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The Garima Gospels
Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia

By Judith S. McKenzie and Francis Watson

The Garima Gospels
Hardback, 284 pages £49.95
Published: 2016
ISBN: 9780995494602
Format: 286mm x 213mm
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Subjects: Art & Art History, History, Manar al-Athar, Philosophy and Religion


The three Garima Gospels are the earliest surviving Ethiopian gospel books. They provide glimpses of lost late antique luxury gospel books and art of the fifth to seventh centuries, from the Aksumite kingdom of Ethiopia.  

This book reproduces all of the Garima illuminated pages for the first time, and presents extensive comparative material. It will be an essential resource for those studying late antique art and history, Ethiopia, eastern Christianity, New Testament textual criticism, and illuminated books. 316 colour illustrations.  Preface and photographs by Michael Gevers.

Like most gospel manuscripts, the Garima Gospels contain ornately decorated canon tables which function as concordances of the different versions of the same material in the gospels. Analysis of these tables of numbered parallel passages, devised by Eusebius of Caesarea, contributes significantly to our understanding of the early development of the canonical four gospel collection. The origins and meanings of the decorated frames, portraits of the evangelists, Alexandrian circular pavilion, and the unique image of the Jerusalem Temple are explored.

 

 



 



 

Contributions by
Michael Gervers


Preface by Michael Gervers

Acknowledgements by Judith McKenzie

Abbreviations

Maps



GENERAL INTRODUCTION by Judith McKenzie

Translation of Biblical Texts

Illustrated Biblical Manuscripts

The Four Gospel Collection and the Eusebian Canon Tables

The Present Study Summary



PART I THE GARIMA GOSPEL BOOKS

1. THE WORLD OF THE GARIMA GOSPELS by Judith McKenzie and Miranda Williams

Ethiopian Trade and Technological Developments

Arrival of Christianity in Ethiopia

Construction of Churches

The Aksumite Kingdom as a Regional Power

Ethiopians in Jerusalem and Palestine

Alexandria and Late Antique Egyptian Art

Conclusion



2. THE DISCOVERY AND STUDY OF THE GARIMA GOSPELS by Judith McKenzie

The Garima Gospel Codices

The Discovery and Publication of the Illuminated Pages

Documentation and Analysis of the Texts of the Garima Gospels

A Re-evaluation of the Chronology and the Carbon-14 Dates



3. THE MANUSCRIPTS by Judith McKenzie

Bindings

Covers

Determining Which Illuminated Pages Belong to Which Manuscript

Abba Garima I Illuminated Pages

Abba Garima III Position and Order of the Decorated Pages

Distribution of the Canon Tables

Production of the Illuminated Pages and Texts

Place of Production



PART II IMAGES, ORIGINS, AND MEANINGS by Judith McKenzie

4. THE PORTRAITS OF THE EVANGELISTS

Mark

Standing Evangelists (Matthew, Luke, and John) and a Saint (?Eusebius)

Conclusion



5. ILLUMINATED FRAMES

Origins of Canon Table Frames

Abba Garima III Frames

Abba Garima I Frames

Birds, Plants, and Fruit Bowls

Abba Garima I and III: Two Schools of Painting

Abba Garima II: A Third School of Painting

Relationship of the Abba Garima I and III Frames to Other Frames

Later Ethiopian Frames and the Legacy of the Schools of Abba Garima I and III

Conclusions

Additional Note: The Garima Birds by Linda Macaulay



6. BUILDINGS: ORIGINS AND MEANINGS

The Jerusalem Temple Image in Abba Garima III

Circular Pavilion (Tholos) in Abba Garima I

Tholoi in Carolingian, Greek, Armenian, and Georgian Gospel Books

Tholoi in Later Ethiopian Manuscripts and Their Meaning

Meaning of the Decoration on the Frames

Conclusion



Plates



PART III TEXT AND IMAGE by Francis Watson

7. EUSEBIUS TRANSFORMED

The Eusebian Canons

The Eusebius Portrait

The Preface On the Agreement of the Four Gospels

The Letter to Carpianus: Abba Garima I

The Letter to Carpianus: Abba Garima II and III



8. THE CANON TABLE SEQUENCE

Pages One and Two: Canons III

Page Three: Canons IIIIV

Pages Four and Five: Canons VVII

Pages Six to Eight: Canons VIIIX

The Four Pillared Structure (Tholos)

The Renewed Temple

The Ring



9. THE FOUR EVANGELISTS: TEXTS AND PORTRAITS

The Enumerated Text

Chapters and Titles

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John



10. TEXT, TRANSLATION, AND DATE

The Textual History of the Geez Gospels

On Text-forms and Time-frames

The Textual Milieu

Parallel Translations



Appendix I. The Foliation and Content of the Garima Gospels by Matthew Crawford

Appendix II. John Chrysostom and the Preface of Ps-Ammonius, translations by Francis Watson

Appendix III. Eusebius Letter to Carpianus: Greek and Geez, translations by Francis Watson



Glossary

Bibliography

Illustration Credits

Index

 

 

