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Religious texts, audios and videos

Bible translations and other Christian materials

Translation of chapter 11 of the Gospel of John

Download the documentFrom Leo Reinisch (1878) “Der Irob-Saho in Abessinien”. In Sitzungsberichte der phil.-hist. Classe der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 90: 121-133. For the complete text see here.

The translation in Saho-Irob of the chapter 11 of the Gospel of John (“The Resurrection of Lazarus”) was made by Abba Tesfay Maryam, an Irob priest from Alitena. But it should be noticed that in his previous article “Das Saho-Volk” (1877), he says that the translator is called Abatye Gere-Maryam.

The text includes a German translation and a fidel transliteration of the latin Saho version. In the original article there are also some grammatical notes on the text.

Reinisch in his Wörterbuch der Saho-Sprache includes several other translations of verses of the Bible, from the books of Genesis (ch. 1, 27, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 50), Ruth (ch. 1), Matthew (ch. 5, 10, 16, 26, 27), Mark (ch. 1, 5, 8, 14. 15) and, as in this article, John 11.

Translations of the Gospel of John and  other biblical texts


Francis E. Mahaffy and his Saho translator

The following files are Saho language materials developed by the Rev. Francis E. Mahaffy, who served as a missionary of the American Evangelical Mission of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, worked in Eritrea from 1945 until 1968.  He produced several booklets in Saho, mainly in the Minifire dialect:

Yosef (The story of Joseph). See below.

Abrahim (The Story of Abraham)

Nabilla ‘esa Iyayto kinni? (Who is the Prophet Jesus?)

– Tracts on Fasting, Prayer, The Trinity

Bible lessons 1-32

The Ten Commandments

The Young Children’s Catechism. See below.

– The Beatitudes

– The Religions

The Glory of Mary

Who is God? See below.

– Two Kind of Righteousness

What Price Forgiveness?

and some other materials like  Saho Primer (Book one and Book two – The booklets are available here and here), grammatical notes, etc. The main Saho translators were Mohammed Ali (from Faqhat XarakMinifire) and Ibrahim Ismail ‘Americano’ (from Gacaso – Minifire).

The list shown above is taken from Clarence W. Duff (1977) God’s Higher Ways. The birth of a Church. Nutley, NY: Presbyterian and Reformed  Publishing Co. The book contains many references to the evangelistic work among the Saho in the second half of the XIX century.

For a short biography of Francis E. Mahaffy written by Moreno Vergari (from Siegbert Uhlig (ed.) Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Vol, 3, Harrasowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007, p. 645) see here.

Mahaffy used a personal system of transcription for the Saho. Here below there is a table that compares his system with the official Saho orthographies of Eritrea (Latin) and Ethiopia (Fidel) and IPA,  for the letters that are different from the ones used in Eritrea.


Source: Photo and texts below are taken from

Injil Yohannes [Gospel of John]

Injil Yohannes_coverThe  translation of John was published in 1964 by Word Home Bible League.

7,000 copies were printed by Park Press (South Holland, IL – USA) and sent to Francis Mahaffy, American Evangelical Mission, Senafe (Eritrea).

Download the document







Yosef [The story of Joseph]

Yosef_coverThis booklet is the translation in Saho of the story of Joseph, (the son of Jacob and grandson of Abraham) taken form the book of Genesis (chapter 37, 39-50).

Download the document







Yalli [God]

Yalli_coverThis booklet speaks about the unicity of God.

Download the document










 Short Catechism

Download the documentThe booklet lists 54 questions and answers about the basic elements of the Christian faith.





The Good Samaritan

Download the documentA Bible story, The Good Samaritan, translated into Saho by Rev. Francis E. Mahaffy during his time in Eritrea, Africa. The story was written sometime in the 1950s or 1960s.  The notebook captures the translation work in progress. The story has the English version on one page and the Saho translation on the next.  There is only one story in this notebook, the rest of the page are blank and not included in the PDF. See Saho Bible Stories below for more stories.


Saho Bible Stories

Download the documentA collection of assorted Bible stories translated into Saho by Rev. Francis E. Mahaffy during his time in Eritrea, Africa. The stories were written sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. The notebook captures the translation work in progress, with handwritten corrections and changes on various pages. Most stories have the English version on one page and the Saho translation on the next (several stories are missing the English version).

God Proves Abraham’s Faith
Moses’s Birth and Growth
Moses’ Call
Pharaoh Hardens His Heart
The Passover Lamb
Israel’s Exodus From Egypt
Crossing the Red Sea
Israel’s Journey to Sina
The Ten Commandments
Israel’s Fall
God’s Tent
Ananias and Sapphira
Moses’ Death
Joshua Divides Caanan [Canaan] to Israel
The Twelve Spies
Psalm 23
Psalm 51:1-4 (From Heb.)


Open Bible Stories



Door43 – Open licensed biblical content

An overview of the Bible contents in 50 stories with illustrations, at:




Saaho Injiil (cover)Download the documentInjiil (Maatiyos, Markos, Luukas kee Yohannis)

All the four accounts of the life of Jesus (Yeesus) in Eritrean Saho. Published by Wycliffe Ethiopia.






Audio recordings of Bible texts

GNRThe Global Recordings Network ( has audio recordings of more then 6,000 languages and dialects of the World. There are also some recordings of Bible texts and stories in Saho language:


Words of Life 

12 short audio Bible stories, evangelistic messages (total length: 42:01).

Click here to listen and download.

The Story of Ruth

11 files with all the text of the book of Ruth of the Old Testament, with introductions and overview of the book (total length: 33:18).

Click here to listen and download.

1st, 2nd and 3rd Letter of John

7 files with all the text of the three letters of John of the New Testament (total length 29:37).

Click here to listen and download.

The Gospel of Luke (1-10)

10 files with all the text of the first ten chapters of the Gospel of Luke of the New Testament (total length 99:14).

Click here to listen and download.

 Jesus the Deliverer (in Irob-Saho)

13 short audio Bible stories, evangelistic messages (total length: 48:23).

Click here to listen and download.

Jesus Film in Eritrean Saho

The film of the story of Jesus based on the Gospel of Luke.

Click here to watch and download.

The Irob-Saho New Testament ኢሮብ-ሳሆ ዑሱብ (ሓዲስ) ኪዳን

Translated from Amharic by Abba Abraha Baraki – ትርጉም ብአባ አብርሃ ባራኪ (Draft Version for Review)

Click here to read it.

Islamic texts in Saho ajami script

The nazme: A genre of religious poetry of the Eritrean Saho (2014)

by Giorgio Banti and Moreno Vergari

Incontri linguistici_coverPublished in Incontri linguistici, 37 (2014): 133-44.

Final and published version available online (by payment) at

A pre-publication version can be downloaded here.


See also: Saho Islamic poetry and other literary genres in Ajami script

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