How far in Africa could the Ethiopians spread Orthodox Christianity?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Ricardolindo, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. Ricardolindo Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much what the title says. But, to be more specific, I'd prefer the POD to be pre-Islam, as that provides the Ethiopians with more opportunities to spread Orthodox Christianity. And a more specific question: Could the Ethiopians go along the coast and convert what's now Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa to Orthodox Christianity? How successful would they be?
     
  2. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire Gone Fishin'

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    Well... the Pagan areas for example. Anywhere in contact with Ethiopia
     
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  3. Anarch King of Dipsodes Overlord of All Thirst

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    Idunno. Somebody needs to examine the ecclesiatical history of Nubia, Axum, and Ethiopia in 200-600 CE, and see what limited the spread of Christianity in that period. Then in 600-800, examkine the spread of Islam up the Nile and along the east coast, and how it conflicted with Christianity.
     
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  4. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    In any TL where Ethiopia is more succesful & expansionist will produce more christian pressure, especially if there's no Muslim states to challenge them.

    If they manage to take Yemen and get into the indian ocean trade it could make it to the Swahili coast
     
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  5. Glory2Cabinda Well-Known Member

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    Why didn't the Ethiopians proselytize to their animist neighbors in our timeline?
     
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  6. Byzantion Well-Known Member

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    Maybe If they control trade routes ?
     
  7. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    The peoples of Ethiopia were not and still are not technically Orthodox. They were a varied group of Monophysite and Miaphysite Christians, similar to the Coptics of Egypt.
     
  8. Tomislav Addai Well-Known Member

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    I am actually prone to think that the Swahili coast would be more influenced by Oman/whoever controls Hormuz; similarly whoever controls Yemen would likely influence Somalia, esp. its northern coast.

    For me, the Ethiopian highlands and the Horn of Africa are two distinct areas.
    Given the marshes of South Zudan, I doubt that Christianity would spread up into Uganda..
    Most likely candidate is Darfur.
    If Yemen ends up being Coptic/Miaphysite (quite likely), the Somalia might well become Coptic however
     
  9. Raferty Well-Known Member

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    The big POD here would be if they are able to proselytize to the Horn of Africa. If so, then the entire Indian Ocean trade network becomes available for Miaphysite Christianity to spread. Islam was extremely successful at using this network in OTL.

    There are factors that go against this, though. Ethiopia is mountainous and politically, was not unified really for a long time. It also had pockets of Jewish practitioners that remained remarkably resistant to conversion. Ethiopia was never particularly rich, either, and that prevented it from using merchants to spread the faith.
     
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  10. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

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    If Ethiopia was politically united it is possible, it could spread to as far as the rest of the Horn of Africa / East Africa up to Tanzania as well as Yemen and beyond via Indian Ocean trade.

    However could this ATL Ethiopia make use of Trans-Saharan trade to spread it further into parts of Central and even West Africa?
     
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  11. Philip One L only

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    They are not in communion with the (Eastern) Orthodox, but they do identify as Orthodox. The word 'Orthodox' is name of many, if not all, Monophysite and Miaphysite Churches.
     
  12. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    They feel that miaphysitism or so forth is Orthodoxy. However, let us use normal terms, every religion almost claims orthodoxy and that whatever is not them is innovation of some kind.

    So, I suggest we use correct terms and references. They would spread a religion that to both Byzantium and the Latin world, would be at best deviant (Miaphysitism, which is tolerated) and at worst, heretical (Monophysitism or Monothelitism).
     
  13. Ricardolindo Well-Known Member

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    The term that is usually used is Oriental Orthodoxy.
     
  14. Philip One L only

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    I not sure what you mean by 'normal terms'. The term Orthodox is routinely applied to these churches. It is often qualified as Oriental Orthodox (I think that term is in decline), but is in contrast to the equally qualified Eastern Orthodox.

    I see no reason to assert that applying the name Orthodox to the Chalcedonian churches in communion with the EP is somehow normative. I don't think we at AH.com are in a position to determine who has the right to use the name Orthodox.

    Orthodox is the correct term. It is the term they use to describe themselves. Denying them the name orthodox is declaring that their beliefs are wrong and another is correct.

    If one wishes to draw a distinction between churches that use the term, it seems proper to use a term that is objectively verifiable. Non-chalcedonian might do. It does seem to privilege the Chalcedonian position, but it is at least verifiable. Miaphysite or monophysite also seem verifiable.
     
