Porphyry Against the Christians

I’ve been reading Robert M. Berchman’s translation of the fragments of Porphyry’s attack on the Christians.  It’s good to have this book, because those fragments were not really accessible to English-speaking readers.  

Half of it is full of introductory stuff, with lots of philosophical jargon.  This isn’t nearly as useful as T.D.Barnes article in the JTS from 1973 on Porphyry; to read that is a liberal education!  But it’s not bad. 

Berchman does refer to the translation of R.J.Hoffmann, which I reviewed on my site, unlike l’Année Philologique who ignore it.  The translations aren’t as readable as Hoffmann, but are probably more accurate.  Berchman seems aware that his intended audience is undergraduates — although how many American undergraduates know the meaning of terms like “hylic” might be queried!  But at $130, few will buy it.  My guess is that  it will get extensively photocopied.  It’s a good, solidly useful thing to have, and I’m glad that Brill recognised the need for such a book.

On my own site is a page which starts out to do the same thing, but is incomplete.  I intend to go through the Patrologia Graeca and add in more.  Berchman’s book means that at least I can check my translations!

Leave a Reply