Secondly, the emphasis on the doctrine of deification encouraged the worship of human beings rather than God. That is why we observe in the EOTCs daily practice of worship that saints, martyrs and angels are given more attention than they deserve.38 For example the early Father Macarius was portrayed as a deity who replaces God: O Macarius who covered the heaven in stars, beautify the earth with flowers and plants, I submit to your name. Hear the prayers of all men who come to you. Do not delay your mercy. Send your light and truth that they may guide me, let them take me to your sanctuary and the holy mountain.39 For those who take the biblical teaching of the Scripture seriously, a prayer addressed in this way is unsettling. According to the Scripture God alone deserves our worship (Ex.20:4). However, the EOTCs emphasis on the doctrine of deification has eroded

36

Zewdie, Ethiopis, 63-68. Ibid., 63-72. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel?, 37-110.

37 38 39

Ibid., 24. Macarius was a leading church father who lived in the 3rd century. ::

92 the complete allegiance of the believer to the Lord.40 Furthermore, in this kind of practice the focus of believers moved from theocentric to the anthropocentric, i.e. instead of focusing on God alone they pray through these human intermediaries that distract the focus of worship. Worship is not for the sake of what we get but rather adoring God for who He is. In this type of daily practice the focus shifted from God to human beings. As a result such a manner of life impacted the day to day involvement of the believers in the world of work.41 Thirdly, the skewed application of the doctrine of deification forced believers to seek atonement in ways other than the avenue God opened to humanity. This notion of atonement which deviated from the historic Christianity can be shown by taking one historical incident as a case in point. This is found in the Acts of St. Teklehaimanot who was and is still given the status of a savior.42 According to Getachew giving the status of a savior to a sinful human being such as Teklehaimanot is a different gospel. It was expressed in several ways in the EOTC.43 However, what confused Getachew is the claim of some writers in the EOTC who were equating Teklehaimanots bloody diarrhea with the atoning blood of

40 41

Zewengel, Yezemenat Enkoklesh Sifeta, 106-111.

Deacon Agizachew Tefera, Telana Akal [Picture and Person] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995EC), 154-155. GBV, Metsehafe Seatat, 38-43. See (38) Teklehaimanot who is purer than gold and jewel was born to us by the will of God to redeem us from sin and the sun of righteousness rose for us. In another section it says, (42). Tekelehaimanot became a hermit following the way of the gospel and saved the world through his prayers. Bible based Christians cant help questioning the truthfulness of this bold claim which is incompatible with the content of faith that Church Fathers taught and practiced.
::
42

Ibid., 24- 70. For example Getachew lists (1) People are taught that they could be saved by celebrating the birth day of Teklehaimanot and other saints. (2) They could be saved just by eating the leftover of the festival prepared in the name of Teklehaimanot. (3) People could be saved by visiting the cemetery of Teklehaimanot and saluting his preserved bone. See also GBV, Metsehafe Seatat, 7-44. Serekeberhan Zewengel Yezemenat Enkoklesh Sifeta, 15-154.

43

93 Jesus. Citing from the worship book of the church, he writes: You shall die through bloody dysentery and I shall take this bloody dysentery like my crucifixion and like the blood of martyrs before you. Not only for you but also for those children of yours who are dying in this bloody dysentery like you. I will take these children of yours like martyrs in heaven I shall give them back to you.44 To find such a claim in the church that takes the Bible as its foundation for faith and Christ as its Lord raises lots of questions. I believe one of the answers for this disturbing claim and practice is closely connected with the improper application of the doctrine of deification. Such an answer might not be fully satisfying for all the deviations that we see in the thought and action of the EOTCs adherents, however, the impact of such teaching in the daily walk of life of the believers within the EOTC is unquestionable. To insure their safety in the life to come, adherents of the EOTC ignore hard work in this life and make themselves busy celebrating feasts and visiting the burial cites of saints.45 Although the improper application of the teaching of deification and its overemphasis has brought about a negative impact in the EOTC, one cannot conclude that it has the same level of impact in the other family members of the Eastern Orthodoxy. In Eastern Orthodox tradition it is believed that mans union with God and his deification are not the result of human activity but a gift of divine grace. Divine grace secretly performs

Ibid, 60. Ibid, 51-70. Here Getachew notes, Even smelling the food and beverages that are prepared in the name of Teklehaimanot saves individuals who are in contact with it.
45

44

94 mans deification, while virtue simply renders him capable of receiving deification.46 Therefore, the improper application of deification that I discussed in this work is related only to the EOTC.

3.2.3 Deification and Work The teaching of deification in its proper balance and careful application can have a positive impact in the lives of the individual believer and the community as a whole.47 According to the proponents of deification union with God means union with the divine energies, not the divine essence: the Orthodox Church, while speaking of deification and union, rejects all forms of pantheism.48 The proponents of the teaching of deification or theosis advocate that it fosters genuine spirituality and a meaningful life on earth. Nellas, in his own way, expresses the impact of the mystical union with God in the world and writes: This strand of our tradition has a special significance for the modern world indeed, it is not accidental but natural and unavoidable in this perverted order of things that revolutions undertaken sincerely for the sake of freedom should lead as soon as they succeed to enslavement, that an improved development in production should lead to inflation, that the maintenance of peace should demand an increase in armaments, that is, preparation of war. Enlightened sociologists have been led by the accurate study of these phenomena to suggest that the great problem mankind faces in our day is one of morality, great economists that is one of self-restraint in consumption, distinguished philosophers that it is one of ontology. They are right, but all these theses are still insufficient. For Holy Scripture and the Orthodox Fathers the core of the
Panayiotis Nellas, Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspective on the Nature of the Human Person translated by Norman Russel (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1987), 88.
47 48 46

Ibid., 43-109. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Baltimore: Penguin, 1993), 231.

95 problem is faith in God, that is, whether the goal of human endeavor is situated in God or not.49 In the same vein Robert V. Rakestraw notes, Another Strength of theosis teaching is that it may offer hope to some Christians who despair of finding the truly abundant life here on earth.50 Therefore, the believers who truly experience this mystical unity with their Savior on an ongoing basis are instrumental in stimulating a transformation within the community that benefits their fellow human beings.51 On the other hand when this mystical unity is neglected or twisted in one way or another the society is exposed to experiences that affect both horizontal and vertical relationships. Citing Palamas, Nellas notes, If man is removed from Gods grace and is without hope of deification he is incapable of surmounting the temptation of the flesh, of wealth and vainglory.52 Although theosis has a significant impact in a positive way, the deification centered spirituality of the EOTC eroded the industry of its adherents and minimized the possibility of transforming its environment for the glory of God.53 The single mindedness of EOTCs adherent in achieving the goal of deification impacted work negatively.54 In the process of attaining the practical benefit of deification the work force i.e. the vital component of social transformation, was downplayed. The first casualty is the use of time. Before the

49 50

Nellas, Deification in Christ, 95-96.

Robert V. Rakestraw, Becoming God: An Evangelical Doctrine of Theosis, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40, no. 2 (June 1997), 257-269.
51

Sergius Bulgakov, The Orthodox Church (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, Nellas, Deification in Christ, 63. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 136-170.

1988), 168-170.
52 53

96 use of time became a problem it was a weapon to protect Christianity from external secular pressures.55 The church used time to gather devout people around a common vision. The politicians through the church used time to subjugate the people for their own political end. When time was used as a weapon both the state and the church played significant role in using time for their own individual end. Emiru notes, One of these measures the state and church together established fixed days church observances, fast days and holy days to be strictly followed by the people. These became the main source of structuring the national calendar and conceptual background of the people in reckoning time.56 This was evident in the multitudes of festivals in the weeks and months of the EOTCs calendar. The EOTCs attempt to experience the benefit of deification thus negatively impacted the work life of the society. This effect has taken several forms.57 I will mention a few practical elements related to time. The first element is closely connected with feasting and commemoration days. Commemoration days throughout the year take huge blocks of time. In the EOTC every single day is associated with the commemoration of an angel, saint or martyr.58 An average believer who is involved in farming and self employed businesses will not work more than

54 55

Tefera, Telana Akal, 154-155

Walellgn Emiru, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Festivals: The Finding of the Cross and Epiphany (Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Enterprise, 2007), 81.
56 57 58

Ibid., 81-82. These forms have taken the shape of festivals and visiting the holy sites Emiru, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Festivals, 86.

97 50% of the time each week and 67% of the days each year.59 Some EOTC writers, who are disappointed with this exorbitant commemoration practice, have begun to challenge the system and pinpoint the areas of improvement. Getachew notes, In a country where there is 365 days of festival which are characterized by eating and drinking, the policy of the government to attain self sustenance in food materials is hampered.60 The second element that takes a considerable amount of time is visiting Holy cites.61 This tiring journey is done by the adherents in order to get the blessings of deification. Those who are visited are deceased saints or martyrs who showed godly lives and are therefore able to assist the pilgrims in their spiritual walk in this life.62 It is believed that visiting those places will increase the persons spiritual sensitivity and will help the believer to follow in the footsteps of that specific saint, who had attained the maximum benefits of deification.63 Therefore, the EOTC believers are on the move throughout the year.64 This movement depends on the celebration of the saint, martyr or angel that is favored by each individual believer.65 What is true for all EOTC adherents is that they go on pilgrimages to the place of their choice. This in turn affects their use of time. When time that was supposed

59 60

Zewdie, Ethiopis, 71. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 136. 365

Christine Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition: A Brief Introduction to Its Life and Spirituality (Orthdruk: Bialystok Poland, 2002), 142-143.
62 63 64 65

61

Ibid., 142-149. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 51-63. Christine Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition, 142-145. Ibid., 143-144.

98 to be invested in hard work is used for repeated pilgrimage, it is unquestionable that it affects the working habit of the believers.66 The third element consists of the sum total of the above two. In search of the benefits of deification the EOTCs adherents spend their wealth on feasts and travel which has an adverse effect on their work life as a whole.67 The practice that inspired the heavy expenditure of resources on an activity that does not have a return in the form of capital affects the work life of the community in the process. When people are in the habit of feasting several times in a year, such a practice not only affects the working habit of the people but also discourages investment in industry. In a place where investment is discouraged in the practice of the society, it is difficult to inculcate motivations to work. Therefore, I believe that by overemphasizing deification in the EOTC, it has impacted the activity of work in the lives of the EOTCs adherents.

3.3. The Influence of the Church Fathers on the Daily Life of the EOTC According to the EOTCs claim, its basis of authority is the Holy Scripture and the Traditions of the church.68 In the Tradition the outstanding element that is usually

Cf. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 54-55. Delterious actions refers to the minimal regard for work and giving the place of God for angels and saints. It is believed that the visiting of burial cites of the saint assures the salvation of the person. Therefore, multitudes travel to those cites in a way that affects their productivity in their work life. Nowadays some economists are estimating the large amount of wealth that is lost as a result of the feasts and mismanagement of resources. Cf. Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, trans. Abba Paulos Tzadua, ed. Peter L. Strauss (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968), 13-14. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 41-45.
68 67

66

99 quoted as the foundation for faith and action is the work of the Church Fathers.69 In the EOTC every single action is scrutinized through the eyes of the teaching of the Church Fathers.70 The activity of work is also guided and shaped by the way the EOTC views how the work satisfies the criteria of the teaching of the Fathers. Therefore, the contemplation centered teaching of the Church Fathers which is focused on the mortifying nature of work is widely applied in the EOTC. Furthermore, by concentrating on the mortifying value of work the EOTC sees it as a tool solely to attain human necessities and to combat immorality.71

3.3.1 The Church Fathers and Work While discussing the Church Fathers in relation to human work, I have picked those who are relevant to my discussion of the EOTCs understanding of work. Therefore, this presentation specifically focuses on those Church Fathers who had impacted the adherents of the EOTC in thought and action.72 In my exploration the Church Fathers who shaped the theology of the EOTC did not give explicit attention to the theology of work in their treatises.73 In the works of these Fathers daily work was portrayed as a means of

69 70 71

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 46-48. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 81-96.

Work is taken as instrument that mortifies the evil desire of the body. When people are idle lots of evil arise. Work serves as a tool to punish the evil desires that distract people from true spirituality. Although there are numerous Church Fathers who are instrumental in shaping the theological reflection of the EOTC, for this specific section I have chosen two prominent Church Fathers, namely Athanasius I and John Chrysostom, who are widely quoted in the Ethiopian context. For example, John Chrysostom is known for giving detailed instruction regarding the ascetic life. However, we do not see that level of attention given to the active life.
73 72

100 subsistence and a tool that shapes character.74 Athanasius I, who ordained Frumentius the first Ethiopian bishop, was on the run most of his life time.75 Since he was busy on trinitarian controversies he did not give explicit instruction regarding the daily lives of believers. Rather he is known for his monastic focus. Athanasius argues that the active life is represented by marriage, and the monastic life is represented by virginity. He writes: There are two ways of life the one is more moderate and ordinary I mean marriage; the other angelic and unsurpassed, namely virginity. Now if a man choose the way of the world namely marriage, he is not indeed to blame; yet he will not receive such great gifts as the other. For he will receive, since he too brings forth fruit namely thirtyfold. But if a man embrace the holy and unearthly way, even though, as compared with the former, it be rugged and hard to accomplish, yet it has the more wonderful gifts: for it grows the perfect fruit, namely an hundredfold.76 From what we observe in the above exhortation of Athanasius it is apparent that the active life is portrayed as the inferior way. Athanasius promulgated the contemplative life rather than the active life. Closer observation of his treatise reveals an indirect mention of work. While insisting on the superiority of monastic life he also shows that he does believe that work can provide for the needy. He expressed this in third-person account as follows: Accordingly great was their joy, the people in the congregation encouraging one another in virtue. How many unmarried women, who were before ready to enter upon marriage, now remained virgins to Christ! How many young men, seeing the examples of others embraced the monastic life! How many fathers persuaded their children, and how many were urged by their children, not to be hindered from Christian asceticism! How many wives persuaded their husbands, and how many were persuaded by their husbands, to give themselves to prayer, as the apostle has spoken! How many widows and how

75 76

Athanasius, Defence Before Constantius, 31-32: trans. NPNF, 2nd Series IV, 250-252. Athanasius, Letter 48 To Amun: trans. NPNF, 2nd Serries IV, 557.

101 many orphans, who were before hungry and naked, now through the great zeal of the people, were no longer hungry, and went forth clothed! In a word, so great was their emulation in virtue, that you would have thought every family and every house a Church, by reason of the goodness of its inmates, and the prayers which offered to God.77 Allusions to daily work like we see in the above quote sporadically appear in the expositions of Athanasius. However, his overall treatise in relation to the theology of work is scanty. As the Founding Father of the EOTC, his monastic predisposition impacted the EOTC in a unique and profound way.78 John Chrysostom in many ways agreed with Athanasius regarding the place of work in the daily lives of the believer. His treatise is more organized and geared towards addressing the practical needs of the believers and the larger society.79 According to John Chrysostom work is understood as an instrument which preserved people from the spiritual ill caused by laziness and exemplified by leisured class.80 Yet Chrysostom was against those who were despising the menial jobs of the day, specifically those of the artisans.81 The ills

77 78 79

Athanasius, History of the Arians 25:trans. NPNF, 2nd Serries IV, 278. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History, 3-6.

R.A Krupp, Shepherding the Flock of God: The Pastoral Theology of John Chrysostom (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1991), 180-197. Cf. Krupp, Shepherding the Flock of God, 180. Armand Larive, After Sunday: A Theology of Work (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2004), 23-24. Cf. De inani gloria 13. E.M. Thomas, Guilds of Craftsmen and Small Traders in the Ancient World (exclusive of Egypt) from the Earliest Greek Times to the End of Fifth Century A.D. (B. Litt. thesis, Oxford University, 1934); A.H.M. Jones, The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940), 192-194.
81 80

102 that he referred to as laziness are directly related to idle people who enjoy leisure and despise hard work.82 In his homilies Chrysostom empowered those laborers that were looked at as lowly. Furthermore, He viewed the work of the lower classes of the society as a source of strength to both family and the society in general.83 Here Chrysostom underlined the vitality of work as a means of survival. Chrysostom agreed with Athanasius that work has mortifying value that purges wickedness and promotes godliness through concentrating on hard work. He differed in that he advocated that hard work not only meets the physical needs but also provides spiritual nourishment. Therefore, Chrysostom believed that the worker could nourish his soul in a similar way to the ascetic.84 He is also argued that hard work is another kind of asceticism.85 Compared to his contemporaries Chrysostom maintained a more progressive stance regarding work. He advocated that work is not a burden to be endured, but is an instrument that facilitates the accomplishment of Gods appointed purpose. Therefore, according to Chrysostom, work also was a vehicle for demonstrating the love of God to

See John A. Bernbaum and Simon M. Steer, Why Work?(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986), 15. Those hard workers in ancient world were spoken against, it is clear that the educated viewed what we now call work with some disdain, a disdain which extended toward those who were involved in such a work. One type of work which drew widespread condemnation was that of the artisan.
83 84 85

82

Krupp, Shepherding the Flock of God, 180. Ibid., 181. Ibid.

103 others as the worker provided for the needs of his fellow citizens.86 Furthermore, he challenged the rich that they should not only refrain from oppressing the poor but should provide a room for the poor and so serve Christ.87 According to Chrysostom work is perceived as an activity that considers not only the workers themselves but goes beyond them. It could be taken as instrument that facilitates a good environment for evangelism. That is why he says, The rich can promote the salvation of those who work for them setting up oratories for preaching on their estates.88 Therefore, his argument in the form of his homilies present work as an instrument for mission. Although Chrysostom had the progressive idea which equated hard work with asceticism, he was consistent with his theme of moderation as the key of the Christian philosophy when he concluded that he who can live on a little is far greater than he who cannot.89 In contrast to Chrysostom, the Church Fathers generally speaking did not regard industry as a vehicle for transforming society and therefore did not give it time and energy. They rather gave serious precautions that believers should not entangle themselves with hard work which they considered worldly. They all felt that contemplation is an angelic exercise to be pursued and work is taken as an earthly burden to be endured.90

Ibid., 180. Cf. Eric Osborn, Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976) 120-121. For a more complete treatment see Lucien Daloz, Le Travail Selon Saint Jean Chrysostom (Paris: P. Lethicelleux, 1959).
87 88 89 90

86

Ibid., 196. Ibid. 191. Ibid. 197 Athanasius, Letter 48 To Amun: trans. NPNF, 2nd Serries IV, 557.

104 3.3.2 The Impacts of the Church Fathers Teaching on the EOTC Being shaped by the Founders whose main focus in life was the world to come, the EOTCs understanding of work focuses on the value of work as a tool to attain human needs and combat immorality, despite its distraction from the sacred call. This radically differs from Preeces vocation-centered theology of work that sees work as an activity that glorifies God.91 Following a lapsarian-centered teaching of the Church Fathers the EOTCs understanding of work displayed the following four characteristics: First, in the EOTC work for the most part is considered as a burden to be endured rather than an essential activity of human nature.92 According to this notion, work is valued for its mortifying nature i.e. mortifying the flesh so that it refrains from bringing havoc to the spirituality of the person. Work is a tool that gives an individual a proper perspective of life i.e. seeking the heavenly things first. Furthermore, work as a mortifying agent removes ill desire. This view does not recognize that simply being human entails work.93 Although humanity in paradise did not toil for what they needed, they were imitating their creator by being creative as they related to the non-human creature.94

Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 6-7.
92 93

91

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 316-330.

Darrell Cosden, A Theology of Work: Work and the New Creation (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006), 16-17. Against those for example the EOTC who consider work as an instrument of mortification, Cosden suggests that work is inherent to human nature. Furthermore, he argues work is not only instrumental and relational but also ontological. By ontological he means work constitute our human essence i.e. beyond instrumental. God created us workers in nature. Work is something that we are built in. Work is inherent to human nature. Laura K. Simmons, Dorothy L Sayers Theology of Work and Vocation in Everyday Life. In The Bible and The Business of Life: Essay in Honour of Robert J. Banks Sixty-fifth Birthday, ed. Simon Holt and Gordon Preece (Adelaide: ATF Press, 2004), 184-185.
94

105 Secondly, work is portrayed as an instrument solely for meeting the individuals immediate human need. Overall work is considered as a means to an end. The believers are warned not to go beyond individual needs. In relation to this Fiteha Negest notes, It is good that one learn from all theseto supply the necessary needs.95 Furthermore, it is warned that the believers should not turn their whole attention to farming, weaving and construction with the goal of just multiplying ones possession.96 Yet how can one see the desired social transformation just by focusing in ones immediate individual need? Doesnt community transformation entail long term planning? If people are encouraged to focus on meeting immediate needs alone, what do we do with the emphatic command to work? Third, following the Founding Fathers, the adherents of the EOTC consider work as an instrument to combat immorality.97 In addition to meeting the economic necessity, work has a moral value in the EOTCs understanding. At times work is regarded as an instrument used to resist concupiscence and spiritual ills that creates problems in both the private and public life of the believers.98 Therefore, in addition to its instrumentality of mortification and economic values work is considered for its moral values as well. Fourth, work that is not taken in moderation is considered as an element that distracts from the sacred call of life. For the EOTC adherents the noble call in life is to focus

Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, trans. by Abba Paulos Tzadua, ed. Peter L. Strauss (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968), 129.
96 97 98

95

Ibid., 129. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 316-324 Ibid., 316-318.

106 on the things above by denying the earthly passion. In his dialogue with Zemenfeskidus Abereha, Admasu Jenbere writes, Since you are not better than animals that cling on food from dawn to dusk, you can keep the curse (hard work) as blessings for us we do not worry for food and work that spoils.99 Here one can see that the focus in the EOTC is not on the here and now, but on the world to come. Therefore, believers that adhere to this view of life see work as a stumbling block that impedes the devoted ones from exalting the world to come in their daily walk. Work is not a call in life but a necessary evil that needs to be handled with care in order that the believers might not be trapped. The EOTCs lapsarian-centered view of work, derived from the influence of the Church Fathers portrays work in a pessimistic fashion. Compared to this Preeces vocation-centered view of work is optimistic in many ways. He argues in Genesis work is part of life itself, not a mere means to life it is not only to keep body and soul together nor an exercise in sanctification. It is its own reward.100 For Preece work is a positive movement towards fulfilling Gods call in ones life.101 Preece also takes work as a purposeful and worthwhile activity in life. Citing Barth, Preece notes, In working to prolong life toward particular ends, we must work well, integrating and synthesizing our human nature by throwing our human bodies, hearts and soul into our specific tasks and fully extending our energies and abilities to

Ibid., 324. ::
100 101

99

Preece, The Viability 278. Ibid., 306.

107 do justice for each.102 Although Preece recognizes that an overemphasis on work can endanger spirituality, he shows his uneasiness regarding any contemplation that encourages idleness.103 Therefore, he argues that work ought to be active and creative. In comparing his own tradition with Lutheran tradition Preece argues, Reformed dominion theology has provided a stronger rationale for scientific and technological development than Lutheran theology.104 Christian workers should fulfill their God given call in order to glorify God by developing the world to the benefit of both human and non-human creatures. In that way humanity can glorify God in everyday life.

3.4. The Impact of Church Architecture on Contemplation and Vice Versa Several factors can influence the shape or the architectural design of the church building. Sometimes the economic situations determine the actual shape of the church, while at other times the skill of the designers determine the observable shape of the church. In the EOTC it is apparent that the architectural design of the church building is influenced by the contemplative focus of its adherent.105 Furthermore, the contemplation centered lifestyle played a determining factor in both the shape and the location of the church building.106 The Founding Fathers were cutting themselves off from all human contacts and

102 103 104 105 106

Ibid., 168. Ibid., 284-285. Ibid., 259. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 59-61. Jean Doresse, Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia, trans. Elsa Coult (London: Elek Books

Limited, 1959), 64.

108 living like primitive creatures in the shelter of the ravines or upon the mountain-side.107 For example, Aba Yohannes withdrawal from the world is commemorated by a church halfway up a cliff, perched among the euphorbias, accessible to goat rather the man.108 Having been influenced by the Church Fathers, the EOTCs church design and its location are intentionally meant to facilitate contemplation in many ways.

3.4.1. Architectural Design and Contemplation My purpose in this section is not to give meticulous explanation regarding the EOTCs church architecture, but to show how the church architecture reflects the contemplative focus in the EOTC. The church building in the EOTC has a structure that perfectly matches its worship style. The design of the church meets different needs of the adherents. The EOTC has three types of church buildings, namely round, rectangular and cave churches.109 Although the observable external shape varies from church to church in the EOTC, the inner structure is organized to meet the specific needs of the ministry of the church. The EOTCs church design is totally different from other church structures. It is much closer to King Solomons temple than any other building.110 In the same vein Edward
Ullendorff notes, The way in which Ethiopian churches are traditionally constructed appears

107 108 109

Ibid. Ibid.

Aba Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1974EC), 162-166.
110

Ibid., 163.

109 to be derived from the threefold division of the Hebrew temple.111 In the round church the building comprises three zones, arranged concentrically. The square maqdas [=sanctuary] is at the centerit is here that the tabot is kept, its presence giving the church its sanctity. Access to the maqdas is restricted to the officiating priests.112 In all of these three styles of buildings there are three zones namely, the qene mahlet (court), the qeddest (holy place) and the maqdas (the holy of holies).113 It should be clear to us that there are different kinds of church services in the EOTC. This variation is observed in relation to who performs the service and where it is done. Therefore, One can distinguish two types of church service in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, indoor and outdoor. The former is conducted in the Holy of Holies by priest and deacons. A minimum of five persons, two priests and three deacons, is required to celebrate mass. In certain monasteries a minimum of seven persons is still required the out door service is conducted by priests and debteras.114

Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: An Introduction to the Country and People (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), 87. David W. Phillipson, Ancient Churches of Ethiopia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 25. (italics his). The word maqdas means the holy of holies and the word tabot means the ark. In the EOTC a simple gathering of believers could not be taken as the church. In order to have a church in the real sense there should be an ark inside the church building. For detailed explanation see Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 108-111; Doresse, Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia, 81-100. Inside the sanctuary of each zone of the church there are different participants who play differing roles. The first room which is qene mahlet is a place where the choirs, specially the debetaras, sing. The believers are allowed to pray and worship the Lord here. The 2nd zone is called qeddest in which the epis kopos and the deacons are active. Moreover, this is a place where people who are ready to take Holy Communion wait for the actual service. The maqdas is the place where the tabot (ark) is kept. This zone is reserved for the ministers who are in charge of serving the Holy Communion. No one is allowed to enter in this zone except those who are serving Holy Communion. This is the place where the bread and the wine is transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ when the High Priest says the special prayer. The church building in the round churches is divided by three concentric walls. In the rectangular and cave churches the partition of these three zones is either doors or curtains. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History, 66. The Debteras are local church intelligentsia; canter or scribe; knowledgeable in church education. Tebebe Eshete The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia: Resistance and Resilience (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009), 442.
114 113 112

111

110 Most of the churches that are constructed in the medieval times in the northern part of Ethiopia were designed in a way that reveals the spirituality of the builders and their main focus in life. The rock-hewn monolith churches at Lalibela are vivid examples of these kinds of churches.115 In fact the rock cut churches at Lalibela are considered as pilgrim sites and taken as a replica of Jerusalem.116 Furthermore, the St. Mary church at Axum is seen as a second Zion.117 All these places show how the devotion of the EOTCs adherents is deeply intertwined with the visible buildings of the church. The church building has a special place in the daily practices of EOTCs adherents. At times the spirituality of devout believers is measured by crossing difficult terrain to reach the remote churches.118 Almost all church sites in the EOTC are far from the inhabitants except in some urban centers. Due to their inaccessibility the adherents consider those isolated compounds of the church as holy grounds.119 Furthermore, the special presence of God is visualized in the holy of holies of the church. The gates and the cross on the apex are given special salutation by every individual believer. When they come to the church people have the feeling of unworthiness to approach God. Therefore, they always look for

115 116 117 118 119

Phillipson, Ancient Churches of Ethiopia, 123-182. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition , 143. Ibid., 143. Ibid., 145-146.

Ibid., 142-147. People take from these holy sites materials that are considered to render spiritual blessings and healing to the believers in times of their need. These materials are holy water, ashes from the censer and soil from the compound of the church.

111 someone to intercede for them, which explains the strong teaching of the necessity of mediators.120 While discussing spiritual matters the leaders of the EOTC associate everything with mystery, therefore, believers in this tradition are encouraged more to contemplation than to investigation. The church compound and the sanctuary are introduced as sacred places. Those who are performing the indoor service are considered a special group of people who are mediating grace to those who are in need.121 The ordinary believers do not recognize that they have equal access to God. Because of this conviction, the believers heavily depend on the intercession and instruction of the clergies who give them the lists of dos and donts. Since the average believers do not know what is happening inside the sanctuary their activity is restricted to the outside corners of the church compound. Challiot notes, Around the church there is always green compound (atsad or gebi) with beautiful trees. At any time you can find people praying, with or without their prayer book, even sometimes under a bush.122 From this we can deduce that not only the inside but also the outside part of the church building is designed to encourage contemplation. Those who feel unworthy and sinful are encouraged to stand outside the compound of the church.123 The result is that those who do not feel worthy struggle to move from the restricted geographical

Cf. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 40-45. Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik , 155-161.
121 122 123

120

Cf. Doresse, Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia, 81-83. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel?1-24. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition , 140. (Italics her) Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 158-165.

112 location outside to the inner location where they are privileged to experience the presence of God, that is the holy of holies. This in itself creates different classes of believers in the church. Believers in the EOTC know that they will not necessarily become priests, yet the way to be a monk is wide open for them.124 Therefore, each adherent keeps the possibility of being a monk someday in their lifetime. Since they always think that the active life is worldly in many ways, they do not give it the status it deserves. Because it is seen to interfere in the path to becoming a monk, such mentality affects the work life of the adherents of the EOTC.

3.4.2 The Impact of Contemplation on Location, Design and the Cemetery Edward Ullendorff rightly expresses that Ethiopia is the country of churches and monasteries.125 As I have noted the Founding Fathers of the EOTC have advocated for the superiority of the contemplative life over the active life.126 Due to this firm conviction observable elements of the EOTC were designed to reflect this central theme of the church. Among those observable elements, the building of the church is the outstanding phenomenon that demonstrates the impact of contemplation.127 This is reflected in three aspects namely location, design and the cemetery. The locations of the EOTC churches have their own uniqueness in Ethiopia and the choices of location are determined by its suitability to contemplation. Ullendorff

124 125 126 127

Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition , 152-182. Ullendorff, The Ethiopians, 87. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 40-45. Gorgorios, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 162-165.

113 writes, Churches throughout Ethiopia are usually built upon a small hill overlooking the village or at any rate, at the most elevated place available.128 Since the places that are intentionally chosen are remote from where people normally live, people only go to the churches when they experience a great need for meaningful solitude and worship. Because of this the great churches are intentionally inaccessible for vehicles.129 It is believed that the adherents of the EOTC should travel to these locations for refreshing the innermost man by abandoning those things that minimize seclusion. To help attain this goal the environment ought to be a scene that calms the body and quickens the soul and enlighten the spirit.130 According to the EOTC location plays a major role in centering ones soul on the Almighty.131 Secluded surroundings help the church to be free from any kind of business interferences. Furthermore, some churches have a beauty and romantic remoteness all their own.132 Consequently, the continuous attacks that the country suffered from different enemies of Ethiopian Christianity contributed to the choice of hidden location. That in turn has facilitated contemplation. 133 For example, the cave churches in Tigray and the underground monolith churches of Lalibela are living witnesses of this phenomenon.134

128 129

Ullendorff, The Ethiopians, 89.

See Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition , 143. Devout members of the EOTC go to the pilgrim site on foot. There is strong belief that walking is considered to bring more blessings to the pilgrims. Therefore, thousands will visit those pilgrims cites several times in a year.
130 131 132 133 134

Ibid., 148-155. Ibid., 147-150. Ibid., 87. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present, 59-61. Ibid., 59-61.

114 The contemplative focus of the EOTC also impacted the design of the church building. This is especially true of the monolith churches of Tigray and Lalibela.135 The Lalibela churches are connected by tunnels, made with primitive tools. This effort reveals a high level of devotion by the king who is commemorated as a saint in the Ethiopian church.136 These monolith churches also are unique among their kind. They cannot be found in other parts of the world in the same size and magnitude.137 The magnificence and cave-like designs of these isolated churches encourages solitude and seclusion of the believer.138 From the external structure of these churches one can clearly see the footprints of contemplation in the designs of these churches.139 Fear of the Lord is the central theme of the EOTCs teaching. That is why the form of Hebrew sanctuary was preferred by Ethiopians to the basilica type which was accepted by early Christians elsewhere.140The contemplative focus of the EOTC is also reflected by its action of putting the cemetery adjacent to the church building. The bond between the living and the dead is strong in the EOTCs teaching and practice.141 In fact, the

Phillipson, Ancient Churches of Ethiopia, 29-182. One can see the suitability of these churches for contemplation and people are coming from different part of the country to enjoy unique fellowship with the creator. Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present, 55-65. Doresse, Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia, 95-102.
137 138 139 140 141 136

135

Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present, 55-65. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition , 143-144. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present, 59-65. Ullendorff, The Ethiopians, 89.

Cf. Merigeta Serekeberhan Zewengel, Mestebekuee Zemutan [Prayer for the Deceased] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1994 EC), 15-105.

115 church is probably unique in its teaching that feasting in the name of the dead person could benefit the deceased.142 The adherents directly address the deceased saint or martyr in search of his blessings. The cemetery is a point of contact that facilitates this communication between the dead and the living. At times the adherents are advised to visit the grave site of the saint. Above all the presence of the cemetery adjacent to the churches calms the soul and forces it to be reflective. The cemetery is a perpetual reminder of the fragility of humanity. Every time the adherents of the EOTC come to the church they see other people who are performing the rituals of burial ceremony for the deceased. It is true that the burial of loved ones in many cultures involves multitudes of people. In Ethiopian culture this ceremony is observed far beyond what the Western mind imagines. The dramatic act of wailing and the prolonged grieving makes use of time even more extensive. In short the process takes away time and thus affects the working habit of the people.143

3.5 Conclusion The working habits of the EOTCs adherent is directly linked with their view of deification and contemplation.144 Deification of humanity in its simplest sense means

142 143

Ibid.

Ibid., 15-78. Here Serekeberhan Zewengel elaborates on the quality time that is devoted to pray for the dead and perform a special ceremony in the presence of their close relative the church ministers. This special ceremony is performed the first day the person dies and repeated on the 3 rd, 7th , 12th , 40th , 80th days of the deceased. Furthermore, the same ceremony is repeated on 6 th and 12th month anniversaries of the deceased person. This ceremony is accompanied with special banquet where the clergies, the poor people and the close relatives participate. In a country where life expectancy is 50 years one can visualize how the church could be busy with these rituals in the surroundings of the church building. According to the statistical data that was taken 14 years ago, the EOTC has 40 million members, 400 thousand priests and 30 thousand churches. See Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 12.
144

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 104-105.

