Archive for July, 2009

More on Greek translator

One advantage of translating that fragment from Euthymius Zigabenus a couple of days ago is that it made me look again at my Greek->English translator.  It doesn’t give you a good “translation”; but it did give the tools for any Latinist to get the idea.  So I’m resuming work on it for a bit.  Let’s see where it goes.

Euthymius Zigabenus and the Pericope Adulterae

A comment on this blog led me to wonder who Euthymius Zigabenus was, and then to write a Wikipedia article on him.   He was a 12th century Byzantine monk and commentator on scripture.

In the process I came across this article by Daniel B. Wallace, My favorite passage that’s not in the bible.  Wallace’s argument for removing the passage in John 7 on the woman caught in adultery from the bible is somewhat confused, but this statement caught my eye:

Bruce Metzger, arguably the greatest textual critic of the twentieth century, argued that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it” (Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, 1971), pages 219-221).

(Metzger reference at more length here).

As ever in such situations, I find myself wondering what this largely unpublished author actually said.  Does anyone know what the reference is?

UPDATE: James Snapp notes here that Metzger’s statement is mistaken, since Didymus the Blind comments on this pericope, Jerome refers to it existing in numerous Greek mss, and so on. 

UPDATE: I think I have found the reference.  It’s in PG 129, in the commentary on the four gospels, col.1280 C-D.  Here’s the Latin version.

Scire autem oportet, quod ea quae ab hoc loco habentur usque ad eum, quo dicitur: Iterum ergo locutus est illis Jesus dicens: Ego sum lux mundi: in exactoribus exemplaribus, aut non inveniuntur, aut obelo confossa sunt, eo quod illegitima videantur et addita.  Et huius argumentum est quod eorum Chrysostomus nullam omnino fecit mentionem (f) : nobis tamen (g) animus est etiam haec declarare, quod utilitate non careant, sicut et caput de muliere in adulterio deprehensa, quod inter haec ponitur.

Rough translation, not very accurate at the end I expect:

But it is necessary to know that the things which are found from this place to that where it is said: Therefore Jesus again spoke of these things saying, I am the light of the world: in the more exact copies, these are either not found, or marked with a star, because they seem illegitimate and added.  And the argument for this is because Chrysostom makes no mention anywhere of this; but for us we must also declare that this, because it is not without usefulness, is the chapter on the woman taken in adultery, which is placed between these.

I hesitate to try to transcribe the Greek from Migne, since I can hardly read it in the copy I have.  Here it is (starts at second paragraph): anyone with more Greek than me care to transcribe it?

Euthymius Zigabenus on the Pericope

Euthymius Zigabenus on the Pericope

A Coptic fragment of Eusebius

Wanted: people who know Coptic and would like 10c a word to translate it!  There are quite a few fragments of Eusebius in the coptic catena of De Lagarde, and I’d like to get them all translated into English.  A friend has just completed the second one — which was 134 words long.  But there’s plenty more to do.

Interestingly the same catena has a fragment from Apollinaris, on Luke 1.  Clearly the fact that a writer was a heretic was not that important in the catenas.

Manuel Paleologus, Dialogue with a Learned Persian, uploaded

For some months I’ve been translating the work that got Pope Benedict into so much trouble a year or two back; Dialogue 7 of the Dialogues with a Learned Moslem by Manuel II Paleologus.  It’s been hard going, because I have found the arguments really tedious.  I’ve now accepted that I will never manage to do all 37 chapters of this, and have decided to stop, and upload what I have managed to do.

Chapters 1-18 are now online here.  The remark quoted by the pope comes early on, and the rest gives quite enough to see the context of the discussion.

Papias on Judas Iscariot, as reported by Apollinaris of Laodicea

Few will be aware that there is a passage in Cramer’s catena ascribed to Apollinaris of Laodicea which quotes from the fourth book of Papias on the fate of Judas.  Indeed there are two passages; one from the catena on Matthew (on ch. 27), and another from the catena on Acts (on ch. 1), although in fact it is the same passage quoted at different lengths.  The text of one can be found here

Judas did not die by hanging, but lived on, having been cut down before choking. And this the Acts of the Apostles makes clear, that falling headlong his middle burst and his bowels poured forth. And Papias the disciple of John records this most clearly, saying thus in the fourth of the Exegeses of the Words of the Lord:

and then one of two versions:

Judas walked about as an example of godlessness in this world, having been bloated so much in the flesh that he could not go through where a chariot goes easily, indeed not even his swollen head by itself. For the lids of his eyes, they say, were so puffed up that he could not see the light, and his own eyes could not be seen, not even by a physician with optics, such depth had they from the outer apparent surface. And his genitalia appeared more disgusting and greater than all formlessness, and he bore through them from his whole body flowing pus and worms, and to his shame these things alone were forced [out]. And after many tortures and torments, they say, when he had come to his end in his own place, from the place became deserted and uninhabited until now from the stench, but not even to this day can anyone go by that place unless they pinch their nostrils with their hands, so great did the outflow from his body spread out upon the earth.


