Archive for the 'Catena' Category

Polychronius, Porphyry and Daniel

One of the 5th century commentators on scripture was Polychronius, brother of Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 430 AD).  He belonged to the Antioch school of biblical interpretation, who took a fairly literal approach to scripture.  His works are lost.   But the interpreters of that school were used extensively by the compilers of catena-commentaries from the 6th century onwards, and Polychronius was among them.  The result is that the Patrologia Graeca contains hundreds of pages of fragments culled from these catenas.

It’s fairly obvious why someone compiling a commentary on scripture from the Fathers would tend to prefer Antioch to Alexandria, literal to allegorical.  An allegorical interpretation might be interesting, but as a comment on a passage is much less useful than someone who is dealing directly with what the passage says.

Polychronius is interesting because he was one of the few Fathers to agree with Porphyry — “the impious Porphyry” as he is universally referred to — on the subject of the date of portions of Daniel.  These he considered were additions made in the Hellenistic period, in the times of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  The latter monarch led the attack on Judaism and is the subject of the books of Maccabees.  The portions are Bel and the Dragon, Susannah, and the Song of the Three Children.  In Daubney’s Three additions to Daniel I read:

Polychronius, Theodore of Mopsuestia’s brother, refused to comment on this piece because it was not part of the original Daniel, nor in the Syriac, ο  κεταιν  τος  βραϊκος    ντος  Συριακος βιβλίοις.

I’ve had a proposal to translate the fragments on Daniel, amounting to some 50 columns of Migne.  This is quite a bit, and would cost quite a bit too!  I’ve queried whether perhaps we might cherry-pick some of the best bits, solely from a cost-saving point of view.  But it’s not an impossible sum.

The fragments of Daniel were published by Mai in Volume 1 of Scriptorum Veterum Collectio Nova, in part 2, p.105.  They start on p.556 of the Google Books PDF.

The commentaries of Theophlyact and their reference to Papias

People online asking about fragments of Papias, who knew the apostles, lead you to obscure authors.  I had heard the name of Theophylact before, but never knew much about him until today.

The biblical commentaries of Theophylact — who was Byzantine Archbishop of Bulgaria – fill four volumes of Migne, 123-6.  Somewhere in one of them is a quotation from Papias, discussing the fate of Judas.  It seems reasonable that this is in the commentary on Acts, in vol. 125, and so indeed it is, on cols. 521C-523D.  The “commentary” seems mainly to be a catena, in fact, as might be expected.  Chrysostom Press has produced an English translation of his commentary on the gospels; I don’t know of an English translation of the commentary on Acts.

Here are the relevant portions of Migne:



A passage of Papias in Cramer’s catena

There is a fragment of Papias, quoted by Apollinaris, in Cramer’s catena on Acts.  It’s on page 12, against Acts 1:17 (p. 33 of the Google books PDF).  It is translated by Lightfoot and Harmer:

Fragment 3 (Preserved in Cramer’s Catena ad Acta SS. Apost. [1838])

1  From Apollinarius of Laodicea. `Judas did not die by hanging, but lived on, having been cut down before he was suffocated. And the Acts of the Apostles show this, that _falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out._ This fact is related more clearly by Papias, the disciple of John, in the fourth (book) of the Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord as follows: –

2  ”Judas walked about in this world a terrible example of impiety; his flesh swollen to such an extent that, where a waggon can pass with ease, he was not able to pass, no, not even the mass of his head merely. They say that his eyelids swelled to such an extent that he could not see the light at all, while as for his eyes they were not visible even by a physician looking through an instrument, so far had they sunk from the surface.  His genital was larger and presented a more repugnant sight than has ever been seen; and through it there seeped from every part of the body a procession of pus and worms to his shame, even as he relieved himself.”‘

3 After suffering an agony of pain and punishment, he finally went, as they say it, to his own place; and because of the horrible smell the area has been deserted and no one has lived there up until now; in fact, even to the present no one can go by that place without holding his nose.  This was because the discharge from his body was so great and spread so far over the ground.”‘

The Greek is thus:



Iturbe on Arabic Gospel Catenas

I had to scan the introduction to Francisco Javier Caubee Iturbe’s edition of a Christian Arabic catena on the gospel of Matthew.  I found myself wondering how well Google translate would handle Spanish.  After all, it gives Spanish as the default foreign language, so I hope it might be good!  So I experimented a bit. 

