Euthymius Zigabenus, Commentary on the Psalms – edition and translation completed!

A few months ago I heard from John Raffan, who was industriously working on a translation of the immense Commentary on the Psalms by the 12th century Byzantine writer, Euthymius Zigabenus (or Zigadenus).  He had posted on his Academia.edu page a draft of the commentary for Psalms 1-75.

Today I hear from him that he has now posted a text and translation of the complete commentary in the same place.  It is here.

This is an immensely worthwhile thing to do, which must have required real grit and determination.  Euthymius Zigabenus is a name that crops up in various places in discussion of biblical interpretation.  It is very useful indeed, therefore, to have an edition, and still more a freely available translation, of his work on the Psalms.  Thank you!

UPDATE: I had not known at the time of posting that in fact Dr Raffan has made the first complete edition of the Greek text.  He writes:

“I do not wish to make inflated claims for my edition of the Psalter Commentary, but I think it is more of a ‘first complete edition’ than a ‘fresh edition’. The edition reprinted in Migne 128 was incomplete (it did not include the commentary on the Biblical Canticles) and also thoroughly corrupt, being based on a single manuscript with lacunae and interpolations.

“My prime source for the edition is the 12th century ms. from the Moscow Synodal Library  (gr. 195), but this has been collated with a series of other  early manuscripts from Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale), London (British Library), Constantinople (Old Seraglio Library), Sinai (Saint Catherine’s Monastery Library), Florence (Laurenziana Library) and Munich (Bavarian State Library), many of which are now available on the internet in digital form. I have barely made any use of the Migne edition, which I found virtually unusable. On the top left corner of the Greek pages I have marked the folio numbers of the Moscow ms. and I also have marked the page breaks in the text. I will need to present all this information in an introduction, but I thought is would be helpful to make the text available even before I have completed writing the introduction.

“The mss. from Moscow, the British Library and Munich also contain the Dogmatic Anthology in varying states of incompleteness.”

Many thanks indeed for this – my mistake!

Euthymius is perhaps best known for his comment on the passage in John’s gospel, in his Commentary on the Four Gospels (PG129, col. 1280 C-D), about the woman taken in adultery, that it isn’t found in the best copies of his day, or is obelised.I discussed this myself in 2009 here. I posted a version of the translation into Wikipedia – it seems that I wrote the original version of that article – and this has circulated as follows:

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 an obelus, 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 hope that we will get more of his works in English soon!  Dr Raffan has stated his intention to work on the Dogmatic Anthology next.  I asked about this, and he wrote:

The Dogmatic Anthology is not to be identified with the Dogmatic Panoply, which is indeed an anti-heretical work and perhaps the most widely-known of the works by Zigabenus, since it is one of the main sources for the Bogomil heresy. The Dogmatic Panoply was published in the early 18th century and reprinted as volume 130 of Migne’s Patrologia Graeca.

In the wake of the Bogomil debacle, Zigabenus was commanded by the Emperor Alexios Comnenos produce the Dogmatic Panoply to provide a compendium and refutation of all heresies. In her Alexiad, Anna Comnena states that Zigadenus was chosen by her father for this task because, in addition to his skill as a Grammarian and his prowess in Rhetoric, he ‘was unrivalled in his knowledge of doctrine’. His ‘grammatical’ and ‘rhetorical’ credentials are evidenced by his scriptural commentaries (on the Gospels, the Psalms and the Pauline Epistles), but the evidence for his unrivalled knowledge of doctrine has not hitherto been found.

A number of the mss. of the Psalter commentary, however, also include a Dogmatic Anthology, which has been described by cataloguers as ‘extracts from the Dogmatic Panoply’, and has never been published. I believe, however, that this Anthology predates the Dogmatic Panoply and explains Zigabenus’ reputation for doctrinal competence and hence his invitation to produce the larger work, which incorporates most of this earlier Anthology. The Dogmatic Anthology thus provides a link between the earlier tradition of Dogmatic Florilegia, as found in the well-known Doctrina Patrum, and the various ‘Panoplies’ that followed the work promoted by the Emperor Alexios. The Anthology displays Zigabenus’ skill in paraphrasing his beloved Chrysostomos and also later writers such as Photios.

Great to see new ground being broken!

NOTE: 11/6/16.  I have updated this post with additional information supplied by Dr Raffan, for which I am very grateful.

2 thoughts on “Euthymius Zigabenus, Commentary on the Psalms – edition and translation completed!

  1. Thanks. I have already looked at the translation in light of a specific verse I am currently dealing with.
    In your Wikipedia entry you note that Euthymius made use of Patristic sources. I am curious if he had Rabbinic ones as well.

    thanks again for the heads-up

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