Bible texts in Ge’ez

Introduction

This page focuses on printed editions. For manuscripts, see esp. the Online Reading Room at Hill Museum and Manusript Library and the inventory of libraries and manuscript catalogues at Ménestrel.

(1) Historic prints and church publications

Edited by Johannes Potken (c. 1470 – c. 1525)

Psalterium et anticum canticorum et alia antica biblica aethiopice et syllabarum seu de legendi ratione (Psalter together with Songs of Songs and several other Biblical canticles). Rome: Silber brothers, 1513. [View online at Austrian National Library]

Psalterium in quattuor linguis. Hebraea graeca chaldae [i.e. Ge’ez] latina. Cologne 1518. [Revised text; Google Books]

  • Text reprinted in Walton’s Biblia polyglotta, London 1653ff. [View vol. 1 online]

Edited by Täsfa Ṣəyon [a.k.a. Petrus Aethiopis] (1508–50)

Testamentum Novum cum Epistola Pauli ad Hebraeos. Rome 1548–9 (printed by Valerio Dorico). [View online (Münchener Digitalisierungszentrum)]

  • For information on Täsfa Ṣəyon, you may want to consult Matteo Salvatore and James Lorenzi, “An Ethiopian Scholar in Tridentine Rome: Täsfa Ṣəyon and the Birth of Orientalism”, Itinerario 45, no. 1 (April 2021), 17-46. [DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0165115320000157]
Written by N.N. (16th century)

For a 16th-century codex containing most books of the Old Testament, view Ms. Add. 1570 in the Cambridge University Library

Edited by Hiob Ludolf (1624–1704)

Psalter, 1701.

  • Edition for distribution in Ethiopia through the United East Indies Company. For Ludolf’s scholarly edition of the psalter, see #2 below.

Edited by Thomas Pell Platt (1798–1852)

Novum Testamentum Domini Nostri et Servatoris Jesu Christi aethiopice [The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in Ethiopic]. London: R. Watts, 1830. [Printed at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society; Google Books]

Edited by Johann Ludwig Krapf (1810–81)

Publ. in 1872:

Psalterium Davidis: Aethiopice et Amharice [David’s Psalter in Ge’ez and Amharic]. Basle: Spittler, 1872. [Printed on behalf of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) at the Mission Press in St. Chrischona; view on Google Books]

1874:

Evangelia sacra Domini nostri et Salvatoris Jesu Christi: Aethiopice et Amharice [The Holy Gospels of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in Ge’ez and Amharic]. Basle: Spittler, 1874. [Printed on behalf of the BFBS (and at the special request of the Emperor of Abyssinia) at the Mission Press in St. Chrischona]. [Google Books]

1878:

Epistolae Apostolorum Domini nostri et salvatoris Jesu Christi : aethiopice et amharice [Epistles of the Apostles of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in Ge’ez and Amharic]. Basle: Spittler, 1878. [Printed on behalf of the BFBS at the Mission Press in St. Chrischona]. [Bonn University]

Edited by Jean Marcel Touvier (CM; 1808-88)

[David’s Psalter and Canticles of the Bible.] Translated by Jean Marcel Touvier (CM [‘Vincentians’/’Lazarists’]). Keren: French Mission-Press, 1873.

  • 2nd ed. by Giorgis Kefla Debtera (Fr.). Keren: French Mission-Press, 1885.

Edited by Francesco Pellegrini da Bassano (OFM Cap [Capuchin])

Ḥaddis kidan [The New Testament]. Asmara: Catholic Press, 1920. [View on Bonn University‘s platform]

Bəluy kidan [The Old Testament]. 4 vols. Asmara: Catholic Press, 1922-26 [1915 ff. A.M.].

