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Philiminality Oxford is a student-run platform for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary philosophy. We discuss philosophical ideas, thinkers, and approaches which are frequently marginalized in both Anglo-American and “continental” academic circles. We engage with broader horizons of what it means t… read more


14. Brooh Asmare - The Authenticity of the Hatata from the Perspective of the Cultural History of Ethiopia

Since the publication of Conti Rossini’s notes on Tekle Haymanot, an Ethiopian Catholic priest and Rossini’s testimony that made the Hatatas are of Giusto d’Urbino, in 1916, the controversy of authorship over the Hatatas remained hot debate among the Ethiopian as well as the Western scholars. These scholars present their argument from different perspectives, such as Testimony (Rossini 1916, 1920), Calendar (Getachew Haile 2014), Philology (Alemayehu Moges 1969) and Colonial Thesis (Daniel Kibret 2018 and Fasil Merawi 2020). The findings of their research, however, went to diametrically opposite directions. While the perspectives of Testimony and Colonial Thesis favor Giusto d’Urbino as the authentic author of the Hatatas, the argument from Calendar and Philology went to favor Zara Yaqob. These perspectives, however, missed to consider the importance of the cultural history of Ethiopia in providing hints for the ongoing debate on the problem of authorship of the Hatatas. This approach has a crucial importance to understand whether the central issue of the Hatatas has a cultural foundation in Ethiopia or not. The paper finds out that the central issue upon which both Zara Yaqob and Wolde Heywot repeatedly and fiercely criticized and were obsessively concerned is Monasticism (Asceticism), the center of religious, social, cultural and developmental problems of the Ethiopian society, according to them. The paper will show how this central issue of the Hatatas is articulated as existential predicament from the cultural history of the country. Moreover, identifying this central issue of the Hatatas will help us trace the genealogy of the problem. The result of this cultural genealogy makes the Hatatas the product of the dialectical relationship between the inquisitive mind of Zara Yaqob and the established ascetic culture of the country, which, in turn, addresses the problem of authorship.

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