Lying awake and thinking about Eusebius

These days I seem to get insomnia the night before any journey. I wish I knew why.

Anyway tonight I find myself thinking about the Tough questions on the gospels and their solutions by Eusebius of Caesarea.  I’ve had all the Greek fragments translated, even the ones which largely duplicate other fragments.  The question now is how to present all this material?  What will work, for the reader?

In an ideal world, we’d create a critical text.  Then we’d translate that.  But this work is highly non-ideal.

For one thing, we have an epitome of the work; and we have catena fragments of the full text.  Can we really integrate these into one critical text?  They never were one text, at any point in their life.  Claudio Zamagni, who edited the epitome for the Sources Chretiennes, thought not. 

OK, so we have two works.  So we use Zamagni’s critical text of the epitome and translate that (and we did).  What do we do about all the catena fragments?

The thing is, it isn’t simple.  These fragments belong to a number of different catenas.  Catena writers ‘adjust’ the texts they quote, adding words at either end, modifying tenses, etc, in order to get a flowing commentary out of them.  No blame to them; but how on earth do you do a critical edition of that?  Unless you edit the catena, which we aren’t doing.

Do we try to combine fragments?  But… we’re not editing the Greek of the fragments.  Anyway, all we have is stuff already published, as I wasn’t really able to access the manuscripts.

Or do we have the same basic idea, repeated five times in slightly varying forms on the page?

How do I combine these with the epitome?  Do I have the epitome first, and then all the fragments?  Or do I print each “question” in the epitome, and then add related fragments underneath (with a bucket at the end for fragments of unknown relation to the epitome, belonging to “questions” not preserved by it).  I sort of favour the last alternative, because it would be more usable for a reader who wants to know what Eusebius said on a given subject.  But it breaks up the flow of the work.

It’s going to be an unusual publication, that’s for sure.  It won’t be specially scholarly.  To produce anything more than a translation of the lot, in some order or other, is beyond my means, given the problems of the text.

Decisions, decisions — and suggestions very welcome!

7 thoughts on “Lying awake and thinking about Eusebius

  1. Sounds fascinating! I wonder, could you tell me if there is any material on the eschatology of Matthew 16:27-28 or the “this generation” reference of Matthew 24:34? Thanks!

  2. Hi Roger

    I know nothing at all about the subject matter but might it not make logical sense to present the reader with the epitome first in its entirety and then organize the various catena in a way that is suggested by the epitome.

  3. I own editions of several fragmentary texts so I will give you a hint:

    I have an edition of Arrian’s Μετα τον Αλεξανδρο by Cactus editions (which is nothing more than a translation of the East German Teubneur) which has survived as fragments and Photius’ epitome AND a couple of pages from a palimpsest. The editors have at first Photius epitome, then the fragments according to where they would probably go in the real book and among them the palimpsest fragment, at its most appropriate place. I suggest you do the same.

    In many cases the fragment is doubly attested. They print it both times. Another issue is that as you said they might have never been one work. In this case I would suggest putting them in the order the books would have been (i.e. in the order the gospels are put in the bible)

    Hope it helps

  4. I would organize it according to the biblical passages discussed. I think that’s what most people are interested in: What he had to say about a certain passage.
    And make sure to note all references/sources.

  5. Roger,I always fantasies of discovering Eusebius’library;of having all those lost works on my shelf and reading through them…

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