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Author Topic: Ethiopian Canon of Scriptures  (Read 4642 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 29, 2002, 07:08:48 PM »

I have a question about the Ethiopian Canon of Scriptures.

I have seen that the Ethiopian Church has more books in the Old Testament that are not present in the Eastern Orthodox Bible, or other Oriental Orthodox Bibles, or the Latin Vulgata.

I read that the Canon of the Old testament they have was took from the Falashas who have some books. Could you please tell me what are the official books of the Ethiopian Bible? Why aren't they present in the other Churches?
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Aklie Semaet
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2002, 10:24:40 PM »

Remie,

I have seen that the Ethiopian Church has more books in the Old Testament

Yes this is true. As usual, there is no answer to this question that does not go back to the historical context so that is what I must do. The Ethiopic Old Testament translation is based on the Septuagint and the New Testament translation is based on the Syriac “Lucianic recension” current in Antioch at the time of the translation.  


During the final decades of the 5th Century AD Ethiopia became the refuge for many non-Chalcedon Christians throughout the world. The most famous of these and the ones who made the most significant contribution to Ethiopian Christianity were the “Nine Saints.”  While a couple of them came from Constantinople most of them came from Syria as the Byzantine Christians and the Roman Emperor launched a persecution campaign against them.

These “Nine Saints,” taught and interacted closely with men who would later become Ethiopian Saints (like St. Yared). They launched evangelization campaigns in areas that were still strongly Pagan or Judaic. They founded Monasteries (most of which are still functioning today) . The biggest contribution they made was to translate the Bible into Ge’ez which at that time was an Ethiopian vernacular language.

Our complete Bible has 81 books, 46 of which comprise the Old Testament. The part that Western Christians call the apocryphal or duterocanonical we all “YeBluy Kidan huletingya YeQenona Metshafit” (The Second Canonical Books of the Old Testament). These books include the familiar Jubilees, Maccabees, and Noah as well as the “Ascension of Isaiah” and Enoch (called Henok in Ethiopia).

That is how it was passed on to us and that is how we maintain it. I can not answer how we received the book of Enoch from the Syrians while the Syrians (along with the rest of Christendom) not only do not have the book in their Bible but have lost it completely with out a trace. That was obviously not the case in antiquity or we would never have had it in our Bible.

There is another significant development. Even though I am an archaeologist I refuse to use archaeological evidence in any way to prove or disprove arguments which should be based on faith alone. But there is one area that I don’t think does any harm. It is the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The book of Enoch was only preserved in the Ethiopian tradition until the discovery of the same book in the Dead Sea collection. The ancient community that decided to leave areas of Roman influence with the intent of protecting their ‘pure’ Jewish faith and culture and founded the Quamaran settlement recognized the Book of Enoch as canonical. The earliest Christians also recognized the Book of Enoch as canonical and Jude quotes an extensive verse citation from Enoch.  

I read that the Canon of the Old testament they have was took from the Falashas who have some books.

It is impossible that it was taken from the Beta Israel, or the Falashas (Ethiopian Jews). The Syriac connection is clear as is evidenced by the Ethiopian words that were loaned from Syriac.  

* A small note I should add. The way that I just recounted the history is very much in the modernized version prevalent in educated Ethiopian religious circles and modern Ethiopian Church educational facilities. It is not in the old tradition of our Church. If some of the traditional liqwanet (scholars) of our Church seen what I just wrote not too few of them would be irritated by it. We don’t really mention the nation or the ethnic group that a fellow Christian has come from. Modern scholars have determined that the nine saints were Syrians. The traditional Church just say that they came from one side of the Church (Syria, etc.) to the other (Ethiopia). Modern scholars are infatuated with reading the names of people trying to determine if they are Copts, Arabs, Indians or whatever. The traditional Church will not mention it unless it is in a specific context (i.e. “Abuna Minas was consecrated in Alexandria and came to Ethiopia...”) other than that it is irrelevant. They came from one area of the Church to serve another area.

God Bless
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Ethiopia ijochwan wede Egzabiher tezregalech
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2002, 01:36:24 AM »

Thank you very much for the answer.

