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):

vat_pal_gr_220_f61_eusebius_ad_steph

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

vat_pal_gr_220_f92

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

vat_pal_gr_220_f96

And here on folio 90v is a scholion:

vat_pal_gr_220_f90v

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.

Feldman, the Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius and the TLG

Last year Josephus scholar Louis Feldman wrote a tentative article in support of the hitherto fringe idea that Eusebius of Caesarea composed the so-called Testimonium Flavianum found in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, book 18.[1]  On p.26 we find the following statement:

There is one phrase in the Testimonium that, while it has been noted by several scholars, has not been sufficiently emphasized, namely, eis eti te nun (still to this day), referring to the fact that “still to this day,” “the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has not disappeared.”

This brief phrase, I would like to suggest, may–I repeat, may–give us the key to the whole puzzle as to the legitimacy of the Testimonium Flavianum. That key is now available to us because of the compilation during the past few decades of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, the complete dictionary of all the Greek words in all the extant Greek literature. In such a thesaurus, one would expect such a phrase to appear not hundreds but thousands of times, and it does appear frequently; but the only writer in this entire collection of many thousands of Greek texts to use this phrase with the words in this order, aside from Josephus, is Eusebius, in whose writings it appears three times. This phrase thus appears to be a favorite of Eusebius and of no one else, at least of extant writers from that period.

Now this seems really rather impressive (to me, anyway). But we must always verify our facts.

Let us do a textual search on the TLG for eis eti te nun.  What do we get?

eis_eti_te_nun

We get precisely four results.  I’m not sure what search term produced “frequent” results.

  1. The first result is Josephus himself.  So far so good.
  2. The second result is … erm … Eusebius quoting Josephus in the Church History book 1, chapter 11, verse 8; English translation here.  This, of course, is neither here nor there as far as Feldman’s theory is concerned.
  3. The third result is from book 2 of the Church History, chapter 1, verse 7; English here.[2]
  4. The fourth result is from the Eclogae Propheticae, p.168, l.15.  This is part of Eusebius’ later work, the General Elementary Introduction (to Christianity): “Διὸ καὶ τότε θαυμάζεσθαι αὐτοὺς εἰκὸς ἦν παρὰ τοῖς ἔμφροσιν, καὶ τοὺς λόγους αὐτῶν ἀναγράπτους παρὰ τοῖς ἱερογραμματεῦσι φυλάττεσθαι, εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν παρ’ ὅλῳ τῷ ἔθνει προφήτας γεγονέναι τοῦ Θεοῦ πιστεύεσθαι·”

It is not obvious from this list of data just why this means that Eusebius composed the TF.  So at this point we may ask ourselves what Feldman’s argument was again.  It would be advisable to place the argument in our own words — to avoid the danger of being influenced by rhetoric —  and to make explicit any inferred arguments.

Feldman’s argument would seem to be as follows:

  1. If two writers both use the phrase eis eti te nun, and only two, then this must mean that one has read the other, and that one is copying the other or has composed both.
  2. Josephus uses this phrase once.
  3. Eusebius, who is later, uses it twice (ignoring the verbatim quotation of the TF).
  4. Therefore Josephus did not write it, but Eusebius did.

I think most of us will be perplexed a little at this logic.

The first part of the argument seems very risky in a number of ways.  The phrase is a simple one, and ought to appear, as Feldman acknowledges, all over the place.  But the TLG as it stands reports only 4 results.  It would seem possible, therefore, that the TLG database is not representative of Greek literature or speech.  Since only 1% of ancient literature is preserved, and the TLG contains only a portion of that 1%, it is not impossible that this supposition is correct.  But if the TLG is not comprehensive, then the presence of only 2 authors in the search means nothing; only that the TF is not comprehensive.  In regard of completeness, it is suspicious that no other quotations of the TF appear in the results.  Is it really the case that no later Greek author quotes the TF?

Likewise a phrase of 4 words is not much of a fingerprint.

