Pioneer Missions In Abyssinia -- By: Thomas Lambie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 085:337 (Jan 1928)
Article: Pioneer Missions In Abyssinia
Author: Thomas Lambie

Pioneer Missions In Abyssinia

Thomas Lambie

The history of the mountain kingdom known as Abyssinia is so shrouded in a cloud of fable and ignorance that but very little of what is told by the Abyssinian historians themselves can be credited.

They would assert as an approved fact that the Queen of Sheba was none other than Magda the Queen of Ethiopia, for remember that the Abyssinian does not call his mountry Abyssinia but Ethiopia, and himself an Ethiopian not an Abyssinian. They would tell us of how her father became king and saved his people by killing a fabulous monster or dragon that was exacting a daily toll of human life from the fair land of Ethiopia.

Biblical History tells of an army of a million men who came from Ethiopia to Judea. Profane History tells of an embassage sent to demand a surrender to the victorious army of Cambyses who had wrested for their monarch the crowns of upper and lower Egypt. The reply that the Ethiopian or Abyssinian king sent was a massive ebony bow with the message. Tell your king that when his soldiers can bend this bow, ‘tis time to talk of conquering Ethiopia for this is the bow used by our common soldiers. In vain Cambyses’ soldiers sought to bend the enormous bow. Even the renowned king himself failed to bend it. Only the King’s brother Cambyses hated rival brother of Bartja, alone of all the Persian army, was able to bend it and in doing so incurred still further hatred from his royal elder brother. At any rate the Persian army after seeing the bow had no more stomach for invading Ethiopia. Distance and the desert that separated Egypt from Abyssinia would alone have defeated them rather than the bows formed and used by Abyssinians. I am inclined to think that the bow story if true was a good bluff on the part of the Ethiopians, for they are not physically superior although they undoubtedly are redoubtable fighters.

Coming down to the Christian era, the Abyssinians maintain that the Ethiopian eunuch was a trusted servant

of their queen and that he brought back Christianity from the desert road where Philip was so marvelously used of the Holy Spirit. Be that as it may, we do know that a certain disciple of Athanasius named Frumentius carried to Abyssinia, about the fourth century that Monophysitic form of Christianity which has persisted until today.

The Abyssinian religion is related to the Coptic religion of Egypt but in some of its aspects it is more debased, having adopted certain Mohammedan and African elements together with a Jewish legality that is rather difficult to analyze. It is hard to tell where the different parts came in to form the whole, which they call the Church of Ethiopia or the...

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