The oldest known bound, complete, and illustrated copy of the Gospels, the so-called Garima Gospels, has actually been kept safe and secure for centuries in a remote Ethiopian monastery. The Garima Gospels are believed to be the earliest surviving example of book binding still attached to the original pages.
The volume is astonishingly beautiful. They were named after a monk, Abba Garima, who arrived in Ethiopia in 494, from Constantinople. The story goes that he copied the Gospels in just one day when God delayed the sun from setting so the monk had time to finish his work. Whatever the legend, the truth of this incredible relic has lain upon the shelves of the Garima Monastery, near Adwa, in northern Ethiopia at 7,000 feet, ever since!
The books survival is most impressive when one considers that throughout its history, the country has suffered invasion after invasions and the monastery itself suffered a devastating fire in 1930 that destroyed the monastery’s chapel. The carbon tests upon the paper in the book have given a date somewhere between 330 and 650, a date which fits with the time when Abba Garima arrived in Ethiopia.
Now this text is not a new discovery. Travelers to the monastery mentioned this volume often -- even some well connected folks. But the date was wrong and most suspected this manuscript to have dated from the 11th century, at the earliest, and not as early as the mid-fourth century as carbon dating has posited.
So why does this matter? Because the claim of the so-called scholars is often that the canon of the New Testament was not a given but the result of a conspiracy of folks from Constantine on to put a political and theological agenda above the truth. These skeptics have suggested so often that the Jesus of history is far removed from the Christ of the Gospels to the point where many wonder if