Archive for the 'Announcements' Category
October 31st, 2014 by Roger Pearse
Arabic Christian literature is little known. There is no English-language handbook, and even the “big histories”, the works in which Arabic-speaking Christians recount their own history, are mostly not translated into English; or, indeed, sometimes even edited.
Eutychius – also known as Sa`īd al-Bitrik -, Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria between 877-940 AD, wrote one of the five histories; and indeed was one of the first Christians to adopt Arabic, the language of the conquerors. This is commonly known by its 17th c. Latin title, the Annals. A partial German translation exists – of value to that tiny part of the world who speak German – and a full Italian translation by Bartolomeo Pirone. The latter was published in Cairo in 1987 by the Franciscan Centre, thereby ensuring that few copies were distributed. My own copy came over the internet from the Franciscan bookshop in Jerusalem and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only copy in England.
I thought that it might be useful to give the table of contents here. Note what was known in the 10th century, as passed down by (mainly ecclesiastical) writers.
Note that Pirone has decided to give proper names as transliterated from the Arabic, except in exceptional cases, so I have done likewise.
Part I – From the Creation to Heraclius
Cap. I. The Creation of Adam and Eve - Cain, Abel and their sisters - The descendants of Shīt and those of Cain - Noah, his descendants, and the Flood - Noah leaves the Ark - The calling of Malshīsādāq - The commencement of the spread of the cult of images - The confusion of tongues in Bābil and the division of territories among the peoples of the earth - The origin of magic - Abraham came out from Harran and went to live in Kan’ān - More on Malshīsādāq - Ishmael and Isaac - Jacob and his sons - Joseph in Egypt (p.33)
Ch. II. The Israelites become slaves of the Egyptians - The killing of every newborn Jew - Moses is forced to leave Egypt and goes to Midian - Pharaoh allows the children of Israel to leave - Moses on Mount Sinai - Death of Moses, Aaron and Maryam - Joshua becomes leader of the people - Joshua’s battles and alliances with nations and cities - Partition of the conquered territories among the children of Israel (p.63)
Chap. III. Israel gives itself to the worship of idols - Judges appear - The prophetess Deborah - Judge Gideon - Abimelech rules the nation three years - Israel returns to the worship of the idols Baalim, Ashtarot and Bael - Yefte, judge of Israel - Samson frees the people from the slavery of foreign tribes - Samson gives himself to Delilah, is taken, blinded, killed. (p.73)
Chap. IV The priest Ali governs the people - The Prophet Samuel in the Temple in Shīlūn - The Ark and the misadventures of foreign tribes - Samuel governs the people of Israel - The people demand a king - Saul is made king over the children of Israel - Samuel anoints the young David King - David fights, by order of Saul, against foreign tribes - Death of Saul and his sons Gloriata, Abbiadati and Malhīsh (p.83)
Chap. V David, king of Israel, faces various types of opposition and civil unrest - The ark in the house of Abinadab - David wars against the enemies of Israel – Solomon succeeds David - Hiram, king of Tyre, and the origin of purple - Measurements of the Temple built by Solomon - Two women ask for the judgment of Solomon - the Queen of Sheba in Jerusalem - Kingdom of Jeroboam and Rehoboam - the kings of Judah and Israel - Akhab and the prophet Elijah - Akhab and Yosafat. (p.91)
Chap. VI King Ocozia and the prophet Elijah - Reign of Yoram, son of Akhab - Yoram fights against the king of Damascus - Prophecies of Elisha - Ocozia and his mother Athaliah reigned over Judah - Elisha sent to anoint king Yehu - Yehu becomes King of Israel - Yoash reigns over Judah - Akhaz returns to worship of idols - Yoash king of Israel - was followed by the kings of Judah: Amaziah, Azariah, Yotam, Akhaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amori, Josiah, Yoakhaz, Yoakim, Yahunakim - Sennacherib invades Judah - the pharaoh Necho fights against the king of Mosul (p.111)
Chap. VII Nebuchadnezzar and the three young men in the furnace - Daniel interprets and explains the king’s dream - Prophets in Babylon - Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Egypt, then he dies - Reign of his successors - Daniel explains to King Belshazzar the meaning of the three words on the wall - the reign of Darius and the appearance of the Persians - Daniel and the idols of Babil - Daniel in the den - Sequence of Persian kings - Ezra rebuilds the Temple - War between Darius and Alexander the Great: exchange of Letters - Death of Darius and campaigns of Alexander - Death of Alexander and panegyrics of the sages of the time, before the body of the hero, humbled by death - Dismemberment of the empire: the Ptolemies - Simeon the Just receives the grace of seeing the Messiah (p.127)
Chap. VIII Caesar and Augustus rule Rome - Death of Cleopatra - Herod terrorizes Jerusalem and the region - Augustus orders a census in the territories of the Empire - The Birth of Christ - The Magi looking for Jesus - Jesus is baptized by John - Death of John and death of Christ - Joseph of Arimathea places the body in a tomb - the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (p.147)
Chap. IX Reign of Tiberius and Herod Agrippa - Arcadius first Patriarch of Antioch - Death of Agrippa - The apostle Mark in Alexandria: founding of the Patriarchate of Alexandria - Nero, the persecutor of Christians - Luke writes the Gospel and the Acts - The Crucifixion of Peter head down - Vespasian, Titus and the destruction of Jerusalem - in Rome Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian succeed one another - Hadrian destroys Jerusalem and builds a new city called Aelia - Successions of popes, patriarchs and emperors - question of the calculation of Easter, when it should be celebrated (p.157)