The following notes are abstracted from Iturbe’s comments.  Since both volumes of his work have a 50-page introduction, these are very much short notes!  Anyhow, he introduces his edition thus:

Studies and research on gospel catenas – comments by various fathers listed successively around the text of the Gospel – to date have been limited almost exclusively to those conveyed to us in Greek. As regards those preserved in Arabic, we can say that, nothing exists apart from some brief references in a few authors.  And yet there are several Arabic manuscript codices containing exegetical catenas on the Gospels, with markedly different characteristics from Greek catenas. The problems that these codices present with regard to their origin, their language, the patristic extracts used, the method and means by which they have been transmitted, and so on, are various, and often difficult. There are some differences, more or less marked, in the text of the comments found in the manuscripts, but fundamentally, at least for the Gospel of Matthew, they are all the same catena, conceived as an organic whole, with proper proportions, in this surpassing many of the Greek catenas, which sometimes comprise lengthy scholia joined with other tiny extracts by many different fathers juxtaposed against the same verse. The copies of almost all these manuscripts were made in Egypt, in the Coptic Monophysite church, and they were long in use, especially in the monasteries of Scetis.

 Of all the existing Arabic manuscripts, of which thirteen are known to contain gospel catenas, four are in the Vatican Library, three in Cairo, two in Paris and one in each of the following cities: Strasbourg, Oxford, Gottingen and Baghdad. All have the catena on the Gospel of Matthew, except for one in Cairo and another in Paris.

A description of the manuscripts containing the catena on Matthew is presented in this volume, beginning with the oldest of them, ms. Vatican Arab 452, which is the basis for the text published here; in the notes of the apparatus are the variants of the other manuscripts that rely on the same textual tradition.

He then lists the sigla for his edition.  It is interesting to learn of so many manuscripts.  M and P belong to a different family to the rest.

B  = Ms. Vatican Arab 452.
C = Ms. Arab Cairo 411.
D = Ms. Arab Cairo 195.
G = Ms. Gottingen ar. 103.
K = Ms. karsuni Vatican syr. 541.
L =  The catena in the coptic ms. of Curzon, as printed in the edition by P. de Lagarde, Catenae in evangelio aegyptiacae quae supersunt,  Gottingae 1886.
M = Ms. Vatican ar. 410.
O = Ms. Arab Bodleian Hunt. 262.
P = Ms. Paris ar. 55.
S = Ms. Arab Strasbourg or. 4315.

The copies all derive from the Coptic catena printed by De Lagarde, which is now sadly missing many of its leaves. 

Iturbe begins by describing the first of these.  Since Arabic catenas are probably almost unknown to anyone, I think it’s worth translating this as a sample of what the manuscript contains.

MS. VATICAN ARABIC 452 – Siglum B.

1214 AD. Paper, 250 x 165 mm., the written area is 175 x 110 mm., 376 folios, 17 lines per page.

The manuscript is divided now into two volumes, bound in white leather: one has 196 pages and the second 180. The missing folios at the end, probably about thirty-five, are more or less what is needed to complete a version of the Gospel lessons of the holidays, Sundays, Saturdays, and so on, for the whole year, introduced and started on f. 369v  at the end of the manuscript; as it currently is, it only goes as far as 4th Hatur, which is the third month of the Coptic calendar.

On the first page, in the center of a large rectangle, to whose sides are attached 16 identical circles, enclosing as many Coptic crosses – four circles with crosses, one on each of the horizontal sides, two on the vertical, four more identical at the corners of the rectangle all drawn in red and black –, the manuscript title is written in black ink, indicating its contents: Book of the Gospels, its explanation and calendar.

On most of the rest of the page, above and below the rectangle, there is a certificate of ownership of the book, dated 55 years after the composition. We will discuss this document later.

A few short sentences in Arabic, which can barely be read — some of which seems to be an essay written by an ignoramus — plus two seals of the Vatican Library and the indication “452 Arabic”, occupy the remaining free space on the page, which because of that, plus humidity and other stains, presents a sorry state, which is felt in part on the verso of the same folio. This folio 1 is the most deteriorated of the manuscript, except folio 135v. The latter was originally left blank, before the commentary on the Gospel of Mark.  But then four lines were written in Karshuni, also repeated in Arabic, which a few illiterates then wrote over and over again like vandals, which, added to the horrendous lines crossing at the top of the page, has completely smeared the page. Something similar on a smaller scale, has occurred in ff. 188v-189, which were almost completely blank between the gospels of Mark and Luke, and on ff. 368v-369, the end of the Gospel of John. Except for these cases and others of less importance, the manuscript has been preserved in good condition.

On ff. 1v-5v, after a preface, the Ammonian sections are arranged in the ten canon tables of Eusebius, and marked by Coptic numerals.
Ff. 6-135 contain the Gospel of St. Matthew with the patristic commentaries.
Ff. 136-188v: Gospel of Mark and their comments.
Ff. 189v-298: Gospel of St. Luke and comments.
Ff. 299-c68: Gospel of St. John and their comments.
Ff. 369v identifies the Coptic gospel lessons for the first part of the year, as I indicated above.

