From my diary

I’ve been asked how it is that I have moved from Tertullian to Chrysostom.

The answer is that I haven’t moved to Chrysostom, really.  I started work on the web with the Tertullian Project, because there was nothing much about him online and I was filling a gap.

But when I came online, I found a great deal of anti-Christian polemic consisted of supposed “quotes” from the Fathers “proving” that the Fathers advocated lying, cheating, violence etc.  The grand author of these was a book by one Joseph Wheless, Forgery in Christianity, from which the material was plagiarised and improved. 

In some cases it was easy to show that the “quotes” were fake by going to the online English translation.  But others quoted from works not online.  So I began to place online translations of patristic works where there was an existing out-of-copyright translation which was not online.  This collection grew into the Additional Fathers, where I made these texts available as public domain.

From this it has been a natural step to start adding translations, by doing them myself, or commissioning them.  Naturally I tend to look for shorter works.

My current emphasis on Chrysostom arises from my discovery that the Homilies against the Jews were online, in a version whose copyright status is unclear, but that a portion remained untranslated.  This I commissioned and distributed.  But while looking at the entries for Chrysostom in Quasten’s Patrology vol. 3, I am struck by the number of short works which remain untranslated into English.  Some are of great historical interest, such as the one on the celebration of New Year in Roman times, or those on Christmas.  All these get quoted in anti-Christian polemic, probably in a distorted way.

My interest in Severian of Gabala came from someone writing to ask me about a passage in one of his sermons De sigillis librorum.  Until then I knew little about Severian.  A little research revealed an interesting author, whose works were unavailable in English.  Reading Bareille’s French translation revealed an author whose style is very distinctive and would translate well. 

So at the moment I am concentrating on ways to get works by these authors online.  I think I can make a difference.  In a few months, doubtless, my attention will be drawn by something else.  But whatever I do, I think it will benefit everyone.  So … let’s be a butterfly!

I was thinking last night about how to handle the fact that a French translation by Bareille exists of most of Chrysostom (although not the letters, I notice, nor the spuria).  I think it is probably best if I don’t commission translations of works that exist in that fashion — a translation from the French will probably do for most non-academic purposes.  If I restrict myself to commissioning only material where nothing exists in English or French, that would probably be the most effective use of my funds.


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