Archive for February, 2010

Theodore of Mopsuestia on Genesis

My attention has been drawn (as the libel lawyers say), by this discussion, to the remains of the commentary on Genesis by Theodore of Mopsuestia.  These are not extensive, but are interesting.

Migne prints a bunch from the catena of Nicephorus in vol. 66, cols. 633-646.  These are in Latin, not Greek, so I presume are from a publication of the catena which only consisted of an early modern Latin translation.

A bunch of fragments were also found in Syriac, and printed in Sachau, Theodori Mopsuesteni Fragmenta Syriaca (1869).  Finally some more were printed in French, according to Quasten (I don’t have the details here).

The upshot is that most of what Theodore wrote on Genesis 1-3 is actually extant, if collected.  It doesn’t sound like a great volume of data.  Probably $500 would translate the lot.

Origen problem

The translation of Origen’s Homilies on Ezechiel is going very well, and we are deep into fragments from catenas.  These tend to make sense only if you have the biblical (=septuagint) quotation before you.  The NETS text and translation is the modern standard, but of course is heavily copyrighted by Oxford University Press.  I’ve been meaning to approach them for permission to use this, little as I like the idea. 

But I have at this very instant had a horrible, horrible thought. I don’t think I can use NETS.  Indeed I cannot use anything copyright on the English side at all, or only for portions appearing only in book form.

The end objective is to make the translation freely available online.  I will never be able to do that if portions are copyright someone else!

Oh bother. I’ve literally thought of just now, so I haven’t a solution to hand.  What to do?  Any suggestions would be welcome. Maybe the answer is simply to translate the biblical passages ourselves in all cases.

Isn’t copyright a bother!!!

Eusebius update

I’ve signed a contract with Les Editions du Cerf to use their Greek text for the Eusebius book.  Today I wrote to them asking where I can actually get the Greek text they print in electronic form.  I’m devoutly hoping that the answer is not “retype it”!

Portions of Cramer’s catena are getting typed up, and the friend who is doing this is also picking up some strangeness.  Various Greek words have more than one accent, for instance.

Meanwhile I have commissioned fresh translations of the two Syriac bits in Severus of Antioch and Ishodad of Merv, for inclusion in the “Syriac fragments” section.  I’ve also been in contact with the Coptic translator, although this grinds forward very slowly.  I think I’ve given up on the idea of using the Arabic version of the Coptic — it would take forever to get this coordinated with the Coptic.   I have not been able to find any information about Armenian gospel catenas, although I am positive they exist, so this will also be omitted.

I’m starting to think again about the process of turning the Word documents into print-ready text.  It seems that desktop publishing packages such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress can kern the text.  But I would much rather have someone else work this over, rather than me do it! 

It will be good to get the Eusebius done.  The main remaining steps are to finish the manuscript.  I need to assemble the Greek and Latin text (and probably the Syriac and Coptic too), which is begun, and then to write indexes and odd bits of text.  Once this is done I can send it to the Cerf (a condition of their permission) and start to get it typeset.

There is a question in my mind about the Syriac.  Would there be merit in printing the Roman letters under the Serto letters?  Perhaps in smaller type, interleaved between the lines, and right-to-left?  A lot of people know Hebrew, but can’t read Syriac letters.  If the text appeared in this manner,  a lot of them could work with the Syriac.  I’ve never seen this done, but I don’t see why not.

Two more Syriac fragments of Eusebius “Gospel problems and solutions”

Ishodad of Merv, in his commentaries on the gospels, quotes from Eusebius To Marinus.  The commentaries were printed by Gibson in 1911 with an English translation.  Vol. 1,  p. 143 contains the Eusebius, on Mark 15.  This is online in PDF here.  The Syriac text is in vol. 2, here.

The other passage appears in the letters of Severus of Antioch, published in Syriac with English translation by E. W. Brooks in the Patrologia Orientalis 14, p. 270 (of the PDF).  This is online here, and I transcribed the English here long ago.

The two passages seem to be on the same material.  Probably neither actually had a full text of Eusebius before him, but relied on excerpts.

Getting hold of books

I pulled down from my shelves yesterday a cheap reprint of Lanciani’s The destruction of ancient Rome, and made it my bedside reading.  It’s full of interesting statements, about how the monuments disappeared into the lime kilns.  Unfortunately it is rather under-referenced.  The latter is very frustrating. 

