Archive for January, 2008

Eusebius – the feeding frenzy

You never know who is planning to translate something.  Scholars don’t talk as much as they might, either, which leads to silly situations, such as three English translations of Eusebius Onomasticon being released in a period of a couple of years (including the long forgotten Wolf translation which appears online).

I enquired a couple of weeks ago whether anyone fancied translating the Commentary on Isaiah for money.  I quickly found that one gentleman was already doing so, and had a publisher lined up.  Today I learn of another who has a proposal with another publisher to do the same.  Neither knows of the other, I think.

After I decided to commission the Quaestiones I quickly learned that a scholar was doing the Eclogae Propheticae.  His initial reply made it sound like a side-project, but it turns out otherwise.

I then enquired about the other obvious untranslated works, the Against Marcellus and Ecclesiastical Theology (which form a pair of works against Marcellus of Ancyra).  I’ve been told so far of two people who ‘might be doing these’, plus a reference to a book which also refers vaguely to ‘someone’.  One of these two is actually NOT doing so; I look forward to an email from the other.

I’ve not asked about the Commentary on the Psalms.  Not yet, anyway.

Apparently there is a conference in Brussells in March on Eusebius, about which I can find no details.  If anyone does know, I’d be interested to learn more.  I might even be able to go.

Microsoft live books now blocked to UK readers

I found today that I could not access books.live.com, despite having language=EN-US.  I presume this means that Microsoft have ramped up their decision to restrict content to US readers only. 

This is most annoying, since a lot of their content is supplied by UK libraries such as the Bodleian.  Indeed I was searching to see if Thomas Gaisford’s 1846 edition of Eusebius Eclogae propheticae was on there.

Don’t you hate the copyright industry?

Being my own publisher: translating a work by Eusebius of Caesarea into English

Eusebius composed a work in three books on problems or contradictions in the gospels, and solutions for them.  The first two books were addressed to a certain Stephanus and addressed 16 ‘problems’ with the genealogies given at the start of Matthew and Luke.  The other book was addressed to one Marinus, and discussed problems at the end of the gospels, particularly Mark.  In consequence it has been referenced whenever the long ending of Mark was discussed. 

This interesting work was also translated into Syriac.  Unfortunately neither the Greek nor the Syriac text has reached us.  Latino Latini wrote:

“Sirletus would like you to know that three books have been found in Sicily by Eusebius of Caesarea ‘de diaphonia Evangeliorum’ which he hopes in a short time himself to bring into the light.” (Opera vol. 2 p.116) 

But in the 19th century Angelo Mai discovered that a long epitome of the work was extant in a Vatican manuscript, as well as long quotations from the full text in a catena and two Syriac fragments in a monophysite catena.  These he published with a Latin translation, and were reprinted by Migne in the Patrologia Graeca, while the Syriac fragments were extensively supplemented by Beyer ca. 1900. 

A new edition of the epitome with French translation and commentary was made by Claudio Zamagni for his PhD thesis, and will be published by Sources Chrétiennes.  But no English version exists, and no likelihood of one.

I have decided to remedy this situation.  I have commissioned two translators to translate the Greek and Syriac respectively, and also have obtained a reviewer to ensure that the translation of the Greek is as good as I can make it (a Syriac reviewer will also be needed, of course).  This will cost money and I intend to print a book version, and sell it for what I can get (perhaps $35?).  It’s a bit of an experiment.  If the income covers the costs, then I will commission some more interesting but unavailable works.  I don’t want to be involved in publishing, but my calculations suggest that royalties from another publisher will not cover the costs.

I would welcome comments and suggestions on this idea.  Would readers be willing to buy such a volume?  What sort of money would people think right to charge?  Should it include a reprint of the Greek and Syriac?  What should I call my ‘publishing firm’!?

Some online Latin mss from Denmark (Haunienses)

By chance I stumbled on some online images from medieval Latin mss, often of classical or patristic authors:

http://www.kb.dk/en/nb/materialer/haandskrifter/HA/e-mss/clh_intro.html – Intro

 http://www.kb.dk/en/nb/materialer/haandskrifter/HA/e-mss/clh.html – the Mss; Cicero, Isidore, Justin, Livy, Lucan, Lucretius, Macrobius, Ovid, Plutarch, Priscian, Publilius Syrus, Sallust, Seneca, Solinus, Terence, Virgil.

http://www.kb.dk/en/nb/materialer/haandskrifter/HA/e-mss/flh_intro.html – Intro to fragments

http://www.kb.dk/en/nb/materialer/haandskrifter/HA/e-mss/flh.html – Fragments; Ambrose, Augustine, Bede, (Ps.)Hegesippus, Isidore, Jerome, Livy, Quintus Curtius, Seneca, Terence.

http://www.kb.dk/en/nb/materialer/haandskrifter/HA/e-mss/mdr.html – and some more mss from other collections; Isidore, Ptolemy, Solinus, and many of the same again.

