A Coptic fragment of Severian of Gabala on Penitence via Alin Suciu

The excellent Alin Suciu has continued his trawl through uncatalogued Coptic papyri.  The lost papyri of Louvain have attracted his attention.  A post on his blog reports the discovery of parts of a Coptic version of CPG 4186, a homily by Severian of Gabala on penitence:

Under no. 48, Lefort published an unidentified papyrus fragment which he tentatively dated to the 6th or 7th century.[1] In fact, the text can be identified as a portion from a homily on penitence by Severian of Gabala (CPG 4186). Like all the other sermons of Severian, the Greek manuscript tradition transmitted this text under the name of John Chrysostom. It is thus no wonder that the homily can be found in different modern editions of Golden Mouth’s works. For example, in Montfaucon’s edition, which was taken over by Migne in his Patrologia Graeca, the text was printed as the seventh homily on penitence by John Chrysostom (cf. PG 49, coll. 323-336).

However, the attribution of this sermon to Severian was defended on good grounds by Charles Martin.[2] He pointed out that some Patristic catenae are quoting the text under the name of its real author: Severian of Gabala. Besides, it should be remarked that the style of the document does not conform to that of John Chrysostom, but rather contains many features proper to Severian.

The Coptic text published by Lefort corresponds literally to Migne PG 49, col. 325, lines 15-25. However, as the pagination of the Louvain fragment is lost and Lefort was not able to identify its content, he mixed up the recto/verso faces.

He goes on to give the edition of the Greek and Coptic.

This kind of work is immensely valuable to have online.  Well done, Dr S!

Severian of Gabala bibliography – another minor update

I’ve just tweaked my working bibliography of Severian again.  Here are the new files:

These replace the version in the last such post here.

UPDATE (21st July 2015): I have updated the files to include the very useful comments by Sever Voicu in the comments below – thank you.

I have also put out a commission for an English translation of CPG 4197, two short homilies on Genesis.

UPDATE (22 February 2016): A minor tweak.

Severian of Gabala, De Sacrificiis Caini (PG 62: 719-722 = CPG 4208) – now online in English

Another work attributed to Severian of Gabala, On the sacrifices of Cain, CPG 4208, has come online at Academia.edu here.  It contains parallel Greek and Latin from Migne.

Marvellous!

Severian of Gabala bibliography – minor update

I came across an article by Alin Suciu on the Coptic ps.Severian homily In Apostolos, and thought that I had better update the bibliography.  It is, as ever, far from comprehensive – I am no compiler of bibliographies – but merely a tool for my own purposes.

  • Severian-of-Gabala-works (PDF)
  • Severian-of-Gabala-works (docx)

This replaces the files uploaded here.

UPDATE: New version here.

Severian of Gabala bibliography updated again

I received an email this evening telling me about four new English translations of homilies by Severian on the ascension; also that De Spiritu Sancto, as published by Migne, is missing the last 10 lines; and that the Clavis Patrum Graecorum Supplement has quite a bit of extra material.  Which, I find, it does.

I posted my bibliographic notes in this post, so I had better update them again.  These are not scholarly, just derived from whatever I have to hand, as a guide for commissioning translations.  But here they are:

  • Severian-of-Gabala-works (PDF)
  • Severian-of-Gabala-works (.docx)

Note: updated version here.

Severian of Gabala – On the Holy Spirit, now online in English

Severian of Gabala (ca. 398 AD) was a member of the Antiochene school of biblical interpretation.  In consequence his sermons tend to be expository, and consequently still of value today.  Regrettably they have not been translated into English, for the most part.  Regular readers will be aware that I have commissioned translations of a number of them.

Bryson Sewell has just finished wrestling with Severian’s sermon De Spiritu Sancto (CPG 4188), as printed by Migne in the Patrologia Graeca 52, cols.813-826.  This makes it one of the longer works preserved.

The text gets obscure at points.  Severian has a bit of a tendency to address his audience; then switch to address some imaginary Arian or Macedonian; then back again.  I’m not sure that either of us quite followed him at every point!  On the other hand it has some very useful arguments from scripture for the divinity of the Holy Spirit (as well as some less good ones).

Here it is:

These may also be found at Archive.org.

As usual I place these in the public domain; do whatever you like with them, personal, educational or commercial.[1]

There will now be a pause in translating Severian’s works, but I hope that we will return to him sometime.  However the next translation that we do will be something else.

A translation of another early sermon – not by Severian – is in flight, and should appear in the next few days.  But that will be it for a little while.  Fear not; there will be more!

  1. [1] Just don’t claim exclusive ownership, tho!

