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Dr Ralph Lee

Dr Ralph Lee

Teaching Associate in World Christianities

Ethiopian Christianity

Ethiopian Classical Literature

Christianity in sub-Africa

Christianity in the Middle East

Bible Commentary in the Orthodox traditions

The history of the Ethiopic bible

Social aspects of manuscript studies

Office Phone: 01223 763039


Originally studying Chemical Engineering at Cambridge, I went to Ethiopia to teach engineering, leading to a deep interest in the traditional Christianity of Ethiopia. I retrained at SOAS in the study of religion, returning to Ethiopia to teach at Holy Trinity Theological College, the seminary of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, where I developed research interests in Ethiopian literature, in the social aspects of Christianity in Ethiopia, and in the contemporary religious situation there. Since returning to the UK, I have taught Eastern and Orthodox Christianity at SOAS, joining the Faculty of Divinity this academic year, and have developed a broad interest in Orthodox Christian communities in the contemporary world, their status, and their relations with other Christian traditions and with Islam. 

Subject area and speciality

World Christianities specialists:

Research Interests

My research focuses on many aspects of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, its history, its literary tradition, and its place in contemporary Ethiopian society and relations with Protestant Christianity, and with Islam. I have also developed an interest in 1Enoch and its interpretation within the Ethiopian tradition. I am currently working on projects on social aspects of Ethiopian Christian tradition and on the story of the evolution of the text of the Ethiopic Bible.


I teach courses in World Christianities and the Study of Religion: A6 An Introduction to the Study of Religion; B7 Themes in World Christianities; D2e World Christianities: Church and Society in Africa and the Middle East

Other Professional Activities

Chair of the Ethiopic Bible and Literature Program Unit of the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting

Key Publications

‘Symbolic Interpretations in Ethiopic and Early Syriac Literature’ 2017, Louvain: Peeters

“Ethiopia”, in The Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Mark Lamport (ed.) (Roman & Littlefield, 2018)

“Ethiopian Traditional Bible Commentary” in The Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Mark Lamport (ed.), (Roman & Littlefield, 2018)

‘Ethiopian Hymnody (I: Traditional Ethiopian Liturgical Music), in The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, Watson J. R, Hornby E. (eds), (online) (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2013), full printed version to be published after a period of review

Three chapters: ‘St Yared and the Ethiopian Tradition’, The Classic Andəmta Commentaries on Selected Canticles’, ‘Hymns to Mary in The Psalter of the Virgin’ in The Songs of Africa: The Ethiopian Canticles, ed. Thomas C. Oden & Curt Niccum, (New Haven CT: ICCS Press, 2017)

‘Orthodox’ with Daniel Seifemichael, an article on Orthodox Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity: Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, (eds. Kenneth R. Ross, Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu and Todd M. Johnson, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), p 264-76

‘The Contemporary Influence of Ethiopian Andemta Traditional Commentary: Examples from the Commentary on 1 Enoch and Other Texts’, in The Blessing of Enoch: 1Enoch and Contemporary Theology, Philip Esler (ed.) (Eugene OR: Wipf and Stock, 2017), 44-60

‘Ge’ez Commentary on 1Enoch’ forthcoming in a Parabiblica volume edited by Jan Dochhorn

‘Little Known Giants Traditions in Ethiopian Literature’ in a volume on Angels traditions, edited by Loren Stuckenbruck, forthcoming with Mohr Siebeck;

‘The Ethiopic Commentary on Ethiopic Enoch 2 (1Enoch 6-9)’, The Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, 23:3, 2014, 179-200

Other Publications

A Short Commentary on 1Enoch in Ge’ez, pending publication in the Journal of Ancient Judaism.

Delamarter, S, Niccum, C, Lee, R, “1.4.3 Ethiopic Translation(s)” in Textual History of the Bible, vol. 1: The Hebrew Bible, part 1a: Overview Articles, eds. A. Lange and E. Tov (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 345-360

Delamarter, S, Terefe, M, Lee, R, Niccum, C, “13- Canticles” in Textual History of the Bible, vol. 1: The Hebrew Bible, part 1c: Writings, eds. A. Lange and E. Tov, (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 467-470


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