Finally, arguments from parallels are always dangerous, because trivial parallels can be mistaken for significant fingerprints.  They can arise in a great number of ways, and do not necessarily involve connection, never mind derivation.  For instance literature derives from oral speech.  Phrases appear in multiple places in modern literature, not because the authors know each other but because of some other source.  The popularisation of the term “chillaxing” by British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 will undoubtedly have left its mark in the literary record; but woe betide any subsequent scholar who draws conclusions from comparing literature, rather than seeking its real origin.

The fourth part of the argument is a non-sequitur.  If we allow a connection, it may arise in a number of ways.

The first possibility is the simplest.  Let us suppose that Josephus wrote those words.  Let us suppose that Eusebius copied them for the HE I, liked the phrase, and, having it in mind, repeated it when he composed book II, and, later, in the GEI.  What could be more natural?  What need is there to suppose anything other than copying?

There is another, many-headed alternative.  For this we need to consider the second quotation of the TF by Eusebius, in the Demonstratio Evangelica, book 3, chapter 5.  This does not appear in the search because, simply, it has a different text: “ὅθεν εἰσέτι νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦδε τῶν Χριστιανῶν οὐκ ἐπέλειπεν τὸ φῦλον.”

Why are there two versions?  Is Eusebius quoting from memory and tripping up, or using different copies of the text? — for how else can the same quotation have two different wordings?

But if he is quoting from memory a favourite saying then why does he get it wrong?  This, surely, is evidence against the “favourite” argument.

If he has access to copies with two different versions, then of course there is a textual problem at this point with Josephus in transmission, which means that arguing from a parallel in the text is pointless because in this case we don’t know what the text is.

We might also consider the well-known phenomenon of harmonisation.  This is most familiar to us from the New Testament and the Lord’s Prayer where — I am told — the version in Luke tends to become assimilated to that in Matthew in the manuscripts, as the former was more familiar.

Now Eusebius HE is a common text.  Josephus’ Antiquities 11-20 is comparatively a rare one.  The TF was so well known by itself that it intrudes into Josephus Jewish War.  The conditions are right for assimilation in transmission.  Do we know for sure that, far from Eusebius composing the TF, the copyist of the 9th century ancestor of all our modern mss. of Antiquities 11-20 did not harmonise the text with the HE, conciously or otherwise?

We do have evidence that assimilation did occur in versions of the TF.  Jerome quotes in Latin in De viris illustribus a somewhat different version of the text.  But I am told that in the Greek translation of DVI, someone has “corrected” the TF to the version found in Eusebius HE and Josephus.

On the other hand, the DE is also a rare text.  Evidently harmonisation was not that commonplace.

But if we do assume a connection, and we allow for harmonisation, then it is equally likely that the Josephan TF is merely a scribal copy of the Eusebian version in the HE, itself probably corrupt, and that the real text is lost.  If Eusebius (or his literary assistants – we must remember that there are problems with the quotations in the HE) did write down the TF from memory, and did so differently in the HE and DE, then of course errors of memory are possible and Eusebian phrasing may be introduced by a normal text-critical path.

Some will also feel rather concerned at the tiny data volumes – 4 words, 2 quotations – involved.  Are these numbers large enough to be statistically significant?  Databases can tell us much, but they can also mislead if used without awareness of the pitfalls, and without devising a way to exclude false positives.

In short, the argument put forward by Prof. Feldman is interesting but unconvincing.  The data does not require the hypothesis of Eusebian composition in order to explain it.

  1. [1] Louis H. Feldman, On the authenticity of the “Testimonium Flavianum” attributed to Josephus, in: E. Carlebach and J. Schacter (ed), New Perspectives on Jewish Christian Relations, Brill, 2012, 13-30.  Accessible on Google Books Preview here.
  2. [2] 7 When he came to that place he healed Abgarus by the word of Christ; and after bringing all the people there into the right attitude of mind by means of his works, and leading them to adore the power of Christ, he made them disciples of the Saviour’s teaching. And from that time down to the present the whole city of the Edessenes has been devoted to the name of Christ, offering no common proof of the beneficence of our Saviour toward them also.