Update on my book, Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel

Long term readers may remember that, back in 2014, my company published a rather splendid item in book form, Mischa Hooker’s marvellous translation of Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel, including the catena fragments, with facing Greek text; some 700+ pages of it.  This was the second volume in the Ancient Texts in Translation series, from Chieftain Publishing.  The hardback was very splendid; and the paperback is a solid item too.

Hard sell:  The book is available still on Amazon.com in hardback ($80) and paperback ($45); and Amazon.co.uk in hardback (£50) and paperback (£30).  Amazon don’t keep a lot of stock, naturally, but you can order any of these as all are in print.  Lead time is probably about a week when out of stock.  Please get your university library to buy it!

The idea behind creating paper books was always to sell enough copies to justify commissioning more academic translations, ideally to university libraries.  Once sales dried up, the book would be released onto the web in the public domain.  This was (and is still) always the intention.

It’s interesting to find that the book is turning out to be something of a slow burner.  Initial sales were not impressive.  Originally no English translation existed of these homilies.  But during the project, the excellent Thomas P. Scheck released one in the well-known Ancient Christian Writers series; and this naturally stole our thunder somewhat.  However he only included a translation of the 14 homilies from Latin, without the original language or the fragments.  Dr Hooker did take account of the Scheck version, which appeared when ours was almost complete.

But I find that the book has continued to sell!  In fact I was surprised to find that it made enough money last year, after three years, to justify keeping it in print for another year.  This was unexpected.

Today I learn that a new review of it has appeared, by Peter W. Martens, in the Society for Biblical Literature’s journal, the Review of Biblical Literature, and published 3rd Jan. 2018.  The review is accessible to SBL members here.

In fact this is the third review that has appeared (to my knowledge), the others being by:

  • Angela R. Christman, in: Journal of Theological Studies 68 (2017), 351-3 (see abstract).
  • L. Vianès, in: Revue de philologie, de littérature et d’histoire anciennes 88 (2014), 180-2.

I must confess to being encouraged by these.  With luck they will result in further sales.  The more copies that sell, the more I might feel inclined to do it again.  I do not believe that the Origen volume will ever recover the investment of money and time that I put into it (to say nothing of others); but if it comes anywhere near doing so, then that is all money to put into further projects.

But I still intend to release the results online.  I nearly did so this Christmas.  Maybe at the end of the year.

4 thoughts on “Update on my book, Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel

  1. Roger,
    I do not understand the pricing of your book.
    If it was from Brill on similar topic and same size, the asking price would be high three to low four figures.
    What is your secret for delivering lots of paper, and meaty content, at a reasonable price?
    Would you be willing to impart it to Brill and Elsevier?

  2. I would encourage any one interested in Origen or Jerome to purchase this book.It has so much information you will study it again and again and great for reference work all so! Thanks Roger

  3. Mischa and I went to grad school (U. of Cincinnati/HUC) together where he was known among his peers as brilliant with the languages, a perfect person to undertake this project. I will use this work in my research. As Darren says, a great ref. tool. Glad to see the reasonable price.

  4. Thank you. Mischa Hooker is amazingly good at languages, always gives more than 100%, and is very easy to work with. I was privileged that he chose to work with me. I will make this volume freely available in time.

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