Archive Page 2
December 5th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
A rather baffling reference to “Ephraem the Syrian, Contra Haereses 79″ turns out to be a reference to Hymns against Heresies 22, 4, which, by happy chance, was translated for us a while back here. Here’s the relevant section:
The Arians, because they added and erred;
The Aetians, because they were subtle;
The Paulinians, because they acted perversely;
The Sabellians, because they acted with guile;
The Photinians, because they were cunning;
The Borborians, because they were defiled;
The Katharaites, because they kept themselves pure;
The Audians, because they were ensnared;
The Mesallians, because they were unrestrained.
Response: May the good one turn them to his fold!
(This stanza has no main verb: it seems to be a list of why these groups are considered heretics.)
This does not tell us much. But it would seem that this was written before Epiphanius wrote the Panarion, as Ephraim died on 9th July 373 AD, and the Panarion was written as a continuation of the Ancoratus (374 AD), and was in progress in 375 and completed in 377. If so, it must be independent of it.
The same source also refers to “Pseudo-Ephraim, Testament 58″. I have not been able to discover what this text is, unfortunately.
December 5th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
A further witness to the Borborians or Phibionites mentioned by Epiphanius is to be found in the catalogue of heresies by Filaster or Philaster in his Diversarum haereseon liber (PG12, col. 1186):
Alia est haeresis Borborianorum, qui vitiis implicati saeculi, et malis concupiscentiis servientes, non sperant judicium futurum, sed potius carnalem saeculi concupiscentiam laudant. Hi itaque in coenum euntes, et inde obliti de coeno facies et membra sua deformantes, eadem re cunctis velut culpandam Dei creaturam demonstrantes: cum illa vorago culparum, et vitiorum perniciosa damnatio ex hominum voluntate, non Legis divinae permissione descenderit.
73. The Borborians.
Otherwise is the heresy of the Borborians, who, entangled in the vices of the times, and enslaved to evil lusts, do not look forward to a future judgement, but rather approve the bodily lust of today. And so these, entering into filthiness, and so [their] appearance forgetful of filth and defiling their limbs, [do] everything in the same way, as if showing off a creature that must be condemned by God: since such an abyss of crimes against chastity, and the certain damnation of vices voluntarily carried out by humans, will not be lessened by the sanction of the divine law.
Filaster was bishop of Brescia in 381 AD. A google search suggests that his work is at least partially dependent on Epiphanius; indeed Augustine compared the two works in Ep.222, and didn’t think much of Philaster’s version
Even if we did not know this theory – I was unable to learn what data requires this conclusion -, I would tend to feel that this is not an independent witness. Nothing about this passage suggests personal knowledge of the cult, to my eyes, but rather the abbreviation of some other written source.
December 4th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
A correspondent has written to me, enquiring about “9 homilies on the resurrection”. He’s been trying to find a text, and getting confused by what he finds, which includes spuria.
Looking at the Clavis Patrum Graecorum vol. 2, that list of the works of Chrysostom, is always a pleasure. One day I must make a list of all Chrysostom’s works and place it online, for not even Quasten’s Patrology deals with more than a handful.
Two editions of Chrysostom are listed in the CPG. Monfaucon’s edition, as reprinted by the Patrologia Graeca; and Henry Savile’s edition. Both can be found online.
CPG 4340 is De resurrectione mortuorum. This is found in PG50, 417-432; and Savile 6, 703-713. It begins Περὶ δογμάτων ὑμῖν ἔμπροσθεν διελέχθημεν (Peri\ dogma/twn u(mi=n e!mprosqen diele/xqhmen). An Armenian version also exists.
CPG 4341 is De resurrectione domini nostri Iesu Christi. This is PG50, 433-442, Sav.6 581-587. Incipit: Ἀπεθέμεθα τῆς νηστείας τὸ φορτίον (A0peqe/meqa th=j nhstei/aj to\ forti/on).
The importance of Chrysostom is so great, in Greek manuscripts, that a great number of writings have acquired his name in the process of transmission, among them works by Severian of Gabala, his enemy, and of course very many sermons. The Migne and Savile editions differ in what they include, each having material omitted by the other.