Chap. X Under the rule of Ardashir the Persians reappear - In Rome Pertinax, Julian, Severus follow one another: new persecutions against Christians - Sequence of kings of Persia: rule of Sapor - Maximinus Caesar persecutes the Christians - The persecution of Decius - Legend of the Seven Sleepers - Sequence of Persian kings and Roman emperors (p.173)
Chap. XI Reign and persecution of Diocletian - Arian heresy arises - Phenomenon of the Tetrarchy - persecution suffered by Christians at the hands of Maximian and Galen - Constantine becomes emperor and took over the command of his father Constantius - Galerius contracts a nasty disease - Sapor secretly visits the Roman lands - Constantine‘s vision of the Cross - the Martyrs of Sebastia - Schism caused in the church by Arius and Meletius - the Council of 318 - Helena in the Holy Land: the discovery of the Cross - Constantine gives instructions to rebuild the churches of Jerusalem - Synod of Tyre and consecration of the church of Jerusalem - Constantine persecutes the Jews (p.187)
Chap. XII Murder of Constantine - Apparition of the Cross on the Mount of Olives - Cyril of Jerusalem interprets the meaning - Dissemination of the doctrine of Arius - Heresy of Macedonius - Reign of Julian the Apostate: persecution of Christians and attempt to re-establish the worship of gods - the monastic movement in Egypt and Palestine - Reigns of Valentinian and Valens - Cycle of Theophilus and Theodosius (p.209)
Chap. XIII Reign of Theodosius the Great - Still more Arianism - Council of 150 on the teaching of Macedonius, Apollinaris and of Sabellius - Of the Manichaeans: their habits and customs - Theophilus, former friend of Theodosius, became patriarch of Alexandria - Arsenius, tutor of Arcadius and Honorius, emperors, one of the East , the other in the West - Still more on Arsenius - Disagreement between John Chrysostom and Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria - The Queen Eudoxia - Epiphanius and John Chrysostom - Third ecumenical Council - Nestorius and his heresy (p.223)
Chap. XIV Refutation of Nestorius and Nestorianism by Sa`id ibn Batrīq - Against Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Severus, Jacob Baradaeus and their followers - On the various types of union - The person, two natures, two wills of Christ (p.239)
Chap. XV End of Yazdagard and reign of Bahram Gor - Heresy of Eutyches - The Synod of 8 November 448 against Eutyches - The robber-synod of Ephesus: August 449 - Eudoxia, wife of Theodosius - Marcian reigns in Constantinople - the Council of Chalcedon in 451 against the heretic Eutyches and Dioscorus - Repercussions within the realm (p.259)
Chap. XVI Reign of Firuz over the Persians - The coming to the throne of Leo the Great - Rioting in Alexandria: the murder of the patriarch Proterius - Basilicus usurps the throne - Succession of Patriarchs in the various locations - The figure of Patriarch Elias I - Firuz at war with the king of Hephthalites - Death of Firuz and the kingdom of Qabād - Anastasius, king of the Byzantines, abandons the doctrine of the Melkites and embraces that of the Jacobites - Opposition of the monks of Laurium, supported by Elias and guided by their superiors Theodosius, Chariton, Saba - the heresy of Severus and the support given to it by the king Anastasius - the monks of Palestine against the king - Eutychius refutes the doctrine of the Jacobites - A famine at Jerusalem - Justin becomes emperor of Constantinople (p.269)
Chap. XVII Justinian vanquishes the Jacobite heresy using Apollinaris and monitors the Samaritans of Nablus. - St. Saba at the court of Constantinople - Construction of the Basilica of the Nativity of the monastery of Sinai, and the houses for the keepers of the monastery - The heresy of Origen and the synod of Constantinople II on May 5 553 - Mazdak preaches in Persia and implements the equal distribution of property - The coming to the throne of Anūshirwān - Anastasius, Patriarch of Antioch - Doctrine of Maron - The robber of the city of Ifrīqiyah - War between the Persians and Khaqan - Kisra Abarwīz, king of Persia - Kisra marries the daughter of Maurice and becomes a Christian - Phocas Emperor of Constantinople - the Persians invade Palestine and Egypt - John the Almoner - The Jews of Tyre plot to annihilate the Christians - Heraclius becomes Emperor of Constantinople (p.291)
Part II – From Heraclius to ar-Rādī (p.317)
Cap. XVIII Heraclius break the siege of Constantinople, Heraclius and kisra - Heraclius to Jerusalem - Heraclius and Maronites - Death of Muhammad - the Caliphate of Abū Bakr — Caliphate of ‘Umar — Caliphate of ‘Uthman — Caliphate of ‘Alī— Caliphate of Mu‘āwiya — Caliphate of Yazīd b. Mu‘āwiya — Caliphate of Marwān b. al-Hakam — Caliphate of ‘Abd al’Malik b. Marwān — Caliphate of al-Walīd b. ‘Abd al-Malik — Caliphate of Sulaymān b. ‘Abdal-Malik — Caliphate of ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz — Caliphate of Yazīd b. ‘Abd al-Malik — Caliphate of Hishām b. ‘Abd al-Malik — Caliphate of al-Walīd b. Yazīd — Caliphate of Yazīd b. al-Walīd — Caliphate of Marwān b. Muhammad al-Gā‘dī (p.319)
Cap. XIX The Abbasid Caliphs. Caliphate of Abū l-Abbās as-Saffāh — Caliphate of Ga‘far al-Mansūr — Caliphate of al-Mahdī — Caliphate of Mūsa al-Hādī — Caliphate of Hārūn ar-Rashīd — Caliphate of Muhammad al-Amīn —Caliphate of al-Ma’mūn — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tasim — Caliphate of al-Wāthiq — Caliphate of al-Mutawakkil — Caliphate of al-Muntasir bi’llāh — Caliphate of al-Musta‘īn — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tazz — Caliphate of al-Muhtadī — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tamid e nascita di Sa‘īd Ibn Batrīq — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tadid — Caliphate of al-Muktafī — Caliphate of al-Muqtadir — Caliphate of al-Qāhir: Sa‘īd Ibn Batrīq is made Patriarch of Alexandria — Caliphate of ar-Rādī (p.391)
It might be interesting to translate some of this material.
