Words, Words, Words: A response to Richard Carrier on Feldman and Eusebius

It’s always nice when my blog posts attract attention. I learned last week that an old post of mine, from 2013, has attracted a response from a professional atheist polemicist named Richard Carrier. In a rather excitable post here on his own blog he roundly denounces my casual remarks, and indeed myself (!), and offers a new theory of his own. A correspondent drew my attention to this, and asked me to comment.

My original post was written after I happened to see an article by the excellent Josephus scholar Louis Feldman. This tentatively endorsed the fringe idea that Eusebius of Caesarea (fl. early 4th century) may have composed the so-called Testimonium Flavianum (TF), the rather odd passage in Josephus Antiquities 18 which mentions Christ.[1] This claim is not one that anybody has previously had much time for, and I didn’t see any purpose in rebutting it. Feldman was only summarising work by others, I felt.

But then I saw something interesting. The article made the claim that, if you search the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae database for a phrase towards the end of the TF, “And the tribe of Christians has not died out even to this day” (eis eti te nuneven/still to this day),[2] then it gives a bunch of hits in Eusebius’ works, and pretty much nowhere else.

I do computer searches. I’m interested in Eusebius. So I did the search for the phrase, but I got only a handful of results. Disappointed, I blogged about it, added some cautions on rushing to conclusions from these kinds of matches, and thought no more about it.

Last week I learned that, after four years, Richard Carrier has written a blog post in which he asserts rather over-enthusiastically that I simply did the search wrong – that instead I should have searched for eis eti nun; the te is just a particle, with the vague sense of “and”, and the two phrases are pretty much the same in meaning. Of course the two are indeed more or less identical in meaning.

Carrier’s search produces splendid results. It gets 94 matches.[3] Of these, 6 are later than Eusebius; one each in six authors. The other 88 are entirely in Eusebius. In other words, practically nobody in all Greek literature ever uses the phrase other than Eusebius, if we can trust this search.  It looks like the claim that Eusebius wrote the TF is proved!

But 88 out of 94 is not just a good result for the theory. It’s a fabulous result! In fact, it’s too good to be true. It’s like a Soviet election result with 99% voting for the official candidate. The number is supposed to produce confidence in the result, and does the opposite. It’s a sign that we need to sanity-check what we are doing.

Doing so produces instant discomfort. Surely “even to this day” is a trivial phrase? Are we really saying that Eusebius invented something as obvious as that? It seems unlikely. Imagine a Greek, complaining about his neighbour, as man has done since time immemorial. Would he not say, “How long has this been a problem?” “Oh it started when we landed, and it has continued even to this day.” How else would you express that idea?[4]

In fact, if we look at little further we find that the idea in rather similar words is indeed kicking around well before Eusebius, six centuries earlier, in the third century BC.   Apollonius Rhodius uses the idea in his Argonautica. He uses it to tie together past and present, in precisely the way that Eusebius does. [5]   The historian Polybius uses it, the poet Callimachus uses it. Nobody in our corpus uses it like Eusebius does; but then nobody is writing quite the kinds of works that Eusebius is.

So why didn’t these authors appear in the results, when we do the search? Because these rely on searching for versions of eiseti nun, which differs only by a word-division and means much the same thing.[6] We can omit te; we can replace it with the stronger equivalent kai; we can run eis and eti together, especially when we know that Greek manuscripts did not feature word division.  Any claim that depends on the presence of a space in the text is a pretty fragile one.

In fact there are quite a number of things we can do to twiddle the search, once we start thinking about it. Let’s just give the numbers from the TLG for a few versions of this search string, all of which mean much the same:

  • eis eti te nun – 4 hits. Josephus (1 hit), Eusebius (3 hits).
  • eiseti te nun – 7 hits. Eusebius (4), Sozomen (2), Oecumenius (1).
  • eis eti nun – 94 hits. 88 are from works of Eusebius, and the other 6 are later: Didymus the Blind (d.398) On Genesis, Procopius of Gaza (5th c.) Commentary on Isaiah, Stobaeus (6th c.), Chronicon Paschale (6th c.) and two 12th century Byzantine writers.
  • eiseti nun – 142 hits. Mostly pre-Eusebius; 7 hits in Apollonius Rhodius (3rd c. BC), Timaeus Historicus (3rd c. BC), Polybius (2nd c. BC), Philo (1st c. AD), Aelius Aristides (2nd c. AD), Lucian (2nd c.), Oppian (2nd c.), Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200), and others.  But Eusebius (63 hits) and Sozomen (41 hits) do appear.
  • eis eti kai nun – 23 hits. 2 hits from Porphyry (3rd c.) from different works. Some from Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, and then Byzantine writers.
  • eiseti kai nun – 110 hits. Callimachus (3rd c. BC), Herennius Philo (ca. 100 AD), Lucian, the Book of Jubilees (ca. 150 BC), Eusebius (56 hits) – especially in the commentaries on Isaiah and Psalms – Eutropius, Chrysostom, Palladius, and Byzantine writers.  Also an LXX variant reading for Isaiah 9:6 (given by Eusebius).