Among the spuria and dubia the CPG lists the following:
- CPG 4526 is In triduanam resurrectionem domini. PG50, 821-4. Sav.5, 592-5. Incipit: Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ … Ὁ κύριος ἐκ νεκρῶν. (Xai/rete e)n kuri/w| … O( ku/rioj e)k nekrw=n).
CPG 4673 is In resurrectione domini. PG62, 753-756; Sav.7, 500-502. Incipit: Σφοδά μοι καὶ νῦν, ὡς ἀεὶ κρατεῖ τῆς διανοίας. (Sfoda/ moi kai\ nu=n, w(j a)ei\ kratei= th=j dianoi/as). Attributed to Proclus by Marx (Procliania, n.76, p.70 f.).
CPG 4740 is In resurrectionem domini. Incipit: Θεία τις ὡς ἔοικεν ἡ παροῦσα πανήγυρις (Qei/a tij w(j e!oiken h( parou=sa panh/gurij) See C. Baur, Traditio 9 (1953), p.116-9. Edited by M. Aubineau, Sources Chretiennes 187, 320-325.
CPG 4853 is unpublished, found only in Ms. Jerusalem Saba 103, fol. 109v-111. Incipit: Ἀναστάσεως ἡμέρα (A0nasta/sewj h(me/ra). This is In resurrectionem domini.
CPG 4996 is two unpublished homilies In resurrectionem domini. These are apparently discussed in C. Datema and P. Allen, Text and tradition of two Easter homilies of Ps. Chrysostom, in JÖB 30 (1981), 87-102, esp. 94-7. Incipit for 1: Πάντοτε μὲν χαίρειν πάρεστι τῇ καθ ἡμᾶς τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκκλησίᾳ (Pa/ntote me\n xai/rein pa/resti th=| kaq h(ma=j tou= Xristou= e0kklhsi/a|). Incipit for 2 is very like that for #1, but not given in full in CPGS.
And that’s our lot. There is no group of 9 homilies on the resurrection among the works of Chrysostom.
So where does our reference come from?
A set of 9 homilies on the resurrection appears in volume 3 of the 1546 Paris edition (“apud Guillielem Roland”) of Chrysostom’s works. In the table of contents here the item appears. On p.192 is a heading: “Divi Ioannis Chrysostomi episcopi Constantinopolitani de resurrectione homiliae novem”. According to this, it seems as if the Latin translation is by Erasmus himself! The opening words of the first homily are “De fidei nostrae placitis, deque gloria unigeniti filii dei”.
But what about the text, the 9 homilies on the resurrection? I confess that I am beaten. Anybody got any ideas?
UPDATE (5/12/13): The real objective here, if I understand it, is to locate the origin of “dies dominicus, alii diem panis, alii dicunt diem lucis” which appears in a Google search in homily 5 in a 1687 reprint of the 1547 edition here. The search on the words “Nox bonae”, also found in homily 5, finds several witnesses.
Both phrases appear in a homily by Augustine here, in Angelo Mai, “Nova Patrum bibliothecae”, vol. 1, Rome, 1852, p.344 f. This volume contains a collection of new sermons of Augustine, found in Vatican mss. Homily 152, on the resurrection of the Lord, published from ms. Vaticanus Latinus 1270, folio 4v, is the same material as “Chrysostom” in the 1546 edition.
If the early editor was printing bits of Augustine under Chrysostom’s name, clearly it is futile to look for any such work as Chrysostom.
The item publication postdates Migne, of course. Being Latin it will probably be listed in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum (CPL), which I don’t have access to at the moment. There is probably a CSEL publication, and a CCSL publication, which should be our reference of choice.
But of course the question then arises; is Mai right? Or is this spuriously attributed to Augustine? I learn from Google that most of these new sermons in Mai were not generally accepted as authentic.
UPDATE: The incipit for the “homily 5″ is “Fratres, quam preciosa et grata hodie ecclesia nobis inclaruit”.
December 4th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Cyril Mango’s article on the fate of ancient statues in the middle ages continues:
It is, however, recorded that Constans II, during his infamous residence in Rome (663), despoiled that city of its ancient bronze ornaments, including even the copper roof tiles of the Pantheon, with a view to having them transferred to Constantinople. The loot was conveyed to Syracuse, but never reached its destination: it fell instead into the hands of the Arabs.
He adds in the note that “We are not told specifically what the ancient ornaments of bronze were, but it is reasonable to assume that they included statues.”