Sever J. Voicu’s 1990 article on Severian of Gabala

It is hard to do much work on Severian of Gabala for lack of access to the basic materials; texts, translations and studies.  The list of works in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum is useful, but hard to access and split across various entries and sub-sections.  The most important article on the subject is, and remains – after 24 years –  Sever J. Voicu, “Severien de Gabala,” Dictionnaire de spiritualite 14 (Paris, 1990), 752-63.  Fortunately Dr Voicu has given permission for a transcript, made by a correspondent, to appear here.[1]  Here it is, in Word .doc format:

Dr Voicu adds, “It is rather outdated, but no other comprehensive entry about Severian of Gabala has been written since.”  Any errors are, of course, my fault and nobody else’s.  I note that a certain amount of reformatting was introduced, but it seems to make it clearer.

I hope that this will be readable via Google Translate even for those without a command of French.  I hope to prepare an English translation of at least some of it.

  1. [1] I am not entirely certain as to the ownership of this article – if anybody believes that they have property in it, please contact me.

Severian of Gabala news

A couple of updates on the Severian of Gabala work.

Firstly, Bryson Sewell has sent me a first draft of his English translation of De Spiritu Sancto (PG 52 813-826). It still needs heavy revision, and I haven’t commented on it yet, but it is there in skeleton at least.  It looks interesting, for the most part.  Apparently Severian’s style is not always of the clearest, tho!  As ever, when it is done, it will appear here.

One of the problems in studying Severian is that none of his works were online in any modern language – or at least, none in English, and the one or two, that did exist in French etc, were basically in a dark hole somewhere online.  The translations that Bryson is making will fix some of this.

But just getting a list of works is difficult.  Regular readers will recall that I have been driven – unusually – to compiling some kind of bibliography myself, as a basis for commissioning translations.

In general, studies on Severian are few, and hard to access.  The prince of all the articles on Severian is one by Dr Sever J. Voicu, who is the world expert on Severian: Sever J. Voicu, “Severien de Gabala,” in: Dictionnaire de spiritualité 14 (Paris, 1990), pp.752-63.

This is the most comprehensive introduction to the subject, with a detailed bibliography, and it supersedes all previous work.  Of course it is now 24 years old, so it is now somewhat outdated.  But it is impossible to access, and the Dictionnaire itself seems almost unknown to patristic scholars in general; certainly to most anglophone scholars.

Fortunately I obtained a copy of this article some time ago, which led me to realise how essential it was.  Soon afterwards, a correspondent emailed me a Word document of it, which he had scanned.  Dr Voicu has very kindly granted his permission for this transcript to appear online on this blog.  This will happen, probably in the next week.  I want to check it over first, and to make sure that, in whatever format I upload it, it can be handled by Google Translate.

I may also translate portions of it into English.  I’ve been unwell with a virus for a week, but I must return to work on Monday.  Much will all depend on how busy next week is!

From my diary

It’s hotter than hell in the office in which I work, which is not helping me get anything done!  However I’m also close to Cambridge University Library, and I’ve made two trips there in the evening this week, in search of books and articles.

I’m still thinking about Severian of Gabala.  I’ve now obtained a copy of Sever J. Voicu, “Severien de Gabala,” Dictionnaire de spiritualite 14 (Paris, 1990), 752-63.  This article is essential for anyone interested in Severian.  It lists all his works and adds notes on each, over and above what is found in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum.   I must go through this and revise my own list of works accordingly.

My colleague Albocicade, who is collecting French translations of Severian, and OCR’d the Voicu article, has noticed that the Voicu article notes the existence of an unpublished French thesis, J. Kecskeméti, Sévérien de Gabala. Homélie inédite sur le Saint-Esprit, Paris, 1978 (Worldcat and IdRef), on CPG 4947.  It might be possible for a Frenchman like himself to access this.  Here’s hoping.

Bryson Sewell has sent me a couple of pages of his upcoming translation of Severian’s De Spiritu Sancto.  I think this is liable to contain theology: everybody hide now!  So far he’s started to talk about the difference between the Son being “begotten of the Father”, while the Spirit “proceeds from the Father”.  Good news that this is well underway.

My main other activity in the last couple of days has been obtaining some materials for the Mithras temples at Santa Prisca in Rome (quite amazing, this one), on the island of Ponza, and the one at Santa Capua Vetere.  A commenter on my Mithras website asked about the date of the Santa Prisca Mithraeum.  It seems to have been setup in the wine-cellar of an imperial property, which had once been the private house of Trajan before he became emperor.  The wine cellar even had a little water supply of its own, for cleaning the amphorae.  Somewhere else in the cellars is, perhaps, the origins of the church of Santa Prisca.  But I haven’t come across anything about that yet.

Severian bibliography updated

A couple of tweaks to my Severian  bibliography.  As ever, this is not an academic bibliography but just something for my own use from which to commission translations.

  • Severian of Gabala – works (PDF)
  • Severian of Gabala – works (.docx)

UPDATE: Forgot to add notes from Homiliæ Pseudo-Chrysostomicæ.

UPDATE: Newer versions here.