All of these do show significant use by Eusebius. Some of these show pre-Eusebian use; others don’t.

In fact Carrier is quite well aware of the pre-Eusebian results, which he proceeds to mention briefly in a paragraph that reads as if it was tacked on afterwards.   But it’s terrible stuff. Clement of Alexandria is just a Christian, so he doesn’t count (?!).  Polybius doesn’t count because no other historical writer after him uses this phrase.  In fact Carrier has changed his argument; from “only Eusebius uses this, so it proves that Eusebius forged the TF” – a defensible argument, if wrong – to “Eusebius uses this more than anyone, so that proves that he forged the TF”.  Which, of course, it does not.  Carrier has defeated himself.[7]

Here’s the rub; the success or failure of our search comes to depend on us, on our judgement, on our ingenuity, on our knowledge of Greek.   This subjectivity was precisely why, in my first blog post, I never proceeded beyond the exact match.

There are further possible issues with this method. Only 1% of Greek literature has survived. Much of that is biased towards technical, classical or ecclesiastical writings, those that were useful to copyists in the Dark Ages. The TLG contains only a portion of that 1%. Someone who knew more about computational linguistics than I do could easily point out more problems.

The database itself is not “clean”;[8] it is comprised of texts edited by many different editors, whose choices from the manuscript tradition will reflect their preferences. One example of this may be found in searching outside the TLG for eis eti nun. The TLG gives no hits before Eusebius. But I find that the 1831 R. Klotz edition of Clement of Alexandria, Protrepicus, has three hits for it.[9] In the TLG, based on the GCS edition, eis eti is replaced by eiseti. There is no indication in the apparatus as to why. The results of each database search are therefore a reflection of editorial choices.

Stylistic analysis, whether manual or automated, can be something of a trap. It’s terribly easy to forget how little we really know about the texts before us, the language which none of us speak as a native and which changes considerably over the thousand years before us, the vagaries of editors, the influence of ammanuenses and copyists, and of the non-literary spoken language, which surrounds the literary text like a warm bath at every instant but is almost invisible to us.

To sum up, we saw that a search for the exact phrase does not confirm Carrier’s claim. A search for revised phrases which mean the same does not confirm the claim either.  Attempts to dodge this simply destroy the argument.

*   *   *   *

Now let’s go back to where we started. The argument in Feldman’s article was that the use of this phrase proved that Eusebius wrote the TF.   We don’t want any implicit assumptions here, so let’s lay the argument out explicitly.

The claim is: (1) we have no evidence that eis eti te nun (etc) was used in Greek literature before Eusebius; (2) the search proves that Eusebius uses it extensively; therefore (3) any use of the term proves that Eusebius composed that bit of text; and (4) the TF as found in the Church History of Eusebius does contain it; so (5) Eusebius composed the TF.

The second point is correct. Eusebius does use the eis eti nun phrase extensively, once or twice in every book of the Church History, and elsewhere.

But the first point is dodgy, and so is the third. We have seen that in fact we do have evidence of its use for 6 centuries before Eusebius.

But let us suppose for a moment that the TLG searches did in fact show, as Carrier contended (before he discovered otherwise), that nobody used eis eti nun before Eusebius. The argument still is flawed. For this argument is an argument from silence – that we have no evidence that anyone else … so it must have been him. Arguments from silence are not valid.

The archaeologists never tire of telling us that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It is the first thing that we must remember. And we’re searching only a subset of 1% of Greek literature, as we saw.  According to Carrier this means that we don’t have any evidence of use before Eusebius … very well. But even then we don’t have all the evidence. We have only a fraction of it.

In conclusion, the claim that examining the use of eis eti nun proves that Eusebius composed the TF is not correct. The claim itself seems to involve an argument from silence. And the silence itself can only be sustained by ignoring the exact matches, using a related search, and then finding reasons to ignore other related searches.

