A man of many tongues

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

real and def­i­nite mean­ing, since it im­plies that Ju­dah shall rule till death comes.

“ That il­lus­trates how the dis­cov­ery of fresh and ear­lier copies of a bib­li­cal book, such as the Ethiopic copy of Ec­cle­si­astes, which I came on in Abyssinia [Ethiopia], may help in a re­vi­sion that will bring the book a de­gree of sev­eral shades closer to the lan­guage and phras­ing of the orig­i­nal writer or writ­ers.

“But that is a very dif­fer­ent thing from a com­plete scrap­ping of Ec­cle­si­astes!”

Abyssinia, as you know, is a coun­try, an em­pire, in north­east Africa, in­hab­ited by a fine, war­like peo­ple who are black but Chris­tian.

“ The peo­ple in Abyssinia, whom we call Ethiopi­ans,” ex­plained Dr. Mercer, “came from South Ara­bia as early as the tenth cen­tury B.C. And they spoke Ethiopic un­til the seven­teenth cen­tury A.D. Then, out of this sprang a new lan­guage, as Ital­ian de­rived from Latin, called Amharic. That is the mod­ern tongue of Abyssinia, al­though Ethiopic re­mains the lan­guage of the church, just as Latin is of the Ro­man Catholic Church.”

“And Ethiopic, in which Old Tes­ta­ment books are found writ­ten in Abyssinia, is re­ally a Semitic lan­guage?”

“ Yes, and in Abyssinia you find Falasha Jews who are black. . ., but who are Jews in race and re­li­gion, with the Jewish cast of coun­te­nance, only black from gen­er­a­tions un­der the burn­ing African sun; and wor­ship­ing in syn­a­gogues ac­cord­ing to an­cient Jewish cus­tom. They went to Abyssinia prob­a­bly af­ter the fall of Jerusalem.

“ The Ethiopi­ans them­selves, as I said, were orig­i­nally Arabs. They were light bronze in coun­te­nance. And among the bet­ter classes you can still see the Arab traces.”

The world renowned Egyp­tol­o­gist, Ori­en­tal­ist, cler­gy­man and writer, Sa­muel Al­fred Browne Mercer ( 18791969), was born in Bay Roberts East. For rea­sons un­known, he de­nied his New­found­land roots. This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared in the Star Weekly, Toronto. It is be­ing reprinted here in four parts. Ed­i­to­rial com­ments have been added in brack­ets.

To be con­tin­ued.

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