From my diary

I learn from Twitter that the North American Patristics Society (NAPS) is holding its 2017 convention, starting tomorrow.  I hope that everyone there finds it useful and productive, and maybe even fun!

On this continent, I’ve continued hacking away at the Annals of the Arabic Christian historian, Eutychius.  I must admit that the Muslim sections are not very interesting to me, being definitely post-ancient.  But I’ve had more expressions of interest from correspondents, in respect of these, than any other part.  Anyway there are all of 5 caliphs left, so I may as well do them.

Really this material needs copious footnoting; for which of us is very familiar with all these people that Eutychius mentions?  Pirone’s translation does have a lot of this.  But I have eschewed looking up notes, because I think the value of what I am doing – if it has any – is in making the text accessible to everyone, albeit in this inferior form.  Once interest increases in Eutychius, we will get better translations, and plenty of notes.

Once I get to the end, then, of course, the question arises of whether to translate the first 9 chapters of the work.  I think that I will wait and see.

When I started on Eutychius, I started with chapter 10, with the times of Jesus, rather than at the beginning.  It is often wise to do this, with these chronicles.  The opening chapters invariably consist of bastardised reworkings of Genesis, of no conceivable use or interest to anyone.  It can be very hard indeed to sustain your interest, if this is where you start.  I have found by experience that Roman times are enough to get a whole load of the chronicle done.

I have been reordering my library.  Like many of us, I have any number of novels.  What I have done is to gather these into series.  This leaves the other books also gathered together; and so there is less to go through when looking for a book.  I was also able to purge a good number of volumes that I am unlikely ever to read again.

After doing this, I have concluded that my copy of C.S.Lewis Voyage to Venus is definitely gone for good, and probably has been gone for years.  Thanks to the miracle of Abebooks, a replacement of the same edition is on its way to me.

Abebooks is a miracle.  I remember in the 1980s that haunting second-hand bookshops was a necessity.  Guides, like the Driff guide, told you where these might be located, and gave some clue as to size and stock.  But getting hold of any specific volume was impossible.  There were ingenious gentlemen who advertised “book search services” in trade magazines.  Doubtless these visited auctions, or otherwise acquired stock.  But that was about all you could do.  I looked for many years for translations of Tertullian, never realising that these would be a specialist thing, and not to be found in country bookshops.

On the other hand, the bookshops were a destination for many a drive in the country in the summer sunshine, to towns and villages that I should never otherwise have visited.  This gave me memories that I value.  I should never have gone to Walsingham, that strange yet enchanting Roman Catholic village, complete with a shrine, located in the middle of the Norfolk countryside, had it not offered old books for sale in two different locations.  I always look into second-hand bookshops, even now.  But I wonder whether young men still traverse the land, merely to browse some unfamiliar shelves.  I hope that they do.

My thanks to all those who prayed and wished me recovery while I was sick.  That particular bug lasted three weeks, and I had a headache for nearly all that time that paracetamol would not shift.  Your help is much appreciated.