  1. [1]There is another brief mention in Ant. 20 which also does so.
  2. [2]I have transliterated the Greek so that general readers can follow along.
  3. [3]This from a search of the TLG-E disk; I am currently unable to access the online system.
  4. [4]In fact it would be rather interesting to know how this was expressed in the classical period, as eis eti nun does not seem to be classical.
  5. [5]M.P. Cuypers, “Apollonius of Rhodes”, In: Irene J. F. De Jong, René Nünlist, Angus M. Bowie, “Narrators, Narratees, and Narratives in Ancient Greek Literature: Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative”, vol. 1. Brill, 2004, p.56 and n.24.
  6. [6]My thanks to Ken Olson for pointing this out in a comment on my original post. Dr O. is clearly no bigot, for he did so despite this information working against the interest of his theory: clearly a gentleman and a scholar.
  7. [7]Full disclosure: I wrote the majority of this post without Carrier’s post before me, so I did not remember his change of mind at this point.
  8. [8]See further M. Eder, “Mind your corpus: systematic errors in authorship attribution”, Literary and Linguistic Computing 28, 2013, 603-14.
  9. [9]Page 9 line 29, p.12  l.17, p.18 l.16. The first of these reads “καταδουλοῦται καὶ αΐκίζεται εἰς ἔτι νῦν τοιὶς άνθρώπους,”

A note on the authenticity of Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on the Psalms”

In Rondeau’s account of ancient Christian commentaries on the psalms,[1] there is naturally a section on the commentary by Eusebius of Caesarea.  It contains an interesting footnote on the authenticity of the text.  But first, a few words about this little known item.

Eusebius is a writer whom we do not usually associate with exegesis.  But his extensive Commentary on Isaiah was rediscovered 60 years ago, and an English translation published in the last decade.  His Commentary on the Psalms has been less fortunate.  The portion devoted to Psalms 51-95, 3 has reached us, in a single manuscript, BNF Paris Coislin 44, which was edited by Montfaucon in the 17th century.[2]  The section on Psalm 37 was transmitted among the works of Basil of Caesarea.[3]

The remainder, however, is known only from extracts preserved in the medieval Greek bible commentaries.  These were composed of chains (catenae) of extracts linked together, with the author’s initial against each extract (but this initial was often corrupted).  Eusebius figures largely in the catenas and so there is a lot of material extant, if somewhat dubious.

Nobody has undertaken a critical edition of any of this material, and the portions derived from catenas are unreliable.  There is no translation of any of it, to the best of my knowledge, other than a translation of the section on psalm 51 made for this site by Andrew Eastbourne.

Now I’ve always had a soft spot for this huge but neglected work, and so I’ve started looking at Rondeau’s description, from which the above is mainly taken.  One of his footnotes caught my eye at once.

Dans la notice Eusèbe de Césarée de certaines encyclopédies, il est insinué que le texte du Coislin. 44 est non de l’Eusèbe authentique et pur, mais de l’Eusèbe caténal, interpolé ou remanié (E. Preuschen, dans Realencyclopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche 5, 1898, p. 615; E. Schwartz, dans PW 6, 1907, col 1435; J. Moreau, dans DHGE 15, 1963, col. 1446, et dans RAC 6, 1965, col. 1064). Notre expérience de l’ensemble de l’exégèse antique du Psautier ne confirme pas cette méfiance.

In the article Eusebius of Caesarea in some encyclopedias, it is insinuated that the text of Coislin. 44 is not direct from Eusebius himself, but rather the “Eusebius” of the catenas, i.e. interpolated or reworked. (E. Preuschen, in Realencyclopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche 5, 1898, p. 615; E. Schwartz, in PW 6, 1907, col 1435; J. Moreau, in DHGE 15, 1963, col. 1446, and in RAC 6, 1965, col. 1064). Our experience of the entire collection of ancient exegesis of the psalter does not confirm this suspicion.[4]

It is good to hear this.  To cast suspicion on the authenticity of a text is easy; to remove it hard.  The need for an edition and translation of this text is not helped by such suspicions.

UPDATE (17/8/16): There is a critical edition in progress of this work, at the BBAW, headed by Christoph Markschies.  This has been in progress for a while, but I enquired and he kindly wrote back and told me: “The project is still active and the three colleagues mentioned at the website (Bandt, Risch and Villani) are still working hard to produce the first volume (that will be a multi-volume edition …) the next year.”

Which is excellent news, of course.  Now all we need is a team of translators.

  1. [1]Marie-Josephe Rondeau, Les commentaires patristiques du psautier, vol. 1, 1982.
  2. [2]Reprinted as the whole of Patrologia Graeca 23; material on psalms 119-150, edited by Mai, appears in PG 24, cols. 9-76.
  3. [3]Edition in PG 29, columns 194-6 and 202.
  4. [4]Rondeau, l.c., p.64, n.137.

Manuscript of Eusebius’ Quaestiones ad Stephanum/Marinum now online!

Readers may remember that a few years ago I published a translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel Problems and Solutions (Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum).  Today I learn from a correspondent that the main manuscript, Vaticanus Palatinus Graecus 220, has been digitised and is now online at the Vatican website!  Folios 61-91 contain the work, which is itself an abbreviation of the original in 3 books, which discussed differences between the start and end of each gospel, and attempted to resolve them.

It is interesting to see that there are scholia on some leaves.  I include an image of one below.  Does anyone know what it says?

