The Latin introduction to the Coptic catena published by Paul de Lagarde

The translator of the fragments of Eusebius found in the Coptic catena published by Paul de Lagarde — I’m never sure whether to write “de Lagarde” or “De Lagarde” — has asked for a translation into English of his preface, written in Latin.  I have hastily asked Andrew Eastbourne for a construe, and he has kindly said he will produce one in a few days.

The preface contains non-Latin material.  So here I am, OCRing it.  Chunks of it are in English, although containing misleading information.

According to de Lagarde, Joseph Lightfoot mentions the catena ms. in A plain introduction to the criticism of the New Testament by F. Scrivener, Cambridge, 1874, p. 335, and says:

The volume, *Parham 102, described in the printed Catalogue (no. 1, vellum, p. 27) as a MS of the Gospels of St Matthew and St Mark, is really a selection of passages taken in order from the four Gospels with a patristic catena attached to each. The leaves however are much displaced in the binding, and many are wanting. The title to the first Gospel is + [coptic], etc. ‘The interpretation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew from numerous doctors and luminaries of the church.’ Among the fathers quoted I observed Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom, Clement, the two Cyrils (of Jerusalem and of Alexandria). Didymus, Epiphanius, Eusebius, Evagrius, the three Gregories (Thaumaturgus, Nazianzen and Nyssen), Hippolytus, Irenaeus, Severianus of Gabala, Severus of Antioch (often styled simply the Patriarch), Symeon Stylites, Timotheus, and Titus.

In the account of this MS in the Catalogue it is stated that ‘the name of the scribe who wrote it is Sapita Leporos, a monk of the monastery, or monastic rule, of Laura under the sway of the great abbot Macarius,’ and the inference is thence drawn that it must have been written before 395, when Macarius died. This early date however is at once set aside by the fact that writers who lived in the sixth century are quoted. Prof. Wright (Journal of Sacred Literature vii. p. 218), observing the name of Severus in the facsimile, points out the error of date, and suggests as an explanation that the colophon (which he had not seen) does not speak of the great Macarius, but of ‘an abbot Macarius.’ The fact is, that though the great Macarius is certainly meant, there is nothing which implies that he was then living. The scribe describes himself as [coptic], I the unhappy one (talaipwroj) who wrote it’ (which has been wrongly read and interpreted as a proper name Sapita Leporos). He then gives his name [coptic] (Theodorus of Busiris?) and adds, [coptic], ‘the unworthy monk of the holy laura of the great abbot Macarius.’ He was merely an inmate of the monastery of St Macarius; see the expression quoted from the Vat. MS lxi in Tattam’s Lexicon p. 842. This magnificent MS would well repay careful inspection; but its value may not be very great for the Memphitic Version, as it is perhaps translated from the Greek …

And I think there is a note in the ms. which reads:

Mr Rt Curzon brought this volume from the Coptic Monastery of Souriani on the Natron Lakes, to the west of the villiage of Jerraneh, on the Nile; in the month of March. 1838. It consists of 254 leaves of vellum, which contain 2 indexes, and the Gospels of St Mathew, & St Mark, with the commentaries of St Cyrill, St Chrysostom, Eusebius, Gregory the Patriarch, Titus, &c.

The leaves are not in their proper places, the two Gospels being mixed together, they have been put together just as they came over, to prevent their being lost. The name of the scribe who wrote this MS, is Zapita Leporos, a monk of the monastery of sic Laura, under the rule of the Abbot Macarius. Macarius of Alexandria, Abbot of the Monks of Nitria, died according to the Art de verifier les Dates; either in the year 395, or 405. it would therefore apper sic that this manuscript must have been written before the end of the fourth century, in which case it is the most antient book in existance sic with a date, several of the Syriac MSS which were brought to England from the same monastery in which this was discovered, are supposed to be of equal antiquity, the earliest of those which have any date given in them, is a quarto of Eusebius, which was written in the year 411. it is now in the British Museum, it seems however that this manuscript is even more antient, as it was probably written about the year 390.

These little snippets of information, or misinformation, may make us smile but they do show scholarship emerging from ignorance, little by little.

Update 10 Feb 2024.  The translation was uploaded as part of the errata for the Gospel Problems and Solutions, so here.


One thought on “The Latin introduction to the Coptic catena published by Paul de Lagarde

  1. “de Lagarde” or “De Lagarde”

    IIRC, it depends on the first name being named or not. It is “Paul de Lagarde”, but “Mr. De Lagarde” or “according to De Lagarde”. It’s the same with Dutch names; so it is “Reinbert de Leeuw” but “when De Leeuw plays piano”.

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