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An examination of africas contributions to the early christian movement part 2


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An examination of africas contributions to the early christian movement part 2

  1. 1. Part 2 An Examination of Africa’s Contributions to the Early Christian Movement 1st – 5th Centuries
  2. 2. Brief Recap • African Church Fathers • Christian Educational Institution (Didascalium) • African Martyrs and Saints • Roots of Monasticism in Africa
  3. 3. Early Ecumenical Councils 3
  4. 4. Early Ecumenical Decision Making Followed African Councilor Patterns • First Eight Ecumenical Councils (next slide) • Ecumenical council meetings, held to determine Christian doctrine, followed patterns of meetings held in Africa: Carthage, Alexandria, Hippo, and Milevis • Philosophies of Arianism, Sabellianism, Pelagianism, and Gnosticism were debated and decided in Africa before they were debated elsewhere • 100 Years before the First Council of Nicaea (325 CE) churches were already firmly established in Africa (see map) 4
  5. 5. Ecumenical Councils • Nicaea I – 325 CE • Constantinople I – 381 CE • Ephesus I – 431 CE • Ephesus II – 449 CE • Chalcedon – 451 CE • Constantinople II – 553 CE • Nicaea II – 787 CE 5
  6. 6. Lost Christianities 6
  7. 7. Lost Christianities • In Africa: • Donatists: Numidia • Copts: Egypt and Ethiopia • Monophysites: Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia • Various Gnostic Groups: Upper Egypt • Manicheans • Outside of Africa: • Arians • Nestroians • Montanists • Marcionies • Manicheans 7
  8. 8. 8
  9. 9. Beliefs of 2nd-4th Century Christians God • One God • Two Gods • 30 or 365 Gods • God created the world and would redeem it • God did not create the world neither did he have anything to do with the world Christ • Was both human and divine • Was human not divine • Was human and temporarily inhabited by God • His death led to salvation • His death did not lead to salvation • He never died on the cross 9
  10. 10. Beliefs of 2nd-4th Century Christians • Rituals/Practices: • Did not call themselves Christians • “The Way” • No one wore crosses • Did not meet in a church • No choir or musicians • No pastor, deacons, ushers • No praise dancing • Met secretly in private homes on the Sabbath not Sunday • There was no Bible until the year 367 CE by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria 10
  11. 11. Egyptian Spiritual Elements in Christianity 11
  12. 12. According to Herodotus, travelled to Egypt 495 BCE • “The names of nearly all the gods came to Greece from Egypt. I know from the inquiries I have made that they came from abroad…” • “The names of all the gods have been known in Egypt from the beginning of time…” • “These [religious]practices, then, and others which I will speak of later, were borrowed by the Greeks from Egypt.” • Histories, Book II 12
  13. 13. Origin of Core Christian Beliefs Found in Egyptian Spirituality Core Christian Beliefs • Creation • One God • Jesus – son of God • The Trinity • Death and resurrection of Jesus – Salvation • Judgement • Life after death Origin in Egyptian Spirituality • Trinity • Annunciation, Immaculate Conception, Virgin Birth and Adoration • Wosir (Osiris) – death and resurrection • Judgement • Transmigration of the Soul 13
  14. 14. • The ancient Egyptians did not have a single system of cosmogony. • There were four major systems emanating from four religious centers: • Ineb-Hedj (Memphis) • Iwnw (Heliopolis) • Khemenu (Hermopolis) • Yebu (Elephantine) • This does not mean there were different doctrines or theories of creation. • It means there were different systems of symbolism to express the reality of creation. 14 Kemet Cosmogony 1
  15. 15. Genesis Book I • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1 • And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Gen 1:3 • And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…” Gen 1:6 • In Genesis chapter 1 - God creates through speech that is preceded by thought • The origins of this idea of creating through the act of speech is in ancient Kemet 15
  16. 16. Ineb-Hedj (Memphis) – Ptah creates by thought and speech • According to the creation at Ineb-Hedj (Memphis) Ptah created the world with his heart and his tongue. • In ancient Kemet the heart is the seat of thought/consciousness – the place where ideas are conceived • The tongue controls speech • Ptah brought the universe into being by first conceiving all aspects of it in his heart then speaking those thoughts aloud • The temple devoted to Ptah was called Hwt-ka-Ptah • The words Hwt-ka-Ptah are the basis of the name Egypt • Hwt-ka-Ptah was mistranslated by the Greeks as: • Αἴγυπτος – Aigyptos • Kemet 16