Judas lived his career in this world as an enormous example of impiety. He was so swollen in the flesh that he could not pass where a wagon could easily pass. Having been crushed by a wagon, his entrails poured out.

The Greek of both may be found on pp.22-30 of Lake’s The Beginning of Christianity (thanks to Andrew Criddle for the reference).  Lake comments that further research in the catenas would probably allow the text to be improved; one may wonder whether anyone has done so since.  He continues:

It will be seen, however, that these versions differ in one very important point. In the catena on Acts the whole story is attributed to Papias; but in the catena on Matthew the quotation from Apollinarius  which contains the extract from Papias ends with the statement that Judas was crushed by a wagon, and a new extract from Apollinarius then begins and gives a more elaborate and gruesome account of the swelling up and death of Judas. These two versions do not agree;  in one the wagon is the cause of death, in the other it is part of the comparison and only mentioned to show the extent to which Judas was swollen. The question is whether the crushing by a wagon or the longer version ia really that of Papias.

The matter cannot be settled with certainty, but J. Rendel Harris has tried to bring the balance of probability to the side of the attribution of the longer version by pointing out in the American Journal of Theology, July 1900, p. 501, that Bar Salibi in his commentary on Acts quotes the passage about the [Greek], and definitely ascribes it to Papias. It is extremely improbable that Bar Salibi used the catena of Andreas, so that this is independent evidence that the passage was taken from Papias by Apollinarius.

If so, Papias described Judas as living after the betrayal, and dying from a disease so terrible that his estate remained unoccupied. Among the symptoms mentioned was extreme swelling, so that a place where a wagon could pass was too narrow for him. This comparison gave rise to  a secondary form of the story which represented Judas as crushed by a wagon. …

On  the other hand, general probability would perhaps suggest that the shorter version is likely to be original If so, the gruesome details and the changed form of the longer version is due to a desire to pile up horrors and to make the death of Judas similar to that of other notoriously evil men, such as Herod the Great or Nadan in the story of Ahikar. To me this seems somewhat the more probable hypothesis. Whichever view be taken, Papias clearly represents a tradition different both from Matthew and from Acts.

Lake continues, examining a lot of early and interesting witnesses on the various explanations of the death of Judas, and how these were harmonised.

It would be nice to know what Dionysius bar-Salibi says.  Note that here again we have a 12th century Syriac author being used as a witness to an ancient text!

Michael the Syrian, vol. 3 of the French translation now online

It’s here:

The PDF is searchable, and I’ve stuck the raw OCR output in .doc and .htm format there as well.

The other two parts of the French translation are also online (search for Michael the Syrian).

UPDATE: it turns out that pp.44 and 46 are upside down.  I’m reloading a corrected PDF.

Michael the Syrian part 3 – progress report

I’ve now scanned in images of all the pages (around 600) of this monstrously heavy volume — my forearms will never be the same — using Abbyy Finereader 8 to control the scanner.  I scanned in black-and-white at 400 dpi, which is the best for OCR.

I’ve gone through the batch, turning alternate pages the right way up.  I’m now importing it into Finereader 9, which has better OCR and produces smaller PDF’s.

UPDATE (16:30): I’ve created a searchable PDF, which is about 33Mb.  Now starting to upload it to  This can be slow and frustrating, and will probably take all evening.  I’ve also exported the text as .htm and .doc, which I’ll probably place there also.  I haven’t proofed any of the OCR output, but FR9 gives rather better results than FR8, which is what the automatic processes at use.

UPDATE (16:36): Good grief.  It uploaded first time.  It’s here:  I’d better add the other formats, then (if it will let me).  It’s not in the searches yet, tho.

UPDATE (16:39): Hmm.  The interface for uploads of extra files has changed.  Somewhat better than it was.  Still very slow, it seems, and not that intuitive.  You can tell it was tested by someone local to the server, and not someone far away from it.

Chrysostom on marriage

An intelligent, discreet, and pious young woman is worth more than all the money in the world. Tell her that you love her more than your own life, because this present life is nothing, and that your only hope is that the two of you pass through this life in such a way that, in the world to come, you will be united in perfect love.

H/t Mike Aquilina

– from Homily 20 on Ephesians 5:22-33, on page 61 of the little St. Vladimir’s book On Marriage and Family Life. (On Google Books).

Letter of Latino Latini completed

I’ve now had the letter of Latino Latini to Andreas Masius translated. This is the one that mentions the lost manuscript of Eusebius Diaphonia.  It’s actually a very interesting, gossipy letter.  The translator has offered to do the whole set of letters sometime, which is nice but not something I will pay for at this time.  I’ll print it as an appendix to the edition of the Eusebius.

Discussion on Armenian version of Michael the Syrian

I note that the comments on this post of mine have wandered into the very interesting area of Armenian versions of Michael the Syrian, Armenians in Egypt, and related issues, and are well worth a read.