Here’s the opening of the work (f.61) (click on the images for a clearer image):


Here is an example of the start of a “question” (f.92):


Here is where it breaks of, without any colophon (f.96):


And here on folio 90v is a scholion:


I’ve zoomed in somewhat, and it would be interesting to know what it says.

Seeing this crystal-clear manuscript makes me wish we had had it available, back when David Miller was working on the translation.   As it is, we may be so grateful that this is now freely available online!

UPDATE: A correspondent in the comments has kindly translated the gloss for us – thank you!  It reads:

No! But the true mother of the Lord herself is said mother of Jacob and Jose, who are considered brothers of the Lord, being natural sons of Joseph, from his first wife, Salome. For Joseph had four sons: Jacob and Jose and Simon and Jude. And as the mother of the Lord was considered wife of Joseph, so she was considered mother of his sons.

Ezekiel the Tragedian’s play on Moses; quoted by Eusebius, found at Oxyrhynchus

A number of news reports have circulated this week about the finds of Greek literature at Oxyrhynchus.  One of the better ones is in the Daily Mail, which has been running a lot of articles on subjects of interest lately.  The report by James Dunn (2 March 2016) is here.  It’s based on an article in the soon-to-be-extinct Independent, which nobody reads.

A long-lost speech from a play about Moses has been discovered on newly translated papers found more than a hundred years ago on an ancient Egyptian rubbish pile.

The speech explains how he was given the name Moses because he was found on the riverbank, written in a Greek-style tragedy about the Biblical character written in the Second Century BC.

It means that the classic Biblical story would have been performed more than 2,000 years before Charlton Heston played Moses in the 1956 blockbuster The Ten Commandments.

It is one of 500,000 documents found when the Victorian archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt discovered the ancient city Oxyrhynchus, about 120 miles south of modern Cairo, in 1897.

Between then and 2012, only 5,000 had been translated, but thousands more have been translated thanks to an army of volunteers who have inspected the documents which were put online.

But the most interesting to many will be the fragment of a long-lost rendition of the Book of Exodus, written in the style of a Greek tragedy by little-known author called Ezekiel.

It had been quoted in another documents by Church Father Eusebius, written 400 years later, but until now, no-one had ever seen it.

Dr Dirk Oddbink, of Oxford University, co-ordinating the project, said: ‘We didn’t know for certain that a text existed: Eusebius might have made it up or misremembered it,’ reports The Independent.

‘Now we have a real copy, a long speech by Moses, in iambic trimeters, telling the history of his life and how he was discovered as a baby in the bulrushes.

‘We can put some flesh and bones on a lost work of literature, one that was presumably performed long before Charlton Heston.’

Dirk Oddbink is better known as Dirk Obbink.  The Independent has a less people-friendly introduction, but then adds a translation:

Newly discovered fragment of Ezekiel’s Exagoge, spoken by Moses:

Then the princess with her maidservants came down to bathe.
When she saw me, she took me up and recognised that I was a Hebrew.
My sister Mariam then ran up to her and spoke,
‘Shall I get a nursemaid for this child from the Hebrews?’ The princess urged her on.
Mariam went to fetch our mother who presently appeared and took me in her arms.
The princess said to her, ‘Woman, nurse this child and I shall pay your wages.’
She then named me Moses, because she had taken me from the watery river-bank.

The Mail also prints a couple of pictures of papyri, but I learn from a correspondent that these are in fact nothing to do with the Exodus, but are POxy 1.2 (Matthew) and POxy 6.846 (Amos).

We learn more about this author from Louis H. Feldman, here.[1]

2.26 Ezekiel the Tragedian, The Exodus, quoted by Alexander Polyhistor (first century BC), cited by Eusebius (end of third and beginning of fourth century AD), Preparation for the Gospel 9.29.4-6

We know of a Jew, Ezekiel, who composed tragedies, considerable fragments of one of which, The Exodus, have been preserved. His thorough familiarity with various classical authors, particularly Aeschylus and Euripides, indicates that he was well schooled in Greek literature. The play itself follows the biblical narrative closely, though the dream here mentioned, together with the interpretation by Moses’ father-in-law Raguel (Jethro), is non-biblical. There would appear to be significance in the fact that this crucial dream is interpreted by a non-Jew, Raguel.

Ezekiel thus mentions these things in his work The Exodus and includes the dream seen by Moses and interpreted by his father-in-law.

In the following extract, Moses himself speaks in dialogue with his father-in- law.

