Bar Kribus

Bar Kribus

PhD research: The Monasteries of the Betä Ǝsraʾel (Ethiopian Jews)

Advisors: Prof. Joseph Patrich and Prof. Steven Kaplan.

Research description: The Betä Ǝsraʾel (Ethiopian Jewish) monastic movement is the only Jewish monastic movement known to have existed in medieval and modern times. Betä Ǝsraʾel monks lived in monasteries, practiced celibacy and devoted themselves to the worship of God. They were considered the supreme religious leaders of the Betä Ǝsraʾel community and were charged with the training and consecration of the Betä Ǝsraʾel priests. In the second half of the nineteenth century, this monastic movement began to decline. In the second half of the twentieth century, the last active Betä Ǝsraʾel monasteries were abandoned.

My research focuses on Betä Ǝsraʾel monasteries and on the physical lives and practices of Betä Ǝsraʾel monks. As part of this research, written sources shedding light on these monks and monasteries are being examined, and interviews focusing on these issues are being conducted. A central aspect of the research is an archaeological survey, aimed at locating and documenting the remains of the monasteries in Ethiopia. In this way, it is possible to shed light on the characteristics of the monasteries, on the way of life of the monks and on characteristics that distinguish Betä Ǝsraʾel monasticism in comparison to other monastic movements.

The ability to locate the remains of Betä Ǝsraʾel monasteries and correctly identify their different components is based primarily on information provided by informants who witnessed the monasteries prior to their abandonment. Thus, comprehensive research on Betä Ǝsraʾel monastic material culture will only be possible as long as such informants are accessible. One of the aims of this research project is to document a maximum amount of information regarding Betä Ǝsraʾel monasticism and its material remains while such a thing is still possible.

Academic Publications

Kribus B. (forthcoming) The Layout and Architecture of the Monasteries of the Betä Ǝsraʾel (Ethiopian Jews) – Preliminary Observations, Ityop̣is.

Kribus B. (forthcoming) The Creation of an African Sheba? The Impact of Pre-Christian Cult and Culture on Aksumite Christianity, Proceedings of the 19th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies.

Kribus B. and Krebs V. (2018) Betä Ǝsraʾel (Ethiopian Jewish) Monastic Sites North of Lake Ṭana: Preliminary Results of an Exploratory Field Trip to Ethiopia in December 2015, Entangled Religions 6: 309-344.

Kribus B. (2018) Shedding light on Medieval Betä Ǝsraʾel (Ethiopian Jewish) Monasticism: An Examination of Sources and Suggestions for Future Study, Africana 15/02/2018,

Kribus B. and Cytryn-Silverman K. (forthcoming) The Ceramic Evidence: The Islamic Period, in: I. Bordowicz (ed.), Horvat Yattir: The 1995 – 1999 Seasons.

Habtamu Makonnen, Phillipson L. and Sernicola L. with contributions by Marco Barbarino, Alfredo Carannante, Michela Gaudiello and Bar Kribus (2013) Archaeological Expedition at Aksum (Ethiopia) of the Università degli Studi di Napoli “L'Orientale” 2011 Field Season: Seglamen, Newsletter di Archeologia CISA 4: 343-439.

Fattovich R., Hiluf Berhe, Phillipson L. and Sernicola L. with contributions by Bar Kribus, Michela Gaudiello and Marco Barbarino (2011) Archaeological Expedition at Aksum (Ethiopia) of the University of Naples “L’Orientale” -2010 Field Season: Seglamen, Napoli.

Popular Publications

Kribus B. (2016) Arabia or Africa: Where Is the Land of Sheba? Biblical Archaeology Review 42: 27-36, 60-61.