Ethiopian prayer book, mid-20th century

Emory University

Pitts Theology Library

1531 Dickey Drive, Suite 560

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Title: Ethiopian prayer book, mid-20th century
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 462
Extent: .25 cubic feet (1 box)
Abstract:Prayer book containing the Psalms and various prayers from the Bible.
Language:Materials entirely in Ge'ez.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Purchase, 2020.


[after identification of item(s)], Ethiopian prayer book, MSS 462, Archives and Manuscript Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.


Processed by Armin Siedleck and Brandon Wason, January 2020.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

This prayer book is a Ge'ez manuscript volume on parchment. The date of the manuscript is not included, but can be infered from two of the illustrations on leaves 86 recto and 99 verso, which mention the name of a commander of Ethiopian forces in World War II, loyal to Emperor Haile Selassie. The name of the general is clearly written above the illustrations as as Dejazmach (commander) Mengesha Jembere along with his son's name also identified as Mamo Mengesha.

The name of the scribe is given in the last four lines of the text (leaf 163 recto) as Merigeta Haregewoin with his baptismal name Woldemaria. Merigeta is the title of a liturgical authority in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church: ʼO ʼegeziʼo ʻeqabani waʼadehanani ʼemakara śegā wanafesa laṣaḥafihu, Marige̓tā Ḥaragawayene, Wasema ṭemeqatuya Waledamareyāme.

The manuscript volume is bound in blind-stamped, panelled goatskin.

Scope and Content Note

The text contains the book of Psalms (leaves 5 recto - 127 recto), selected biblical prayers and canticles (leaves 127 verso - 140 verso: Exodus 15:1-9 - Deuteronomy 32, 1:21, 22-43 - 1 Samuel 2: 1-10 - Isaiah 26, 38 : 1-20, 26 - 2 Chronicles 33 : 1-13 - Jonah 2: 1 - selections from Daniel - Habakkuk 3:1-19 - Luke 1: 47-55, 68-79 - Luke 2: 25-32, Songs of Songs (leaves 141 recto - 150 recto), daily readings in praise of Mary, Mother of Jesus (leaves 151 recto - 163 recto). Each section is marked by an ornamental banner illustration.

There are 5 miniature paintings: King David playing the harp (full page, leaf 4 recto), Uriah the Hittite speaking to David (half page, leaf 11 verso), Division of Jesus' garments below the crucified Christ (full page, leaf 19 recto, covered by an attached green cloth); Commander Mengesha Jebere reading a sacred text, attended by his servant who is holding a rifle (half page, leaf 86 recto), Mengesha Jembere and his son Mamo Mengesha shooting and killing enemy soldiers (full page, leaf 99 recto).

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1 1 Ethiopian prayer book, mid-20th century.