The Church of Ethiopia in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

– Jewish traditions, Islamic context and indigenous developments

PhD Seminar in Ethiopia
Start: April 16, 2017
End: April 28, 2017



The Ethiopian Christian culture dates back to the emergence of Christianity and continues vibrantly today. This long tradition makes Ethiopia a unique place to visit and study. Our seminar focuses on Ethiopian Christianity and its connections with the Eastern Mediterranean in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The theme includes the early reception of Christianity in Ethiopia, the emergence of a Christian state, and the development of the distinct Ethiopian Church. We explore the relations between Ethiopia and the Roman Empire, Persia, Egypt and Palestine up to the Crusades, and discuss distinct Ethiopian traditions in connection with Judaism and Islam. We will visit the late antique city of Aksum and the world-famous rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, as well as number of ancient monasteries, participate at a pilgrimage and meet with students and professors at two Ethiopian universities.



The seminar gives an exceptional opportunity to get to know Ethiopian Christianity which is an often neglected field of study in Nordic universities, despite the fact that several important early Jewish and Christian texts are only preserved in Ge’ez, the ancient Ethiopian language. We pay special attention to the diverse cultural manifestations of religion, including archaeology, art history, architecture, music and literature, theology and Church practices, general history, trade and international relations. The participants are invited to study texts in their traditional contexts and as part of the wider material culture.

Our seminar is the second of a number of Nordic PhD-seminars arranged by the Nordic Network for the Study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the First Millennium (NNJCI), a network of PhD students and faculty from Nordic academic institutions. For more, see


Structure of the seminar

The duration of the seminar will be two weeks. The program covers several major sites in Ethiopia. In addition to excursions, there will be lectures given by experts on various topics. Each participant is also required to prepare a short presentation (ca. 20 minutes) on a related topic based on reading of relevant materials (see the list of reading below).  The student may present either his/her own PhD project or a paper on a theme connected to the program.


Practical information


Participants: The number of participants is restricted to 12 students (and three teachers). The seminar is for PhD-students, but it will also be open for advanced master’s students and postdoctoral researchers if the available places are not filled by PhD-students.


Cost: The cost for the course is 9.000:- SEK excl. international air fare. This includes all domestic transport, half-board accommodation, all entrances, guide, lectures, materials. Travel to Ethiopia must be with Ethiopian Airlines in order to have substantial reduction in domestic fares. The flights from Stockholm to Addis Abeba should not be more than 5000 SEK if booked early. All participants are themselves responsible for booking the international flights (including their way to Stockholm.)


Reading list: All participants should prepare for the seminar by reading approximately 300 pages. The reading list will be distributed before September 1st.


Credits: The seminar equals 5 ECTS, but participants are themselves responsible for having these credits accepted by their doctoral program.


Organizers: Lund University (Samuel Rubenson, Mengistu Gobezie) and University of Helsinki (Outi Lehtipuu, Anna-Liisa Tolonen, in co-operation with the Finnish Institute in the Middle East).


Information: Follow our facebook-page ( or contact Samuel Rubenson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Outi Lehtipu (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).



Applications are closed.