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Confession of Faith

Emperor Claudius of Ethiopia

Emperor Claudius defends the Orthodox Church and its teachings, against the deceptive, proselytic efforts of Jesuit Roman Catholic Missionaries, who were led by Ignatius of Loyola. In an attempt to convert the Orthodox Christians of Ethiopia, the Jesuits falsely accused the Orthodox Church of teaching Judaizing practices.

1. Confession and Creed

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit— One God.

This is my faith; and the faith of my fathers, the kings of Israel; and the faith of my flock, which is within the fold, my kingdom:

We believe in One God; and in His only Son, Jesus Christ— His word and His Power, His Counsel and His Wisdom— Who was with Him, before the world was created. And in the last days, He came unto us— not laying aside the throne of His Godhead— and was made man, by the Holy spirit, and of the Holy Virgin Mary. And He was baptized in the Jordan River, in His thirtieth year. And He was perfect man. And He was crucified on the wood of the cross, in the days of Pontius Pilate. He suffered, died, and was buried, and He rose again on the third day; and then, on the fortieth day, ascended with glory into Heaven, and sat on the Right Hand of His Father. And He shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the vivifying Lord, Who proceeds from the Father. And we believe in One Baptism, for the remission of sins. And we hope for the resurrection of the dead, to the life which will continue for ever. Amen.

2. Our Teachings are from the Apostles and Church Fathers

And we walk in the King’s Highway, evident and true; and neither to the right, nor to the left, do we turn aside from the doctrine of our fathers, the Twelve Apostles; and of Paul, the Font of Wisdom; and of the seventy-two disciples; and of the three-hundred and eighteen Orthodox bishops, who were gathered together in Nicaea; and of the one-hundred and fifty, in Constantinople; and of the two hundred, in Ephesus. Thus do I proclaim, and thus do I teach: I, Claudius, King of Ethiopia, whose reigning name is Asnaf Sagad, the son of Wanag Sagad, and the son of Naod.

3. On the Sabbath Day

Now, with regard to observance of the Original Sabbath [Saturday], we do not keep it as the Jews do, who crucified Christ, saying, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25), because those Jews neither drink water, nor light a fire; neither cook food, nor make bread; neither do they move about from house to house; but we keep it, in that we celebrate, thereon, the Lord’s Supper, and hold love feasts, as our fathers, [the Apostles], have instructed us, in the Didascalia. We don’t observe it as the Sabbath of the first day of the week, [Sunday], which is a new day, concerning which David says, “This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24), because, on it, our Lord Jesus Christ rose again and, on it, the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles in the Hall of Zion and, on it, He became incarnate in the womb of Saint Mary, the ever-virgin; and, on it, He will come again to reward the righteous, and to recompense sinners.

4. On Circumcision

Again, concerning the question of circumcision: we are not circumcised as the Jews, because we know the words of the doctrine of Paul, the Font of Wisdom, who says, “Neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature, which is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 5:6, 6:15). And, again, he says to the Corinthians, “Is any man called, being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called, in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised” (1 Corinthians 7:18).

All the books of the doctrine of Paul are in our hands, and they teach us, concerning circumcision and uncircumcision.

But circumcision, amongst us, is according to the custom of the country, like the tattooing of the face in Ethiopia and Nubia, and like the piercing of the ear amongst the Indians. And what we do is not in observance of the Mosaic Law, but according to the custom of men.

5. On Eating Swine's Flesh

Finally, with regard to eating the flesh of swine: we are not prohibited from it, as the Jews are, by observance of the Law of Moses. But he who eats thereof, we do not despise or consider unclean; and him who doesn’t eat thereof, we do not compel to it, as our father Paul wrote to the Romans saying, “Do not let him that eats, despise him that does not eat; and do not let him that does not eat, judge him that eats: because God has received him” (Romans 14:3). “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). And Matthew the Evangelist says, “That which goes into the mouth does not defile a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. Do you still not understand, that whatever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?” (Matthew 15:17-20).

Thus, He makes all food clean. When we spoke these words, He destroyed all of the structure of the error of the Jews, who are taught from the Book of the Law.

My faith is also the faith of my faithful priests, who teach by my command, within my Kingdom. And they neither depart from the way of the Gospel, nor from the doctrine of our father, Paul; neither to the right, nor to the left.

And in the book of history, it is written, that “King Constantine commanded, in the day of his kingdom, that all baptized Jews must eat swine’s flesh, on the day of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.” According, however, as it shall seem fit to every man, he may abstain from the eating of animal food. There are some who delight in the flesh of fowl; and there are some who abstain from eating the flesh of sheep. Thus, every man, as it seems good unto him, follows his own inclination. This is the good will and pleasure of men. And touching the eating of animal food, there is no law or canon in the New Testament: “All is clean, to the clean” (Titus 1:15). And Paul also says, “Let him that believes, eat all things” (Romans 14:2).

6. Closing

This is all that I desired to write, that you may know the truth of my faith, written in the 1555th year from the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the 23rd day of Sene [June], in the province of Damot.