Tertullian.org offline and all my email blocked

My new webhosts, www.site5.com, have seen fit to take down all my websites without notice after receiving a complaint of spam, supposedly from ‘Feedback’ at my domain.  Needless to say it was nothing to do with me.  I apologise if this causes a problem to anyone, and I hope that they will reinstate my service quickly.  If the sites remain down for long, I will move hosts over the weekend and let my credit card company teach them why this sort of behaviour is not a good idea.

(Some hours later): I’ve now temporarily moved hosts back to www.pair.com, and email should come through and most of the sites should now be functional, although with the odd broken counter.  Site5 support was very strange; they ignored all my queries and requests for help and just added a note telling me to make a case to them (which I did, and they ignored it), and that they were ‘down to earth guys’ (?!?).  In fact they never did anything, as far as I can tell.  I registered a domain with them; they’ve been ignoring a request for a transfer code for that too.  All in all, very bad, bad people to deal with.

Syriac books at lulu.com

I was fascinated to discover today that a reasonable number of reprints of Syriac texts are for sale at reasonable prices online at Lulu.com. These can be rather cheaper than reprints from Gorgias press, for instance. Quality is unknown, tho. Quite a number of Alphone Mingana’s works are there. Search for ‘Assyrian’ or ‘Syriac’.

Postscript (12/1/8).  After the last post, I ordered two volumes to see what the quality was like.  These arrived some time this week.  Both had coloured card covers.

The first was a reprint of Alphonse Mingana’s Syriac text and English translation of The Debate on the Christian Faith between Timothy I and Caliph Mahdi in 781 AD.  The book was well-made, paper quality was cheap but OK.  The printing was plainly from a scan of the page, and showed the increased blackness interspersed with lighter patches that always seems to attend this sort of reprint.  However it was perfectly legible.  The effect was not entirely professional; the spine only contained the title with no publisher, the rear cover simply had a url at the foot of it.  Inside the first page was the title-page of the 1928 original.  There was no indication of ISBN or any other details of the reprint.  The original pages had been printed too low, so that the large page number at the bottom was perilously close to the page edge!  In short, it was quite serviceable but looked a bit cheap.  It cost around $18.

The other was a self-published collection of ‘articles’ on The Assyrian Levies; military formations raised by the British  between the world wars from the East Syriac Christians in the mountains of Iraq.  This had all the failings of the first volume, of course; these are clearly features of lulu.com publication.  The volume was $10.

The author plainly knew a great deal about his subject, and had even obtained photographs for reproduction.  The printing of these was very grainy, however.  But the real problem was that he didn’t know how to write a story that would engage the reader.  The human interest was entirely absent, and the volume was confusing to read.  Campaigns were recorded in outline, with little indication of why and wherefore.  The volume only came to life in recording the defence of a Royal Air Force base from German-led Iraqi troops during WW2, and this was over too quickly.  I kept feeling the urge to rewrite the book, for it is plain that an interesting book is waiting to be written on this subject.  But this is not it!

I think that we can see that lulu has a useful purpose to students and scholars.  If you have some out-of-print book and need to supply copies to your class, then this is a good way to do so.  (Copyright ownership would have to be checked if the material is one’s own; I have not looked into this, but you would not wish to transfer any property to lulu.com!)  The prices are not impossible, for a few copies. 

In fact I intend to experiment a bit; to get a copy of Graf’s Geschichte vol. 1 — which is out of print — made this way, for personal purposes.  I have a PDF of most of it, and I will have it printed, but with a blank leaf bound into each opening, so that I can write notes against each page.  This is a practical and effective measure for me to get a working copy of the book.  Of course I won’t sell it, or indeed make it available to anyone else (because of copyright).  But it will permit me to study a book in a language which I don’t know very well, in repeated passes.

But if you wanted to start a publishing business, I think lulu.com is not the way to go.  I am advised that for more than a few copies it is convenient rather than competitive.  But the cheapness of the products would not give a favourable first impression.  I compared those I saw to the Sources Chretiennes volumes, which may be small but are on good paper and well printed.  I could sell the latter to any academic library; but not the lulu volumes.

Patristic blog

I had something nice happen to me today.  I was writing some notes on John bar Zo’bi here and found, to my delight, that someone had picked up on an extract from his works which I had scanned and uploaded ages ago.  It seems that we have another patristic blogger!

http://patristicpage.blogspot.com/

I remember having to force myself to scan that, and did so only because it was offline and never likely to come online.  Somehow finding that someone thought it worth reposting makes it all worthwhile!

Tomorrow I must go back to work, to a new role at the same place doing stuff that I don’t much care for. I find that I’m frankly dreading it — indeed had nightmares about it last night — which is never a good sign. Still, only 8 weeks of it and then I’m free of that job. The money may help to pay for some translation work.



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