The reference for these events is to Paul the Deacon’s History of the Lombards, book 5, chapters 11-13 (PL95, cols 602 and 604):
XI. But the emperor Constans, when he found that he could accomplish nothing against the Langobards, directed all the threats of his cruelty against his own followers, that is, the Romans. He left Naples and proceeded to Rome. At the sixth mile-stone from the city, pope Vitalian came to meet him with his priests and the Roman people. And when the emperor had come to the threshold of St. Peter he offered there a pallium woven with gold; and remaining at Rome twelve days he pulled down everything that in ancient times had been made of metal for the ornament of the city, to such an extent that he even stripped off the roof of the church of the blessed Mary which at one time was called the Pantheon, and had been founded in honor of all the gods and was now by the consent of the former rulers the place of all the martyrs; and he took away from there the bronze tiles and sent them with all the other ornaments to Constantinople. Then the emperor returned to Naples, and proceeded by the land route to the city of Regium (Reggio) ; and having entered Sicily during the seventh indiction he dwelt in Syracuse and put such afflictions upon the people—the inhabitants and land owners of Calabria, Sicily, Africa, and Sardinia – as were never heard of before, so that even wives were separated from their husbands and children from their parents. The people of these regions also endured many other and unheard of things so that the hope of life did not remain to any one. For even the sacred vessels and the treasures of the holy churches of God were carried away by the imperial command and by the avarice of the Greeks. And the emperor remained in Sicily from the seventh to the twelfth indiction, but at last he suffered the punishment of such great iniquities and while he was in the bath he was put to death by his own servants.
XII. When the emperor Constantine was killed at Syracuse, Mecetius (Mezezius) seized the sovereignty in Sicily, but without the consent of the army of the East. The soldiers of Italy, others throughout Istria, others through the territories of Campania and others from the regions of Africa and Sardinia came to Syracuse against him and deprived him of life. And many of his judges were brought to Constantinople beheaded and with them in like manner the head of the false emperor was also carried off.
XIII. The nation of the Saracens that had already spread through Alexandria and Egypt, hearing these things, came suddenly with many ships, invaded Sicily, entered Syracuse and made a great slaughter of the people – a few only escaping with difficulty who had fled to the strongest fortresses and the mountain ranges – and they carried off also great booty and all that art work in brass and different materials which the emperor Constantine had taken away from Rome; and thus they returned to Alexandria.
I had always understand that the loot had been lost in a shipwreck, so it is interesting to learn different. No doubt they were all melted down by the barbarous Arabs for their metal value.
The translator adds a note about the mention that wives were separated by the tax-gatherers from their families; to the effect that they were sold into slavery by the former, in order to pay the taxes demanded.
December 3rd, 2013 by Roger Pearse
A 4-5th c. Coptic manuscript now in the British Library (Ms. BL. Addit. 5114), acquired under unknown circumstances by a Dr Askew, contains a gnostic text which bears the title of the Pistis Sophia. Another copy was found in a 5th century codex unearthed at Akhmim in 1896 also containing three other texts (now P.Berol. 8502). The text of the Pistis Sophia was translated from the first copy by G.R.S Mead in the late 19th century.
In the Pistis Sophia, chapter 147, on p.381, l.6-20 of Schwartz’s edition (Copenhagen, 1925) appears a condemnation of a Borborite practice recorded by Epiphanius. It appears in a list of sins and penances to be endured in the afterlife. Here is Mead’s translation.
Thomas said: “We have heard that there are some on the earth who take the male seed and the female monthly blood, and make it into a lentil porridge and eat it, |387. saying: ‘We have faith in Esau and Jacob.’ Is this then seemly or not?”
Jesus was wroth with the world in that hour [p. 322][ and said unto Thomas: “Amēn, I say: This sin is more heinous than all sins and iniquities. Such men will straightway be taken into the outer darkness and not be cast back anew into the sphere, but they shall perish, be destroyed in the outer darkness in a region where there is neither pity nor light, but howling and grinding of teeth. And all the souls which shall be brought into the outer darkness, will not be cast back anew, but will be destroyed and dissolved.”
Or as Tardieu puts it:
For the sacrilegious gnostic … there is neither instruction nor judgement; he is sent directly into the exterior darkness to be destroyed.
