(Final extension until: 28th July 2017)
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm; but check availability before coming, due to teaching, phone: 01865 288391.
Where: Outreach Room, Ground Floor, Ioannou
Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66, St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LU.
Come and see the Gospels of Abba Garima which
have remained hidden for centuries in the Ethiopian highlands in the Abba
Garima Monastery – which no woman may enter. According to tradition, God
miraculously stopped the sun in the sky to allow Saint Abba Garima to complete
them in a single day. Translated from Greek into Ethiopic, their production has
remained an enigma. They are the earliest testament of the lost art of the
Christian Aksumite kingdom of Ethiopia, which flourished around AD 350–650.
Their vivid, finely painted illuminations are at once familiar but also entirely
exotic, combining Ethiopian features with those seen elsewhere in Christendom.
For the first time, this photo-exhibition presents to the public all of the
illuminated pages of these remarkable books, which are amongst the earliest and
most important of the rare illustrated gospels books to have survived from
The three Garima Gospels, as the
earliest surviving Ethiopian gospel books, are the earliest record of the
translations of the Greek text of the four gospels into Ge‘ez, the language of
the Ethiopian Church. They include the oldest
extant set of portraits of the evangelists as frontispieces to their respective
gospels, which became the norm in later illuminated gospel books. Like most gospel manuscripts, the Garima
Gospels have ornately decorated “canon tables” which function as concordances
of the different versions of the same material in the gospels. They also
contain a unique image of the Jerusalem Temple, while an Alexandrian circular
pavilion provides a missing link between pagan Hellenistic and Roman versions
of the motif and later Christian ones. The Garima Gospels provide glimpses of
lost late antique luxury gospel books and art in Ethiopia, as well as in the
Christian East. Their artwork is closely related to Syriac, Armenian, Greek,
and Georgian gospel books and to the art of late antique (“Coptic”) Egypt,
Nubia, and Himyar (Yemen). The Garima texts and decoration demonstrate how a
distinctive Christian culture developed in Aksumite Ethiopia, while also
belonging to the mainstream late antique Mediterranean world.
The exhibition accompanies
the publication of The Garima Gospels: Early Illuminated Gospel Books from
Ethiopia, by Judith McKenzie, Francis Watson, Michael Gervers, et al.,
the Garima Gospels firmly within the historical and artistic contexts of the
late antique Mediterranean world.
Organised by Judith McKenzie, Miranda
Williams, and Foteini Spingou, with Michael Gervers’ photographs.
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
email: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact phone: (01865)