Author Topic: Have scholars estimated dates for the Ethiopian Bible's unique books?  (Read 193 times)

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Offline rakovsky

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Three of the books unique to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's Bible are:
Sinodos/Books of I and II Dominos
Ethiopic Clement / Qalementos
Book of the Covenant, which includes the 4th c. Testament of Our Lord

Alessandro Bausi writes in his essay "The Critical Edition of the Ethiopic SÄ“nodos. Some Preliminary Remarks" that the Ethiopic Senodos "has been the most authoritative work in ecclesiastical matter since the end of the XIII or beginning of the XIV century up to the middle of the XVII century". He says that in the XIII or XIV century, it was not witnessed by other manuscripts. He says that the scholarly opinion is that "the Ethiopic Senodos derives from a Coptic Arabic original that has been enriched by the addition of Melkitic canons."

I think that one of the Ethiopic books of Clement might include a version of the Apocalypse of Peter, an important 1st or 2nd century church writing that has been otherwise partially lost. The Scholar MR James wrote regarding the Apocalypse of Peter that we have
Quote
an Ethiopic version contained in one of the numerous forms of the books of Clement, a writing current in Arabic and Ethiopic purporting to contain revelations of the history of the world from the Creation, of the last times, and of guidance for the churches -dictated by Peter to Clement. The version of the Apocalypse contained in this has some extraneous matter at the beginning and the end; but, as I have tried to show in a series of articles in the Journal of Theological Studies (1910-11) and the Church Quarterly Review (1915), it affords the best general idea of the contents of the whole book which we have.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/apocalypsepeter-mrjames.html

Ethiopic Clement also contains the 5th to 6th century AD "Cave of Treasures", and the Testament of Adam, which Wikipedia's entry on the latter dates "most likely from the 2nd to 5th century AD in origin". In Languages and Cultures of Eastern Christianity: Ethiopian,
edited by Alessandro Bausi, it's written:
Quote
The Cave of Treasures itself or at least a part of it has also entered Ethiopian literature. The part is contained in a larger composition called Qalementos attributed as the title suggests to Clement of Rome, the disciple of St Peter.

Also the Testament of Adam another piece of Syriac apocryphal literature is incorporated into the same composition. ... Qalementos bears further testimony to its being derived, at least partly, from Syriac sources. it states, namely, that the Lord's language in the work of creation and Adam's in paradise was Syriac.

[In the Sinodos,] mention is made of eight books of Clement. Naturally one feels tempted to connect them with the so-called Octateuch of Clement in Syriac. However, while the idea of an octateuch being composed by Clement may very well be borrowed from a Syriac source, the Ethiopic and the Syriac collections are not identical.

In The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church, Roger T. Beckwith notes that the Clementine Homilies (c.200 AD?) speak of "the Constitutions dedicated to you the bishops by me Clement, in eight books; which it is not fit to publish before all, because of the mysteries contained in them". He says that this kind of language may have been included originally in order to explain why they were published much later than their purported date of writing, but that this same language about the "mysteries" not being fit to publish ended up getting the book treated ambivalently by the Church. He writes:
Quote
Canon 2 of the Quinisext Council ... rejects the Apostolic Constitutions, as having been adulteratred in post apostolic times by heretics. .... On this showing, one would hardly expect any texts of the expanded list [of Biblical books] to include the 8 books of Clement, whereas we have seen that the lists in the Arabic 81 Canons... do, and so does the similar list in the Syriac Octateuch of Clement. Evidenctly there was another approach to the problem of the condemned Apostolic Constitutions and the Syriac Octateuch of Clement probably indicates what this approach was - to rewrite the work. The Syriac Octateuch (a short form of which occurs in an 8th c manuscript... in which century the book may well have originated) is such a rewriting
He sees this or more likely its lost Greek original as the source(s) for the "Coptic Heptateuch of Clement and the Arabic Octateuch of Clement". He dates the Ethiopic Octateuch of Clement to the 8th century. He also writes that the Sinodos, Ethiopic Clement, and Book of the Covenant were not in the original Ethiopic canon, but were translated into Ethiopic from Coptic in the 14th to 15th centuries AD.

He explains about the contents of the Ethiopic Octateuch of Clement:
Quote
in Ethiopia the eight books of Clement included among the biblical books by one of the lists in Sinodos are taken to be the eight extra books of the NT in the present day broader canon, namely four sections of Sinodos, the two parts of the Ethiopic Book of the Covenant, the Ethiopic Clement and the Ethiopic Didascalia. ... THere can be no doubt that in these other languages the eight books of Clement are a reference to the eight books of the larger work in which the Apostolic Canons are included (whether the Apostolic Constitutions or the Octateuch of Clement).

Bruk A. Asale wrote an article called "The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Canon of the Scriptures: Neither Open nor Closed", where he goes through the history of the canon, but the article is behind a paywall. This is also true for R. W. Cowley, The identification of the Ethiopian Octateuch of Clement, and its relationship to the other Christian literature, OKS 27 (1978).

So with the exception of the contents of the Apocalypse of Peter that is in the Book of Clement, the earliest dating that I've found for these Ethiopian Biblical books' origin is the Clementine Homilies.(c. late 2nd century to 4th century AD)
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 06:02:03 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20