  17. 17. Genesis Book 2 • “…then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Gen 2:7 • The origins of this idea of creating from “dust” is in ancient Kemet 17
  18. 18. Yebu (Elephantine) – Khnum creates with clay on his potter’s wheel then breaths life into his creations Khnum accompanied by the goddess Heket Dendera Temple complex 18 His wife Satis or Neith holding the Ankh, the symbol for life
  19. 19. Ancient Egyptian Trinity • In ancient Kemet: • The term ‘trinity’ is a complex concept • It was an old idea when Christians came to it • It is a concept that is best expressed symbolically • For example: • Kheper – Re – Atum • Kheper – “to become” – is the Self-Created One • Re – is the Eternally Created One • Atum – “the All” – is the Complete One 19
  20. 20. Ancient Egyptian Trinity • Another symbolic expression of the concept of trinity: • The sun rising in the morning is the Self-Creating One – Kheper • The sun at mid-day is the Eternal One – Re • The sun set is the Complete One - Atum 20
  21. 21. Ancient Egyptian Trinity • Another symbolic expression of the concept of trinity • “From one I have become three.” – this is a trinity • The Creator coming into being in unity then through procreation giving birth to twins, one female and the other male. 21
  22. 22. • Another Example involves: • Wosir (Osiris) the dying-resurrected God • Aset (Isis) the source of Wosir’s resurrection • Heru (Horus) son of God • The Trinity in the Christian Church: • The Father • The Son • The Holy Spirit 22
  23. 23. Painted Mummy Shrouds, 1st – 3rd Century 23
  24. 24. Annunciation, Immaculate Conception, Virgin Birth and Adoration Carved on the wall of the Temple of Luxor, c. 1380 BCE Temple built by Amen-Hotep III, c. 1700 BCE 24
  25. 25. Annunciation, Immaculate Conception, Virgin Birth and Adoration 25
  26. 26. Mut Netcher – Mother of God Aset (Isis) was worshipped in Egypt as early as the 2nd millennium BCE In the 4th century BCE Aset spread across the Mediterranean Sea and was revered as far as Gaul (France) and England In 333 BCE Athenians allowed Egyptian merchants to build a temple to Aset. In Egypt she survived until 537 CE The Temple of Isis at Philae was desecrated by Emperor Justinian. In 431 CE at the Council of Ephesus The doctrinal question of the status of Mary, the mother of Jesus was settled. She was deemed Theotokos 26
  27. 27. Isis as a model for women today • In many ways Isis (Aset) remains as a model for women today • Her name echoes in female names such as: • Isadora • Isabella 27
  28. 28. Perhaps what we should say is… Our Mother and Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by their names. Their Kingdom come, their will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 28
  29. 29. There are over 500 images of the Black Madonna all over Europe • Sicily • Spain • Switzerland • France • Poland • Czechoslovakia • Turkey 29
  30. 30. Grave goods Include: Skeleton, Pottery, Jewelry, Tools, Grinding Palettes, Sacrificial animals The concept of an afterlife is evident in archaeological excavations in Nubia and Kemet 30
  31. 31. Sources of Egyptian Spirituality Can be found in Ancient Texts • Pyramid Texts – Old Kingdom Period – oldest known texts • Coffin Texts – First Intermediate Period • Book of Coming Forth by Day – New Kingdom Period • All consisted of instructions intended to assist the deceased person’s journey through the Duat (underworld) and into the Afterlife – the Field of Reeds • Other sources: • Book of Djhuti (Thoth) • Memphite Theology – Creation 31
  32. 32. Christianity in Nubia• Christianity came later to Nubia • Three separate states developed in Nubia: Nobatia, Makuria, Alwa and Alodia • According to tradition it was a high official from the court a Candace who was the first convert. • In 534 CE Theodora, Empress of Byzantium, sent a Monophysite monk to Nubia • Monphysite Christians believed Christ had only one nature – divinity and humanity were united. This was in opposition to the Chalcedonian position (451 CE) – Christ had two natures – divine and human • Julian converted Nobatia starting with members of the court • Makuria was converted c.569CE by Chalcedonian emissaries 32
