From my diary – translating Cyril, marketing Eusebius, and Keston College

An email reached me last week from someone claiming to have experience of translating Cyril of Alexandria.  I have dusted off the Apologeticum ad imperatorem, therefore, and asked him to do the first page as a sample.  If it is OK, then perhaps we will at last get that work in English. 

The text is the work that Cyril wrote after the Council of Ephesus in 433, when even an ally such as Isidore of Pelusium suggested that Cyril may have been right in principle, but had behaved like a jerk.  It should make interesting reading.

Today I approved the design for the leaflet which I shall be distributing at the Oxford Patristics Conference.  No, it isn’t “Roger Pearse for King” — it’s the publicity for the new translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel Problems and Solutions (Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum), now available in hardback and paperback from good bookshops (i.e. Amazon).  This evening I paid for said design and leaflets — a not inconsiderable sum.

I’ve been thinking about the name of Mithras.  I read some hearsay that it was derived from the Old Persian name for the god, Miθra.  I don’t know much about Persian literature.  I’ve read more hearsay today, saying that Old Persian literature consists of inscriptions in cuneiform from the Achaemenid period, down to the time of Alexander the Great ca. 300 BC; that Middle Persian begins with the Sassanids ca. 250 AD, whose literature is mostly preserved in very much later copies; and that a transitional period happens in between.  I’ve also heard that Mithra, in Middle Persian, is “Mihr” or “Mehr”.  So I spent a bit of time reading around this.  Nothing very solid yet, tho.

I’ve also been corresponding with Michael Bourdeaux, best known as the director of Keston College during the Soviet era, when Keston monitored the treatment of the churches under the Soviets.  I’ve agreed to scan a couple of his books into PDF form, and I hope that he will give permission for them to appear online.  Fortunately the three that he suggested are the three I actually have! 

In the back of one of them, Risen indeed: Lessions in faith from the USSR, 1984, I found a small bunch of leaflets and newsletters from Keston.  I must have bought the book at the Round Church in Cambridge, and picked up the leaflets at the same time.  The faded flimsies brought a feeling of nostalgia to me, for days long ago when the course of my life was not yet set, and many of the difficulties of life lay as yet ahead of me and unknown.

It is curious how little one hears today about the mighty effort at Keston to help the persecuted.  The mainstream churches were too often silent, and Dr Bourdeax’s work was very necessary.  Then as now, the bully likes to do his work unobserved.

I asked Dr. B. if there was a history of Keston and its work.  It seems that there is!  Michael Bourdeaux wrote one.  But curiously it remains unpublished.  Is there no publisher that will take on this work?  Keston has largely moved into the past, yet its history will most certainly be of interest to historians of the 20th century, and a history of the treatment of religion by one of the prime movers ought to be published, and published now while everyone is still alive.

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