The Missionary Strategies of the Jesuits in Ethiopia (1555-1632)
During the second half of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth, Jesuit missionaries attempted to convert the Ethiopian Christian Empire to Catholicism. The present book is a detailed research on the methods by which the missionaries sought to spread Catholicism and the manner that the Ethiopian society responded. This work sheds light on the Jesuit preference of spreading Catholicism from top to bottom. The Jesuits believed that gaining control over positions of power and key positions was the right formula for success, and therefore, the missionaries tried to overtake the Ethiopian ecclesiastical hierarchy, sever the traditional connection with the Alexandrian Coptic Church and replace it with a connection with the Roman Catholic Church. Still, acting as a new force in the Ethiopian arena, the Catholic religion did more than play a mere political part. The present work reveals other aspects of the encounter and conflict between the Ethiopian and the Catholic Churches. It shows that the Jesuits tried to develop an Ethiopian Catholic culture, and for that purpose they preached, argued with Ethiopian clergymen and translated Latin and Portuguese texts into the Ethiopian language.