An Ancient Text
The Ge-ez language Scriptures in Ethiopia have been in use for around 1500 years, making them one of the oldest translations of Scripture in the world.
However, no complete Ge’ez Bible has ever been published. Churches in Ethiopia would use handwritten portions of Scripture on parchment or animal skins, and these would not be readily available to all.
“The portions of Ge’ez Scriptures that existed were only used by priests, and the faithful could only listen to them reading from the Word,” said His Holiness Abune Mathewose, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Accessible to all
That’s why the launch of the first ever Ge’ez New Testament was received so warmly at a special ceremony last month.
While the primary audience of this New Testament, and the full Bible that will follow, are the clergy of the Ethiopian Orthodox and Ethiopian Catholic Churches, and Biblical scholars around the world, it will also benefit ordinary Christians in Ethiopia, according to the Bible Society’s Project Coordinator, Endrias Kacharo.
“With the publication of this New Testament, the Ge’ez Scriptures have become accessible to all,” he explains, “In fact, the 5,000 copies of the first print run were sold out within a week of the dedication event, and churches are already asking us to print more!”
A Monumental Task
The monumental task of compiling different Ge’ez Scriptural texts from monasteries, museums and local churches across the country began back in 2009, when the Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic churches approached the Bible Society of Ethiopia.
They provided scholars for the project, and began working on compiling the 81 books of the official canon used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the 73 books in the Ethiopian Catholic Church canon.
Connecting to the Divine Mystery
His Holiness Abune Mathewose officially blessed the Ge’ez New Testament at a special service where hundreds of church and lay leaders gathered.
He said of the Ge’ez language and the recently published New Testament: “Ge’ez is a language through which we connect ourselves to the divine mystery through daily liturgical services, shape the attitudes of our communities through pastoral activities, and lead our people with the knowledge we gain from this language,” adding finally, “therefore, it is our intangible and endless resource, as the Divine Word has been written in it.”
The full Bible is due for completion in 2018.
- The Ge’ez New Testament – thank God for this new translation, that it may be a light to so many in Ethiopia.
- The church in Ethiopia – that through the work of the church many will come to faith and gain knowledge by reading this comprehensive version of Scriptures.
- The Bible Society of Ethiopia – for their ongoing work in translation, as they attempt to complete the full Ge’ez Bible next year.