The House of David

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Thursday, April 06, 2017

The conversion of Ethiopia (and Yemen)

Rufinus the Nicaean had already composed his own continuation of Eusebius, so Philostorgios did his continuation, in part, as a response.

Rufinus claimed the conversion of Axsum as the result of an accident, that a Frumentius shipwrecked there and converted the locals himself, as an apostle should. Philostorgios contradicts this, not mentioning Frumentius at all. Instead the Emperor himself had sent a mission, via Theophilus the Indian. And this mission went to the Yemen too, which Rufinus omitted. Which to believe?

It happens that the Roman emperor at the time, Constantius, was an Arian; so had a political motive to get Axsum (and Yemen, and the Goths) into the same religion. Non-Arian Greek Christians had no such motive to send counter-missions. Also, Gregory of Nyssa concedes that Theophilus existed (if only to insult him); I do not know that anybody else knew Frumentius. As for why Rufinus noted only Axsum but not Yemen: Axsum was Nicaean (leaning Ephesian) already by Rufinus’s time, like Armenia, so could be counted an “orthodox” victory; whilst the Yemen remained a haven of Rahmanites, Jews, and “heretics”, so was a mixed success at best.

Rufinus was lying; Philostorgios corrected the record. Later “orthodox” historians, deep down, knew it; and that is one reason compelling them to copy Philostorgios.

posted by Zimri on 17:10 | link | 0 comments

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