A little further on he adds:

The colophon to the Gospel of Mark says (f. 188v): ‘The text of the Gospel of Mark the Evangelist and the commentary on its meaning is finished with the help of God – may He be exalted! — and by the blessing of His grace, on Wednesday, 6 Tut of the year 921 of the pure Martyrs. May his blessing be with us. Amen’.

The date is 3rd September, 1204 – the same year as the sack of Constantinople by the renegade army hired for the Fourth Crusade, in which so much ancient literature perished.

Iturbe published his edition in two volumes, the first with a preface on the manuscripts and then the Arabic text, the second with a preface on the contents and a Spanish translation.  The introduction to the second volume begins as follows:

The patristic catena on the Gospel of St. Matthew in ms. Vatican ar. 452, the text published in Volume I, which we here give in translation, after almost all of the 68 sections into which it divides the Gospel text, has one or more pieces of commentary — scholia — each preceded by a very brief indication - lemma – written in red, which states, most of the time, who is the Father or interpreter who composed it. In total, there are 336 scholia with corresponding lemmas.

But there are 86 lemmas which are no more than the word ‘interpretation’, and we may wonder whether the compiler of the catena – or the copier - meant to assign the scholia which immediately follow to the named author of the preceding passage. That certainly agrees with the reading of the Coptic manuscript of Curzon and other similar Arabic manuscripts, and in a comparative study of them all we find that of the 86 scholia, 82 belong  to the author last named in a lemma; 3 to a different author than the one listed in B above, and only 1 of them is unknown.

Having clarified the previous difficulty, and incidentally shedding light on other such mss, Coptic and Arabic, we have 113 which are scholia by St. Cyril of Alexandria and 109 of St. John Chrysostom. The two great Eastern doctors thus cover two thirds of all the commentary of St. Matthew in the catena. Then comes Severus of Antioch, with 53 glosses. And then, with a much smaller number, the other contributors. The list of all those in B, with the number of scholia that each must be awarded is as follows:

Cyril of Alexandria = 113
John Chrysostom = 109
Severus of Antioch = 53
Hippolytus of Rome = 15
Gregory the Theologian = 8
Gregory Thaumaturgus = 6
Epiphanius = 5
Eusebius of Caesarea = 5
Clement (Alexandria) = 5
Athanasius = 4
Basil = 4
Severian of Gabala = 2
Simeon the Hermit = 2
Cyril of Jerusalem = 1
Titus (of Bostra ) = 1
Isaiah the Anchorite = 1
An elder of the Desert Fathers [the abbot Ammon] = 1

These, then, are the authors for which we may find textual witnesses in this Arabic catena.  Iturbe also states:

On the other hand there are various authors in Greek catenas who do not appear in Coptic-Arabic catenas: Apollinaris, Gregory of Nyssa, Irenaeus, Theodore of Heraclea, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, etc; and above all Origen, who in almost all Greek catena families has many scholia, such as in the third of type B, where Origen comprises 227 out of the total 874.

There is little point in looking for material by Origen in Coptic or Arabic, it seems.

Back in the first introduction, Iturbe discusses the Coptic catena published by De Lagarde, from which all the Arabic mss. derive.

The Curzon Coptic manuscript catena, siglum L.

In 1886 Paul de Lagarde (P. Boetticher) published the Bohairic text of a manuscript obtained by Robert Curzon in March 1838 in the Monastery of the Syrians, Wadi ‘l-Natrun. Never translated, little use has been made so far in the scholarly field of this good edition of De Lagarde.  But for the present study, however, we are particularly interested in this Coptic ms.

It contains a patristic catena on the four gospels – next to the Gospel text – divided into sections, as in B and other Arabic manuscripts. The text of the Gospels has only a short verse or verses, which are generally given before the lemmas and scholia: in this, then, it is similar to M and P. This codex was written in the year 605 of the holy martyrs (888/89 AD), more than three centuries before the oldest of our Arabic mss, codex B, which was written in the year 1214 AD as regards the part of Matthew. Because sixteen folios were lost, the comments on Matt. 2:1-5:5; 5:44-6:3; 7:24-29; 9:27-9:37; 12:48-13:10; 24:16-29 are missing; see the introduction.

All this detail  may swamp us; but we need to recall that almost no-one working on New Testament texts or on the patristic comments on them found in catenas — is there anyone working on the latter? — has any awareness of material that has made its way into Arabic.

When my Eusebius volume appears, at least those dealing with the Gospel problems and solutions will be aware that there is material that should be consulted in Christian Arabic.

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.


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. 

