Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Book sections

Abba Lebsä Krestos of Gonǧ Selalo: Sources for Discussing Religious Identities in Goǧǧam (Early Seventeenth Century, Ethiopia)

Abstract : The dramatic history since the early 17th century of the church of Gonǧ Tewodros Däbrä Ṭǝbab in the province of Goǧǧam was linked to its prominent rank and to its close relations, and frequent conflicts with, royal power. Its clergy might have turned to Catholicism in the 1620s, when the Ethiopian king Susnəyos (1607-32) conducted a policy, with the help of Jesuit missionaries, for converting the Ethiopian Church and society to Roman Catholicism. Besides this Catholic episode, Gonǧ headed a theological movement, unctionism or qəbät, till the first half of the 18th century, when it lost its leadership. Unfortunately for the church, this theological faction was proclaimed heretical in 1878. Thereafter, its brilliant past had to be concealed. This article focuses on the first known abbot of Gonǧ, Ləbsä Krəstos, who was sentenced to death in 1636 and has been incarnated in a giant sycamore, one of the biggest trees in the area. It examines a case presented as successive exhibits from nine sources. Each of them provides clues about Ləbsä Krəstos. Sources on the life of such a controversial figure come from factions that have taken sides. Can different sources about a single person be pieced together in order to write his biography? Or do they stem from such mismatched contexts that they cannot be put together like pieces of a single puzzle but, instead, have to be handled like disjointed pieces of evidence about the person in question? The life and career of Ləbsä Krəstos provides an opportunity for seeing how religious identities emerged at the very beginning of the Gondarine period and how different parties competed. By following these exhibits about the life of a single man and listening to the different voices that talk about him, will we come to hear about this man or will we learn more about the ones who are talking?
Document type :
Book sections
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Anaïs Wion <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 5:13:16 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:08:52 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01509929, version 1


Anaïs Wion. Abba Lebsä Krestos of Gonǧ Selalo: Sources for Discussing Religious Identities in Goǧǧam (Early Seventeenth Century, Ethiopia) . Carter McCollum, Adam. Studies in Ethiopian Languages, Literature, and History. Festschrift for Getatchew Haile, 83, Harrassowitz, pp.493-525, 2017, Äthiopistische Forschungen, 978-3-447-10848-5. ⟨halshs-01509929⟩



Record views