Ethiopian Orthodox monk from Debre Damo Monastery with an illuminated Bible

The Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon is a version of the Christian Bible used in the two Oriental Orthodox churches of the Ethiopian and Eritrean traditions: the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church. At 81 books, it is the largest and most diverse biblical canon in traditional Christendom.

Western scholars have classified the books of the canon into two categories — the narrower canon, which consists mostly of books familiar to the West, and the broader canon, which includes nine additional books.

It is not known to exist at this time as one published compilation. Some books, though considered canonical, are nonetheless difficult to locate and are not even widely available in the churches' home countries of Ethiopia and Eritrea.[1][2]

Narrower canon

Old Testament

The Orthodox Tewahedo narrower Old Testament canon contains the entire established Hebrew protocanon. Moreover, with the exception of the first two books of Maccabees, the Orthodox Tewahedo canon also contains the entire Catholic deuterocanon. In addition to this, the Orthodox Tewahedo Old Testament includes the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Ezra, and 4 Ezra, which also appear in the canons of other Christian traditions. Unique to the Orthodox Tewahedo canon are the Paralipomena of Jeremiah (4 Baruch), Jubilees, Enoch, and the three books of Meqabyan.

The books of Lamentations, Jeremiah, and Baruch, as well as the Letter of Jeremiah and 4 Baruch, are all considered canonical by the Orthodox Tewahedo churches. Additionally, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Books of Ethiopian Maccabees are also part of the canon; while they share a common name they are completely different from the books of Maccabees that are known or have been canonized in other traditions. Finally, within the Orthodox Tewahedo tradition, 3 Ezra is called Second Ezra, 4 Ezra is called Ezra Sutu'el, and the Prayer of Manasseh is incorporated into the Second Book of Chronicles.

New Testament

The Orthodox Tewahedo narrower New Testament canon consists of the entire 27 book Christian protocanon, which is almost universally accepted across Christendom.[1]

Broader canon

The broader canon adds to the 27 books of the New Testament the following:[3]

The Ethiopic Didascalia, or Didesqelya, is a book of Church order in 43 chapters, distinct from the Didascalia Apostolorum, but similar to books I–VII of the Apostolic Constitutions, where it most likely originates.[2]

The broader canon seems to have been created by Ethiopian scholars commenting on the Fetha Negest law code, which says that the canon contains 81 books, but only lists 73. The additional eight books were those presumed to be missing from the list.[3]

Translation into English

A project to translate the complete Ethiopian canon into English for the benefit of Ethiopian expatriates is underway.[4]

List of books in the Orthodox Tewahedo Bible

In the Old Testament

List of Old Testament books in the Orthodox Tewahedo Bible:[1]

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Numbers
  5. Deuteronomy
  6. Joshua
  7. Judges
  8. Ruth
  9. I and II Samuel
  10. I and II Kings
  11. I Chronicles
  12. II Chronicles (incl. the Prayer of Manasseh)
  13. Jubilees
  14. Enoch
  15. I Ezra[5]
  16. II Ezra[5]
  17. Ezra Sutuel[5]
  18. Tobit
  19. Judith
  20. Esther
  21. I, II and III Meqabyan (Similarly named, but not the same as the four Greek Books of the Maccabees)
  22. Job
  23. Psalms
  24. Messalë (Proverbs ch 1–24)
  25. Tägsas (Proverbs ch 25–31)
  26. Wisdom of Solomon
  27. Ecclesiastes
  28. Song of Songs
  29. Isaiah
  30. Jeremiah (incl. Baruch, Lamentations, Letter of Jeremiah, and 4 Baruch)
  31. Ezekiel
  32. Daniel
  33. Hosea
  34. Amos
  35. Micah
  36. Joel
  37. Obadiah
  38. Jonah
  39. Nahum (or Nahium)
  40. Habakkuk
  41. Zephaniah
  42. Haggai
  43. Zechariah
  44. Malachi
  45. Sirach
  46. Josippon

In the New Testament

List of New Testament books in the Orthodox Tewahedo Bible, including the broader canon:[1]

  1. Matthew
  2. Mark
  3. Luke
  4. John
  5. Acts
  6. Romans
  7. I Corinthians
  8. II Corinthians
  9. Galatians
  10. Ephesians
  11. Philippians
  12. Colossians
  13. I Thessalonians
  14. II Thessalonians
  15. I Timothy
  16. II Timothy
  17. Titus
  18. Philemon
  19. Hebrews
  20. I Peter
  21. II Peter
  22. I John
  23. II John
  24. III John
  25. James
  26. Jude
  27. Revelation
  28. Sinodos
    • Ser`atä Seyon (30 canons)
    • Te'ezaz (71 canons)
    • Gessew (56 canons)
    • Abtelis (81 canons)
  29. I Covenant
  30. II Covenant
  31. Ethiopic Clement[6]
  32. Ethiopic Didascalia[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (2003). "The Bible." Available online at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's website. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b Cowley, R.W. (1974), "The Biblical Canon Of The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Today", Ostkirchliche Studien, 23: 318–323, retrieved 30 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b G. A. Mikre-Sellassie (1993), "The Bible and its Canon in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church", The Bible Translator, 44(1): 111–123. doi:10.1177/026009359304400102
  4. ^ The Official Web Site of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible Project
  5. ^ a b c Cowley 1974, footnote 4.
  6. ^ a b Different from the traditional version (Wanger 2011, p. 25)

Further reading

Broader Canon Preceded byBible:Revelation BibleBooks of the Bible End