October 28th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
Anthony Alcock has continued his programme of translations with the first English translation of two Coptic fragments from a Vatican manuscript, which have been given the title of the Acts of Andrew and Paul. The two were printed, with French translation, by X. Jacques, “Les deux fragments conservés des ‘Actes d’André et Paul'”, in Orientalia 38 (1969), p.187-213.
Here is the translation:
In addition I have OCR’d the French introductory material, which is here:
What do we know about this material? I thought that I would translate some of the introduction into English for those who do not read it. I’ve included a few (but by no means all) of the bibliographic footnotes.
* * * *
The two fragments preserved of the ‘Acts of Andrew and Paul’ (Ms. Vatican Borgia Coptic 109, fascicle. 132)
Fascicle 132 of the manuscript Borg. Copt. 109, in the Vatican, consists of 11 folios. Zoega, who made them known in 1811, gave them the pagination 115-126, 131-136, 139-142, and labelled them “Fragmenta duo de rebus SS. Andreae et Pauli; duo pariter de rebus S. Bartholomaei” (Two fragments about the doings of St Andrew and St Paul; likewise two about the doings of St. Bartholomew). He then summarised the first two fragments (115-126, 131-136) and edited the first one (115-126). 
In 1835, Dulaurier translated a part of the first fragment into French (end of 117 to start of 123), using Zoega’s text. He changed Zoega’s vague title, given, he felt, with little thought, into “the Acts of St. Andrew and St Paul.”
Under this title, the text entered the general works devoted to the apocrypha. Tischendorf transcribed the Latin summary of Zoega and added part of Dulaurier’s translation in a footnote. Migne published large extracts of the same translation in his Dictionnaire des légendes du christianisme (Dictionary of Christian Legends) in the articles Judas Iscariot and Paul, and mentioned it in his Dictionnaire des Apocryphes. Lipsius mentioned it, in the context of the Acts of Andrew, translated freely the summary of Zoega, and added some reflections on the nature and origin of the text.
In 1887 Guidi edited the second of these “frammenti relativi alla leggenda di s. Paolo e s. Andrea” (131-133 col. 1), and in the following year supplied an Italian translation. Lipsius signalled it, in his complementary volume, and Schmidt reproduced this information in Harnack’s history of Christian literature. Hennecke, on the other hand, in the first two editions of his work, made no mention of these fragments.
However, in 1894, Steindorff inserted the fragment published by Zoega in the selection of readings accompanying his grammar, and did the same with some extracts in his abridged grammar. Guidi followed his example in publishing an extract of the same fragment in his Eléments. M.R. James summarised the two fragments without translating them.
The first English translation – but only of Steindorff’s extracts, minus the last lines of the second fragment – was offered by Hallock to the readers of the Journal of the Society of Oriental Research, in 1929 (J. Worrell, in 1945, citing the apology of Judas as an example of Coptic literature of the 4-5th century, gave a new translation of this fragment, based on Zoega’s Coptic text).
Finally in 1964 Schneemelcher, in redoing the work of Hennecke, introduced a short notice on these two fragments. Erbetta translated the summary by James.
But the authors of general works were not the only ones interested in these fragments. By 1890 von Lemm connected three passages of the fragment published by Zoega with other apocrypha, and he gave a German translation of them. In 1911 Flamion attempted to situate the “Acts of Paul and Andrew” somewhere in his study of the Acts of Andrew. Haase, with a broader perspective, reproduced the summary of Zoega among the sources of his enquiry, summarised himself the summary of Lipsius in the paragraph devoted to Andrew. At this point he said nothing of the long narrative about Judas, nor, even more oddly, in the paragraph which he devoted to that apostle.
