Early-Ethiopian and Other Eastern Illuminated Gospel Books: Text and Image

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According to tradition, the Garima Gospels, hidden for centuries in the Abba Garima Monastery in the Ethiopian highlands, were the result of a miracle in which God stopped the sun in the sky to allow Abba Garima to complete them in a single day. They are a unique testament to the Christian culture of ancient Ethiopia, which is at once familiar but also entirely exotic. The colloquium will place the Garima Gospels firmly within the historical and artistic contexts of the late antique Mediterranean world, with the hope of stimulating greater awareness and further research on these remarkable books, which are amongst the earliest and most important illustrated gospel books to have survived from Antiquity.

The colloquium marks the publication of The Garima Gospels: Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia, by Judith McKenzie, Francis Watson et al., with photographs by Michael Gervers. It will be accompanied by an exhibition of all of the Garima illuminated pages, The Hidden Gospels of Abba Garima, Treasures of the Ethiopian Highlands in the Outreach Room (Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LU), to run until the end of Michaelmas term (18 December).

Organised by Judith McKenzie, Miranda Williams, and Foteini Spingou.

Sponsored by the Classics Faculty, the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, and the ERC Advanced Project, Monumental Art of the Christian and Early Islamic East, directed by Judith McKenzie.

Contact email: foteini.spingou@classics.ox.ac.uk

Audience: Free and open to all, but please register in advance


Introducing the Garima Gospels

CHAIR: Bryan Ward-Perkins (Oxford)

10.00 Opening Remarks: Judith McKenzie (Oxford)

10.10 James Howard-Johnston (Oxford), The India Trade and the Coming of Christianity to Ethiopia

10.40 Judith McKenzie, The Garima Illuminations: Architecture, Origins, and Meanings

11.30–11.50: Morning tea

CHAIR: Elizabeth Key Fowden (Cambridge)

11.50 Francis Watson (Durham), The Garima Canon Tables: Icons of Harmony

12.40–2.00: Lunch


CHAIR: Neil McLynn (Oxford)

2.00 Jaś Elsner (Oxford), Reflections on the Garima Gospels in Response to the New Monograph

2.40 Michael Gervers (Toronto), Old Rock-Hewn Churches with Manuscripts and New Ones Without

3.10 Garth Fowden (Cambridge), Response and Discussion

3.30–3.50: Afternoon tea

Canon Tables in Other Eastern Gospel Books

CHAIR: Theo van Lint (Oxford)

3.50 David Taylor (Oxford), Syriac Canon Tables

4.20 Nikoloz Aleksidze (Oxford), Georgian Illuminated Gospels: 9th–14th Centuries

4.50 Emilio Bonfiglio (Vienna), Texts on the Meaning of Armenian Canon Table Frames

5.20 Closing remarks: Elizabeth Jeffreys (Oxford)

5.30: Refreshments


Public Engagement with Research

Contact name: Foteini Spingou

Contact email: foteini.spingou@classics.ox.ac.uk

Audience: Open to all