Origen project update

The project to translate Origen’s exegetical works on Ezekiel has been dormant for so long than many readers will not remember it.  But again the idea is to commission a translation of these things, print them in book form with facing text, sell enough copies to recoup the cost of translation etc, and, once that is done, place the translation online where it can be freely available.  This kicked off in 2009.

The project was slightly torpedoed by the appearance of Thomas Scheck’s translation in 2010 in the Ancient Christian Writers series.  When the project started, there was no English translation of any of this material.

But our book is larger.  Origen wrote 25 books of commentaries — all lost, except 1 fragment in the Philocalia, 14 homilies (which exist only in the Latin translation by St. Jerome),  and scholia.  Substantial material by “Origen” is quoted in the medieval Greek bible commentaries, made up of ‘chains’ of quotations from the Fathers, (=catenas) on Ezekiel.  This includes parts of the lost Greek text of the homilies, plus material probably from the scholia, as well as spurious material.

We’ve done the lot.  We started with the material in PG 13, but the translator, bless him, searched out material in Mai and Pitra and elsewhere that isn’t in the PG13.

Once again we should be doing a service.  Scheck only did a translation of the homilies in Jerome’s Latin version.  We’re doing the lot; Jerome, the Greek, the fragments, everything we can find.  The Greek fragments have always been neglected.  De la Rue, in 1733, collected them; and no-one much has made any effort with them since.  There’s a text-critical project there, if someone would grab hold of it.

An evil thought has just hit me: I bet that there is material in Coptic, if we actually have any Coptic catenas on Ezekiel.  But here my knowledge stops.  I don’t know much about Old Testament catenas.  Hmmm.

Anyway today has been busy.  Up first thing and rushed to the laptop.  I’ve done a lot to the preface to the Greek fragments, although it needs revision by printing off and sitting down with a biro.  I’ve created a spreadsheet of all the bits, and marked the status of all of it.  And I’ve updated all the files that need revision with a banner at the top listing what needs to be done.

Which turns out to be … not much.

I’ve also heard back from the translator (who is on holiday, but still answering questions), that he has some time next week.

I think we’ll finish it off, at least as far as pre-editorial work is concerned, next week! 

I’ll send the translator a drop of the book in zip form at the end of today.  Meanwhile, I have stuff to write.


Leave a Reply