The earliest Christian bible discovered in Ethiopia

The world’s earliest illustrated Christian book has been saved by a British charity which located it at a remote Ethiopian monastery.

The incredible Garima Gospels are named after a monk who arrived in the African country in the fifth century and is said to have copied them out in just one day.

Beautifully illustrated, the colours are still vivid and thanks to the Ethiopian Heritage Fund have been conserved.

Abba Garima arrived from Constantinople in 494 AD and legend has it that he was able to copy the gospels in a day because God delayed the sun from setting.

A page from the Garima Gospels - the world's oldest hristian book found in a remote monastary in Ethiopia[A page from the Garima Gospels – the world’s oldest Christian book found in a remote monastery in Ethiopia]

The incredible relic has been kept ever since in the Garima Monastery near Adwa in the north of the country, which is in the Tigray region at 7,000 feet.

Experts believe it is also the earliest example of book binding still attached to the original pages.

The survival of the Gospels is incredible considering the country has been under Muslim invasion, Italian invasion and a fire in the 1930s destroyed the monastery’s church.

They were written on goat skin in the early Ethiopian language of Ge’ez.

There are two volumes which date from the same time, but the second is written in a different hand from the first. Both contain illustrations and the four Gospels.

Though the texts had been mentioned by the occasional traveller since the 1950s, it had been thought they dated from the 11th century at the earliest.

Carbon dating, however, gives a date between 330 and 650 – which tantalisingly overlaps the date Abba Garima arrived in the country.

So the first volume could be in his hand – even if he didn’t complete the task in a day as the oral tradition states.

The charity Ethiopian Heritage Fund that was set up to help preserve the treasures in the country has made the stunning discovery.

It was also allowed incredibly rare access to the texts so experts could conserve them on site.

A page from the Garima Gospels - the world's oldest hristian book found in a remote monastary in Ethiopia[The incredible relic has been kept ever since in the Garima Monastery near Adwa in the north of Ethiopia]

It is now hoped the Gospels will be put in a museum at the monastery where visitors will be able to view them.

Blair Priday from the Ethiopian Heritage Fund said: ‘Ethiopia has been overlooked as a source of these fantastic things.

‘Many of these old Christian relics can only be reached by hiking and climbing to remote monasteries as roads are limited in these mountainous regions.

‘All the work on the texts was done in situ and everything is reversible, so if in future they can be taken away for further conservation we won’t have hindered that.

‘The pages had been crudely stitched together in a restoration in the 1960s and some of the pages wouldn’t even turn. And they were falling to pieces.

‘The Garima Gospels have been kept high and dry which has helped preserve them all these years and they are kept in the dark so the colours look fresh.

‘This was the most astounding of all our projects and the Patriarch, the head of the Ethiopian Church, had to give his permission.

‘Most of the experts did the work for nothing.

‘We are currently undertaking other restoration programmes on wall paintings and religious texts.

‘We believe that preserving Ethiopia’s cultural heritage will help to increase visitor revenue and understanding of the extraordinary history of this country

59 comments on “The earliest Christian bible discovered in Ethiopia

  1. Anonymous on

    Regardless US government was founded by Christians—The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the rights to freedom of religion. I am grateful for this law, aren’t you?

    Good day.

  2. hakim on

    to anonymuous
    despait your different(harsh) aprotch toward me i still agree witn most of your opinions also as desent gentlman i respect your aunt
    First all i haven’t mentioned Haillesilasie or Amhara so i dont have to answer for some thing i never say but since you insist it wasn’t Hailesilasie who did cut balle goba Oromo’s arms and breasts it was Minilik my (aunt was not one of them because she dont belongs to that trib )but the truth got no trib if you have open mind which i think you do; if you realy want to know what our problems is besides being brianwashed by woyane you have to sarch for the truth from every corners before tring to find the solutions. all leaders wather a king or with some other titles as they are humans as you and I they make a mistakes besides the good things they do there for we have to denounce thire mastaks and celebrate their good doings, do i believe this helps the foundation we must have in future? absolutely; it create a trust between people .
    shorty what i am tring to say is we can not do any thing use full for our country by not mentioning the past in constractive way we have to sit down talk to each other and reconciled if we can do that woyane will be hitory within short time of peried .so to return to your qustion do i believe the past kings treate Oromos and others differntly from Amharas? my answer will yes; do i believe this will prevent as from future stong untity that we realy badlly need?absolutly no.
    Anonyumous i hope next time my aunt will be not mentioned here

  3. Assta B. Gettu on

    Anonymous #50,

    Yes, before they get us, we will get them; before they surprise us, we will surprise them; before they bury us, we will bury them, and we will never be fooled again by such cold-blooded murderers and idol worshipers.

    You call such Islamist murderers and terrorists “God’s children,” but God will never recognize these types of ruthless and blood-thirsty Muslims: they are, indeed, the children of the devil who taught Muhammad the art of murdering the Christian and the Jews and drinking their blood and consuming their flesh.