‘These gospels had been overlooked by scholars, who took them for medieval copies. Carbon-14 analysis seems to suggest that they belong to the late fifth or sixth century.
We are looking at a specimen of late classical art at its most hauntingly exuberant [...] now gathered into one stunningly magnificent volume.
Judith McKenzie (with her colleagues) takes the reader through this scholarly feast with a sure touch and with justified enthusiasm. Here is the evidence for a spread of late classical art with deep roots in the great Hellenistic cities of the East—most notably Alexandria.  But the main excitement of this discovery is that the great gospel book may well have been produced in Ethiopia itself.’
Peter Brown, New York Review of Books, May 2017

'It's not every day that scholars discover new Bible Manuscripts from the ancient world.  It's ever rarer to discover new ones endowed with luxurious painted images. Yet this is preceisely what has happened over the past decade thanks to groundbreaking research into three ancient codices from Ethiopia.
'To put the discovery in perspective, the Abba Garima manuscripts are among the very oldest illustrated Gospels in the world.
'Although the three manuscripts show abundant parallesl to the arts of the wider late antique world, they also demonstrate in dazzling fashion the vitaility of local culture in Ethiopia itself.  In fact, their beauty and sophistication suggest that these were not the first fruits of a tradition about to bloom, but the mature efforts of a tradition that had already been flowering for generations. We owe McKenzie, Watson, and their team a great debt for making these codices accessible to the general public.  Their fine volume will hopefully serve as a stimulus for further research on ancient Ethiopia more broadly, a great crossroads of culture whos significance to world history we are only beginning to appreciate.'
Christian C. Sahner, Research Fellow in History, St John's College, University of Cambridge, Marginalia March 2017

'A magnificent study.'
Christopher Howse, The Telegraph December 2016

'The group of early Christian illuminated manuscripts known as the Garima Gospels -- written in an old Ethiopic translation of the Bible -- are among the very earliest and most important illustrated Christian books. They have never been published in a properly illustrated edition before, nor with a sound scholarly introduction and discussion such as presented here. Judith McKenzie and Francis Watson's remarkable publication of Michael Gervers' photographs is not only the first fundamental presentation of this immensely important set of visual and textual materials, but it is also a record of the state of the manuscript at the moment of its discovery by contemporary scholarship. The volume is a landmark in early Christian studies and in late antique art history.'
Jas Elsner, Professor of Late Antique Art, University of Oxford

'How many movable objects have been in use ever since late Antiquity, in the same place they were produced? The battered and well-thumbed Garima Gospels may never have left the sequestered Ethiopian monastery where they still reside -- and which no woman may enter. The English artist Beatrice Playne first noticed them in 1948 (they were carried out for her to inspect). She perceptively compared them with the Syriac Rabbula Gospels of 586 in Florence. Now Judith McKenzie has taken the lead in publishing and discussing all the illustrated folios for the first time, while Francis Watson's analysis of the canon tables drives home the point that images should not be studied in isolation from the texts they adorn. This attractive and learned book will at last ignite informed debate about one of the most important manuscripts to have survived from Antiquity.'
Garth Fowden, Professor of Abrahamic Faiths, University of Cambridge


 


 


Judith McKenzie is University Research Lecturer, University of Oxford. She lived in a cave while working on The Architecture of Petra (1990), the rock-cut capital of the Nabataeans in Jordan. Her other books include The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt, 300BC–AD700 (2007) and on the sculpture and religious practice at The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur (2 vols, 2013). She is the director of the open-access photo-archive www.manar-al-athar.ox.ac.uk and Principal Investigator of the ERC Advanced Project ‘Monumental Art of the Christian and Early Islamic East: Cultural Identities and Classical Heritage’. Her interest in the Garima Gospels comes from the use of architecture in their illuminations, and the role of influences from places, such as Egypt, alongside the development of a distinctive Ethiopian Christian art.

Francis Watson holds a Research Chair in Biblical Interpretation in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, having previously taught at the University of Aberdeen (1999–2007) and King’s College London (1984–99). His primary research interests lie in the field of canonical and non-canonical gospels and their early reception; recent books include Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective (2014) and The Fourfold Gospel (2016). He is editor of the journal New Testament Studies (Cambridge University Press), and Principal Investigator on the ‘Fourfold Gospel and its Rivals’ project (2012–17), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Michael Gervers is professor of medieval history at the University of Toronto. He teaches a course on the history of Ethiopia and has recently introduced the study of Old Ethiopic (Ge‘ez) language to the curriculum. He has published widely on Ethiopian architecture and material culture and is currently co-authoring a major volume on the ancient church of Yemrehanna Krestos (near Lalibela, Lasta). A new objective, sponsored by the Arcadia Fund, is to document the contemporary but quickly disappearing highland craft of hewing churches from the rock. His thirty-five years of fieldwork has led to an extensive photographic repertory of Ethiopian art and culture http://ethiopia.deeds.utoronto.ca.

 

 



Publication Details:


Binding:
 Hardback , 284 pages
ISBN:
 9780995494602
Format:
 286mm x 213mm

BIC Code:
 1HFGA, 2CST, 3F, ACK, CFL, HBJH, HBLC, HRCC8, HRCF, HRCG
BISAC Code:
  ART015070, BIB000000, HIS001000, HIS037010, LAN001000, REL006000, REL049000
Imprint:
 Manar al-Athar


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