The book also refers to the destruction of the Septizonium.  Interestingly it tells us that a medieval guide to Rome, the Einsiedeln itinerary, contains transcriptions of inscriptions visible when it was made.  This includes an inscription on the septizonium which is long since vanished.  I was unable to find the itinerary online, tho.

Lanciani refers readers to his Ruins and excavations, and last night I decided I would just buy a copy of this.  The cheap reprints based on PDF’s usually make this possible, although in this case it seemed very difficult to get one at what I consider a reasonable price.  I did notice a copy of the first edition, with fold-out maps, offered for $200!  This raised the issue of how good the reproductions of the plates would be.  Those in my copy of The destruction were pretty grainy, which rendered them largely useless.  Indeed we might ask whether Google books is really preserving illustrations at all.

UPDATE: I was able to find Lanciani’s Italian publication of the itinerary here.  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to contain the inscriptions.

Devreesse: catenas on Mark

Let’s continue to extract relevant material to Eusebius from Devreesse’s massive article on catenas.

VIII.  THE CATENAS ON St. MARK. — 1.  OVERVIEW. — The most ancient edition of a catena on St. Mark is due to the Jesuit, Poussines:  Catena graecorum Patrum in evangelium secundum Marcum couectore atque interprete Petro POSSINO Soc. Iesu presbytero qui et adiecit, titulo spicilegii commentarium, ad loca selecta quatuor evangeliorum: accessere collationes graeci contextus omnium librorum novi Testamenti cum XXII codd. antiquis mss. ex bibliotheca Barberina. Romae. typis Barberinis, MDCLXXII. [1672].

Three sources were available for this edition; 1.  A manuscript which Poussines cites under the name of the Anonymous of Tolouse, belonging to Charles de Montchal, archbishop of that town, today Paris gr. 194.  Most of the exegesis in this manuscript is anonymous: it is astonishingly closely related to that work known as the commentary on Mark of Theophylact (Patrologia Graeca, vol. 123, cols. 487-682); the rest consists of 20 citations scattered through the work.  — 2.  An interpretation of St. Mark attributed to a certain Victor of Antioch by a German manuscript, a copy of which was sent to him by Cordier.  According to Sickenberger (Titus von Bostra, p. 128 f.) this would today be the Monac. 99.  An exegesis of almost identical content is given in Vatican gr. 1423, but that manuscript bears no attribution on it.  — 3.  An anonymous manuscript in the Vatican, of which Cordier also sent him a copy.  We have identified this manuscript, which Poussines cites as Ἀνωνύμου Βατικ or even Ἀνωνύμου as the Vatican gr. 1692 A, fol. 177 ff. Its content can be found in Poussines, as will appear below, although not always very faithfully.

In 1840 [sic]  following his catena on Matthew, Cramer published a catena on St. Mark, based on Bodleian Laud 33 and Coislin gr. 23, already used with profit by him for the catena on the first gospel.  Some lacunas were filled with the aid of Paris 178.  Cramer likewise took from Bodleian Barocci 156 a scholion attributed to Justin in the catena of Macarius Chrysocephalus on St. Luke.  There are few named citations in this collection printed by Cramer.  One is credited to Cyril of Alexandria, another to Irenaeus, a third to Basil and a fourth to Theodore of Mopsuestia.  A few others are cited from time to time, but inside the texts.  Other manuscripts like the Vindob. 154 (Lambec. 29) have a few more lemmas [=author's names], but never more than twenty.

One name dominates all the catenas on St. Mark; that of Victor of Antioch.  The Jesuit Peltanus edited  a commentary on the second gospel under this name… [1580]…  It is also from ps. Victor that another pseudepigraph already mentioned is derived: Peter of Laodicea, whose content was edited by Matthaei as a commentary by ps.Victor … [Moscow, 1775].

I don’t think the lengthy discussion of Victor of Antioch is relevant here.

Let us summarise this collection of literary facts from which the catenas on Mark derive.  1.  A bloc of scholia for the most part anonymous: the pseudo-Victor of Poussines.  2.  To this have been added other citations, not numerous: from which derive the text of Cramer, and the ps.Peter of Laodicea; the first reproduces integrally the fundus and adds a few (anonymous) extracts; the second rearranges the fundus and interpolates new scholia, some related to the additions in the catena of Cramer.

