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In a previous Forum article, in February of 2007, I reported on the Ethiopian Manuscript Imaging Project (EMIP) and its work in locating, digitizing, and cataloguing Ethiopian manuscripts in North America. At that time, we had located and digitized 105 codices and 134 magic scrolls that were unknown and uncatalogued. All are in the hands of private owners, dealers, and university libraries.

Since that time, many more manuscripts have come to light. In fact, we have located and digitized as many manuscripts in the last six months as in the previous eighteen months. The totals now stand at 245 codices and 294 magic scrolls. And this fall, we have another fifty-nince codices lined up to digitize. Best of all, the images of these manuscripts are ready to go online and be made available to anyone with an internet connection. In this article we will report on these recent developments and look ahead a bit to what seem to be the next steps.

The Owners and Collections Beginning in the spring of 2005, it has been our privilege to work with manuscript owners across the United States and into Canada. Owners include (in chronological order) Paul Herron (Cornelius, Oregon), Elizabeth Bennet (Denver Colorado), Blake and Claire Marwick (Williams, Oregon), Peter Whisnant (New Orleans, Louisiana), Sheppard and Sharon Earl (Salem, Oregon), Trinity Western University (Langley, British Columbia, Canada), Lee Kirk and the Tsunami Bookshop (Eugene, Oregon), Hazel Kahan (New York), Luigi Focanti (Salt Lake City, Utah), University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History (Eugene, Oregon), Mount Angel Monastery Library (Mount Angel, Oregon), Gerald Weiner (Highland Park, Chicago), Theodore Bernhardt, Jr. (New Jersey), Abilene Christian University (Abilene, Texas), Mohammad Alwan (Belmont, Massachusetts), Daniel Holcomb (Portland, Oregon), Getatchew Haile (Collegeville, Minnesota), and Jim Subers (Overland Park, Kansas). In addition, there are owners from outside North America: Dr. Ian Mac Lennan (London, England) and Daniel Alemu (Jerusalem, Israel). Some of these private collections represent collections that are among the largest in North America. We have shot forty-five in the Bennett collection, fifty in the Alwan collection, fifty-four in the Marwick collection, and seventy-one in the Weiner collection (with another thirty-eight or so on the way).

Interesting Manuscripts I have been to the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) four times now to work with Professor Getatchew Haile in cataloguing the contents of these manuscripts. The collection is filled with fascinating stories of the manuscripts. Just a couple of examples will have to suffice. Weiner codex 56 (SGD 161) is a Psalter that was produced for the Emperor Menelik (1865-1913) and passed into the hands of relatives. A note and stamp signify as much on folio 124r. Weiner Codex 30 (SGD 135) is a large (313 x 246 x 72 mm) copy of the Four Gospels. Though the manuscript is dated to the nineteenth or twentieth century, it contains fully seventy-eight miniatures in an artistic style reminiscent of seventeenth century Ethiopian art. Weiner Codex 6 (SGD 89, Weiner Codex 45 (SGD 150), and Subers Codex 1 (SGD 226) all have folio numbers stamped in them in the distinctive way that reveals that they were part of the Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library project of the 1970s. That project microfilmed thousands of manuscripts in Ethiopia. Now, these manuscripts are in North America. Subers Codex 4 (SGD 229) contains a "Theological Treatise about the Three-Birth Controversy" with information unknown from any other source. Similarly, Weiner Codex 41 (SGD 146) contains ordination rituals known from only one other (unpublished) manuscript in the library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa. Ian Mac Lennan&apos;s two Psalters (SGD S1 and S2) both came from the mountain fortress of Maqdala in 1868, where British forces faced off against the forces of King Tewodros in an attempt to free several hostages. One of the Psalters, scorched in the fires of Maqdala, was brought back to England by a Major Levison. The other was brought back by one of the captives, none other than man who first gained fame as Henry Layard&apos;s local assistant in the excavations at Nineveh, Hormudz Rassam. After his work with Layard, he became an emissary of the British government and was sent as a messenger to King Tewodros to demand the release of the missionary captives. Unfortunately, he himself became a captive until the British expeditionary force, under the direction of Field Marshal Robert Napier, arrived and effected the release of all the captives. These few examples do not begin to indicate the richness of the collection.

