Devreesse on quotations from Eusebius in catenas in John

There are quite a few nuggets of interesting information in the 78-page article by R. Devreesse on Greek exegetical catenas in the Dictionaire de la Bible — supplement 1.  Naturally there are catenas on each of the Gospels, and he lists the authors quoted.  Here is what he says on John’s gospel, under the heading Eusebius.  Cordier/Corderius is one of the first catena editors; Cramer the editor of a catena in the 19th century.

Eusebius — Eusebius is the source of many citations in the catenas on St. John.  The first that we encounter (Cordier, p. 80) relates to John 2:22.  Cordier p.136 (on John 19:13-17) gives an extract from Severus [of Antioch], which is also found in Cramer, p. 398, with an indication of the source:  Σευήρου ἐκ τῆς πρὸς Θωμᾶν Γερμανικίας ἐπίσκοπον, where Severus reports the opinion given by Eusebius ἐν ταῖς πρὸς Μαρῖνον.  Cf. Brooks, A collection of letters of Severus of Antioch … in Patrologia Orientalis vol. 14, p. 268 [438].  The text of Cordier was reprinted in the Patrologia Graeca vol. 22, col. 1009 A-C.

On John 20:3-7, the Roman catenas cite a long passage of Eusebius.  The first part of this citation corresponds to P.G. 22, col. 984, A-C4, Eusebii Caesariensis supplementa quaetionum ad Marinum … ex Nicetae catena in Lucam; the second part is found in P.G., col. 989 B-C8.

Cordier, p. 449-450, gives a text which agrees with Question III to Marinus (P.G. 22, col. 948-949).  Finally on these same verses of chapter 22 of St. John, Cordier (p. 450-451) gives a citations which is almost identical to the content of P.G. col. 984-985.

It’s not quite clear from all of this whether Migne actually contains all this material, although it looks like it.  The most interesting reference is to the letters of Severus of Antioch, the monophysite patriarch of Constantinople in the reign of Anastasius until dethroned by the new emperor Justin in 517.  Long ago I scanned Brooks’ English translation of the letters, which are extant in Syriac.  Indeed I still remember the pain of doing so, because the volumes were very heavy to lift and place on the photocopier, and the pages had Syriac at the top and English in a grainy print at the bottom.

The Severus can be found here.  It is a truly interesting passage, all for itself!  I have added extra paragraphs for readability.

But that our Lord Jesus Christ our God was pierced in the side with a lance by that soldier after he gave up the ghost, and blood and water came forth from it in a miraculous manner, the divine John the Evangelist recorded, and no one else wrote about this. But certain persons have clearly falsified the Gospel of Matthew and inserted this same passage, when the contrary is the fact, in order to show that it was while he was alive that the soldier pierced his side with the spear, and afterwards he gave up the ghost.

This question was examined with great carefulness when my meanness was in the royal city, at the time when the affair of Macedonius was being examined, who became archbishop of that city, and there was produced the Gospel of Matthew, which was written in large letters, and was preserved with great honour in the royal palace, which was said to have been found in the days of Zeno of honourable memory in a city of the island of Cyprus buried with the holy Barnabas, who went about with Paul and spread the divine preaching; and, when the Gospel of Matthew was opened, it was found to be free from the falsification contained in this addition, [437] of the story of the soldier and the spear. …

But Eusebius of Caesarea (1141), who is called ‘Pamphili’, whom we mentioned a little above, when writing to a man called Marinus about questions concerning the passions of our Saviour and about his Resurrection, showed us nothing whatever about the said addition, as being unknown and having no place in the books of the gospel.

But in the same letters to Marinus, who had asked him for an interpretation on the subject of our Saviour’s passions and his Resurrection, he inserted the following exposition also in his letters, that the divine Mark the Evangelist said that it was the 3rd hour at the time when Christ who is God and our Saviour was crucified, but the divine John (he said) wrote that it was at the 6th hour that Pilate sat upon his judgment-seat at the place called ‘the pavement’, and judged Christ.

And therefore Eusebius said that this is an error of a scribe, who was inattentive when writing [441] the Gospel. For it is the letter gamal that denotes 3 hours, while the letter which is called in Greek episemon denotes the number of 6 hours, and these letters are like one another in Greek, and, the scribe wishing to write ‘3’ quickly, and having turned the letter a little backwards, it was thereby found to be ‘6’, because, since the letter had been turned backwards, it was supposed to be the letter that denotes ‘6’. Since therefore the three other evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke stated alike as with one mouth that from the 6th hour to the 9th there was darkness over all the land, it is plain that our Lord and God Jesus Christ was crucified before the 6th hour, at which the darkness took place, that is from the 3rd hour, as (1142) the blessed John himself wrote. Similarly we say that it is the 3rd hour, because those who wrote before, as we have said, changed the letter. We must insert also in this our letter upon this matter a part of what Eusebius himself stated at length; and his words are as follows:

“We agree not with any chance man, but with the evangelist who gave this testimony, [442] Mark. For it happened that there was an error on the part of the scribe so that he changed the letter by adding length to it, and it was thought that the letter which represents ‘3’ was ‘6’, on account of the likeness of the two letters of that which denotes ‘3’ and that which denotes ‘6’.

If therefore it is stated by John that it was the preparation of the day of unlevened bread, and it was about the 6th hour, and Pilate said to the Jews ‘Behold! your king’ (1143), and so on, let there be read instead of ‘6th’  ‘3rd’, since the beginning of his trial took place at that time, and in the middle of the hour or after it had been completed they crucified him, so that the result is that they judged and crucified him at the same hour”. (1144)

If you look for and find the volume addressed to Marinus about the interpretation of these things, you will find the accuracy of the writer as regards these matters.

The footnotes:

1141. 2. This passage to ‘letter’ (p. 441,1.12) is published in Greek in Cramer, Cat. in Luc. et Jo., p. 389 (cf. Corderius, Cat. in Jo., p. 436; P. G., XXII, 1009).
1142. 2. Some words have perhaps fallen out {Syriac}.
1143. 1. John, xix, 14.
1144. 2. Not known except from Severus

The next extract is from a letter to Theognostus of Germanicea, and Brooks notes:

1145. 3. A Greek extract from a letter to Theognostus of Germanicea is published in Cramer, Cat. in Epp. Cath., p. 159.

Hmm.  Well, I had forgotten (if I ever knew) that extract.  It had probably better be included in the Eusebius book!


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