The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

A magisterial codex of Old Testament books ‘taken from King Theodore’ (Add. 1570)

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A 16th century collection of the vast majority of the books from the Old Testament, including records of property sales. According to a note inside, it was “taken from King Theodore at the storming of Magdala”.

Where: Cambridge University Library, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DR

According to the catalogue page: “The date of the work is written in the first colon at the end of 2 Kings: the 27th year of Särs’ä Dəngəl’s reign, i.e. 1588-1589 CE. Because of its precise dating – a rarity in the Ethiopian tradition–this manuscript arguably constitutes the most important post-medieval witness to the Old Testament in Ge’ez, clearly demonstrating the ongoing revision of the text on the basis of an Arabic version around that time.”

The library has scanned in the pages here –

Provenance: A note on the inside front cover reads: “Abyssinian Bible. Taken from King Theodore at the storming of Magdala by the officers of H.M. Madras engineers and presented by them to Captain Sotham(?) of H.M.H. transport “Middlesex” June 1868”.

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