Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 22 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Ndoc Suma
home iconChurch
line break icon

Rare manuscripts valued at more than $1 million given to Catholic University

CUA With Permission

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 12/26/16

Christian, Islamic, and "magic" scrolls make up this incredible collection students will be able to study

The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., received a rare and beautiful gift recently — a collection of religious manuscripts from Ethiopia dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The manuscripts, given by Chicago collectors Gerald and Barbara Weiner, include more than 125 Christian manuscripts, 215 Islamic manuscripts, and 350 “magic” scrolls. Valued at over $1 million dollars, this is one of the most important collections of Ethiopian religious manuscripts in North America.

web-manuscript-004-cua-with-permission
CUA With Permission

Made from goat, sheep, and calf hides, the manuscripts reflect Ethiopia’s still-flourishing culture of handmade books. According to a press release announcing the acquisition, “the manuscripts range in size from less than 2 inches to more than a foot long, and many contain ornate hand-painted illuminations. The so-called ‘magic’ scrolls are personalized prayer scrolls meant to be rolled into amulets and worn on a person’s neck. Each one is designed to help with a specific physical ailment, from headaches to fatigue.”

The Weiners gifted the manuscripts in hopes that students could use them for research. Assistant professor of Semitic languages and literatures Aaron Butts says he plans to incorporate the manuscripts into his classes immediately, including a course he will teach next spring on editing texts of the Christian Near East.

web-manuscript-003-cua-with-permission
CUA With Permission

“The Gerald and Barbara Weiner Collection at CUA provides a wonderful resource for the study of Ethiopian Christianity, which is part of the broader Christian tradition. Thus, the housing and study of the collection falls within the purview of the mission of the Catholic University of America,” he said. “By studying these manuscripts, we can learn about the rich diversity of the Christian tradition.”

web-manuscript-002-cua-with-permission
CUA With Permission

The collection includes probably the most significant body of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside of Ethiopia. “These Islamic manuscripts provide unparalleled access to the study of Islam in the Horn of Africa.” said Butts “…Muhammad is said to have spent time in Ethiopia, so the country has a long connection with Islam. Ethiopia also provides another place in which Islam and Christianity have existed side by side for centuries, sometimes peacefully and sometimes not (from both sides). Given the current political climate worldwide, it is important to keep in mind that the interactions between Islam and Christianity are not new but have been going on for centuries. There is much we can learn from the past.”

web-manuscript-001-cua-with-permission
CUA With Permission

The manuscripts will be housed within the University’s Institute of Christian Oriental Research (ICOR), a research auxiliary of the Semitics department. ICOR has a world-renowned library that includes 50,000 books and journals as well as antiquities, photographs, and archival materials documenting early Christianity in the Middle East.

The donation, says Butts reaffirms ICOR’s standing as “one of the leading places to study the languages, literatures, and histories of Christianity in the Near East, including Arabic, Coptic, Syriac, and now Ethiopic.”

Tags:
AfricaIslam
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
KIDS,WATERMELON,BEACH
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
3
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
4
HEART OF JESUS
Bret Thoman, OFS
“Jesus, you take care of it”: Prayer of a priest Padr...
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
6
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.