‘I dreamt there was on the summit of Mount Sinai
A certain great throne extending up to heaven’s cleft,
On which there sat a certain noble man
Wearing a crown and holding a great sceptre
In his left hand. With his right hand
He beckoned to me, and I stood before the throne.
He gave me the sceptre and told me to sit
On the great throne. He gave me the royal crown.
And he himself left the throne.
I beheld the entire circled earth
Both beneath the earth and above the heaven,
And a host of stars fell on its knees before me;
I numbered them all.
They passed before me like a squadron of soldiers.
Then, seized with fear, I rose from my sleep.’
His father-in-law interprets the dream thusly:
‘O friend, that which God has signified to you is good;
Might I live until the time when these things happen to you.
Then you will raise up a great throne
And it is you who will judge and lead humankind;
As you beheld the whole inhabited earth,
The things beneath and the things above God’s heaven,
So will you see things present, past, and future.’

Feldman does not make clear that Eusebius actually quotes far, far more than this: too much, indeed, for me to include in this post.

The Gifford translation of the Praeparatio Evangelica of Eusebius is online, and book 9 is here.  

Eusebius is not quoting directly, however.  He introduces, in chapter 17, his source: the lost work by Alexander Polyhistor:

AND with this agrees also Alexander Polyhistor, a man of great intellect and much learning, and very well known to those Greeks who have gathered the fruits of education in no perfunctory manner: for in his compilation, Concerning the Jews, he records the history of this man Abraham in the following manner word for word…

The Ezekiel material is stated to be copied “word for word” from Polyhistor.

It is nice to see Eusebius confirmed, once again, as an accurate source for lost works.  It has always seemed rather mean-minded, to me, to cast aspersions on a man to whom we owe so much knowledge of antiquity.

  1. [1]Louis H. Feldman, Jewish Life and Thought among Greeks and Romans: Primary Readings (1996) p.41. Online here.

Eusebius on the Psalms – a project for a new edition in Germany

I heard this week about a new edition of the Eusebius Commentary on the Psalms.  It’s very good news!

This monster work has survived in a rather curious fashion – the section on Psalms 51-100 has been transmitted directly, which is pretty unusual for an ancient biblical commentary.  But the sections on the other psalms are recovered from medieval Greek biblical commentaries – catenas – and the status of these is often very suspect.  The Patrologia Graeca edition by Montfaucon is not reliable.

The new edition is a project under the august auspices of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften.  It is being undertaken by a large team of scholars directed by Prof. Christoph Markschies. In theory it is a ten year project and the edition is not to be completed before 2021. My guess is that it will run late!

A short description can be found here, at the top of a page dedicated to a series of projects (including an edition of the homilies of Severian of Gabala, scheduled for 2022-2032!).

Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions – now online in English

Back in 2010 I published the text and translation of the remains of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel Problems and Solutions.  This was the work in which he reconciled the differences at the start and end of the gospels.  The Latin title is Quaestiones ad Stephanum and Quaestiones ad Marinum. Many people contributed to the project.

My intention was always to make the result freely available online, once the costs were recovered or – alternatively – once sales dropped to very little.  This has now happened, and I am happy to make good on my promise.

The PDF of the book is here:

I have also uploaded it to Archive.org here.

Copyright continues to belong to whoever each bit belongs to.  One correction: the Greek text belongs to Claudio Zamagni (if ancient Greek texts do belong to people, as continental jurists apparently believe), not to the Sources Chretiennes as stated in the text.  Ask him for permission, if you want to reproduce his text.  The other original language materials are public domain.

The English translation belongs to me, but I am happy for people to use it in any way for personal and non-commercial purposes as they like. You don’t need to ask me for permission. If you have a commercial project in mind, I’d love that to happen; I probably won’t charge you either, and I’ve love to hear about it; but I’d better just OK what you want to do.

Please circulate copies of the PDF freely.  The purpose of this project was always to make the work much better available.

The Greek was translated by David J. D. Miller, and the remains extant in other languages – in Latin, Syriac, Coptic and Arabic – by Adam C. McCollum, Carol Downer and too many others to list.  Thanks to the kindness of Claudio Zamagni, the Greek text was printed on facing pages; and many others contributed mightily to this, not least Bob Buller who had the very thankless task of typesetting it.  There is a long list at the back of all those who contributed, and – I have not forgotten.  Thank you all.

The hardback and paperback are still in print for the moment, but will go out of print next year when the renewal notices arrive.  If you want one, get it while you can.  The hardbacks are particularly splendid.

My very sincere thanks to everyone who supported the project by purchasing a paper copy.  You made it all possible.

And here we are … at the end of an nine-year process.  It was 2006 when I started on this.

The other volume in the Ancient Texts in Translation series, Origen’s homilies on Ezekiel, will remain in print for now.  It will probably be released online this time next year.

Latin scribes getting Greek numerals wrong – authorial corrections in the text of Jerome’s Chronicle

Sometime before 325 AD, Eusebius of Caesarea compiled his Chronicle, in two books.  The second volume exploited the new, large-size, parchment codex, and consisted of page after page of tables of dates and events, synchronising events in different kingdoms, and laying the basis for all subsequent history.[1]  Around 380, Jerome came across a copy in Constantinople, and translated it into Latin.  A copy of his translation dated to 450 AD is held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where I have seen it; and 10 copies exist dated before 1000 AD.  Eusebius’ original Greek, unfortunately, did not survive.

