First English translation of Hippolytus “On the Song of Songs”

Yancy Smith writes as a comment on this post

I have recently completed a rough draft of a Ph.D. dissertation that includes an English translation of the Georgian text and Greek epitome (as well as other fragments and florilegia extracts) of Hippolytus “On the Song of Songs.” I am looking for a potential publisher once the dissertation gets passed. Any suggestions?

This is excellent news, to get a translation from so marginal a language of an interesting Ante-Nicene text!

Anyone got suggestions for Yancy? Ideally ones that mean that the text (a) gets published somewhere prestigious and (b) the raw translation at least appears online somehow so people actually read it.


25 thoughts on “First English translation of Hippolytus “On the Song of Songs”

  1. This is very good news. Both the Ancient Christian Writers and the Catholic University of America Fathers of the Church series are still pumping out the books. It would be great to see widespread distribution of the translation rather than have it get lost in an overpriced, libraries-only edition.

  2. I will be defending my dissertation “Hippolytus’Commentary on the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Context” on Nov. 19. Drs. Carolyn Osiek, David L. Balch, and Jeffrey Childers (Syriac, Georgian expert) are my committee. Thanks of the input and for you prayers.

  3. Thanks for the prayers. I passed the defense. Currently I am correcting the final draft of the dissertation and the translation.

  4. My dissertation “Hippolytus’ Commentary on the On the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Context” should be available on ProQuest UMI in a couple of weeks. It was uploaded day before yesterday and will be vetted by the Brite Divinity School. It contains about 126 pages of text and translations (Georgian and Greek texts), texts and translations of quotations of the commentary in Ambrose and others. The introductory chapters argue for a Roman provenance of the commentary, which turns out to be one of the earliest mystagogical homiletic compositions, centering on the rite of post-baptismal anointing to receive the Holy Spirit. The dissertation contextualizes the commentary in an early Roman house-church as part of Passover baptismal rites. The commentary is seen as appropriate to the banquet context. Such a festive, convivial context for the commentary highlights similarities with the Gospel of Philip and shows Valentinian influence. The commentary is also shown to make use of pagan domestic artistic visualizations in the development of its mystagogical instruction. The final chapter includes a discussion of the attitude of the On the Song of Songs toward women, the synagogue, and heretics, all of which represent threats and dangers at the boundaries of the community of Hippolytus’ church.

  5. Good to hear you’ve made progress on this.

    Of course Proquest UMI costs money. Any chance it will be available anywhere for free?

  6. I will see what I can do, depending upon publisher policies, but is there any reason an earlier, less polished version of the translations could not be made available for free?

  7. Any translation would be better than none, and an early draft seems good to me (minus commentary etc). But all depends on publisher policies. As you say, no-one will make much money anyway.

  8. I came across this post and series of comments while searching for material about Hippolytus’ commentary on Song of Songs. I’m thrilled to learn that *someone* has finally translated it into English!

    To further my research of Mary Magdalene, I (for one) would be extremely interested in finding out how to read Yancy’s translation, even in an early draft, should it be made available.

    I’m very curious to read the dissertation as well if possible, as I’ve been trying to determine if the commentary is likely to have been composed as early as is supposed, and whether its attribution to Hippolytus is accurate.

    Meantime, I’ll see if my “friends of the UW library” membership grants me access to ProQuest UMI!

  9. Thanks for your note! I’ve forwarded your note to Yancy, in case he doesn’t see it here.

    I also am one of the “have-nots” on UMI, the helots of the electronic age who labour and reap to support the privileged class.

  10. You can download the dissertation for free, for research use, from the TCU website. Input either the author name or the title. And search

  11. Thanks so much, Roger and Yancy! I’ve downloaded a copy of the paper from the TCU website. It has some great material in it, and I appreciate it very much.

  12. A question for Yancy Smith. I am referencing Hippolytus’ Song of Songs. Have you published your dissertation yet or need I refer to your dissertation?

  13. Just use the dissertation. I have a more current form on plus I have written an article to be published soon in Carolyn Osiek’s festschrift later this year on Women in the Commentary On the Song of Songs and the question of Provenance, it is available on at the moment.

  14. Thank you, Yancy. I’ve located the current form on Have you looked at Brill for publishing it?

  15. I am revising, looking forward to submitting to Brill. I would be interested in seeing what you are doing with SoS Comm. by Hippolytus.

  16. Can anyone direct me to a Modern English translation of Hippolytus’ commentary on Pslam 22 or 23? I would greatly appreciate that.

  17. As for a publisher have you written to Cistercian Publishing. They publish monastic text. I am pretty sure that CP would be very intered in Hippoltus.

    Good luck
    Albert, ocso

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