116 salvation. According to Eastern tradition when people are mending their broken fellowship with their Creator, they are divinized. However, the ramifications of this teaching greatly impacted the working habits of the adherents of EOTC. In the EOTC it is believed that faith should be accompanied with appropriate righteous acts to enjoy the full blessings of deification. Not all who claim to be believers achieve the full blessings of deification.145 In order to attain the goal of theosis one has to follow the path of saints and martyrs to reach the same status they were able to reach in this journey of life. According to the EOTC this could only be possible when one follows the examples of those saints and martyrs by special commemoration.146 This special time of commemoration is mainly connected with the righteous act of feeding the hungry and remembering the less fortunate. For the adherents of the EOTC the focus on feasting throughout the year is considered as conforming to the apostolic tradition.147 According to Jenbere questioning the practice that allowed leisure to control the calendar of the Ethiopian society seemed unfair.148 Therefore, Jenbere makes a case for retaining seventy percent of the year as festival.149 The teaching of deification has contributed to a lapsarian-centered view of work in the EOTC.

145 146

Nellas, Deification in Christ, 62.

Jenbere argues here that when believers abstain from physical work they dont detach from work. But their focus has changed to spiritual work where they facilitate things to unite with saints of all times horizontally and with the creator of all vertically. See Jenbere Kokuha Haimanot, 328. Ibid., 298. Jenbere quotes from the work of the early church fathers that the Apostle Peter has given instruction to abstain from any type of work in the feast days of apostles, saints and martyrs. In his dialogue with ZemenefsKedus Abreha, Melakeberhan Admasu, argued that one should not wonder that the EOTCs adherents are abstaining from work for 200 days to commemorate saints and martyrs. Quoting from Exod. 23:10-13 Jenbere argues that the Scripture gives clear instruction to observe for extended days in a year. In fact he says not only for 200 days but believers were instructed to celebrate for 365 days in every 7 years. Furthermore, Jenbere argues it is God who instructed his people to refrain from work while they observe holy days. See Jenbere Kokuha Haimanot, 296-301.
148 147

117 Furthermore, it is not surprising to see a minimal development of the theology of work where work is perceived in the pessimistic fashion.150 That is why I argued that there is a definite relationship between the minimal development of the theology of work and the EOTCs understanding of theosis. Furthermore, their tendencies to take the teaching of the Church Fathers literally have impacted contemporary theological reflection in the EOTC. In viewing work as something that has solely mortifying and economic value, the scholars of the EOTC justify this teaching by appealing to their Founding Fathers.151 Although the EOTC recognize the moral value of work, its proponents do not hesitate to argue that it should not occupy the attention and the energy of believers.

149 150

Jenbere Kokuha Haimanot, 296-301.

Ibid., 296-328. Jenbere repeatedly labeled work as a curse that creatures have to carry as a burden. For Jenbere their only choice is to endure it. However, if believers fast and feast to have communion with God, they will be privilege to have the status of sinlessness.
151

Ibid., 323-328.

CHAPTER 4 THE UNDERSTANDING OF HUMANITY IN RELATION TO WORK

4.1 Introduction David Appleyard argues, Ethiopian Christian literature is often said to be essentially a literature of translation. It is true that a good part of this literature, particularly from the earlier centuries of Christianity in Ethiopia, is translated.1 In a situation where there is no thorough treatment of Christian doctrine, addressing the topic of theological anthropology and its ramification for human work is not an easy task. However, through the materials I have gleaned from the works of scholars in the EOTC, I will attempt to address the subject of human work and theological anthropology. In this chapter I will argue that the EOTCs understanding of theological anthropology, facilitated their belief in the veneration of saints and contributed to the observance of numerous special days that controlled the calendar. The on-going effort to attain an exalted level of human experience like the saints achieved through undertaking an extended time of fasting impacted on the working habits of the adherents of the EOTC. Furthermore, the habits of the idolized learned leaders in monastic also discouraged the lay

David Appleyard, Ethiopian Christianity in The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity, ed. Ken Parry (Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2007), 127. The vast majority of materials in the EOTC are translated from Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, Arabic and Greek languages.

118

119 people from a concentration on work. This in turn contributed to the imbalance of leisure and work. Therefore, skewed theological anthropology is in part an explanation for an unbalanced and unbiblical practice of work among the adherents of the EOTC.

4.2 The Understanding of Humanity in Relation to Work The EOTC hold the belief that humanity is the result of the direct creation act of the sovereign God, and is made in His image.2 In relation to this, animals are regarded as being remarkably different to humans.3 The EOTC teaching also generally accepts that humans are affected by the Fall.4 In the EOTCs theological reflection, humans are presented as fallen creatures who persistently need to mortify their bodily desires to escape their sinful inclinations which continually haunt them.5 On the other hand those of humanity who are obedient to the Almighty are portrayed as exalted beings who are privileged to attain a supernatural status.6 Therefore, humanity in the EOTC is portrayed as a paradoxical creature which is presented in polarized fashion (more anon).7 Knowing the limitations of the vast majority of the human race, the EOTC monastic scholars suggested a way to achieve angelic

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet [The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith, Order of Worship and Ecumenical Relations] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1988 EC.), 23.
3 4 5

Ibid., 23. Hyatt, The Church of Abyssinia, 88-89.

Melakeberhan Admasu Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot:Wetat Temelket Endatisasat[Foundation for Faith: Youth Watch Out That You Will Not Err] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1989EC), 313-331.
6 7

Ibid., 318-319. Ibid., 313-330.

120 supernatural status by strictly observing the hierarchical formula. The effort of attaining this supernatural status encouraged people to take part in practical religious actions that negatively impacted on the working habits as they set a model of detachment from active life.8 The effort exerted by those who sought to achieve an ideal humanity had an enormous impact on other EOTC believers and therefore Ethiopia as a whole.9

4.2.1 Theological Anthropology and Its Impact on the EOTCs Tradition The way the EOTC approached theological anthropology has had a profound impact on its approach towards work. There is an explicit connection between the understanding of humanity and the daily practice of work in the adherent of the EOTC. There is no doubt that humans are the most complex and complicated creatures. As Thomas N. Finger argues: Every creature in the universe is mysterious. But presumably only human beings are mysterious to themselves. From the dawn of history, religions and philosophies have pondered the strange disproportion in human nature. We are rational beings yet animals. We are capable of noble goodness and shocking evil. We are learned about surrounding yet so ignorant of our real selves. The riddle of what it means to be human is as old as humanity itself.10 This riddle of human life is expressed in the multifaceted involvements of humanity. Humanitys complexity is recognized in the EOTCs theological anthropology. According to the EOTCs teaching humans are perceived to be unique. For example, an excerpt from the

8 9

Ibid., 320-324. Ibid., 318-320. Thomas N. Finger, Christian Theology: An Eschatological Approach (Scottdale: Herald

10

Press, 1989), 15.

121 translation by Professor Getachew Haile of Beauty of the Creation presents humanity as follows: If one asks, What does Adam mean? it means perfect, well-made, whom one would not say, You lack this If one asks, what did the Holy Spirit which he received through breathing become for him? (I say) it made him king, (and) it made him son by grace. If one asks why did He create him straight, (and) rectilinear like a stick, (I say) to tell Adam, Of all creations, you are heavenly; you are not earthly. But the rest of creation he created making them thus low, facing the ground, to tell them, You shall remain here (on earth); you are earthly.11 This quote is indicative of the teaching in the EOTC that humanity is both perfect and royal. In fact the first man was totally unique from non-human creatures.12 EOTCs understanding of humanity best fits with Millard J. Ericksons classification of the substantive view of humanity.13 Although humanity is presented as the vice-regent of creation, the Fall of humanity disrupted the equilibrium between human and non-human creatures.14 In the EOTC it is believed that the harmonious relationship between Creator and creature is broken as the result of the Fall. So while humans are exalted as royalty and have an inherent robustness, they are also fallen and fragile.15 What is missing from the EOTCs
understanding is any sense that to be in Gods image also involves functioning like God the worker (more anon in Chapters 7 and 8). This is a significant theological weakness in the EOTCs anthropology.

Getachew Haile and Misrak Amare, Beauty of the Creation (Manchester: Billings and Sons Ltd. 1991), 46-47. This work is translated from the medieval EOTC commentary which was written 15 th and 16th century.
12 13

11

Ibid., 46-47. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000), 520-522. Haile, and Amare, Beauty of the Creation, 46-48.

14 15

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 319.

122 Observing things in polarized fashion is common in Eastern Christianity. For example citing Maximus, John Meyendorff: Lists five polarities which are to be overcome by man: God and creation, the intelligible and sensible, heaven and earth, paradise and world, man and woman. The polarities have been sharpened by sin and insuperable by human capabilities alone. Only the man Jesus, because He is also God, was able to overcome them. He is the new Adam, and in Him, creation again finds communion with the creator and harmony within itself.16 In the same way the EOTC emphasizes the necessity of imitating Jesus to overcome these polarities of fallenness and exaltation, and fragility and sturdiness. In his dialogue with Zemenfes Kedus Abreha, Admasu Jenbere notes, What do you think of what the world knows by nature? Is it not eating, drinking and sex? When the Lord Jesus Christ became man, which worldly wisdom did he consider as foolishness? Is it not those elements that you considered as useful law which is eating, drinking, marriage and constructing houses? ...what benefit will you get if you terrorize those who do not have a thorough knowledge of the monastic life and if you deny God his ascetics?17 Human imperfection or fallenness according to Jenbere is transformed to exaltation not only by putting ones faith in the finished work of Christ but also by demonstrating ones faith in praying, fasting, alms giving and by remembering the saints and the martyrs on a daily basis.18 Therefore, the fallen

John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham University Press, 1974), 142. See Jenbere Kokuha Haimanot, 50-51. ? ::
18 17

16

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 310-328.

123 nature of humanity is sharpened by the spiritual disciplines that best fits its nature. In this regard Jenbere notes, I remind you that Flesh gives birth to flesh, [by which he] means that flesh enjoys eating and drinking and in general loves things that bring carnal pleasure. Spirit gives birth to spirit means he loves spiritual things such as fasting, prayer, prostration, endurance and in general he leads a life like that of angels.19 The aim for fallen humanity is to achieve again the exalted royal status. This is done through the restriction of certain activities on the one hand and a focus on ascetic activities on the other hand. The disciplines of fasting and prayer are seen like the bits in a horse harness that stop the ill desires of humanity. According to the teaching of the EOTC, without those bits that act as a restriction, humanity will lead a wild life that demonstrates his incompleteness.20 The view of humanity that emphasizes the need for restricting disciplines discourages anything that undermines their impact such as noisy environments, comfortable clothes and beds, good food etc. That is why there is an explicit instruction that guides people in their day to day life regarding work.21 Work is seen as a hindrance or distraction to the necessary disciplines. Because the way to a restored position, according to the EOTC, is by abstaining from the deliberate act of work, humans are expected to put their focus on a lapsarian-centered life. As the focus on the fallen nature and fragility of humanity affects

Ibid., 276.
20 21

19

Ibid., 301-308.

Memhir Tsege Setotaw, Yenegal: Yehaimanot Kerekir [It Shall Dawn: Religous Daialogue]. (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1997 EC), 45.

124 their view of daily work negatively, even more so, the overemphasis on the exalted and sturdy nature of humanity minimizes the value of work. Since noble value is given to the angelic life which is characterized by prayer, fasting, seclusion and celibacy,22 work is perceived as a distraction from this form of the royal call of life. According to the EOTC the perfect human life is the life of monasticism which enables humans to attain the exalted status which brings glory upon glory. In this view work as vocation-centered is perceived as an obstacle or distraction from the lapsarian-centered life.23 Jenbere notes, Although there were some who fulfilled celibacy which is the law of angels and benefited from it, for those persons who diligently performed celibacy by keeping the legacy of the second Adam i.e. Lord Jesus; they have received glory upon glory and grace upon grace.24 Therefore, those who heard this preaching most of the time were motivated to treat work as something inferior. In a country where the political leaders prefer to be monastic in their lifestyle, the ordinary people do not have the incentive to choose an active life. This mentality brought about the unintended consequence that the ordinary people hate to work. Citing Boyes and Vivian the distinguished historian Richard Pankhurst writes, it was difficult to persuade ordinary servants to carry baggage every Abyssinian hates work and thinks that the

22 23 24

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 49. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 318-328.

See ibid., 48.

125 Gallas25 or some other slave should do all his work for him.26 Ordinary people hated work because they gave themselves an exalted status. Therefore, it is difficult for people of that conviction to do menial work on a regular basis.

4.2.2 The Constitutional Nature of Humanity in the EOTCs Perspective and Its Impacts EOTCs trichotomous understanding of humanity emphasizes the invisible aspect of humanity and therefore minimizes the value and influence of the human body. The EOTCs idealized view of humanity attributes to it a supernatural status that in turn denigrates the normal and natural state of the human being and therefore envisions regular activities that benefit humanity and its environment as worldly. The EOTC accepts the multifaceted nature of the immaterial part of human beings. The innermost room of the church i.e. the mekdes (holy of holies)27 is the vital section where profound spiritual activity is performed. So, too, the invisible component of a human being is believed to be more valuable than the outward physical body.28 It is believed in the EOTC that the visible body of a human being becomes a trap if it is not regulated by the restraining bits as it were, whereas the invisible soul can be

This term is a derogatory tribal designation of old days. In contemporary Ethiopia this word is obsolete and its usage is taken as breaking the law of the country that banned loaded terms like this. I recognize that and refrain from using the way it was used in the past.
26

25

Richard Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Haile Sellasie I University See in chapter 3 n. 113 for the details. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 104-105.

Press, 1968), 38.


27 28

126 enriched with the same action taken to control and tame the flesh. This intentional action could move the invisible component of humanity to the next level of a new and profound spirituality. Challiot notes, There are ten stages of spiritual ascent (aseru mearegat) to be attained through three steps of purity (which can be sought for both by monks and lay people): of flesh (netsha sega), of soul (netsha nefes), and of the heart (netsha lebuna).29 In the same vein Jenbere expresses this hierarchical journey of spiritual ascent towards purification as follows: When the Saints are able to deny themselves, despise this world, give their possessions to the poor, and begin to do good works, they will progress to:1. Maturity of faith that is characterized by action; 2. Silence in which saints will see angels descending and ascending, although they will not know what the angels are doing; 3. Next, awareness, when the saints will understand what the angels are doing; 4. Added to this will be the taste of praising. The saints will know what to pray, and have the strength to pray without ceasing. 5. Upon the taste of praising will be added the gift of tears for repentance. The saint will have an ongoing flow of tears without being distressed. 6. The next progression is the ability to subdue the flesh to the soul, and thereby remain undeterred by the flesh. 7. After overcoming the flesh, the saints will be given/ achieve the ability to be present everywhere. They will receive the special status that allows them to see the world of angels while they are still in the flesh. 8. Added to this will be consuming love for human and non-human creatures. Furthermore, the saint will swim in light. 9. After all these stages, the saint will be like fire. All the arrows of the flesh will disappear and no longer influence the saint. They will see the Holy Trinity, and attain perfection.30
29 30

Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition , 151.

See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 318-319. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

127 Although the process of attaining perfection seems daunting in many ways, it has dominated the thought and action of many members in the EOTC. Therefore, the believers have rejected the visible needs of the body and emphasized only the invisible state of their soul and heart. One can imagine how difficult it would be to focus on this life of work when activities in this world are despised in so many ways.

4.2.3. The Understanding of Humanity and Its Impact on the Practice of Work The EOTC believed that the goal for all humans was to become royal, which is the same as being a saint. This was possible for all mature, committed and sacrificial believers. This belief negatively impacted on the practice of work, which was only valued as a tool for outward mortification, and therefore, of little use for the inward process of sanctification. In contradiction to this Karl Barth regards work as an attempt to keep the body and soul together. He notes, To serve we first must live. Work is thus defined as mans active affirmation of his existence as a human creature.31 Preece elaborates on Barths anthropology and notes, work, then, has dignity. It distinguishes humans from other nonworking creatures and from God.32

9. ::
31 32

Karl Barth, The Church Dogmatics III (Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1960), 518-519.

Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 166-167.

128 Some types of work are perceived as taboo in the EOTC. There is an attempt to validate this practice of refraining from certain kinds of work by quoting Scripture passages. On this topic Professor Ephraim Isaac writes, for example, iron-smithing and pottery are done by Jew or Falashas; weaving is largely in the hands of Ethiopian Moslems and Jews it is thought that this attitude toward craftsmanship is based on the Biblical story that crafts were originally practiced by the descendants of Cain."33 Pankhurst agrees with Isaac on this and writes, Because they are engaged in commerce or manual crafts, such as those of the blacksmith, the weaver, the leather workers or the potter, such minority groups did not mix with the rest of the population and were often denied the right to own land, and neither entered the church nor the army.34 It is predominantly the Christian population in Ethiopia that is dominated by these kinds of beliefs, values and attitudes. Due to their future focused lifestyle the EOTC did not frequently take intentional steps to stop this erroneous practice of despising hardworking people among the believing population. Those who considered themselves as royal and perfect did not see the need to engage in manual labour even for the good of the workers and society.35 The church did not exert an influence to seek to stop the taboos that discriminated against the hard working members of society. The hard working crafts men were despised by the vast majority of the believing community just for rendering their tireless service to society.

Ephraim Isaac, Social Structure of the Ethiopian Church. Ethiopia Observer: Journal of Independent Opinion, Economics, History and the Arts 15, no. 4 (Addis Ababa: 1971): 259.
34 35

33

Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia, 38. Ibid., 38.

129 Pankhurst notes, In most provinces the blacksmith being supposed to possess the power of transforming himself at night into a hyena, during which he is thought to be capable of preying even upon human flesh the credit attached to these fabulous ideas appear to be inconceivably strong throughout the country.36 I believe such derogatory statements against the hardworking section of the society discouraged many from engaging in a vocationcentered involvement of work. Furthermore, it has multiplied slothfulness in a large section of the society. That is why the emperor Menilek showed his disgust towards this kind of attitude in his sovereign land.37 When he was tired of the groups of people despising workers, he issued the following proclamation: Let those who insult the workers on the account of his labor cease to do so! ... The lazy man whose son is ignorant causes trouble by insulting the clever man. All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve; there was no other ancestor. Discrimination is the result of ignorance. God said to Adam: In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread. If we do not carry this injunction, if everyone is idle, there will be neither government nor country. In European countries when people undertake new kinds of work and make cannon, guns, trains and other things revealed by God, the people concerned are called mahandis, or engineers; they are praised andgiven more assistants, not insulted on account of their craft. But you by your insults are going to leave my country without people who can make the plough; the land will thus become barren and destitute. Hereafter anyone who insults these people is insulting me. From this time forth anyone found insulting on the account of his work will be punished by a years imprisonment. If officials find it difficult to imprison such persons for a year let the former be arrested and sent before me!38
36 37

Ibid., 39-40.

See Chris Prouty and Eugene Rosefeld, Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia and Eritrea (Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1995), 224-227. Emperor Menilek (1844-1913) who reigned from 18891913 argued that the development of the country required a new attitude to work. Furthermore, by decree and example he challenged the soldiers and office holders contempt for manual labor, but was ignored.(226).
38

Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia, 45.

130 Though emperor Menileks opposition was vigorous against the despisers of hard work, the negative impact continued up until the time of Emperor Haile Sellassie.39 Amazingly this mentality continues to exist, even in this present day. The skewed mentality that promotes the idea that a specific group of humanity is exalted, while the other group are despised was tolerated for too long. The EOTC in particular and the society in general did not take a deliberate stance against it. Regarding this indifference Isaac writes, It is a sad fact that occupational skills or manual work which are so important for the development of any country, can become a cause of psychological burden. But surely the Church alone is not to be blamed for the perpetuation of such negative social values. Modern institutions are also at fault.40 I resonate with Isaac on this matter. However, I do believe that the root cause for this problem is a distorted view of theological anthropology where humans are not acquainted with the idea that work is intrinsic to human nature. Instead of shaping the believing community and the larger society the Ethiopian Church has such a flexible theological structure to accept whatever society accepts as normal and natural.41 Therefore, the EOTCs view on the uniqueness of humanity that underplays work on one side, and the Ethiopian societys negative mentality towards hard work on the other side, together caused the dissemination of a low value of work. Above all a distorted view of theological anthropology is one of the factors that contributed to the minimal development of the

See Prouty and Rosefeld, Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia and Eritrea, 162-165. Emperor Haile Sellassie (1892-1974) was ruling Ethiopia from 1930-1974.
40 41

39

Isaac, Ethiopia Observer, 259. Ibid., 261.

131 theology of work which in turn affected the value of work in the lives of the adherents of the EOTC.

4.3. The Veneration of Saints and Its Impacts on Work Although remembering the multitudes of witnesses inspires believers in their daily walk with Christ, giving an exalted status to the saints and martyrs beyond the acceptable Scriptural norm has negatively impacted the practice of work in the lives of the adherents of the EOTC. In the EOTC it is believed that the saints who are deceased can intercede on behalf of fellow believers and help those who earnestly seek their assistance to achieve the same exalted status. Jenbere in his dialogue with Abreha writes, Remember the Lords testimony to Abraham if he affirmed him in this life in answering his prayer, do you think that the Lord doesnt answer his perfect prayer in a world of soul where there is perfection and harmony between flesh and spirit? Be aware that glory will be added to the saints and their splendor will not decrease.42 In the same vein H.H Shenouda the Coptic Patriarch who argues for the appropriateness of praying to saints and angels writes, if we ask the prayers of those who are still in their spiritual combats like ourselves, shall we not ask the prayers of saints who completed their striving and departed to paradise, living with Christ? Or have these saints been demoted after their departure from earth to paradise so that we are only allowed to ask their prayers when they are on earth and forbidden to do so
See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 212. ?
42

132 when they are in paradise close to God? If we ask the prayers of human beings, is it too much to ask the prayers of the angels.43 Time is limited within a day. Creatures do not have the ability to elongate it. Whether in contemplation, or in venerating specific saints by observing their festivals, time is used. We recognize that addressing the deceased in prayer and commemorating their feast days requires focused time. This can only be done by refraining from work. Citing the article of Workaferahu, the economist Dejene Aredo notes, An Ethiopian Christian would choose to starve to death rather than work on a farm on a saint day.44 Since believers take many commemoration days from their working week their work life suffers. This in turn has an impact on the working habit of the people. Due to the erroneous belief that people can achieve the status of the saints through praying to them, EOC believers are distracted from practicing work in its normal and natural sense and this in turn disrupts the rhythm of life. Furthermore, instead of addressing the practical needs of people and providing a balanced reflection regarding work, the theologians in the EOTC focused on defending the status quo.45

H. H. Pope Shenouda, III, Comparative Theology, Trans. Mary Amani and Bassilli Amani (London: Coptic Orthodox Publishers Association, 1988), 79. Dejene Aredo, How Holy Are Holidays in Rural Ethiopia? An Enquiry into the Extent to Which Saints Days Are Observed Among the Followers of the Orthodox Christian Church in Proceedings of the First National Conference of Ethiopian Studies, ed. Richard Pankhurst and Tadesse Beyene (Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University, December, 1990), 165.
45 44

43

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 323-328.

133 4.4. The Monastic focus of Learned Leaders and Its Impact on the Laity in Relation to Work The political leaders who are the learned leaders of society emphasized a monastic life. Such a sacrificial stand from the wealthy leadership of the society towards favoring monasticism negatively impacted the active life in Ethiopian society. Christianity found its route to Ethiopia through those who were stationed in the palace or those who ended up serving in the Ethiopian royal court.46 The top down movement of Christianity in Ethiopia meant that what impacted the political leaders would impact the ordinary people of the day.47 Although the Ethiopian kings did not take on the religious role of a priest or a bishop, their significant influence is still felt in the church today.48 Some kings encountered fierce opposition when they radically differed from the traditional norm of the EOTC.49

4.4.1 The Impact of Monasticism on Political Leaders The Nine Saints who came to Ethiopia in the fifth century are the precursors of monasticism.50 Tibebe Eshete the evangelical historian writes, The monastic institution that the Nine Saints established in various parts of the empire not only served as a

Cf. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life (Addis Ababa: United Printers, 1970), 3-6. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present. (Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing press, 1998), 6-13. Nathan B. Hege, Beyond Our Prayers (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1998), 30-39. Either the story of Ethiopian Eunuch in the New Testament or the story of those shipwrecked Syrian boys Frumentius and his brother Aedesius is connected with their influence in the palace. Melake Berhan Admasu Jenbere, Yehaimanot mizan [The Scale of Religion] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1954 EC), 56.
48 49 50 47

46

Ibid., 54-57 Ibid., 4. This is true of kings such as Susineyos and Zedingel. To understand who the Nine Saints are see n. 1 and 36 in chapter 2.

134 springboard to extend the sphere of the new religion, but also became the main infrastructure of Ethiopian Christianity.51 It is true that everyone that needed an education went to the monastery which was the only educational institution of the day.52 This meant that the political leaders who came from that background were highly influenced by the values and principles of monastic life. For example many of the royal princes who ascended to the throne, kings like Dawit (1380-1412), ZaraYaiqob (1434-1468) and Naod (1494-1508) are known to have attended monastic schools that then influenced their political lives.53 Some of the Ethiopian kings lived as hermits in the palace. Regarding this Jenbere notes, Ethiopian emperors were fit to be priests; they were diligent in fulfilling religious duties, they were morally apt and spiritual, in general they were above reproach. Therefore, many of them were fulfilling the duty of hermits while active in political leadership.54 Thus they were held up as example of the ideal. Although the kings were active in giving political leadership, they were equally active in guiding people towards the life of monasticism by way of their example and by instructing their subjects to obey the rules and regulations of monastic life. Up until the overthrow of Emperor Haile Sellassie, who was the last emperor of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian

Tebebe Eshete, The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia: Resistance and Resilience (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009), 17.
52

51

Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life , 23Ibid., 25.

25.
53 54

Jenbere, Yehaimanot mizan, 56.

135 kings were perceived to be sacred.55 Having this status of inviolable dignity and indisputable power, the Ethiopian kings were instrumental in executing the lifestyle that exalted monastic life. They focused on promoting church related activities such as building monolith churches, creating spiritual paintings, translating spiritual literature and developing monasteries.56 What they did for the church is superb, however, they could have done more for society if they had a balanced view of life, and lived this out.

4.4.2 The Impact of Monastic Political Leaders on Lay People The monastic-centered political guidance from the Ethiopian emperors contributed to a lapsarian-centered lifestyle in the EOTC in particular, and a distorted view of work in society in general.57 Monastic values were reflected in every sphere of Ethiopian life. The immediate consequences of the monastic-centered leadership were reflected in two outstanding areas, namely: a passion for the monastic life, and a passivity or indifference to work in everyday life activities. The passion for a monastic life impacted the church in several areas. As a result of the influence of the monastic-centered emperors, visible changes in the form of

Isaac, Ethiopia Observer, 255. Here citing the Ethiopian constitution Isaac expresses, The fifth article of the first chapter of the 1955 constitution of Ethiopia explicitly upholds the teaching of the church that by virtue of his imperial blood, as well as by the anointing which he has received, the person of the emperor is sacred. His dignity is inviolable and his power indisputable He is consequently due to all the honors due to him in accordance with the tradition.
56

55

Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life , 17-

25. Bahiru Zewde, Pioneers of Change: The Reformist Intellectuals of Early Twentieth Century (Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press, 2002), 122.
57

136 Christianization of the society are to be observed all over the country.58 This in turn led to the increase in the number of local churches and monasteries.59 Margery Perham notes, It was said in the eighteenth century that in no country in the world were there so many churches.60 It is true that there was a dramatic revival in the lives of individuals and the society at large in the times when the influences of monastic leaders were great. Such a move multiplied the number of passionate young believers in the society. The vast majority of these young people flocked into monasteries and the existing churches. When this pressure was felt by Emperor Tewodros (1855-1868) he reacted against the presence of the large number of priests and deacons that would live in one particular local church. Although Emperor Tewodros motivation for restructuring the church was not completely spiritual, he decided that the church should only be allowed to possess enough land to support two priests and three deacons per church. All other priests were to become secular and the surplus land be taxed.61 This vigorous reaction against the accumulation of a large number of clergy in a local church contributed to the speedy downfall of his regime.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present, 29-32. For example Abreha and Atsebeha in the 4th century lived in a palace like monk, played key role in the spread of Christianity. King Lalibella in the 12th century acted like shepherd for the EOTC parishioners, teacher and monastic saint. He is known for constructing the monolith churches that are still famous in the country and in the world. King Yemerehena Kristos, Geberemariam and Nakutoleab followed his legacy.
59 60

58

Ibid., 30-32. Margery Perham, The Government of Ethiopia (Evanston: North Western University Press,

1969), 109. Kinfe Abraham, Ethiopia from Empire to Federation, (Addis Ababa: EIIPD Press, 2001), 68. Cf. Sven Rubenson, King of Kings Tewodros of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Haile Sellassie I University Press, 1966), 67-89.
61

137 The monastic tendency does not seem to have changed in the mentality of the leaders and the people even after 100 years have passed. The number of clergy is not proportional to the size of population. In this regard Perham writes, Travelers of all periods have exclaimed at the great number of the Ethiopian clergy guesses, some running into a quarter of the Christian population, have been made. This is certainly excessive. An experienced contemporary observer suggests that one male in five is in orders.62 In this present day the picture that we see above does not seem to have changed radically. Another impact of the monastic-centered political leadership is that it paved the way to an indifferent attitude towards work and a passivity towards the day-to-day involvement of life. This indifference is manifested in two ways one in despising hard work especially the crafts which I discussed elsewhere; the other was choosing to work only in areas that dont actually result in any development or production that benefits fellow humanity. For example in the 20th century one of the overvalued occupations was the army. It is prestigious for two reasons. First, it has the job of following after political leaders. Second, being in the army meant they werent involved in producing food and could basically lead a life of idleness. In this regard citing GbrHeywt, Zewde writes, In our country, it is shameful to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow. That is deemed unbecoming of a chawa [a person of respectable parentage] Everyone here claims to be a soldier they call themselves soldiers but they spend their time loitering in the streets, living like parasites

62

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 108.

138 on the produce of the peasantry our fertile land lies fallow hence our poverty.63 Such a situation presents an opportunity for EOTC theologians. However, instead of keeping the balance between the active and contemplative life the EOTC theologians chose to underplay the vitality of human work in the day-to-day life of the believer.64

4.4.3. The Overall Impact of the Monastic Inclination on Work The monastic inclinations of both leaders and lay people in Ethiopia have contributed to the view of work as an activity that is totally detached from Gods direct influence in the believers life. As I noted elsewhere the transcendent focus of the EOTCs theology has acknowledged Gods direct activity only at the contemplative level (i.e. Scriptures). It does not portray God as equally involved in the activity of work, which therefore impacts both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of spiritual life. That is why we see the EOTCs system as leaning towards one side. This one sided focus is advocated by Jenbere who notes, The Ethiopian Church reminds its parishioners that this world is going to perish; therefore challenge the believers and ask them what good will it (this world) do for you? What do you gain out of this world? And teaches the parishioners to sell their possessions, give them to the poor and lead the life of a hermit and apply the law of monasticism.65 Nothing is wrong with challenging believers to give priority to godliness that

63

Zewde, Pioneers of Change, 122. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 327-328.

64 65

Ibid., 18. ? ? 1921::

139 benefits the life to come. However, underplaying the essentiality of work, and not providing a theology that enables the believer to see work as an instrument that benefits the worker and glorifies God, denies a vital ingredient in life. In contrast Preeces vocation-centered theology of work advocates a balance the active and contemplative life. In contradistinction Preeces theology of work does not undermine the life of sacrifice that is realized through imitating Jesus, instead it invites believers to link our vocation roles with creative imitation of Jesus vocational roles as we become mini-prophet, priests and kings.66

4.5. The Observance of Special days and Its Impact on Work The commemoration of saints in those special days dedicated to them introduced a unique image of humanity that is totally different from the human being that the Scripture portrays for us. As the EOTC adherents hunger to be superhuman they give less regard to work. Elsewhere I tried to show the impact of venerating saints in the light of contemplation. In this section I am giving a practical example as to how the veneration of saints directly impacts on the working habit of the EOTC adherents and the rationale behind observing the veneration of saints. The total number of the commemoration days67 could not be accommodated in the calendar year. In this regard citing Teshome Wagaw, Dejene Aredo notes, The total number of holy days in every month of 13 months in a given year is, 1281. Apparently we

Preece, The Viability, 314. For further clarification of what Preece meant with his concept of mini-prophet, priests and kings see n. 125 in Chapter 1.
67

66

Holy days and commemoration days are interchangeable expressions in this work .

140 are short of days to accommodate in one year the multiplicity of holy days we have invented.68 Therefore, in every single day of the year there are holy days which are connected with a saint, angel or the Lord Jesus Christ.69 See the table 1 below: Table 1
Day of the month 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Commemoration Lideta Mariam (Nativity M) Tadewos Apostle Beata Lemariam fes.HVT St. John G/ Menfeskidus, Peter, Paul * Beata Debrequsquam The Trinity * Arbayitu Ensesa Kiros, Banuda St. Thomas (Episcopos) Meskele Eyesus Hana. Mariam (Weyakem) St. Michael * God the father, Rufael, Zerabruke Aba. Aregawie, Aba.G/Kristos St. Kirkos Day of the month Commemoration Kidane Mihiret * St. Estifanos Abune Yosetatewos St. Gabriel * Hintsete B. kristian, Differet saints Mary Comm. Her Death * Kidus Lukas, Ruel St. Geogrge * Teklehaimanot * Merkorios Apostle Thomas Holy Savior /Yosef * Emmanuel, Jacob * Feast of God * St. Markos

70

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

The Ethiopian Calendar has thirteen months in which 12 months have 30 days and the thirteenth one has only five days. According to Emiru each of these thirty dates are always the same in every month of a year and invariably passed through centuries without

68 69

Aredo, National Conference of Ethiopian Studies, 165.

Walellign Emiru, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Festivals: The Finding of the Cross and Epiphany (Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Enterprise, 2007), 81-90. Cf. ibid., 81-90. Girma Zewdie, Ethiopis (Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Press, 1985), 6374. The days marked by the asterisk are days off from work for many devout believers. Working on days off work on commemoration is unthinkable. In some parts of the country the days off from work could be even more than I have indicated here. As this paper indicates the Ethiopian Christian would choose to starve to death rather being involved in farm and craft work on the commemoration days of saints and angels.
70

141 change.71 To become perfect as God is perfect (Matt 5:48) believers are advised to follow the examples of the saints in their day-to-day journey of life. One of the ways to achieve the status that the saints have achieved is to keep their feasts and pray to them, and petition them to intercede with God. 72 Motivated by the desire to perform such prayers and make special remembrance people take time off from their work. For example, Mahetemsellassie Woldemeskel, an EOTC scholar and educator, gives his practical observation and notes, As there are many churches in this part of the country, there are many days where people refrain from work the people of Bulga have good reputations in obeying to the priests, engaging in fasting and prayer and honoring the words of the teachers and the Scripture.73 Here Woldemeskel gives the experience of one people group as a case in point and shows the impact of holy days that resulted in people leaving work for several days.

4.6. The Extended Fasting Season and Its Impact on Work Although the discipline of fasting and prayer encourages the enrichment of true spirituality, the EOTCs extended period of fasting and prayer has overlooked the nature of humanity and destructively impacted on the working habit of the EOTCs adherent. Here I briefly touch on the theological rationale for fasting and prayer and their impact on work.

71 72 73

Ibid., 87. Shenouda, III, Comparative Theology,81.