    All Muslims are soldiers of the devil, well trained to declare war against the children of God – the Christians and the other non believers; this is what Tabari said: “Men of the Khazraj, do you know what you are pledging yourselves to in swearing allegiance to this man (Muhammad)? ‘Yes,’ they answered. ‘In swearing allegiance to him we are pledging ourselves to wage war against all mankind.’” (TabariVI:134) This is the fundamental reason why Muslims never officially denounce whenever any terrorist attack happened in any country because they have a belief that tells them to wage war against the world until the whole world has surrendered to Islam.

    How any human being can forget the 9/11 carnage that claimed so many innocent lives: “In total 3,497 people died in the attacks on 11 September 2001.
    • 2,735 civilians in the World Trade Center died
    • 87 passengers and crew members aboard American Airlines Flight 11 that hit the North Tower
    • 60 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 175 that hit the South Tower
    • 343 New York City firefighters and rescue workers and 23 New York City law enforcement officers, 47 Port Authority workers and 37 Port Authority Police Officers, lost their lives when they rushed in to save the victims in the World Trade Center
    • 36 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93, who gave their lives stopping four hijackers over Pennsylvania
    • 64 passengers and crew aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, killing them and 125 people in the building.”
    For a stony heart like Anonymous, the deaths of 3,497 people by Muslim terrorists does not have any meaning at all; in fact, when this horrible incident happened, I saw on the television some Palestinian Muslim women and men dancing on the street of Palestine. The heart of all Arab Muslims is made up of hatred and animosity toward Christians and Jews.
    On the other hand, the patience of the American Christians, with all their advanced technology, with all their chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons they possess, is beyond any person’s comprehension. When they were attacked in their own country without any provocation whatsoever, they could have annihilated the entire Arab-Muslim world within less than few seconds. Imagine, if such power were in the hands of these Muslim Jihadists, you and I would not be here today. In reality, I am not advocating the destruction of all Muslims, but I am advocating the destruction of the false religion – Islam before it destroys our Christian country, Ethiopia.
    Mr. /Ms/ Anonymous, read what Mr. Ethiopian has recommended you to read: The Prophet of Doom! Then you can talk either to me or to Mr. Ethiopian; otherwise, our discussion on Islam is meaningless, and, please, don’t waste our time.

  4. Anonymous on

    I am not saying the Islamic law is right –What I am saying is that, regardless I agree with their Quran or not, the Muslims have the right to worship. I have read a well written book about Mohammad to know enough about him. The book explains how Mohammad came up with all the verses you referred me to, as he started to loose power; Mohammad started to preach to his followers that if they die in the name of their religion, they will see the kingdom of God. I don’t agree with their religion and philosophy, but their religious freedom should be protected. As Christians we are suppose to love our enemies and be good examples…not to be extremists as a few Muslims turned out to be. We should hate the atrocious crimes they commit around the world, but as Christians we are suppose to love and show them kindness to win them, one don’t fight fire with fuel. Mother Theresa took care of and love people regardless what they worship in India and she was able to win their hearts and minds and converted them to Catholicism. I believe one of the reason US is not discriminating all Muslims from coming to America after they killed over 3000 innocent people on 9/11 is that they know all Muslims are not criminals and once they come to US and given what freedom is like, it is easier to win their hearts. Yes, still there are a few apples in a bunch. We all are created by one God. Out of 1.5 billion Muslims in this world, only a few who cannot think for themselves are the only once causing problems around the world. Most of the Muslims’ extreme anger and resentments have a lot to do with their countries natural resources–oil. They don’t want the Oil Companies such as PB, Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Shell and other oil lords to control their Oil. Osama Binladen’s main reason is Oil, it has nothing to do with God. He brainwashes some hoodlums to be suicide bombers and do his dirty job for him. Osama also brainwashes the idiots that they will receive 75 virgins in heaven if they blow up themselves to kill others for his cause.

    Ethiopian, Asta’s spewing venom, degrading and tearingdown all Muslims and their religion on the internet only makes bad situations worse. There is no purpose of belittling one’s religion, other than making mad people madder to blow up more innocent people and cause more civil unrest. One hateful man can be a cause for so many to loose their lives. I hope and pray that some of the extremist Muslims don’t think that all members of Ethiopian Orthodox Churches are not as single minded and filled with so much hate as Asta B.Getu.

    Peace and health to all mankind.