I once read that some of the Books were dismissed by the Western Church (this time including Greeks too) because they had "apocalyptic elements" (in addition to the problem of canonocity), such as the Apocalypse of Baruch, the Book of Henoch, the Sybyline Oracle, the Ascension of Moses, the Ascenssion of Isaiah...

About the Books that are included in the Ethiopian Canon, like the Ascension of Isaiah, the Jibilees, Noah... are readings from these Boooks used in the liturgy too? I have seen that in the Ethiopian Church the Old Testament is very revered and has a lot of importance (or maybe it is undervalued in the West).

I have been looking for some on-line versions of the Books, and I have found some translations in English but I don't know how trustable they are as they appear in sites connected with the Mormon sect.
I knew something about the Ascension of Isaiah, because at my school there was a very good Catholic Encyclopedia with explanations about the Apocryphal Books, and big settings of the texts. It was also useful in order to understand the history of the Martyrdom of the Prophet and some details of his life. It said that the some versions of the Ascension of Isaiah might have had some christian influences as it mentions the Twelve Apostles and some symbols that are understood by christians, similar to those of St John's Apocalypsis.

Thank you for the answer
Blessing
« Last Edit: November 30, 2002, 01:48:19 AM by Remie » Logged
Aklie Semaet
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2002, 08:42:27 PM »

Remie,

I once read that some of the Books were dismissed by the Western Church (this time including Greeks too) because they had "apocalyptic elements"

They do have ‘apocalyptic elements.’ That is what makes them so good. They are Messianic in tone and orientation. Revelation has more than enough ‘apocalyptic’ elements and it canonic was in serious question; so why does the Western Church accept it? The Book of Enoch is not as apocalyptic as Revelations.

are readings from these Books used in the liturgy too?

No. The only readings in the Liturgy are the Gospel and sections of Paul’s Epistles.

I have seen that in the Ethiopian Church the Old Testament is very revered and has a lot of importance (or maybe it is undervalued in the West).

It is revered but not as much as it is stereotyped. The Ethiopian Church just greatly respects and appreciates the complete transition in the Bible from the Old to New Covenants. The New has to be understood as be founded and based on the Old. There are metaphors and analogies of the virgin Mary that are not understood unless you see her as the Ark of the New Covenant, etc. The Hebrew laws that are still existent in the Ethiopian Church (like rules of cleanliness, prohibition of pork, circumcision, etc.) are no longer laws but are now customs. This is the same way that the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem during the time of the Apostles had it. But they are customs, small ‘t’ traditions; the only law is what St. James called the ‘perfect law of liberty’ which is the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

I have been looking for some on-line versions of the Books, and I have found some translations in English but I don't know how trustable they are as they appear in sites connected with the Mormon sect.

Oh heavens no, Remie ignore these sources please. Do not read anything from the Mormons even if they say it is the Book of Matthews. These books are available in English, usually published individually by a university press. Just get them from the Library. Stay away from Mormons and Rastas who may have some of the books but them mix them up with nonsense like “The Hidden 10 Books of Moses” or something.

God Bless
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2006, 07:29:37 AM »

Can anyone here give me info on these Ethiopian NT canon books:

28. Sirate Tsion (the book of order)
29. Tizaz (the book of Herald)
30. Gitsew
31. Abtilis
32. The I book of Dominos
33. The II book of Dominos
34. The book of Clement
35. Didascalia

including English translations?
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2006, 08:08:51 AM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=301.msg133293#msg133293 date=1156591777]
28. Sirate Tsion (the book of order)
29. Tizaz (the book of Herald)
30. Gitsew
31. Abtilis
[/quote]

These are really four parts of one book known as the sinodes. They are canons of the Church that are ascribed Apostolic authority.

Quote
32. The I book of Dominos
33. The II book of Dominos

Hmmm, not sure about these two.

Quote
34. The book of Clement

This a book believed to have been communicated to St. Clement of Rome by St. Peter the Apostle.