In the volume of magical texts published by Lexa, three passages of Zoega’s fragment are translated into French. The author relates to them some other passages in his collection. …
In a note, published in 1947, Morenz suggests, on very fragile grounds, to see in the person of Andrew, as it appears in these fragments, a new Serapis. In 1955 an article by J. Zandee, devoted to the descent into Hell among the Copts, was the occasion for him to translate for his readers the extracts published by Steindorff… In 1957 Godron proposed to place the bird labelled in our text among the Ardeidae.
Peterson, studying the history and legends concerning Andrew, summarised the two fragments. They are often referred to in the work of Zandee, written in Dutch but published in English in 1960, on ancient Egyptian ideas about death. …
* * * *
Jacques also states that Zoega’s text departs from the manuscript in 16 places, sometimes affecting the meaning. But curiously he does not indicate the age of the manuscript, nor of the text.
Schneemelcher (vol. 2, p.450), adds the following:
It was only the contribution of X. Jacques, ‘Les deux fragments conserves des Actes d’Andre et de Paul’ (Orientalia N.S. 38, 1969, 187-213), with a complete and critical edition of the original text and a translation, also in French (reprinted a year later in Recherches de Science Religieuse 58,1970,289-296), bibliography and commentary, that finally replaced the earlier partial editions and translations.
Particular interest was aroused among scholars by the passage in which it is narrated that ‘Andrew with a beaker of sweet water put asunder the salt sea-water and so made it possible for Paul to ascend again from Hell.’ This motif has been associated inter alia with ancient Egyptian magical texts: so for example F. Lexa, La magie dans l’Egypte antique I, Paris 1925, 150-151 and A.M. Kropp, Ausgewahlte koptische Zaubertexte III, Brussels 1930, 61-62. S. Morenz (ThLZ 79, 1947, cols. 295-297) considers such explanations questionable, and suggests comparing the miracle of the dividing of the waters accomplished by Andrew with an act ascribed by Aelius Aristides to the hellenistic-Egyptian god Sarapis, according to which ‘in the midst of the sea he called forth drinkable water’. On this view we should here have before us a syncretistic text in which – in Morenz’ words – the apostle Andrew would appear as νέος Σάραπις. That this conclusion is not valid is already clear from the fact that the alleged parallelism between the two motifs is at least just as imperfect as others which might be drawn from the Egyptian magical texts previously mentioned, or even from biblical sources (e.g. Exod. 15:22ff., the bitter water at Mara). There appears to be a clearer analogy with an episode in the Prochorus Acts (= Zahn 5421569), which speaks of a transformation of sea-water into drinking-water. The motif of the dividing of the waters seems however to be deeply rooted in Egypt, and could – with the inclusion of other circumstances in the tradition – be taken as a sign that our present document originated in Egypt. For other indications in this direction, see Jacques, art. cit. passim.
A striking feature of these ‘Acts’ is the hybrid character of their contents: this is chiefly a matter of an alleged episode of the Acts of Andrew (i.e. the raising-up of a child through the apostle’s intercession, as in the Acta Andreae et Philemonis; see below, 5.5) into which the apocalyptic interlude of Paul’s journey to Hell is interwoven (with great reliance on the known Apocalypse of Paul [BHGII,1460] and the Gospel of Bartholomew [BHG 1,228]). This is without doubt an indication of a late time of origin. For adetailed analysis of the contents cf. Lipsius (Die apokr. Apostelgeschichten 1,616-617; Erganzungsheft 96), James, 472-475 and Moraldi II, 1616-1617.
Which gives us something, if not the data we want.
All the same, the material is now in English!
October 25th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
It seems that the Syrian National Museum in Damascus does not / did not allow photography inside the building. Not that it got many tourists, thanks to the grim reputation of the Assad regime in the old days, but those who did turn up were prevented from photographing, or rather recording, the contents.
That doesn’t seem like a satisfactory policy now, does it? If ISIS capture the city, all that material will be gone for good, except for those pieces that they can sell on the art market.
If some people have their way, the art market for Syrian pieces will be shut down, in order to prevent ISIS raising money thereby. But won’t that merely guarantee 100% destruction rate? I rather doubt the evidently well-funded and foreign-backed ISIS gunmen will be deterred by the loss of a few art sales, however.
So what was the justification for not recording the museum contents? To sell a few miserable postcards? I fear so.
October 23rd, 2014 by Roger Pearse
One of the most famous discoveries in Mithraic studies is the text painted on the wall of the Mithraeum of Santa Prisca in Rome which reads “et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso” – “and you have saved us through the shedding of the eternal blood.” This has been widely compared to Christian ideas, and, outside the scholarly world, almost insanely so.
Yesterday a kind correspondent sent me portions of an article in Italian by Pancieri in which he queries whether the text actually says this. The paintings are badly damaged, after all, and conjecture plays a part in the text above.
I thought that it would be useful to translate what he has to say into English, if only to make his cautious remarks rather better known. I will give the Italian as well, in case I misunderstand it at any point: corrections are welcome!
With regard to the mysteries of Mithras, I note – as has been noted above concerning the nature of its creator, and his saving and merciful character – that, although it is considered reliable in most respects, whatever may be the interpretation to be given of his work of salvation [c.f., leaving aside the cult images, the verse from the Mithraeum of S. Prisca, "et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso", according to the reading of the first editor (A. Ferrua, in Bull.Com., LXVIII, 1940, p.85; in Ann.épìgr., 1946, 84), confirmed and corrected CIMRM, I, 485, and by Vermaseren (Excavations, l.c., pp.217-221)**], it is almost never reflected in the dedications [CIMRM, I, 213 (salutaris?), 691 cfr. 891 (propitius), 900b (deo bono, dubious), II, 2265 (epekoos), 2276 (deo bono invicto?)].
