The Ethiopic Bible

When Ethiopia converted to Christianity in the fourth century, the need for the holy writings in the local language was quickly felt. Working with Greek manuscripts, translators of varying capabilities forged an Ethiopian Bible. As a result, the Ethiopian version is an important witness to the Greek text of both testaments including the text of most apocrypha and some pseudepigrapha. Current projects examine both the connection between the version’s earliest stratum and the Greek text and the long history of textual development in Ethiopia.

  • Curt Niccum assesses the value of the Ethiopic version for the major projects on the Greek New Testament. The work on Acts should be completed in 2017. Entering the evidence for the Gospel of John and Revelation has just started.
  • “The Songs of Africa,” directed by Thomas Oden in conjunction with the Museum of the Bible, is an international collaboration of scholars examining aspects of the religious musical history of Ethiopia and the Book of Odes. ACU students actively engaged in translation and editing for the forthcoming volume.
  • The Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament Project (THEOT) is directed by Steve Delamarter (Fox University) and Curt Niccum (CSART). This organization aims to provide an initial assessment of the transmission history of the Bible in Ethiopia from ancient to modern times. ACU students contribute to the work through manuscript transcription, publications in the prestigious Textual History of the Bible volumes (published by Brill), and the development of optical character recognition (OCR) software.

Ethiopic manuscript, Special Collections and Archives of ACU’s Brown Library.