Nestorius, 2nd and 3rd letters to Pope Celestine — now online in English

Mark DelCogliano translated into English the second and third letters that Nestorius wrote to Pope Celestine (published in the original in Loofs, “Nestoriana”) a couple of years ago.  As far as I know no other translation in English exists.

He has very kindly sent them to me, for upload onto the web, and has also kindly placed them in the public domain so everyone can use them freely.

The translations are here.


New sermons of St. Augustine found in Erfurt

James O’Donnell announced this in CLASSICS-L, and I’ve run up a quick translation of the announcement (in German) on the website at the bottom. The Vienna scholars are cataloguing all the manuscripts of St. Augustine — a huge task — and are making discoveries. It’s interesting that these sermons seem to have an origin in southern Italy. Monte Cassino seems to have been an isolated pool of texts, such as Tacitus, which only became known at the renaissance; perhaps this is another example.

New sermons of St. Augustine found in the Erfurt ‘Bibliotheca Amploniana’

Six previously unknown genuine sermons of the famous early Christian church teacher Augustine (d. 430), bishop of Hippo Regius (Annaba) today in Algeria, were recently discovered in the university research library in Erfurt by three researchers of the Austrian academy of Science, Vienna, in a manuscript more than 800 years old.

Isabella Schiller, Dorothea Weber and Clemens Weidmann succeeded in identifying four completely new sermons, and two more previously only known in an incomplete version, in a medieval handwriting of the ‘Bibliotheca Amploniana’. The parchment manuscript with the shelfmark Dep. Erf. CA. 12° 11 was produced in the 2nd half of the 12th century, probably in England, and contains altogether over 70 further sermons of different late antique and medieval theologians.

The section of the handwriting, which contains the newly discovered texts together with about 20 other already well known genuine and inauthentic sermons of Augustine, is based on an old text collection, which emerged in its immediate vicinity. “Such sermon collections are from south Italy at the turn of the millennium ago, and arrived in England, where the texts were recopied and so became traditional”, explains Isabella Schiller. The text of the sermons found in the summer 2007 in the Erfurter handwriting may have travelled the same route.

The externally entirely unremarkable book came in the 15th century into the collection of the learned bibliophile and theologian Amplonius Rating from Rhine mountain (d 1435), who in1412 gave his extensive manuscript collection of more than 600 volumes to the ‘Collegium Amplonianum’ established by him in Erfurt.

As the largest existing closed book collection of a medieval scholar in the world, the ‘Bibliotheca Amploniana’ is stored today in the university library at Erfurt and scientifically preserved in collaboration with the Catholic theological faculty.

The six newly discovered sermons treat entirely different subjects. In three of the Erfurt sermons, active charity in the form of alms is the central subject (Erfurt Sermons 2, 3, 4). In them, Augustinus discusses the link between the material support that the community gives to its bishop, and that of him performing a spiritual return in the form of pastoral care.

“Three of the titles – however the complete texts – these sermons are not known from the so-called ‘Indiculum’. That is a index of works compiled by Possidius, friend and student of the great church father, in his biography of Augustine which was published only a few years after his death”, says Dorothea Weber, who was involved in the authoritative identification of the texts.

A further two of the newly discovered sermons were given on the occasion of of martyr festivals. One of these sermons on Perpetua and Felicitas (Erfurt 1) still existed in late antiquity in its complete form. However this version had already been displaced before the start of the Middle Ages by a very abbreviated version. “Through this unique find the complete sermon text is now again known”, beamed Clemens Weidmann, who worked for months intensively on the first scholarly investigation of the texts.

The newly discovered sermons will be published in the renowned Austrian scholarly journal ‘Wiener Studien. Zeitschrift für Klassische Philologie und Patristik und lateinische Tradition’ . In volume 121, the Sermones Erfurt 1, 5 and 6 appear while the Sermones Erfurt 2, 3 and 4 will appear in the coming year.

The manuscript will be available as of Wednesday 26.3.2008 to the press in the rooms of the special collection of the UB Erfurt for photographs and filming.