Mahetemsellassie Woldemeskel, YeEthiopia Bahil Tenat/Ethiopian Cultural Studies/. eds. Richard Pankhurst and S. Chojancki In Journal of Ethiopian Studies Vol. 6 No 1 (Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Press, January 1968), 90-122.

142 Fasting and prayer are the two most vital spiritual disciplines that shape the beliefs, attitudes and values of the adherents of the EOTC.74 A high percentage of the year is devoted to the observance of fasting and daily prayers as a means to attain an exalted status. We all know fasting and prayer are inseparable. If believers do the fasting without the accompanying prayer, it becomes nothing more than a hunger-strike. In relation to their inseparable character, Jenbere notes, Fasting is a mother for prayer, a sister for silence, a spring for tears and it is the foundation for good worktears that come merely in and through eating and drinking (without divine touch) is taken as tears of intoxication that comes through indulgence. True tears come out of broken heart.75 In this argument Jenbere is trying to encourage believers to give priority to prayer and fasting more than anything else in life. Furthermore, in his dialogue with Abreha, Jenbere notes, In our church to abstain from fasting and loving food is considered as acting like a dog that doesnt say no to food, therefore, except for specific moments the practice of eating everyday is forbidden. 76 Since eating is discouraged for most part of the year, i.e., 180 days for the average believer and 250 days for devout members, such a practice has a significant impact in the life of primitive farmers and craft persons who are the active participants in the working community. In a situation where the calendar is controlled by fasting and prayer, it is inevitable that the working habits of the adherents of the EOTC are influenced in an

See Archbishop Yesehaq, The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: An Integrally African Church (New York: Vantage Press, 1989), 130-138.
75

74

::

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 316. .

143 unconstructive way. Since I have elaborated on the purpose of fasting in the EOTC in my previous discussion, I now take the space to expound on prayer. Archbishop Yesehaq, the prominent bishop of the Western hemisphere of the EOTC writes, It is mandatory for all faithful to pray seven times a day.77 If the demand of praying seven times a day had been solely restricted to the monastic community, it might be much easier to implement it. Since there is an intentional atmosphere to blend prayer and work in the monastery, it would not be complicated to implement the seven time prayer in the monastic environment. However, when this level of commitment is expected from each person, things become distorted. Yesehaqs detailed explanation clearly expounds how believers are expected to undertake daily prayer in the following fashion: 1. Upon rising from bed in the morning and before commencing any task all Christians must glorify God for His kindness in bringing them from night (darkness) to day (light). Adam, the father of all, was created in the morning: at this hour Our Lord Christ was brought to Pilate for questioning. 2. At the third (9:00 A.M) Eve the mother of all was created; Daniel the prophet prayed to God, the Incarnation of Christ was announced by the angel Gabriel; the Lord was chastised in the presence of Pilate, and the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. 3. At the sixth hour (noon), Satan is very active in deceiving people while the mind of person is weak as a result of hard labor and heat. The church teaches that at this hour Adam was deceived by Satan, Enoch offered prayer to God in the sanctuary at noon, and Christ was crucified at the sixth hour. 4. At the ninth hour (3:00 P.M) the angels transmit our prayers and offering to God, and Our Lord gave his life at the Cross for our salvation at the ninth hour. 5. At the evening that everyone receives payment for their labors; evening is also a symbol of the Second advent, where everyone shall be judged according to his work; at this hour Christ was buried. 6. In the

Ibid., 249.
77

76

Yesehaq, The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: An Integrally African Church , 130.

144 evening before going to sleep, a prayer of thanksgiving is said because God has caused us to complete the working hours of the day brought us night that we may rest; also God Himself prayed at this hour. 7. The midnight prayer is most important because it was at this hour that Christ was born, baptized, and rose from the dead and will come again for judgment.78 Implementing the above prayer times is inconceivable without interfering with the daily work involvement of the believer. However, the EOTC uses two mechanisms to stimulate these practices of prayers in everyday life. The first method is connected with encouraging believers to pray in the churches so that they could enjoy the ministry of angels. According to the EOTC teaching, each believer has two guardian angels who usually meet in heaven leaving a believer without protection in the morning and evening hours.79 Because of this Satan rushes to tempt the person. So in order to avoid this enemy, morning and evening prayers should be said in the church, where there are numberless guardian angels. 80 It should be noted that travelling to the church takes people away from their place of work. The second is connected with constitutional motivation which usually is threatening the believer to follow strict rules. According to the EOTC anyone who omits prayer, unless he or she is seriously ill, is subject to be cut off from the congregation.81 Therefore, such a demand will force the believer to make tireless efforts to meet those requirements. However, this in turn makes the working life a daily struggle. Unless the world itself is transformed into a monastic environment, implementation of this prayer time complicates the commitment of the worker.

Ibid., 130-131. This obligatory demand of praying seven times a day is supported by a verse from Psalm 119:164.
79 80 81

78

See ibid., 131-132. Ibid., 132. Ibid.

145 One could not help but question how fulfilling this requirement could be possible in this demanding modern time. I believe that there is a significant relationship between the reluctance to work and the extent of this religious expectation.

4.7. The Interplay between Work and Leisure in the EOTCs Understanding Work and leisure are interconnected. As opposed to the understanding of the Western Churches that focus on working hard for the sake of enjoying leisure, the EOTC regards the leisure of community celebration as the main focus. According to the EOTC leisure is an activity that facilitates a spiritual state of mind that impacts both this life and the life to come.82 Miroslav Volf is right when he writes, it is notoriously difficult to determine what leisure is.83 Scholars who studied the subject have produced their own respective definition of leisure. Citing Neulinger, Volf notes, every body uses the word but hardly anyone can agree on what it means.84According to Josef Pieper, the word used to designate the place where we educate and teach is derived from a word which means leisure. School does not properly speaking, mean school, but leisure.85

82

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 316-318.

Miroslav Volf, Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 133.
84 85

83

Ibid.

Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, trans. Alexander Dru (New York: Random House, Inc., 1963), 20.

146 Volf and Leland Ryken take work and leisure as the opposite ends of the continuum. They both agree that work involves an obligation whereas leisure is an activity that is characterized by freedom and is inter-related with the use of spare time. 86 In the EOTC understanding the practice of work and leisure is connected with the nature of the day. According to Pieper, leisure is a mental and spiritual attitudeit is not simply the result of external factors, it is not the inevitable result of spare time, a holiday, a week-end or a vacation. It is in the first place, an attitude of the mind, a condition of the soulutterly contrary to the ideal work as activity, as toil, as a social function.87 The EOTCs practice of leisure incorporates some of Piepers definition of leisure. Jenbere partially agrees with Pieper and notes, Knowing that we will be judged if we break the holy days that are commanded by the law, in the holy days we shall abstain from physical work and intentionally focus on spiritual things.88 Therefore, in the EOTCs understanding there is an element of leisure and celebration that concentrates on the higher life. All the holy days are meant as times to reflect on the Holy One. The relationship between leisure and work does not have a clear link in the EOTC. In other civilized societies leisure is subsequent to work. For the most part the mentality of working hard for meaningful leisure is not a common experience in the EOTC. Instead it regards work and leisure as two separate entities. Leisure according to the EOTC is

Cf. Leland Ryken, Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1987), 20-22. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 134-136.
87 88

86

Pieper, Leisure, 40.

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 327-328. ::

147 more than free time people use as they deem appropriate. In fact the leisure time is guided by something external to what particular individuals are focusing on. It is filled with celebration, a fellowship meal, and relationships of different kinds such as sending food for the needy people, relatives and worship programs. The leisure that the EOTC advocates is ultimately connected with its feast days and annual major holy days. Unlike the Western Church view where leisure is regarded a meaningful exercise that empowers people to perform their job in a renewed fashion, the EOTC view of leisure is a condition that allows the soul to melt in front of the Almighty. Pieper agrees with the concept of leisure that takes divine worship as its vital ingredient, and notes, leisure can only be made possible and justifiable on the same basis of celebration of festival. That basis is divine worship.89 A Western understanding of leisure that is solely equated with vacation and rest is incompatible with Piepers view. The practices of leisure in the EOTC have two outstanding characteristics. First and foremost it is primarily communal. Second, it is also enjoyed in a relaxed fashion without guilt involved in it. In a production oriented society at times leisure is dominated by the list of things to be done during leisurely activity.90 Although the EOTCs practice of leisure has its own strength, it is not without limitation. As Western leisurely practice is dominated by a list of things to be done, the EOTCs leisure is characterized by idleness or unproductivity.91

89 90 91

Pieper, Leisure, 56. (Italics his) Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 201. Zewde, Pioneers of Change, 121-125.

148 4.7.1 The Relationship between Leisure and Work in the EOTC When there is a sensible balance between work and leisure, avoiding the extremes of both alienation (overwork) and idleness, the result is a biblical picture of a balance between work and leisure. The EOTCs practice reveals that its daily experience leans towards the leisure side of the continuum. It is true that the number and extent to which holy days are observed vary from region to region, from household to household, and even within a household.92 However, 10-12 days per month are considered as holy days in a large section of the country. In these holy days, forbidden activities included land clearing, planting, weeding, mowing, winnowing, cutting trees, constructing houses, grinding and dehusking grain and handicraft.93 Such a pattern of daily life affects the value attributed to work. At times the political leaders themselves had to challenge their followers in order to rebuke the reluctance of the people to do actual work. For example King Teklehaimanot personally assisted the Italian craftsman Salimbeni in constructing the bridge over the Tamchi River the laborers were reluctant to work until their ruler was seen himself carrying stones.94 This reluctance stemmed from a myriad of causes. As we have discussed earlier manual labour was despised and above all hard work is not valued in the society. Even today hundred years after the above incident, this mentality has not changed in our contemporary Ethiopian society. For example, in his interview with the Amharic magazine

92 93 94

Aredo, National Conference of Ethiopian Studies, 166. Ibid. Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia, 45.

149

(Excellence) entrepreneur engineer Getahun Heramo expressed his discontent with

the existence of a mentality that still despises hard work and a willingness to be a burden to immediate family and society.95

4.7.2 The Impacts of Leisure and Work on the EOTC Since leisure is given priority in the day-to-day involvement of the adherents of the EOTC, industry is attributed a minimal value. As I have repeatedly argued elsewhere, the adherents of the EOTC are more informed about leisure than work.96 They possess clear knowledge as to when to work and when not to. People unquestionably obey instruction given by the clergy. Some observers blame the clergy for distortions that we see in relation to leisure and work. There are two polarized evaluations regarding the actual place of the clergy in the lives of the Ethiopian people. There are some who firmly advocate that the clergy focus on informing people in the area of feasts, and fasts and over looked the area of work.97 Another group recognizes the difficulty of breaking a habit of thousand years. This group has sympathy for the clergy. They point to the futile attempt of a progressive archbishop as a

Ethiopian Evangelical Christians workers Fellowship, Excellence (Addis Ababa: Evangelical Church Fellowship of Ethiopia, 2000 EC), 5-6. This assessment is given from an Evangelical perspective. It covers in a true sense the overall situation of the contemporary Ethiopian society. The church has given meticulous instruction about daily commemoration and annual festivals that informed the average believer. However, one can hardly find any reflection in the area of work.
97 96

95

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 108-120.

150 case in point. He tried to introduce a balance between work and leisure. His effort ended up fruitless.98 Citing different commentators, Perham expounds the inability of the clergy to instruct the people as follows: Rey writes that they are ignorant and illiterate parasites. Baum speaks of the country as woefully priest ridden. Even Mrs. Sandford, latest and most sympathetic of commentators, stigmatizes the priesthood as ignorant, primitive and superstitious.99 On the other hand Isaac argues against the exaggerated misunderstanding of the clergy and comments, In order to achieve progress in Ethiopia in the sphere of both education and community development, it is absolutely essential to understand the ways and social position of the priests.100 Isaac is more sympathetic towards the actual situations of the priests and he refrains from judging them. However, he recognizes that the day-to-day operation of the church is traditional and primitive in many ways and needs to adjust to enjoy the benefit of modernization.101 Almost all foreign scholars who studied the working habit of the Ethiopians are puzzled by the number of holy days that the natives enjoy.102

Setotaw, YENEGAL: Religious Dialogue, 18-19. Archbishop Macarius attempt was misunderstood and he was given a nickname after the 4 th century heretic bishop Arius. People disliked him for his repeated teaching of minimizing the number of commemoration days.
99

98

Perham, The Government of Ethiopia, 111. Isaac, Ethiopia Observer, 250. Ibid., 251-252. Theodore Edward Dowling, Abyssinian Church (London: Cope & Fenwick, 1909), 18.

100 101 102

151 4.8 Conclusion Several factors impact the working habit of the adherent of the EOTC. In the previous section I attempted to show the impact of the polarized view of humanity in the EOTCs teaching and practice. Behind each practice stands ones view of what he/she believes in. In the same way, theological anthropology in the EOTC played itself in the working habit of the EOTCs adherents. The EOTCs perception of humanitys robust characteristics directly impacted how the Church envisioned work. To compensate for the fallen nature of humanity the EOTCs teaching prescribed the discipline of imitating certain role models by way of implementing spiritual disciplines and remembering those who finished the race victoriously.103 This in turn took huge blocks of time that unhelpfully impacted on work schedules/habits. Furthermore the robust character evident in the saint led them to being exalted. This introduced super-men who do not need to work, which again negatively affected work. The monastic mentality of the kings contributed to a lapsariancentered lifestyle that negatively influenced the daily lives of the society. Above all, the theological anthropology of the EOTC especially its substantival view of the image of God and lack of a functional dimension to it - is the source of an unbalanced and unbiblical practice of work in its adherents.

103

Here role models refer to saints, martyrs and Jesus Christ.

CHAPTER 5 SCRIPTURE INTERPRETATION AND WORK

5.1 Introduction Work is one of the daily activities where intentional reflection on it in the light of the Scripture is essential for those who take Scripture seriously. Furthermore, history again and again has shown that faith communities have taken an interpretive approach to Scripture that best fits their own specific contexts. The EOTC is not an exception in relation to this matter. In this chapter I will argue that the EOTCs understandings of the Holy Scripture1 and its construal are vital factors that determine its stance regarding commemoration days2 in general and the theology of work in particular. Therefore, behind their belief in the observance of extended holy days and their theology of the exaltation of humanity stands the churchs allegorical method of interpretation. The EOTCs inadequate hermeneutic of the Scripture and uncritical appropriation of Platonism contributed to the minimal development of the theology of work.

The expression Holy Scripture refers to the EOTC canon which is radically different from Holy days and commemoration days are interchangeable terms in this work.

other traditions.
2

152

153 5.2. Holy Days and Scripture Interpretation Special commemoration days are given their due place in the Scripture. In the Old Testament there are meticulous instructions on how to handle holy days which were known by different types of feasts.3 From the very beginning i.e. in the first book of the Bible, the Scripture gives instruction about the how of work and the when of rest. In Genesis, Scripture established the rhythm of working for six days and taking a day of rest on the Sabbath.4 As I noted earlier our specific focus for this section is discussing the relationship of holiday and work in the light of the Scripture.

5.2.1 The View of Scripture in the EOTC The EOTC fully accepts that the Scripture is God breathed.5 Though the EOTC takes the Scripture as the inspired word of God, the EOTC perceives that the Scripture is enriched by insights that have been gained from the Tradition.6 According to the EOTC

Regarding the holy days that are dedicated to the Lord, the Bible gives a clear explanation. For example: (1) The Sabbath rest in (Gen 2:2-3); (2) The Passover feast in (Exod12:1-14); (3) The feast of unleavened bread (Exod 12:15-20); (4). The feast of Harvest, the first fruit of labor (Exod.23:16 4); (5) The feast of Ingathering (Exod. 23: 16, 34:22); (6) A memorial of Trumpet (Lev. 23:23-25); (7) The day of Atonement (Lev 16, 23:26-32); (8)The Seventh year rest (Exod. 23:10-11); (9) The Jubilee which is the year of remission (Lev 25:8-55). These Holy days were given to Jews and they were celebrated to show that they belong to God and show their allegiance to Him.
4 5

See Gen 2:2-3; Exod 23:12.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet [The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith, Order of Worship and Ecumenical Relations] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1988 EC), 41. Tradition refers to set of literature that has been handed down in oral and literary forms, and well established practices.
6

154 Scripture and Tradition are complementary rather than contradictory.7 Therefore, for the proponents of the EOTC the Scripture is completed and illuminated by Tradition. It is also believed that the church guides the shape and meaning of the Scriptures.8 The proponents of the EOTC accept that God is the ultimate source of the Scripture, as it is He who gives the light that guides His people.9 He has chosen an avenue to communicate His will to his people through the written word. Furthermore, in the EOTC it is believed that the Scripture was written by the saints who were carried along by the Spirit. The EOTC argues that Tradition is an indispensable source of guidance. The Bible itself is handed down by way of Tradition and enriched by it. In this regard H.H. Shenouda, III argues, Through Tradition we came to know the Holy Bible itself. Through the entrustment the Divine Books reached us and we would not have been able to know or distinguish them except Tradition. The holy councils defined the books of the New Testament to us.10 Furthermore, Shenouda argues that Tradition has more advantages than the Holy Bible for the following reasons. The first argument is related to time. Tradition came way before the Bible. Therefore, it has elements that are not included in the Bible. 11

H. H. Pope Shenouda III, Comparative Theology Trans. Mary Amani & Bassilli Amani. (London: Coptic Orthodox Publishers Association, 1988), 56.
8 9

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 41-45.

Melakeberhan Admasu Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot:Wetat Temelket Endatisasat[Foundation for Faith: Youth Watch Out That You Will Not Err] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1989 EC), 148-158.
10 11

Shenouda, III, Comparative Theology, 70.

Ibid., 56-60. To make a case for Tradition that it has more information that is not included in the Bible Shenouda gives an example and writes, The Apostle explains this saying By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (Heb 11:4) Here we ask: How did Abel know the idea of offering sacrifices to God? From where did he get that faith? There was no written Law at his time. Undoubtedly, he received this idea through Tradition from his father Adam who had received it from God Himself. This took place fourteen centuries before Moses wrote about sacrifices and burnt offerings.(58).

155 Secondly, Tradition is wider than the Bible. Shenouda argues, The Holy Bible does not mention everything.12 He elaborates that the only way we could get the truths which are not included in the Bible is through Tradition. Thirdly, according to Shenouda, Tradition is more explicit. For example Shenouda takes the observance of Sunday as the Lords day as a case in point and argues that observing Sunday as the New Covenant Sabbath is a habit taken from Tradition.13 Fourthly, Tradition is context sensitive. Not all apostles wrote the Bible. However, they all preached and taught in their context of ministry. Therefore, the fruit of their work, though not included in the Holy Bible it is preserved through Tradition.14 According to Shenouda Tradition is more comprehensive than the Bible. In the same fashion the EOTC agrees with Shenouda and notes, The Scripture and Tradition complement each other. Tradition preserves the Bible, interprets the Bible and it also supplies what the Bible lacks.15 In this official statement the EOTC declares that Tradition gives three outstanding services to the Holy Bible. First, according to the EOTC, the Tradition preserves the Bible. The way it preserves it is by bringing both literary and oral support for the truth claims of the Bible.16 According to the EOTC, Tradition has more advantages over the Bible. Its advantage is practically demonstrated by preserving

12 13 14 15

Ibid., 61-64. Ibid., 65-67. Ibid. 68-70.

(The

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 48 English text is my translation of this)
16

Ibid., 48.

156 the truth throughout the ages. Secondly, the EOTC advocates that Tradition is also instrumental in the interpretation of the Scripture.17 Many of the EOTCs attempts to interpret the Scripture come from extra biblical sources that reinforce its own interpretation.18 For example the book of Enoch which is included in the EOTC canon is taken as a foundation of both the Old and New Testament books.19 Furthermore it is a key interpretive book for the whole Bible. Thirdly, the Tradition compensates for what the Holy Scripture lacks in its presentation of truth. For example the statement of the apostle Paul which says, Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, (2 Tim. 3:8) is not found in the Pentateuch. In the same way Pauls statement which says, It is more blessed to give than to receive is not found in the gospels. The EOTCs proponents argue that the apostle Paul got these pieces of information from the Tradition and that he included them in the Scripture.20 Furthermore, according to the EOTC, the Bible is perceived to be incomplete without Tradition.21 That is why the EOTC claim to have a wider canon. I will elaborate on the wider EOTC canon in the next section. It is true that the Reformation oriented Bible-believing Christians to affirm that the canon is an instrument that guides the

17 18

Ibid. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 63-64.

Ibid., 64. In his dialogue with Zemenefes Kidus Abreha, Jenbere notes , Look! the book of Enoch is the foundational book for the Old Testament, New Testament and the book of scholars.
19

20 21

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 48. Ibid., 48.

157 church, not vice versa.22 However, the EOTC emphasize the opposite. According to the EOTC it is the church that guides and shapes the nature of the Bible and its interpretation.23 The church sets the boundaries and the limits of meaning and significance of the Scripture.24 Michael Horton disagrees with the church having a magisterial role and notes, One might say that Scripture is the teaching and tradition is a teacher. In One sense, of course, Scripture is both the teaching and the teacher (analogia fidei), but in another sense tradition may be seen as what philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has called the long conversation of the people of God as they led into the Scripture by their teaching officers. In addition to the creeds and confessions, doctors of the church, pastors, and teachers have been held in high esteem by Lutheran and Reformed Traditions. And yet the churchits constitutions and officersis regarded as having a ministerial rather than magisterial function.25 I resonate with Horton and fully acknowledge that the Bible gives us an insight as to how one needs to interpret it. There are principles to be imitated and ways to be followed in order to understand and interpret the Scripture. I agree with Vanhoozer that Theology is a matter of conceptually re-describing the narrative world of the Bible from the inside.26 Therefore relying on extra biblical sources and chiefly on the faith community for

22

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 140-142. Ibid.

2005), 177
23 24 25

Michael Horton, Are Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism Compatible? No: An Evangelical Perspective. In Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism edited by James Stamoolis. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 120.
26

Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 171.

158 interpretation shifts the emphasis of intratextual interpretation and complicates the way the Bible is read and applied to lives.27 Readers who recognize the unquestionable authority of the Scripture over Tradition declare that the aim of reading Scripture is to foster faithful worship and faithful living.28 This could be possible if, and only if, the approach one takes to interpretation is intratextual. In this approach of interpretation the reader is invited to meet God in the pages of the Scripture and will not confuse the role of God with the role of the community or individuals. This real encounter will give the reader a chance to meet God. Such a real encounter with the Scripture is unthinkable in the EOTC because people require the church and its doctors to learn what is the correct and appropriate interpretation in order to apply it to daily lives.29 I agree with Vanhoozer when he says, One can not take every practice of the visible church as the norm for Christian doctrine; one must not confuse the descriptive with the prescriptive.30 The lone journey of the EOTC and its radical departure from the wider Christian family in reading the Scripture resulted in having a totally different canon that isolated the church from the rest of the Christian world.31 This is a direct result of how the EOTC views the Scripture. Furthermore, the church insists that the Holy Bible is part of the

27

Here I am referring to Jenbere who argues about relying on extra biblical sources to interpret Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 176. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 140-157. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 191.

the Scripture.
28 29 30 31

There are no other Christian churches that claim the same amount of biblical books that the EOTC claims to have.

159 dynamic and existing Tradition of the church and yet it is not a complete record of what the EOTC takes as the full record of the Holy Scripture.

5.2.2 The EOTC Canon Although the EOTC canon includes the entire Bible,32 it incorporates additional fifteen or more apocryphal books that were not accepted by other traditions. Furthermore, its canon varied from the Coptic Orthodox Church (COC)33 which had been its guardian for sixteen hundred years.34 EOTCs canon is guided by its theological decision that Scripture is viewed through the lenses of prophecy, preaching and illumination.35 Closer observation of the EOTCs canon demonstrates that they have chosen a path no other church has taken in history. The following table summarizes this by comparing the EOTC canon with its mother church and with other traditions as well.

Table 2
BOOKS OF OLD TESTAMENT ACCORDING TO EACH TRADITIONS Coptic Orthodox Genesis Exodus Leviticus Ethiopian Orthodox Genesis Exodus Leviticus Roman Catholic Genesis Exodus Leviticus Protestant Genesis Exodus Leviticus Greek & Russian Orthodox Genesis Exodus Leviticus

32

Here the word Bible refers to the sixty-six books that the Protestant tradition accepts as the From now onwards I shall use COC to indicate Coptic Orthodox Church. The COC was a guardian for the EOTC from 330-1959. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 149-157.

Scripture.
33 34 35

160
Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth Kings I (1 Samuel) Kings II (2 Samuel) Kings III (1Kings) Kings IV (2Kings) 1Chronicle 2 Chronicle Esdras I Esdras II (Ezra) Nehemiah Tobit*
38

Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 & 2 Samuel**36 1 & 2 Kings** 1Chronicle 2 Chronicle Jubilee Enoch
***37 *** **

Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth Kings I (1 Samuel) Kings II (2 Samuel) Kings III (1Kings) Kings IV (2Kings) 1Chronicle 2 Chronicle Esdras II (Ezra) Nehemiah Tobit Judith
**

Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1Kings 2Kings 1Chronicle 2 Chronicle Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job

Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth Kings I (1 Samuel) Kings II (2 Samuel) Kings III (1Kings) Kings IV (2Kings) 1Chronicle 2 Chronicle Esdras I Esdras II (Ezra) Nehemiah Tobit

Esdras III & Esdra IV Ezra and Nehemiah Tobit Judith

The books which are marked in two asterisks points are counted as one book in the EOTC canon while they are counted as two books in other traditions including the Coptic Church which was EOTCs guardian for 1600 years. In some cases like the book of Jeremiah it incorporates all four books i.e. Lamentation, Baruch Epistle of Jeremiah. On the other hand the book of Proverbs is divided in two books. This will take the EOTC canon of the Old Testament from 46 to 52. But the EOTC declares that it has only 46 books in the Old Testament which is a unique claim as compared to other traditions. The books which are marked in three asterisks points are books one cannot find in any other Christian tradition except in the EOTC. In fact the EOTC theologians claim that this makes Ethiopia unique from other world Christians. See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 88-97. When you follow the asterisks chronologically you will see those books and the numbers 1, 2, 3 refers to their asterisk orders on the table. (1) The book of Jubilee in Hebrew is called () , It is sometimes called the lesser Genesis. In todays EOTC canon its designation is Metsehafe Kufale. (2) Enoch is considered as pseudopigraphical by other traditions and excluded from all traditons. (3) This is the book commonly known as Josippon which is accepted as the documented history of the Jews from the time of Adam to the time of Titus which is accredited to the writer by the name Josippon or Joseph ben Gorion. Old Testament Books with the marks of the asterisks were omitted from Coptic canon. See Otto F.A. Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (Cairo: The American University Press, 1999), 41. Most of these books which are marked by the asterisks were suggested for profitable reading by Athanasius I (328-373). They were not listed in his canon. Furthermore, At the beginning of the twentieth century, the question of canon was discussed again in the Coptic Church, by order of Cyril V, the 112 th patriarch, the following books were removed from the canon: Judith, the compliment of Esther, the wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, the Epistle of Jeremiah, Baruch, the complement of Daniel (Susanna and the three youths in the fire), and the books of Maccabees.(41)Therefore this reduces the Coptic Canon to 40 books in the Old Testament.
38 37

36

161
Judith* Esther Maccabees I* Maccabees II* Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastics Song of Solomon Wisdom of Solomon* Wisdom of Sirach* Isaiah Baruch* Jeremiah Lamentations Epistle of Jeremiah* Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi Esther Maccabees I Maccabees II & III** Job Psalms Proverbs 1-24 Proverbs 25-31 (Tagsas) Ecclesiastics Song of Solomon Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom of Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi Yosef Wolde Koriyon***
**

Esther Maccabees I Maccabees II Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastics Song of Solomon Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom of Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Baruch Lamentations Jer. Epistle of Jeremiah Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastics Song of Solomon Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Judith Esther Maccabees I Maccabees II Maccabees III Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastics Song of Solomon Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom of Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Baruch Lamentations Jer. Epistle of Jeremiah Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

162 Our comparative examination of the EOTC Old Testament canon shows that there is remarkable difference with other traditions. In the same way our observation of the EOTC canon reveals significant divergence in the New Testament. The following table explains this phenomenon. The EOTC canon has 8 additional books in the New Testament canon.39

Table 3
BOOKS OF NEW TESTAMENT ACCORDING TO EACH TRADITIONS Ethiopian Greek & Russian Orthodox Orthodox Roman Catholic Protestant 27 Books of NT Sereate Tsion Teezaz41 Getsew42 Abetelis43 The I book of
40

Coptic Orthodox 27 Books of NT

27 Books of NT

27 Books of NT

27 Books of NT

39 40

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 94.

Memhere Chere Abebe, Yesereate Betekristian Metsahefet (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on March 20, 2010), 1-12. Sereate Tsion is a book that describes 4 Before they were sent to proclaim the gospel to the world they gathered together and decreed this law, order and teaching of the church. Ibid., 2. The book Teezaz explains, This is a
41

book that gives instruction regarding the ordination ceremony of arch bishops, the way to present sacrifice, priestly garment, baptism and holy communion etc..
42

Ibid., 2. The book Getsew deals, This book begins by explaining the being of God, elaborates on the Incarnation and Jesus earthly ministry in Jerusalem and its environs.
43

Ibid., 2. The book Abetelis explains,

Abetelis is the title of the book it means to decree something. The word is derived from the Greek word a and it states the job description of Overseers, Priests, Deacons and Believers and their spiritual life. Furthermore, it gives instruction as to how to implement the mystery of repentance, the essentiality of religious education and church ceremonies.

163
Dominos44 The II book of Dominos45 Clement46 Didascalia 47

Table 4
THE NUMBER OF BOOKS ACCORDING TO EACH TRADITON EOTC Canon RCC Canon PC Canon Includes 81 Or 8748 Includes 74 Includes 66

COC Canon Includes 67

GOC & ROC Canon Includes 76

It is normal and natural to assume that the mother and the daughter church would have a similar canon. However, there is radical difference between the EOTC canon and the COC canon.49 Furthermore, this difference extends to other traditions as well. The

44

Ibid., 5. The I (1st) book of Dominos deals,

The Lords message while he was in flesh was called the gospel. His proclamation between his

resurrection and ascension is called Covenant. The designation Dominos is given because what Abraham and the LORD discussed is fulfilled. Ibid.,7. The II (2 ) Book of Dominos explains, This is a book that describes the ordination of priests, the baptism and holy communion of new
45 nd

Christian. Furthermore, it describes that Titus is the anti-Christ and also describes about the second coming of Christ. Ibid., 8.The book of Clement elaborates, The book describes what
47 46

Saint Clement has written on what he heard about the Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior from the arch apostle Peter. Ibid., 7. The book of Didascalia describes This book is the teaching of holy apostles it covers wide variety of topics.
48

Though the EOTC claims it has 81 books in the whole Bible, as I showed earlier some books that were counted as two books in other traditions are counted as one in the EOTC canon. That is why I indicated that it wont be to far wrong to say that the EOTC canon has 87 books.
49

See Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity, 40-41.

164 EOTC scholars are aware of the difference between canons and they have both historical and theological rationales for it. In defense of this stance Jenbere writes, Ethiopia was the first country to receive the Old Testament and become a member of the house of Israel and no one was earlier than her. When Ethiopia received the Old Testament the rest of the world were idol worshipers. After so long the people who followed her example accepted part of the Old Testament and rejected some parts of it. The rejection will be to their disadvantage, it wont affect Ethiopia. Ethiopia who was the leader will not be a follower; the primary will not be secondary and will not emulate those who came after her. As Ethiopia was not ashamed and humiliated in accepting the Old Testament when the rest of the world were idol worshipers so also will not be ashamed and be humiliated if the Protestant churches reject what Ethiopia is accepting now.50 Therefore, as the pioneer Church the EOTC has taken this lonely path and its proponents are advocating this difference between themselves and the rest of the world as the mark of its authenticity and originality.51 Consequently, the presentations of the scholars indicate that the canon of the EOTC is influenced by their belief regarding their status as a primary church. According to Jenbere the whole Holy Scripture is structured in the form of prophecy, preaching and illumination.52 The first part of the Holy Scripture according to the EOTC is prophecy. Although there are different literary genres in the Old Testament, the overarching theme is prophecy. This prophecy is related to Jesus Christ the Savior.53 The second part of the Holy Scripture according to the interpreters of the EOTC is mainly

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 89.


51 52

50

Ibid., 89. Ibid., 150-157.

165 focused on exposition of the Old Testament and its practical fulfillment into the life of the Church. The whole New Testament deals with amplifying the Old Testament and it can be designated simply as preaching. The core message is related to what Christ did (which is history) and with who He is (which is doctrine).54 The third section of the EOTC Holy Scripture deals with illuminating the Old and the New Testament and harmonizing them in a clear and relevant language.55 In this regard Jenbere notes, The purpose of their writing is to harmonize the Old and New Testament, to expose what is hidden and amplify and interpret the Scripture in the light of Old and New Testament.56 Since the books of scholars are counted as canonical books their influence in the thought and action of believers is enormous.57 In contrast to the Reformers who strongly affirm that the canon is closed58 in the EOTC it is believed that there is the possibility to adjust the canon to the new situation. To that end, citing the Synod, Jenbere notes, When the apostles write the book Synod they said if we do not cover

53 54 55

Ibid., 149-150. Ibid., 151-153.

Ibid., 155-158. Most of the additional canonical books deal with different kinds of liturgical ceremonies of the church. Furthermore, some of the works of the scholars are included as canonical books. But the vast majority of them are treated as sacred books that guided the faith and life of the EOTCs adherents. Ibid., 155. . Ibid.,155. The EOTC extends inspiration beyond the sixty-six books of the Bible. The idea of sola scriptura is foreign to the EOTC. Jenbere notes, Therefore, the gift of the Spirit and His work is not limited to the time of the apostles. In fact the Holy Spirit inspires believers up until the second advent of Christ.
58 57 56

Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 133-150.

166 something, the Spirit dwells in all of us and let Him enable you to judge accordinglyIf there is something we missed let the overseer fill the gap beloved brothers for the purpose of safe journey of the church towards its destiny and that the church might lead a life of peace and harmony it is our wish that the Spirit shows anything that we did not see now and is lacking. (Articles 71, 35, 47).59 Because of this the EOTCs day-to-day activity for the most part is guided more by these eight last books than the rest of the whole Bible. In fact it would not be unfair to say that Tradition comes first than Scripture in the EOTC.60 It is true that no one approaches biblical interpretation without presuppositions. Not only our own presupposition but also our view of the canon influences the way theology is articulated. The practical deviation in the practice of work has its roots in how the EOTCs adherents view the Bible and Tradition.

5.2.3 Holy Days and Scripture Interpretation According to the EOTC proponents, there are unambiguous scriptural backings61 for the observance of numerous holy days which are directly related to commands in their canon, furthermore, blessings and curses are connected with either positive or

() ( 71 35 47)
60 61

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 155. Here Jenbere makes a case for the additional New Testament books and gives evidence from those books and says,

59

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 142-157.

According to the EOTC scriptural backing specifically refers to the books of the Old Testament, New Testament and the book of Church Fathers and scholars of the church as well.