  5. Ethiopian on

    Dear Anonymous,

    I appreciate your matured and extremely positive comment, i entirely understand your point of view and how Christians should survive, no Christian is allowed to hate or judge, whatever I say out of anger and resentment is not backed by Christian faith but as a person who also lives in this secular world, specially in the west that makes you see things from all directions, I have come to a conclusion (regretfully) that Islam is definitely a threat for the existence of humanity. Having said that, I also regretfully have reached to another conclusion that all muslims, since they accept the Quran as their guide, are without any doubt terrorists or at least they endorse terrorism to expand their religion. We have experienced this truth through history books about their past crimes and have also witnessed their crimes both in our country and the rest of the world, the Christians slaughtered savegly in Jimma did nothing but co-existed with the Muslims but we all know what price they paid for being good Christian neighbors, tell me one single dominant Islamic neighborhood in any part of the world that has lived with minority Christians without persecuting or executing Christians but its virtually impossible to count Christian majority neighborhoods that co-existed with Muslims with sound peace and acceptance of others regardless of religion. Dear Anonymous, I wish the world or particularly the muslims have your mind and optimism but unfortunately you will make the biggest mistake to trust them, your own muslim best friend will slaughter your neck if duty calls. I rather be atheist and save my Chruch and people than being a Christian and see the Church I grew up in is burned down and all those Christian elders get their necks ferociously cut off with “gejera”. There has to be a limit for everything, if we had been Christians with some humility limitation, we could have fended off these suckers. But look now, we live in our own country forced to give up our land and rights for their mosques. In many of our own provinces, we can’t be Christians and some places, we will be executed if we ever build a Church, many priests, deacons and Christian families are being served threatening messages to leave or die and they have proved to be serious by killing priests and Christian families, in Harar, Jimma, Wolega, Arsi, Wollo and elsewhere, in Wollo, once dominantly Christian province, home of the one of the greatest civilizations of our universe, home of the Holy Cross and many mystical monasteries and Churches, home of the great Zagwe Dynasty, is now becoming home to Islam fundamentalism that a foreign (French)construction company had to interfere to control the violence in “Kemise” against the Christians by the muslims for building (actually upgrading) a Church, imagine, its in Wollo and now the CIA has put Kemise, Wollo as one of the breeding spots of Islamic extremism, Wollo used to be an iconic Christian province throughout the history of Ethiopia, home of many Iconic Saints and preserving place of one of the greatest copies of the Holy Scriptures and most of all, home of the Four Saint Kings of our Ethiopia one of whom used to be called Prester John by the Europeans as Zera Yacob was called at one time. Anyhow, if a nation puts down arms for the sake of peace, it will be destroyed and the same is true to us Christians, we have to be alerted, zealous and humble while fiercely in defending status, specially at this time where our generation has forgotten its value as true Christians, if it was like the days of Emperor Ne’Akuto Le’Ab who has stopped the flow of the Nile by the power of prayer when the Egyptian government stopped paying stipend for the use of Nile taking advantage of the King’s humble character, we could have prayed out of our ordeals and threats but we are nothing close to that generation so our sacrifice is to die for our nation, Church, Christianity and peaceful future survival of our Children to live and worship God in our inherited Churches whom our fathers have established. My friend anonymous, the muslims have invented a fake muslim king who was converted to Islam and built a mosque in Tigray near the Church of Abraha and Atsbeha build thousands of years ago that has miraculously survived to this day. The next step for them is to covert that to a mosque. That fake muslim king never existed in any historical books but our dear government has put this fantasy king in books and magazines to make the muslims happy, that king is called Al Nejashi. It doesn’t take to be a rocket scientist to know that the Ethiopian Axumite court would ever accept a muslim king to lead the Empire, from all of the empires, an Axumite Empire, come on now, this empire was the first empire to accept Christianity as an official state religion and defender of Christianity when Christians were subjugated by enemies to accept strange religions. Anyway, my dear friend, please do an extensive research, watch the film how our Christian families were murdered in Jimma few years ago and think about it if its worth it to lose our guts for the sake of being westernized to tame a wild animal vowed never to be tamed.
    God Bless.

  6. Assta B. Gettu on

    My dear Ethiopian #56,

    You have hit the nail on the head when you stated, “…the Muslims have invented a fake Muslim king who was converted to Islam….”

    As you know, the Ethiopian Muslims always want to have their own heritage, their own history, and their own Muslim culture by fabricating or spinning or writing a fictitious book. When the Ethiopian king accepted Muhammad’s family and treated them kindly, the Muslim-Arab writers interpreted his kindness to the Muslim refugees as if he had accepted Islam, which is absolutely false.

    To their poor understanding of accepting and entertaining Muslim guests mean accepting Islam because they know Muhammad would never accept a non Muslim person to his house unless that person was converted to Islam.

    Thank you for your comprehensive comment on Islam and its false prophet, Muhammad the rapist, Muhammad the womanizer, Muhammad the deceiver, and Muhammad the self-proclaimed prophet.

  7. Attention Assta B. Gettu on

    PLEASE get yourself a Facebook account! It is a remarkable way to get your voice heard! Christians in Europe and America NEED to hear your message. PLEASE do it now! When you register, look for Dr Thomas Ahmed, who is an apostate from Islam now living in the West.. he is Sudanese and tells of his witnessing Christ while he was a student in India. He is now a published author.. I am inspired by you.. the world NEEDS to hear about Ethiopia, Christianity, and the impact of Islam over the centuries. God Bless You!

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