Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon

The Orthodox Tewahedo churches within the Oriental Orthodox Church currently have the largest and most diverse biblical canon in traditional Christendom. Western scholars have classified the books of the Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon into two categories — the narrower canon, which consists mostly of books familiar to the west, and the broader canon. While the main purpose of this article is to discuss and highlight the books that are exclusive to the broader canon, it is impossible to do this without at least some discussion of the narrower canon. The Orthodox Tewahedo broader canon in its fullest form includes the narrower canon in its entirety, as well as 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. While the narrower canon has indeed been published as one compilation, there may be no real emic distinction between the broader canon and the narrower canon, especially in so far as divine inspiration and scriptural authority are concerned — and more especially among clerics who may have a greater access to all of the writings. The idea of two such classifications may be nothing more than etic taxonomic conjecture.[1][2]

Narrower biblical canon

Old Testament

The Orthodox Tewahedo narrower Old Testament canon contains the entire 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. However, it is not always clear as to how these writings are arranged or divided. In some lists, they may simply fall under the title "Jeremiah," while in others, they are divided various ways into separate books. Moreover, the book of Proverbs is divided into two books — Messale (Prov. 1–24) and Tägsas (Prov. 25–31). Additionally, while the books of Jubilees and Enoch are fairly well-known among western scholars, 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan are not. The three books of Meqabyan are often called the "Ethiopian Maccabees," but are completely different from the books of Maccabees that are known and/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]

Other Languages