Eusebius in Syriac, in a literal German version

Hunting around the web for Sickenberger’s publications on the catenas in Luke, I stumbled across a review of one of them — on the remains of the homilies of Titus of Bostra in the catenas – in the Catholic University Bulletin here.  The review does great credit to the periodical; but it also tells us about another publication in 1901.

Titus von Bostra, Studien zu dessen Lukashomelien, von Dr. Joseph Sickenberger. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1901. 8vo., pp. vii + 267.

Die Kirchengeschichte des Eusebius aus dem Syrischen uebersetzt von Eberhard Nestle. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1901. 8vo., pp.

1. With much scholarly labor, critical acumen, and excellent method Dr. Sickenberger reconstructs what is practically an “editio princeps” of the extant fragments of the “Homilies” of Titus of Bostra on the Gospel of Saint Luke. This ancient bishop who flourished in the days of Julian the Apostate, is noted in the history of the time for his dignified answer to charges of sedition and disloyalty made against him by that emperor; also for four books against the Manichaeans that Saint Jerome (De vir., inl. c. 102) thought excellent: “fortes adversum Manichaeos scripsit libros.” Dr. Sickenberger has collected from the printed editions of the “Catenae Patrum,” and from many mannscript sources a great number of remnants of “Homilies” on St. Luke, that in all probability are the work of this bishop of Bostra. A compiler of such materials in the eleventh century got together as many as 3300 of them. Unless a Milan palimpsest, discovered by Mercati in 1898, contains some fragments of the original discourses, we have no other tradition of them than such as has come down to us through the collection of excerpts that mediaeval Greek theologians were wont to make of older patristic commentaries, notes, and expositions of a scriptural character. Most of the lengthy introduction of Dr. Sickenberger (pp. 1-145) is taken up with the study of several such collections or “Catenae” as they are usually called. In them he finds genuine remnants of the “Homilies” of this father, though not without a lengthy critical sifting and comparison of such scattered and disordered materials. These pages, that the author rightly calls a “schwierige Arbeit,” are no mean contribution to the growing literature on the “Catenae” themselves, and are an evidence of the genuine scholarly training to be had in the theological faculty of the University of Munich. Dr. Sickenberger has added to our knowledge of Titus of Bostra, by increasing his scientific usefulness, and by emphasizing the fact that these “Homilies” on Saint Luke, written after the work against the Manichaeans, have a decided anti-Manichaean air and trend, such as one might expect from a bishop of the Syrian borderland at this period. The sober, literal, objective character of his discourses shows him to be an Antiochene in his principles of scriptural interpretation. The material at hand is too disconnected to gather from it any conclusions concerning the canon and the authority of the scriptures in farther Syria toward the end of the fourth century, or to establish which recension of the gospels was used by Titus. His “Homilies” on Saint Luke were much used by later commentators on the Gospels, though his own compositions were, seemingly, quite original and independent. He is an Aristotelian, and opposes cold and severe logic to the fantastic allegorizing of the Manichaeans. Taken in connection with Lagarde’s edition (Berlin, 1859) of the complete text (in Syriac translation) of the four books against the Manichaeans, the treatise of Dr. Sickenberger and his edition of the homily-fragments on Luke give us the best assured texts of a writer concerning whom Saint Jerome says elsewhere (ep. 70) that one knew not which to admire most in him, “eruditionem saeculi an scientiam scripturarum.” Is it not rather bold to advance the death of Titus of Bostra to a possible 378, when the “sub Juliano et Joviano principibus” of Saint Jerome seems to indicate that his literary activity did not extend beyond 364, the date of Jovian’s death ? The phrase “moritur sub Valente” would, in this light, seem to indicate the death of Titus in the early part of the reign of Valens, i. e. between 365 and 370.

2. The oldest Greek manuscript of the Church History of Eusebius belongs, it is said, to the tenth century. In the Syriac version, first edited by Bedjan (1897) and then by Wright and McLean (1898), we have a very faithful rendering of the Greek original. Some think that the Syriac version was prepared by the order, or under the eye, of Eusebius himself. It was certainly in common use before the end of the fourth century. The manuscript tradition of this text is far older than that of the Greek original—the best of the three oldest Syriac manuscripts, that of Saint Petersburg, belongs to the year A. D. 462, and an Armenian translation of the same represents a Syriac text still a century older than that of Saint Petersburg. As the Kirchenvater-Commission proposes to publish a new edition of the Church History, it seemed desirable that a strictly literal translation into German of the Syriac version should be first prepared, as one of the necessary “subsidia” for that important enterprise. This has been done for the “Texte und Untersuchungen” by the distinguished Syriac scholar, Dr. Eberhard Nestle, of whose competency there can be no doubt. In the preface to his work he brings out, from more than one view-point, the possible utilities of the Syriac translation whose complete edition has been awaited from 1864, when Wright first made known a chapter of it in “Ancient Syriac Documents,” down to 1897 and 1898, when, simultaneously, Bedjan at Paris, and Wright-MacLean at London, gave to the world this very ancient specimen of learning and piety.

