January 13, 2017 - The University of Toronto (U of T) has begun Ge’ez classes to enable a new generation of students understand the ancient language and access long-lost trove of knowledge.Excellent! Ge'ez (ancient Ethiopic) is of interest for ancient Jewish studies in particular because the text of 1 Enoch is preserved complete only in a Ge'ez translation.
This week, Professor Robert Holmstedt of the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations welcomed 25 students and members of Ethiopian community in Toronto to the first day of an introductory course on Ge’ez.
With this course, U of T becomes one of the only places in the world where students can learn the fundamentals of Ge’ez, according to a statement on the university’s site.
The program came about through several significant donations, including from The Weeknd, the Ethiopian community and the Faculty of Arts & Science.
Department Chair Professor Tim Harrison has said that he hoped, with continued support, U of T would eventually add more courses and be positioned to launch the first Ethiopian studies program in North America.
Since the subject is so rarely taught, Holmstedt had to invent course materials and revise one of the only Ge’ez textbooks in English, the 40-year-old Introduction to Classical Ethiopic: Ge’ez by Thomas O. Lambdin. Ge’ez is a window into an ancient culture and offers insights into other languages, he said.
“I like giving students access to things that 99.5 percent of the world doesn’t have access to,” he said, adding: “It’s part of advancing our knowledge and the pursuit of truth. This is the very nature of the university. We can’t leave this behind.”
Background here and links.