Friday, 6 May 2011

Ethiopian Orthodox Canon of Scripture

I should like to ask His Excellency, what are the most reliable English translations of those books that are in the Ethiopian Orthodox canon of Scripture, but which are not to be found in any other church's canon (for instance: the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees)? There seem to be several translations of these texts available, but I should like to know which are the most accurate. I thank His Excellency for his time and consideration. In Christ, Theodore

The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, M. A. Knibb (Oxford University Press, 1974). You need to acquire an edition with plenty of footnotes on the details of the translation and detailed comparisons of the various known manuscripts and fragments of the book. The most widely distributed English translation of the Book of Enoch is probably not the best possible translation. It was first translated into English in 1821 and revised in 1883. The 1883 edition, however, can be confusing with chapter references listed from two different manuscript editions, and some chapters being only one verse long and other chapters being divided in the middle of a thought.

The Book of Enoch contains many dreams and visions. Enoch prophesied the end of the age in which he lived, which came with Noah's Flood, and also the end of the next age and everything inbetween. He also spoke about fallen angels, Hell, the coming of the Elect One (Jesus Christ), the Bible, and the Millennial Age. The very first line in the book refers to the time of Great Tribulation which is also mentioned in Daniel, Matthew and the book of Revelation.

I am sure you are familiar with The Biblical Canon Of The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Today, R. W. Cowley (Ostkirchliche Studien, 1974), containing canon lists of such books as Sinodos and Fetha Nägäst. Sinodos is a collection of material attributed to the apostles and early church councils. Fetha Nägäst, the canon law, specifically cites Sinodos as its source in its section on the canon, and so has the same list. This list adds to the universally accepted canon at least the books Judith, Tobit, 2 books of Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus and Pseudo-Josephus. The Broader Canon comprises the traditional Amharic commentary on the Geez text of the Fetha Nägäst, while the Narrower Canon is the list of the books actually printed in the large Geez and Amharic diglot, and Amharic Bibles, issued by the Emperor's command. The canonicity of the books included in the large Geez and Amharic diglot, and large Amharic editions of the Bible, and in the "narrower" Canon, can be regarded as undisputed in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church today. The former Emperor is reported as saying that these editions of the Bible are complete.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Osama bin Laden

Hello! I am increasingly troubled by the scenes of triumph and jubilation that are marking the death of Osama Bin Laden. When did the murder of a fellow human being become a cause of celebration? Am I alone in this? Kind regards, Tee

You are not alone. The death of a human being, no matter whom, is certainly no cause for celebration and public displays of rejoicing. I found the entire spectacle altogether rather distasteful. Better we do not stoop to the level of those of whom we disapprove. Better there be quiet dignity maintained with renewed prayers for all who have died as a consequence of these troubled and unsettling conflicts.

Christians should never rejoice at the death of a man. I find myself totally in agreement with Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi who said exactly the same following the death of Osama bin Laden.

The world’s most wanted man was killed by US forces at a compound in Abbottabad, north-west Pakistan, following a tip-off dating back to last August. In a special press conference in Washington, President Obama announced that the Saudi-born fugitive, responsible for the September 11th attacks on the United States which killed three thousand people, was dead. “Justice has been done,” the US president proclaimed.

Fr Federico Lombardi, however, in an official statement from Rome said that we should not rejoice at the death of a human being, stating:

“Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end. Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the news of Osama bin Laden's death, saying: “The news that Osama bin Laden is dead will bring great relief to people across the world.”