167 negative responses towards those holy days. The EOTCs canon addresses the issues concerning the annual festivals and daily commemoration.62 An examination of the Scripture quotations reveals that most of references to observing the holy days come from the Old Testament and the books of the scholars that are included or equally elevated in the EOTC canon.63 The EOTCs interpreters recognize that there is a logical consistency in the books in the EOTC canon. In fact the books of scholars which are included in the EOTC canon practically demonstrate how the Old Testament and New Testament books refer to each other.64 Since my purpose is not to give detailed expositions in the area of the EOTC interpretation of holy days, I restrict my focus to the area of the EOTCs interpretation of the Holy Scripture as it relates to holy days and work. The EOTC proponents elaborate on four different types of holy days namely: major, minor, daily commemoration and weekly Sabbath.65 The major and minor holy days are connected with the Lord Jesus Christ.66 Jenbere argues that the observance of holy days is commanded from the very beginning in the book of Genesis and the rest of Pentateuch.67

This is specifically expounded in the compound book called Synod which incorporates 4 books namely: Serate Tsion, Teezaz, Abetelis and Getsew etc. See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 90-96.
63 64 65

62

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 155-157. Ibid.

Cf. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 296-330. Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, trans. Abba Paulos Tzadua, ed. Peter L. Strauss (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968), 114-117. Aba Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1974 EC), 124-141. Walellign Emiru, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Festivals: The Finding of the Cross and Epiphany (Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Enterprise, 2007), 82-90.
66 67

Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 125-139.

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 296. Here Jenbere refers to Gen 2:2-3. Furthermore he cites the Scripture passages in the Pentateuch especially in the book of Exodus that says, Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work,

168 Furthermore, this was reinforced by the spiritual law68 that guides both the church and the state.69 However, the EOTC clergy and the Ethiopian law exhibit conflicting claims regarding the observance of Saturday as Sabbath. First and foremost, the vast majority of Ethiopian kings take Saturday as Sabbath. In this regard citing W.C Harris Edward Ullendorff notes, The Jewish Sabbath is strictly observed throughout the kingdom. The ox and the ass are at rest. Agricultural pursuits are suspended. Household avocations must be laid aside, and the spirit of idleness reigns throughout the day and when, a few years ago, one daring spirit presumed, in advance of the age, to burst the fetters of superstition, His majesty the King of Shoa, stimulated by the advice of besotted monks, issued a proclamation that whoso violated the Jewish Sabbath should forfeit his property to the royal treasury, and be consigned to the state dungeon.70 On the other hand The Law of Kings which is Christianized law opposes the above claim when it says, Christians must not stop work on Saturdays as the Jews do, but as Christians they shall work on this day. If among [Christian] people, some are found to behave as Jews, they will be driven away from the face of Christ.71 These conflicting

neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. (Exod. 20:9-10). He argues that it is at our peril that we break Gods command of keeping the holy days, and specifically the Sabbath here in (Num. 15:32-36, Exod. 35:2-3). It may be because of the emphasis on this kind of theological idea that the devout EOTC believers will not drink coffee that is roasted between Friday and Sunday or fetch water, etc. See Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 125. This law is called Fetha Nagast which was a binding set of laws for the whole country and the spiritual part is administered by the church court. See Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Nagast: The Law of Kings, trans. Abba Paulos Tzadua, ed. Peter L. Strauss (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968), 114. It is instructed that there shall be no prostration on Sundays and great feast days, for these are day of happiness; there we must not work on Sundays or feast days.(114). Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: An Introduction to the Country and People (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), 112.
71 70 69 68

Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, 114.

169 proclamations demonstrate the inconsistency of the system in handling the relational matter as to how to observe the Sabbath in both Jewish and Christian way. Although there is discrepancy in the record they all agree that the Sabbath ought to be celebrated in a special way by refraining from work. Secondly, next to the Sabbath the festivals that believers are ordered to observe in the Holy Scripture are the festivals of the Lord Jesus Christ. The EOTCs proponents refer to the Gospels and Acts for observing the major and minor festivals.72 Furthermore, the Law of Kings clearly commands to refrain from work and says, Do not work during the week of passion, nor during the following week which is [a great] feast: during the first because Our Lord was crucified, and during the second because He rose from death. Do not work on the feast day of Pentecost, because the decrees of God were fulfilled in that day.73 Most of the time proof texting is used to validate the essentiality of celebrating holy days.74 Furthermore the eight books of ceremonies are used to authenticate procedures such as funerals that are not included in other sections of the EOTCs Holy Scripture.75

Ibid., 114-117. In relation to festivals, that are related with Christ, Aba Gorgorious and Emiru elaborate on 18 festivals that are big and small in their own ways. The first nine are major and the second nine are minor. See Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 123-139. Emiru, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Festivals, 82-90. 1. Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38/ March ) 2.Christmas (Luke 2:111/ December ) 3.Epiphany (Matt 3:16-17/ January ) 4. Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-13/ August) 5. Palm Sunday (Matt 21/ March/April) 6. Crucifixion (Matt27/ April) 7. Easter (Matt.28/ April ) 8. Ascension ( Acts 1:/ May ) 9. Pentecost/ Paraclete (Acts 2:/June) 10. Holy Cross (The finding of the true cross where Christ was crucified ) 11-13. Advent, Preaching, Nolawi (three Sunday before Christmass referring to the coming of the messiah) 14. Circumcision (this is the remembrance of) 15. Rejuvenation of Simon (Luke 2:24-35) 16.Cana (John 2:1-11) 17. Holy Cross/ Megabit (commemoration in relation to locating the exact place where Christ cross was buried) 18. Debrezeit (commemoration of the second advent of Christ )
73 74 75

72

Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, 116. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 296-301. See table 3.

170 The third types of festivals are related with the commemoration of the angels, saints and martyrs.76 Among the third type of commemoration the festival of Mary is decreed to be observed 33 days in one year. In this regard Jenbere notes, Since the apostles gave guidance [in the book of ceremonies] that the overseer shall formulate guidance in things what that they didnt address, based on this provision the church leaders commanded the observance of 33 days in one year in commemoration of our lady Mary remembering the good works that she accomplished on behalf of saints who were known to her.77 The basis of authority for this kind of experience in the day-to-day life of the adherents of the EOTC comes from both biblical and extra-biblical sources. The classic distinction between the Bible as norming norm (norma normans)78 and extra-biblical sources such as tradition, reason and experience as ruled norms (norma normata)79 does not agree with Jenberes explication where he regards tradition and experience as being on an equal level to the Bible. For Jenbere the Protestant Bible is incomplete.80 Therefore, he substantiates his claims by quoting from those books which are not included in other traditions except the EOTC canon. For example citing the book of Synod Jenbere notes, The apostles are those who teach you the commands of Christ i.e. the Gospel and remind you that the gifts of the Spirit indwell you. Therefore, celebrate their commemoration days by refraining from work. Secondly,
76 77

See table 1 in chapter 4 for details.

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 297. 33 Cf. Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition, 125.
78 79 80

Graham A. Cole, He Who Gives Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 26. n. 6. Ibid. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 90-95.

171 Stephen the chief of deacons and the forerunner of martyrs, commemoration day should be celebrated by abstaining from work. It is also appropriate to commemorate the days of martyrs who demonstrated their great love for Christ by sacrificing their precious life. The apostle Peter said, I Peter commanded all parishioners; must celebrate the days of martyrs by abstaining from work. 81

EOTCs approach to Scripture interpretation swings between literal and allegorical interpretation.82 When trying to substantiate a point in relation to the observance of the holy days, the Holy Scripture is literally applied in the form of proof-texting. The above explanation demonstrates the way the Holy Scripture is handled in persuading the parishioners to obey the Old Testament, New Testament and Scholars to follow the path of righteousness and peaceful life.83

5.3. The Uncritical Appropriation of Platonism There is a definite relationship between the emphases on the upward spiritual journey of the monastic saint and the teaching of theosis. Furthermore such a notion is practical evidence for the uncritical appropriation of Platonism in the EOTC which in turn affected the working life of its adherents.

Ibid., 298-299. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Yethiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik Keledete Kristos Eske Hulet Sheh Ametemehret, (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 2000 EC), 176.
83 82

81

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 154-156.

172 Platonism holds the view that the universe consists of two worlds. These are the intelligible supersensual world of ideas which alone merits the name of reality, and sensible material world that is only the image and appearance of the former.84 Such influence in the thought and action of its ancestors and the contemporary adherents of the EOTC is observed in many ways.85 The EOTCs proponents advocate that humanity will be fully satisfied when one achieves what is spiritual through the upward hierarchical spiritual ascent of the soul.86 In my presentation of anthropology in the previous chapter I elaborated on the EOTCs teaching of the hierarchical movement of the soul towards perfection.87 In this part my attempt is to show the Platonic element of this phenomenon. Norman Russel notes, The search for God began with an inward journey. Ever since Plato, know thyself had been the starting point of wisdom.88 The difference here is in the case of Platonism the reality or the perfection envisioned is achieved by the effort of an individual. Whereas, in the EOTCs practice of the inner journey; perfection is supposed to be given by God. To this end Russel notes, 4HRSRLKVLV is a product of Christian discipleship. This is because to be deified is to attain immortality, and immortality is not an innate human but a gift from God. It does

Alexander Kerrigan, St. Cyril of Alexandria Interpreter of the Old Testament (Roma: Pontifico Instituto Biblico, 1952), 199. See Piotr Ashwin-siejkowski, Clement of Alexandria: A Project of Christian Perfection (New York: T & T Clark, 2008), 90-92. Clement the Alexandrian scholar directly compares Platos teaching of Jesus and Paul, in his interpretation there is nothing but harmony between these three voices.(91)
86 87 88 85

84

Challiot, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition,128-194. See chapter 4 n. 30.

Norman Russel, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 116.

173 not come about through the realization of the essential self, as in Platonism, but is granted as the result of fidelity to the teaching of Christ and his Church.89 The EOTCs doctrine of the inner movement of the soul, however, has similarities and differences with Platonism. It is similar in that they both emphasize that the world as we know it is imperfect and the perfection comes from the invisible world. Furthermore, they both emphasize the movement to the invisible world. Their difference as indicated above perfection in the case of Platonism comes through self realization, whereas in the EOTCs case it comes through fellowshipping and knowing God. The former emphasizes on achievement and the latter focuses on gift. It is written that God welcomes these devout believers to be the partakers of his nature.90 Based on this conviction the adherents of the EOTC are encouraged to practice this inner journey. In this regard Challiot writes, In the first step, the one who purifies his/her flesh will experience the three following stages: silence (tzemawe), awareness (lebawe) and taste of praising (taeme zemmare). Then after one has purified the soul, he will attain the gift of tears (habte anbee) and love of human kind (feqer). Through the purification of heart, one is present everywhere(huset), one has become like fire (kawine esat) and one sees the Holy Trinity (netserote sellus qeddus), Matt 5:8.91
89 90

Ibid., 161.

The EOTC in general and the Eastern Tradition in particular refers to the divine participation expressed in 2 Pet 1:4 as restricted to the divine energy. It does not include the divine essence. Cf. Christoforos Stavropoulos, Partakers of Divine Nature in Eastern Orthodoxy: A Contemporary Reader ed. Daniel B. Clendenin (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 183-192, Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994), 117-137. Vladimir Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God (Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1985), 97-110. Ibid., 151. This same incident was presented through the lenses of anthropology in chapter four. Now it is elaborated that this phenomena is platonic in nature. In fact this is identical with the stage of theosis which has three levels catharsis i.e. purification, theoria vision and theosis i.e unification. See Russel, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition , 206-234.
91

174 Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowsky sees the parallel between Platonism and Christian perfection and notes, This whole architecture is based on the visible, material and invisible spiritual reality. It contains a concept of desire to ascend to the noetic spiritual realm that is here identified as the same realm of God. In the light of this fusion of two traditions, the Platonic and scriptural aspiring to perfection walk in the same direction under the same guidance.92 The emphasis on the above practice has its own impact on the society. The lack of an adequate spiritual diet results in erroneous practice.93 Furthermore, it affected the working habit of the people. Motivating people to hard work is not easy when the people are persuaded by the notion that eternity is immediately coming to the scene.

5.3.1 The Platonic Elements in the Spiritual Experience of the EOTC Since the Coptic Church is the mother church for the EOTC the Platonic orientation which was influential in the Coptic context has left its footprints in the EOTCs Christian experience. There is surprising similarity between the EOTC spirituality and Clement of Alexandria who was known for his platonic orientation.94 Furthermore, it is true that Clements account of the twofold hope, which he identifies with Platos twofold end,

92 93

Ashwin-siejkowski, Clement of Alexandria, 92.

As I noted elsewhere most of the materials in the EOTC are translations from the foreign sources. The people depend on what they hear and do not get clear, concise and timely guidance and simply adhere to the status quo.
94

Eric Osborn, Clement of Alexandria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 260.

175 provides the structure of his ethics.95 Some of the values that were dominant in his thought and actions were evident in the experience of the EOTC. We see this in two ways. First, they both understand spirituality in the form of spiritual ascent. For example, in the major book of monks in the EOTC spirituality is explained in the following manner: The pure flesh (body) which is closer to the level of the pure soul is privileged to see giant creatures there is another level which is above the level of the purity of the body and the soul that is the level of the purity of heart this is the level at which believers see the three lights which is the level of the pure heart.96 The second area where EOTC overlaps with Clement is their unique view of deification. According to Ashwin-siejkowski, Clement implanted his crucial understanding of growth in perfection by progressive transition from the initial introduction to Christianity to advanced knowledge, ethical maturity and ultimate assimilation to God.97 The EOTCs spiritual journey emphasizes unification with God in a special way and this is expressed as follows: Just like the fish is submerged in the sea and lives there [comfortably], Believers In this level of [unique meditation] submerged in the sea of lightafter this level of submerging in [light] there is another level where the persons Appearance from his head to his toes looks like fire. When a person reaches at this level others will not be able to see him bodily because he has assimilated with fire and his heart is one and the same with fire.98
95 96

Ibid., 229.

.
97 98

Tesfa Gebresillassie, Sosetu Metsehafete Menekosat [The Three Books of Monks]: Aregawi Menfesawi, (Addis Ababa: Tesfa Gebresellassie Priniting Press, 1982), 326.

Ashwin-siejkowski, Clement of Alexandria, 8.

Gebresillassie, Sosetu Metsehafete Menekosat: Aregawi Menfesawi, 332.

176 The uncritical appropriation of Platonism affects the EOTC adherents in two ways connected with their relationship to their departed loved ones. First, that they are captivated by the essentiality of monastic values. It is difficult for them to ignore an opportunity for the soul to progress. The idea of soul reaching to the level of divinity is so attractive. That is what happened to the kings of Ethiopia in the palaces. They led monastic lives in the political offices.99 The ordinary people were also forced to lead lapsarian-centered lives.100 This influence is rightly expressed by Amba Bishhoy when he writes: The life of the monastic communities serves the life of churches in many ways. It is from this source that the churches receive spiritual fathers and mothers as well as disciplined and developed labourers in the vineyard of the Lord. But the raison dtre of monastic life and monastic communities cannot be limited to the function of furnishing effective workers for the churches. To so limit the function of a monastic community would be to misunderstand its profound significance and to reduce it to a training center.101 Secondly, Christians are burdened by fulfilling demands that assure a better life for the deceased in the other world. Those still alive are expected to make remarkable

This hierarchical notion is implying that believers are entering

into mystical unity with God where believers are submerged in the other personality in this case (God) by losing their personality. Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present. (Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing press, 1998), 29-33.
100 101 99

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 303-317.

Amba Bishhoy, The Place of Monastic Life within the Witness of the Church Today, in Orthodox Visions of Ecumenism: Statements, Messages and Report on the Ecumenical Movement 1902-1992 ed. Gennadios, Limouris (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1994), 74-75.

177 efforts for the good of their loved ones. Such diligent activity will enhance the deliverance,102 restoration,103 joy and satisfaction104 of their loved ones in the other world. Such a demand is not easily welcomed by believers and the EOTC adherents recognize the struggle of some in dealing with the crucial needs of the deceased. To counteract this skepticism, citing Clement of Rome, Jenbere writes, Like pagans and gentiles do not say what good will [offering] it does for the deceased Clement told us that those who say this are those who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead and those who live without the hope of resurrection.105 The EOTC does not endorse the doctrine of purgatory like the Roman Catholic Church. However,

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 286. Let the relatives of the deceased person give alms to the poor on his behalf, If they present banquet in his remembrances and offered a present in his name, this act is like parents or relatives redeeming the captive from the captor. Do this in remembrance of your [deceased] fathers, brothers and relatives and present an offering without defect. Ibid., 283. Remember your deceased relatives always by presenting mass and offering on their behalf. This will surely benefit them. It will draw them much closer to the Lord Jesus and will facilitate favor in His sight. Ibid., 285. Let the relatives of the deceased person give alms to the poor, present incense in the name of the deceased person using his money. His soul said Ever since my departure from my body there is nothing that benefited me except an offering and the incense. I had no rest. However, whenever offering is presented and the incense is burned I rejoice with my relatives [in the world of the deceased]. Therefore, as a bridegroom rejoices during his honeymoon with his intimates, in the same way if his relatives present an offering, burn incense on her behalf, my soul shall rejoice with its relatives in heaven. Ibid., 287. ? ( ) Cf. Ashwin-siejkowski, Clement of Alexandria: A Project of Christian Perfection, 91-92. We notice that the real difference between Platonism and Christianity is the resurrection of the dead. The former rejects it and the latter treasures it.
105 103

102

104

178 such a focus in caring for the deceased 106 is one of the influences of the uncritical appropriation of Platonism that forced the church to dwell on this matter. Therefore, due to the radical focus on the life to come, the present is not given the attention it deserves.

5.3.2 The Impacts of an Uncritical Appropriation of Platonism on Work The EOTCs view that exalts the invisible world does not give sufficient attention to the observable and tangible reality of life. Therefore, the platonic influence is more visible in the lapsarian-centered life that exalted contemplation rather than active life. In his dialogue with Abreha Jenbere argues, Ethiopia exchanges the world she knew with the world that she does not know and has chosen the pleasures of the soul rather than flesh. Therefore, she leads a life of moral purity, chastity, voluntary poverty, spiritual battle with dark forces, persevering in risky situation as duty of the soulhowever, for the purpose of carnal pleasure you are engaged in physical work from dawn to dusk. Therefore, early in the morning just coming out of bed you eat your bread, drink your tea and without differentiating between days you go to hard work then come back to this routine of life.107 Abreha questions the fairness of abstaining from work for 18 days in a month and more than 200 days in a year.108 Jenbere tries to defend the status quo by referring to the ceremonial

Ibid. 282-287. Such events on behalf of the deceased are done on 3rd, 7th, 9th,12th , 40th , on the 6 month and every year. In fact for those who can afford it, it is recommended to remember each month as well, but this is not mandatory.
th

106

Ibid., 105. Here Jenbere accuses Abreha and his fellow believers for ignoring lapsarian-centered life and emphasizing hard work that challenged the extended holy days that characterized the EOTC adherents.
108

107

Ibid., 298.

179 books of the New Testament in the EOTC canon.109 Furthermore, instead of giving concrete theological rationale he evades the question and writes, If this is burdensome [abstaining from work for these many days] it shall be investigated by the church council. This is as simple as that.110 Therefore, in addition to the other factors that negatively impacted the value of work in Ethiopian society, the uncritical appropriation of Platonism also contributed to the minimal formulation of the theology of work in general and passivity in relation to industry.

109 110

Ibid., 299.

Ibid., 300. This dialogue took place 50 years ago and the present writer still sees Abrehas question unanswered. The need for an answer has inspired the present thesis.
::

180 5.4. The consequences of the Allegorical Interpretation in Relation to Work Among the multifaceted reasons that contributed to the minimal development of the theology of work, allegorical interpretation of the Scripture played the significant role. Therefore, I argue that there is an explicit relationship between the allegorism and indifference to the activity of work in the lives of the EOTC believers. The actual meaning of the allegorical and literal interpretation has been a cause of controversy in the discussions of hermeneutics.111 There are different ways people understood and conveyed allegory. I follow John J. O Keefe and R. R. Renos definition of allegory. They say, Allegories are basically interpretations that claim that the plain sense or the obvious sense of a given text is not the true meaning. The words, events, and characters, so the allegorist claims, stand for something else; they speak for another reality, another realm of meaning.112 According to David S. Dockery, the Alexandrian school was forced to emphasize allegorical interpretation because of the external pressures from many sources including Greek Philosophy, Graeco-Roman and Egyptian religions and Gnosticism. 113 In the same vein Justo L. Gonzlez notes, Alexandria was like a pot boiling with diverse

111 112

Bray, Biblical Interpretation, 78.

John J. OKeefe and R. R. Reno, Sanctified Vision (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2005), 89. David S. Dockery, Biblical Interpretation Then and Now (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 78-79. Cf. David Dawson, Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1992), 3-234. Duane Wade-Hampton Arnold, The Early Episcopalian Career of Athanasius of Alexandria (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991), 9-186. D. H. Williams, ed., Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Source Book of Ancient Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 135-148. James D. Ernest, The Bible in Athanasius of Alexandria (Boston: Brill Academic, 2004), 1-104. OKeefe and Reno Sanctified Vision, 89-113.
113

181 teaching all eclectic in nature.114 In this chapter I focus on the allegorical interpretation and its impact in the Ethiopian context. Since the EOTC was influenced by these schools, there were times that it was swinging between Anthiochene and Alexandrian schools of interpretation.115 However, since the COC was its guardian for 1600 years the EOTC inclined towards allegorical interpretation. Furthermore, most of the work in the EOTCs interpretation is characterized by Andemeta.116 Most of the time, the Holy Scripture in the EOTC is interpreted in allegorical fashion. For practical purpose, I restrict myself to commenting on those passages of the Scripture that are directly relevant to this chapter: those dealing with namely the Ark of the Covenant, spiritual disciplines and feasts. All of these are interrelated and heavily impact the practice of work in many ways. The first element that affects work is the observance and the celebration that is related to the Replica of the Ark of the Covenant (RAC). Although there are no Christian churches that structure their temple similar to the Jewish temple and keep the Ark in the holy place, the EOTC argues for the validity of placing RAC in the sanctuary and showing reverence to RAC in this era. Scripture does not explicitly endorse this practice. However, the proponents of the EOTC use Matthew 5:18 to support the continuity of keeping the RAC in each sanctuary.117 Furthermore, the EOTC makes its case by referring to Christs mission

114 115

Justo L. Gonzlez, History of Christian Thought, vol. 1. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1971), 191.

Although there are the influences from both schools of interpretation i.e. Anthiochene and Alexandrian, the EOTC leans towards the Alexandrian school of interpretation. Andemta simply means allegorical interpretation. According to Cowley, Andemta commentary (AC) is the highest stage of the Ethiopian Church education. See Cowley, Ethiopian Biblical Interpretation, 3. According to the EOTC a building could not be considered as a sanctuary if it does not have the RCA of the Covenant. It is forbidden to perform mass and perform Holy Communion in a building that
117 116

182 on earth. The EOTC argues that Christ came to fulfill the law. Since Christ did not destroy the former but rather fulfilled it, therefore, according to Matt 5:18 and 2 Cor 6:16, Rev 11:19, it is appropriate to keep the RAC in the sanctuary. It is advocated that everyone should bow before the RAC since it bears the name of God on it (Phil 2:10). It is also a must that there will be an annual procession for Epiphany and the remembrance of the particular personality that the Ark is dedicated to.118 One cannot envision the EOTC without the Ark. The Ark of the Covenant and its impact is visible in the day-to-day involvements of the adherent of the EOTC. It is helpful to see the comparison between the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament and the place of RAC in the EOTC in the table below. Table 5 Comparison Between the Old Testament Ark and EOTCs Ark of Covenant
Old Testament Ark It was one in number Carried by four persons (larger in size) It was carried while in journey It is dedicated to God alone It is a communication medium It does not exist today EOTC's Ark It is numerous (more than 35,000) Carried by one person (smaller in size) Carried in annual and special processions Dedicated to God through multitudes of personalities [Angels, Saints and Martyrs] It is an altar for the sacrificial process of Eucharist It is produced when the need arise

is not consecrated. Cf. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 332-346. Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 61-63. Deacon Agizachew Tefera, Telana Akal [Picture and Person/] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC), 69-81. See Ethiopian Orthodox, The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present. (Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing press, 1998), 79. According to the 1998 EOTC statistical data the Church has 35,000 sanctuaries and this means it has 35,000 RAC.
118

183 Although the EOTC does not say much about other churches, it labels evangelical churches as churches without the RAC. Because of the presence of the RAC the EOTC sanctuary is sacred and people prostrate in the direction of the church building from a distance there by acknowledging Gods special presence through the RAC in the building. In Ethiopias greatly agrarian community travel119 to different parts of the country for special events interferes with the working habit of the EOTC adherents. Travel to these holy sites is mandatory if the parishioners have to pay for their vows. Furthermore, the main element that attracts this travel is the nature and the type of the RAC.120 Therefore, one of the reasons for abstaining from work aproximately18 days in a month and for more than 200 days in a year is related to the peoples reverence for the RAC. Secondly, the Scripture passages that are used to substantiate spiritual disciplines demonstrate the dominance of allegorical interpretation in the EOTC. In the previous chapter I showed how spiritual disciplines such as fasting and prayers interfere in the working habits of the EOTC adherents.121 Here in this part I would like to show their use of the Scripture. For lack of space I will take selected passages. For example, Jenbere takes verses from Matt 5 and tries to substantiate his claims that Christs saying blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and emphasized on fasting, and saying blessed are

Members of the EOTC are not restricted into one local church. When there is annual procession they travel to all corners of the country that conduct this special celebration in the specific time. They do this in the hope of getting Gods special blessings and pleasing the Lord through the visit of this special RAC. 120 The RAC is dedicated to God, angels or human beings i.e. saints or martyrs. Therefore, people who give special place in their hearts to specific angels go to those areas to participate in the celebration ceremony of their favorite angel represented by RAC. Therefore, people flock to that special RAC on a regular basis.
121

119

See 2.4.1-2.4.2 in chapter 2 and 4.5 in chapter 4 for the details.

184 the merciful, and emphasized on alms giving and saying blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, emphasized monasticism.122 In this passage desperate passion for what is true before God is compared to a hungry persons desire for food. However, this is interpreted as fasting by Jenbere. Mercy is reduced to alms giving, and persecution for Christs sake is reduced to monasticism. In interpreting this passage a combined application of allegorical and literal interpretation is observed. Exemplary demonstration of allegorical interpretation is observed in Rev 1:8, where I am the Alpha and the Omega, is interpreted I am alfa o. a means ab (Father), l means wld (Son) and fa means mnfs q ddus (Holy Spirit); o means and nnt (Unity). I am He whose property is unity and trinity.123 The third element that affects work is the observance and the celebration that is related with feasts. The Scripture passages that are used to validate abstaining from work come from different sections of the Scripture. However, the major ones come from the additional books of ceremonies.124 In the EOTC tradition there are monthly and annual feasts that must be celebrated by abstaining from work.125 In addition to honoring the saints, Jenbere

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 115. Roger W. Cowley, The Traditional Interpretation of the Apocalypse of St. John in Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 189. This kind of allegorical interpretation is common in the EOTC interpretation tradition.
124 125 123

122

See n 40-47 in this chapter.

Cf. Deacon Agizachew Tefera, Telana Akal, 154-155. Tefera says, our church each month 30 days are holy days. ; Memhere Getachew Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? [Performances or Pits ] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC), 136. Getachew even takes this to 365 days in a year.
30 In

185 argues that the feasts are organized for the purpose of atoning for ones sin.126 Furthermore, there are lots of stories for honoring the saints and martyrs. St. Marys birth, good deeds, death and ascension has lots of significance that needs special attention by the believers. In the same fashion dishonoring days that are dedicated to honoring the saints like her has its own severe consequence. For example, citing from the book of the miracles of Mary, Jenbere writes, An abusive women not only refused a piece of bread when she was asked by the refugee family of Jesus but also snatched baby Jesus from the arm of his mother and threw him to the stony ground. Because of such an act her slave was swallowed by the earth and Taman the abusive women and her relatives were transformed half of them to apes and the rest to monkeys and flew to the surroundings.127 The significance of the story is that people should observe Marys 33 annual feasts.

5.4.1 Skewed Perception of Humanity The phenomenon of lapsarian-centrism is closely connected with an unbalanced view of the Scripture. Therefore, the EOTCs interpretive mechanism introduced a notion that does not value the true nature of humanity. These stories of the saint are presented as if they are collective stories of the community. Devout believers are encouraged

See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 299. Jenbere clarifies on indulging in surplus food and drunkenness of the participants on the feast and writes, . The purpose of the feast is to remember the saints and for atoning sin. It is not to be drunk and indulge in overeating. Ibid., 196. . For detailed exposition of this story See Otto A. Jager Ethiopian Manuscript Paintings. Ethiopia Observer: Journal of Independent Opinion, Economics, History and the Arts 13, no 1 (Addis Ababa: 1970): 354-391.
127

126

186 to imitate those saints. I will try to show this by taking two exemplary stories which are widely accepted by the people that are produced by the EOTCs homily writers. One is taken from the prayer books called Seatat. In this book Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus is portrayed beyond the way Scripture does.128 Another story concerns the other EOTCs saint Gebremenfes Kiddus. This person is portrayed as superhuman in many ways.129 People who hear those stories are not easily moved to work.130 Therefore, for those who are influenced by this kind of thinking this age is characterized by pain and dissatisfaction. Moreover work is portrayed as painful toil and a curse. According to R. Paul Stevens, When we open the Bible we find God at work, separating light and darkness, land and sea, and so on. We also find God fillingmaking the world and all living things flourish.131 If God is at work we should not be indifferent to work. However, the EOTCs theological reflection in the past in relation to the theology of work lacks balance. It reduces work to a curse.132

128 GBV, Metsehafe Seatat: According to the Balance of the Sanctuary [The book of Prayer in hours] (Addis Ababa: BGNLJ Publishers, 2002), 10-34. Here the writers of this book summarize that Mary the mother of Jesus is portrayed as (1) A receiver of prayer; (2) Savior and light of Gods people, (3) Timeless i.e. she answered the prayers of Jacob when he was mistreated by Laban. (4) She is portrayed as a being who was present before the creation of heaven and earth.

Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 70-92. Here Mitiku summarizes that the person lived in Egypt for 300 years and moved to Ethiopia for the remaining 262 years. (1) He sang songs of praise in day 1 of his life. (2) He was taken to the monastery by age 3 through the help of the angel Gabriel. (3) He was never clothed. He had 50 inches of hair that covered his body and lived with wild beasts.(4) He was surrounded by 60 lions and 60 tigers. (5) By his intercession deceased sinner were transferred from hell to heaven. How can one understand this type of story? I am certain that this is the result of a skewed perception of ones human nature.
130 131

129

See n.38 chapter 4 for the details.

R. Paul Stevens, Doing Gods Business: Meaning and Motivation for the Market Place (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2006), 5. Jenbere in his argument with Abreha underscores that work is a curse and does not see the essentiality of looking for God in ones work involvement. See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 296-328.
132

187 5.4.2 Inadequate Formulation of Theology of Work The EOTCs inadequate hermeneutical approach is responsible for an unbalanced view of life and an inadequate theology of work. Furthermore, the allegorical interpretation that has dominated the EOTC is the major contributing factor to the minimal development of the theology of work. As I repeatedly noted behind every twisted practice stands the view of the Scripture. That is true of the formulation of theology. lapsariancentered theological understanding views life through the lenses of allegorical interpretation. OKeefe and Reno are right when they write, allegory involves so much interpretive ambition that it can create the impression that the real source of meaning is the readers imagination and not the text itself.133As I have shown earlier, for the most part the EOTCs interpretations see the Holy Scripture through their mystical lenses. For example Jenbere notes, As 1 John 1:7 explained to us anyone who says I believe in Him ought to walk like Him and live like Him i.e. leading a life characterized by rejecting the stomach as god, by refraining from the desire for home and in fasting and prayer, by prostrating before God and by enduring [hardship of life]. 134 However, Jenberes kind of interpretation basically comes to the text with preunderstanding and forces the text to accomplish its preconceived idea. Furthermore, it underplays the value of grammatical-historical hermeneutics which has close adherence to

133 134

OKeefe and Reno, Sanctified Vision, 90.

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 139. 1 17

188 the simple natural sense according to the use of language and situation of the author. This improper interpretation leads to an inadequate theology of work.

5.5 Conclusion Although the EOTC endorses the Scripture as the basis of authority, it is observed that Tradition takes the upper hand in the daily activities of the EOTCs adherents. For most of its experience the EOTC relies on Tradition. The EOTC considers the Bible as the product of the church.135 Because of this the Bible is not at the center in the thinking and doing of the EOTC. In the previous section I argued at length that the Bible did not get the attention it deserves in the life of the EOTCs adherents. Furthermore, I have shown that the Bible is not read as a coherent whole. The EOTC proponents prefer an allegorical rather than a grammatico-historical interpretation of a given text. I believe the health of the church is determined on how it understands and interprets the Scripture. Therefore, behind the visible and questionable practices of the EOTC stands its understanding and interpretation of the Scripture. I have shown this by taking the EOTCs allegorical interpretation as a case in point. Despising work, and only engaging in a half-hearted manner in daily work, is in part the result of an inadequate hermeneutic.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet, 41-50. Cf. Thomas Hopoko, All the Fullness of God: Essays on Orthodoxy, Ecumenism and Modern Society (Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1982), 49-90.

135

CHAPTER 6 EVALUATION OF THE EOTCS UNDERSTANDING OF WORK

6.1. Introduction As I have shown in the previous chapters in the EOTC there is no intentional theological reflection in the area of work. Most of the works that the EOTC treasured in the past were translations of ancient creeds, ecumenical decisions and homilies of the Eastern Fathers.1 There is no new foundational work in the area of systematic theology in general and in the theology of work in particular. This does not mean that there were no theological disputes in the EOTC. There were heated theological debates in the area of Christology which attracted the political leaders of the day.2 However, none of those who took a vital part in theological disputes presented a clear, systematic and logical presentation of their theological position.3 As a result the EOTC has a good amount of creedal documents rather

1 2

Harry Middle Hyatt, The Church of Abyssinia (London: Luzac & Co., 1928), 85-105.

See Melake Berhan Admasu Jenbere, Yehaimanot mizan [The Scale of Religion] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1954 EC), 136-192. Aba Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik [Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church History] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1974 EC), 99-107. Belihu Dellelegn, Enen Man Telugnalachehu ? [Who do you say that I am?] (Addis Ababa: Hiwot Publishing, 1996 EC), 66-75.
3

Hyatt, The Church of Abyssinia, 99-105.

189

190 than logical theological reflections.4 Several factors have affected the view of work in the EOTCs system of thinking.5 The division between sacred and secular has had a substantial impact on the theological reflection of the EOTC theologians.6 In this chapter I argue that human beings who are the image bearers of God the Worker are called to maintain a reasonable balance between worship and work, authority and accountability, Sabbath and service while they expend their energy for their own individual fulfillment, the benefit of the community, and to the glory of God. It is a lack of balance in these areas that characterize the EOTCs theological system which resulted in a lapsarian-centered lifestyle that deviated from a biblically based practice of work.

