Recent studies on the Coptic catena of de Lagarde?

Looking at the summary of information on catenas on the gospels in Di Berardino’s latest volume of Quasten’s Patrology, I notice an intriguing couple of entries:

E. J. Caubet Iturbe, La Cadena arabe del Evangelio de san Mateo,1 Texto; 2 Version, Vatican City 1969-1970.

and

E. J. Caubet Iturbe, “La Cadena copto-arabe de los Evangelios y Severo de Antioquia”, Homenaje a J. Prado. Miscelanea de estudios biblicos y hebraicos, ed. L.Alvarez Verdes, E.J. Alonso Hernandez, Madrid 1975,421-432.

Now I recall from Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur 1, p. 318, n.1 and p.481-2, that the Coptic catena on the gospels published by Paul de Lagarde also exists in an Arabic version in the Vatican.  I came across this reference while searching for material by Eusebius of Caesarea in Arabic.  He’s listed in Abu’l Barakat’s catalogue:

Eusebius of Caesarea: He has explanations on passages of the holy Gospels and other separate religious treatises.

which Graf discusses, referring to a catena with 6 passages from Eusebius on Matthew and material from Severus of Antioch on Luke.  Page 481f discusses an “anonymous gospel catena”, which turns out to be that of Paul de Lagarde.  I’m not sure I’ve read the entry before.  Written in Bohairic, and almost certainly based on a Greek catena now unknown, H. Achelis dates the catena before 888 AD.  The manuscript used by de Lagarde is incomplete, however.   The manuscript turns out to be Vatican Arab 452, and most of the scholia are at least under the name of Eusebius.  A long quotation from Luke, and five chunks on Matthew, are ascribed to Eusebius, or so Graf says.

It is an interesting sight, therefore, to see this in the modern bibliography, and no mention of de Lagarde’s publication.

Is it possible that Iturbe published a critical text of the Arabic version of the catena?  It looks very much like it.  I wish I could obtain the article and see what he says.

UPDATE: After typing those words, I started searching for the book in Google.  Slightly amazing to find my site listed, and this article listed, less than a minute after I pressed save.  Is Google really watching these words that intently!?

I find in COPAC more details of the book:

A compilation of patristic commentaries, with the text of the Gospel, in the Arabic of Codex Vaticanus ar. 452 and in a Spanish version.

which also aligns with my understanding.  Another states:

Studi e testi 254-5.  Half title: Cod. vat. ar. 452, ff. 6-135. Originally presented as the editor’s thesis, Pontificia Commissio Biblica. Based on a Coptic version entitled: Ermēnia n̄te pieuangelion ethouab kata Matheon. cf. the editor’s introd., v.1, p. [li]-liv; H. Achelis. Hippolytsudien. 1897. p. 163-169. Originally presented as the editor’s thesis, Pontificia Commissio Biblica. Arabic text; Spanish introduction, notes and translation.

So there we have it.  This is indeed a critical edition of the Arabic catena.  The next question is whether I obtain this and include it in the Eusebius!  For there is a copy available for sale online…

UPDATE 2: I cannot resist.  It would be cheaper to order the books by ILL, and copy them, etc; but it is far easier to just buy the things. 

3 Responses to “Recent studies on the Coptic catena of de Lagarde?”


  1. Alin Suciu

    I became interested several years ago in the Bohairic Catena published by de Lagarde but I started to look at it more carefully only recently.
    The manuscript is in the British Library and another copy, from which we have several membra disjecta, is shared by the Coptic Museum in Cairo and the University Library in Leipzig.
    I don’t know whether the Arabic text published by Iturbe is based on our Bohairic testimonies, but it would not be surprising.
    Even if I tend to think that the original language was Greek, I find very puzzling that I am not able to identify with TLG not even one Patristic reference in the Catena.
    For example, the numerous quotations from Chrysostom do not match anything, although we have so many of his pieces in Greek. There is also a commentary on “Our Father” ascribed to Evagrius, but different from what we read in his “On Prayer.”
    This remains a small mystery. For the time being I don’t dare to think that the Bohairic Catena would preserve valuable Patristic material which is lost otherwise, although everything points to that direction… Further research is needed.

  2. Roger Pearse

    This is most interesting. I was unaware of the Cairo and Leipzig mss; do you have more details? (any reference, shelfmarks?)

    The text published by Iturbe is from a Vatican ms. The Arabic ms. contains the complete text of the catena, translated from the Bohairic Coptic when the Coptic was complete. Since then we have lost much of the Coptic text; de Lagarde’s publication and Iturbe’s introduction make that clear.

    I have not attempted to match anything except the Eusebius. But an edition and translation of the catena would be very valuable.

    Please tell me more about your interest! I never met anyone who had ever heard of this catena.

  3. Idiot of the week award goes to … at Roger Pearse

    [...] Some time back I discovered that an edition with Italian translation existed of part of the Arabic catena, covering Matthew.  The Arabic was edited by Iturbe, around 50 years ago, and attracted no attention, and I only stumbled on it through my habit of compulsive reading of patrology bibliographies.  I wanted to include the Arabic fragments of Eusebius in my book.  So I got hold of a copy of Iturbe, in two volumes, and had the fragments included in my book. [...]



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