The manuscripts split into two families, each based on a 5th century exemplar.  These are the group of 4 mss, SANP; and the group of 2, OM.  (A list, explaining each letter, can be found here).

In a fascinating paper which deserves to be better known,[2] Alden Mosshammer noticed that OM preserve errors of translation, which were corrected in SANP.   One of these requires access to the Greek.

Here’s the first example, (References are to Schoene’s 1956 edition, but you can find these in the online translation fairly easily).

P.217, line 24.

  • [Original] ἆθλα μ’ …  (nnn ran in the contest for the birthday of Rome …)
  • OM = athalamos natali romanae urbis cucurrit (currit M)  = “Athalamos ran in the contest…”
  • A = XL missus natali romanae urbis cucurrerunt = “40 ran in the contest…”
  • PN = quadraginta missus natali romanae urbis cucurrerunt = “40 ran in the contest…”

(I don’t know Greek numerals – what is the original number in Arabic numerals?)

It seems that Jerome dictated the numeral as a proper name, and the scribe wrote it down as one.  Somebody corrected it later, but OM preserve the dictation error.  Access to the Greek is required to spot this one.

The following example does not require consulting the Greek, and is in fact just a scribal correction:

P.83b, lines 21-23, is a heading.  It gives the name of Alcamenes, who was the 9th king of Sparta, and then the years of his reign follow below the heading.

  • [Original] = θἈλκαμένης  (i.e. “9. Alcamenes”).
  • O = thalcamenes
  • M = thalcamenis
  • A = VIIII menes
  • P = VIIII tarcamenes
  • N = VIIII tharcamenes

OM think the text reads “Thalcamenes”.  But the copyist SANP realised that the first letter was actually the number 9, although they still didn’t get the name right.  Possibly they realised this, because all the kings have numbers, so they inserted “VIIII” (i.e. “IX”) in front.

Here I have a little personal experience to contribute.

Scribes copied the names the first, and worked down the columns, rather than across.  When I transcribed the chronicle, I found that this was much the quickest and safest way.  The only problem was that you might write too many numerals, and suddenly realise that after year 9 there is a new king!  In the Bodleian ms (O), indeed, you see erasures of just this kind.  In HTML, luckily, I could just go back.

So the scribe will have quickly realised that a numeral was missing, and added it; although he could not determine the correct spelling of the name.  This correction could have occurred at any time, tho.

Mosshammer gives only these examples, and a couple of others which do not bear on this question.

Numerals in Greek are vulnerable things.  The first example proves that even St. Jerome could be foxed.  In this case, the lists of unfamiliar names, preceded by numerals, were a perfect occasion for error.

  1. [1]The online translation may be found here (part 1).
  2. [2]Alden Mosshammer, “Luca Bibl. Capit. 490 and the manuscript tradition of Hieronymus’ (Eusebius’) Chronicle”, California Studies in Classical Antiquity 8 (1975), pp. 203-240.  Online at JSTOR here.

From my diary

The only useful thing I did today was to add the Inveresk Mithraeum to the Mithras website.

I did a little work on the Origen book.  I tried to find out what size the thumbnail of the cover should be — for Amazon.com purposes.  In the process I discovered that I could no longer log in to the “author central” account that I use.  An email to Amazon asking for help has yet to get a reply.

I also spent some time looking at the sales figures of the Eusebius book.  This sold 33 copies in 2013; quite a lot less than 2012, but something.  The actual revenue from the book is not enormous, but the sales are enough, anyway, that I intend to keep the book in print for another year.  Most interesting, however, is the clear evidence that paperback sales make up the majority of sales.

Another chunk of a translation of Eusebius’ Commentary on Luke arrived a day or so ago.  There are only a handful left to do.

Otherwise I’ve spent today on chores.  Chores is the name we give to those mundane tasks which God gives us to balance out our lives, and so prevent our brains exploding from over-excitement.  Let us, by all means, give thanks for chores.

A catena fragment of Eusebius on Psalm 29:7

John Literal has sent me a translation made for him by Peter Papoutsis of a catena fragment discussing Daniel, and attributed to our old friend Eusebius.  He has kindly allowed me to post it here.  The biblical passage being commented on is Psalm 29:7.

Εὐσεβίου Καισαρείας ῥητοῦ προκειμένου, Φωνὴ Κυρίου διακόπτοντος φλόγα πυρός.