6.2. Biblical and Theological Understanding of Work and Leisure The Bible presents the human being as an image bearer of God the Worker who is expected to follow Gods intended purpose in life. Work and leisure are ways of expressing Gods nature in the day-to-day activity of human beings.7

See Ethiopian Orthodox, Haimanot Abew [Early Church Fathers Writing] (Addis Ababa, Tensae Printing Press, 1960 EC). Haile Sellassie I University, The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings, trans. Abba Paulos Tzadua, ed. Peter L. Strauss (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968), Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, Kebera Nagast [The Glory of Kings] (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1922). According to Berhanu Admas, uneducated priests who emphasized the celebration of holy days, pseudo-hermits who threatened people to observe their favorite holy days, the heretics who exaggerated the holy days beyond what they truly are in the lives of the Ethiopian society, the government that lacks fairness and the EOTCs church administrations have all contributed to the unbalanced view of work. See Berhanu Admas, Bealat Mene? Lemen? Endet? [Holy Days, What? Why? How?] (Addis Ababa: Mega Printing Press, 1998 EC), 211-222. Melakeberhan Admasu Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot:Wetat Temelket Endatisasat [Foundation for Faith: Youth Watch Out That You Will Not Err] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1989 EC), 148-328. Leland Ryken, Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995), 160-171.
7 6 5

191 6.2.1 The Biblical and Theological Understanding of Work The creation account expounds that God is the ultimate being who created the world and all that is in it.8 The Bible makes it clear that it is unquestionable that God is the source of all life. Citing Robert Banks, R. Paul Stevens argues, The Bible opens with God workingspeaking, fashioning, designing, crafting, sculpting. God makes light, matter, space, time, sea and land, and most beautiful of allhuman beings.9 Since everything that exists has come from His creative act, it must also be under His control. Above all creation should follow the Creators intended purpose for it. This includes human beings. It is true that work in the Bible begins with Gods work of creation.10 Robert Banks argues, God is highly interested in work, that God knows the complexities involved in depending on others at work above all, that the world of work is not strange to God, that God is a worker.11 Leland Ryken agrees with Banks and writes, As we move through the kaleidoscope of action that God performed, we read that he separated, made, called, set, formed, and planted. In short he was very busy with the work of creation.12

8 9

See Genesis 1-2 in the Bible.

R. Paul Stevens, The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co.1999), 113.
10 11

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 160.

Robert Banks, God the Worker: Journeys into the Mind, Heart and Imagination of God (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1994), 274. Cf. Doug Sherman and William Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1987), 77-117. Ben Patterson, Serving God: The Grand Essentials of Work and Worship, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 15-27. R. Paul Stevens, Doing Gods Business: Meaning and Motivation for the Market Place (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2006), 4-15; Stevens, The Other Six Days, 113-126.
12

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 160. (Italics his)

192 As we have seen in opening the Bible what is clear to us is that in the beginning God made everything perfect and gave creation to human beings to implement His intended purpose. Furthermore, It is striking that no other religion holds to a belief in God who works.13 Human beings are the result of Gods creative act. In the same fashion work is a gift that is bestowed upon humanity so that human beings could follow the footsteps of their Creator.14 The creative acts of God, and human beings as image bearers of the Almighty God, are the basis for three outstanding characteristics of work. Firstly, work is a blessing that originated from God the Worker and human beings are invited to enjoy the activities of work in the day-to-day walks of life.15 Patterson is right when he argues, Those two phrases let us make man in our image and let them rulemust be taken together. Each modifies the other. To be like God is to rule the earth as he does. To rule the earth as he does is to be like God there is nothing in the universe so like God as the worker.16 In the previous discussions of this research it is noted that the proponents of the EOTC for the most part are inclined to take work as a curse.17 However, faithful reading of the Scripture does not support this conclusion. The Bible repeatedly expresses that the benevolent God who Himself is a worker did not envision work to be a source of pain and

13

Cf. John A. Bernbaum and Simon M. Steer, Why Work? (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, Richardson, The Biblical Doctrine of Work, 17-20. Patterson, Serving God, 16. Ibid., 17. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 319-328.

1986), 3.
14 15 16 17

193 suffering.18 The Bible from the very beginning declares that work is a blessed gift from the Almighty God.19 God was, is and will be the source of meaningful work that elicits joy and satisfaction for human beings. Furthermore, work is regarded as a necessary and indeed God-appointed function of human life.20 This blessedness did not get the sufficient attention it deserves in the works of the EOTCs theologians who were supposed to give clear instruction on the subject.21 Practicing work is portrayed as a burden to be tackled rather than as God given blessings in the lives of the EOTCs adherents.22 Secondly, work is a God given responsibility in which human beings are invited to manage Gods business on His behalf.23 Human beings are invited to emulate God the Worker. God facilitated the way for human beings to co-operate with Him step by step. In Gen 2:5 the Bible says there was no man to work the ground. However, in verse 15 it says, The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take

18 19

Patterson, Serving God, 22.

Ibid., 16-23. Here Patterson expresses the blessed nature of work and writes, Work is a gift and a blessing from God. And much more, to work is to do something essential to our humanness. The Bible goes so far as to make the startling assertion that to work is to do a Godlike thing.(16).
20 21

Richardson, The Biblical Doctrine of Work, 23.

See Bahiru Zewde, Pioneers of Change: The Reformist Intellectuals of Early Twentieth Century (Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press, 2002), 74-150. In fact historians attribute the lack of theological reflection to the poor leadership of the guardian (COC). In this regard, citing an article in the Ethiopian daily paper, Zewde writes, It detailed the disappointing Alexandrian connection, with scarcely anything to its credit: no churches, no schools, no hospitals, not even cemetery, and above all no publication of religious books. (108). If the guardian, i.e., COC with 1600 years of its leadership did not help the EOTC to develop spiritual literature in all areas of its needs, it might be unrealistic to expect detailed systematic reflection in crucial theological issues such as the theology of work.
22 23

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 296-328.

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 289. Ryken here argues, The doctrine of stewardship joins work and leisure. God is the giver of both. He holds us responsible for our actions in both spheres. Both work and leisure requires from us a commitment to excellence, a desire to make the most of what God has given in a spirit of gratitude for what we have received.

195 wherever they are in a society.26 That is why we see minimal reflection in the EOTC regarding the responsibilities of individuals and society. The EOTCs theological system does not encourage believers to play an active role as managers of Gods business in this world.27 For example, in his dialogue with Abereha, Jenbere argues you say, because we are not working and observing holidays, the hard working Muslims are wealthier than the Christians; you are upset by the economic gap do you think performing righteousness is eating frequently and working day and night and accumulating mammon?28 In making a case for the life to come and the practice of righteousness in this life the theologians stand more on the side of leisure than the side of hard work. Thirdly, work is a God given task that is enacted by subduing the earth. Being involved in work the way God envisioned it entails subduing the earth to the glory of God.29 God, who is the originator of work, invited humans to follow His path to co-create with Him. For example, Armand Larive clearly describes this by taking a practical activity from agriculture and notes, God is at work during that time most critical, and most out of human controlgestation, when the seeds, having been planted, lie in the ground, and it is uncertain

Memhere Getachew Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? [Performances or Pits ] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC), 7-150. Memhere Tsege Setotaw, Yenegal: Yehaimanot Kerekir [It Shall Dawn: Religious Dialogue] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1997 EC), 17-64. From observing the massive amount of theological reflection in literary forms in the area of monastic lifestyle, one cannot help but come to the conclusion that the minimal reflection in the area of the theology of work is a conscious choice that shows where the focus of the EOTCs theologians was throughout the ages.
27 28

26

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 301-330

Ibid., 317. Jenebere argues, ? Patterson, Serving God, 24. Here Patterson notes, The proper end of work is to give glory to God by obeying his command to rule the earth as his partners and stewards.
29

196 what sort of stand they will make. The gestation phase of agriculture is wholly in Gods hand (Isa 55:10).30 Patterson agrees with Larive and argues, God supplies us with creation and charges us to cultivate it. He gives us nature and bids us to create culture. His are the raw materials, ours is the craftsmanship. But none of this is ours independent of God, apart from him. The creation is ours under God, in dependence on him.31 Therefore, the Christian involvement in work, whether in the field or in the workshop implies that it is an activity done in partnership with God. Furthermore, as opposed to the EOTCs view of God which emphasizes the transcendence of God, the Bible gives us the clear indication that God is both immanent and transcendent.32 Emphasizing one over the other therefore deviates from the presentation of the Bible and raises the question of balance.

6.2.2 The Biblical and Theological Understanding of Leisure Although human beings are created in the image of the God who works, God also facilitated ways that human beings are to enjoy leisure which in turn adds meaning to work as worshipful activity. Work and leisure equally benefit human beings in their effort of satisfying their individual needs and glorifying God.33 Therefore, Gods plan for human beings from the very beginning is neither workaholism nor idleness but a balance between

Armand Larive, After Sunday: A Theology of Work (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2004), 12.
31 32

30

Patterson, Serving God, 21.

The Scripture in Genesis 1-3 gives a clue that God, who is wholly other, is the God who initiates fellowship with human beings. He stated that the creation of man is very good. God established fellowship (Gen 1:28-30). God gave responsibility to human beings with accountability (Gen 2:15-17) and God also sought human beings when they broke his commands (Gen 3:9).
33

Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 202-204.

197 work and leisure.34 It is true that work is one of the distinguishing features that single out human beings from the rest of the creatures.35 God in His wisdom conjoined the capability to work with meaningful leisure from the very beginning. Ryken argues, God is therefore as much a model for human leisure as for work.36 In the Bible the question of how God used His time on the seventh day is generally answered in one word, that God rested.37 Except for the best guesses of some scholars no one is certain what rest for God is all about. However, the vast majority of theologians agree that this very event rest set a model for human beings. Ryken rightly argues, What, then does Gods rest from work say about leisure? It affirms leisure by drawing a boundary around human work and acquisitiveness.38 Work is robed of its true meaning if it is not accompanied with meaningful leisure and vice versa. It is customary to see that leisure in our contemporary society is ensnared by different actions that push it from its core purpose. Leisure as God intended it incorporates worship. Ryken agrees with Pieper and writes, A Christian view of leisure must incorporate the experience of worship. Not that the two are identical, but leisure and worship have important things in common, including

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 289. Ryken argues, Excessive attention to either leads to a dereliction of the duty we owe to ourselves, our families, and our society. The rule of neither too much nor too little applies to both work and leisure. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter on Human Work: Laborem Excerns, trans. Vatican (Boston: Pauline, 1981), 5. Cf. Karl Marx, Alienated Labor in Karl Marx: The Essential Writings, ed. Fredric L. Bender (Boulder: Westview Press, 1972), 76. Marx expounded the topic of what distinguished human beings from animals. He argued that human beings uniqueness from animals is not their ability to think but for their large scale consciousness to be productive. Through their capacity of imagination human beings can plan in sophisticated fashion.
36 37 38 35

34

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 165. See Gen 2:2-3. Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 166.

198 cessation from work and refreshment of the spirit.39 I believe it was this intention that guided the leisure plan that God offered in the beginnings of human history.40 Leisure involves the creation of space where unobstructed communication is established between Creator and creature. Citing Kenneth Woodward, Ryken writes, For Jews and Christians, the essence of leisure was time off for timeless for thanking God for what has been freely given and not produced by human labor.41 It is true that leisure involves stopping what is routine in the believers life. The Bible establishes a rhythm for that routine.42 However, when this routine is complicated by daily commemoration in the EOTC, it is difficult to establish a clear pattern for leisure.43 Therefore I question the disrupted relationship between work and leisure in the EOTC. This work is an invitation to joint investigation into why the country that received the Holy Scriptures before many countries of the world ended up with a calendar that is dominated by leisure.44 I believe the contemplative nature of spirituality and the over emphasis of the deification of humanity45 in the EOTC has had a substantial impact on the imbalance of leisure and work in the lives of the adherents of the EOTC.

39 40 41 42

Ibid. I am referring to Genesis 1-2. Ryken, Redeeming the Time,167.

In Exod 20:9-10 the Bible says, Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. Critical thinkers within the EOTC have begun to question the established system that advocates for extended celebration of the commemoration days. In fact they believe the numerous days of commemoration which they could not find in other Eastern Orthodox tradition is the cause of this imbalance. Cf. Setotaw Yenegal, 17-45. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel?, 7-150.
44 45 43

See chapter 4 under 4. 4 Table 1 and n. 70. See chapter 4 under 4.1- 4.2 for the details.

199 6.3. Humans Are Designed to Work and Worship Work is inherent to the nature of human beings.46 Furthermore, God has invited human beings to be His co-workers that they may demonstrate worshipful acts that bring community transformation, that in turn results in glorifying God.47 Human beings are endowed with the special ability to work. In fact, work is one of the unique elements that differentiate human beings from the rest of creatures.48 John Paul II and Cosden agree on the intrinsic nature of work as it relates to human beings. Both believe that work is the very structure of being human.49 Therefore, work is an element of who we are as human beings. Work is not the invention of human beings. It primarily originated from God who is the source all good things. Because work came from the hand of the Lord, it is a blessed gift of God the worker.50 God in his wisdom has chosen humanity to carryout the task in the garden i.e. to work it and take care of it.51 This appointment by God is a special invitation to human beings so they could be his co-workers; therefore, this very action is one of the forms of service to God. Steven argues, to dream of a workless paradise is to seek something other than the purpose and plan of God.52 I agree with Patterson who states, In the Bible there is

46 47

Cosden, A Theology of Work, 3-18.

Cf. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 60-80. John Paul II, Laborem Excerns, 5. Cf. Karl Marx, The German Ideology (New York: International Publishers, 1970), 42.
49 50 51 52 48

Cosden, A Theology of Work, 16-17 Patterson, Serving God, 16. Genesis 2:15. Stevens, The Other Six Days, 114.

200 an indissoluble unity between worship and work, since both are forms of service to God. There is the service we render to God in our worship, and there is the service we render to him in our work. The former is the liturgy of the sanctuary; the latter is the liturgy of the world.53 When believers are worshipfully performing their mundane activity of work, they not only satisfy their immediate needs but also bring glory to God in their wholehearted performance of work.54 However, it would be ill advised to think that every single involvement of work is worship. For example, considering occupations that dehumanize people as worshipful activity is incompatible with work and worship.55 By taking the Egyptian slaves toil as a case in point Preece argues, Work is not here legitimized as sharing in the divine creative activity.56 Volfs pneumatological and Preeces trinitarian theologies of work rightly reject the alienating work that complicates co-operation with God. Work as co-operation with God is the vital component of vocation-centered theology.57 On the contrary, the lapsarian-centered theology of the EOTC doesnt appreciate that humans are designed to work and worship. As a consequence it doesnt envision that work could be understood as worship.58

53 54

Patterson, Serving God, 87. John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Old Tappan, NJ: F. H Revell, 1990),

162-167. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 157-166. Here Volf argues, With the phrase alienating work I am referring to a significant discrepancy between what work should be as a fundamental human existence and how it is actually performed and experienced by workers. Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 194.
57 58 56 55

See ibid, 3-317. Preece extensively argues for the viability of the vocation tradition.

Work for the most part is taken as drudgery and curse in the EOTC. See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 301-330.

201 6.3.1 The Place of Work in Human Life The definition one gives to work determines the practice of work in the dayto-day walk of life. Furthermore, the place that work occupies in human life is closely connected with the way work is perceived and defined.59 Sherman and Hendricks argue God can do nothing that is not inherently good, or else He would violate His own nature and character. The fact that God calls what He does work and calls that work good means that work has intrinsic worth.60 Although human beings disobedience in Genesis 3 has a profound and lasting effect, it doesnt completely cancel that work is essential to humanity.61 The most fundamental and biblical theologies of work affirm that work is intrinsic to human nature.62 Work is not an optional activity to human life.63 It is true that it is Gods personal relation to human beings, not human work (or any other human activity), that constitutes

See Curtis Chang, Work as Sacrament. June 4, 2004, http: // www.the.river.org/resources/ Work-as-sacrament.pdf (accessed on July 4, 2008). Here Chang summarizes different perceptions of work namely: (1) Work as environment: perceives work as instrument of evangelism (2) Work as instrument of the self (calling): basically deals with vocational understanding of the Reformation. (3) Work as instrument of Gods eschatological purposes: deals work as a tool of eschatological transformation. (4) Work as technological device: in this paradigm work is perceived as commodity. (5) Work as sacrament: perceives work as instrument of self discovery. Although these five designations vary in labels or external forms all of them are instrumental in their content. However, there is more to work. Work is more than an instrumental entity as it has relational and ontological dimensions; See Cosden, A Theology of Work, 3-46. Cosden elaborates on the threefold nature of work namely: instrumental, relational and ontological.
60 61 62

59

Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 81. Ibid., 80-86.

Cf. Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 77-86; Cosden, A Theology of Work, 3-77; Patterson, Serving God, 15-27. As I argued earlier work is part of human creation and life without work is inconceivable. However, the view that advocates work will be abolished with the improvement of technology is utopia. As long as fallen human beings are in charge there will not be a perfect work environment. But worshipful involvement in work minimizes the pain and agony of work and it minimizes alienation.
63

202 human beings as human beings.64 However, meaningful work could serve as an avenue to the healthy human- divine creative activities in this world. Human beings work, not to prove their humanness for the rest of creation, but because they are created to worship their Creator and to be His co-workers.65 When work was not given its normal and natural place during the industrial revolution, the so called work robbed the dignity of human beings.66 However, healthy involvement in work is sensitive to the true nature of work. Work in its humanized67 form is essential to, and for the existence of human life. Theologies of work that are biblical ought to be sensitive to the original intent of work.68 There should be a delicate balance between work and the worker. When this balance is diminished conflicting polarities will characterize the society.69

64 65 66

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 163. Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 82-84.

See Volf, Work in the Spirit, 157-164. Citing Marx, Volf notes, Work was pronounced to be the very essence of human being, and yet sixteen or more hours a day it stupefied peoples minds and ravaged their bodies.
67 68

Humanized work implies activity of work that is the opposite of dehumanization of work.

See the above discussion under 6.2.1. Thus far I argued that human beings are designed to work and worship. Work is a blessed gift from God the worker (6.2.1.). The involvement of work that takes away the worshipful element from work must be questioned. It is observed that disciplines such as economics, sociology, lawetc that closely work and reflect on the relationship of human work have played a significant role for the humanization of work. Theologians must not hesitate to play the prophetic role when the working environment is hostile and blocks the possibility of co-operation with God. Cf. Calvin Redekop, and Uriie A. Bender, Who Am I? What am I ? Searching for Meaning in Your Work (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 107-121. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 157-200. Gordon R. Preece, Changing Work Values: A Christian Response (Melbourne: Acorn Press, 1995), 3-197. For example in the civilized society where work is exalted beyond its normal and natural status the society in general is characterized by overwork and entrapped by workaholism, which has become the challenge of the industrialized societies. In societies like Ethiopia where work is not given the attentions it deserves, idleness or unproductivity has revealed itself in society in its various forms. Therefore, when the delicate balance between work and worker is disrupted societies encounter undesired results that destabilize the core cultural values of the society. In a situation of this kind one can hardly see values that honor the nobility of community.
69

203 Although Preeces vocation-centered theology of work does not give explicit exposition regarding the place of work in human life, his trinitarian framework links the protological and eschatological views of work. 70 Furthermore, his vocation-centered theology of work highlights its transformative nature.71 It is true that vocation could serve as a spring board for community transformation if believers are consciously co-operating with God and stand with Him in every single move they make. Gordon J. Thomas argues, Worship of God requires acceptability to Himhaving clean hands and pure hearts mission for God requires resemblance to Himrepresenting Him accurately.72 Work is an activity where believers open their heart and practically demonstrate what occupies their inner world. Pure hearts reveal their willpower through the activity and performance of clean hands.73 For the most part clean hands visibly represent what is deep inside of the human being and what their aspirations are. Clean hands are characterized by two things i.e. by working hard and wiping the tears of the broken hearted.74 Clean hands share the fruit of their labor for deprived ones, and above all enjoy giving rather than receiving. Giving in kind, i.e., service, and giving in monetary form, are visible signs of the place of work in

70 71

Preece, The Viability, 297-307.

Ibid., 291-314. Citing Moltmann, Preece rightly argues, Work oriented concept of work should replace production-oriented concepts of work. This includes personal ownership of work as process and product.(279) (Italics his) Gordon J. Thomas, A Holy God among a Holy People in Holy Place: The Enduring Eschatological Hope in Eschatology in Bible and Theology: Evangelical Essays at the Down of the New Millennium, ed. Kent E. Brower and Mark W. Elliott (Downers Groove: InterVarsity, 1997), 68. I use the word clean hands to express diligent work, a life of purity and a life that is characterized by sharing for the needy. The picture is taken from Acts 20:34. See H. J. Oldham, Work in Modern Society (Richmond: John Knox, 1962), 7-68. Oldham notes, Work in the Christian view is inseparable from service to our fellow-men (51).
74 73 72

204 human life.75 In the EOTC sharing the fruit of ones labor is the experience of the average believer. In fact the adherents of the EOTC are open to sharing beyond their human limits.76 Since good work in its various forms is emphasized in the EOTCs worship,77 commemoration for the most part is accompanied with generous feasts.78 Sacrificial giving is the distinguishing mark of the EOTCs day-to-day practice.79 Since all these practices are happening beyond and above the means of individual believers, the question of balance is raised once more. Is commemoration dominated by feasts without the practice of industry wise? Is it not true that spending beyond ones means is a lack of wisdom?80 For me work

See. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 111-122. According to Volf spiritual gifts are not limited to within the four walls of the church. Since the Spirit is the giver of all life, and hence all work, as an expression of human life, draws its energy out of the fullness of divine Spirits energy. (121). Charisma is not restricted to the church but ones gift can be extended to the destitute outside the fours walls of the church. Those who are truly touched by the Spirit cannot remain neutral on the face of visible need. Cf. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 317-328. In this section Jenbere argues, ?317 Is it not righteous act characterized by abstaining from delicious meal, fine wine and denying the body all its comfort?; Setotaw. Yenegal, 43-45. Here Setotaw disagrees with Jenbere regarding the level of giving. Setotaw suggests the giving should not be beyond the capacity of the poor to share and fulfill the obligations of giving. Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 167-173; Deacon Agizachew Tefera, Telana Akal [Picture and Person] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC), 44. Cf. Archbishop Yesehaq, The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: An Integrally African Church (New York: Vantage Press, 1989), 140-146; Getachew Haile, The Mariology of Emperor Zara Yaeqob of Ethiopia Orientalia Christania Analecta 242 (Roma: Scuola Tipografica S. Pio X, 1992) 4-40; Calvin E. Shenk, The Italian Attempt to Reconcile the Ethiopian Orhodox Church: The Use of Religious Celebrations and Assistance to churches and monasteries, Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 10, no.1 (January 1972): 125-135. See Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Synaxarium: The Book of the Saints of Ethiopian Orthodox Church Ethiopian Orthodox Church, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on April 20, 2010), 1-730; Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Texas, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Yeweche Genegnunet , (Addis Ababa: Tensae Publishing House, 1988 EC), 64-65. Cf. Archbishop Meleketsedek, YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Imenetena Temehert [The Doctrine of EOTC] (Barclay: Mekane Selam Medhanealem Betekristian, 1994), 201-233. One might ask how people can spend the resources they dont have. The simple answer for this is that there are two ways of tackling this. The first one is taking a loan from those who have the resources
80 79 78 77 76

75

205 that is not characterized by worship appears to be contradictory. Furthermore, there is visible imbalance in the materials produced in relation to the active and contemplative life.81 I believe there is a definite relationship between the minimal focus of work and the puzzling poverty that we see in contemporary Ethiopia. Since worshipful work is overshadowed by the commemoration accompanied by feasting, these incidents not only negatively impacted work but also multiplied dependants who run from one commemoration feast to the other.82 Furthermore, this culture eroded the value of industry in the larger society. My observation is that evangelical Christians who came from the EOTC background do not value industry. One cannot easily see the readiness to imitate God the worker in every single walk of the believers life. Hard work is perceived for the most part as a curse.83 Some evangelicals who claim to be the children of the Lord of the universe are characterized by despising mundane work.84 The EOTC adherents who are concerned about the holy days did not take work seriously. 85 Both

and the second one is begging in order to celebrate commemoration. Begging for this specific purpose is considered as a noble act. See Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 167-174. There is no solid teaching in the area of hard work. However, there are numerous EOTC materials in the area of feasts, commemoration and mystical lifestyles that are not directly relevant to the actual situation of the parishioners. This also has multiplied the number of beggars. It is not an exaggeration to say that Ethiopia has the largest begging population in Africa. In this regard the Ethiopian President expressed his concern and he said, the ever-flourishing art of begging has brought about a complex social problem in the country. http: //nazret. com/blog/ (accessed on April 20, 2008).
83 84 82 81

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 324-329.

Demewez Abebe, Sera! Sera: Ethiopia Yedabo Kerchat Tehonalech [Work: Ethiopia Will Become a Horn of Plenty] (Addis Ababa: SIM Printing Press, 2002 EC), 24-31. The argument behind despising mundane job is that menial jobs dont fit the royal family. These believers claim that they are children of the king and they are not suppose to take jobs such as janitor, security guard, waitress, house keeping etc. Cf. Mahetemsellassie Woldemeskel, YeEthiopia Bahil Tenat[Ethiopian Cultural Studies] Journal of Ethiopian Studies 6 no 1 (January 1968): 90-122; Dejene Aredo, How Holy Are Holidays in Rural
85

206 groups fail to see work as worshipful activity.86 As a result of this those who did not work became a burden for the working members of the community. Since many of them are hiding in the caves of the extended family to meet their basic needs, they have ended up being both a financial burden and bad role models in the society.87 It is true that abstaining from work and depending on others for ones needs upsets the lives of the faith community. Furthermore, a persistent inclination by believers to lead a life of dependency disturbs the healthy interdependence. The new identity in Christ ought to encourage worshipful hard work that enables believers to meet the needs of others.

6.4. The Relationship of Work and Worship As the whole of the Christian life is supposed to be lived in response to the gospel, so also work for Christians is an avenue of worship in which believers demonstrate their allegiance to their Lord in every single activity of this life, especially in their day-to-day work involvement. God has given an open invitation to reconciliation for fallen humanity. The gospel is a gracious offer that demonstrates Gods unfailing love to sinful human beings. Patterson notes, When we ceased to be servants we also stopped being rulers. To return to the worship of the true and living God is to be restored to the place where we once were.88

Ethiopia? An Enquiry Into the Extent To which Saints Days are Observed Among the Followers of The Orthodox Christian Church in Proceedings of the First National Conference of Ethiopian Studies, ed. Richard Pankhurst and Tadesse Beyene (Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University, December, 1990), 165-175. Although Aredo argues that people are working hard to compensate for the lost time, it is true that numerous days are devoted to commemoration in which believers abstain from work.
86 87 88

Abebe, Sera! Sera, 31-68 Ibid., 24-68. Patterson, Serving God, 91.

207 As I have extensively argued in the previous sections, from the very beginning God has invited human beings to be his co-workers. However, sin disrupted the relationship between the Creator and creature. This disruption did not continue forever as God sent Jesus to restore the broken fellowship with a view to re-establish the divine-human relationship by transforming believers into a new creation.89 This newness that is realized in the lives of believers has its own definite purpose. As the original creation had definite purpose, so too does the new. 90 God has called and commissioned believers to be agents of change in their day-to-day involvement of work here on earth. This is not only referring to mere technological development but rather the changes that will have penetrating impacts in both the internal and external spheres of humanity. To that end, citing Hefner, Larive argues that humanity be called created co-creator, organized-organizer, built-builder, modeled-modeler, purchased-purchaser, enabled-enabler, powered-empowerer or elected-elector.91 By the help of the indwelling Spirit believers are empowered to tackle their working involvement in a worshipful fashion.

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 79. Here Volf argues, Christian life is a life in the Spirit of new creation or it is not Christian life at all. Indwelling of the Spirit in the believers is the distinguishing mark that God is establishing that Christian life is life in the Spirit. Therefore, the activity of work is energized by this life giving Spirit. See 2 Cor 5:14 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
91 90

89

Larive, After Sunday, 73.

208 6.4.1 The Relationship of Work and Worship in Christian Life Worship is not perceived as a lifestyle for many Christians. It is restricted to an event that comes every Sunday.92 However, worship is more profound than we habitually envision it. Graham A. Cole argues: We learn from a dictionary that worship in English has behind it the idea of worthship. Hence it is argued, our worship has to do with the recognition and expression of the worth of God. There is indeed a biblical case for such an understanding. In Revelation 4 and 5, those creatures who surround the throne of God and the Lamb express the worth of God. You are worthy! is the cry of heaven ... local church ought to mirror the heavenly one, then such vertical notion of worship is totally in order.93 This enactment of the heavenly movement of worship in the church setting will not be complete unless it occupies the whole horizon of the Christian life. Cole argues, Paul uses such language of the whole of the Christian life lived in response to the gospel (Rom 12:1-2) and even his mission to the Gentiles offering to God (15:15-16). Thus the New Testament presentation of engagement with God ties Sunday and every other day of the week together in the light of Revelation 4-5 and Romans 12 and 15.94 Therefore, it is unimaginable to think that work is detached from who we are as Christians. Who we are follows us wherever we go in this life. Work is an extension of Christian worship. Christian life that is not comfortable to take Sundays worship to the Mondays practical experience lacks vitality and true life in Christ.

92 93 94

Graham A. Cole, He Who Gives Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 234. Ibid., 234. Ibid.

209 6.4.2 The Impact of Work as Worshipful Action It is true that work takes a huge portion of time in the day-to-day life of human beings. Christianity that is not interested in addressing this visible need biblically lacks vitality and relevance. Dorothy L. Sayers rightly argues, How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?95 For example, a carpenter who is worshipfully involved in the activity of work needs to produce good chairs and tables that show his dedication to his occupation. But what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table-legs or ill fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenters shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that were made by the same hand that made heaven and earth.96 Work to be taken as worshipful needs to be performed to the best ability of the worker in view of doing it for God. There is a definite relationship between work as worshipful activity97 and humanization of work that reveals itself in quality production which impacts the worker,98 his fellow human beings and God.99 Furthermore, where work is not taken as partnership with God, abuse of human beings in various forms is highly likely.100

Sayers, Dorothy L. Why Work? in Creed or Chaos? New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, Why Work?, 56.
96 97

95

Ibid., 57.

The idea of worshipful activity implies work as an activity that is performed in partnership with God. See n. 91 the quote from Larive throws light on how worshipful activity is conducted in the work involvement of human beings.
98 99

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 158-161. Oldham, Work in Modern Society, 50-54.

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 160. Volf rightly notes, Work is alienating when it does not correspond to Gods intent to human nature.

100

210 I agree with Cole who takes worship as the Christian life lived in response to the gospel which avoids the Sunday to Monday gap. Furthermore, a Christian intentionally takes his Sunday worship to his all weeks work and applies it in a meaningful and effective fashion. I believe worship in a work setting is accomplished through an intentional activity that is conducted by the workers as though they are working for the Lord rather than for people.101 Patterson argues: It is only as we learn to worship well that we learn to work well. To worship God is to return to the place in creation where God created us to be. It is our priestly calling that makes our kingly position possible. Only as priests can we be kings! That is indeed what we are in Christ, a royal priesthood as worshipers, we see our work become a royal enterprise instead of a slavish, drudgery.102 Although worshipful work had royal privilege, for some taking work as a collaboration with God seems to be irrelevant in many ways. However, believers who take work as a collaboration with God have demonstrated values that go beyond the cycle of workcommodity-salary-consumption.103 By observing the historical journey of some exemplary individuals who visibly collaborated with God in their respective work, we can learn about the impacts of worshipful work. In this regard Hansen writes, Albert Schweitzer left the limelight of Cathedral and university for the villages of Africa Mother Teresa maintained her ministry to the outcasts of Calcutta not out of programs designed on the basis of human

101 102 103

See Col 3:23-24. Patterson, Serving God, 91-92. (Italics his) Larive, After Sunday, 27.

211 pragmatics but out of the vision of a world in which they shall not labor in vain.104 These exemplary individuals are spotlighted here not to underestimate the worshipful work that numerous saints have modeled throughout the ages, but to give us vivid examples of worshipful workers who touched the lives of multitudes. Therefore, Good work is good for us, good for our neighbor, good for creation, and good for God.105 This is possible when believers take the opportunity to perform good work that flows from the definition of who they are as Gods children.106 Furthermore, the workplace must not be assumed to be a difficult place to worship God. Citing Brother Lawrence, Redekop and Bender write: We find him worshiping more in his kitchen than his cathedral: he could pray Lord of all pots and pans and things Make me a saint by getting meals And washing up the plates Along with the Brother Lawrence, most wives and mothers can tell us more about heroism in the kitchen than assembly line blues!107 This heroism the writers are talking about is related to the intentional action that the groups mentioned have taken in inviting the eternal God into their temporal and mundane daily involvement. In this regard Patterson notes, The worship of God is forever. When we worship God we introduce a bit of eternity into our lives and work. That is why it is important to our work.108 Therefore, worshipful work could be performed regardless of

Paul D. Hanson, Isaiah 40-66: Interpretation A Biblical Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1995), 247
105 106 107 108

104

Stevens, Doing Gods Business, 10. Larive, After Sunday, 27. Redekop, and Bender, Who Am I? What Am I? 111. Patterson, Serving God, 88.

212 structured organization and its impact could be felt in both paid and unpaid involvement in work. As I have repeatedly noted Gods active involvement in the daily work of believers is disregarded or underplayed in the EOTCs practice and theological reflection.109 In the EOTCs lapsarian-centered system of thinking, worshipful acts, in the secular work environment is not something that their theology encourages.110 The idea that God is equally active in both the secular and sacred environments is obnoxious to the EOTCs theological reflection.111 That is why contemplation and adoration is more emphasized in the EOTC than developing a systematic theology.112 In short, the EOTCs theological reflection emphasizes the transcendence of God more than His immanence. Because of this understanding of God, it is not surprising to see theological reflections that are constrained by contemplation and adoration. Therefore, it is a struggle to treat work as a worshipful exercise in the EOTCs theological system. Furthermore, worship is exclusively restricted to secluded environments. To take work as an extension of the believers worship is totally foreign to the EOTCs theological understanding as their scholars abhor such an idea of working with God in mundane work.113

109 110

Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 134-144.

Richard Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Haile Sellasie I University Press, 1968), 38-72.
111 112 113

Pankhurst and Beyene, eds. Proceedings, 165-167. Hyatt, The Church of Abyssinia, 84-99. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 300-301. Cf. Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia, 38-46;

213 In our age of industry and technology, work involvement takes several external forms and where worshipful work is completely deserted, the dehumanization of work is highly likely. That is not to say that it is only believers who are implementing the humanization of work, it is just to express that the humanization of work is fully realized when creatures are related with the Creator in a meaningful way.114 In an environment where sin has taken the dominance in personal and public life, craving for material pleasure, a desire for everything we gaze at, and arrogance in our achievements and possessions characterize the societies that have problematic relations with God. However, anyone who does what pleases God in worshipful work enjoys this fellowship forever. Since worship is forever, worshipful work would follow that path and there is continuity in what we are doing now and what we will do in the ages to come.

6.5. God, Human Work and Leisure in Evangelical Perspective Although all essential elements for existence were given from God to human beings prior to the Fall, work was part of their inherent nature. Furthermore, God the Worker set the model for human beings to maintain the balance between Sabbath and Service.

6.5.1 God the Worker and Human Beings

114

Larive, After Sunday, 10-27.

