A passage in Jerome on Revelation

A correspondent asked me for a translation of this:

Legimus in Apocalypsi Johannis (quod in istis provinciis non recipitur liber, tamen scire debemus quoniam in occidente omni, et in aliis Faenicis provinciis, et in AEgypto recipitur liber, et ecclesiasticus est: nam et veteres ecclesiastici viri, e quibus est Irenaeus, et Polycarpus, et Dionysius, et alii Romani interpretes, de quibus est et Cyprianus sanctus, recipiunt librum et interpretantur) legimus ergo ibi: eqs.

Which I rendered hastily as:

We read in the Apocalypse of John (which in those provinces is a book not received [as canonical], however we ought to understand that in all the west, and in the other Phoenician provinces, and in Egypt the book is received, and is a book of the church; for also ancient men of the church, among whom Irenaeus and Polycarp and Dionysius [of Alexandria] and other Roman expounders, also including St. Cyprian, receive the book and expound it) we read therefore there: …

Errors?  And … what is “Faenici”?

UPDATE:  Andrew Eastbourne writes:

That text of Jerome is in his (possibly inauthentic) “Tractatus” on Ps. 1, edited by Morin in the Anecdota Maredsolana vol. 3.2 (online at http://books.google.com/books?id=Qh0NAAAAIAAJ — easiest to find if you search in that volume for “legimus in Apocalypsi”) — oh, and Faenicis *is* simply “normal” medieval confusion of spelling for Phoenicis.  (ae / oe / e variation is very frequent in mss.)

I’ve also changed the translation as suggested in the comments!  The quote seems to be on p.5 of the text: just searching for “legimus in Apocalypsi” gives p.314 which is another quote.  The book is inaccessible outside the US, tho.  The reference is: 

Jerome, Commentarioli in Psalmos / Hieronymi, qui deperditi hactenus putabantur ; edidit, commentario critico instruxit, prolegomena et indices adjecit Germanus Morin. 1895, p. 5.

The faenicis has a note in Morin’s apparatus, “Faenicis] paenicis C 1 m: phaenicis A: phoenicis uC 2 m.”  The meaning of these glyphs is not apparent at first glance.

11 thoughts on “A passage in Jerome on Revelation

  1. Depending on the font, Faenici would look like Foenici, which I would think is the Phoenician provinces.

  2. That was my guess as well. I can’t find that spelling (faenicus) in any dictionary nor does ‘phoenicus’ seem at all common. ‘phoenicius’ or ‘phoeniceus’, but not ‘phoencius’.

    “nevertheless we ought to know that the book is received and is of the Church”

    quod/quia/quoniam in later Latin will frequently mean “that”, as in introducing a new clause

    “among whom” not “among from”

  3. I would imagine a typo, faenicis for foeniciis, meaning phoeniciis, from Phoenicius, -a, -um adj., ‘Phoenician’ (OLD p.1375). There’s nothing in Souter’s glossary of later Latin, the form “faen-” is clearly wrong, and the f for ph must just be an elderly edition.

    I don’t know what we’re looking at. Anyone any idea what the text is?

  4. Roger, by “text” I assume you are mentioning the quote itself, not the word “faenicis” I find the mention of Polycarp very interesting, however Jerome does tend to reference authors he never seems to have read. It would be great if I could find out where (and if ) Jerome said this.

  5. I’ve now updated the translation in the post: originally it was:

    “We read in the Apocalypse of john (which in those provinces is a book not received [as canonical], however we ought to understand because in all the west, and in the other Faenici (?) provinces, and in Egypt the book is received, and is a book of the church; for also ancient men of the church, among from Irenaeus and Polycarp and Dionysius [of Alexandria] and other Roman expounders, also including St. Cyprian, receive the book and expound it) we read therefore there: …”

    Thank you everyone! I’ve also updated the post with the reference and a link to the text online.

  6. I don’t mean to bicker but why are we so convinced that Jerome has Dionysius of Alexandria in mind as opposed to Dionysius of Corinth. Jerome must have read Eusebius HE iii.3 – 6. The contemporary Alexandrian opinion is mentioned in the section before this one. Why would it be so natural to lump Dionysius of Alexandria with the Roman tradition?

    And what are the ‘other Phoenician provinces’? The only one that comes to mind is Carthage. But is there any record of people in Jerome’s age referring to Carthage or north Africa as ‘Phoenician provinces.’ I have come across coins as old as the reign of Constantius from north Africa which use Aramaic in the inscription. But would Jerome have identified either as a ‘Phoenician province’? I don’t know.

  7. In the late empire provinces were sub-divided a lot. I don’t know if there were several provinces in the area of Phoenicia, but that was how I read that.

    I thought Dionysius meant Dionysius of Alexandria as he is the only author of exegetical works who gets quoted.

  8. A correspondent adds:

    “Sorry about the confusion regarding the Jerome text: Morin edited both the “Commentarioli” (the title page at the beginning of the digitized version — this is only part 1, though) and the “Homiliae sive Tractatus” (see the title page of part 2), which oddly is numbered as p. 116 in the Google Books digitization, after which the numbering starts over at p. 1 — and the p. 5 which gives the passage you originally posted is in part 2, i.e., it is not part of the Commentarioli but rather appears in the first Homily.

    “The translation I was referring to is of the Homilies, not the Commentarioli; the latter, as it seems, has not been translated into English.

    “The texts of both Commentarioli and Homiliae, though, are the product of Morin’s investigation and analysis on the basis of the interpolated compilation known as the Breviarium in Psalmos (partly Jerome, partly not) — see, e.g., the beginning of Pease’s article in JBL 26 (1907) — pp. 107-8 at http://books.google.com/books?id=XBEnAQAAIAAJ

  9. Thank you for this link (visible only to US readers). I don’t agree with Moore’s tendency to dismiss the statement by Jerome — who must certainly have known whereof he spoke — but it is useful to see this detail!

  10. Hi Folks,

    Overall, I don’t think Moore is too bad in analysis. Anyway, I’ve seen much greater dismissals commonplace, even with Jerome.

    One is where Jerome says he translated the full NT and Stefan Rebenich goes through hoops to say he really can’t mean what he said. He does show that the translation of the epistles would probably be after 386 (ie. not for Damasus) however that would be no surprise.

    Then there is the Vulgate Prologue to the canonical epistles. When it was realized that the text supports the heavenly witnesses as authentic, the whole text was dismissed as a forgery. In that case the key to the (weak) argument was the late date of the extant Prologues, 9th century. They should have had an “oops” moment in the 1800s when it was realized that this Prologue was nicely intact from the earliest Vulgate, Codex Fuldensis, 546 AD, only a bit over a century after Jerome’s death, in an edition done with strong textual and historical oversight by Victor of Capua.

    Shalom,
    Steven Avery

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