One could wish Dr Pancieri had not compressed his thought quite so much! The point being made is that we don’t know what “saving” means in the cult of Mithras, and it features hardly at all in the inscriptions. The last point suggests that it is not exactly an important element in the cult.
The footnote, however, is the bit that interests us. It is printed as one paragraph, but I will split it, for ease of reading:
** The exceptional importance of this verse, for the issue addressed in this seminar, led me to thoroughly review it, after the recent cleaning of the frescoes in the mithraeum of S. Prisca, carried out by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma (restorer Sig.Elio Paparatti). During the restoration, the Soprintendenza has taken some excellent new photographs, from which I took the detail which I have reproduced (fig. 10).
Fig. 10. 1978 photo
Judging from a comparison of these with the photos published by Vermaseren (Excavations, l.c., plate LXVIII, 1-3), and comparing those with even earlier ones, dating from the time of the original discovery and publication (fig. 11), we find that, at this point, against the inevitable damage of time may be contrasted some gains due to the major cleaning of the wall.
Fig.11 How the wall appeared in the 1930’s.
This does not mean that our verse makes easy reading even now, and so, for this reason, the first publishers are to be commended for their ability, starting from quite miserable fragments, to make available to scholars a text of the utmost importance.
The main danger that we now need to avoid (which, it seems to me, that many have been led into, because of the current habit of transcribing the text without any critical marks) is of believing that the reconstruction of this verse is certain at every point; or, at least, is of the same degree of reliability for each part (see, for example, more specifically among those who have dealt with this text: H.D. Betz, in Nov. Test., X, 1968, p. 77 ff.; I.M. Hackethal, in Zeitschr. Papyr. Epigr., III ,1968, pp. 233-238; M.J. Vermaseren, in Meded. Nederl. Inst. Rome, XXXVII, 1975, p. 92 ff.; M. Simon, in Rev. d’hist. et de philos. relig., LVI, 1976, pp. 277-288).
In reality, as may be seen from all the photographs (not only the most recent), and also from the facsimile published by Vermaseren (fig. 12), the painted text from the start was in a gravely fragmentary state. In a new facsimile (fig. 13), I have tried to reproduce as closely as possible what I think can be seen today.
Fig.12 Vermaseren’s facsimile (1965)
Fig.13 – fascimile, 1978
Without pretending to give a new reconstruction of the text, I will limit myself to indicating which elements are confirmed, and which are doubtful, as the new evidence seems to require. Proceeding backwards:
1) Absolutely certain is the word FUSO, which is found in perfect form also in the short text painted on a jar in the same mithraeum (Excavations, l.c., p. 409 fig. 204, plate. XCIX, 1-3).
2) Almost certain, although not readable in full, is the word SANGUINE which precedes it, both because it fits very well both the spaces and the fragments of letters remaining, and because sanguine fuso, as previous editors have noted, is an expression used elsewhere and perfectly in place in this context.
3) Doubtful (and Ferrua also had some doubts) is the word ETERNALI. After carefully analysing the perfectly straight line, slanting from left to right and top to bottom, before the N (which is clearly recognisable), it seems very difficult to recognise this as an R, even if connected to the following letter. In every R present in the inscriptions of this layer (of paintings) it is possible to find a common feature, rising above the top edge of the writing. So this line could belong rather to an A or an M or to two letters joined. There are doubts also because the word is unique, and because the supposed L shows the remains of an upper crossing stroke, which seems a little too strong on the left side to be a mere flourish. I see no sign of the I. What in the photo looks like the remains of an S, near the head of the Leo which interrupts the writing, in fact does not exist on the plaster, which is damaged at this point.
4) Likewise the reading SERVASTI, with the RVA linked together, does not appear convincing when compared with what remains today (but see also Vermaseren’s facsimile). And the E is not certain; it may be an F. The following letter, which has been interpreted as an R, looks like an O in the photos; nothing can be seen on the wall now, where the plaster is missing (and, it would seem, was missing in the past). Apart from this, I am unclear as to whether the signs that follow (which may well be part of a group VA) can be made to follow an S, since they seem to be the remains of a letter joined to an N.
5) Everything before that is no longer verifiable today, in the present state of conservation. The miserable scraps of letters are not definitely identifiable, and do not clearly result in the text above, nor in the old photos.
It seems obvious, after what has been said, that this famous verse should be studied again by epigraphists, as well as by Mithraic specialists. In the meantime, it would seem to be important that this reading of the text is not taken as secure, both to avoid building on shaky foundations, and because the text deserves to return to the centre of scholarly critical attention.
I should add that I have Vermaseren’s description, and further photographs of the wall and inscription – some in colour! – here.
Pancieri’s points are interesting, but clearly there is more to be done. One avenue of exploration would be to see whether the other texts at Santa Prisca would be amendable to similar criticism. Do they actually appear on the wall now? Did they once, but now only exist in the photos? What is the rate of decay of the paintings at Santa Prisca? Or is it the case that decay is not a factor, and that Ferrua and Vermaseren were over-imaginative? What could the text read?
