Eusebius in Syriac, in a literal German version

Hunting around the web for Sickenberger’s publications on the catenas in Luke, I stumbled across a review of one of them — on the remains of the homilies of Titus of Bostra in the catenas — in the Catholic University Bulletin here.  The review does great credit to the periodical; but it also tells us about another publication in 1901.

Titus von Bostra, Studien zu dessen Lukashomelien, von Dr. Joseph Sickenberger. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1901. 8vo., pp. vii + 267.

Die Kirchengeschichte des Eusebius aus dem Syrischen uebersetzt von Eberhard Nestle. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1901. 8vo., pp.

1. With much scholarly labor, critical acumen, and excellent method Dr. Sickenberger reconstructs what is practically an “editio princeps” of the extant fragments of the “Homilies” of Titus of Bostra on the Gospel of Saint Luke. This ancient bishop who flourished in the days of Julian the Apostate, is noted in the history of the time for his dignified answer to charges of sedition and disloyalty made against him by that emperor; also for four books against the Manichaeans that Saint Jerome (De vir., inl. c. 102) thought excellent: “fortes adversum Manichaeos scripsit libros.” Dr. Sickenberger has collected from the printed editions of the “Catenae Patrum,” and from many mannscript sources a great number of remnants of “Homilies” on St. Luke, that in all probability are the work of this bishop of Bostra. A compiler of such materials in the eleventh century got together as many as 3300 of them. Unless a Milan palimpsest, discovered by Mercati in 1898, contains some fragments of the original discourses, we have no other tradition of them than such as has come down to us through the collection of excerpts that mediaeval Greek theologians were wont to make of older patristic commentaries, notes, and expositions of a scriptural character. Most of the lengthy introduction of Dr. Sickenberger (pp. 1-145) is taken up with the study of several such collections or “Catenae” as they are usually called. In them he finds genuine remnants of the “Homilies” of this father, though not without a lengthy critical sifting and comparison of such scattered and disordered materials. These pages, that the author rightly calls a “schwierige Arbeit,” are no mean contribution to the growing literature on the “Catenae” themselves, and are an evidence of the genuine scholarly training to be had in the theological faculty of the University of Munich. Dr. Sickenberger has added to our knowledge of Titus of Bostra, by increasing his scientific usefulness, and by emphasizing the fact that these “Homilies” on Saint Luke, written after the work against the Manichaeans, have a decided anti-Manichaean air and trend, such as one might expect from a bishop of the Syrian borderland at this period. The sober, literal, objective character of his discourses shows him to be an Antiochene in his principles of scriptural interpretation. The material at hand is too disconnected to gather from it any conclusions concerning the canon and the authority of the scriptures in farther Syria toward the end of the fourth century, or to establish which recension of the gospels was used by Titus. His “Homilies” on Saint Luke were much used by later commentators on the Gospels, though his own compositions were, seemingly, quite original and independent. He is an Aristotelian, and opposes cold and severe logic to the fantastic allegorizing of the Manichaeans. Taken in connection with Lagarde’s edition (Berlin, 1859) of the complete text (in Syriac translation) of the four books against the Manichaeans, the treatise of Dr. Sickenberger and his edition of the homily-fragments on Luke give us the best assured texts of a writer concerning whom Saint Jerome says elsewhere (ep. 70) that one knew not which to admire most in him, “eruditionem saeculi an scientiam scripturarum.” Is it not rather bold to advance the death of Titus of Bostra to a possible 378, when the “sub Juliano et Joviano principibus” of Saint Jerome seems to indicate that his literary activity did not extend beyond 364, the date of Jovian’s death ? The phrase “moritur sub Valente” would, in this light, seem to indicate the death of Titus in the early part of the reign of Valens, i. e. between 365 and 370.

2. The oldest Greek manuscript of the Church History of Eusebius belongs, it is said, to the tenth century. In the Syriac version, first edited by Bedjan (1897) and then by Wright and McLean (1898), we have a very faithful rendering of the Greek original. Some think that the Syriac version was prepared by the order, or under the eye, of Eusebius himself. It was certainly in common use before the end of the fourth century. The manuscript tradition of this text is far older than that of the Greek original—the best of the three oldest Syriac manuscripts, that of Saint Petersburg, belongs to the year A. D. 462, and an Armenian translation of the same represents a Syriac text still a century older than that of Saint Petersburg. As the Kirchenvater-Commission proposes to publish a new edition of the Church History, it seemed desirable that a strictly literal translation into German of the Syriac version should be first prepared, as one of the necessary “subsidia” for that important enterprise. This has been done for the “Texte und Untersuchungen” by the distinguished Syriac scholar, Dr. Eberhard Nestle, of whose competency there can be no doubt. In the preface to his work he brings out, from more than one view-point, the possible utilities of the Syriac translation whose complete edition has been awaited from 1864, when Wright first made known a chapter of it in “Ancient Syriac Documents,” down to 1897 and 1898, when, simultaneously, Bedjan at Paris, and Wright-MacLean at London, gave to the world this very ancient specimen of learning and piety.

The existence of a very literal German translation of the Syriac version of Eusebius’ Church history was unknown to me until this point.  I wonder if it is online?

UPDATE: And it is, here.

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