University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection Ms. 251, New Testament. Gospels. John (Goodspeed Gospel of John). Ethiopia, 18th century.


Gospel of John in Gə‘əz (Ethiopic). Contains talismanic compositions. Formerly Goodspeed Ms. Eth. 64.

  1. fols. 1v-5v Kidan zänägh (Morning Office). Some musical notation.
    Note: Blank (fols. 6r-8v).
  2. fols. 9r-83r John.
    Note: Order of daily reading indicated in the upper margins (Saturday, fols. 22v and 41r; Tuesday, fol. 26v; Wednesday, fol. 48r; Thursday, fol. 56v; Friday, fol. 69v; Sunday, fol. 77v).
  3. fols. 83v-88v Ardə’ət (introduced under the title Kidanä Hawaryat and presented as part of the Mäṣḥafä mutan, the Book of the Dead).
  4. fols. 88v-91r Prayer, Concerning the seven mountains which Henoch, son of Yared, saw.
  5. fols. 91v-92v List of magical names.
  6. fol. 94v Magical prayer for safety.



Headpiece and tailpiece of red and black at the opening and closing of the gospel embellished with floral and foliate motifs (fols. 9r, 83r).

Physical Description


Parchment. 170 x 110 mm.

Number of Leaves

94 leaves.


1-94. Modern foliation in Arabic numerals in pencil. The first 10 leaves are numbered, and thereafter each 5th, and the last leaf.


Written space 120 x 80 mm (fol. 10r). Each column is 120 x 35 mm with a space of 10 mm between.


2 columns, 19 lines. Ruling with hard point. Pricking in outer margins.


Written in black ink.

Text Divisions

Titles in red.


Dirt and grease stains. Repair to leaf (fol. 94). Binding splitting along spine.

Binding Description

Bound in stamped and blind tooled red morocco over wooden boards. Central cross, front and back, enclosed in a triple frame. Thread tabs (fols. 69, 81). Doublures of red, green, and yellow woven cloth with motifs applied in needlework.



Written in the mid to late 18th century in Ethiopia at the Convent of Dawn.


The manuscript belonged to Bayard Taylor (1825-1878), American poet, travel author, and critic, who purportedly acquired it on a trip taken up the Nile River from Egypt to Ethiopia in 1851 and 1852. Sold to W. A. Stewart, bookseller of Norristown, Pennsylvania, by a member of the Taylor family, date unknown.

Notation, Written at the Convent of Dawn (fol. 94r). The name Walda Yohannes, most likely a one-time owner, was added to the manuscript (fol. 9r). Names partially erased include Māryām (fol. 83r) and Mikā’ēl (fol. 88v). Illegible notes (fols. 9r, 86r, 87v, 94v). University of Chicago Libraries bookplate (front flyleaf).


Gift of Edgar J. Goodspeed, Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School to the University of Chicago, January 1951, in memory of his wife Elfleda Bond Goodspeed (1880-1949). Purchased by Mr. Goodspeed from W. A. Stewart (Pennsylvania), 1951.


  1. Gene B. Gragg, "A magic prayer of Henoch from a manuscript of the Goodspeed Collection of the University of Chicago," in Proceedings of the First United States Conference on Ethiopian Studies, Michigan State University, 2-5 May, 1973, Michigan State University. Committee on Ethiopian Studies. Occasional papers. Edited by Harold G. Marcus [with John Hinnant] and assisted by Elizabeth Johnston, Melvin E. Page, and Kathleen M. Schoonmaker (East Lansing: African Studies Center, Michigan State University, c1975), pp. 61-67.
  2. New Testament manuscript traditions. An exhibition based on the Edgar J. Goodspeed collection of the University of Chicago Library, the Joseph Regenstein Library, January-March, 1973. University of Chicago. Library. Dept. of Special Collections. Exhibition catalogs ([Chicago: s.n., 1973]), 36, no. 83.