The ascetic gnostic does not care much for the libertine gnostic, it seems.
UPDATE (6/12/13): I have corrected some misunderstandings about the contents of the manuscript and added more detail, and a note about the Berlin copy.
December 2nd, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Epiphanius of Salamis devotes a section of his Panarion to the Borborites or Phibionites, a bunch of libertine gnostics of a pretty disgusting kind. But few will know that Theodoret also mentions this group, in his Compendium haereticarum fabularum book 1, chapter 13. The English translation of this is itself little known. Let’s hear what Theodoret has to say.
Chapter 13: Concerning the Barbelioti, that is to say the Borboriani.
The pollution of those called Barbelioti, that is to say, Borboriani, or Naasenes, or Stratiotici, or Phemioniti, sprouted from the seeds of Valentinus. For they set forth a certain Aeon who continues indestructible in virginal spirit, which they call Barbeloth; and Barbeloth asked for Prognosis from him. But after Prognosis came forth, then, asking again, Aphtharsia came forth, then Zoe Aionios. And they say that after Barbeloth was rejoicing, she became pregnant and bore Phos.
They said that Phos, having been anointed by the perfection of the spirit , was called Christ. Again this Christ asked for Nous, and he received (it). And the Father added also Logos. Then Ennoia and Logos, Aphtharsia and Christ, Zoe Aionios and Thelema, Nous and Prognosis were joined in pairs. Again they said that Autogenes was emanated from Ennoia and Logos, and with him Aletheia, and again there was another pair from Autogenes and Aletheia. And why is it necessary to speak of the other emanations, (namely) those from Phos and Aphtharsia? Because the myth is long, and, in addition to the impiety, it is unpleasant.
And they had put upon them also the Hebrew names, trying to astound those more simple. And they said that Autogenes emanated a perfect and true man, whom they call Adamas. He emanated with him a yoke-mate: Perfect-Knowledge. Hence, again, (they said that) the mother, father and son were manifested. A Tree grew from Anthropos and Gnosis; and this they also called Gnosis.
But they say that the Holy Spirit emanated from the first Angel, whom they term Sophia and Prunicus. This one, they say, desired a husband, [and] and she begot Work, in which was Ignorance and Arrogance. And they called this Work Protarchon and they say that he is the maker of creation.
Now [they say that] this one, having coupled with Arrogance, begat Evil and the [various] categories of this. Therefore, these things I have narrated summarily, passing over the immensity of the fiction. So who is thrice-unhappy as to their mystical rites as to wish to utter orally the things that they have performed? For all the things done as divine works by those men transcend every immoral conception and every abominable thought. And to speak the name is sufficient to hint at their all-abominable adventure. For the Borboriani were so called because of this.
50. See: Irenaeus, Adv. Her. 1.29-30; The Apocryphon of John; and Epiphanius, Pan. 25.2-5; 26.1-19. For further references see: Dizionario Patristico e di Antichita Cristiane, ed. A. di Berardino, Roma 1983, vol. 1, 474-5; W.Foerster, Gnosis: A selection of gnostic texts, tr. R. McWilson, 2 vols., Oxford, 1972-74, pp. 100-120; R. Haardt, Gnosis: Character and Testimony, tr. J.F. Hendry, Brill 1971, pp. 66-69.
51. Epiphanius, Pan. 25.2.
52. Irenaeus, Adv. Her. 1.29.1, states this was done by the Father.
The obvious question is to what extent Theodoret is relying on Epiphanius, and therefore not independent of him. To evaluate this, we need to see what Epiphanius has to say.
November 29th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
To the local library, to collect a copy of the English translation of a Byzantine text. The volume was a substantial hardback, with the library plate of the John Rylands Library in Manchester. Inside the book at various points was an old train ticket fromWigan, and two trading cards from some exhibition in 2007, all presumably used as book marks.
But what struck me most was the condition of the binding. It was very loose.
This book, to my trained eye, has been on the photocopier. Not once, or twice, but dozens of times. In each case the copy has been made by someone anxious that it should lie flat and thereby fit two pages onto one A4 sheet. This saves money, but more importantly reduces the number of times the book has to be lifted and moved. Anyone who has copied a book will know very well how the arms ache after a while!
The result is that the book is barely holding together. Which is a shame.