There remain two other collections of scholia; those of Vatican gr. 1692 A, and those of Paris 194, incompatible with each other.  The second agrees almost word for word, as in Poussines, with what is contained in the commentary of Theophylact on Mark.  As for the first, the state in which it has reached us does not permit us to say whether the few named citations encountered in it are the remains of a primitive state in which every citation had a name against it, and the source from which the catenist excerpted it, or on the contrary, whether we must envisage a two-stage process of compilation, perhaps an anonymous collection to which named patristic extracts were added later with an indication of their provenance.  Let us add that this collection also is far from covering the whole of the second gospel.

There remain the Scholia vetera (PG 106, col. 1173- 1178; also edited in Thomas, Les collections anonymes de scholies grecques aux evangiles, vol. 2, p. 181-9).  Their rare extracts correspond sometimes with ps.Victor.  Most often, they form a group apart.


Let’s now skip to Eusebius.  I’ve added some paragraphing.

Eusebius. — There was mention of a passage of Clement on the origins of the second gospel, collected by Eusebius.  The catenas cite various works of the bishop of Caesarea [=Eusebius].  In its prologue, the Anonymous of the Vatican (Poussines, p.3-4) refers to an opinion ἐν τρίτῃ βίβλῳ τῆς εὐαγγελικῆς ἀποδείξεως.  

Likewise the testimony of the questions to Marinus is invoked (Cramer, p. 266, 10-12; Poussines, p. 343 (on Mk. 25:25), 364 (on 16:18-20); these two passages on Simon of Cyrene and the appearance to Madeleine have been reproduced from Poussines  in PG vol. 22, col. 1009).  The same anonymous bears on Mk 13:32-39 (Poussines p. 297) the statement of Eusebius: ὡς γὰρ ἱστορεῖ ὁ Εὐσέβιος ἐν τῷ χρονικῷ κάνωνι.  Likewise on Mk 8:27 (Poussines, p. 269) Εὐσέβιος ἐν τῇ ἐπιτομῇ τῶν χρονικῶν

Finally Eusebius is named three times, though without references, once in Paris gr. 194 (=Poussines p. 46 on Mk 2:12), twice in ps.Victor of Antioch on Mk. 16:18-20 (Cramer 446, 19 f.) and by the anonymous of Poussines  on Mk. 15:15 (p. 340).

I think that is a very useful summary both of the printed catenas, and what is to be found in them.

A curious copyright consideration on commissioned work

The lawyers in the UK have done something odd.  They’ve decided that if someone commissions a bit of work from someone else, the copyright of the work remains with the author unless the contract explicitly says otherwise.  The details are here.

It’s hard to imagine any circumstance in which X would pay Y to create an original work and not intend to acquire ownership.  So this is just a typical lawyer’s trick, designed to increase the income of lawyers by obscuring what was plain to everyone and forcing everyone to state in writing what everyone presumed already, on pain of enriching more lawyers.  I can’t stomach such things.

I’ve tended to state this explicitly in all the work I have commissioned, being paranoid, but I’ve written to all my people explicitly again.  What the US position is I do not know.

As a rule I only take ownership so that I am free to give it away, of course.

Editions of Chrysostom “Against the Jews”

The eight sermons by John Chrysostom against the Jews do not seem to have attracted the attention of editors.  The following list of editions and translations is given by Harkins:

  • Erasmus, Desiderius. Divi Iohannis Chrysostomi et Divi Athanasii.. lucubrationes aliquot etc. (containing Discourses IV-VIII in a Latin translation] (Basle 1527).
  • Hoeschel, David. Contra Iudaeos homiliae VI (Augsburg 1602).
  • Duc, Fronton du (Fronto Ducaeus). Ad populum Antiochenum, adv. Iudaeos, De incomprehensibili Dei natura, De sanctis deque diversis eiusmodi argumentis homiliae LXXVII (Paris 1609).
  • Savile, Henry. S. Iohannis Chrysostomi opera omnia [title actually in Greek only] (8 vols., Eton 1612).
  • Duc, Fronton du (Fronto Ducaeus). S. Iohannis Chrysostomi opera omnia (12 vols., Paris 1636-42).
  • Montfaucon, Bernard de. S. Iohannis Chrysostomi opera omnia (13 vols., Paris 1718-38 and Venice 1734-41). Second edition by Th. Fix (Paris 1834-39; reprinted by J.-P. Minge in PG 47-61; Paris 1863 [earlier printings of vol. 48: 1859]).
  • Bareille, J. Oeuvres completes de S. Jean Chrysostome [Montfaucon's text with French translation] (12 vols., Paris 1865-73).
  • Schatkin, Margaret. “St. John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Protopaschites [the third discourse Adv. Iud.]: Introduction and Translation,” Orientalia Christiana analecta 195 (= The Heritage of the Early Church (Essays in Honor of.. . G.V. Florovsky]; Rome 1973) 167-86.
  • Paul W. Harkins, John Chrysostom, Discourses against Judaizing Christians, Fathers of the Church 68, 1999.  Google books limited preview. [Complete English translation]

It would seem, therefore, that Montfaucon’s text is still the most recent scholarly edition, being a mere 250 years old.

It is admittedly difficult to edit the works of Chrysostom.  Just a list of the extant manuscripts of his works fills multiple volumes.  But it is surely time that someone had a go at Adversus Iudaeos

I looked at the Google Books preview of the Harkins translation, but it seems that he was unaware of the discovery by Wendy Pradels some years earlier.  Seven of the sermons are of the same length; but the eighth is about 33% of the length.  Dr Pradels hunted down a manuscript which contained the remainder in the late 90′s, and published that text with a German translation.  It is my hope to get that lost portion translated into English, and reunite it with all the various online translations.

The price of being disorganized

I’m so cross with myself.  Some years ago I ordered a paper copy of PhD thesis containing a translation of John Chrysostom’s Eight Homilies Against the Jews.  It cost real money.  For years I have tripped over it.  Now I need it, and it is nowhere to be found.  Drat the thing, where can it be hiding?  I was going to convert it to PDF.

I was also looking for the Fathers of the Church volumes which are freely available on  I know I downloaded them.  But are they are on my hard disk?  They are not!

However do I avoid this happening?

I’m hoping to get the lost (and rediscovered) portion of Chrysostom’s Second Sermon translated and up on the web.  Time for another go at that particular hobby horse!  This one I will give away.

UPDATE:  Hmm.  Well I’ve just found the Chrysostom.  You see, when you have photocopies of complete books, they do make very large piles.  In the days when I was scanning a lot, I acquired a few of these doorstops.  My solution was to get the boxes that photocopier paper comes in (with lids), and place the books in those, writing on the lid which books were present within. 

Unfortunately I have acquired few such in recent years, and the pile of seven boxes next to my desk has come to serve as a make-shift extension on which papers get put.  Fortunately I thought to look under the papers.  In the second box down was the Chrysostom.  Thank heavens for that!  And I bet modern scanning will take a fraction of the time it did the last time I attacked that one.  I ordered it on 27th March 2007.  Was it that long ago?  Wow…

Eusebius update

I’m still working on Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel questions and solutions, and on the task of getting the book together.  At the moment the intention is to include both a text and translation.  There’s been a little more progress over the weekend.

A friend has typed up the Greek for letter 212 of Isidore of Pelusium which is itself a fragment of the work (although Eusebius is not named).  The quality of the Migne print made this rather more difficult than it might be.  He has also done the first of eight fragments from Cramer’s catena, and is checking the translation as he goes which is also valuable.

After Cramer, the next thing to do will be to get the Mai text of the Greek fragments together.  We’ll do this  a bit at a time.

I’ve also had a fresh contract from Les editions du Cerf for using their Greek text of the main part of the work.  I returned that this weekend; let us hope that they will supply me with a text.  If they do not, this may force me to print without a text.

There is no progress on the Syriac section.  Now I know that a fragment exists in Severus of Antioch, the translation of this needs to be reviewed.  All the Syriac needs to be entered and vowels added.  I’ve held off on this until I know about the Cerf Greek text.

The Coptic section is stalled, because the translator has not replied to my last email.  I’ll need to email again.

I think the nature of any collection of fragments is that there will always be more fragments to collect.  But I think I am largely happy with what we have, and there is little more to do in this area.