[St. Pachomius Library]

Sir Ernest Alfred Wallis Thomson Budge

XIX/XX Centuries
Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum, 1892-1924, and an expert on Eastern Christianity as well. He has been relentlessly criticised as an imperialist in recent years, and all but expunged from the British Museum's official memory -- a formidable task, given his earlier prominence -- but these attacks should perhaps be viewed with scepticism. Sir Ernest was more sympathetic to ancient and indigenous traditional views of history than almost any of his contemporaries, and his writings seem at times to have been written by a mediæval, rather than a modern, polymath. He is responsible for the availability in English of many Coptic, Ge'ez, and Syriac texts, including what was long the best and almost only collection of desert ascetic literature, The Paradise of the Fathers; the only widely-available (although "widely" is perhaps an overstatement) XX Century translation of the Kebra Negast; and fascinating collections of Ethiopic Marian spirituality. His history of Ethiopia and Nubia, relying on traditional accounts rather than supposed achievements of modern reconstruction, is as such of unique value, and for an "imperialist" he seems to have been astonishingly devoid of racism. May his memory be eternal, and whatever sins he may have committed be overlooked.

---Norman Hugh Redington

Under construction --- far from complete! Read with caution.


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