From my diary

A couple of interesting articles have come my way today.

Tommaso Leoni has written an overview of the textual transmission of the works of Josephus.[1]  This reads rather like a summary of secondary literature, rather than a piece of new research, but, since much of that literature is in languages which anglophone scholars tend to avoid, I suspect his article will be very useful and will be the unacknowledged basis for much new work. 

In particular he highlights the value of the indirect transmission, via lengthy quotations in authors like Josephus.  There is also a valuable discussion of the Latin material.  I was delighted to see a reference to my friend Wade Blocker’s pioneering translation of ps.Hegesippus, which I uploaded at his request back in 2005. 

Now I’ve written digests of material about the manuscripts online myself, so some of the material is familiar to me, but one section of the article caught my eye:

The complexities of the manuscript tradition become obvious if we consider a most interesting piece of evidence, the only papyrus of Josephus, Pap. Graec. Vindobonensis 29810, published by Hans Oellacher in 1939. It is a fragment, unfortunately in poor condition, containing the text of War 2.576-579, 582-584 (overall, no more than 112 words in whole or in part). Despite its brevity, which makes it unwise to draw general conclusions about the quality of the other extant witnesses, the importance of this papyrus should not be underestimated, since it goes back to the late third century C.E., and thus it antedates the oldest manuscripts by more than six hundred years. Th e most striking aspect of P. Vindob. G. 29810 is that it diff ers conspicuously from all the manuscripts collated by Niese and Destinon, showing no clear similarities with the group PA, nor with the group VRC. Th is fact suggests—as Louis H. Feldman has rightly pointed out—that even the text of the War, which is usually believed to be in much better shape than that of the Antiquities, is less secure than Niese had supposed and still in need of further emendation. 

Interesting, but perhaps not unexpected.  The Greek mss. are all 10th century or later, and doubtless derive from one or two uncial copies extant a century earlier.  But the papyrus could easily be a ‘wild’ text, for all we know.  It would be interesting  to learn more.

The other article was a discussion of the so-called Mithras liturgy,[2] in reality one of a number of spells contained in a Greek magical codex (PGM IV) which used the name of Helios Mithras as one of the power-names.  Stoholski’s article is useful to the general reader since it provides something of a summary of the state of the question on the value and content of the material, before going on to discuss the presence of extracts from the Iliad before and after it.  This latter question is only of specialist interest, but the summary was useful.

In other news, a DVD with photographs of an interesting unpublished public domain translation came through my letter box this morning.  I made up some PDF’s of the photos, checked that I had all the material, and added some bookmarks.  More about this when I have got past some curious political issues.  But what I will need, I think, is someone to enter the text into a Word document.  It’s too long for me to do, and OCR doesn’t handle typescript that well.

A second European bookseller ordered a copy of the Eusebius book from Chieftain Publishing today.  This is nice to see.  Meanwhile the statements of sales for August (all via Amazon) appeared, and were reasonable, if not spectacular.  Not much sign of new orders following the Patristics Conference, tho.  It reminds me that I need to do some marketing of the paperback.  I just have not had the time.

I also started thinking about the possible content of the new Mithras article that I want to put online, and some technical ideas on how it might be done.

But I’m much too full of cold today to do very much.  All the same, I thought that I would share these articles with you.  It was a beautiful day, cool in the morning but red-hot 26C at lunch.  I know that September often involves a lot of sunny weather.  Here’s hoping!

[1] Tommaso Leoni, The text of Josephus’ works: an overview, Journal for the Study of Judaism 40 (2009) 149-184.
[2] Mark Stoholski, “Welcome to Heaven, Please Watch Your Step”: The “Mithras Liturgy” and the Homeric Quotations in the Paris Papyrus, Helios, Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 2007, pp. 69-95.


2 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. Yesterday it got to 100 degrees, and today again. In Ohio! I know we usually get a heatwave over Labor Day weekend, but this is just silly! But the lack of humidity makes it almost pleasant.

  2. Got to enjoy the late summer weather. It’s been another lovely day here today, again very warm, but it got very sticky late on and I think there was rain in the evening. We haven’t really had a summer here in the UK at all this year.

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