Origen translation: the catena issue

All of the Latin of homily 1 on Ezechiel is now translated into English, and pretty much finalised.  But an issue has arisen.  Extracts of Origen’s original Greek exist in the medieval Greek commentaries, comprised as they are of chains (catenas) of extracts from the fathers.  These are printed where relevant at the bottom of Baehrens’ edition in the Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller edition.  But we have discovered that the extracts printed in the older Patrologia Graeca edition are fuller.  What do we do?

Do we just translate what Baehrens printed, presuming that he rejected the rest as inauthentic; or do we use the longer text?  We need to find out what Baehrens thought he was doing, if he tells us.

One thing that would help would be to consult the full text of the catena.  But of course this is very difficult.  Catenas do exist in print, but in general we just don’t have proper accessible editions of the major catenas.  This is a barrier, not merely to patristics, but also to biblical studies.

To edit one of these sprawling monsters must be difficult; but why don’t people have a go?


10 thoughts on “Origen translation: the catena issue

  1. My recommendation is to just publish Baehrens’s printed edition and maybe someone will feel inspired to develop a critical edition later incorporating the longer material. I am really, really anxious to see what it says even in this state.

  2. One more thought. If you have the time, you might be able to indicate where the longer version begins or additional material left out of the translation appears with a footnote. Indeed this is ‘online’ and one of the advantages over the printed page is that it can be easily updated when new information surfaces.

  3. Drive-by shooting here. I know nought of patristics, but I do know that the Catenae we have in the TLG are close to diplomatic editions—no accentuation too misplaced, no spelling too fantastical. I’m not advocating whitewashing the Byzantines to look Classical, but these particular texts are consistently problematic for my work on lemmatising the TLG corpus—they’re even worse than the Migne texts we still have.

    And that makes me suspect, as a clueless outsider, editorial neglect rather than editorial respect for the sources. You folk know anything more about these editions? Actually, now that I’ve looked up the editions, why am I even asking: Cramer 1840. *shudder*…

  4. You’re shuddering at an 1840 edition? Dear boy, that’s a *modern* edition, as far as catenas are concerned. Most of them were published two centuries earlier. Cramer is a delight, relatively.

    I didn’t know there were catenas in the TLG — which ones?

    I think the publications of catenas are all more or less rubbish. There’s no real reason why they should be worse than any other text that we use. The fact that they are made up of chains of quotations deters editors, who think that they have to know all those sources (although most of the sources seem to be Chrysostom — how hard can that be?). But in reality, if one forgets about the quotations, they’re just books, same as any other. And they urgently need editing.

    I suspect in lemmatising them you’ll be doing original research!

    I’d be interested to hear about your work. I wasn’t aware that the TLG corpus was being lemmatised? Who do you work for?

  5. Wonderful.

    I only wish I had access to this sort of stuff…! Would that the TLG was free (NB: that isn’t a begging request! I’m thinking of everyone).

  6. I don’t understand your original comment here, Roger. Are you not able to find MPG013 in pdf format (including catenas) online? Or are you looking for the catenas in their original context (i.e., the work of a later writer citing Origen), so as to decide their relevance?

  7. I was actually referring to the original context in the catena.

    I did some investigation into catenas. A catena is actually a *work* itself by a later author, and should be treated as a composition, albeit one made with scissors and paste. He makes a commentary on a book of the bible, verse by verse, by taking each verse, writing it down, and then listing quotes from the fathers underneath, starting with “Eusebius:”, “Origen:”, “John:”, and so on. There can be some bridging words, and some adaptation of tenses to make it work.

    Seeing the supposed quote in context, seeing how other quotes are handled by the catenist, would give a very good idea of how this excerpt has been handled, I thought.

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