The existence of a very literal German translation of the Syriac version of Eusebius’ Church history was unknown to me until this point.  I wonder if it is online?

UPDATE: And it is, here.

Notes from Devreesse on catenas on Luke

I’ve been translating extracts relating to Eusebius and the Gospels from R. Devreesse’s magisterial article Chaines exegetiques grecques in Dictionaire de la Bible — Supplement 1 (1928) on this blog.  Here is what he has to say about catenas on Luke.

IX.  THE CATENAS ON LUKE. — 1. OVERVIEW. — Printed and manuscript catenas. — The first catena edited consisted of a translation made by the Jesuit Peltanus:  Victoris Antiocheni commentarii in Marcum et Titi Bostrorum episcopi in evangelium Lucae commentarii antehac quidem nunquam in lucem editi, nunc vero studio et operi Theod. PELTANI luce simul et latinitate editi, Ingolstadt. 1580. p. 321-509.

In 1624 Fronton du Duc published the Greek text and his translation in volume 2 of the Auctuarium of the Bibl. Patrum. p. 762-836.  This is followed by numerous reprints of the Latin text of Peltanus: Sacr. Bibl. Vet. Patr. of Margarin de la Bigne, 2nd ed. Paris, 1589, vol. 1, column 1090-1158; Magna bibl. Patr. vol. 4, Cologne, 1618, p. 337-364; Bibl. Patr. Paris, 1644, vol. 13, col. 762-836.  Cf. J. Sickenberger, Titus von Bostra, in Texte und Untersuchungen, N. F. vol. 6, 1, Leipzig, 1901, p. 16-41.

The TU volume of Sickenberger is online here.  But Devreesse goes on to discuss the types of catena that exist.  Here’s what he says about the first type, where Titus of Bostra is mentioned:

These few bibliographic notes demand a quick explanation.  Long ago Richard Simon (Histoire critique, vol. 3, c. 30) remarked that the name of Titus must be a pseudepigraph.  In a Paris manuscript (Reg. gr. 2330, today 703, 12th century), the commentary edited by Peltanus is preceded by a title which leaves no doubt about the originality of its content: … [By the holy father Titus bishop of Bostra and other holy fathers on the holy Gospel of Luke].  These other holy Fathers are the two Gregories, Chrysostom, Isidore of Pelusium and Cyril of Alexandria, whose names appear sporadically.

From some partial analyses which we have attempted, it seems like this to us: there must have existed, at a very recent period, probably around the end of the 9th century, a collection of anonymous scholia mostly made up of extracts from the commentaries by Cyril of Alexandria, Origen, and Titus of Bostra on St. Luke, and the commentary of Chrysostom on St. Matthew; in a second line  some extracts derived from Athanasius, Isidore, and Photius; in some copies, such as Barberini 562, the Photius material is extensive.  This state of the catena has come down to us in many manuscripts.  This is what gives us the commentaries placed under the name of Titus of Bostra by Peltanus and Fronton du Duc (see the list of Italian mss. given by Sickenburger on p. 17-20). … [An abbreviated version also exists and was published by Mai in Scholia Vetera, reprinted PG 106, cols. 1177-1218].

A second version of the same catena includes this material or pseudo-commentary, and adds material.  This is what was published by Cramer in Catenae Graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum, vol. 2, p. 3-174, which is certainly online at Google Books. 

Then there is a second catena, this time under the name of Peter of Laodicea.

In almost all the major libraries of Greek manuscripts there exists an explanation of the Gospel under the name of Peter of Laodicea. … [Henrici has demonstrated that in fact the material derives from other known authors, and the name must have been attached to an anonymous catena.  Usually the author names have disappeared; some mss, however, such as Vatican 758, still have them]…

The third catena is that of Nicetas:

The catena of Nicetas. — This catena is represented by three groups of manuscripts.  Each of them has been studied with great care by Sickenberger, Die Lukaskatena des Nicetas von Herakleia in Texte und Untersuchungen vol. 7, 4, Leipzig, 1902.  The first group, which he calls the Italian group, is made up of Vatican gr. 1611 (1176 AD), plus two other incomplete mss.  The first, Vatican 1642 (12th c.) contains scholia which cover up to Luke 6:6; the other, Monacensis  473 (14th c.), from Luke 5:17 to 11:26. 

The second group distinguishes itself from the first by the addition of anonymous citations which seem probably to come from Hesychius, according to Sickenburger.

