Origen; Homily 2 on Ezekiel received

The first draft of the translation of the second homily on Ezekiel has arrived!

At this rate, I’m going to have to find out about printers and the like rather more quickly than I had thought!


Faulhaber on Roman mss of the catenas of the prophets

The translator for the Origen homilies is really doing an excellent job.  He ‘s been looking into the issue of why the excerpts from catenas printed by Baehrens in the GCS are shorter than those printed by Migne (reprinting the Delarue edition).

Translating some of the latter reveals that they contain material evidently not by Origen; indeed disagreeing with the Origen material that they quote.  Baehrens gives a reference to Faulhaber, Die Propheten-Catenen nach rom. Hss. (= Bibl.  Stud. 4, 2.3 [1899]) , which is actually online at Google books (for US readers).  Biblische Studien IV is here.

Faulhaber lists the 233 fragments by Origen on Ezekiel on pp. 153-5, and states that these are taken partly from the Homilies, and partly from Origen’s scholia on Ezechiel.  He also notes (p.154) that the material in Migne is often plainly from the Homilies, but needs further study.  It seems that Delarue had a catena manuscript rather different to the others.


Dishonest academic journals and the Elsevier scandal

Nick Nicholas’ blog also drew my attention to a scandal; a major academic publisher, Elsevier, running “fake” academic journals, which were in fact funded by a pharmaceutical company.  How bad this may be, well, I can’t tell.

Librarians — who pay for journal access, remember — are reacting strongly to this threat to the integrity of the journal system, and quite rightly too.  After all, if you can’t trust the publishers to act as gatekeepers — to keep out the rubbish and the advertising-pretending-to-be-research, your scientific research is screwed.  Terms like “corruption” have been used, and quite properly.

Such scandals undermine the reputation of the journal system.  In truth I think this is a minor hiccup.  Too many people have too much invested in the existing system for it all to go to hell very easily.

But Nick looks at the long-term trend, and how this incident may influence it (paragraphing mine).

The world is upside down, and will only get more so. If it’s not googleable, it doesn’t exist.

That’s calling much of the scholarly publishing market into question, and the medical payola scandal at Elsevier calls into question the remainder. Just found out about this today, and I’m still in shock.

Journal publishers don’t disseminate as broadly as a PDF on a website + google, and no-one cares about long-term availability anymore (not even the publishers, shirking away from paper).

Scholarly publishers’ key selling point now is their imprimatur, and once you piss that away through payola, you don’t recoup the loss of authority by blaming a rogue Australian subbranch, with staff who’ve since left your employ.

The future is… what?  Well, we don’t know.  But it won’t be paper-based journals, that’s for sure.


An new hero takes on the ancient astronomical works

I’ve just discovered http://www.wilbourhall.org/index.html.  This site deals with Mathematics, and Mathematical Astronomy in the works of ancient writers.  It does so by getting hold of whatever texts exist and fixing the errors in the Google scans and so forth.  If you want the complete works of Hero of Alexandria, they’re here.  Archimedes, Ptolemy… likewise.  Arabic writers?  They too.  The author, Joe Leichter, writes:

I hope to make available public domain materials that are essential for the study of ancient and early modern mathematics and mathematical astronomy. Google, for example, has done some things to achieve this through its books.google.com project. However, like most other efforts at digitally copying non digital materials, “mistakes were made”. For example, Google currently has several (all incomplete) versions of Teubner’s’s edition of Euclid available for download. Most of these unfortunately contain page after page that are illegible, missing, out of order or otherwise unusable.

The man is a hero.  Ancient scientific works are a horrendously neglected part of the ancient world, because they require skills and interest in both the humanities and the sciences.  Still more neglected are the Byzantine writers on this subject.

All this from a blog that I had not seen before, opuculuk by Nick Nicholas, reporting on a search that he did on the works of Chioniades.  (Nick works for the TLG, and was working on their lemmatizer, when he started to come across chunks of untranslated Arabic in the scientific works of Chioniades.  Mr. C., a 12th century writer, had been taking lessons from some Persian, so had got a whole load of jargon for his pains!)


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?


A famous passage of Gregory of Nyssa… but where from?

Everyone has read this:

Everywhere, in the public squares, at crossroads, on the streets and lanes, people would stop you and discourse at random about the Trinity. If you asked something of a moneychanger, he would begin discussing the question of the Begotten and the Unbegotten. If you questioned a baker about the price of bread, he would answer that the Father is greater and the Son is subordinate to Him. If you went to take a bath, the Anomoean bath attendant would tell you that in his opinion the Son simply comes from nothing.

But… where in his works does Gregory of Nyssa say this?  And does an English translation exist?

UPDATE: From the discussion in the comments (which includes the Greek), I learn that the work is his Oratio de deitate Filii et Spiriti Sancti, (= Oration on the deity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit) which is printed in PG 46, and the passage is on col. 557, section B.   (It’s in the modern 1996 edition of Gregory’s works also, but of course no normal person would have access to that.[1])  An offline (!) German translation of the whole treatise exists in V. H. Drecoll and M. Berghaus (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa : The Minor Treatises on Trinitarian Theology and Apollinarism (Brill 2011).  But … a complete French translation exists, made by Matthieu Cassin, and is online! The direct link is here, and a PDF at the bottom contains the whole article. Our phrase is on p.11 of the PDF, p.591 of the article.   (For those without French, be aware that Google Translate does French-to-English very well.)  Thank you to everyone who contributed!

  1. [1]“De deitate filii et spiritus sancti et in Abraham” in Gregorii Nysseni Opera vol. X part 2 (ed. E. Rhein), Brill, 1996.

UK Govt attack on Catholic adoption agency continues

Cranmer has the following piece on one of the Catholic adoption agencies which went to court to defend their right not to place children with gay couples, in accordance with Catholic teaching.  They lost, and got a £75,000 bill for their pains.

Passing laws to allow bigots to drag Christians into court on one pretext or another is almost a fingerprint-test for a repressive regime.  Apparently laws to allow gay activists to do this are being passed at the moment.

I wonder if I will get dragged into court?  After all, I think sodomy is a sin too; I and 2bn other Christians. 


Irving Woodworth Raymond and Orosius

The first English translation of Orosius was made by I.W.Raymond and published in 1936.  It’s probably still in copyright in the USA, unfortunately, which keeps it off the web.  A later translation exists in the Fathers of the Church series.

Someone wrote to me about Orosius today.  Apparently he is the first writer to mention the term “Asia minor”.  This led me to look again at the copyright.

When did Raymond die? (he was born in 1898, according to COPAC)  A google search led me to an obituary in the St. Petersburg Times, August 11, 1964:

NEW YORK — Dr Irving Woodworth Raymond, 65, professor of history at Brooklyn college here, died Monday at his home in York Harbor, Maine.

Isn’t Google books wonderful?  I remarked yesterday how the British Library, in putting newspapers online, made sure to charge for access; Google gives it to us for free, and we all benefit.

Sadly it looks as if his work won’t come out of copyright in the EU (life+70 years) until 2034, by which time I will be dead myself, I suspect.  In countries with life+50 years, that reduces to 2014.  And I can’t tell you when it comes out of copyright in the US, as I don’t understand the current situation; publication + 95 years, i.e. 2031?

What a mess this copyright law is!  Who benefits from keeping this offline?


Perseus hopper – 157 downloads

The source code for the Perseus site is available for download at Sourceforge, and contains all the data too.  I was mildly surprised to discover that it has been downloaded, according to Sourceforge… 157 times.

That sounds very low indeed.  Only 157 downloads since it went open source?

Admittedly it’s very hard going to make sense of, and won’t run on Windows, but even so.