New Book on Preaching in Ethiopian Orthodoxy

Keon-Sang An, An Ethiopian Reading of the Bible: Biblical Interpretation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, American Society of Missiology Monograph Series Book 25 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2015). ISBN 978-1-498220699; also available on Kindle

This book gives a good background to the multiple influences on the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the way in which the tradition has made these things uniquely Ethiopian, with the Ark of the Covenant expressing this par excellence. The author also picks up well the need to avoid confusing traditionalism with tradition, giving good examples of the dynamism of Ethiopian tradition, which is still responding to different influences in a specifically Ethiopian way.

The key scholarship of this work lies in the analysis of preaching in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, drawing on a sample of 80 contemporary sermons, with detailed analysis of 8 of these, that gives insight into how the Ethiopian Orthodox Church differentiates itself from other Christian traditions present in Ethiopia, in particular Protestant denominations. The analysis of the sermons leads draws important and detailed conclusions both in relation to the use of the commentary tradition, and more generally how preachers use the Bible in their teaching.

Significant general conclusions are drawn with respect to: the substantial influence of the tradition of the EOTC in preaching; the significance of context in preaching with its emphasis on contemporary relevance; and interpretative strategies that locate significance in the present rather than the original setting and are orientated towards narrative and the identification of seeking out interpretative keys, either symbols or particular characters.

This book would be a very useful help to people interested in Ethiopia and its Christian expressions, and who are seeking to understand the Orthodox expression better.

Ralph Lee