Unexpected news from Ethiopia

I have a passion for medieval illuminated manuscripts, although I certainly don’t claim any expertise in that subject.  I’m just fascinated by the art and craftsmanship that went into producing books back then.  If you’re ever bored, look at the Catherine of Cleves Book of the Hours, digitally on display here.  Now poke around in Christian Prayer, the modern equivalent, with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.  The hideous modernist artwork stands in stark contrast to the beauty of the medieval book of hours.  Sometimes I think I was born a few centuries too late.

We generally think of medieval Europe when we think of illuminated manuscripts, but the earliest Christian illuminated manuscript has been discovered in Ethiopia, of all places. Well, not exactly “discovered.”  It turns out that the Garima Gospels, which were thought to be twelfth century, have been radiocarbon dated to between AD 330 and 650.  The Gospels are written in Ge’ez, a Semitic language that is the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  You can read more about the discovery at the Art Newspaper site.

Garamina Gospels

h/t to the New Liturgical Movement for the link.

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