  33. 33. Ancient Axum • Axum reached it peak under the leadership of Ezana who ruled from c. 325-360 CE • Under Ezana, Axum expanded its territory, conquered the Kingdom of Kush and converted to Christianity • Frumentius, a student of philosophy, converted Ezana and became the first bishop of Ethiopia 33
  34. 34. Kebra Negast • The Glory of Kings • This texts is about 700 years old • Written in Ge’ez • Origins of the Solomonic line of Emperors of Ethiopia • It chronicles the origins of the line emperors extending from King Solomon • Sacred text of Ethiopians, Christians and Rastafarians 34
  35. 35. Christianity in Ethiopia • Bet Giorgis, Lalibela • 1 of 11 Churches carved from rock • Dated to the 12th or 13th century 35
  36. 36. Conclusion • According to stereotypes, Christianity cannot be African • Christianity was imported to Africa • These notions are based on the philosophy of George Wilhelm Frederick Hegel and other who followed his teachings. • Hegel states in his book, The Philosophy of History (1899): • “At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again, for it is no historical part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit.” 36
  37. 37. Conclusion • The opposite of what Hegel and other European scholars have claimed about Africa, is true – the flow of intellectual leadership moved from Africa to Europe • Africans were informing, instructing and educating teachers in Greece, Rome, Syria, and Cappadocia • African intellect blossomed so much that it was sought out by Christians of northern and eastern Mediterranean 37
  38. 38. According to Herodotus, travelled to Egypt 495 BCE • “The names of nearly all the gods came to Greece from Egypt. I know from the inquiries I have made that they came from abroad…” • “The names of all the gods have been known in Egypt from the beginning of time…” • “These [religious]practices, then, and others which I will speak of later, were borrowed by the Greeks from Egypt.” • Histories, Book II 38
  39. 39. Diodorus Siculus, 90 – 30 BCE Greek Historian • He stated that Ethiopia is the origin of Egyptian traditions and civilization (consistent with modern archaeological discoveries). • “Now the Ethiopians, as historians relate, were the first of all men and the proofs of this statement, they say, are manifest. For they [Ethiopians] did not come into their land as immigrants from abroad but were natives of it.” • Library of History, Book III, Chapter 2 39
  40. 40. • The information presented here is nothing new. • African scholars in the diaspora have make the same statements for more many years: • Antenor Fermin, Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Martin R. Delaney, George Wells Parker, Yosef Ben Jochannan, John G. Jackson, William Leo Hansberry, John Henrik Clarke, Cheik Anta Diop,Theophile Obenga, Asa G. Hilliard, Jacob H. Carruthers, and many others. • I leave you with a quote from my teacher and mentor, Dr. Josef Ben Levi: • “We cannot continue to rely on others, namely European academicians, to appraise our heritage and define it from the standpoint of their worldview. We cannot allow the European academic consensus, at a table where we have no seat, to validate our history because they possess hegemony over its research and antiquities.”
  41. 41. Sources • Ancient Egypt The Light of the World, Gerald Massey • The Black Presence in the Bible, Walter A. McCray • History of Africa, Kevin Shillington • Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern World, Justin Pollard and Howard Reid • How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind, Thomas C. Oden • Christian Egypt Ancient and Modern, Otto F. A. Meinardus • The Septuagint • The Lost History of Christianity, Philip Jenkins • Egypt in Africa, Theodore Celencko, editor 41
  42. 42. Sources • African Presence in Early Europe, Ivan Van Sertima • Saints of Africa, Fr. Jerome Sanderson and Carla Thomas • African Saints African Stories, Camile Lewis Brown • A History of Christianity in Africa, Elizabeth Isichei • Nag Hammadi Library, James M. Robinson • The Saints Go Marching In, Robert Fulton Holtzclaw • Saints of Africa, Vincent J. O’Malley • Libraries in the Ancient World, Lionel Casson • The Library of Alexandria: Center of Learning in the Ancient World, Roy Macleod • The Cult of the Virgin, Ean Begg 42
  43. 43. Angela Davis for DARC January 21, 2018 An Examination of Africa’s Contributions to the Early Christian Movement 43