“Ethiopia, an island of Christianity, is recorded in history as having received first the Old Testament, and then the New Testament earlier than most of the countries of the world. When, in Old Testament times, she received the Law, and when, in New Testament times, she received the Gospel, she ensured that the Scriptures were translated into the ancient language of Ge’ez. From those times to this, various books both of spiritual and material profit have periodically been compiled and written in Ge’ez. We remember with deep gratitude those fathers of old who, as time and opportunity allowed, worked with much care and labour and have left us books for the preservation of the Faith and for the increase of learning and knowledge.
“In former ages, Ge’ez was the language of the country and so. even without an interpreter, the people had no difficulty in examining and understanding the books; but just as one age succeeds another, so Amharic, which sprang from Ge’ez, gradually grew until it became the Common speech of the people, taking the place of Ge’ez. At that time. Ge’ez was understood by the learned People of the Church. but was not readily understood by the ordinary people. Arising from this, the scholars in their preaching and work have for centuries been forced in their teaching to interpret from Ge’ez into Amharic. And these conditions prevailed until Our own times.
“Since the time when, by God’s goodness, We were chosen to ascend the Throne of Ethiopia and while We have been leading Our people to progress in learning and knowledge, We have laboured in every way possible with an eye to their growth in spiritual and material learning and knowledge. In order to reach this goal, and realising that the first necessity was to have the Scriptures translated into Amharic and printed in bulk, in 1918 when We were still Heir to the Throne and Regent, We chose from amongst the scholars some to translate the Scriptures and to produce the translation alongside the Ge’ez. After this, too, at Our private expense We had a printing machine brought from Europe, established a Printing Press, and began to have books printed. Some of the books which We caused to be printed in Ge’ez and Amharic at that time, read in churches and homes, have been found profitable to the establishment of faith and to spiritual strengthening. After that, noting that the mind of the people continued to grow in understanding, We arranged for a word-for-word translation into Amharic of the books of the Old and New Testaments. Our scholars completed the translation and presented it to Us in 1931. and We ordered its printing. While the book was still in the Press, however, enemy aggression in 1935 halted the work. Even so, when in exile in London, We gave permission for this same Bible to be printed by photo-offset, and it was duly issued. By this Book, Our Ethiopian subjects in exile in many countries held fast to their faith and presented their petitions to Almighty God as they awaited the restoration of Ethiopia.
“When, all honour and praise be to God, We had brought about the liberation of Ethiopia and had entered Our Empire, realising that there ought to be a revision from the original Hebrew and Greek of the existing translation of the Bible, We chose scholars qualified for the work of Biblical training and on March 6th, 1947 set up a Bible Committee in Our Palace. The Committee worked with diligence for some five years, and on April 19th, 1952 presented the translation to Us. We give heartfelt thanks to all who helped Us in this work.
“All the ancient Scriptures were written for Our instruction, in order that through the encouragement they give Us, we may maintain Our hope with fortitude. Because We desire that the light which comes from the Scriptures may shine to all, this Bible by Our command and will has been revised and printed in the Thirty-First year of Our reign.”
July 23, 1961