Edited by Bible Society of Ethiopia

መጽሐፍ ቅዱስ ዘብሉይ ወዘሐዲስ ዘልሳነ ግእዝ (ሰማንያ አሃዱ) [The Holy Bible: The Old Testament and the New Testament in Ge’ez (80 books)]. Addis Ababa: Bible Society of Ethiopia, 2022. [MerebShop]


(2) Former Text-Historical Editions

Edited by Hiob Ludolf (1624–1704):

Maṣḥafa mazmurāt za-Dawit / Hoc est: Psalterium Davidis Aethiopice et Latine, cum duobus impressis & tribus MSStis codicibus diligenter collatum & emendatum, nec non variis lectionibus & notis philologicis illustratum, ut in praefatione pluribus dicetur. Accedunt Aethiopicè tantùm hymni et orationes aliquot vet. et novi testamenti, item canticum canticorum, cum variis lectionibus & notis. [David’s Psalter in Ethiopic and Latin (…); added are some hymns and prayers from the Old and the New Testament, also Songs of Songs (…)]. Frankfurt: Zunner, 1701. [Scholarly edition; Google Books]

Edited by C. F. August Dillmann (1823–94)

Two centuries after Ludolf’s Psalter, August Dillmann planned to publish all the books of the Old Testament in a scholarly edition:

Liber Henoch aethiopice, ad quinque codicum fidem editus cum variis lectionibus. Leipzig: Vogel, 1851. [Google Books]

Biblia Veteris Testamenti aethiopica, in quinque tomos distributa [The Old Testament in Ge’ez, divided in 5 volumes]:

  • vol. 1: Octateuchus Aethiopicus [Genesis – Ruth]. Leipzig: Vogel, 1853-55. [HathiTrust]
  • vol. 2: Libri Rerum, Paralipomenon, Esdrae, Esther [Kings, Chronicles, Esra, Esther]. Leipzig: Vogel, 1861-71 [Bonn Univ.; part 1; part 2]
  • [vol. 3-4 didn’t materialize]
  • vol. 5: Libri Apocryphi: Baruch, epistola Jeremiae, Tobith, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Sapientia, Esdrae Apocalypsis, Esdrae Graecus [Apocryphal books: Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, Tobit, Judith, Jesus Sirach, Wisdom, Revelation of Esdras, Greek Esdras]. Berlin: Asher, 1894. [Bonn Univ.]

Liber Jubilaeorum; Maṣhafa Kufālē sive Liber Jubilaeorum qui idem a Graecis Hē leptē Genesis inscribitur versione Graeca deperdita nunc nonnisi in Geez lingua conservatus nuper ex Abyssinia in Europam allatus (…) [Book of Jubilees (…), called by the Greeks ‘Little Genesis’; the Greek version of the book has been lost and has survived only in the Ge’ez language; it was recently brought from Abyssinia to Europe]. Kiel: van Maack; London: Williams and Norgate, 1859. [Austrian National Library]

  • The academic study of the Book of Jubilees was kindled by Dillmann’s PhD supervisor, Prof. Ewald. Joh. Ludwig Krapf had sent a paper copy of a Ge’ez manuscript to Tübingen University.

“Der aethiopische Text des Joel”, in Die Prophetie des Joel und ihre Ausleger, ed. by A. Merx, p. 449-58. Halle: Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses, 1879. [Google Books]

Supplements

The following publications complement Dillmann’s edition:

  • Genesis. The Octateuch in Ethiopic: According to the Paris Codex […]; part I: Genesis. Ed. J. Oscar Boyd, 1909. [Internet Archive]
  • Exodus and Leviticus. The Octateuch in Ethiopic; Part II: Exodus and Leviticus. Ed. J. Oscar Boyd, 1911. [Probably not yet online]
  • Chronicles. Les Paralipomènes. Ed. by Sylvain Grébaut, 1932. [Internet Archive]
  • Ezra & Nehemiah. Ed. by F. M. Esteves Pereira, 1919. [Internet Archive]
  • Esther. Ed. by F. M. Esteves Pereira, 1913. [Internet Archive]
  • Job. Ed. by F. M. Esteves Pereira, 1907. [Internet Archive]
  • Psalms. Ed. by Hiob Ludolf, 1701. [Google Books]
  • Proverbs. Ed. by H. Pilkington, 1978. [View online]
  • Ecclesiastes. Ed. by Samuel A. B. Mercer, 1931. [Internet Archive]
  • Song of Songs. Ed. by Hugh C. Gleave, 1951.
  • Isaiah. Ed. by Johannes Bachmann, 1893. [HathiTrust]
  • Jeremiah. Die äthiopische Übersetzung des Propheten Jeremias. By J. Schäfers, 1912. (Not an edition, but an important study)
  • Lamentations. Ed. by Johannes Bachmann, 1893. [Internet Archive]
  • Daniel. Ed. by Oscar Löfgren, 1927. [Internet Archive]
  • Hosea. Ed. by Hans F. Fuhs, 1971.
  • Amos. Ed. by F. M. Esteves Pereira, 1917.
  • Micah. Ed. by Hans F. Fuhs, 1968.
  • Dodekapropheton [Hos – Mal]. Ed. by Johannes Bachmann, 1892. [Internet Archive]
  • Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Maleachi. Ed. by Oscar Löfgren, 1930. [Internet Archive]
  • Henoch. Ed. by Johannes P. G. Flemming, 1902. [Internet Archive]
  • Henoch. Ed. by Robert H. Charles. Oxford: Clarendon, 1906.
  • Ascension of Isaiah. Ed. by Robert H. Charles. London: Black, 1900.

