Cyril of Alexandria – commentaries on Paul’s letters

Ben Blackwell is thinking about translating the commentaries of Cyril of Alexander on Romans and the other letters, as part of a post-doctoral project.  Doing so could only benefit everyone.  He discusses how he is going about it, and (excitingly) how the online TLG now has parsing information (if you can access it!)  Computer-based resources must be increasingly important in translation, I think.

One wry thought: the “standard” edition is that of Philip Pusey; who died in 1880!  So neglected is Cyril in the West.  A new critical text would seem a desideratum; or at least, a few papers on the manuscript tradition.  It is unlikely that Pusey had access to the best mss. 

Still, the first step in making a new edition would be to become conversant with the text and its problems, and the best way to do that is to make a translation of it into some other language.  So Ben might be beginning a life’s work here!  Either way, for a scholar setting out, it would seem that he is looking at unexplored territory.  Go for it, Ben!


5 thoughts on “Cyril of Alexandria – commentaries on Paul’s letters

  1. Cyril has been cast as The Bad Guy in a lot of minds because of the Hypatia affair (or at least one of the versions told of it). I suspect that’s the major reason.

    OTOH, it’s clearly our general policy this century to fail to translate pretty much all the Fathers and everybody else, so it’s not as if this is a big exception to the rule.

    And no, I’m not miffed because my best friend who’s big into the Bible has admittedly not even dropped an eye onto my St. Albert the Great translation, when I’m already four chapters in. No. Not at all. Total lack of interest from my nearest and dearest is exactly what I want. 🙂

    Seriously, though… it does sometimes seem to me that people these days are not, really, very curious to see things outside their own very small worlds. My friend is a medievalist, by her thesis, a Christian, a CS Lewis fan, a devoted reader of The Four Loves, and the sort of person who loves reading novels about early Christianity and the Roman Empire. I would say she was a very curious person, devoted to learning. But even now, when it’s super-easy to drop into Boethius or tons of the other Fathers, she just doesn’t. She’s all in favor of primary sources — except not these. It’s like things that aren’t assigned reading don’t exist — in her own subject, even!

    I don’t get it….

    Anyway, I’ll be very interested to read Cyril.

  2. “Of reading many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh”. As much as I sympathize with your criticism, Maureen, I’m afraid that I have to take your friend’s side in this. Every page read of Albertus Magnus or Boethius is a page unread of someone else. So much to read, and so little time.

    Speaking of which, I should stop reading Roger’s blog and pick up Eusebius!

  3. In some ways we live in a golden age of translations of the fathers. The problem is that most of them are unknown to almost everyone. They’re published in editions of 200 copies, and sold exclusively to research-only libraries.

    A text that does not exist in translation, tho, will be ignored. I don’t quite understand this. If I were earning my living from Greek patrology — and people do — I think that I would take a volume of the patrologia graeca to bed with me each night and read some, until I’d made my way through it all. Can’t understand why people don’t — it would be the best way to master the subject and know what is where.

    Cyril caused the split with Nestorius, and few people today feel that was a good idea. In a way he epitomises in the anglophone world the bad things about the Byzantine church. Except that this is unfair to him, and we need to see him more clearly. If I could get a decent Greek translator I’d commission some works of his myself.

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