214 Even though God the Worker did not utilize labor115 in the same way as human beings do, He brought creation into existence in a way that provided human beings practical guidance in relation to work. All his action portrayed God as a worker. Such actions from Gods side provided human beings with a realistic example to follow and a great model to emulate. In this regard, Robert Banks rightly presents God as, Composer and performer, metal worker and potter, garment maker and dresser, gardener and orchardist, farmer and winemaker, shepherd and pastoralist, tentmaker and camper, builder and architect.116 In the same vein Stevens argues, These metaphors while limited, offer a correspondence of meanings between the work of God and the work of humankind.117 To see God in these images in the Bible will enable the people of God to view their everyday world in sacramental terms.118 From this one can deduce that the mentality to view work as intrinsically a curse cannot be validated by Scripture. Of course, no one denies that work has its fallen aspect, but this does not mean work was introduced as a result of the Fall. It is true the Fall made work much more difficult, because the work environment became much less cooperative. The sweat, the toil and the burdensome aspect of work are products of the Fall.119

Preece, The Viability, 167. Cf. Karl Barth, The Church Dogmatics III (Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1960), 518-523.
116 117 118 119

115

Banks, God the Worker, 3-284. Stevens, The Other Six Days, 113. Banks, God the Worker, 277.

Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 101. Cf. Bernbaum and Steer, Why Work?, 9. They write about three aspects of the Fall namely: The first is the purpose of work. Human beings were intended to subdue the earth for Gods glory but instead sought to exploit it for themselves. The second aspect is the mental and physical toil involved in work. Labor became tiring, frustrating, and monotonous. The

215 As I have repeatedly argued the Scripture clearly presents God as a worker, therefore, if God is the worker, then men and womenmust be workers, too. They are sharing in creation, when they develop a farm, paint a picture, build a home or polish a floor.120 Every single activity of believers should be performed in collaboration with God. In Ps 127:1 Scripture says, Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. Here the psalmist declares that work performed without the support of the Lord is inadequate. We can see a dramatic case in point in the Scripture regarding the futile attempt of the working people who neglected God as their partner. We find this in Genesis 11. These people built a tower to heaven, but the Lord had to come down to see it (Gen 11:5). They demonstrated their potential for resourcefulness, but God discerned their potential for harm (11:6). They wanted a great name and God gave them a reviled name (11:9). In their choice that excluded God they were united in one place, but God scattered them to many places (11:8). Most of the time hard work that excludes God will end in up as laboring in vain. However, when Gods creatures collaborate with God in their work, God will give success to the efforts of His children.121 God was collaborating with the people who were active in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The result of this rebuilding was dramatic.122 In this regard Ryken notes, God

third aspect is the spoiling of work relationships. Conflict between labor and management, companies and clients, and disharmony in the work place are examples of this. Whenever human beings are treated as mere tools of production, the objects rather than subjects of work, the fallen nature of humanity is operative.
120 121

Elton Trueblood, Your Other Vocation (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1952), 64.

Neh 2:20; 4:6; 6:3-16. In this specific occasion human work in collaboration with God brought about an enormous impact, also felt in the camp of the enemies of Gods people. In Neh. 6:16 Nehemiah declares that God collaborated with their effort of rebuilding and says, All was completed in fifty-two days this work had been done with the help of our God. The
122

216 works through the worker, transforming human labor into something exalted, even spiritual.123 It is not only God who is working through human beings, but human beings are also expected to consciously invite God even into their mundane tasks.124 Human beings should not forget that they are dependent on God for every single need they have because they couldnt breathe another breath without God holding everything together.125 God is always active in sustaining both human and non human creatures. Human beings as creatures that emulate their Creator are to contribute to the sustenance of life in all its forms. They do this by being hard workers and collaborating with God in their day-to-day activity. In this regard, Steven argues, Gods purpose is not that human beings should become angels, or even religious, but that they should become fully human. We become fully human by relating to God, building both the human community and the faith community, and blessing the nations.126 That is how human beings maintain the balance between service and Sabbath. As I repeatedly noted the EOTCs theological reflection leans towards the Sabbath aspect of the continuum. In the Scripture the Sabbath is an event that comes every seven days, whereas in the EOTC practices of commemoration, that event of reflection on God extends beyond the Sabbath. Such a visible leaning towards the Sabbath

section is addressing the subsequent generation and us. Therefore, the God who intervened on behalf of His people is active in our lives if we consciously collaborate with Him.
123 124

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 163.

Ps 90:16-17. Here the psalmist is inviting God to partner in the work and asking for success. One can see the collaboration of Creator God and creatures i.e. human beings.
125 126

Stevens, Doing Gods Business, 6. Ibid., 9.

217 side of the continuum has at its roots the lack of theological balance. In the EOTCs view work is reduced to drudgery.127

6.5.2 Human Work and Leisure in Evangelical Perspective Evangelicals seriously take that revelation from God is the basis for the thoughts and actions of the believing community in particular and for the whole human race in general. Therefore, they underscore that in the Scripture the people of God were exhorted to work in partnership with God.128 Although there are different views regarding the relationship of work, human beings and God, evangelicals for the most part accept the idea of co-creationism. 129 However, both Barth and Ellul are opposed to the co-creationist view of work. In fact, clearly the ongoing battle between co-creationism and Barth and Elluls view of work as necessity provides one of the main creative theological tensions in discussions about work and vocation during the last fifty years.130

127 128

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 300-328.

Stevens, The Other Six Days, 113. Steven agrees with Bank and writes, the Old Testament is rich to describe God as a worker (Gen. 1-2; Job 10:3-12; Ps. 139:13-16) as a builder/architect (Prov. 8:27-31), teacher (Mt. 7:28-9), composer and performer (Dt. 31:19), metalworker (Is 1:24-6), garment maker and dresser (Job 29:14), potter (Is. 31:9) farmer (Hos. 10:11), shepherd (Ps. 23:1-4), tentmaker and camper (Job 9:8).
129 130

Stevens, The Other Six Days, 97-98.

Alistair Mackenzie, Faith at Work: Vocation, the Theology of Work and the Pastoral Implications. MA thesis, (U of Otago, Dunedin: New Zealand, 1997), 59. Cf. Jacques Ellul, The Ethics of Freedom (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 496-497. Karl Barth, The Church Dogmatics III (Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1960), 473-475. Hauerwas, Work as Co-creator: A Critique of Remarkably Bad Idea. In CoCreationism: John Paul II Laborem Excerns, ed. J.W Houck and O.F. Williams (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983), 45-48. Here Hauerwas disagrees with John Paul IIs co-creationism. He argues human being who is Gods representative on earth could not be taken as co-creator. For Hauerwas a representative is not co-creator.

218 As opposed to the EOTC view of work Evangelicals take work for the most part in a more optimistic light. Work in evangelicalism is treated as a gift from God. Since it has come from the hand of God, work is generally viewed as being good.131 Although there are different models for the meaning of work,132 all models affirm that work is an activity performed in partnership with God. Therefore, Gods intention for human beings is to join Him in transforming creation for His glory. In contradiction with the evangelical view of work, the EOTC views work in a pessimistic fashion. For the most part work is portrayed as a curse in the EOTC.133 Work is valued for its mortifying effect in the lives of its adherents.134 In fact Admasu Jenbere argues that work is the result of the fall.135 Due to an overemphasis on the lapsarian-centered lifestyle EOTCs theology of work does not integrate faith and

131

Cf. Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 80-84; Patterson, Serving God, 15-

25. Douglas Woolley, Theology of Work and Its Practical Implication http://www. dougandmarsha.com/essays-seminary/ch31_theology_of_work.htm (accessed on May 4, 2010). Here citing Robert Barnett, Wooly lists different models for the understanding and meaning of work namely: Vocational, Trinitarian, Charismatic, Ontological and Collaborative models.(1) The Vocational model considers work as Gods calling: God is calling and placing individuals in particular roles in society to serve one another. (2) In the Trinitarian model each person of the Trinity serves as model on how human work should be for example engaging in distinctive personal work, cooperative work, egalitarian work and self-giving and loving work. (3) Charismatic model expresses that spiritual gifts and natural talents are used to accomplish Gods purpose transforming. (4) Ontological model advocates that work has value to God the worker, work also is instrumental to the workers themselves and relational. (5) Collaborative model considers work as having both objective and subjective aspects. Objectively it contributes to Gods work and subjectively it contributes to human self realization.
133 134 135 132

Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 296-324. See chapter 4 under 4.2.2 for the details.

See Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 300-329. Jacques Ellul and Jenbere agree in their perception of work as simple necessity of life. Work for both Jenbere and Ellul is simple necessity as it is neither vocational nor co-creational but an attempt at survival.

219 work in a way that transforms the society.136 This is manifested in the day-to-day practice of the society. For example there are meticulous instructions in relation to when, how and why to abstain from work.137 However, the literature regarding the value of work that is produced in the church which has a history of seventeen hundred years is insignificant in volume.138 This is one of the visible signs that work as collaboration with God is not given the attention it deserves in the works of the EOTCs proponents. It is true that ones eschatology affects the day-to-day activity of human work. Evangelicals for the most part agree that work has lasting value. However, there are differences regarding continuity and discontinuity. Volf and Preece agree on the basic tenet of continuity. However, Preece questions the fairness of Volf in dismissing the vitality of creation criteria.139 Preece comments, Volfs difference from Reformed theologians is a matter of emphasis.140 The balance that I mentioned141 in Preeces theology of work is demonstrated in his effort to blend those models which rigidly argued the either/or alternatives that were offered by protological and eschatological frameworks. He rejects the

136

Margery Perham, The Government of Ethiopia (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, The existing materials in the EOTC libraries mostly focus more on the contemplative life Setotaw, Yenegal, 17-92.

1969), 109-137.
137

than the active life.


138 139

See Preece, Viability, 259-260. According to Preece the stress on creation is vital to better explain the eschatological framework. Therefore he comments, Without laudable stress on continuity with creation, Volfs emphasis on the values of new creation and his categories of working gifts would be vaguein practice continuity with creation tells us what can be transformed. Without it, the new creation would be inconceivable.
140 141

Preece, Viability, 260-261. See my discussion in chapter 2 under 2. 3.

220 either/or emphasis and comments, The false alternatives of protological or eschatological leave out the Christological which alone holds the tension between creation and new creation. Christ is the first and the lastthe beginning and the end and all in between.142 I agree with Preece on this and suggest that all of us need to focus on Jesus Christ who can give us a proper and balanced perspective in every step we take in life. Work is a vital part of life. In contradiction with the above views of eschatology EOTCs eschatological view is dominated by escapology.143 This escapology negatively impacted the role of believers in relation to work and to the minimal development of the theology of work. As defining work is notoriously difficult it is also notoriously difficult to determine what leisure is.144 Ryken on the other hand notes, Leisure is time free from the constraints of work and other obligations of living.145 Volf, in explaining what it is in a practical sense argues, leisure is an enjoyable activity.146 Combining those two definitions as an evangelical I would define leisure as enjoyable free time that facilitates the revitalization of life in its various forms. Ryken argues, Neither work nor leisure is complete in itself. Each takes its meaning from the other.147Although the general agreement regarding

142 143

Ibid., 261.

This term is used to describe skewed eschatology. By escapology the writers describe a doctrine of last things that sees salvation as the souls escape from the evil, material earth to a spiritual heaven where we will no longer work. (12). See Timothy Liu, Gordon Preece, and Wong Siew Li, eds. Market Place Ministry Occasional Paper No. 40 (Pattaya: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 2005), 12.
144 145

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 133. Leland Ryken, Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective (Portland: Multnomah Press,

1987), 181. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 134. Volf gives a comprehensive working definition of leisure that accompanies his definition of work on the previous page (Cf.133-134).
147 146

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 178.

221 leisure is a time to rest and restore ones mental and spiritual state, evangelicals have diversified perspectives on how to implement leisure. They all agree that leisure implies rest. However, in the evangelical world, due to the great influence of the Protestant work ethic, leisure has changed its true essence. In fact there is a mentality that all leisure must be earned by good work.148 However, the Bible declares that it is God who provides rest for human being from the very beginning. God established this pattern in the Scripture when He said Remember the Sabbath day. Leonardo Doohan argues, people who refuse to rest on the Sabbath or reject genuine sabbatical living are those who trust in their own strength rather than Gods grace.149 The balance between leisure and work enhances peaceful interdependence in human society. Furthermore, it establishes meaningful rhythm in life. In my view the Sabbath is a subset of leisure. It invites us to stop and to restto be content, even if things are not exactly as wed hoped theyd be.150 I consider that leisure is to take a pause in life. Kent argues, To pause between the notes of our lives turns noise into music. Its called resting. It is the antidote for restlessness, but one we dont think of. When we feel restless, we often think, Ive got to do something. We rarely think, I have got to do nothing.151 The dominant mentality regarding leisure that implies rest in civilized society is that it seems wasteful, extravagant, a luxury a person as busy as we are cannot afford.152 In contradiction to this, leisure is given too much emphasis in the EOTC. Even so, the EOTCs

148 149 150 151 152

Ibid., 137-140. Leonard Doohan, Leisure: A Spiritual Need (Notre Dame: Ave Maria, 1990), 46. Keri Wyatt Kent, Rest Living Sabbath Simplicity (Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 2009), 28. Ibid., 28. (Italic hers) Ibid., 29.

222 enormously communal practice has utilized leisure in a way that empowers social gathering. This is a distinguishing mark of the EOTC.153 The intentional rest facilitated time for each other and time for God. People enjoyed times of fellowships without a deep sense of guilt.154 The leisurely activity in the EOTC has inculcated the value of community.155 However, this noble practice of the church is not without its limitations. It is true that any strength can easily turn into weakness. For example, giving, as noble a virtue as it is, could easily be turned to squandering ones resource if it is not carefully and thoughtfully done. In the same fashion saving can easily turn to greed if it lacks proper balance. In the same way leisure can easily turn to idleness. In the EOTC leisure has fallen into this trap.156 Leisure that facilitated the growth and development of a highly community oriented society has contributed to the appearance of idle people who enjoy hiding behind this communal life.157 That is why this study is arguing for balance.

6.6. Humanity and Its Role in the World in Relation to Work Work is a distinguished activity in which human beings are invited to cooperate with God in demonstrating the social transformation that benefits fellow human beings. In a world that is characterized by mandatory labor what reigns is competition not collaboration. However, in the theocentric understanding of work where individuals and

153 154 155 156 157

Gorgorious, YeEthiopia Orthodox Twahedo Betekristian Tarik, 122-142. Ibid., 167-172. Ibid., 170-172. Cf. Tefera, Telana Akal, 154-155. Mitiku, Gedil Woyis Gedel? 135-140. See n. 82 in this chapter for the details.

223 groups willingly take work as a worshipful activity their labor will reduce creatures pain and increase their joy.158 The hectic enterprise that exalted wealth more than the Creator is the cause of an indescribable dissatisfaction in todays world.159 I am certain that No tower of Babel is going to make it into heaven.160 Therefore, work that does not give due respect and recognition to the Creator cannot attain a godly goal (Ps 127:1). It is certain that genuinely proper aspiration in both individual and corporate life is the only ingredient that perfectly matches with the intended will of God. Regarding this Volf notes, What people desire is objectively desirable only when it corresponds to what the loving and just God desires for them as Gods creatures.161 For work to serve the purpose of an eschatological transformation, it has to comply with Gods ultimate agenda for His creatures including humanity. Not all have a similar stance regarding the future destiny of human and non-human creatures. Those who believe in apocalyptic destruction do not see the lasting value in human work. On the other hand some argue that the striking, true and gracious elements from human work will be cleansed and transformed to join the new creation. In this regard, Volf argues, Since the new creation comes about through a transformation of the first creation, cooperation with God in the preservation of the world must be the integral part of the cooperation with God in the transformation of the world.162 Therefore, in our everyday involvement of work

158 159 160 161 162

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 136-140. Ibid., 158-164. Larive, After Sunday, 76. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 81. Ibid., 101.

224 Everything we do to encounter or reverse the effects of the fall is a participation Gods redeeming and transforming work and looks forward to the completion of that work.163 By taking work as worshipful action rather than a necessary evil, human beings shall be instrumental in bringing the desired change in the world.164 In the end our worshipful activity in the world shall result in a visible transformation that motivates us to eagerly anticipate the final consummation that far surpasses what we have experienced in the realm of the already aspect of eschatology. What we perform now should not be taken as mere struggle for survival and needs to go beyond solely meeting our immediate needs. We are called primarily to be faithful rather than successful. In this regard, D. E. Gowan argues, Whether we succeed or fail, our every effort to make things right is, therefore, a witness to the world that God is at work to bring about, someday, a time without suffering and anguish for everyone. Every little victory over evil is thus a reminder that the ultimate victory is coming.165 Therefore, the escapology found in the EOTC that I referred to earlier should be challenged and questioned.

6.7. Humanity and Nonhuman Creatures in Relation to Work The cardinal sign for the normal and natural activity of work in a biblical perspective is that it manifests itself in a manner that maintains the balance between authority and accountability. Furthermore, it responds in biblical fashion to its relationship with

Alistair Mackenzie, and Wayne Kirkland, Wheres God on Monday? Integrating Faith and Work Every Day of the Week (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003), 28.
164 165

163

Preece, The Viability, 290-307. D. E. Gowan, Eschatology in the Old Testament (Philadelphia: T & T Clark, 2000), 125.

225 nonhuman creatures. Human beings are given dominion to utilize and take care of the world. However, their dominion should not encourage any selfish move that disturbs the equilibrium of the environment. According to Thomas N. Finger alienation is not restricted to human beings only, but it also is extended to the nonhuman creatures in many ways.166 In this regard Thomas N. Finger argues, In any environmental issue the number of interconnected factors involved (for example, habitat size, air quality, number of species), including effects on future generations, is enormous. Can human self-interest, or sympathy, provide a vision holistic enough for deciding what values should accrue to all these factors? Will not certain human interests (for instances, maintaining a lumber operation which reduces habitats and pollutes air) at least seem to override someand perhaps many? And whose human interest will be considered: local residents or those far away; prosperous groups or impoverished ones and will nonhuman creatures be sufficiently respected if they have only instrumental value?167 Finger here argues that the alienation of nonhuman nature could be avoided when nonhuman creatures are treated with deeper sensitivity i.e. respecting them in a way that assures continuity of life in all spheres. Judith Allen Shelly also argues, The dominion that God assigns to human beings in Genesis 1 is a commission to care for the earth and its inhabitants with tender love, to rule the world with justice, and to make wise use of the resources he has provided.168 Therefore, I argue that it is work that is geared as a worshipful act and empowered by the Spirit that is respectful, careful and loving to nonhuman creatures.

Thomas N. Finger, Self Earth and Society: Alienation and Trinitarian Transformation (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 64-99.
167 168

166

Ibid., 79. (Italics his)

Judith Allen Shelly, Not Just a Job: Serving Christ in Your Work (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 15.

226 In worshipful activities, the rest of the world is invited to enjoy and manifest itself through work that produces new things, to promote personal, communal, cultural and environmental harmony and well-being all in a restored relationship with God in Jesus Christ.169 Work that is not obsessed with production but focused on what one could do in cooperating with God has a lasting impact on both human and nonhuman creatures. Although quality production is a sign of good work, it is just one among the many measures necessary. I am firmly convinced that work as worshipful activity could bring stability, satisfaction, security, success and synchronization in the lives of those who are available to play the role of created co-creator and powered-empowerer. Engaging in the activity of worshipful labor assures the continuing lines of generations and elicits stability between human and nonhuman creatures. Furthermore, it has an observable and measurable dimension that brings about godly satisfaction which economic development cannot satisfy.170 Earlier I argued that work ought not to be obsessed by production. By this I mean that production should not be taken as the only gauge of high-quality work. Worshipful work is tangible and has to be a front line warrior for the implementation of the kingdom values that also assure harmony between human beings and nonhuman creatures. Our deep sensitivity to the impetus of God in our work will help us to be an instrument of change in our daily involvement. Work is an enduring call. It is our partnership with God in caring for his creation. It starts from the time

169 170

Cosden, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, 146 Walter Brueggmann, Isaiah 40-66 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 249.

227 we first learn responsibility as a child and continues until death (not merely until retirement).171

6.8 Conclusion Work is God given from the very beginning. It is indeed part of the divine plan for history.172 In the same fashion leisure in the form of rest also was included from the dawn of creation. Gods intention was, is and will be a balanced life. I believe God delights in a life that discourages busyness beyond what the individual call requires. Furthermore, avoiding idleness that breeds dependency is Gods intended plan for humanity. Therefore, neither slavery to idleness nor worshiping of labor are signs of work as collaboration with God. Exalting human endeavor and idolizing creatures efforts are obstacles for our journey with God. Therefore, looking for a point of contact with the Almighty and establishing that connection will help us to continue in the worshipful act. Moreover discerning Gods desires and locating them in our work will give us a strong determination and help us to seek His intervention to enable us to do His will. Due to the theological focus of the world to come, the EOTC adherents are characterized by withdrawal from the activities of this world.173 Passivity is the common trend that is observed in the thought and action of the EOTC adherents.

171 172 173

Shelly, Not Just a Job, 20. Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 174. Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot, 148-329.

228 In my view, in order to realize transformation in the day-to-day involvement of work, withdrawal should be replaced by engagement. Idleness ought to replace industry. Furthermore, theological reflection should have prophetic content. In this regard, Willem A. VanGemeren notes, The prophets bore a message of transformation in historical context to people who were complacent with their abilities and achievements.174 Transformation can only be attained when people are willing to cooperate with God with their affirmative responses to His messages. Citing Volf, Althouse writes, Work must be understood as cooperation with God. Under the power and direction of the Spirit, work is enabled by the charismata of the Spirit. The Spirits impartation of these gifts is a guarantee of the realization of the eschatological kingdom175 In the same vein Cosden describes, Mission that works will be work that clears away, as much as possible, those things that seek to confound the purposes of God and threaten to destroy his kingdom.176 As opposed to my EOTC counterparts who take work as a trap for the most part, it is my firm evangelical conviction that work should be taken as worshipful activity. Furthermore, I argue that it should be treated as more than a way to get a wage.177 With this in mind work could fulfill the individual needs, benefit the community and bring glory to God.178

174

Willem A. VanGemeren, Interpreting the Prophetic Word (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,

1988), 19. Peter Althouse, Spirit of Last Days: Pentecostal Eschatology in Conversation with Jrgen Moltmann (New York: T & T International Publishing, 2003), 76.
176 177 178 175

Cosden, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, 146. Ibid., 147. Cf. Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today, 160-165; Warren, The Purpose Driven

Life, 65-70.

CHAPTER 7 A THEOLOGICALLY BALANCED UNDERSTANDING OF WORK IN CONVERSATION WITH THE EOTC

7.1 Introduction While reflecting on work the tendencies to favor one extreme over the other is a familiar phenomenon in todays world.1 Scholars in the last five decades took a stand favoring either the protological view or the pneumatological which both neglected the christological view of work.2 Gordon Preece persuasively argued that the trinitarian schema is better balanced to accommodate both protological and pneumatological theological views of work.3 Day to day life revealed that this lack of balance is a phenomenon that occurred not only at the conceptual level but also at the spiritual and practical levels. For example the dominance of workaholism or idleness in a society is a sign of deviation, which is in turn the practical and observable indicator of imbalance. Furthermore, focusing on either the active or contemplative sphere of Christian life also contributes to the imbalance. In the end, either

For example, Marx exalts work and treats as an instrument of self-fulfillment. Freud sees it as a means of self-denial. Wingren envisions work in the protological sense while Volf argues for a pneumatological understanding of work. Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 248-265. See also n. 9 in chapter 1 for the meaning of protological and pneumatological.
3 2

Ibid., 28-317.

229

230 living to work or working to live only shows a lack of balance in the society.4 A theologically balanced understanding of work is characterized by discouraging these extremes.5 In this chapter I will argue that the EOTCs focus on the contemplative aspect of life contributed to the lapsarian-centered life and the minimal development of the theology of work. Such an inclination towards devaluing work as an intrinsic element of being human could be avoided through an intentional effort to inculcate the biblical value of work into their theology. The vocation-centered trinitarian theology of work is vital for keeping the balance between the mystery of spiritual life and the undertaking of work as an integral part of who we are as human beings.

7.2. Practicing Human Work without Underplaying the Mystery of Spiritual Life Human work is one of the avenues in which true spirituality is practically demonstrated in the daily walks of life.6 Therefore, maintaining the balance between the mysteries of spiritual life and human work is a vital step for co-operating with God the Worker.7

4 5

David Kellett, Champions for God at Work (London: Terra Nova Publications, 2001), 31.

Lee Hardy, The Fabric of This World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice and the Design of Human Work (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 3-76. Kellett, Champions for God at Work, 67-78. Cf. David A. Krueger, Keeping Faith at Work: The Christian in the Work Place (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 9-159. Robert Banks, God the Worker: Journeys into the Mind, Heart and Imagination of God (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1994), 7-280.
7 6

231 7.2.1 Human Work and Spirituality Although work is perceived as an instrument of mortification in the EOTC,8 its effectiveness in promoting spirituality is not perceived by them in a positive fashion.9 Yet genuine biblical spirituality cannot be divorced from a good working habit which is instrumental for both the physical and social welfare of the society.10 In the EOTCs understanding, hard work is mostly portrayed as an obstacle for spirituality. The spiritual values that shape the day to day life of the EOTC come from its monastic leaders who value adoration over work. The Book of Monks clearly expresses this when it says, Without rejecting the thought of physical work you cannot expect receiving grace and the revelation of mysteries.11 In this instruction hard work is portrayed as an obstacle for a deeper understanding and experience of the spiritual life. On this view when work is undertaken beyond what is required it is an obstacle to spiritual life.12 Yet work is not only an instrument for earning the means of living, but it is also an essential activity for a true practice of spirituality.13 David Kellet argues, By putting work in the context of Gods

Tesfa Gebresillassie, Sosetu Metsehafete Menekosat: Maryesehaq [The Three Books of Monks: Maryesehaq] (Addis Ababa: Tesfa Gebresellassie Priniting Press, 1982), 153. Here work is portrayed as a tool for combating evil attitude After one prayed without ceasing it is better to diligently perform good work and any type of work, such activity is an instrument for diminishing evil desires
9

Ibid., 150-155. Carl F. H. Henry, Aspects of Christian Social Ethics (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, Gebresillassie, Maryesehaq, 153. Kellett, Champions for God at Work, 31-39. Ibid., 31-33.

10

1964), 31-.80.
11

12 13

232 plan, we can challenge the common assumption that work is a curse, a necessary evil or second class calling.14 Furthermore, Kellet notes, Pay is not the defining characteristics of work. Work is about serving through your labour, not specifically about money or job roles.15 It is true that every aspect of a believers life, including work, is an avenue to demonstrate who the believer is in Christ. As genuine spirituality contributes to a good working habit, good working habits contribute to true spirituality. I repeatedly noted that work in the vocation-centered view is considered as a service to God. Therefore, all Christians should regard their work as sacredand full time for God.16 Taking human work in this light contributes to the Christian spirituality. Work is not free from the influence of the spiritual powers. As God the Worker is inviting his children to co-operate with Him in their involvement of work, the deceiver17 fills their work participation with unpleasant struggle. Due to such resistance from the enemy and those who identify with him, working environments are not free from battles of different kinds. However, with all its difficulties, work could be used as a tool that fosters spiritual life. Preeces vocation-centered trinitarian schema recognizes that the world is not a paradise and true spirituality is not free from the impact of spiritual forces. According to the vocation-centered view every day vocational life is the arena of an apocalyptic battle

14 15 16 17

Ibid., 32. Ibid., 183. Ibid., 35.

In Gen 3:13 Satan used the serpent to deceive human beings. The New Testament alludes to this passage in Rev. 12:9 and Rev 20:10. Here in these passages Satan is called the deceiver.

233 between God and Satan over creation.18 Those who firmly know that working hard is one aspect of the battle against evil powers are determined to overcome the obstacles and the influences that arise from these powers.19 Work is not a neutral activity.20 Ones spirituality is reflected within it. The question is how ones spirituality relates to the daily activity of work. For believers who choose to lead their lives under the Lordship of Christ Jesus, the Bible advises them to live for him alone.21 This includes their daily involvement in work. They are expected to perform their activity with all their heart.22 In a world where sin has disturbed the equilibrium, maintaining a spiritual balance is difficult. At times believers may not actually enjoy working with non-Christians, because they are not stamped with the same nature, and the pressures of secular office life combine to burst our spiritual bubble of peace and joy.23 However, work in this kind of environment is also a noble opportunity for the Christian to show their spiritual life which demonstrates ones union with Christ. In the same fashion non-Christians will reflect their values in their day-to-day involvement in work. No matter

18

Preece, The Viability, 41.

Kellett, Champions for God at Work, 101. Here Kellett expresses the way spiritual people at work handle resistance and argues, Besides wanting God to do something, we must also yield to His work in us. Daniel and Joseph were both working people who allowed God to work out His plan through their work lives. They co-operated with Him every step of the way, even though the steps did not always seem to go onwards and upwards. Myron D. Rush, Gods Business: Balancing Faith and the Bottom Line (Colorado Springs: Victor, 2002), 47-52. The Bible in 2 Cor 5:15 says, And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
22 21 20

19

Col 3:23 speaks about wholehearted commitment to God through our work. Kellett, Champions for God at Work, 83.

23

234 how we view it, work and spirituality are inseparable. That is why Kellett argues, Whatever is on the inside, in terms of our attitudes and values, will be reflected outwardly in our behavior and relationships.24 Work is one of the ways in which the outward expressions reveal either their positive or negative natures. It is true that work takes a huge amount of our time in the day-to-day involvement of life in this world. The time that is devoted to work is filled with multifaceted interactions. These interactions in turn reveal the state of ones spirituality. The vocationcentered conviction facilitates true spirituality in work by empowering believers to please God and to fulfill the call to work that God has given them.25 All Christians are invited to lead a life that reflects their fundamental Christian identity in everything they do. Work is the primary task among the many activities believers perform in life. Kellett argues, None of us is excluded from the priestly role of living in the presence of God and giving Him worship at all times in everything we do, and honoring Him by who we are. We have been brought into continuous fellowship with God as he lives in and through us.26 Work serves as a platform for this continuous fellowship, facilitating the believers godliness. Therefore, this is an indication that work is an outlet that truly shows our spirituality. Although the new world of work is global, highly complex, technologically sophisticated and rapidly changing,27 the vocation-centered conviction of work adapts this

24 25 26 27

Ibid., 83. Ibid., 32. Ibid., 33. Krueger, Keeping Faith at Work, 46.

235 new environment in a way that enhances spiritual life.28 Therefore, in the vocation-centered view of work, work is a place to prove ones spirituality. In contradistinction to this the EOTCs understanding of work leans towards considering work as an activity that overshadows a deeper fellowship of believers with their Creator.29 In fact believers are not encouraged to look for God in the world of work. Work is regarded as a place of drudgery, dissatisfaction and disappointment. Of course when workaholism dominates the life of the worker, finding quality time that enhances true spirituality is difficult. However, work should not be reduced solely to an activity that distracts from true spirituality. Since work could be an avenue to worship God and show our allegiance to Him, to portray work as something that traps humanity lacks biblical perspective. Therefore, even though overworking could affect spirituality, work is not necessarily an obstacle to spirituality but could be used as an instrument for spirituality.

7.2.2 Maintaining Balance between Work and the Mysteries of Spiritual Life Although the EOTC has labored in inculcating spiritual education in the form of music, poetry and book studies, its effort in introducing people to industry and modern civilization did not result in a significant breakthrough.30 I believe intentional steps towards

Preece, The Viability, 265. Since vocation-centered conviction is less inclined to accept structures as normative, it strives to transform it to fit the new context and new state of spirituality.
29 30

28

Gebresillassie, Maryesehaq, 153.

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Yethiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik Keledete Kristos Eske Hulet Sheh Ametemehret[The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church History from the Birth of Christ to the 2000] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 2000 EC), 57

236 maintaining the balance between work and mysteries of spiritual life are the foundation for inculcating the biblical theology of work. In the EOTC theological materials in relations to the mystical experience of the believers are substantial.31 However, it is rare to find materials in relation to the theology of work and systematic theology. If there were a sufficient amount of materials that motivated parishioners to take work seriously, the picture that we have seen in the past fifty years, and in our contemporary society, arguably could have been different.32 As I have repeatedly argued in this work, if we had a good amount of materials that motivate people to hard work, we could have a positive change in the balance between the mystical experience and day-to-day work. Elsewhere I have argued that both idleness and workaholism are the manifestations of imbalance in the day-to-day walks of life. Imbalance and extremism are the curses of our age. Imbalance has taken different forms in different societies. For the most part the western societies are characterized by increased competition and integration and rapid technological innovation which are radically and continuously changing the structure of modern work organizations.33 This in turn facilitated the fact that people increasingly take on more than one job.34 This has forced western

For example the production spiritual books such Acts ( Gedil), biography, (Dersane) and Miracle (tamer) characterizes EOTC in a unique way. These books are produced in large numbers. Tilahun Mekonen, Yeramse Chenket [The Worry of Ramse] (Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999 EC), 144-148.
33 34 32

31

Krueger, Keeping Faith at Work, 41.

Miroslav Volf, Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 109.

237 societies to lean towards workaholism.35 In contrast to this, the Ethiopian society did not develop the habit of industry. Berhanu Admas argues, Once we know that we have problem [in the area of work and holidays], looking for the solution is an unquestionable move. However, if we blame it all on one body [EOTC], such an action is not problem solving but aggravating the problem.36 Berhanu is right in resisting any move that aggravates the existing problem. Any proposal that does not give a constructive solution to the problem is adding to it. I agree on this with him. However, in my understanding, evaluating what went wrong in the past and proposing solutions for the problem should not be considered as either aggravating the problem or make the EOTC the sacrificial escape-goat.37 I believe the EOTCs focus on adoration has contributed to the imbalance. Both Berhanu and I agree that there is a problem. Our difference is on the scope and the contributing factors of the problem. In previous chapters I presented the principal causes for the minimal development of theology of work and the main reasons for imbalances between leisure and work. Here in this section I propose the following solutions to minimize the imbalance we have observed in the past. First, recognizing the limitations of the system is the primary step towards maintaining the balance. The spirituality that was introduced in the EOTCs system has given

35 36

Henry, Aspects of Christian Social Ethics , 31-33.

Berhanu Admas, Bealat Mene? Lemen? Endet? [Holy Day What? Why? How?] (Addis Ababa: Mega Printing Press, 1998 EC), 222-223.

