Language and Religion: the Case of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church

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Addis Ababa University


The primary function of this study was to examine the language use of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church and the attitudes of the faithful towards the current language of the church. Three institutions of the church, TekleSawiros Sunday school, Minillik II memorial religious school and Mahibere Kidusan were selected. All the two hundred active participant of the Sunday school was selected. Eight key respondents and three research participants were purposely selected for interview. After the data was collected through questionnaires from the respondents of the Sunday school, quantitative analysis such as frequencies, and percentages were used to analyze the close ended parts of the questionnaire using SPSS 19 software. The open ended parts of the questionnaire and the in-depth interview made with respondents of MK and the traditional school was analyzed qualitatively. The findings of the study shows that the EOTC currently use Amharic and Geez most of the time for evangelization in all dioceses with exception of some unorganized individuals’ and association’s attempt of evangelizing in some selected languages. Liturgy is best performed when it is carried out in Amharic. This is because that the EOTC was first adopted in Geez and then translated in to Amharic the scriptures of liturgy are mostly available in Geez and addition some dogmatic, sacramental doctrinal and traditional concepts cannot be expressed using other languages. Amharic is used as medium of instruction in Fidel (Alphabets) instruction and Geez and Amharic in other levels of the traditional education. The result of the analysis also revealed that there is no sacred document or scripture or tradition that prevents using various mother tongues for religious practices; rather all the scriptures of the church including the Holy Bible supports the use of different languages for spiritual ministry. Hence, it can be concluded that multilingualism is a natural phenomenon, as a gift of God and using it result effectiveness in evangelization. MK uses various MTs of the faithful like Amharigna, Oromigna, Tigrigna, Welayitigna, and Sidamigna to evangelize in print, electronic media and face to face media though it is insignificant as compared to the need of the faithful to be taught in their respective MTs.



Language and religion