  15. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    The Catholic Church refers to itself as the Orthodox Church also, should we call on their behalf the Byzantine imperial church Schismatics and Hesychasts? Regardless, your post assumes that all the Ethiopian and Nubians were Miaphysite, many certainly were Monophysite and thus this term would not even apply even in modern times.

    My point was not that so and so is not Orthodox in the sense of the traditionalism of their belief, but in terms of association to Byzantium. Miaphysite or non-Chalcedonian would be fine (though, Miaphysites in theory do accept Chalcedon, just in a different manner).

    If you use the term oriental orthodoxy though, do you not attack the Church of the East? They do not believe in Miaphysitism and are either like most modern Chalcedonian affirmers such as Roman Catholics, or they advocate Nestorianism (that ideology of Theodore of Mopsuesta). Yet the Church of the East, still considers themselves to be an Orthodox Church and quite traditional. You also would do a disservice in calling Miaphysitism orthodox historically, as you had radical and hard-line Nestorians in the past. If you call Miaphysitism the sole oriental orthodoxy, you create for them a monopoly and invalidate others.
     
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  16. Philip One L only

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    I made no such assumption. Your original post addressed both the past andthe present state:

    I focused on the current state:

    When you addressed my point, you again referred to the current state:

    The rest of the post dealt with the matter of one present church or another being deserving of the name Orthodox. I'll never made any assumption or comment conserning the origin of these churches.

    There are correct terms for this.

    Miaphysitism may be compatible with Dyophysitism, but the churches that identified as Miaphysite explicitly reject Chalcedon.

    No. It is a recognition of the current language used by scholars and intentional organisations. (See the WCC for example.) It is a name given to a communion of mutually recognizing churches. This communion excludes the Churches of the East because those Churches either reject Ephesus or accept Chalcedon.

    Nothing I have said precludes the Church of the East from also using term Orthodox. Just as the Oriental Orthodox don't have to be in communion with the Eastern Orthodox to use the term Orthodox (and vis-versa), neither does the Church of the East need to be in communion with either too use the term. That being said, I am unaware of the Chaldeans and Assyrians formally using the term Orthodox.

    Huh? The churches that are identified as Oriental Orthodox all accept Ephesus. Miaphysitism is their term. Their communion excludes those Churches that deny Ephesus.

    Are you perhaps under the mistaken impression that one must be either Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox to claim the name name Orthodox?
     
  17. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    @Philip No, that is not my opinion. My view is that, Nestorians would say that their position is the true and orthodox position. If you call one group the only oriental and orthodox group, then would you not exclude Nestorians and thus marginalize them? Nestorians for instance would say, that rejecting Ephesus is the orthodox position...
     
  18. Parterre This is my new home, I guess.

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    I think you are making a mistake in assume there is a value or theological judgement embedded in his word choice; perceiving the word "only" where it wasn't intended. Referring to one group as the "[X] Orthodox Church" does not prejudice the orthodoxy or un-orthodoxy of any particular position.

    As for the main question, I think this is a good stepping-off point for discussion. Ethiopia's geography has at once been a curse and a blessing: it has inhibited inter-regional trade and the construction of road networks, limited the amount of arable land, precluded the availability of navigable rivers, and so forth, but it's also what has made the country so resistant to conquest (cf. Afghanistan). If you want a merchant-based proselytization, you need to restore the country to an Aksumite-era level of capacity, when those trade networks did exist. This might be easier than you might think: the state was fairly centralized for long stretches from the 12th to 16th centuries and then again during the Gondarine period in the 17th and 18th centuries. If a stronger Solomonic empire is able to definitively subjugate Ifat by the 14th century and secure a reliable coast-line, possibly from Massawa to Berbera, it might have a shot at becoming a player in the Indian Ocean trade again. It might then hop south and seize control of the proto-Swahili coast and spread the religion inland from there. (I've thought of a timeline based more or less on this premise, but I doubt it'll ever be written.)

    There is an alternative: if Ethiopia is able to spread its influence into the declining Alodia and Makuria to the West, establishing "protectorates" over them, it could be viable to spread Orthodoxy west along the Sahelian trade routes, although it would pretty quickly run into resistance from Islam. Still, the Sudanese kingdoms could provide a solution to a long-standing problem, the lack of an episcopal hierarchy due to the Ethiopian Church's immediate subjugation to Alexandria. While there was only one bishop at a time in Ethiopia (who was sent from Egypt), Makuria alone had seven, so it's not unimaginable that an Emperor, having secured suzerainty over Makuria, would order its bishops to consecrate native Ethiopian bishops and effectively establish an autonomous church centuries before OTL.
     
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