[00003] Διεκόπη μὲν ἐν τῇ Βαβυλῶνι ἡ φλὸξ τοῦ πυρὸς διακοπεῖσα τῷ προστάγματι τοῦ Θεοῦ· [00004] ἐδέξατο ἐν αὐτῇ ἡδίστην ἀναπνοὴν καὶ ἀναψυχὴν, ὥσπερ ἐν σκιᾷ τινι φυτῶν ἐν εἰρηνικῇ καταστάσει παρεχομένη τοῖς παισίν· [00005] ἐγένετο γὰρ, φησὶ, ὡσεὶ πνεῦμα δρόσου διασυρίζον. [00006] γʹ. [00007] Ὡσεὶ Υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου. [00008] Εὐσεβίου Καισαρείας. [00009] Σαφῶς ἡγοῦμαι δηλοῦσθαι τὴν καθόλου κρίσιν, ὅτε πάντες οἱ ἐξ αἰῶνος ἄνθρωποι παραστήσονται τῷ βήματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ· [00010] μετὰ δὲ τὴν τῶν τετελευτηκότων ἀναβίωσιν, καὶ μετὰ τὴν κατὰ πάντων κρίσιν, ὁ ἑωραμένος τῷ Δανιὴλ Υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐπιστήσεται ἐπὶ νεφελῶν, τὴν κατὰ πάντων τῶν λαῶν καὶ φυλῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐξουσίαν, τὴν καὶ βασιλείαν ἀγήρω καὶ ἀτελεύτητον παραληψόμενος· [00011] ὡς καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Σωτὴρ ἡμῶν περὶ ἑαυτοῦ διδάσκει λέγων· [00012] Ὅτε δὲ ἔλθῃ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ, καὶ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι μετ’ αὐτοῦ, τότε καθίσει ἐπὶ θρόνου δόξης αὐτοῦ, καὶ συναχθήσεται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς· [00013] συνᾴδει γοῦν ταῦτα ταῖς ἐν χερσὶν μαρτυρίαις τῆς τοῦ Δανιὴλ προφητείας, καθ’ ἣν λέλεκται· [00014] Καὶ ἰδοὺ μετὰ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὡς Υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενος ἦν· [00015] καὶ, Ἕως τοῦ Παλαιοῦ τῶν ἡμερῶν ἔφθασεν· [00016] καὶ προσηνέχθη αὐτῷ, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ ἡ τιμὴ καὶ ἡ βασιλεία, καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς. [00017] δʹ. [00018] Αὐτῷ ἐδόθη ἡ ἀρχή. [00019] Εὐσεβίου. [00020] Οὐ μόνον τὴν τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἀνθρώπου βασιλείαν ὁ προφήτης θεσπίζει, ἀλλὰ καὶ πλείονα, περὶ ὧν φησι. [00021] εʹ. [00022] Καὶ παραλήψονται τὴν βασιλείαν. [00023] Εὐσεβίου Καισαρείας. [00024] Συμβασιλεύοντες δηλαδὴ καὶ αὐτοὶ τῷ Θεῷ. [00025] Τίνες δ’ ἂν εἶεν οὗτοι, ἢ οἱ κληρονόμοι τοῦ Θεοῦ, συγκληρονόμοι δὲ Χριστοῦ; [00026] οἷς καὶ ἐπήγγελται, τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, βασιλείαν ἐπιστησομένην τὴν μετὰ τέσσαρας βασιλείας, τὰς τῷ προφήτῃ ἑωραμένας, περὶ ὧν ὡς ἐν βραχέσιν ἀρτίως διειλήφαμεν. [00027] Ἐντεῦθεν οἶμαι τὸν ἀπόστολον Παῦλον [24.528] ὁρμᾶσθαι περὶ τῆς δευτέρας ἀφίξεως τοῦ Χριστοῦ γράφοντα τοιάδε· [00028] Ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ Κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι, ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι Θεοῦ καταβήσεται ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ, καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς. [00029] Ὁδ’ αὐτὸς ἀπόστολος καὶ τὴν ὑστάτην τοῦ Ἀντιχρίστου ἄφιξιν τὴν καὶ ἀπώλειαν, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τὴν τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἔνδοξον παρουσίαν ἀκολούθως τῇ προφητείᾳ παρίστησι λέγων· [00030] Μήτις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον· [00031] ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ ἡ ἀποστασία πρῶτον, καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενα Θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ καθίσαι, ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἔστι Θεός· [00032] οὐ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ἔτι ὢν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ταῦτα ἔλεγον ὑμῖν; [00033] καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς. [00034] Τοσαῦτα ὁ θαυμάσιος Ἀπόστολος ἐν τοῖς περὶ συντελείας τοῦ βίου διεξῆλθε λόγοις, τὰ διὰ τοῦ προφήτου Δανιὴλ περὶ τοῦ Ἀντιχρίστου, καὶ τῆς τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἐνδόξου βασιλείας τεθεσπισμένα πιστούμενος. [00035] ςὰʹ. [00036] Ἐξολοθρευθήσεται χρίσμα. [00037] Εὐσεβίου. [00038] Τὸ ἄκριτον καὶ παράνομον αὐτῶν διαβάλλουσα· [00039] οὕτως δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς θυσίας καὶ τῆς σπουδῆς συμβεβηκέναι φήσεις· [00040] ὀρθῶς μὲν καὶ κατὰ νόμον πρὸ τοῦ πάθους τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἐπιτελουμένης διὰ τὴν εἰς ἔτι τότε τὰ τῶν ἁγίων τόπων ἐφορῶσαν δύναμιν· [00041] περιαιρεθείσης δὲ αὐτίκα μετὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ τέλειαν καὶ θεοπρεπῆ θυσίαν, ἣν προσήνεγκεν αὐτὸς ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν· [00042] αὐτός τε ὢν ὁ Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου εἰς θυσίαν πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις· [00043] κατὰ τὰ καινὰ μυστήρια τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης [00044] Επιτρέπετα [00045] παραδοθείσης, τὰ τῆς παλαιᾶς περιῄρετο· [00046] ὁμοῦ γὰρ τὸ πληροῦσθαι τὸ φάσκον λόγιον, Καὶ δυναμώσει διαθήκην πολλοῖς ἑβδομὰς μία, τὰ τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης περιῄρετο. [00047] Επιτρέπετα