37

Ibid., 225

238 meticulous instruction for every single activity of the contemplative life.38 However, the system seemed indifferent towards giving instructions regarding the active life of the believer. The Book of Monks gives meticulous instructions as to how believers who are to be involved in monastic life, and control their fleshly desires. For example, about controlling ones lust the book notes, He [the monk] was burning the actual site of the battle using fire when the demon of lust was fighting him; he was roasting his reproductive organ.39 In the same fashion, in an effort towards controlling the tongue: While sitting with others for the hearing of the word he used to put little stone in his mouth so that he might not err in his tongue he was also putting big cross or ring in his mouth to avoid evil talk.40 From the above two practical examples we can see the theological reflection extends to the details of the spiritual walk of the monks life. The EOTCs theological system that devised minute details of the contemplative life has to recognize that sufficient attention was not given to the active life that impacts the working life of believers. How could a system that goes to the level of unbelievable detail in relation to the contemplative life overlooks the active life? How could one explain these imbalances? In my observation this system suffers from a

See Tesfa Gebresillassie, Sostu Metsehafete Menekosat: Mar Yesehaq, Phileksius, Aregawi Menfesawi [The Three Books of Monks: Mar Yesehaq, Phileksius, Aregawi ] (Addis Ababa: Tesfa Gebresillassie Printing Press, 1982 EC). All these three volume work gives meticulous instruction as to how one leads contemplative life. Cf. Gebresillassie, Aregawi Menfesawi, 72. For example, eating and sleeping which are considered as menial task of everyday life have got serious attention in The Book of Monks as it is written,
Even if she is his mother or his sister, it is much

38

better for the monk to eat poison rather than eating with women. It is also much preferable for the monk to sleep with snake and dragon rather sharing a night blanket with male friend even a sibling. Gebresillassie, Phileksius part 1 (Addis Ababa: Tesfa Gebresillassie Printing Press, 1982 EC), 25 Ibid., 96-97.
40 39

239 neglect of the vital ingredient of life. Where favoritism of one trend of thought is dominating, an attempt to maintain balance is futile. Therefore, the first attempt towards maintaining balance is to recognize the limitations of the theological system that favors the contemplative life over the active life. Second, encouraging an intentional theological reflection that facilitates the balance between active and contemplative life is a vital step towards avoiding the imbalance. By this I mean there should be a deliberate reversal that compensates for the lost time. In this regard Zemenefes Kidus Abrehas effort in acting as the forerunner is worth noting. He argues, By breaking the command that says, by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food my leaders such as Revered Habit strictly instruct the people and say today is a holy day, abstain from work; tomorrow is for fasting abstain from food and block the people from working and supporting themselves.41 He vigorously disagrees with the system and proposes change. According to Abreha the obsolete view that hampers the biblical practice of work should not only be resisted but also be replaced with more progressive ones.42 I agree with Abreha and argue that legalistic practices that block free theological reflection should be avoided, making use of every possible technique. Therefore, tolerating critical reflection is one step forward. Furthermore, organizing interactive dialogue that fosters biblical and

Zemenfeskedus Abreha, Tegsatsena Meker [Rebuke and Counsel] (Asmara: Artigraphic Printing Press, 1941 EC), 171.
41


42

Ibid., 171-176.

240 theological reflection in relation to work is another positive step towards inculcating good working habits. Several factors indicate that the EOTCs theological system was leaning towards the contemplative life.43 Among these many factors the large amount of mystical materials that have been produced are the visible witnesses that demonstrate that the EOTCs system of thinking leans more towards the mystical experience rather than the active life. In this practical situation there is no question that the system is dominated by the values beliefs and attitude that foster the supremacy of mystical life.44 In my view this imbalance between the active and the contemplative life should not persist in the future. To realize this dream, the system should not allow the former practice to continue the way it did for the past several hundred years. One of the ways that the system could reduce the imbalance is to give an affirmative response to the wake up calls of Abreha.45 My work is advocating that every effort should be made to establish the balance between the mysteries of spiritual life and work. Contemporary theologians should contribute their part to correct the imbalance that we have observed in the past. One of the ways they could contribute their part is by

I have shown elsewhere that the seven times a day prayer, the 250 days fasting in a year, the large amount of monasteries, the numerous monastic kings etc were among the indicators that the EOTCs reflective system leans towards the contemplative life. Melakeberhan Admasu Jenbere, Kokuha Haimanot:Wetat Temelket Endatisasat[Foundation for Faith: Youth Watch Out That You Will Not Err] (Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1989 EC), 41-53. Here Jenbere argues for the supremacy of contemplative life and take the lives of monk as the life of angels. Abreha, Tegsatsena Meker, 120-199. Abreha addressed EOTCs deviated practice in biblical fashion. He gave his wake up call and plea to the leaders of the EOTCs and its theologians to say no to the deviated practices that are obstacles of true spirituality and social welfare. Such proposal for change was not without cost. His book was banned. He had to face the king at his court for making courageous critique of the existing system (2-5).
45 44

43

241 producing materials that inspire and mobilize believers to take their call in regards to work seriously. Third, we can help minimize the imbalance by encouraging creative indigenous theological reflection with an emphasis on correcting the balance between work and mysteries of spiritual life. For the most part the EOTCs literature production and theological reflection was dominated by translations.46 Although the EOTC has its own indigenous style of worship and music,47 its theological reflection was derived from both Alexandrian and Anthiochene schools of interpretation.48 EOTCs scholars are praised for clinging to the teaching of their ancestors, and not for their creative theological reflections.49 The lack of creative theological reflection has had a substantial impact on the imbalance between work and the mysteries of spiritual life.50 If systematic theology had been well developed in the past, maintaining a biblical balance between work and spiritual mysteries would not have been as difficult. However, there is no single work by the EOTC in the area of systematic theology. Furthermore, scholars and writers were discouraged from proclaiming and publishing what

Harry Middle Hyatt, The Church of Abyssinia (London: Luzac & Co., 1928), 85-99. Cf. David Appleyard, Ethiopian Christianity, in The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity, ed. Ken Parry (Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2007), 127-129.
47

46

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Keledete Kristos Eske Hulet Sheh Ametemehret, 94Ibid., 174-179.

128.
48 49

Habtemariam Workeneh, Yemetsehaft Terguame [The Interpretation of Books] ( (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008), 1-11. Cf. Mahetemsellassie. Woldemeskel, YeEthiopia Bahil Tenat[Ethiopian Cultural Studies]. Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 6, no.1 (January 1968): 90-122.
50

242 was appropriate and relevant for their contemporaries.51 By the virtue of its nature systematic theology usually aims to address the burning issues of the believing community in relevant fashion. The EOTC was effective in producing a rich indigenous musical and worship style.52 Yet it intentionally neglected the effort of producing any contextual theological reflection in relation to work. It is true that theologizing addressed the specific questions of life.53 In other societies such as Latin America theological reflection was instrumental in addressing neglected and thus brought to the fore what was previously peripheral matters.54 In this regard, Kevin J. Vanhoozer made an interesting observation and notes, If existential theology began with alienated individual, liberationist theologies begin with alienated group.55 If existentialism and liberation theology could address by the creative responses to their respective societies, the phenomenon of the exaggerated imbalance between work and the mysteries of spiritual life in Ethiopia could also be addressed by the tireless effort of

51 Alemayehu Moges, Hulum Hulun Yewek [Let all know all] (Addis Ababa: Bole Printing Press, 1987), 19. Professor Alemayehu notes, 332 ..

Beginning from 332 EC the Ethiopian Church was an instrument for kings and rulers. When the church scholars were articulating [the truth] the king and the bishop were persecuting them. Those who were teaching and proclaiming the truth were exiled. Those who feared exile were refraining from sharing their conviction. In fact they were saying we know the truth. If we share [the truth] we will suffer as a result of it. By abstaining from sharing the truth they saved their skin and gained the status they needed and in the end they all passed away. Cf. Moges, Hulum Hulun Yewek, 10-19; Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Keledete Kristos Eske Hulet Sheh Ametemehret, 95-154.
53 54 52

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1985), 18-30.

For example history has demonstrated the significant impact of Aquinas Summa, Calvins Institutes, Barths Church Dogmatics and other modern day work of systematic theologians. Furthermore, the works of liberation theologians also pushed the peripheral agendas of the poor and the oppressed to the center. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Advanced Theological Prolegomena Lecture Notes. Deerfield: Unpublished, September, 2006.
55

243 theologians. We need the creative thinkers who are ready to challenge the status quo. Therefore, creative indigenous theological reflection is an indispensable move for gaining the balance between work and the mysteries of spiritual life in the EOTC. In fact Alemaehu has taken an exemplary move in addressing the existing theological questions in more relevant fashion.56

7.3 Honoring the Transcendent God without Violating His Revelation Regarding Work Adoration of the transcendent God is manifested through the deep sensitivity to His revealed characteristics and ways. Therefore, spiritual experiences that violate the revelation of God regarding human work can hardly be regarded as experiences that honor God. Overemphasis of one person of the Trinity is a common phenomenon today not only in Ethiopia but also in many parts of the world. Emphasis on God the Father is common in the lives of the EOTC as opposed to the Ethiopian Pentecostals who exalt the Holy Spirit. In opposition to this tendency John Thompson writes, Overemphasis of one person to the exclusion of the others is in fact a virtual denial of the true God.57 In the same vein he expounds what overemphasis of one-person means and where it leads to when he rightly explains: The Father without Son and the Spirit may be treated as the first cause but not as creator; the Son without the Father and the Spirit leads to a Jesuology of one who does not lead us in salvation to the Father or give
56 57

Moges, Hulum Hulun Yewek, 10-245. John Thompson, Modern Trinitarian Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press,

1994), 95.

244 the Spirit. And the Spirit without the Father and the Son may emphasize our subjective experience or the variety of gifts but it loosed from his true context in the divine life.58 From what we have seen thus far, overemphasis of one person in the Trinity is not healthy and balanced. Vocation-centered trinitarian schema is uncomfortable with favoring one member of the Trinity over the other. Preece insists on the scheme of the threefold call which discourages emphasizing one member of Trinity over the other. In the same fashion emphasizing one attribute of God over the other attributes could not be considered as truly Scriptural. I believe activities of believers in their day-to-day life should be sensitive to the nature of God. Actions that do not recognize the nature of God or neglect who God is in their practices could be construed as a virtual denial of the true God. Therefore, thoughts and actions that violate the balance between the transcendent and immanent attributes of God cannot be taken as biblical.

7.3.1 Work and Its Relationship with the Nature of God Work as worshipful activity is a vital instrument of honoring the triune God. Worshipful work is an instrument of adoring God and therefore work is not an obstacle of adoration and contemplation. Millard J. Erickson helpfully discusses work in view of the transcendence and immanence of God.59 Our views of the nature and relationship of God and work determine the way we respond to day-to-day involvement in life. In my discussion

58 59

Ibid., 95. (Italics mine)

Erickson explains it in terms of Gods nearness and distance to his creatures . See Erickson, Christian Theology, 327-328.

245 elsewhere I have already shown the consequences of overemphasizing the transcendent attributes of God.60 God is both transcendent and immanent.61 In the EOTCs daily practice the transcendence of God is given more emphasis.62 Overemphasizing the transcendence of God over the immanence of God deviates from the true teaching of the Scripture.63 In a lapsarian-centered view of work, hard work is portrayed as an obstacle to spirituality and dishonoring the transcendent God. In fact The Book of Monks boldly argues, Because he could not restrain himself, meekness is impossible for the one who envisions hard-work.64 This practical example shows that hard work is perceived as an obstacle to true spirituality and the relationship of the believer to the transcendent God. This book of monks further notes technical work is responsible for obliteration of good ideas.65 From these sample passages from The Book of Monks, work is portrayed as either a distraction or obstacle for contemplative life. In the lapsarian-centered view of life adoring God is possible when believers are isolated for that particular purpose. No one questions the importance of solitude in facilitating the centering of the soul on God. Yet idea of adoring God while one is engaged in

60 61 62 63 64

See chapter 2 under 2.4.1 Erickson, Christian Theology, 327. See the discussion on chapter 2 under 2.4. 2 See Erickson, Christian Theology, 327-345. Gebresillassie, Mar Yesehaq, 153.

Ibid., 153. Cf. Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 193194. As opposed the lapsarian-centered view Luther believes one fully realizes their calling in vocational activity particularly in the world of work. In this regard, citing Karl Holl, Ryken notes, it is exactly monasticism which has no calling, the genuine calling of God realizes itself within the world and its work.
65

246 hard work is inconceivable for the lapsarian-centered view of life. But this is possible if our view of God as immanent is in its appropriate place. The lapsarian-centered view of God envisions adoration in an isolated environment which is free from noise. However, for those who envision God as present and active with what they do, God is at the center of their action as they fulfill their life duty as his servants. Therefore, we can say work, with all its accompanying noise is one avenue to glorify God. The believers who consciously co-operate with God observe his wonderful hand moving in what they do in collaboration with Him. They know that God works collaboratively, with and through66 his creatures. The God of the Bible does this because He is also honored when His children are imitating Him as the worker and demonstrate His goodness for both human and nonhuman creatures.67 For the lapsarian-centered view cooperation with God is possible with isolation. On the contrary, for the vocation-centered view of work co-operation is possible even in the noisy environment and busyness of life. In this regard Preece argues, God and humanity are busy creating because creation is a cosmic battlefield that is always being destroyed made new.68 Wherever Gods children are, and if they consciously take actions towards meeting neighbors needs in the routines of their daily life, God is out there with them. Furthermore, Vocation is constantly re-shaped by awareness of neighbors need. The need for flexibility and fairness according to varied

66 67

Kellett, Champions for God at Work, 22.

God is present and active in the world of work while His children are striving to please him by their worshipful work. The God who is transcendent is also immanent.
68

Preece, The Viability, 267.

247 situations makes each vocation unique.69 That is why I keep arguing that Christians are collaborating with God whether they are in a contemplative mood of isolation or actively participating in the daily affairs of life. The transcendent and immanent God demands from his co-workers keen sensitivity to His presence in both active and contemplative involvements. It is a mistake to say Gods presence in contemplative environment is more real than in the environments that are devoted to industry and the mundane life activities of believers.70 The Bible guides and encourages believers to value a life of integrity wherever they are. When holding to the improper view of the attributes of God, believers act differently in different environments. That is why Kellett argues, What good is it, for example to be passionately involved in serving in our church but to be a manipulative tyrant to others at work, or do work of such poor quality that it does not glorify God nor provide a good testimony to others?71 I believe such a contradictory lifestyle is the result of an improper view both of who God is and His expectations of believers in different life roles. The contemporary context demands renewal at different level. The deleterious view of work could be corrected if we have the proper perspective of work. What is needed in our situation of contemporary Ethiopia is reproducing what the Puritans did several hundred years ago.72 The Puritans followed the legacy of the Reformers and labored to

69 70

Ibid., 267.

The Scripture in (Jer 23:24 and Acts 17:27-28) declares that God is present and active in what seems an ordinary environment. God is present in the regular activities of life. To give an exaggerated explanation of his presence in an isolated environment is incompatible with what the Scripture teaches.
71 72

Kellett, Champions for God at Work, 34.

Leland Ryken, Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995), 109.

248 inculcate their values. They accentuated industry in their work, as stewards of Gods call, whose intention was to serve God and society.73 It is only with utilizing this view and path that we could approach the imbalance that we have observed in the mysteries of spiritual life and work. Neither lapsarian-centrism that stays away from the vitality of hard work nor mere drudgery are supposed to be the norms of the believing community. The God of the Bible who gave himself as a worker to His creatures is delighted to see the balanced view of work that is sensitive to His nature. God is holy other and He also is intimate with His creatures. Intimacy with God is not restricted to the monastic environment. Work is an avenue where Gods children are invited to walk with Him intimately. Believers can establish an intimate relationship with God in and through their involvement of work.74 Therefore, God is equally active in the work and worship of the believers. When work is handled in this fashion it is free from mere drudgery and is a delightful exercise. In this regard, Preece notes, The joy in work is opposite to a dull business or alienating indifference to the content of work.75

73 74

Ibid., 109.

Doug Sherman and William Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1987), 16-24.
75

Preece, The Viability, 71.

249 7.3.2 Work and Gods Revelation The Bible is a book where human beings are invited to encounter God. God uses the Bible to convey His wise counsel to humanity. Kevin J. Vanhoozer argues, The Bible is not merely a record of revelation but the means by which God, in and through the human authors, has an ongoing speaking part.76 Scripture expresses that Gods will for humanity is to join Him as a worker. Gods revelation discourages both the idleness and idolization of work that disrupt co-operation between the Creator and creatures. Therefore, work that is guided by the revelation of God is characterized by activity that benefits humanity and glorifies God.77 Although Jacques Ellul argued that the Bible does not portray work as vocation,78 the theological concept of work as vocation is taught in the Scripture.79 Paul in 1Cor. 7:20 expounds how believers need to comprehend their vocational calls. Furthermore, Preece argues, Passage such as Ps 127 and 139, Prov 3:5-6 and Matt 10:29-31 which stress

76

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press,

2005), 177. Cf. Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 106. Ryken quotes James Preston and writes, Our aim must be Gods glory and the public good. In the same vein Vanhoozer notes, Theology more properly pertains to how Christians should speak and act in everyday situations to the glory of God. (310). See Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 310.
78 79 77

See chapter 1 n. 61.

Paul S. Minear, Work and Vocation in Scripture, in Work and Vocation: A Christian Discussion, ed. John Oliver Neleson, (New York: Harper, 1954), 33. Here Minear argues the Bible has more to say about daily chores than most of its readers realize. Indeed, we may think of it as an album of casual photographs of laborers A book by which workers, about the workers, for workersthat is the Bible.(33).

250 Gods providential care and guidance provide a broad biblical basis for vocation.80 Kellett makes his case even stronger and gives his theological argument as follows: We have been called to be sons of God, and our work is one part of life where the reality of our Christian identity can be expressed. It follows from this that when we see ourselves as called to be sons of God first, it no longer makes sense to think of secular work as separate from the rest of our life, not to think of secular work as a second class calling. In this sense, we all have the same calling, all the time, wherever we are and whatever we specifically do as an occupation.81 Both biblical and theological arguments support the argument that believers need to take work seriously and need to be sensitive to God in every single movement of their day-to-day life. The triune God is the worker.82 His revealed will that is expressed in the Bible encourages his creatures to follow His pattern.83 Honoring God is manifested through obeying His will which is manifested through the pages of the Scripture. It is true that knowledge in relation to God is secured through Gods revelation. God has revealed His will

80 81 82

Preece, The Viability, 85. Kellett, Champions for God at Work, 32. (Italics his)

Ibid., 18. Kellett notes, The very first verse of the Bible introduces us to God as active, or the one who works; the Elohimthe one true God, creating something wonderful in the form of the earth and the heavens and everything in them. In the same fashion The earthly ministry of Jesus also involved a busy workJesus said to them My father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working (John 5:17). The Spirit also works.18-19. (Italics mine) Ibid., 20-28. Kellett summarizes the way God works. 1. God is purposeful, his works are directed towards fulfilling His clear purposes and strategic plans (Isa 46:10-11). 2. God is organized, He undertook a specific sub-task for each of the first six daysHe created the environment for wider context, such as the land, sea and sky early in the week, before making the more detailed aspects such as specific life forms in the latter part of the week. (Gen 1:1-31) 3. God is collaborative: God delegated part of His work to usHe gave man something meaningful and fulfilling to do: to be stewards of Gods creation. (Gen 1:26) 4. God is hard-working: God works hard, to take care of us and to work out His plan in each of our lives (Ps 121:3-4). 5. God is promise keeping, God delivers on what he says he will do, and complete what he starts (1Kgs 8:20).
83

251 through the Scripture. God revealed his intention in relation to work in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible expresses that everyone is expected to work. In the first three chapters of Genesis the Bible presents God the worker. Scholars who formulate their theology of work from the first book of the Bible usually talk about the creation mandate.84 For these scholars Genesis 1 gives very good biblical theological principles regarding the divine command to work. I resonate with this presentation that portrays human beings as Gods vice-regent. Human beings are given a stewardship role to further Gods cause here on earth, Because of this, the value and significance of our work is directly related to how connected it is with Gods work.85 God not only commanded humanity to work but He also gave the object lesson.86 Several passages in the Old Testament give instructions regarding the daily work. Gods instruction regarding work in the Old Testament could be summarized as follows: First, work is a normal and natural pattern of life that facilitates cooperation with God (Gen 1:26-28, 2:6, 15). As I noted earlier the passages in Gen 1-2 guides us as to

84 85

See Preeces presentation of first article theologian Wingren. Preece, The Viability, 27-100.

Alistair Mackenzie, and Wayne Kirkland, Wheres God on Monday? Integrating Faith and Work Every Day of the Week (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003), 19. Cf. Allen P. Ross, Genesis in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 28. In Genesis where God the worker gave a model for those who follow his pattern we observe an interesting structure. First there is an introductory remark which is expressed in the form of "And God said" 2. There was Powerful Command expressed by the form "Let there be " 3. Then soon after his command there is fulfillment which was expressed by the statement "It was so" 4. Then evaluation of what was done expressed in the word "It was good" 5. There was also a concluding remark or the numbering of each day which was expressed in "And there was evening and there was morning" In this performance of Gods revelation human beings are invited to collaborate with God the worker and imitate him in what they do.
86

252 how work must be perceived. Work in the light of these Scripture passages is understood as being in cooperation with God. Human beings assure the continuing line of creation by cooperating with the Creator. 87 God has given the earth the nature to be productive and human beings are endowed with the ability to work on it and become producers. Human beings are invited to cultivate the earth to facilitate production. The book of Proverbs explains this phenomenon and says, He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty (Prov 28:19). Work is humanitys call to serve God.88 Second, work that is originated by God has its own specific rhythm (Exod 34:21; Ps 104:23). Scripture not only presents the model of work, it also establishes the rhythm to be followed. This rhythm is expounded in the form of daily and weekly format. For example in Ps 104:23 human beings are following a specific movement tied to time. This specific text is implying the beginning and the ending of work involvement. It has to start every morning and be concluded in the evening. Then dark night is reserved for rest. Here in this section work is presented in the daily rhythm. In Exodus (20:9-10, 34:21) the Bible presents an organized rhythm in the form of six to one, and is written, Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. In these passages God instructs his chosen people regarding the pattern and rhythm of working life. Furthermore this kind of instruction is also expressed in the rest of

87 88

See the discussion under chapter 6.2.1

This does not include dehumanizing work. Work is dehumanizing when it is not sensitive to the actual situations of being human.

253 the books of Pentateuch.89 The Bible not only presents work as cooperation with God but it portrays a specific pattern for it. Third, work in the Old Testament is presented as an activity that requires priorities (Prov 24:27-34). According to Sid S. Buzzell Israelites, most of whom farmed land, needed to plow and sow seed to get their field ready it is important to have ones priorities straight.90 The God of the Bible revealed to Israel that they must labor on the field and do things in a specific order. When they do this He would bless their effort. Therefore, in the book of Proverbs believers are exhorted to use their time and energy wisely. It is true that taking lots of holidays when it is time to work leads idle people to hunger and poverty. With no production to harvest, idle people have nothing to eat and nothing to sell. Poverty for the most part is a mark of lack of industry.91 Sometimes disobedience to the Lord could be a cause for a reduced harvest in the field. That is why the psalmist is pleading the Lord for his mercy and compassion to bless their hand made efforts (Ps 90:17). The Old Testament instructs that work should be performed in a manner of obeying the Lord. Fourth, work in the Old Testament is portrayed as an activity that requires wholehearted commitment (Eccl 9:10). King Solomon in his exhortation of Ecclesiastes encouraged his readers to work industriously. According to Donald R. Glen The idiom

See Exod 23:12, 31:14-17, 35:2; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:13-15. The work and rest days were clearly established by Yahweh. Sid S. Buzzell, Proverbs in. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 959. Ibid,. 959-960. Although there might be other causes for poverty, most of the time it is caused by idleness and the Bible condemns idleness.
91 90

89

254 whatever your hand finds to do in v. 10 means whatever you are able to do, whatever a person is able to do, he should do it with all his might, that is expend all his energies This is an exhortation that motivates industry. Fifth, idleness or poorly done work was not tolerated in the Old Testament (Prov 18:9). The Old Testament not only encourages industry but also discourages or condemns idleness and inconsequential work. In fact work that is poorly done is considered as insignificant. In this regard Buzzell notes, A person who does his work poorly or carelessly is a brother (i.e., is similar) to one who destroys. A poor or unfinished job differs little from one that someone demolished; both projects are valueless.93 Here the symbolic expression portrays work that does not involve industry is futile. Jerry and Merry White note, Idleness was condemnedin Proverbs 6:6-8 God commands us to observe the ant and learn: the ant works hard to gather food to sustain life. Work is clearly an essential part of life.94 Here again hard work is presented through the example of the hard working insect. Overall the Old Testament unambiguously declares that work is an activity that must be performed in cooperation with God in a wholehearted manner. Gods instruction regarding work in the New Testament could also be summarized as follows:
92

Donald R. Glenn, Ecclesiastes, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 999.
93 94

92

Ibid., 944. Jerry White and Marry White, Your Job Survival or Satisfaction (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,

1977), 22.

255
First, Jesus portrays work as imitating God the worker (John 5:17). Jesus himself modeled work in his earthly life.95 In John 5:17 Jesus argues that God the worker

does not take the Sabbath rest, in fact he manages the activities of the universe and continues running it. In the same fashion Jesus imitated his Father who is the worker and invited his critiques to imitate him. Work in this context is portrayed as an activity that benefits the fellow human being. Secondly, work in the New Testament is also portrayed as an activity that demands a wholehearted dedication (Col 3:23-24). Paul did not comment about the political and social system of the day but gave exhortations to Christians as to how to relate to the system.96 Here in this section the Scripture exhorts that work ought to be performed with undivided allegiance. Work is supposed to be performed in an earnest fashion. Here work is portrayed as something that extends beyond this life. The believers are exhorted to perform their work by visualizing the final object of life. For believers there are two masters in the work environment. One is divine and the other is human. It is by concentrating on the divine employer that believers would be able to fulfill their work in a wholehearted fashion. God in his Spirit is empowering believers for their tasks in daily work. In this regard Volf argues,

Cf. Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 160. John A. Bernbaum and Simon M. Steer, Why Work? (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986), 10. Here the authors argued Our salvation is founded in one who himself worked at a carpenters bench. He knew the toil of work, identifying himself with an aspect of the human condition that will persist until Gods kingdom comes in its fullness.(10). Calvin Redekop, and Uriie A. Bender, Who Am I? What Am I? Searching for Meaning in Your Work (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 43-44. D. A. Carson and R. T. France eds., New Bible Commentary: 21 St Century Edition, 4th ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), Col. 3:22- 4:1.
96

95

256 They work, not primarily because it is their duty to work, but because they experience the inspiration and the enabling of Gods Spirit and can do the will of God from the heart.97 Third, work is an instrument for gaining self respect and means of self support (1Thess 4:11). Work in this Scripture passage is portrayed as an instrument to gain ones resources for the continuity of life. In doing so, work helps to avoid ones dependence on other people. Furthermore, it is a device that helps individual believers to show self respect. The true biblical view of work is against self-centered greed that is enamored by creating wealth for ones sensual pleasure alone. Believers are advised to use work not only for their own individual pleasure but also for the wellbeing of the faith community (Eph 4:28). Therefore, work in the New Testament is perceived as an activity that has both personal and corporate benefits. Fourth, idleness is a mark of deviating from apostolic teaching (2 Thess 3:1012).98 The Bible in this section emphatically instructs that believers have to take work seriously. Those who are unwilling to work not only break Gods command, they are breaking away from the true practice of Christianity. Therefore, they are not supposed to be supported by the church. Pauls exhortations in 2 Thess 3:10-12 revealed that believers who were idle were obstacles for both the gospel and their fellow Christians. They break the firm

97 98

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 125.

Redekop, and Bender, Who Am I? What Am I?, 45. The authors argue, Many nonChristians and Christians are aware of the apostle Pauls affirmation of the dignity of work. His teaching has been called the Magna Charta of labor. He taught that work was necessary to provide the needs of life, to avoid idleness and evil and to make almsgiving possible.

257 apostolic instructions which Paul and his colleagues labored to model.99 From this we can conclude that industry is valued in the Scripture. Furthermore believers of all times are exhorted to be diligent. In the Scripture God is portrayed as an extremely active worker. In itself, this affects how we view human work. If God works, work is good and necessary. It is as simple as that. Gods work is a model for human work, showing us that human work in the world is worth doing in a purposive, enjoyable, and fulfilling manner.100 Therefore, believers should have responses that are compatible to the revealed truth of God. Any spiritual activities that contradict the revealed truth of God could not be taken as genuine spiritual practices.101 God the worker has set a model for humanity to imitate his pattern in life.

Cf. Thomas L. Constable 2 Thessalonians in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 723. D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary: 21 St Century, Edition 4th ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), Col. 3:18-24.
100 101

99

Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 164.

While the episkopos was battling with something [related with

See Gebresillassie, Phileksius part 9, 167. We can see some of experiences that are questionable in the following example:

sin] the people requested for the service of Holy Communion. He refused to do it. But they urged him. He agreed to serve them with one condition After the service he urged them to step on his body and utter the word may the Lord forgive your sins they agreed to step on him while they did this in the process he heard a voice that says because your humbleness your sins are forgiven. How can one take this event as genuine spiritual experience? Is this story compatible to the teaching of the Scripture? Can we accept these kinds of stories even if we find them in The Book of Monks? Stories of this kind abound in The Book of Monks. Since the monks are active leaders that shape the day to day activity of the people, how can stories of this kind positively influence the people?

258 7.4 Work as an Integral Part of Who We Are as Human Beings Work is an essential activity that uniquely impact human life.102 One can not envision human beings without the activity of work. It is true that the idea of work permeates our lives. From early childhood until late in life, work is a pervasive presence.103 Believers who took the Scripture guidance seriously were industrious. Furthermore, they passed on the vision of hard work to their children in every way they can. In this regard, William Barclay notes, To a Jew work was essentialwork was the essence of life. The Jews had a saying that he who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal. A Jewish rabbi was the equivalent to a college lecturer or professor, but according to Jewish law he must take not a penny for teaching; he must have a trade at which he worked with his hands and by which he supported himself. So there were rabbis who were tailors and shoemakers and barbers and bankers and even performers. Work to a Jew was life.104 From the above expressions we discover that people who were known as people of The Book were serious about work. Those who taught Christian truth at the beginning era of Christianity proclaimed the inevitability of work in their fundamental teaching.105 Work is inherent to who we are as human being. Citing the poet James Russell Lowell, Redekop and Bender write:

102 103 104 105

Hardy, The Fabric of This World, 44-76. Redekop, and Bender, Who Am I? What Am I ? xi. William Barclay, Ethics in a Permissive Society (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), 94.

See Redekop, and Bender, Who Am I? What Am I ? 43-46. In referring to Matt 9:36 the authors write, Working to help the needy was high on his agenda. In the same vein they used Pauls example of hard work (1Thess 4:11-12; 2Thess 3:8-12).

259 No man is born into the world whose work Is not born with him: there is always work. And tools to work withal, for those who will; And blessed are the horny hands of toil.106 Work here seems to be connected with inborn gifts. Human beings realize their inborn gifts to work as they pass through different trials of life. Karl Barth notes, a man can really learn to know his sphere of operation only as he sets to work in it.107 In the trials of life Gods call will be sifted and our niche becomes clearer as we use our tools to work. We are in the world for one specific purpose, i.e., to be involved in a work whose ultimate destiny is glorifying God. I agree with R. Paul Stevens when he writes, Contrary to what most people think, the world was not made for human beings; human beings were made for the world. We take care of the world in spectacular ways.108 Our daily involvement in work has a significant place in Gods program for the world. Sherman and Hendricks note, It is not only Gods work that is significant; human work is significant, too. It is something ordained by God.109 In its deviated form work seemed mere animal existence on the other hand seemed to be the agent by which humanity elevates itself to the position of a god, proudly ruling over a cultural world of its own making.110 However in its normal and natural

106 107 108

Redekop and Bender, Who Am I? What Am I? vii. Karl Barth, The Church Dogmatics III (Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1961), 4, 52.2.

R. Paul Stevens, The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co.1999), 113.
109 110

Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 81. Hardy, The Fabric of This World, 44.

260 sense work is neither brutish nor divine.111 Work is an integral part of who we are as human beings.

7.4.1 Work and Human Life Although there are several elements that set humanity apart from animals and angels, work is the vital element that differentiates humanity from other creature/beings.112 God the worker created human beings so that they would imitate him in their daily walk in this world. In this regard, Sherman and Hendricks argue, So man works because he is created in the image of God. But he was created not as a worker unto himself, but as a coworker with God.113 Work is inseparable from who we are as human beings. Work and human life are linked by God the worker.114 Human life will be meaningful if human beings treat work the way God planned it for them. Human beings are creatures who are created for the purpose of work that glorifies God the worker. Work carried out in a manner given its rightful place is an instrument that can enhance the relationship between human beings and God. When work is either elevated or despised it becomes detrimental to this relationship.115

111 112

Ibid., 44.

Preece cites Barth on this and expounds on Barths take of vocations, i.e., humanitys calling and work. See Preece, The Viability, 154.
113 114

Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 82. (Italics theirs)

Cf. Banks, God the Worker, 3-284. Stevens, The Other Six Days, 113-126. Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 80-86.
115

Hardy, The Fabric of This World, 44-76.

261 As we have noted the Bible addressed the issues of human relations and work in its first book (Gen1:28). Human life will be satisfied when work is given its appropriate place, i.e., performed in view of glorifying God. It is humanitys greatest opportunities to bring glory to God and to accomplish what he wants done in this world,116 and therefore has great value. As it is expressed above, work is inherent to human nature not only for the sake of bringing glory to God but also for establishing who human beings are as persons. As opposed to Karl Marx who exalted human work way beyond its limits, the vocation-centered view of work recognizes work in its appropriate place in human life. Marx argued that human productions would be so many mirrors of our nature.117 He is partly right in affirming that human production is a mirror of human nature. But Marx is wrong in advocating for the exaltation of human production beyond and above what it is. He argued that the ultimate satisfaction is found in surveying the freely created works of our own hands.118 This is a misguided claim that deifies work. This in turn reduces humanity to mere servants of work which will make human beings the prisoners of their individual desires. Modern thinkers Marx and Freud polarized the notion of work. The latter treated work as self denial119 and the former considered it as an instrument of self-

116 117

Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 70.

Karl Marx, Alienated Labor, in Karl Marx: The Essential Writings, ed. Fredric L. Bender (Boulder: Westview Press, 1972), 125. Hardy reiterates Marxs notions of self satisfaction by contemplating human work. See Hardy, The Fabric of This World, 30.
119 118

Ibid., 38-39.

262 satisfaction. Here is the battle is between self-satisfaction and self denial, and the stage for this phenomenon is work. On the contrary, taking work as an instrument of self satisfaction is stretching work to its extreme limit. As opposed to the medieval society which basically saw work as means of self-denial, Marx was determined to view work as a mere instrument of self-satisfaction.120 As I mentioned earlier, work historically was perceived as an instrument of both self-denial and self-fulfillment.121 However, these extreme practical notions were not wholly true about work and human relations. Work goes far beyond meeting individual needs. In addition to the means of getting ones livelihood, it is one of the ways that believers show that they care for others and that they love God.122 Gods desire for human beings is to be joyful and blessed. Work is the way to facilitate this journey in a positive manner. If work is either detached from humanity or joined to human beings in an unhealthy fashion, human life would be complicated. The latter would open the way for dehumanization and the former would push human beings towards idleness. Both extremes erode and endanger the healthy human relations of our contemporary society.123 Volf is right when he argues, The purpose of the theology of work

120 121 122 123

Marx: The Essential Writings, 23-247. Hardy, The Fabric of This World, 43-76. Sherman and Hendricks, Your Work Matters to God, 87-95.

