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(OPride) – In 1517 Martin Luther, a professor of theology at the German-based Wittenberg University, wrote a list of propositions known as the Ninety-five Theses to correct errors in the Roman Catholic Church. It set in motion the Protestant Reformation, making Luther an idol for the birth of Protestantism.
The reformation process and protests against the excesses of the church appears not to have ended yet. An Oromo pastor has taken up the mantle by translating or changing biblical words that are deemed erroneous. The Evangelical Church of Germany recently unveiled a new version of the Bible as part of the 500 Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which run from October 2016 – October 2017.
Among the most notable changes or corrections in the new bible is the term Ethiopia, which was changed to Cush. Rev. Benti Ujulu Tesso is one of the scholars behind some of the latest changes. He argues that the old version of the Bible, which refers to ‘Ethiopia’ 45 times was erroneous.
He notes that when the Greeks first translated the Bible from Hebrew, they changed the word Cush — which refers to a black African civilization — to ‘Athiopius’—meaning the land of the burnt face people.
Rev. Benti adds that the Cush are not the ‘burnt face’ people, rather they are black African. Therefore, ‘Athiopius’ or ‘Ethiopia’ is a racial insult. To correct this historical error, the word ‘Ethiopia’ was removed from the new Bible and replaced with its original term, Cush.
Merga Yonas, a freelance journalist based in Germany, talked to Rev. Benti exclusively on the rationale behind the change, the research or enquires that informed the drastic changes and what impact the translation may have on the followers of the Christian faith, particularly the Cush people.
... Merga: There have been heated discourse on identity among elites and other people from different walks of life in Ethiopia. There are those who argue that our sole identity should be Ethiopian. On the other hand, there are those who argue ethnic identity comes first and Ethiopia is secondary. There are even others who totally refuse to recognize Ethiopia as their identity. How do you think the new translation will contribute to this discourse about identity?
Rev. Benti: I think, the truth will set you free. As long as there is evidence that the original name is Cush, there is no reason to argue that the word is Ethiopia. They may not find scientific evidence for calling us Ethiopia. When I say scientific, it includes linguistic, archeological and historical evidence. Let me tell you about the history of the current Ethiopia, there is no geography of today Ethiopia until 1900 or 1908. Before that the people were called Oromo, Sidama, Afar, Amhara, Tigre and so forth.
But today’s Ethiopian boundary was established by Emperor Menelik II of Abyssinia, who colonized the southern Cushitic and other people and formed the territory now known as Ethiopia. Even the word Ethiopia did not get official recognition until 1931. Before 1931, the country was called Abyssinia. And Abyssinians referred to themselves as Semitic people. So it was Emperor Haile Selassie, who in his first 1931 constitution dropped the name Abyssinia and adopted Ethiopia.
As such, the question is how come one country will be totally renamed Ethiopia, when the Cush and others have lived in this region of Africa for thousands of years. Well, the Greeks named Athiopius because people were talking about legends of Ethiopian empire, which is actually the Cushitic empire. They speak of Queen Sheba, who was Cush not Sem. Her empire was Cushitic, not Ethiopian empire. Academicians, historians and theologians should understand this very well. The politicians should also live with the fact and correct past mistakes. It is an important matter. My name is Benti, so I am not happy if my name is changed all of a sudden to James.
Any racial, sexual and other discrimination must be corrected. For example, ‘Slave, Obey your Masters’ must be changed. There is a concept that Ham and his generation were cursed, which gave intent that blacks were cursed. Therefore, all the problems of black people are to do with their curse from God. That must be totally changed or eliminated. Because, I don’t believe God cursed the Black people. Rather, it is a mistaken bias by the translators when they referred to the father of black, Ham, as cursed one. I believe that the God that cursed Ham cannot be the God of Christians. These mistakes, intentional or otherwise, do not disqualify the Bible from being Holy. But correcting the errors and presenting it in a positive and factual way will further enrich the Bible...
Please read all interview here
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