Howard University Returns Sacred Manuscript to Ethiopia

Howard University Delegation Photo: (Top) Blain Zehrun, Dr. Alice Ogden Bellis, Dr. Alton B. Pollard, III, Lawrence Rodgers. Debre Libanos Photo: Tesfa Tours.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Howard University has sent a delegation to Ethiopia’s Debre Libanos Monastery to return a sacred, 14th-15th century manuscript that belonged to the Christian holy site. The university announced that the ancient document was part of one of the largest collections of Ethiopian sacred artifacts housed in the United States.

“The 240-piece collection was originally gifted to Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD) in 1993 by the late Dr. André Tweed, a prominent psychiatrist and alumnus of the University,” stated Howard University’s press release. “The manuscript is a rare text that provides historical insights into early Christianity and the connection between African and Judaic cultures and traditions.”

“The manuscript, known as Tweed MS150, contains two different texts: the Acts of Paul and the Acts of Serabamon,” the press release added.

The announcement highlighted the university’s “long-standing honor the rich heritage and cultural artifacts throughout Africa, in particular Ethiopia.” By deciding to return the manuscript to its original source, Dr. Gay L. Byron, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, says that they “wanted to set an example for other schools, museums and institutions around this county and even throughout the world for what it means to have rare manuscripts actually in their rightful home of origin.”

Echoing similar sentiments, student Lawrence Rodgers, who is traveling to Ethiopia as part of the delegation, shares: “being able to travel to this ancient country and to be able to visit some of the oldest Christian churches in the world, seeing this rich Christian heritage on the continent of my ancestors is something that is very meaningful to me.”

Howard University alumni Memhir Dr. Zebene Lemma, Head Priest at Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Virginia, is also joining the delegation and adds that “this manuscript was written by Ethiopians. So returning the manuscript is a huge impact for Ethiopian church history, and it establishes a strong relationship with Howard University.”

Howard University, which was established in 1867, is a historically African American, private university located in Washington, D.C.

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