(3) Modern Text-Historical Editions

Old Testament
  • Deuteronomy, forthcoming [THEOT principal investigator: Ralph Lee]
  • Ruth, forthcoming [THEOT principal investigator: Daniel Assefa]
  • Jubilees. Ed. by James C. VanderKam. Leuven: Peeters, 1989.
  • 1 Enoch [Ethiopic version (…) in the light of the Aramaic Dead Sea Fragments]. 2 vols. Ed. by M. A. Knibb (with the assistance of E. Ullendorff), 1978.
  • Psalms, forthcoming [THEOT principal investigator: Albert ten Kate]
  • Proverbs. Ed. by H. Pilkington, 1978. PhD diss., Oxford Univ. [View online]
  • Songs of Songs, forthcoming [THEOT principal investigator: Steve Delamarter]
  • Ezekiel. Ed. by M. A. Knibb, 2015. [View introduction]
  • Amos, forthcoming [THEOT principal investigator: Curt Niccum]
  • Obadiah, forthcoming [THEOT principal investigator: Garry Jost]
  • Jonah. Ed. by Jeremy R. Brown, 2019. PhD diss., Catholic Univ. of America (Washington DC).
  • Haggai, forthcoming [THEOT principal investigator: Samuel Aldridge]
  • [Ascension of Isaiah. “Ascensione di Isaia profeta: versione etiopica”, in Ascensio Isaiae: Textus, ed. P. Bettiolo et al., pp. 1-129. Turnhout, 1995]
New Testament
  • Matthew. Ed. by R. Zuurmond, 2001. Aethiopistische Forschungen (AeF) 55 [view ToC]
  • Mark. Ed. by R. Zuurmond, 1989. AeF 27
  • Luke (?)
  • John. Ed. by M. G. Wechsler, 2005.
  • Acts. Ed. by C. Niccum, 2014.
  • Romans. Ed. by Tedros Abraha, 2001. AeF 57 [view ToC]
  • Letters of Captivity [Eph, Phil, Col, Phlm]. Ed. by S. Uhlig and H. Maehlum, 1993. AeF 33
  • Pastoral Epistles [1 Timothy – Titus]. Ed. by Nebeyou Alemu, 2017. PhD diss., Addis Ababa Univ.
  • Hebrews. Ed. by Tedros Abraha, 2004.
  • Catholic Epistles [1 Peter – Jude]. Ed. by J. Hofmann and S. Uhlig, 1993. AeF 29
  • Revelation. Ed. by J. Hofmann, 1967.
Further reading

Assefa, Daniel, Steve Delamarter, Garry Jost, Ralph Lee, and Curt Niccum. “The Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament Project (THEOT): Goals and Initial Findings”, Textus 29, 1 (2020): 80-110, doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/2589255X-02901002


(4) Digital Editions

A database with Ge’ez bible texts in the public domain (see publications # 2 above) was created by Ran HaCohen and is online available at

For apps with Ge’ez Biblical texts, see e.g.

There is a Ge’ez Bible module available for the Bible Software called Accordance

  • See introduction to the Mahibere Hawariyat edition (transcribed by the Capuchin Franciscan Research and Retreat Center)