On Tuesday, 15.4.2008, I Schiller, D. Weber and C. Weidmann, at the invitation of the University of Erfurt will introduce the discovery in a public presentation to a wider public in Erfurt. Place and time of the presentation: Erfurt, Coelicum (Domstr. 10), 19.00 clock. Photographs and filming as well as interviews with the Viennese researchers are possible in Erfurt on the same day (15.4.2008) between 15.00-16.00 in the rooms of the special collection of the UB Erfurt.

Further information/contact: Point of contact is the advisor of the special collection Thomas Bouillon (, Tel. 0361-737-5881 or, Tel. 0361-737-5880


The rich and the middle classes, in 5th century Alexandria

Cyril of Alexandria writes:

Purchase the grace that comes from God; buy for your friend the Lord of heaven and earth: for indeed we often purchase men’s friendship with large sums of gold, and if those of high rank are reconciled to us, we feel great joy in offering them presents even beyond what we can afford, because of the honour which accrues to us from them. And yet these things are but transitory, and quickly fade away, and are like the fantasies of dreams.

It’s an interesting picture of a society where the influence of the wealthy and powerful had replaced law and order.


Eusebius Quaestiones translation: progress 7

The 8th question and answer to Stephanus (of 14) has now arrived from Mr. A, which is encouraging. Someone else has enquired about doing some of the Syriac. Still nothing from Mr. C.

Postscript. 13th March Mr. A. has now sent me the 9th question and answer also. I’ve today prompted Mr. C. as to why I have now received nothing for nearly two months.

Postscript. 14th March Mr. C. replied by sending me a translation of the second Syriac fragment. He didn’t really explain the long delays, except that he thought he needed to revise it. I’ve now contacted a second possible translator to do a chunk of Syriac, who tells me that fragment 10 is ‘really easy’ but won’t be able to start for a month.


British Library copyright consultation

The British Library is seeking the opinions of those who use it or borrow books in the UK from libraries on new proposals about copyright. If you live in the UK, stick it to them here.

We can be sure that publishers will be greedily lobbying. Make sure you do too!


Eusebius Chronicle book 1

The other thing that I have done this week is to return to my online collaborative translation of book 1 of Eusebius’ Chronicle. I pretty much had to stop pushing this last year as pressures at work reached fever pitch. It’s very demanding running one of these efforts; you have to log in each day, and find things to say and add more yourself, and generally keep momentum going.

But I’ve been very pleased to find that a lot of chunk 3 has been done in my absence anyway.  I’ve done a whole load more myself this week (during a period of boredom) and there are only a dozen sections left unattempted.  I shall do more!

The whole text is sitting in the database online anyhow. 


Eusebius Quaestiones translation: progress 6

There isn’t any progress this week.  Mr. A hasn’t sent anything of the Greek, and Mr. C, who apparently had fragment 2 of the Syriac ready to go on his PC, hasn’t sent it over.  It is easy to be frustrated at the slow progress of the work, despite my attempts to impose some kind of schedule.

The Syriac is going far too slowly, so I have advertised for another translator.  There are around 16 fragments to do, so there is certainly room for more than one person.  In addition, if I can get a reliable translator, I have other projects that I could use him on.


Eusebius Quaestiones translation: progress 5

Today Mr. A. has sent me a translation of the quaestio ad Stephanum 7, and a nice long chunk it is!   I’ve not read it yet, but apparently it contains a somewhat baffling allegorical section.  We’ll have to see if we can make any sense of it.  It may be that the epitomator has managed to confuse the sense here.

After a long silence caused by moving house, Mr. C. has let me know that the Syriac fragment 2 is done, and 3 ready for typing in.  Apparently entering the Syriac text has been painful, not least because I’ve asked him to do it in Microsoft Word.

I’ve also heard from Claudio Zamagni, who is editing the Greek text of the epitome for Sources Chrétiennes.  This won’t include the fragments of the full text preserved in the Commentary on Luke by Nicetas, so I shall have to use Angelo Mai’s edition for this. It seems as if he has done a pretty serious search for manuscripts, tho.