Between Heretics and Jews: Inventing Jewish Identities in Ethiopia

Sophia Dege-Müller


The Beta Israel, the Ethiopian Jews, have suffered from a negative or complete misrepresentation in the written and oral sources of pre-modern Ethiopia. The term “Jew” was deliberately chosen to stigmatize heretic groups, or any other group deviating from the normative church doctrine. Often no difference was made between Jewish groups or heretic Christians; they were marginalized and persecuted in the harshest way. The article illustrates how Jews are featured in the Ethiopian sources, the apparent patterns in this usage, and the polemic language chosen to describe these people.


Ethiopian Jews; Ethiopian Christianity; oral traditions and legends; anti-Jewish polemics

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Copyright (c) 2018 Sophia Dege-Müller

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Published by:  Sponsored by: 
Käte Hamburger KollegCentrum für Religionswissenschaftliche Forschung (CERES) Bundesministerium für Bildung und ForschungOpen Access