Of course I intend to run the book through my scanner too. I’ve paid a non-trivial sum to borrow it; the British lending library service now being corrupted by the greed of local councils — Suffolk, in my case — who levy “fees” under one pretext or another. I only have the loan for a few weeks. But I may need to consult it in future.
Which leads me to wonder … rather than dozens of people all copying the same book again and again and again … isn’t there a better way?
Wouldn’t it be better, for the book and the users, to copy it once, create a PDF, and make that available instead? And save us all the effort of making one every time, and the book the injury of repeated copying?
In a sane world, this is what would happen. You’d borrow the book, and get the book for a time and the PDF for good. Some adjustment of rights and copyrights would be necessary, but it could be done.
The greedier kind of library official would try to loan you the PDF for a short time also; using something like Adobe Reader. Which would defeat the object, of course, and would ensure that photocopying would resume. I mention this possibility only because I can imagine it.
But really … wouldn’t it make much more sense to recognise that the library books of Britain are being copied into non-existence, and address the evident need?
November 28th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
It’s been a while since I did anything with the translation of Origen’s Commentary on Ezekiel which I commissioned. The book has sat in a collection of .doc files on my hard disk, while other tasks went forward.
The main obstacle to progress is getting the book typeset. I did buy a copy of Adobe Indesign CS5, with a view to doing it myself; but I simply don’t have the time necessary, nor, in truth, the energy.
This evening I have enquired of an advertiser on PeoplePerHour.com whether he would be interested, and at what price. I want to get this thing published. To do otherwise is to waste the time and money spent on it. And when it has been printed, and sold whatever quantity of books it is going to, we can get the thing online.
The Eusebius book is winding down. It’s still selling a few copies, although I haven’t checked since the summer precisely how many. It sold fairly well in the first year; in the second, to my surprise, more or less the same, after a distinct ‘sag’ in the early months. But I get the definite impression of the decline.
I’ve begun to think about how this can go online as well, as was always intended. I will place the English translation on my website, and make that freely available. But it would be good to make the entire PDF available as well, perhaps at Archive.org, if this can be done without relinquishing copyright. A copyright question arises on the PDF of the whole book because I don’t own the copyright of parts of it, which I only leased. I will look at the sales this year at New Year, and work out exactly how things are going. If I keep it in print, in April/May 2014 I shall have to pay Lightning Source another chunk of cash.
I’ve spent this evening scanning in a wodge of photocopies of pages from Van den Ven’s French translation of the Life of St. Symeon Stylites the Younger. It’s a daunting amount of text!
And I do feel drawn to translate some more of the Life of Severus of Antioch. Both these Lives are historical sources.
Finally there is still a lot of interesting material to look up in Cyril Mango’s article.
I’d also like to return to Ehrman’s Forgery and counterforgery and do some more work on this. A post containing all the primary sources used would be good; and I think Armin Baum gives that material in his book, and E. just made use of it. There is more to be done with the book also.
So there is no lack of tasks drawing my attention! If only I didn’t have to go to work for money as well!!!
November 28th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
The article by Dodds on theurgy and Neoplatonism mentions
Compare … Hippolytus’ receipe for simulating a fiery apparition of Hecate by natural if somewhat dangerous means (Ref. Haer. 4, 36).
The magician casts his spell, and … suddenly a flame is seen ascending in the sky nearby!
The Refutation of Heresies IV, chapters 35-6 is online in English here:
And that a fiery Hecate seems to career through air, he contrives in the mode following.
Concealing a certain accomplice in a place which he wishes, (and) taking aside his dupes, he persuades them (to believe himself), alleging that he will exhibit a flaming demon riding through the air. Now he exhorts them immediately to keep their eyes fixed until they see the flame in the air, and that (then), veiling themselves, they should fall on their face until he himself should call them; and after having given them these instructions, he, on a moonless night, in verses speaks thus:-
“Infernal, and earthy, and supernal Bombo, come!
Saint of streets, and brilliant one, that strays by night;
Foe of radiance, but friend and mate of gloom;
In howl of dogs rejoicing, and in crimson gore,
Wading ‘mid corpses through tombs of lifeless dust,
Panting for blood; with fear convulsing men.
Gorgo, and Mormo, and Luna, and of many shapes,
Come, propitious, to our sacrificial rites!”
