Cover image for The cross and the river : Ethiopia, Egypt, and the Nile
The cross and the river : Ethiopia, Egypt, and the Nile
Erlikh, Ḥagai.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : L. Rienner, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 249 pages : map ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1440 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT382.5.E3 E74 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The ongoing Egyptian-Ethiopian dispute over the Nile waters is potentially one of the most difficult issues on the current international agenda, central to the very life of the two countries. Analyzing the context of the dispute across a span of more than a thousand years, The Cross and the River delves into the heart of both countries' identities and cultures. Erlich deftly weaves together three themes: the political relationship between successive Ethiopian and Egyptian regimes; the complex connection between the Christian churches in the two countries; and the influence of the Nile river system on Ethiopian and Egyptian definitions of national identity and mutual perceptions of the Other. Drawing on a vast range of sources, his study is key to an understanding of a bond built on both interdependence and conflict.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Erlich (Tel Aviv Univ.) contends that the complicated history of the relations between Ethiopia and Egypt revolves around the centrality of the Nile for Egypt and Christianity for Ethiopia. For centuries, Egypt was aware that Ethiopia could alter the flow of the Nile, thereby threatening the former's existence. On the other hand, the core of Christian Ethiopia's national identity lay in the Ethiopian Church, which was subservient to the Coptic Church until 1959, and whose head until 1948 was an Egyptian appointed by the Coptic Church. Complicating matters, Egypt viewed Christian Ethiopia at its rear as an implacable enemy; Islamic states on its borders, supported by Egypt, were always a peril to the existence of Ethiopia. Ethiopia used the threat of controlling the Nile to keep Egypt and Islam at bay; Egypt's weapon was the control of Coptic Christianity, and thus the head of the Ethiopian Church. The way that the two states dealt with these problems is the subject of Erlich's book, which uses a variety of sources, including archival, newspaper, and Arab language materials. One ought to read Erlich's Ethiopia and the Middle East (CH, May'95) as a complement to this volume. All levels/collections. T. Natsoulas University of Toledo

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Introduction: The Crisis of the Nilep. 1
2 Christianity and Islam: The Formative Conceptsp. 15
3 Medieval Prime: The Legacies of the Solomonians and the Mamluksp. 35
4 Modern Rediscovery and Fatal Collisionp. 59
5 Nationalism and Mutual Perceptionsp. 79
6 Stormy Redefinitions, 1935-1942p. 103
7 From Compromise to Disconnection, 1945-1959p. 123
8 Ethiopian Concepts of Egypt, 1959-1991p. 145
9 Egyptian Concepts of Ethiopia, 1959-1991p. 183
10 Conclusion: The 1990s and the Legacies of Historyp. 213
Bibliographyp. 227
Indexp. 237
About the Bookp. 249