The third group is in fact an abbreviated version of the preceding groups.  This is the form presented by a series of recent manuscripts.  To this category belongs the Marcianus  494 (14th c.), the text of which was translated by Cordier in Catena sexaginta quinque Graecorum Patrum in s. Lucam, Anvers, 1628.  On this edition see Richard Simon, op. cit., p. 429.  Kollar, Petri Lambecii Hamburgensis Commentariorum de Augustissima Bibliotheca caesarea Vindobonensi editio altera …, vol. 3, p. 163 f., remarks that the Caes. XLII [=Vindob. 71] is more complete than the Venetian ms. used by Cordier because it mentions Africanus Alexander the Archimandrite, and Antipater of Bostra, who are not found in the catena of 65 fathers.  Also to this group belong the Vatican gr. 759 (15th c.), from which Mai took scholia of Eusebius (1st ed. of Scriptorum Veterum nova collectio, 1825).  We must also include the fragments which fill the margins of Palatinus gr. 20.  (The middles of the folios of that ms. are filled by material from another source).  It is among these extracts or abridgements that we must look for the sources of the Catena aurea of Thomas Aquinas, and the catena of Macarius Chrysocephalus; on the latter see the judgement of Sickenberger in Karo-Lietzmann, op. cit., fol. 582.

Among the partial editions of this catena of Nicetas, we must include that of Cardinal Mai, Scriptorum Veterum nova collectio, vol. 9, 1837, p. 626-724, where will be found a series of extracts, from Vatican gr. 1611, which cover the whole of the third gospel.

Was this chain an original work exclusively by Nicetas of Heraclea?  It could be so, but we must not forget that two other catenas already existed in his day, the one represented by the catenas of Poussines and Cramer, and the one under the name of Peter of Laodicea.  Our three catenas do not lack overlaps.  Those of Peter and Nicetas offer the greatest number of points of contact.

And we’re still not done. There is a fourth type of catena:

The Vatican Palatinus graecus 20 and its copy, Vat. gr. 1933, form a fourth group of catenas.  Cf. Karo-Lietzmann, op. cit., p. 546-577. … In the margins of the first 33 folios there are extracts of the chain of Nicetas.  As well as these two mss, which contain scholia on the whole of Luke, there are some folios inserted into a collection of Ps.Peter of Laodicea in Reg. gr. 3 fol. 10-15 and 112-119…

Devreesse then  begins to list authors mentioned in these catenas, starting with Philo, who is quoted seven times in the catena of Nicetas, between Luke 12:17 – 19:22.  Nicetas also uses Ignatius of Antioch, Josephus (on Luke 6:3), Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus, and many, many others.

I can’t help feeling that an edition of the catena of Nicetas would be of wide use.  Many catenas are mostly comprised of Chrysostom, but this does not seem to be the case here.

Devreesse, Eusebius and the catenas on Luke

I’ve already posted a translation of what Devreesse said about material by Eusebius of Caesarea in catenas on Matthew, Mark and John.  Here’s what he said about material on Luke.

Eusebius. — Cardinal Mai has given us several editions of the fragments of Eusebius contained in the catenas on St. Luke.  The first attempt is found in Script. vol. 1, 1, p. 107-178, based on Ms. Vatican gr. 1933 and the Nicetas in Vatican gr. 759 (in the second edition of the first volume of Scriptores, Rome, 1825-1831, p. 143-160, ms. Vatican gr. 1611 was used as well as 759).

For a new edition, the cardinal made use of Vatican gr. 1611 (A), Vatican Palatinus gr. 20 (B), of Macarius Chrysocephalus (E), of Vatican gr. 1642 (H), and Vatican Ottoboni gr. 100 (L).  The texts thus collected appeared in Nov. Patr. Bibl. vol. 4, p. 159-207, Rome, 1847, and were reproduced in the Patrologia Graeca vol. 24, col. 529-606.  Again it is from the catena of Nicetas that the important pieces of the gospel questions of Eusebius (Letters To Marinus and To Stephanus) gathered in P.G. vol. 22 col. 952-965 were taken.

But were all the pieces taken from Vat. gr. 1933 really by Eusebius?  It could be that some really belong to other authors, Mai having often printed under the name of Eusebius paragraphes which really derived from someone else.  On the other hand it must be noted that the citations from Vat. gr. 1933, when compared with Nicetas, often have the appearance of summaries.  Are we dealing with a commentary on Luke?  It does not seem so; some pieces bear an indication of their origin: ἐκκλησιαστικῆς ἰστορίας, εὐαγγελικῆς θεοφανείας, περὶ τοῦ πάσχα.  Cf. Sickenberger, Titus von Bostra, p. 86-87. 