And while speaking these words, fire is seen borne through the air; but the (spectators) being horrified at the strange apparition, (and) covering their eyes, fling themselves speechless to earth.
But the success of the artifice is enhanced by the following contrivance.
The accomplice whom I have spoken of as being concealed [underneath a cauldron], when he hears the incantation ceasing, holding a kite or hawk enveloped with tow, sets fire to it and releases it. The bird, however, frightened by the flame, is borne aloft, and makes a (proportionably) quicker flight, which these deluded persons beholding, conceal themselves, as if they had seen something divine.
The winged creature, however, being whirled round by the fire, is borne whithersoever chance may have it, and burns now the houses, and now the courtyards.
Such is the divination of the sorcerers.
I wonder from where Hippolytus obtained these details? In particular the verse chanted?
November 27th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
In a preceding post I quoted from two different versions of the Saint’s Life of S. Symeon Stylites the Younger (521-592). I have now obtained photocopies of much of Van den Ven’s edition, and I think a summary might be of general use.
The following manuscripts exist.
A = Codex Athous Lavra B 71 (catal. 191), s.XI or XII. Parchment. Single column. 370 folios; the Life is on f.1-151v, the rest including the Life of S. Martha (his mother), 30 of his sermons, and some liturgical pieces in honour of both saints. Written by 2 scribes. Little ornamentation. Titles and initials in red; the Life is divided into 259 chapters, with chapter numbers in the margin in the original hand. 46 numbered quaternions.
- S = Codex Sabaiticus 108, now at the Greek patriarchate in Jerusalem with the other Mar Saba mss. End of s. X. Parchment. 202 folios, the Life is on f.3-164v, followed by the Life of Martha, and then a vision of a monk of the abbey of S. Symeon on the Wonderful Mountain, to which the ms. belonged in the 12th c. Originally the ms. only contained the two Lives, as the quaternion numbering shows, although most of this, being at the edge of the page, has been cut off. There are 3 colophons. Written in a single column in minuscule. The 259 chapters are numbered in the margin in capitals, mostly in red ink. The titles are in capitals with an ornamental band above them.
- B = Codex Barrocianus 240, at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. s.XII. Parchment. Contains a menologion for the month of May. 268 folios. Written in 2 columns by a monk, Ignatius, who left a subscription on f.268v. The Life is on f.175-258v. The chapter numbering, written in the margin in uncial letters, is identical to A and S, except that chapter 256 is divided into two, giving 260 chapters.
- M = Codex Monacensis gr. 366. s.X. Parchment. Like B, a menologion for May. 243 folios. The Life is on f.112-214. Ehrhard believed that it was written at the Studios monastery in Constantinople; it seems to have later belonged to the Xenophon monastery on Mt. Athos. Divided into only 240 chapters, usually by a second scribe who only added marginalia to the text.
- P = Codex Parisinus gr. 1459. s.XI. 101 folios. Written in 2 columns in a rounded minuscule. 30 quaternions. Contains only the Life, mutilated at both ends; the ms. seems to have been a menologion like others, as the quaternion numbering suggests. Chapter numbering is identical to A, S, and B.
- V = Codex Athous Vatopedi 84 (once 79). s.IX. Parchment, 272 f. Also a menologion, for May-August. Written in an early minuscule. The Life is on f.83v-98v but very incomplete. It has a title in uncials. Not divided into chapters.
- L = Codex Lesbiensis Leimon. 43. s.XII-XIII. Paper. 271 f. Two columns. A menologion for May and June. The Life is on f.103-204. Not divided into chapters. Copied at the monastery of St. John the Prodromos of Petra, at Constantinople.
- J = Codex Patmiacus 257. s.XII. 261 f. Menologion for May. Two columns. The Life is on f.145v-196. Not divided into chapters.
- Codex Athous Esphigmenou 105. s.XVIII. Paper. 287f. After various homilies, f.69-160v are the Life of S.Symeon; f.161-191v are the Life of S. Martha; f.192-287 are the 30 homilies of Symeon. Ehrhard believes that it was copied from A. Negligently copied, but showing some of the special readings of A. 258 chapters.