Quote
35. Didascalia

This is simply a book of the Ethiopian Constitutions--the orders of the Ethiopian Church; they are similar in nature to the Apostolic Constitutions.

It should be noted, that though these books are part of the Ethiopian canon, they represent more of a commentary on those books we consider to be exclusively canonical, and as such their authority is more or less derivative.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 08:09:39 AM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2006, 11:25:39 AM »

Quote
Quote
32. The I book of Dominos
33. The II book of Dominos

Hmmm, not sure about these two.
Those books are refering to the two parts of one book: the Book of the covenant [Metsehafe kidan- in Amharic]; I am thinking that those are aliases of it. It is the Tesament of the Lord, which he taught to the apostles for about 40 days after his resurrection and before his ascension.  The writing is credited to the Apostles at the end of the book so in effect it has Apostlic authority. The first part mainly deals with orders of a church as prayer and liturgy. And, the second part is concerning his second coming and the false christ among other things.


Quote
Quote
Quote
35. Didascalia

This is simply a book of the Ethiopian Constitutions--the orders of the Ethiopian Church; they are similar in nature to the Apostolic Constitutions.
It is rather traslation, not just similar.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2006, 11:26:35 AM by Haile » Logged


The Arc of the Covenant Axum, Ethiopia
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2006, 09:47:37 PM »

 

That is how it was passed on to us and that is how we maintain it. I can not answer how we received the book of Enoch from the Syrians while the Syrians (along with the rest of Christendom) not only do not have the book in their Bible but have lost it completely with out a trace. That was obviously not the case in antiquity or we would never have had it in our Bible.

Aklie Semaets above comment is not correct.

Ethiopia has the oldest version of the the book of Enoch in the world.
In the western scholars refer to it as the Ethiopian Book of Enoch. It is the only complete book. Ethiopias pocession of the book predates Syrian incursions and interfaces with Christian Ethiopia. Syrias conection with the book if any was from Ethiopia, not the other way as Aklie implies.

Syrian incursions were very profitable to both Ethiopia and Syria on many important areas. Syrias Alphebet is built from the Ethiopian alphebet. Regarding any impact we both have had on each other as it relates to the Church....ALL Glory goes to God...since anything given from God through the Holy Spirit is His property not Ethiopias, Syrias, Egypts or anybody elses.



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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2006, 11:36:56 PM »

I guess it's a foregone conclusion that these are unavailable in English translation?

Too bad; I'm more than curious; really wish to read them.
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2006, 12:15:43 AM »

Is there an English Ethiopian Orthodox Bible available and if so, where? WHat would be the title for sucha manuscript?

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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2006, 11:02:32 AM »

Yeah, I am not aware of any translations of those afore mentioned books included in the new testament of The Bible; they are all in Geez and Amharic as far as I know.  And, there is no as such English Ethiopian Orthodox church Bible per se. In English we simply use King James version (typical one) and other versions, including the 'apocrypha'. Here is one for instance: http://www.hti.umich.edu/k/kjv/browse.html

Here is also the translation of the Book of Enoch even though I could not say much about the accuracy of the translation: http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/ethiopian/enoch/index.html
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2007, 12:24:27 PM »

An Ethiopian Orthodox priest wrote me a list of books contained in their Canon of Holy Scripture which looks like this:

Old Testament

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Jubilee, Enoch, Ezra & Nehemiah, 2nd Ezra & Ezra, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Macabees, 2 & 3 Macabees, Job, Psalms, Reproof, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Sirach, Isiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Joseph ben Gurion, Proverbs, Sutuel

(This list is exactly as I received it [except for not being entirely in capital letters and being in a line rather than columns] and includes any mistakes or errors which I may have received. I don't know where Lamentations or Baruch are unless they come under some other name or are connected with Jeremiah. Any tips on this from Ethiopians please?)

New Testament

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts of the Apostles, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, James, Jude, Revelation

Books of Church Order

The Order of Zion
Commandments
Gitzen
Abtils
2 Books of The Covenant
Clement
Didascalia
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Tags: Ethiopian Orthodox Canon of scriptures Ethiopian Orthodox Church OO Canon of Scripture 
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