As far as I know, nobody accepted Pancieri’s challenge. Which is now itself, some forty years ago.
Is there an epigraphist in the house?
October 23rd, 2014 by Roger Pearse
Seen on Twitter this morning:
Hmm. Maybe not.
We’re often told that “archaeology is science so only archaeology is reliable.”
So this is a fun illustration of the perils of that; of what can happen when you have no literary sources, and construct a narrative solely from archaeology or monuments.
October 15th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
I need an article: can someone help me? We may get a translation out of it, if we can get hold of the text.
The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation by J. K. Elliott makes mention of some 9th century Coptic Acts of Andrew and Paul, on p.243. The text has been published, with French translation. Unfortunately the journal is not one I have access to:
X. Jacques, “Les deux fragments conservés des ‘Actes d’André et de Paul'”, in: Orientalia, New Series, volume 38 (1969), pages 187-213.
The Orientalia journal seems to be issued by the Pontifical Bible Institute in Rome: info here. The 2008 volume seems to be open-access, here and here. The article is also referenced in Schneemelcher, p.450.
Does anyone have access to this article? If so, can you let me have a copy? A kind gentleman is willing to translate the Coptic into English, if I can supply him with the text.
UPDATE: The series is ISSN 0030-5367. Apparently the journal exists in the “ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials” product (not the same as the more common “ATLA Religion Database”) – does anyone have access to this?
October 14th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
The British Library manuscripts blog has announced here (and in PDF form here) that another 46 manuscripts have gone online. Which is always good news!
This particular group is rather special. For the first time it isn’t dominated by biblical texts. Instead we have mainly classical or patristic manuscripts. Of course a lot of these are late, humanist copies, often from the book-copying industry in Venice in the 16th century – for creating printed Greek was never an easy enterprise – but sometimes still the earliest witness to a text.
Accessing the blog was difficult, so I’m guessing that this post is attracting plenty of attention!
Here are some highlights.
- Add MS 24371, John Chrysostom, Fragments of Homiliae in Matthaeum (58, 70-75, 78-79, 81-83) (TLG 2062.152). 11th century.
Add MS 28824, John Chrysostom, In Genesim homiliae 11-31 (TLG 2062.112), imperfect and mutilated at beginning and end. 12th century.
Add MS 28826, John Climacus, The Ladder (TLG 2907.001), imperfect, and Liber ad Pastorem, imperfect. 12th century.
Add MS 30518, John Chrysostom, In Genesim homiliae 1-11, 21-33 (TLG 2062.112), imperfect. Written about the year 1121.
Add MS 32643, Patristic miscellany, partly palimpsest, with occasional marginal scholia. Includes works by Anastasius of Sinai, Epiphanius of Salamis, Gregory of Nazianzus, Anastasius I of Antioch, John Chrysostom, Hesychius of Jerusalem, and Christopher of Alexandria, as well as Gospel lections (Gregory-Aland l 1234). 12th-14th century.
Add MS 34654, Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes. 11th century.
Add MS 36750, John Chrysostom, Ad populum Antiochenum homiliae (TLG 2062.024), imperfect, and Ad illuminandos catecheses 2 (TLG 2062.025), imperfect. 11th century.
Add MS 36753, Maximus Confessor, Loci Communes (CPG 7718), which is a florilegium of classical and patristic authors. A few pages of bits at the end. Written in 1198.
Burney MS 62, Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, with scholia, vitae, and epigrams. Italy, end of the 15th century, written by the scribe known as the Anonymus Harvardianus.
Burney MS 66, Commentaries on Aristotle by John Philoponus and others. 1st half of the 16th century.
Burney MS 82, Hesiod, Works and Days (TLG 0020.002). Italy, end of the 15th century.
Burney MS 85, Speeches by Isocrates and Lysias, and gnomological literature. Italy, c 1500. I don’t have the expertise to say which gnomological texts these are.
Burney MS 95, Codex Crippsianus, containing speeches by the minor Attic Orators. Constantinople, 1st half of the 14th century.
Burney MS 276, Fragments of Greek and Latin manuscripts, mostly of classical and patristic authors. 11th-17th century: Lucian, Gregory Nazianzen; Theodoret on the psalms; The Batrachomyomachia attributed to Homer; lists of homilies attributed to Chrysostom; Plutarch; Libanius, oratio to Theodosius; fragments of grammatical texts, such as Herodian; and two leaves from a Latin commentary on Persius.
Egerton MS 942, Demosthenes, Orationes, preceded by Argumenta of Libanius. Florence, made for Alexander Farnese (later Pope Paul III) after 1490. This is a decorated manuscript, apparently. I wonder what the Argumenta are?
Egerton MS 2624, Thucydides, Historiae (TLG 0003.001) with numerous scholia and a few glosses added later. Florence, 1st half of the 14th century.
Egerton MS 3154, Geoponica (TLG 4080.001) attributed to Cassianus Bassus Scholasticus, imperfect. 16th century. This chap lived at the end of the 6th century and wrote on agricultural subjects. Which sounds dull, but since that was the foundation of ancient economies, it sometimes contains gems.
