Frantsouzoff S. A. On the Bible canon in Ethiopia (according to the Fətḥa nägäśt)

Serge A. Frantsouzoff
Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences;
Saint Petersburg State University;
National Research University Higher School of Economics — Saint Petersburg
St Petersburg, Russia


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УДК 22.01(63) 
DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2019-4(6)-153-160


ABSTRACT. This article examines the problem of the canonicity of biblical books, mostly veterotestamental, in Christian Ethiopia. The author demonstrates its insufficient elaboration and the necessity of addressing the primary sources. Among them a special place is reserved for the Ethiopian code of law Fətḥa nägäśt which is a translation of the Copto-Arabic Nomocanon composed in AD 1238 by the Coptic churchman Abūʼl-Faḍāʼil Ibn al-ʽAssāl. Its second chapter is completely devoted to the Bible canon. The article provides a comparison of the Arabic original of that chapter with its translation into Gəəz and demonstrates that the idea of a canon of 81 biblical books (including 46 veterotestamental ones) proves to be of Ethiopian origin. It is established that the veterotestamental canon represented in the Fətḥa nägäśt almost totally coincides with the contents of the Old Testament in the earliest manuscript of the complete Arabic version of the Bible, which was copied in the twenties of the sixteenth century AD among the Orthodox people and is now conserved in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences under the shelf-mark D 226 (in 3 volumes). It brings evidence that in the Christian Orient the adoption of the canonicity of veterotestamental books depended not only on the confessional factor, but also on the ethno-linguistic one.


KEYWORDS: Bible canon, books of the Old Testament, Copto-Arabic Nomocanon, Abūʼl-Faḍāʼil Ibn al- ʽAssāl, Ethiopian code of law Fətḥa nägäśt, composition of the Gəəz version of the Bible



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