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.

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