Let us note again that Eusebius is named six times in the catena of pseudo Peter of Laodicea which is at the end of ms. Vindobonensis gr. 117 (Rauer, Der dem Petrus von Laodicea zugeschriebene Lukaskommentar, Munster, 1920, p. 39).

I hope to add Devreesse’s introductory remarks to all the catenas on Luke later.

Devreesse: catenas on Mark

Let’s continue to extract relevant material to Eusebius from Devreesse’s massive article on catenas.

VIII.  THE CATENAS ON St. MARK. — 1.  OVERVIEW. — The most ancient edition of a catena on St. Mark is due to the Jesuit, Poussines:  Catena graecorum Patrum in evangelium secundum Marcum couectore atque interprete Petro POSSINO Soc. Iesu presbytero qui et adiecit, titulo spicilegii commentarium, ad loca selecta quatuor evangeliorum: accessere collationes graeci contextus omnium librorum novi Testamenti cum XXII codd. antiquis mss. ex bibliotheca Barberina. Romae. typis Barberinis, MDCLXXII. [1672].

Three sources were available for this edition; 1.  A manuscript which Poussines cites under the name of the Anonymous of Tolouse, belonging to Charles de Montchal, archbishop of that town, today Paris gr. 194.  Most of the exegesis in this manuscript is anonymous: it is astonishingly closely related to that work known as the commentary on Mark of Theophylact (Patrologia Graeca, vol. 123, cols. 487-682); the rest consists of 20 citations scattered through the work.  — 2.  An interpretation of St. Mark attributed to a certain Victor of Antioch by a German manuscript, a copy of which was sent to him by Cordier.  According to Sickenberger (Titus von Bostra, p. 128 f.) this would today be the Monac. 99.  An exegesis of almost identical content is given in Vatican gr. 1423, but that manuscript bears no attribution on it.  — 3.  An anonymous manuscript in the Vatican, of which Cordier also sent him a copy.  We have identified this manuscript, which Poussines cites as Ἀνωνύμου Βατικ or even Ἀνωνύμου as the Vatican gr. 1692 A, fol. 177 ff. Its content can be found in Poussines, as will appear below, although not always very faithfully.

In 1840 [sic]  following his catena on Matthew, Cramer published a catena on St. Mark, based on Bodleian Laud 33 and Coislin gr. 23, already used with profit by him for the catena on the first gospel.  Some lacunas were filled with the aid of Paris 178.  Cramer likewise took from Bodleian Barocci 156 a scholion attributed to Justin in the catena of Macarius Chrysocephalus on St. Luke.  There are few named citations in this collection printed by Cramer.  One is credited to Cyril of Alexandria, another to Irenaeus, a third to Basil and a fourth to Theodore of Mopsuestia.  A few others are cited from time to time, but inside the texts.  Other manuscripts like the Vindob. 154 (Lambec. 29) have a few more lemmas [=author's names], but never more than twenty.

One name dominates all the catenas on St. Mark; that of Victor of Antioch.  The Jesuit Peltanus edited  a commentary on the second gospel under this name… [1580]…  It is also from ps. Victor that another pseudepigraph already mentioned is derived: Peter of Laodicea, whose content was edited by Matthaei as a commentary by ps.Victor … [Moscow, 1775].

I don’t think the lengthy discussion of Victor of Antioch is relevant here.

Let us summarise this collection of literary facts from which the catenas on Mark derive.  1.  A bloc of scholia for the most part anonymous: the pseudo-Victor of Poussines.  2.  To this have been added other citations, not numerous: from which derive the text of Cramer, and the ps.Peter of Laodicea; the first reproduces integrally the fundus and adds a few (anonymous) extracts; the second rearranges the fundus and interpolates new scholia, some related to the additions in the catena of Cramer.

There remain two other collections of scholia; those of Vatican gr. 1692 A, and those of Paris 194, incompatible with each other.  The second agrees almost word for word, as in Poussines, with what is contained in the commentary of Theophylact on Mark.  As for the first, the state in which it has reached us does not permit us to say whether the few named citations encountered in it are the remains of a primitive state in which every citation had a name against it, and the source from which the catenist excerpted it, or on the contrary, whether we must envisage a two-stage process of compilation, perhaps an anonymous collection to which named patristic extracts were added later with an indication of their provenance.  Let us add that this collection also is far from covering the whole of the second gospel.

There remain the Scholia vetera (PG 106, col. 1173- 1178; also edited in Thomas, Les collections anonymes de scholies grecques aux evangiles, vol. 2, p. 181-9).  Their rare extracts correspond sometimes with ps.Victor.  Most often, they form a group apart.


Let’s now skip to Eusebius.  I’ve added some paragraphing.