Eusebius of Caesarea comments in regards to the following, The voice of the Lord dividing the flames of fire.

The fiery flame was rent in Babylon dividing at the very command of God. He received in her, most gladly, a new breath and rejuvenation, as in the shade of some kind of tree, in a state of tranquility as is given unto children; for as it came to pass, the wind blew, as a wind that blows and causes the dew to descend. Such is the Son of Man.

I suppose that this evidently pertains to the General Judgment where all men from the ages will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And after the last resurrection, and after the judgment of all, the Son of Man as understood by Daniel, shall stand upon the clouds, having acquired power over all people and tribes from the Father, and His kingdom shall never grow old and shall have no end. And as our Savior taught concerning Himself, saying, When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all His angels with Him, then shall He sit upon His throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before Him, and so on. In agreement with these events are the held testimonies of Daniel’s prophecy, over which he says, I saw One like the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, and when the Ancient of Days arrived, and He was presented before Him, and He was given dominion, honor and kingship, and these were given to Him and so on. To Him was given dominion.

The Prophet did not only foresee the kingship of the Son of man, but more as well, concerning which it is declared, And they will receive the kingship.

They will reign together with God. Who are these heirs of God, these co-heirs with Christ? And to whom was also promised the kingdom of heaven, a kingship conferred upon the four kingdoms, as perceived by the prophet, which we concern ourselves with briefly. Hence, alas the Apostle Paul, who relates it to the Second Coming of Christ, writes thus, For the Lord himself, with a command, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and so on. This reading and its concern with the ultimate coming of the Antichrist and his destruction, and the glorious appearance of the Savior, follows the parallel prophecy, that says, Let no one deceive you in any way! For unless the falling way from the faith comes first and the Man of Sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god, and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is God. Do you not recall that while I was with you, I said to you these things, and so on. On these matters the admirable Apostle was alarmed and went on with such words, in full belief about the end of life, in regards to the Prophet Daniel in reference to the Antichrist, and the kingdom of our glorious Savior. During this time there will be a loss of grace. The injustice and lawlessness of others will be decried. They moreover, and upon their destitute sacrifices and knowledge, will befall into desolation, it is declared. However, those who live rightly and according to the law, pursuant to the Passion of our Savior, as it was accomplished in the Holy Land, shall be clothed in power; Now, when He, our Lord, was removed forthwith after his perfect and God-worthy sacrifice, He offered up himself for the removal of our sins. For He, our Lord, is the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world, as a sacrifice for all men according to the new sacred teachings of the New Testament. Therefore, if I am allowed to say, that He was delivered up as our sacrifice under the precepts of the Old Testament. Therefore, together both testaments bring out the fullness of the sacred word, and He greatly strengthened the covenant in only one week, pursuant to the precepts of the Old Testament. If I am allowed to thus explain.

The Greek seems to contain Eusebius’ name at intervals: I wonder why.

A new Claudio Zamagni article on Eusebius’ Gospel problems and solutions

Claudio Zamagni has written to tell me that a new article of his is online at Academia.edu here.  It discusses the difficult question of the manuscripts of the fragments of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel problems and solutions (Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum).  It’s excellent stuff, as ever with Dr Z., and highly recommended.

This holiday I’m going to look at the sales of the Eusebius book and see if we have reached the point at which we can start to place material on the web on open access.  I believe that sales have been dropping for some time, but I won’t know until I review the sales statistics.