Royal MS 16 C III, Dionysius Periegetes, Orbis descriptio (TLG 0084.001), imperfect. Italy, N., end of the 15th century.
Royal MS 16 C XVII, Harpocration, Lexicon in decem oratores Atticos (TLG 1389.001), and Heraclitus, Allegoriae (=Quaestiones Homericae) (TLG 1414.001), imperfect. Possibly written in Italy, end of the 15th century. The lexicon of Harpocration is probably more accessible here than anywhere else!
Royal MS 16 C XVIII, Scholia on the Greek Anthology of Planudes and Paraphrase of Aristotle’s Sophistici Elenchi. In two parts, bound together. Italy, N., end of the 16th century (part 1 contains a colophon dated 1580 in Venice).
Royal MS 16 C XXI, Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea (TLG 0086.010), with copious Latin marginal notes, ff 3r-130v. Preceded by Latin and Greek notes, with some quotations from Greek authors, ff 1r-2v, and followed by Greek notes on f 131v. Possibly France, S?, 1st half of the 16th century.
Royal MS 16 C XXII, Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea (TLG 0086.010), Books VIII-IX. Italy, Central, end of the 16th century.
Royal MS 16 C XXIV, Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae (TLG 0008.001), with glosses. Possibly written at Venice, 1st half of the16th century.
Royal MS 16 C XXV, Aristotle, De Anima (TLG 0086.002); Plato, extracts; [Plato], Definitiones (TLG 0059.037); Diogenes Laertius, Vitae Philosophorum (TLG 0004.001), Life of Epimenides. Possibly written in Messina, in the south of Italy, c 1500.
Royal MS 16 D X, Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae (epitome) (TLG 0008.003), with glosses, imperfect. Italy, Central, 1st half of the16th century.
Royal MS 16 D XII, John Tzetzes Homerica (&c), Eusebius Onomasticon, followed by bits connected with Oppian’s Halieutica, part of Philostratus’ Imagines, and a commentary on Hermogenes. Formerly three separate volumes, now bound together. 2nd half of the 16th century.
Royal MS 16 D XIII, Sextus Empiricus, with marginal notes by Isaac Casaubon. Italy, N. (Venice?), 2nd half of the 16th century.
Royal MS 16 D XIV, Works on grammar and prosody by Dionysius Thrax, George Choeroboscus, Heliodorus, Ammonius, Aelius Herodianus, Porphyry, etc. Italy, 2nd quarter of the 16th century.
Royal MS 16 D XVI, Polyaenus, Strategemata (TLG 0616.001), with marginal notes. Venice, mid-16th century.
Sloane MS 1774, Euripides, Hippolytus (TLG 0006.038) with marginal scholia in Greek and Latin. Italy, 16th century.
Yates Thompson MS 50, Aristophanes, with hypotheses, marginal scholia and interlinear glosses. End of the 15th century, possibly Venice.
There are quite a lot of interesting items in there (and more details and in some cases pictures in the BL blog post, although I have augmented one or two items above by looking at the full page).
October 14th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
Anthony Alcock has continued translating the Chronicle of Seert. Part 3 arrived last night. I have added it to the post with his other translations, here.
This is excellent news. The more translations that appear on the web, the more people will see them. In particular this promotes interest among the educated general public; educated, but not specialists in this area. And this in turn can only do good when funding decisions have to be made.
October 13th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
It’s a dark, dull, rainy day today; and I am steadfastly refusing to notice. Because I don’t want to let the rain influence my mood. So far, it’s working!
We all do the same, I know. But why limit it to the weather?
Yesterday I saw, on an American Christian site, Reviewing School Book Lists, Part Four: Reading is Spiritual Warfare, which begins with the following words:
A child. Curled up in a couch. Nestled in an old oak tree with a book. What could be more bucolic? In a church I visit frequently (which doubles during the week as a school), a picture on the wall shows a prepubescent boy—no more than 6th grade, if that—holding The Hunger Games. He grips the book, looks up into our eyes, and smiles as if he is eating a strawberry sundae. Would you like to hear what he might have just read? Here’s one sentence from the first few chapters: “He falls to his knees and halves the brief remainder of his life by yanking out the arrow and drowning in his own blood.” (p.33) Not too bucolic, is it?
Every time I see that picture, I have to fight feelings of anger. And NOT because the kid is reading a possibly age-inappropriate story. No, what makes me frustrated is that the picture illustrates a gaping disconnect between our perception of reading and its reality.
This young man is not merely having a fantastic, mind-expanding adventure as the brochure-like picture implies. With a book like The Hunger Games, he is involved in grave spiritual warfare.
That doesn’t necessarily mean he shouldn’t read the book. It certainly doesn’t mean the book should be banned by the government. But if reading generally is spiritual warfare, it changes everything. What we allow our kids to read and when. How they read, and the kinds of support they should receive. In short, it changes the most fundamental ways Christians ought to relate to books.
Nor is this limited to Christians, nor is it really about children, vulnerable as the latter may indeed be. The article goes on to discuss various issues, probably of limited relevance here; but it caused me to think about the question: what do I want to read?