Dehumanization is the phenomenon that is common in civilized societies whereas idleness is the common occurrences of poor countries like Ethiopia. The prejudice against manual labor is still a struggle for the Ethiopian society. In the past Emperor Tewodros realized that prejudice against manual labor had to be overcome if he were to achieve his reorganization of the Empire. He displayed himself willing to engage in the most arduous occupations one of the first road was started when the king leaped from his mule, and commenced picking up the shattered pieces of rock casting them to the side of the way, as the king had dismounted, not a man in the army dared retain his seat they commenced one and all to clear away the

263 is to interpret, evaluate, and facilitate the transformation of human work. It can fulfill this purpose only if it takes the contemporary world of work seriously.124 The minimal reflection of systematic theology and the scarcity of materials in the area of work reveals that the EOTC has not taken the world of work seriously enough.125 Not only the theology of work, but work itself was not given the attention it deserves in the Ethiopian contemporary society.126 In this specific society there is a long way to go to realize the transformation of human work. Tilahun Mekonen notes, Since the EOTCs multitude of holidays have opened ways for idleness and boundary (farm land) disputes, the church is responsible for both economic and spiritual decline.127 Berhanu Admas disagrees with Tilahun on this matter and notes, we have noted that among the responsible bodies for the poverty of Ethiopia many take the EOTC as one of the causes. The church did not conceal her observance of the holidays. However, studies in both the Holy Scripture and the lives of the monks have shown the diligence and the hard working nature of the church.128 In my treatise

boulders. See Richard Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Haile Sellassie I University Press, 1968), 45.
124 125 126

Volf, Work in the Spirit, 7. I have extensively argued this chapter 2-5.

There is high unemployment rate in major cities of Ethiopia. This unemployment is increasing not because the lack of jobs but because of the prejudice our young people have towards some jobs. See Pieter, Serneels The Nature of Unemployment in Urban Ethiopia (Center for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University) http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/2004-01text.pdf (accessed on May 20, 2010), 6-25. Mekonen, Yeramse Chenket/, 146-147. Admas, Bealat Mene? Lemen? Endet?, 211. I believe this statement is presumptuous and was given without any tangible evidence to back it. Although
128 127

264 elsewhere I have shown the limitations of the EOTC system in relation to the issues of work.129 My main focus here is the subject of work and human life. Therefore, I will focus on the essentiality of work to humanness. Work is not of human origin but a gift that human beings are endowed with the Creator.130

7.4.2 The Intrinsic Nature of Work to Humanity Since God the worker implanted work in the nature of human beings, it is mandatory for human beings to constantly cooperate with God in caring for human and nonhuman creatures by responding to their inherent nature, i.e., work. As opposed to the EOTCs lapsarian-centered system of thinking that portrays work either as a distraction or an obstacle to true spirituality,131 it is worth reiterating that the vocation-centered view argues, God and humanity are busy creating because creation is a cosmic battlefield that is always being destroyed and made new. Fresh creation takes place all the time against the devil.132

proponents of monasticism in the EOTC argue that work is integrated into the monastic life, the nature of mystical life reveals that work is not the main activity in that kind of environment. Work in these circles is mainly for the sake of self-support and it is encouraged to be practiced in moderation. Work in this context is not primarily for surplus production. For the most part it is an instrument to prevent idleness. Since the monastery is a place mainly for silence, prayer, private reflection and interpersonal interactions, it is inappropriate to portray it as a model for industry. It is unclear to which study Admas refers when he argues that monks are characterized by industry.
129 130

See my extensive arguments that are presented from chapter 3-6.

Ben Patterson, Serving God: The Grand Essentials of Work and Worship (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 16.
131 132

See n. 63. Preece, The Viability, 67.

265 Therefore, work is not only an activity that enables human beings to earn their livelihood but it is also an inherent component of who they are. Through work human beings respond to the needs of their fellow human beings and non-human creatures. Responding to timely need requires a keen awareness of the essential steps to be taken, and sensitivity to the circumstances. In this regard, Preece rightly argues, vocation is constantly re-shaped by the awareness of the neighbors need.133 Volf notes, there is a mutual dependence between God and human beings on the one hand human beings are dependent upon God in their work on the other hand, God the Creator chooses to become dependent on human helping hands and makes human work a means of accomplishing his work in the world.134 Therefore, Work is vital for both God and humanity. Work has a unique place in the lives of human beings. Hardy summarizes this uniqueness of work in human life in the following fashion: Through work we respond to Gods mandate to humanity to continue the work of creation by subduing the earth, through work we realize ourselves as image-bearers of God, through work we participate in Gods ongoing creative activity, through work we follow Christ in his example of redemptive suffering for the sake of others; through work we serve God himself as we serve those with whom he identifies. As opposed to the ancient pagan and modern secular view of work, the Christian conceptions claims that working does not elevate us to the position formerly occupied by God, lord and master of the universe. Neither do we, in working, debase ourselves to the level of animal existence. Although in working we become like God, giving further shape and form to the earth for the good of humanity, we remain subordinate and responsible to God as stewards of his creation.135

133 134 135

Ibid., 67. Volf, Work in the Spirit, 99. Hardy, The Fabric of This World, 76.

266 To continue to be good stewards of creation, human beings need to respond to their intrinsic nature positively. That positive response is reinforced when people are intentional in taking their call in life seriously. In this regard, Preece argues, linking vocations with the call to social reformation could inspire decisive and courageous action. For Calvin, Gods servants, encouraged by the knowledge that God himself is the source of their calling are supplied with such invincible strength and courage that they are formidable to all the world.136 Although work is intrinsic to who we are as human beings, it is unquestionable that the worker is more important than the work.137 In the same vein Minear argues, Biblical writers emphasize the agent more than the act, the motive of the laborer more than the mode of his labor.138 As this chapter extensively argued for balance throughout this work, it does it one more time here. There should be relational balance between work and human beings. It is true that work is an integral part of who we are as human beings but it should not be lord over human beings.139

7.5 Conclusion If work is handled in a balanced fashion, it would not interfere with spirituality. In fact it is one way to serve the Lord. Carl F. H. Henry argues, Work is intended to serve God, benefit mankind, make nature subservient to the moral program of

136

Preece, The Viability, 267. Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 256. Minear, Work and Vocation in Scripture, 40-41. See n. 135 in this chapter.

137 138 139

267 creation.140 Since work meets both material and spiritual needs, it would be inappropriate to label work as either a distraction or an obstacle to true spirituality. There is no biblical ground for making contemplation superior over work. Marys and Marthas response to Jesus teaching was used to prove the superiority of contemplation over work. However, the text does not give us explicit information regarding the superiority of contemplation. Warren W. Wiersbe notes as follows: Mary and Martha are often contrasted as though each believer must make a choice: be a worker like Martha or worshiper like Mary. Certainly our personalities and gifts are different, but that does not mean that the Christian life is an either/or situation. Charles Wesley said it is perfectly in one of hymns: Faithful to my Lords commands I still would choose the better part; Serve with careful Marthas hands And loving Marys heart It seems evident that the Lord wants each of us to imitate Mary in our worship and Martha in our work. Blessed are the balanced.141 I agree with Wiersbe; balance between vocation and adoration is the only appropriate way for practicing human work without underplaying the mystery of spiritual life. Life that is properly related with God is characterized by accomplishing both work and worship. For human beings work is as much a part of a regular order of things as that the sun should rise or that lions should hunt.142 Work in its true place is an instrument for true spirituality and demonstrating our humanness.

140 141

Henry, Aspects of Christian Social Ethics, 48.

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), S. Lk 10:38. (Italics his)
142

Alan Richardson, The Biblical Doctrine of Work (London: SCM Press LTD), 1952.

CONCLUSION How can a country that has had the Scripture before the entire non-Jewish civilized world and in which the EOTC dominates find itself the poorest country in the world? What are the reasons for the diminished impact of the gospel in relation to the economic welfare as compared to the countries that we mentioned above? As I have argued in the previous chapters an important part of the answer is found in the way the EOTC understood and interpreted the Scriptures is problematical. The EOTC over the centuries has developed an imbalance between work and leisure in its communal life. Platonism has played a role in this. So too has an overemphasis on Genesis 3 (the curse) and lack of attention on Genesis 1-2 (the task). Placing a higher value on the sacred rather than the profane is likewise part of the story with its accent on the contemplative life to the detriment of the active life. The imbalance has had a deleterious effect on Ethiopian societys productivity and economic well being as even some of her politicians have noticed. The number and frequency of holy days are chief evidences of the problem. From an evangelical perspective unless the EOTC develops a robust practice of a biblically informed theological reflection, tradition will continue to trump the biblical witness and the societal problems will remain. As previously argued in a lapsarian-centered view, work is perceived as an obstacle to true spirituality and the relationship with God. In a lapsarian-centered view of work, work is an activity that interferes with the activity of adoring God. Therefore, work is 268

269 considered as necessary evil. However, in the vocation-centered view, work is perceived as an activity that is performed to glorify God. Harry Blamires notes: The Christian doctrine of vocationfollows indisputably from two propositions. The first that, God is everywhere active in human affairs and his will operative at all times. The second, that he is a rational God, fully aware that the world needs farmers and miners as well as priests and nunsthe doctrine of Providence stresses the ceaseless and ubiquitous intrusion of God into human affairs. The doctrine of Vocation defines the prime mode of that intrusion.1 The vocation-centered view of work motivates believers to take every activity of work seriously. God is present and active in the lives of the believers wherever they are. The vocation-centered view of work does not endorse the dehumanization of work. However, it considers that every situation and status is radically equal before God.2 On the contrary in a lapsarian-centered view of work, contemplative life is regarded as superior to the active life. In contradistinction, Preece argues, by virtue of its own inner logic and psychology the calling cannot be ascetic: it is fulfillment, personal, social and religious the most outgoing and positive view of work in the Christian tradition.3 This is the chief insight that I have gleaned from Preeces work. The nature of vocation invites us to meet the needs of others while fulfilling Gods call in the individual life. In order to see remarkable progress in both

Harry Blamires, The Will and the Way: A Study of Divine Providence and Vocation (London:

SPCK, 1957), 67. Gordon R. Preece, The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 174.
3 2

Ibid., 281. Preece is quoting Charles H. George.

270 thought and action in the Ethiopian society, the vocation-centered view of work should replace a lapsarian-centered view of work, which has dominated the scene for centuries. In my view the way forward, or the path to community transformation, requires an intentional effort to replace the EOTCs lapsarian-centered view of work by a vocation-centered view of work. A vocation-centered view of work takes work as an act of worship. Work reveals our inside to the outside world. Henry argues, Work actually reveals ones inner being or character. This fact is as true of a magistrate, a taxi driver, or a typist, as it is of the Creator Redeemer of the universe. Just think what Gods work discloses about his nature! Behind his work is the activity of a great intelligence.4 It is true that human beings should find their archtype in God the mighty worker.5 This does not seem to be true for the vast majority of human beings unless they are clearly instructed as to how to behave in their daily activities of life. The vocation-centered view of work informs human beings to take their individual call seriously. I follow Henry on this when he argues, If work is primarily a means of service, and of self giving, it ceases to be primarily a means of acquisition; its chief end is not money making the believers prime interest, under God, will be in good work that promotes human good.6 Therefore, the EOTCs focus that has emphasized contemplation over active life should gain a better perfect balance by envisioning that God is the center of both the active and the contemplative life.

4 5 6

Henry, Aspects of Christian Social Ethics, 50-51. Ibid., 50. Ibid., 46.

271 To acquire a better theological balance requires a fresh engagement with Scripture. The allegorical approach needs to be replaced with a grammatico-historical one that works with the whole testimony of Scripture. This will require robust theological reflection in conversation not only with Scripture but with relevant disciplines such as sociology to name just one. However, this conversation requires a careful approach while choosing the appropriate methodology in engaging different disciplines. It is true that our choice of method is not theologically neutral. It follows ones view of language, the world and rationality. At every check points in this conversation the revelation that is given by God in a written form must be the basis for the robust theological reflection that we suggest as Christians.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abebe, Demewez. Sera! Sera: Ethiopia Yedabo Kerchat Tehonalech [Work: Ethiopi Will Become a Horn of Plenty] .1 Addis Ababa: SIM Printing Press, 2002 EC. Abraham, Kinfe. Ethiopia from Empire to Federation. Addis Ababa: EIIPD Press, 2001. Abreha, Zemenfeskedus. Tegsatsena Meker [Rebuke and Counse] . Asmara: Artigraphic Printing Press, 1941 EC. Admas, Berhanu. Bealat Mene? Lemen? Endet? [Holy Days What? Why? How?] Addis Ababa: Mega Printing Press, 1998 EC. Althouse, Peter. Spirit of Last Days: Pentecostal Eschatology in Conversation with Jrgen Moltmann. New York: T & T International Publishing, 2003. Angold, Michael, ed. Eastern Christianity. Volume 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Appleyard, David. Ethiopian Christianity. In The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity, edited by Ken Parry. Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2007. Aredo, Dejene. How Holy are Holidays in Rural Ethiopia? An Enquiry into the Extent to which Saints Days Are Observed Among the Followers of The Orthodox Christian Church. In Proceedings of the First National Conference of Ethiopian Studies, edited by Richard Pankhurst and Tadesse Beyene. Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University, December, 1990. Arnold, Duane Wade-Hampton. The Early Episcopalian Career of Athanasius of Alexandria. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991. Ashwin-siejkowski. Piotr. Clement of Alexandria: A Project of Christian Perfection. New York: T & T Clark, 2008.

Throughout this bibliography where relevant the writer has included a translation of the Amharic immediately after the title of the book.

272

273

Banks, Robert. God the Worker: Journeys into the Mind, Heart and Imagination of God. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1994. Barclay, William. Ethics in a Permissive Society. New York: Harper and Row, 1971. Barth, Karl. The Church Dogmatics III. Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1960. Beckett, John D. Mastering Monday: A Guide to Integrating Faith and Work. Downers: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Bernbaum, John A., and Simon M. Steer. Why Work? Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986. Bishhoy, Amba. The Place of Monastic Life within the Witness of the Church Today. In Orthodox Visions of Ecumenism: Statements, Messages and Report on the Ecumenical Movement 1902-1992, edited by Gennadios. Limouris. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1994. Blamires, Harry. The Will and the Way: A Study of Divine Providence and Vocation. London: SPCK, 1957. Bray, Gerald. Biblical Interpretation Past and Present. Downers: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Brueggmann, Walter. Isaiah 40-66. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998. Budge, E. A. Wallis. Kebera Nagast [The Glory of Kings] . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1922. Bulgakov, Sergius. The Orthodox Church. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1988. Buswell, James Oliver. Slavery, Segregation and Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964. Butler, Cuthbert. Western Mysticism. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1968. Calvin, John. Institute of the Christian Religion. Edited by John T. McNeil and translated by Ford Lewis Battle. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967. Carson, D. A., and R. T. France, eds. New Bible Commentary: 21 St Century Edition 4th ed. Downers: InterVarsity Press, 1994. Challiot, Christine. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition: A Brief Introduction to Its Life and Spirituality. Orthdruk: Bialystok Poland, 2002.

274

Chenu, M. D. The Theology of Work: An Exploration. Translated by Lilan Soiron Chicago: Regenery, 1966. Chojnacki, Stanislaw. Major Themes In Ethiopian Painting. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag Gmbh, 1983. Clark, David K. To Know and Love God. Wheaton: Cross Book Publishers, 2003. Clendenin, Daniel B. Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994. ____________. Eastern Orthodoxy: A Contemporary Reader. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995. Cole, Graham A. He Who Gives Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2007. Cotterell, F. Peter. Born at Mid Night. Chicago: Moody Press, 1973. Cosden, Darrell. The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work. Peabody: Hendrickson Publisher, 2006. ____________. Theology of Work: Work and the New Creation. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006. Cowley, Roger W. The Traditional Interpretation of the Apocalypse of St. John in Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. ____________. Ethiopian Biblical Interpretation: A Study in Exegetical Tradition and Hermeneutics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Crummey, Donald. Priests and Politicians: Protestant and Catholic Missions in Orthodox Ethiopia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972. Cunningham, Lawrence S. Thomas Merton and the Monastic Vision. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999. Dellelegn, Belihu. Enen Man Telugnalachehu ?[Who do you say that I am?]. Addis Ababa: Hiwot Publishing, 1996 EC. Dereje, Kesis and Dekemezmur Beza. Mekdes Yegebu Menafekan [The Heretics Who Entered the Holy of Holies]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 2000 EC.

275

Diehl, William E. The Monday Connection: A Spirituality of Competence, Affirmation, and Support in the Workplace. SanFrancisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991. Dockery, David S. Biblical Interpretation Then and Now. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992. Doresse, Jean. Ancient Cities and Temples Ethiopia. Translated by Elsa Coult. London: Elek Books Limited, 1959. Dowling, Theodore Edward. Abyssinian Church. London: Cope & Fenwick, 1909. Dumbrell, William J. Genesis 2:1-17: A Foreshadowing of the New Creation. In Biblical Theology: Retrospect and Prospect, edited Scott J. Hafemann. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002. Eldred, Kenneth A. God is at Work: Transforming People and Nations through Business. Ventura: Regal Books, 2005. Ellul, Jacques. The Ethics of Freedom. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976. Emiru, Walellign. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Festivals: The Finding of the Cross and Epiphany. Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Enterprise, 2007. Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985. Ernest, James D. The Bible in Athanasius of Alexandria. Boston: Brill Academic, 2004. Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life. Addis Ababa: United Printers, 1970. ____________. The Church of Ethiopia Past and Present. Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing Press, 1998. ____________. Yethiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik Keledete Kristos Eske Hulet Sheh Ametemehret [Ethiopian Orthodox Church from Birth of Christ to 2000 EC]. Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 2000 EC. ____________. Feteha Negest Nebabuna Tirguamew [The Law of Kings and Its Interpretations] . Addis Ababa: Tensae Zegubae Printing Press, 1990 EC.

276

____________. YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Emenet Sereate Amelekona Yeweche Genegnunet [The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith, Order of Worship and Ecumenical Relations] . Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1988 EC. ______________. Autocephali (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Faith and Order) http:// www.ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on September 20, 2008). ____________. Synaxarium: Translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, http:// www. ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed on April 20, 2010), 1-730. Eshete, Tebebe. The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia: Resistance and Resilience. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009. Finger, Thomas N. Christian Theology: An Eschatological Approach. Scottdale: Herald Press, 1985. ____________. Self Earth and Society: Alienation and Trinitarian Transformation. Downers: InterVarsity Press, 1997. Forster, W. R. Christian Vocation. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1953. GBV. Metsehafe Seatat According to the Balance of the Sanctuary [The Book of Prayer in Hours]. Addis Ababa: BGNLJ, 2002. Gebresillassie, Tesfa. Sosetu Metsehafete Menekosat [The Three Books of Monks] . Addis Ababa: Tesfa Gebresellassie Priniting Press, 1982. Gobena, Berhanu. Amede Haimanot [Pillars for Faith].Addis Abeba: Ethio Tekur Abay Printers, 2000 EC. Gonzlez, Justo L. History of Christian Thought. 3 vols. Nashville: Abingdon, 1971. Gorgorious, Aba. YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Tarik [Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church History]. Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1974 EC. Graham, Stephen. The Way of Martha and the Way of Mary. London: Macmillan & Co., Limited, 1917. Green, Robert W., ed. Protestantism and Capitalism: The Weber Thesis and Its Critics. Boston: D.C. Heath, 1959. Gowan, D. E. Eschatology in the Old Testament. Philadelphia: T & T Clark, 2000.

277

Grudem, Wayne How Business in Itself Can Glorify God. In On Kingdom Business Transforming Missions Through Entrepreneurial Strategies, edited by Testsunao Yamamoriand Kenneth A. Eldred. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2003. Haile, Getachew and Misrak Amare. Beauty of the Creation. Manchester: Billings and Sons Ltd., 1991. Haile, Getachew, The Epistle of Humanity of Emperor Zara Yaeqob (Tomara Tesbet). Lovanii:In Aedibus Peeters, 1991. ____________.The Mariology of Emperor Zara Yaeqob of Ethiopia. Orientalia Christania Analecta 242. Roma: Scuola Tipografica S. Pio X, 1992. ____________.Daqiqa Estifanos: Beheg Amlak [Children of Stefanos: in the Name of the Law] Avon: Daqiqa Estifanos/, 2004. ____________, ed. The Geez Acts of Abba Estifanos Gwendagwende. Lovanii: In Aedibus Peeters, 2006. Haile Sellassie I University. The Fetha Negest: The Law of Kings. Translated by Abba Paulos Tzadua edited by Peter L. Strauss, Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1968. Hall, Christopher A. Reading the Scripture with the Church Fathers. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998. Hanson, Paul D. Isaiah 40-66. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1995. Hansberry, William. Leo Pillars in Ethiopian History. Edited by Joseph E. Harris. Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974. Harden, J. M. The Anaphoras of the Ethiopic Liturgy. Madras: Diocesan Press, 1928. ____________. An Introduction to Ethiopic Christian Literature. Madras: Diocesan Press, 1926. Hardy, Lee. The Fabric of This World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice and the Design of Human Work. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990. Hauerwas, Stanley. Work as Co-creator: A Critique of Remarkably Bad Idea. In Co-Creationism: John Paul II Laborem Excerns, edited by J. W. Houck and O. F. Williams. Lanham: University Press of America, 1983.

278

Hege, Nathan B. Beyond Our Prayers. Scottdale: Herald Press, 1998. Henry, Carl F. H. Aspects of Christian Social Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964. Henson, Hensley. Abyssinia: Reflection of an Onlooker. London: Hugh Rees Ltd., 1936. Hopoko, Thomas. All the Fullness of God: Essays on Orthodoxy, Ecumenism and Modern Society. Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1982. Horton, Michael. Are Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism Compatible? No: An Evangelical Perspective. In Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism, edited by James Stamoolis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004. Hyatt, Harry Middle. The Church of Abyssinia. London: Luzac & Co., 1928. Hyma, Albert. Christianity, Capitalism and Communism: A Historical Analysis. Ann Arbor: George Wahr, 1937. Isaac, Ephraim. Social Structure of the Ethiopian Church. Ethiopia Observer: Journal of Independent Opinion, Economics, History and the Arts 15, no. 4 (Addis Ababa: 1971): 240-288. Jackson, John G. Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization: A Critical Review of the Evidence of Archaeology, Anthropology, History and Comparative Religion: According to the Most Reliable Sources and Authorities, http:// www.nbufront.org/html/Master Museums/ JGJ/html/ (accessed October 31, 2008). Jager, Otto A.Ethiopian Manuscript Paintings. Ethiopia Observer: Journal of Independent Opinion, Economics, History and the Arts 13, no. 1 (Addis Ababa: 1970): 354-391. Jenbere, Admasu (Melakeberhan). Kokuha Haimanot:Wetat Temelket Endatisasat [Foundation for Faith: Youth Watch Out That You Will Not Err] . Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1949 EC. ____________. Yehaimanot mizan [The Scale of Religion] .Addis Ababa: Tensae Printing Press, 1954 EC. Jensen, David H. Responsive Labor: A Theology of Work. Louisville: Westminster, 2006. Johnston, Robert K. Unity and Diversity in Evangelical Theology. http://www. religion-online.org/ (accessed on March 14, 2009).

279

Kalewold, Imbakom. Traditional Ethiopian Church Education. Translated by Mengistu Lemma. New York: Teachers College Press, 1970. Kaplan, Max. Leisure in America: A Social Inquiry. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1960. Kellett, David. Champions for God at Work. Great Britain: Terra Nova Publications, 2001. Kelsey, David H. Proving Doctrine: The Uses of Scripture in Modern Theology. Harrisburg: Trinity International Press, 1999. Kent, Keri Wyatt. Rest Living Sabbath Simplicity. Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 2009. Kerrigan, Alexander. St. Cyril of Alexandria Interpreter of the Old Testament. Roma: Pontifico Instituto Biblico, 1952. Krueger, David A. Keeping Faith at Work. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994. Krupp, R.A. Shepherding the Flock of God: The Pastoral Theology of John Chrysostom. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1991. Larive, Armand. After Sunday: A Theology of Work. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2004. Levine, Donald N. Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of Multiethnic Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974. Lossky, Vladimir. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1976. ____________. In the Image and Likeness of God. Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1985. Luther, Martin. To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, in Three Treatises. Translated by C. M. Jacobs. Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1960. Mackenzie, Alistair. Faith at Work: Vocation, the Theology of Work and the Pastoral Implications. MA thesis, U. of Otago, Dunedin: New Zealand, 1997. Mackenzie, Alistair, and Wayne Kirkland. Wheres God on Monday? Integrating Faith and Work Every Day of the Week. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003. Mahebere Kidusan. Betekristiyanehen Ewek [Know Your Church]. Addis Ababa: Berana Priniting Press, 1988 EC.

280

Mara, Yolande. The Church of Ethiopia: The National Church in the Making. Asmara: Poligrafico, 1972. Marquard, Leo. The People and Policies of South Africa. London: Oxford University Press, 1969. Marsden, Philip. The Barefoot Emperor: An Ethiopian Tragedy. San Francisco: Harper Collins Publisher, 2007. Marshall, Paul. A Kind of Life Imposed on Man: Vocation and Social Order from Tyndale to Locke. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. Marx, Karl. Capital. Vol.1. Translated by Moore and Averling. Moscow:1954. ____________.Alienated Labor. In The Essential Writings, edited by Fredric L. Bender. Boulder: Westview Press, 1972. Matthew, A. F. The Teaching of the Abyssinian Church. London: The Faith Press, 1935. McElvaney, William K. Good News Is Bad News Is Good News. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1980. Mehari, Kefyalew. Christianity in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing Press, 2007. Meinardus, Otto F. A. Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity. Cairo: The American University Press, 1999. Mekonen, Tilahun. Metsehafete Nufake Bemetsehaf Kidus Ayin Sitayu [Examining Pseudepigrapha through the Lens of the Bible] . Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999. ___________. Yeramse Chenket [The Worry of Ramse]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999 EC. Melaku, Lule. Yebete Kristian Tarik [Church History] . Addis Ababa, Tensae Printing Press, 1994. Meleketsedek, Archbishop. YeEthiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Betekristian Imenetena Temehert [The Doctrine of EOTC]. Barclay: Mekane Selam Medhanealem Betekristian, 1994.

281

Meyendorff, John. Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes. New York: Fordham University Press, 1974. ____________. The Orthodox Church: Its Past and Its Role in the World Today. Translated by John Chapin. Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1981. ____________. Witness to the World. Crestwood: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1987. Minear, Paul S. Work and Vocation in Scripture. In Work and Vocation: A Christian Discussion, edited by John Oliver Nelson. New York: Harper, 1954. Mitiku, Getachew (Memhier). Gedil Woyis Gedel? [Performances or Pits ?]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995 EC. Moges, Alemayehu. Hulum Hulun Yewek [Let All Know All]. Addis Ababa: Bole Printing Press, 1987. Muller, Richard A. The Study of Theology: From Biblical Interpretation to Contemporary Formulation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991. Mulualem, Yabibal. Work Attitude Towards Work and Observance of Religious Holy Days in Three Monasteries of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Addis Ababa: A senior Essay Presented to the department of Economics, AAU, July 2005. Nellas, Panayiotis. Deification in Christ. Translated by Norman Russell, Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1987. Ofcansky, Thomas P., and Berry LaVerle, eds. Ethiopia: A Country Study. Lanham: Bernan Press, 1993. Oden, Thomas C. The Word of Life: Systematic Theology. Vol. 2. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 1989. OKeefe, John J., and R. R. Reno, Sanctified Vision. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2005. Oldham, H. J. Work in Modern Society, Richmond: John Knox, 1962. Osborn, Eric. Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. ____________.Clement of Alexandria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

282

Palmquist, Stephen. Toward A Christian Philosophy of Work: A Theological and Religious Extension of Hannah Arendts Conceptual Framework Philosophia Christi 11, no. 2 (2009): 397-419. Pankhurst, Richard. Economic History of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Haile Sellasie I University Press, 1968.

Patterson, Ben. Serving God: The Grand Essentials of Work and Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994. Paul II, John. Encyclical Letter on Human Work: Laborem Excerns. Translated by Vatican. Boston: Pauline, 1981. Perham, Margery. The Government of Ethiopia. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969. Phillpson, David W. Ancient Ethiopia. London: British Museum Press, 1998. ____________. Ancient Churches of Ethiopia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Pieper, Josef. Leisure: The Basis of Culture. Translated by Alexander Dru. New York: Random House, Inc., 1963. Placher, William C. Calling: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005. Poggi, Gianfranco. Calvinism and Capitalist Spirit: Max Webers Protestant Ethics. London: Macmillan, 1983. Preece, Gordon R. Changing Work Values: A Christian Response. Melbourne: Acorn Press, 1995. ____________. The Threefold Call: The Trinitarian Character of our Everyday Vocations. In Faith Goes to Work, edited by Robert J. Banks, 160-171. Bethesda: Alban Institute, 1993. ____________. Work. In The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity, edited by Robert Banks and Paul Stevens, 1123-1129. Downers: InterVarsity Press, 1997. ____________. The Viability of the Vocation Tradition in Trinitarian, Creedal and Reformed Perspective: The Threefold Call. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998.

283

Prouty, Chris, and Eugene Rosefeld. Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1995. Rakestraw, Robert V. Becoming God: An Evangelical Doctrine of Theosis. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 40, no 2 (June 1997): 257-269. Raines, John C., and Donna C. Day-Lower. Modern Work and Human Meaning. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986. Redekop, Calvin, and Uriie A. Bender, Who Am I? What Am I? Searching for Meaning in Your Work. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988. Regher, Ernie. Perception of Apartheid. Kitchener: Between the Lines, 1973. Richardson, Alan. The Biblical Doctrine of Work. London: SCM Press, 1952. Ross, Allen P. Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006. Rush, Myron D. Gods Business: Balancing Faith and the Bottom Line. Colorado Springs: Victor, 2002. Ryken, Leland. Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective. Portland: Multnomah Press, 1987. ____________. Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995. Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986. Salvo, Mario Di. Crosses of Ethiopia: The Sign of Faith, Evolution and Form. Milano: Skira Editors S.P.A, 2006. Sandved, Yohannes. The Ancient Church History. Addis Ababa: Bole Printing Press, 1981. Sayers, Dorothy L. Why Work? In Creed or Chaos? New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949. Schaff, Philip, and Henry Wace. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991. Schmemann, Alexander. Introduction to Liturgical Theology. Portland: The American Orthodox Press, 1966.

284

____________. Historical Road of Orthodoxy. Translated by Lydia W. Kesich. Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1977. Schumacher, Christian. To Live and Work: A Theological Interpretation. London: Lion/Marc Europe, 1987. Schuurman, Douglas J. Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004. Setotaw, Tsege (Memhir). Yenegal: Yehaimanot Kerekir [It Shall Dawn: Religious Dialogue]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1997 EC. Sharif, Mohammed. Work Behavior of the Worlds Poor: Theory, Evidence and Policy. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2003. Shelly, Judith Allen. Not Just a Job: Serving Christ in Your Work. Downers: InterVarsity Press, 1985. Sherman, Doug, and William Hendricks. Your Work Matters to God. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1987. Shenk, Calvin E. The Italian Attempt to Reconcile the Ethiopian Orthodox Church: The Use of Religious Celebrations and Assistance to Churches and Monasteries. Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 10, no.1 (January 1972): 125-135. Shenouda III, H. H. Pope. Comparative Theology. Translated by Mary and Bassilli Amani. London: Coptic Orthodox Publishers Association, 1988. Simmons, Laura K. Dorothy L Sayers Theology of Work and Vocation in Everyday Life. In The Bible and the Business of Life: Essay in Honour of Robert J. Banks Sixty-fifth Birthday, edited by Simon Holt and Gordon Preece. Adelaide: ATF Press, 2004. Solomon, Tebebe. Orthodoxawinet Endih New[Orthodoxy Is Like This]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999EC. Stamoolis, James, ed. Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004. Steven, R. Paul, and R. J. Banks. The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997. Stevens, R. Paul. The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co.1999.

285

____________. Thinking About Work. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003. ____________. Doing Gods Business: Meaning and Motivation for the Market Place. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2006. Stott, John. Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today. Old Tappan, NJ: F.H Revell, 1990. Tamrat, Taddesse. Church and State in Ethiopia (1270-1527). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972. Tefera, Agizachew. Yetekebere Meklit [Buried Talents]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1993 EC. ____________.Telana Akal [Picture and Person]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1995EC. Teklehaymanot, Ayele. The Ethiopian Church and Its Christological Doctrines. Addis Ababa: Graphic Printers, 1982 EC. Thiselton, Anthony C. New Horizon in Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. Thomas, Gordon J. A Holy God among a Holy People in Holy Place: The Enduring Eschatological Hope. In Eschatology in Bible and Theology: Evangelical Essays at the Down of the New Millennium, edited by Kent E. Brower and Mark W. Elliott. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997. Thompson, John. Modern Trinitarian Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Tozer, A.W. Knowledge of the Holy. New York: Harper Collins, 1961. Trueblood, Elton. Your Other Vocation. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1952. Tsetsis, Georges, ed. Orthodox Thoughts: Reports of Orthodox Consultations Organized by World Council of Churches 1975-1982. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1980. Ullendorff, Edward. The Ethiopians: An Introduction to the Country and People. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960. ____________. Ethiopia and the Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968. VanGemeren, Willem A. Interpreting the Prophetic Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.

286

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. The Drama of Doctrine. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2005. ____________. Advanced Theological Prolegomena Notes. Deerfield: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fall 2006. Volf, Miroslav. Work in the Spirit toward a Theology of Work. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Walvoord John F., and Roy B. Zuck, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985. Ware, Kallistos. The Orthodox Way. Crestwood: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1979. ____________. The Orthodox Church. Baltimore: Penguin, 1993. Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. Webber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Translated by Talcot Parson. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1958. Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1996. Wingren, Gustaf. Luther on Vocation. Translated by Carl C. Rasmussen. Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1957. Woodill, Joseph. The Fellowship of Life: Virtue Ethics and Orthodox Christianity. Washington D C: Georgetown University Press, 1998. Williams, D. H., ed., Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Source Book of Ancient Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006. Woldemeskel, Mahetemsellassie. YeEthiopia Bahil Tenat[Ethiopian Cultural Studies]. Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 6, no.1 (January 1968): 90-122. Woolley, Douglas. Theology of Work and Its Practical Implication. http://www. dougandmarsha.com/essays-seminary/ch31_theology_of_work.htm (accessed May 4, 2010). Workeneh, Habtemariam. Yemetsehaft Terguame [The Interpretation of Books]. (The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith and Order) http://www. ethiopianorhodox.org (accessed September 20, 2008), 2-11.

287

Yamamori, Testsunao, and Kenneth A. Eldred, eds. On Kingdom Business: Transforming Missions Through Entrepreneurial Strategies. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2003. Yamauchi, Edwin. M. Africa and the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004. Yesehaq, Archbishop. The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: An Integrally African Church. New York: Vantage Press, 1989. Zewde, Bahiru. Pioneers of Change: The Reformist Intellectuals of Early Twentieth Century Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press, 2002. Zewdie, Girma. Ethiopis. Addis Ababa: Artistic Printing Press, 1985. Zewengel, Serekeberhan (Merigeta). Mestebekuee Zemutan [Prayer for the Deceased]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1994 EC.
____________.Yezemenat

Enkoklesh Sifeta [When Years of Riddle Is Solved]. Addis Ababa: Africa Printing Press, 1999 EC.