Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia: From Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century

Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia: From Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century

by Steven Kaplan
     
 
"...balanced and well informed...a striking piece of scholarship aimed at demythologizing the origins of the Ethiopian Falasha."-Foreign AffairsThe origin of the Black Jews of Ethiopia has long been a source of fascination and controversy. Their condition and future continues to generate debate. The culmination of almost a decade of research, The Beta Israel (Falasha)

Overview

"...balanced and well informed...a striking piece of scholarship aimed at demythologizing the origins of the Ethiopian Falasha."-Foreign AffairsThe origin of the Black Jews of Ethiopia has long been a source of fascination and controversy. Their condition and future continues to generate debate. The culmination of almost a decade of research, The Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia marks the publication of the first book-length scholarly study of the history of this unique community.In this volume, Steven Kaplan seeks to demythologize the history of the Falasha and to consider them in the wider context of Ethiopian history and culture. This marks a clear departure from previous studies which have viewed them from the external perspective of Jewish history. Drawing on a wide variety of sources including the Beta Israel's own literature and oral traditions, Kaplan demonstrates that they are not a lost Jewish tribe, but rather an ethnic group which emerged in Ethiopia between the 14th and 16th century. Indeed, the name, Falasha, their religious hierarchy, sacred texts, and economic specialization can all be dated to this period. Among the subjects the book addresses are their links with Ethiopian Christianity, the medieval legends concerning their existence, their wars with the Ethiopian emperors, their relegation to the status of a despised semi-caste, their encounters with European missionaries, and the impact of the Great Famine of 1888-1892.Kaplan's definitive treatment will be of interest to students and scholars of Jewish history, African history, and comparative religion, as well as anyone interested in Jewish affairs and the modern Middle East.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In the first full-length scholarly study of the "Black Jews" of Ethiopia, Kaplan (comparative religion and African studies, Hebrew U. of Jerusalem) considers them as an aspect of Ethiopian history, rather than of Jewish history. They are not, he says, a lost tribe of Israel, but a native ethnic group that emerged in Ethiopia between the 14th and 16th centuries. He traces their cultural development and their relations with the mainstream culture, Ethiopian emperors, native and missionary Christians, and others. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814746257
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
03/01/1994
Pages:
341
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.35(h) x 0.81(d)

Meet the Author

STEVEN KAPLAN is Associate Professor in Comparative Religion and African Studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and co- author, with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, of Surviving Salvation: The Ethiopian Jewish Family in Transition, also published by NYU Press.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >