|His Imperial Majesty Emperor formally accepting the title|
"Defender of the Faith":
...Holy Fathers, We have welcomed the title you have given Us,
Defender of the Faith, with great honour. May Almighty God grace your
name. May God welcome your work. We have received this title given
Us by you Holy Fathers, with religious reverence. May your prayers
help Us in Our effort to fulfil the task entrusted to Us.
|We in Ethiopia have one of the oldest versions of the Bible, but however old the version may be, in |
whatever language it may be written, the word remains one and the same. It transcends all
boundaries of empires and all conceptions of race. It is eternal.
No doubt you all remember reading in the Acts of the Apostles of how Philip baptised the Ethiopian
official. He is the first Ethiopian on record to have followed Christ, and from that day onwards the
Word of God has continued to grow in the hearts of Ethiopians. And I might say for myself that
from early childhood I was taught to appreciate the Bible and my love for it increases with the
passage of time. All through my troubles I have found it a cause of infinite comfort. "Come unto
Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" ~ Who can resist an invitation
so full of compassion?
Because of this personal experience in the goodness of the Bible, I was resolved that all my
countrymen should also share its great blessing, and that by reading the Bible they should find
Truth for themselves. Therefore, I caused a new translation to be made from our ancient language
into the language which the old and the young understood and spoke.
Today man sees all his hopes and aspirations crumbling before him. He is perplexed and knows
not whither he is drifting. But he must realise that the Bible is his refuge, and the rallying point for
all humanity. In it man will find the solution of his present difficulties and guidance for his future
action, and unless he accepts with clear conscience the Bible and its great Message, he cannot hope
for salvation. For my part I glory in the Bible.
Haile Selassie I
|The Revised Amharic Bible|
|Ethiopia, an island of Christianity, is recorded in history as having received first the Old Testament, |
and then the New Testament earlier than most of the countries of the world. When, in Old
Testament times, she received the Law, and when, in New Testament times, she received the
Gospel, she ensured that the Scriptures were translated into the ancient language of Ge'ez. From
those times to this, various books both spiritual and material profit have periodically been
compiled and written in Ge'ez. We remember with deep gratitude those fathers of old who, as time
and opportunity allowed, worked with much care and labour and have left us books for the
preservation of the Faith and for the increase learning and knowledge.
In former ages, Ge'ez was the language of the country and so, even without an interpreter, the
people had no difficulty in examining and understanding the books; but just as one age succeeds
another, so Amharic, which sprang from Ge'ez, gradually grew until it became the common speech
of the people, taking the place of Ge'ez. At that time, Ge'ez was understood by the learned people
of the Church, but was not readily understood by the ordinary people. Arising from this, the
scholars in their preaching and work have for centuries been forced in their teaching to interpret
from Ge'ez into Amharic. And these conditions prevailed until Our own times.
Since the time when, by God's goodness, We were chosen to ascend the Throne of Ethiopia and
while We have been leading Our people to progress in learning and knowledge, We have laboured
in every way possible with and eye to their growth in spiritual and material learning and
knowledge. In order to reach this goal, and realizing that the first necessity was to have the
Scriptures translated into Amharic and printed in bulk, in 1918 when We were still Heir to the
Throne and Regent, We chose from amongst the scholars some to translate the Scriptures and to
produce the translation alongside the Ge'ez. After this, too at Our private expense We had a
printing machine brought from Europe, established a Printing Press, and began to have books
printed. Some of the books which We caused to be printed in Ge'ez and Amharic at that time, read
in churches and homes, have been found profitable to the establishment of faith and to spiritual
strengthening. After that, noting that the mind of the people continued to grow in understanding,
We arranged for a word-for-word translation into Amharic of the books of the Old and New
Testaments. Our scholars completed the translation and presented it to Us in 1931, and We
ordered its printing. While the book was still in the Press, however, enemy aggression in 1935
halted the work. Even so, when in exile in London, We gave permission for this same Bible to be
printed by photo-offset, and it was duly issued. By this Book, Our Ethiopian subjects in exile in
many countries held fast to their faith and presented their petitions to Almighty God as they
awaited the restoration of Ethiopia.
When, all honour and praise be to God, We had brought about the liberation of Ethiopia and had
entered Our Empire, realizing that there ought to be a revision from the original Hebrew and Greek
of the existing translation of the Bible, We chose scholars qualified for the work of Biblical training
and on March 6th, 1947 set up a Bible Committee in Our Palace. The Committee worked with
diligence for some five years, and on April 19th, 1952 presented the translation to Us. We give
heartfelt thanks to all who helped Us in this work.
All the ancient Scriptures were written for Our instruction, in order that through the
encouragement they give Us, we may maintain Our hope with fortitude. Because We desire that
the light which comes from the Scriptures may shine to all, this Bible by Our command and will has
been revised and printed in the Thirty-First year of Our reign.
Haile Selassie I
July 23, 1961
|Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, 1918-1967; Published by:|
The Imperial Ethiopian Ministry of Information, Publication and Foreign Languages
Press Department, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1967, p. 616-618 Speech: July 23, 1961.
|In 1962, a new Amharic translation from Ge'ez was printed, again (after the first one had some
errors) with the patronage of the Emperor. The preface by Emperor Haile Selassie I is dated "1955"
( E.C.), and the 31st year of his reign (i.e. AD 1962 in the Gregorian Calendar), and states that it was
translated by the Bible Committee he convened between AD 1947 and 1952, "realizing that there
ought to be a revision from the original Hebrew and Greek of the existing translation of the Bible".
It included the 66 books of the proto canon(i.e., those held canonical in common with Protestant
and Catholic Christians), as the 5 narrow canon deuterocanonical books were published
separately. The five narrow canon Ethiopian deuterocanonical books comprise 1 Enoch(Henok;
different from the standard editions of Ge'ez manuscripts A~Q by foreign academics), Jubilees(
Ge'ez:Mets'hafe Kufale) and I, II, and III Meqabyan(substantially different from I, II, and III
The 81 book Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Bible, including the deuterocanonicals, 46
books of the Old Testament and 35 books of the New Testament, was published in 1986. This
version incorporates a few minor changes or corrections to the 1962 Amharic text of the New
Testament, but the text of the Old Testament and Deuterocanon are identical to those previously
published under Haile Selassie I.