The Garima Gospels
Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia
By Judith S. McKenzie and Francis Watson
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.
Preface by Michael Gervers
Acknowledgements by Judith McKenzie
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
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
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
Standing Evangelists (Matthew, Luke, and John) and a Saint (?Eusebius)
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
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
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
9. THE FOUR EVANGELISTS: TEXTS AND PORTRAITS
The Enumerated Text
Chapters and Titles
10. TEXT, TRANSLATION, AND DATE
The Textual History of the Geez Gospels
On Text-forms and Time-frames
The Textual Milieu
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
‘The meticulous scholarship in evidence throughout The Garima Gospels is worthy of the series in which it appears
‘Lavishly illustrated volume, with its 268 colour pictures and fifty-two full-page plates.’
J. K. Elliott, TLS 2 June 2017
‘Judith McKenzie (with her colleagues) takes the reader through this scholarly fest with a sure touch and with justified enthusiasm. Here is the evidence for a spread of a late classical art with deep roots in the great Hellenistic cities of the East – most notably Alexandria – for whose existence she has long been a passionate advocate.’
Peter Brown, NYRB 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 traditiona bout to blook, 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.
New Titles List
Judith S. McKenzie
Manar al-Athar Monographs
- Bayt Farhi and the Sephardic Palaces of Ottoman Damascus in the Late 18th and 19th Centuries
- The Garima Gospels - Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia