I’ve had an email from Charles Sullivan, another patristic enthusiast, who has dedicated the last 20 years to going through Migne and locating every possible reference in the fathers to speaking in tongues. He’s been translating them, and intends to publish A history of the gift of tongues, once he’s worked over all the texts. It was an email from him concerning Origen on 1 Corinthians that led me to look into this obscure text last week.
I asked him how he went about his search. The answer was interesting enough that I thought I would reproduce it:
This whole project began in the 1980s before the internet took off and before I had kids and needed to concentrate solely on making money for 20 years. During this time, I recreationally began to visually scan every page of MPG until volume 135, looking especially in the Latin text for key words. When I found some semblance of key words, I photocopied the pages to translate later. With Latin authors I haven’t been so detailed but I have used MPL and whatever other sources I can find. The resources in Latin are much easier to find and access than the Greek Fathers, so this part has not been much of a problem. Secondly, I went through them all, prioritizing and eliminating pages for translation. Third, because the internet was so young and flaky at the time, I built my own dictionary, grammar and bibliographical database in Filemaker to resource all my finds and keep up with everything. I still use this. After these steps, I translate the pertinent passages.
My approach to translating is published on Scribd,
… I felt initially overwhelmed at the task of translating the Greek Church Fathers and understanding how MPG works. I don’t feel that way anymore, but it was painful. This was overcome in large part due to the help of Perseus, Google and many websites willing to publish manuscripts, texts and resources on the web. If these were not available, people like myself could not accomplish anything within this realm.
I am looking forward to the day when the open-source internet phenomenon, which has opened up the Jewish community and their ancient texts, will meander down into the vestibules of the Christian community.
The excellent translation tips I have remarked on before. I also asked him who he was aiming his book at. His reply was probably too modest:
It is for an academic audience who has a little, but not a great knowledge of Church Fathers and possess a good knowledge of the controversial Biblical texts.
A 2,500 word or so summary will be available for free on the internet. The final book will be available for purchase on the ScribD website. I am not sure what to do with the print rights yet. Still too busy translating though I can feel that I am getting very close. Chrysostom and John of Damascus are the only big translations left for me to do.
I think that there can be little doubt that Dr. Sullivan is a hero; someone who is doing something truly original, at a very serious level. I particularly admire anyone who takes the PG, volume by volume, and works through it.
I hope that he will allow me to see a draft when it is ready. It seems to me that we’re actually looking at a source book, or something like that, which deserves formal academic publication. Comments on this, and also on any parallel work that’s been done, would be most welcome.