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of resistance forced him to abdicate.60 The 1610s must have been a decade of intense Jesuit preaching, which attacked Ethiopian orthodoxy on a very broad front and called into question virtually all points where the Ethiopian tradition deviated from Tridentine norms. Not least ofthese was the Ethiopian rejection of the council of Chalcedon, whose claims the Jesuits forcefully promoted at the council sponsored by Susenyos in 1620.

The first sect to emerge from these controversies was located among the monastic followers of Ewostatewos and advocated the doctrine of Qebat or Unction. Subsequently, their rivals, the monastic followers of Takla Haymanot, gave rise to the teaching of YaSSaga Lej, Son of Grace. Given their origins in the confrontation with the Chalcedonian Jesuits, it is not surprising that subsequent interpretation has read these sects in the light of their apparent proximity to a Chalcedonian position.61 This is undoubtedly Eurocentric. The contending parties thought of themselves as defenders of the Alexandrian tradition against western teaching and they should be approached, in the first instance, on these terms.62

Nevertheless, as we have seen, doctrinal disagreements were divisive and rivalry was acrimonious, and at times violent. The official position of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church today is to interpret the parties and their positions in light of the decisions of the councils of Amba Cara (1854) and Boru Meda (1878). The background to these councils was shaped by the abuse suffered by the metropolitans of the earlier nineteenth century - Abuna Yosab (c. 17701803), Abuna Qerelos (1815-28?) and Abuna Salama (1841-67).63 They were rudely buffeted by the conflicts between Ethiopia's regionally based princes. At the political centre was a dynasty with Muslim Oromo origins ruling from Dabra Tabor. Their leading opponents were the rulers of northern Ethiopia, generally drawn from noble lineages of the province of Tegre. On their southern flank were the princes of Gojjam province. Finally, separated from these contending parties, but of increasing importance through the century, was Shawa province and its ruling house.

60 See Girmah Beshah and Merid W. Aregay, The question of the union of the churches in Luso-Ethiopian relations (1500-1632) (Lisbon: Junta de Investigates do Ultramar, 1964), 97-104.

61 Crummey, Priests and politicians, ch. 2. Particularly controversial has been the interpretation of the Roman Catholic scholar Ayyala Takla Haymanot, whose dissertation was originally published as Mario da Abiy-Addi', La dottrina della Chiesa etiopica dissidente sull'Unione Ipostatica (Rome: Pontificium institutum studiorum orientalium, 1956) and later translated into Amharic.

62 Kindeneh, 'The role of Qebatoc , does this for the Ewost'atian party

63 I. Guidi, 'Le liste dei metropoliti d'Abissinia', Bessarione 6 (1899), 13-14.

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