Ps.Chrysostom, De Susanna Sermo – Coptic version translated by Anthony Alcock

Anthony Alcock continues to turn Coptic texts into English.  His latest contribution to us all is a translation of the Coptic version of pseudo-Chrysostom, De Susanna Sermo, a homily on the apocryphal book of Susanna:

For comparison, a draft translation of the original Greek text (PG 56: 589-594, CPG 4567) by “K.P.” is online at Academic here.

Both are useful.  Thank you!

The “Apotelesmata” of Apollonius of Tyana – now online in English

Anthony Alcock has sent in a translation of a curious anonymous Greek text in 8 chapters, concerning the Apotelemata (Talismans) of Apollonius of Tyana.  The content is astrological, concerned with names and words.

The work appears in medieval Greek astrological manuscripts, but also in a Syriac version as an appendix to the gnostic apocryphal Testament of Adam, itself perhaps dating from the 2-5th centuries AD.  There are also Armenian versions of part of it, themselves clearly translated from an unknown Arabic text.[1]

A Greek text was printed with Latin translation by Francois Nau in the Patrologia Syriaca 1, pp. 1362-1425, back in 1907, and another by Franz Boll in Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum 7: Codices Germanici, p.174-181, in 1908.

The translation is here:

I was able to find some discussion of this work in an article by Christopher P. Jones, “Apollonius of Tyana in Late Antiquity”, in: S.F. Johnson, Greek Literature in Late Antiquity: Dynamism, Didacticism, Classicism, 2016, p.57 f. The article is online here.

Jones writes (paragraphing mine):

“… Boll thought the work an ‘impudent fiction’ composed shortly before Eusebius’ Reply to Hierocles, while Nau was inclined to defend it as genuine; the obviously later ingredients, such as the reference to a church built by Apollonius in Tyana, he explained as later interpolations. The work cannot be by Apollonius and, as Speyer has noted, must be much later than Boll supposed, though it is still an interesting document deserving of consideration here. …

The writer reveals his Christianity at every point, both in his subject-matter and in his choice of words. He thinks that Apollonius was born early enough to predict the birth of Christ, and even (if the obvious interpretation is correct) that he founded a church in Tyana.

As for language, ναός denoting a Christian church is first apparently found in Eusebius, and προσκυνητός seems almost entirely a Christian usage. For στοιχειόω in the sense of ‘enchant’, ‘perform talismanic operations upon’, Sophocles’ Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods cites no example before Theophanes Continuatus (not earlier than the ninth century).

A span of 800–1200 is presumably about right for the composition of the work. It may be relevant that Tyana was an episcopal see as early as 325, and after being lost to the Arabs was recovered for the Byzantine empire in the tenth century; the site has also produced remains of a church datable to that same century. 

Though irrelevant to Apollonius’ fortunes in late antiquity, therefore, the treatise shows the same acceptance of him into Byzantine Christianity that is implied inter alia by his appearance in art as a prophet of Christ.

Thank you, Dr Alcock, for making this interesting text more widely accessible.

  1. [1]M. E. Stone, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and Armenian Studies, 2006, p.473 f.

Zacharias Scholasticus, “Life of Isaiah the Monk”, now online in English

Anthony Alcock has emailed me a new translation of his.  This time it is a piece from the early 6th century by Zacharias Scholasticus, the Life of Isaiah the Monk, of Scetis in Egypt.

Here it is:

Thank you very much for doing this for us all!

Forced marriage in saints’ lives – by Anthony Alcock

Anthony Alcock has written a short note on a hagiographical theme; where monks are kidnapped, and forced into marriage.  This appears in St. Jerome’s Life of Malchus in the 4th century, and also in the 9th century Life of Samuel of Kalamoun.

It’s here:

Altercatio Simonis et Theophili online in English!

Anthony Alcock has translated a much longer piece for us all this time – the Altercatio Simonis et Theophili, or, Disputation between Simon the Jew and Theophilus the Christian.  This has been dated to the 5th century AD, and is the oldest Latin dialogue between Christians and Jews.  It relies extensively on proof-texts.

This is enormously useful to have accessible online! Thank you, Dr. A!

“The miracle of St Michael at Colossae” – now online in English

Anthony Alcock has taken a break from Coptic and translated for us all this Greek hagiographical legend, from the text given in the Patrologia Orientalis 4.  A few notes on the text from the PO might be of interest to readers.

The Bollandist editors placed the composition of this text between 692, when Colossae was abandoned, and 787 AD, when there ceased to be any bishops of Colossae.  Nau believes that it is 7th or perhaps 6th century.

There are three recensions of the Greek text, and a longer Latin version (extant in a single 13th century manuscript) as well.  The first recension is anonymous, and it is this that Nau edited, and that Dr. A has translated.  This is based mainly on Paris BNF suppl. gr. 480, an uncial manuscript (Nau gives no date).  The Bollandists edited  and translated (into Latin) the second recension, attributed to Sisinnius, Archbishop of Constantinople, in the Acta Sanctorum September VIII p.38-49.  The third recension is the one revised by Metaphrastes in the 11th century, and which appears in all the Greek menologia.  Both the first and third recensions have been published in the Analecta Bollandiana.

Dr. A’s translation of this first recension is here:

I think we can all thank Dr. A for making it available.

Anthony Alcock: Three short texts relating to Severus of Antioch – now online

Anthony Alcock is continuing his series of translations from Coptic and Arabic.  Today he emailed over a translation of three short texts in Arabic, relating to Severus of Antioch.  The original language material may be found in the Patrologia Orientalis 2 (1907).

This is very welcome.  Thank you very much, Dr. A!

Life of the Coptic Patriarch Isaac (686-689 AD) by Anthony Alcock

Anthony Alcock has kindly translated for us all a Bohairic Coptic account of the life of the Coptic patriarch Isaac (686-689 AD), which he has sent to me for publication.  The PDF is here:

Isaac does appear in the History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church, but only briefly – this Life is much longer, but also hagiographical.  It is translated from the text in the Patrologia Orientalis 11 (1914).

Our thanks to Dr. Alcock for making this accessible!