The Ark of the Covenant: Coming Soon to a Museum Near You (If You Live in Ethiopia)

Jim West has been diligently tracking the (almost certainly bogus) rumors of the impending reappearance of the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia, where it has reportedly resided for some centuries.  (See, for example, here, here, here, and here.)  Now World Net Daily (via Biblical Archaeology Review‘s Daily News column) is reporting that the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia will soon announce plans to build a museum for the alleged ark in Axum:

The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, Abuna Pauolos, has said that he will reveal to the public what he claims is the Ark of the Covenant, which he says has been hidden in his country for thousands of years. He says that plans to build a museum in Axum, Ethiopia in order to house the container of the Ten Commandments are underway.

Pauolos claims that the original Ark is kept in a particular church, while a replica was placed in every church throughout Ethiopia as means of protection. There are various theories regarding the fate and current location of the Ark—this Ethiopian tradition dates to the mid-7th century A.D. [the World Net Daily article gives the date of the origin of the tradition as the mid-seventh century BC].

Given the fact that few, if any, serious scholars support the theory that the authentic Ark of the Covenant has survived in Ethiopia, the fact that Biblical Archaeology Review continues to promote this story is quite surprising.  It may even be a case of—dare I say it—dilettantism!  In any case, it’s extremely unfortunate that most popular media outlets prefer sensationalized tidbits such as this one to the many ways which legitimate scholarship has increased our understanding of the world of the Bible in recent years.

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July 2009


© 2006-2009, Matthew Burgess. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized use of the original content of this website is strictly prohibited. Quotations or citations should include a link to this website. The views and opinions given here are my own and do not represent those of the University of Virginia (or anyone else, for that matter).

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