Eusebius. — There was mention of a passage of Clement on the origins of the second gospel, collected by Eusebius.  The catenas cite various works of the bishop of Caesarea [=Eusebius].  In its prologue, the Anonymous of the Vatican (Poussines, p.3-4) refers to an opinion ἐν τρίτῃ βίβλῳ τῆς εὐαγγελικῆς ἀποδείξεως.  

Likewise the testimony of the questions to Marinus is invoked (Cramer, p. 266, 10-12; Poussines, p. 343 (on Mk. 25:25), 364 (on 16:18-20); these two passages on Simon of Cyrene and the appearance to Madeleine have been reproduced from Poussines  in PG vol. 22, col. 1009).  The same anonymous bears on Mk 13:32-39 (Poussines p. 297) the statement of Eusebius: ὡς γὰρ ἱστορεῖ ὁ Εὐσέβιος ἐν τῷ χρονικῷ κάνωνι.  Likewise on Mk 8:27 (Poussines, p. 269) Εὐσέβιος ἐν τῇ ἐπιτομῇ τῶν χρονικῶν

Finally Eusebius is named three times, though without references, once in Paris gr. 194 (=Poussines p. 46 on Mk 2:12), twice in ps.Victor of Antioch on Mk. 16:18-20 (Cramer 446, 19 f.) and by the anonymous of Poussines  on Mk. 15:15 (p. 340).

I think that is a very useful summary both of the printed catenas, and what is to be found in them.

Devreesse – introductory notes on catenas on Matthew

The post on the fragments of Eusebius extant in catenas on Matthew really needs some material from earlier in Devreesse’s article.

VII.  CATENAS ON ST. MATTHEW. — 1.  OVERVIEW. — It is to P. Poussines, S. J., that we owe the first edition of a catena on St. Matthew, Symbolorum in Matthaeum tomus prior exhibens catenam graecorum Patrum unius et viginti editam ex bibliotheca Illustrissimi D. Caroli de Montchal … Petrus POSSINUS e Societate Jesu… ex antiquis membranis eruit… Tolosae excudebat Ioannes Boude. MDCXLVI, in-fol.  [=Possinus, 1646].  The manuscript of the archbishop of Toulouse [=Charles de Montchal] has been identified; it is Paris gr. 194 (13th century).  It is one of the two mss. that Poussines used equally for his edition of the catena on Mark.  We possess on this subject an interesting letter from the archbishop of Toulouse to Combefis [=another editor of catenas], dated 16 August 1642, from which we will extract some words:  “Father Poussines has transcribed from my library during the past few days a catena on St. Matthew and St. Mark, in order to publish it soon.”  (Patrologia Graeca vol. 94, col. 515).  The first pages of the manuscript were badly damaged, so Fr. Poussines, who had no other exemplar of the catena on St. Matthew at his disposal, allowed himself to follow his imagination rather than give an accurate edition of what he could read.  Richard Simon did not fail to reproach him for this, and to propose some corrections to his work, Hist. critique du Nouveau Testament, vol. 3, ch. 30, p. 423-424.

A year later, another Jesuit whom we have already met, Cordier published a new catena on St. Matthew, which was presented as a supplement to the edition of his fellow-Jesuit, Symbolarum In Mathaeum tomus alter, quo continetur catena Patrum graecorum triginta collectore Niceta episcopo Serrarum interprete Balthasar CORDERIO societatis Jesu theologo.  Prodit nunc primum ex bibliotheca electorali serenissimi utriusque Bavariae Ducis.  Tolosae, excudebat Johannes Boude, MDCXLVII, in-fol. [=Corderius, 1647]  Why this attribution to Nicetas of Serrae?  Probably because the prologue and first few explications which follow on the beginning of the first gospel are given in Cordier’s manuscript (Munich 36) under the name of Nicetas.  This is a pretty arbitrary attribution, at first sight, since most of the scholia correspond exactly to parallel passages in the homilies of St. John Chrysostom on St. Matthew, but the remainder does indeed seem to have been taken from authors who are only generally cited in the other catenas by Nicetas.

In 1844 Cramer published the first volume of his catena on the New Testament.  Catenae graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum edidit J. A. Cramer… Oxonii, e typographeo Academico.  The base text was printed from ms. Coislin 23 (11th c.)  The major part of the catena is taken from the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, to which have been added, following, some scholia by different fathers.

Devreesse then goes on to mention a bunch of anonymous scholia, published with a commentary by Peter of Laodicea, by Henrici, Des Petrus von Laodicea Erklarung des Matthausevangeliums… Leipzig, 1908.  He then discusses this commentary and Peter himself at length.  He then mentions the catena of Euthymius Zigabenus (in PG 119), and a couple of other minor catenas.