That I have just ordered the Loeb Petronius is relevant here. I want no porn in my head. Indeed I have taken pains to purchase the original 1913 edition, in the belief that the nastier elements should be bowdlerised in it. What I want is the portrait of ancient life.
We all know that what people read influences their outlook, and the sort of people they become. Of course this was widely denied in the 60’s and 70’s, as a pretext for removing the censorship of obscene books; but those who led those campaigns are now quite happily erecting a censorship of political opinions far more intrusive than anything the old Lord Chamberlain’s office used to do. I think we can believe their actions, rather than their words. Everyone knows that books and reading change minds.
What do we allow inside our heads? What effect does it have? Does it make us happier? Healthier? And, if not, can we get it out again, or will the images be seared into memories for life?
The answers to this will vary for each of us, Christian or not. All of us remember the books of our childhood, even if we didn’t know what they were at the time. Many in later life try to track down those books which left images in their minds, and I confess that I have done the same. We know, even if we don’t acknowledge it, that what we read affects us greatly.
So what should we read? Reading anything and everything that interests us is perhaps something that most people reading this site do. But should we limit it in certain directions?
At the moment at bedtime I am reading Paupers and Pig Killers: the diary of William Holland, a Somerset Parson, 1799-1818. This I read because it consists of short entries, and is rather soothing really. That isn’t likely to affect my mood or outlook greatly in any direction; although his consistent hostility to “Methodists” does highlight the poor reputation that the “Ranters” or Primitive Methodists had in the period, which is something that I had not known.
No book will leave us unmoved, you see, if we love it and read it repeatedly.
I shall leave out of my life books dedicated to cruelty and obscenity. Indeed I have become stricter on this, in the last couple of years. I do not wish to experience either, nor to enjoy the depiction of it as entertainment, nor to become dead to it if I happen to witness such evils. I prefer my faculties to remain acute and unmarred. I wish to remain capable of appreciating ordinary things, and milder sensations. So do we all, in our saner moments.
But it’s not just what we avoid. What do we choose?
The proponents of the English classics would step forward at this moment and recommend a course of reading. (I do not, of course, refer to whatever rubbish has been advanced since 1970, but to the real classics).
There is merit in this. To learn how the best writers expressed things, to learn to enjoy what the best of men enjoyed… these are good things.
Yet even here we may divide. Dickens may be a classic, but the portraits of Victorian misery do nothing to cheer my heart. I avoid them for that reason. Jane Austen is more to my liking. Walter Scott is something I can handle in small doses.
What should we read? With that, I am reminded of Philippians 4:8 (ESV):
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
I’m not sure whether that takes us to anything specific; but it’s a great starting rule.
October 11th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
Seen on Twitter this week, via David Walsh:
Jesus: ‘If someone strikes you, turn the other cheek’.
Chrysostom in 387AD: ‘Slap them in the face!’
– something lost in translation there.
It is always good practice to verify your quotations, but this is entirely genuine. The reference is to the Homilies on the Statues, 1, 32. In the NPNF version this reads:
32. But since our discourse has now turned to the subject of blasphemy, I desire to ask one favor of you all, in return for this my address, and speaking with you; which is, that you will correct on my behalf the blasphemers of this city.
And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so.
Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify thy hand with the blow, and if any should accuse thee, and drag thee to the place of justice, follow them thither; and when the judge on the bench calls thee to account, say boldly that the man blasphemed the King of angels!
For if it be necessary to punish those who blaspheme an earthly king, much more so those who insult God. It is a common crime, a public injury; and it is lawful for every one who is willing, to bring forward an accusation.
Let the Jews and Greeks learn, that the Christians are the saviours of the city; that they are its guardians, its patrons, and its teachers.
Let the dissolute and the perverse also learn this; that they must fear the servants of God too; that if at any time they are inclined to utter such a thing, they may look round every way at each other, and tremble even at their own shadows, anxious lest perchance a Christian, having heard what they said, should spring upon them and sharply chastise them.
When I first read this, without considering the context, it looked like the utmost expression of arrogance, of the attitude of those in power. But this is to ignore the circumstances.
In 387 the emperor Theodosius imposed an extraordinary tax on the city of Antioch, and the enraged citizens rioted and threw down the statues of the emperor. The emperor then threatened to destroy the city, and negotiations took place between the emperors representatives and the townsfolk.
Paganism was still the official religion of the empire. But it seems that pagans and Jews were taking advantage of the crisis to jeer at the Christians of the city, and perhaps even at the religion of the emperor. This in turn couldn’t help the negotiations, when the survival of the city is at stake. This is a reaction to a threat to everyone, not a gratuitous attack on unbelievers. The citizens are appealing to the feelings of a Christian emperor – and, he reflects, these people are screwing it up! Slap them in the face if they won’t pipe down. It’s politics, in other words, and John Chrysostom speaks as the bishop of the city, almost in Byzantine terms as the ethnarch, rather than personally.
But Christ did not give his teaching conditionally. Christians often feel a great deal of reluctance to endorse the actions of the church, post-Nicaea. This is one reason why. Here we have a popular preacher, and a gifted expositor of the bible, who, faced with a pagan reaction, incites his congregation not to turn the other cheek but instead to go out and do battle in the streets, for the benefit of the community as a whole. It’s understandable; but somehow we are not in the same world any more.