These nine manuscripts are the survivors of a much larger number, as attested by the many later derivative Lives, the (probably 8th century) Georgian translation, quotations in John Damascene, in the Acts of the 2nd council of Nicaea in 787 and liturgical texts. But the text offered by these mss. is sound and can be confirmed by some 8th century quotations and the translation into Georgian.
Two groups appear: AS and BMP. The relationship of the first two is particularly close, and, when they agree, of great value, although they also have many faults in common.
A long verbatim extract of the text from chapter 158 appear in John Damascene’s 3rd discourse on images, composed ca. 726-30 AD (although in the ms. used by John Damascene the chapter was numbered 132). A second long extract from chapter 118 was read at the 2nd council of Nicaea in 787 by the deacon Cosmas from a copy of the Life given to the council by Joseph, Hegoumen of the monastery of Heraclea.
A paraphrase of the Life exists, by Nicephoros Ouranos, of almost equal length to the original. It was published in 1685 in the Acta Sanctorum for May, vol. 5, by the Bollandist Janninck. He used ms. B.14 (s.XI) of the library of Vallicellane. There are many other copies, which have never been studied: Berlin. gr. Fol. 17 (s.XI), Bodleian Clark 44 (s.XII-XIII), Bodleian Rawlinson Auct. G 199 (1141 AD), Athos Dionysiou 143 (1632-3), Athos Iviron 424 (s.XVI), Moscow 15 (Vlad. 381) (1023 AD). The author is named in the title in the Vallicellane and Oxford mss.: Nicephoros Ouranous, magistros of Antioch. He was chamberlain of Basil II, and was sent to Baghdad by the emperor in 980 AD, where he was imprisoned by the Sultan Adoud-ad-Dawla. He was permitted to return to Constantinople in December 986, and appointed magistros and commander of the soldiers in the east. In the latter role he defeated the Bulgars at the battle of Sperchios. At the end of 999 AD he became governor or duke of Antioch, and was still there in 1006 when he put down an Arab revolt. He was also a literary figure, and the author of a Tactica. His paraphrase adds specific detail which the original had left vague. In particular he gives details about Amantius, his predecessor as governor of Antioch which are entirely absent from the original. He also uses much more elaborate language than the relatively simple contemporary Greek of the original. Some of the faults of A and S also turn up in Nicephorus Ouranous’ paraphrase, suggesting that the latter had access to a manuscript of a similar parentage, probably from Antioch.
Three short abridgements of the Life also exist.
There is no trace of a Syriac, Armenian or Arabic translation of the Life, but a Georgian translation does exist. The Life records that Georgians made the journey to see the Saint, even in his own lifetime. The translation was published in 1918. It was based on ms. Tiflis A 105 (1697 AD), and A 177 (s.XVIII). Other mss. exist, much more ancient, which were not used: Sinai Georgian 46 (before 987 AD, when it was rebound); Patriarchal library of Jerusalem 33 (s.XIII-XIV). From the age of the Sinai ms., the Georgian translation must predate the year 950.
The author of the Life is not named in any of the manuscripts. When John Damascene gives the extract from chapter 158, the title names the author as Arcadios, archbishop of Constantia in Cyprus (still alive in 638, and died). The same passage (as well as the other) was read at the council of Nicaea II in 787, but without the title. Chronology is against the identification: the author states that he became a disciple of Symeon at the time when the patriarch Ephrem of Antioch died. This took place in 545 AD; and if the author was Arcadios, and was only 15 at the time, he would have been at least 108 years old by 638 AD, when he is recorded by Anastasius the Sinaite as being in a fortress near Constantia. Van den Ven concludes that in reality the Life is anonymous. The author was a contemporary of Symeon, as he tells us. There is some evidence of the use of written sources; and in chapter 71, we learn that he has become a disciple of Symeon’s. Prior to that point, the text consists of narratives of visions and other material, perhaps transmitted orally. It is notable that the Life contains little mention of contemporary politics after the accession of Tiberius II (in 578 AD, chapter 211), but much before then. The rest of the Life is a description of the miracles of the saint, and a brief account of his last moments. The author, therefore, is silent about a great deal in the last 15 years of the Saint’s life.
The original text of the Life only became known in 1894, when some extracts were edited by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus. The publication of a critical edition was begun by Paul van den Ven of Louvain in 1913, but only actually appeared in 1962.
There is more to say, but I think we’ll leave that for a subsequent post now.