I’m going to have a Religionsgesprach

One of the drawbacks of doing too much is that you tend to deal with emails a  bit too hastily.  One of those too hasty “yes that is fine” has come back to bite me.

Regular readers will remember that I commissioned a translation of all the fragments of Philip of Side.  Five of these are taken from a curious text, the Religionsgesprach am Hof der Sassaniden.  This is a fictional 6th century text, purporting to record a dialogue at the Sassanid Persian court between Christians and Jews.  It was edited by  Bratke, and reedited by Pauline Bringel in an amazingly erudite but unpublished(!) PhD thesis.  (All this I have discussed in previous posts tagged “Philip of Side”.)

Unfortunately I had a miscommunication with the translator, who had done some of the RGS for context, and he understood me to be commissioning a translation of the whole text.  It’s 45 pages of Bratke, 1007 lines of about 8.5 words per line, i.e. around 8,500 words.  Not small!  But he’s already done over half of it, and in fact the only question is whether the remaining portion is commissioned or not.  Since that will come out at around $200 — morally I must pay for the rest — I may as well bite the bullet.

Not that I really mind that much.  I suspect it might have been a long time before anyone ever translated the text otherwise!  So  it’s all for the good in the end.  I was hankering to translate it anyway, since I hate do excerpts of things.  But … I must learn to read more carefully.  “Always practice safe grammar” — one of  the rules of Count Yor.

When it is done, like the Philip of Side, I’ll put it in the public domain and make it available online.

5 Responses to “I’m going to have a Religionsgesprach”


  1. Jona Lendering

    Just a note to tell you that your gift to the internet community and to scholarship is appreciated – I will not read everything, but I like that it’s available.

  2. Roger Pearse

    I appreciate the encouragement!

    If possible, I won’t read it either — but like yourself, I want this stuff accessible for when I DO need to read it.

  3. Bill

    Amen to what you both just commented!

    Question: Roger, by “fictional text” you mean a text with fictional content. Yes? I honestly can’t remember if this used to be a familiar phrase to me. Is this standard usage?

    At any rate, FWIW, I’ve come to think of “fictional text” as things like Q, or ‘the inerrant original autographs’.

    But take your pick as to which of those examples might actually be fictional. ;-)

  4. Bill

    forgot the check box thing.

  5. Roger Pearse

    By “fictional text” I mean something like a novel; the events did not happen but were imagined.

    I’m thinking popular story, as in Robin Hood, or the narratives of popular saints — essentially folk-story, urban legend, the kind of stories that circulate among the lower orders in a less educated age. This is what I believe (may be wrong) anonymous hagiography mostly is; it is a mistake to see it as literary biography, and it belongs to a different genre. It’s what religious fiction looks like in a superstitious age. The ballads of Robin Hood, indeed, may be a good parallel. Doubtless both were largely believed, once composed.

    But I may be unfair here. Hagiography annoys me, so I might not being doing it justice.

    Q is not a fictional text, in my usage, but a hypothetical text invented to account for the passages in the gospels of Matthew and Luke(note the avoidance of jargon!) where the text is verbatim identical, but not found in Mark.

    The autographs of the gospels are not fictional texts, nor indeed texts at all; they are physical copies of texts, rather. Whether these were inerrant is a theological question; non-Christians believe they were not, perhaps because their preferred source of inerrant information is the television news. :-)