Greek gospel catenas 0: introduction

I’m going to write a little series, on the various medieval Greek catenas on the Gospels.  This is because I detect in myself (and others) a deep ignorance about what classes of catena exist, and I need to mine these things for quotations from Eusebius.  These contain extracts from many now vanished works by the Fathers on the bible. 

For the newcomer, each catena gives a passage of scripture, followed by extracts from earlier patristic works on that text.  The compiler might abbreviate the text; or paraphrase it.

There is some exceedingly terse material by Maria Antonietta Barbarà in Di Berardino’s Patrology (tr. Adrian Walford), pp.645-9.  This material is good, but quite unreadable because of its over-condensed language and formatting.  This in turn arises because the book has to be in that form in order to contain so much material.  I have myself read those pages several times and emerged none the wiser! A clear academic English language study of the catena would seem to be overdue.

But a pencil is a powerful thing.  Tonight I sat down and drew a line at the end of each couple of sentences dealing with a type of catena, and written A, B, C or whatever in the margin.  To save everyone the effort of doing the same, here are some notes.  To take this further, with what few editions exist, consult the Patrology.  Errors, omissions, corrections are all very welcome of course.

Classification systems: The one used here was drawn up by J. Reuss, Matthaus-Kommentare aus der griechischen Kirche, Berlin 1957 (also similar editions on Luke and John).

M. Geerard follows his classification, in the articles in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum vol. 4, pp.228-248.

There is also the system of G. Karo and I. Lietzmann, Catenarum Graecorum Catalogus, published in the appallingly difficult to obtain Nachrichten der K. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, 1, 3, 5 (1902).  In pp. 119-151, they instead classify catenas as types I-VII, following a scheme drawn up by E. Preuschen.

Studies: R. Devreesse published articles on the catenas for each gospel in the Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplement vol. 1 (Paris, 1928), “Chaînes…”, pp.1164-1205.

I see that Nicole Petrin has a useful working bibliography on her blog here.


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