A Wealth of Manuscript Illuminations There are now 1080 miniatures photographed among the pages of the codices. Perhaps 60 percent or more of these were added to the manuscripts within the last few years, apparently for the purposes of making them attractive to foreign buyers. We have identified several distinctive artistic hands and given them names like "the Speckled Garment Artist" (responsible for illuminations in more than thirty manuscripts), "the beautiful artist" (responsible for illuminations in more than fifteen manuscripts), "the red box artist" and "the partial margin artist." A couple of artists have even attempted very credible replications of the style of the "Ground Hornbill Artist," known to us from manuscripts like the Bodleian Library&apos;s MS. Aeth. e.28, Harp of Praise manuscript. This manuscript, along with sumptuous photos of the Ground Hornbill Artist&apos;s work, was advertised in the Sam Fogg catalogue 17 (called Ethiopian Art), in 2001, selling for the hefty sum of £40,000. It would seem that enterprising businesspeople in Ethiopian have been reading.

Movements of Manuscripts Our project has documented something of the undulating nature of the market of Ethiopian manuscripts in North America. Four manuscripts that we have previously digitized in the collections of dealers have come around to us in the hands of other dealers. This fact underscores the value of "capturing" the manuscript long enough to create a new entity from it: a digital record of its content and scribal and codicological features. It will be recalled that the project takes two sets of images. The first is a set of "down shots" to capture all of the textual content of the manuscript. A second pass produces 50-150 detail, close-up shots of scribal practice and codicology. All of these are, among other things, bound up into a single pdf file for ease of navigation through the collection of images. In some cases, this new entity will exist alongside the original manuscript. But, over time, many of the manuscripts will continue their journey from buyer to seller to seller, some becoming lost.

Plans to Publish Catalogues and Handlists Our project has the good fortune to have world-class scholars of Ethiopian studies involved in the process of cataloguing the manuscripts. Professor Getatchew has fully analyzed the first 105 codices and 134 magic scrolls. A Catalogue of Previously Uncatalogued Ethiopian Manuscripts in North America, Volume 1, is very nearly ready to go to a publisher. Professor Getatchew and I have concluded a preliminary analysis of codices 106-219. These will be included in volume two of the catalog. Dr. Veronika Six, of the Katalogisierung der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland in Hamburg, has begun work on the magic scrolls (SGD MagSc numbers 135-294) to be included in volume two. The work on volume two is already well underway and runs to about 320 pages. Similarly, we have begun work on volume three, which already includes information for codices 220-245. While the detailed work of preparing catalogues goes forward, we plan to submit handlists for volume one to the Journal of Semitic Studies and for volume two to the journal Aethiopica.

Manuscript Images to Go Online at HMML&apos;s Vivarium Website Perhaps the most sensational news is that the entire collection of manuscript images every folio of every manuscript from all the collections except one is projected to be available online within a matter of weeks. The Hill Museum and Manuscript Library has a website called Vivarium, which features manuscript images. From the outset, HMML&apos;s director, Fr. Columba Stewart, has supported our work in a number of ways. The first 178 codices are available at http://www.hmml.org/vivarium/sgd.htm , thanks to the labors of technical services expert Wayne Torborg.

Report at SBL A full report on the work of the project will be delivered at the annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting in November in San Diego in the Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible section. This illustrated presentation will include a demonstration of the website mentioned above.

Support of EMIP We wish to express our profound appreciation to those who have supported the work of EMIP: a $5,000 grant from the Lilly/Association of Theological Schools Theological Scholars&apos; Grant Program, $500 from Blake and Claire Marwick, $18,000 from the Gerald and Barbara Weiner Family Foundation, and $4,000 in matching funds from Morgan Stanley. These funds have made it possible for me to hire and train some excellent assistants for work on the project, Roger Rundell, Jeremy Brown, and Erik Young, who join a host of my previous students who have assisted in a volunteer capacity on the project.

Steve Delamarter, George Fox University

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Citation: Steve Delamarter, " More Ethiopian Manuscripts in North America," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited Sept 2007]. Online:http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=736

 
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