The Beginning of the Second Wave of Christianization of Axoum: Gädlä Cadqan and the Syrian βοσκοí

Muraviev Alexei V.

The Christianization of the Late Antique Axoum in Ethiopia is still a widely debated area of research. Much attention has been drawn to the highly legendary dossier of Aedesius-Frumentios. However, no solid ground underlying this story by Rufinus could be seen up to the present time. The second evangelization is also quite poorly depicted in the sources. The Ethiopic Gädlä cadqan is a hagiographic text which tells the story of the first group of the Syriac monks arriving from the Roman Empire. In the article the meager data of Gädlä cadqan are compared to what we know about the Syrian monophysite migration to Eastern countries following repressive measures taken by Emperor Justin. The author points to the ascetical behaviour of the Righteous (cadqan) which is parallel to the βοσκοιv asceticism attested in Greek sources. The grazers (βοσκοι)v practiced the same type of diet and self-mortification as the Ethiopic enlighteners. The role of these first Syriac immigrants is quite important: they established a path to Axoum as a way of missionary flight outside the Empire. The Nine Saints were the next group of Syrians marching in their footsteps later in the 6th century AD.

Keywords: Axoum, christianity, Ethiopic Church, Syriac monks